Mennonite Girls Can Cook is a collection of recipes which were posted daily for a period of ten years from 2008 to 2018. We have over 3,000 delicious recipes that we invite you to try. The recipes can be accessed in our recipe file by category or you can use the search engine.

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Pfeffernuesse (Peppernuts)



Christmas is around the corner and it's time to be thinking of making Pfeffernuese. This is a great recipe to make with a friend.  It takes half the time and is twice the fun.



There's a bit of history to these tiny spiced cookies.
 I remember being told that Mennonite grandmothers used to keep a few peppernuts in their purses during church services. When the children would become a bit noisy or restless, they would pop one of these hard nuggets into their mouths and the necessity of sucking the hard cookie and the surprising spiciness would distract the child and silence was achieved.
There are many recipes for Peffernuesse but this is my favourite. My friend Delores gave me this recipe and over the years, I've adjusted the spices to my liking. I make them at the beginning of November so they have time to ripen.
They are always number one on the list of Christmas favourites at our house and are a bit addictive.
It's a big recipe and I have often only made half of it.  However if you make the whole recipe, you can pack the Pfeffernuesse in pretty Christmas tins to give as gifts.
    Here is the recipe I use - it is easily halved if the whole amount is intimidating.
      Be sure to read the recipe through before starting.

  • 4 cups Roger's Golden syrup (this is different than corn syrup)
  • 4 cups sugar
  • 2 cups margarine or butter
  • 2 cups milk
  1. Combine the above ingredients in a large saucepan and bring to a boil.
  2. Let mixture cool completely before continuing.
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 tsp. peppermint extract (use the clear extract not the green tinted one)
  1. Beat eggs in a small bowl and add extracts. Set aside.
  • 12- 14 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground star anise (not anise seed)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  1. Place 7 cups flour in a large mixer bowl.
  2. Add spices and baking powder and stir until completely blended with flour.
  3. Add syrup mixture to the flour, stirring well until blended.
  4. Add beaten egg mixture and continue to stir until blended.
  5. Continue to add flour until dough thickens but remains sticky. You will still be able to stir it with a wooden spoon however it will take a bit of strength.The amount of flour may vary depending on your flour and the amount of humidity. Please note that the dough will harden considerably once it has been refrigerated so be careful not to add too much flour.
  6. Refrigerate dough overnight or for several days.
  7. Prepare cookie sheets with parchment paper. These cookies will stick to the pan however if you use parchment paper, they will just slide right off and you can reuse the paper.
  8. Using a tablespoon (from your cutlery drawer), spoon out a good handful of the dough.
  9. Sprinkle a little flour on your counter and roll the dough into a long rope about the thickness of your ring finger.
  10. Using a bench scraper or pizza cutter, cut the rope into 1/2 inch pieces and place on your prepared pans. (I get 99 cookies on each large cookie sheet)
  11. Bake at 350 degrees F for about 15 minutes or until cookies just begin to brown. This is where having a convection oven comes in handy as you can bake 2 or 3 cookie sheets at a time.
  12. Remove from pan and cool. Store in ice cream pails in a cool place.
The Pfeffernuesse will keep for a long time - at least 6 months - but only if you hide them..

Molasses Kissed Pumpkin Pie



There is no need to buy pumpkin pies from a bakery when they are really so simple to make.
If you don't have time to make your own pastry, purchase a package with two frozen deep dish shells and use one of the shells to cut out little leaves with the thawed pastry for garnish.
If you prefer to make your own pastry...
I've included a link to my favourite pastry which I mix up and then freeze the discs I don't need.
This pumpkin pie filling is delicious, has a smooth texture, slices beautifully and leftovers keep well in refrigerator. 

  • 1 9 inch deep dish pie shell
  • 1 3/4 cups pure pumpkin puree (about 1 -  15 ounce /398 ml can)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups sweetened condensed milk  (can sizes vary between US and Canada)
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • dash nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  1. Preheat oven to 425 F. Adjust oven rack to second lowest level. Line a 9 inch deep pie plate with pastry. Decorate edge with leaf cutouts or crimp with your fingers or 
  2. Whisk together the pumpkin with the remaining ingredients until smooth. If you have a blender, put all the filling ingredients in there and process until smooth.
  3. Pour carefully into the pastry crust.  To prevent the crust edges from becoming too dark, use kitchen shears to cut out the inside of an aluminum pie plate and cover the pie as shown in the photo.  
  4. Bake at 425 F. for 15 minutes and then reduce heat to 350 F and bake an additional 35 minutes.  Test by putting a sharp knife an inch from the edge. It should be clean.
  5. Cool on rack. 


Golden Mashed Potatoes

I got a variation of this recipe for make-ahead mashed potatoes from my friend Jean some years ago and have made it many times over the years. It's nice to have the potatoes mashed ahead of time and ready for the table piping hot at dinner time.



Ingredients:
  • 10 Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup herbed cream cheese (we like herb and garlic)
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • crumbled bacon bits and chopped green onions for topping
Method:
  1. Cook potatoes in a large saucepan of boiling salted water until tender. Drain.
  2. Mash potatoes...adding cream cheese, sour cream, butter, milk, chives and salt & pepper.
  3. Mash until creamy.
  4. Spoon into lightly greased casserole...and allow to cool for 30 minutes.
  5. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to two days...discard plastic wrap before baking.
  6. Bake at 350°F for one hour or until heated through.
  7. Sprinkle with bacon bits and green onions.

    Optional topping ~ Sprinkle with 1/2 cup grated cheese before baking and omit bacon bits.

Harvest Loaf - Flash Back


For this flashback I'd like to re-share a spiced pumpkin/chocolate loaf posted in 2008.  I can't believe that's nine years ago! I switched up the photo on the original one as well and clarified the sizes of pans to use, so that it is easier to decide on the size of the recipe you wish to make. You can easily cut it in half to make only one loaf. This loaf is still as good as ever! 

 Ingredients:
  • 3/4 cup butter (soft/room temp)
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar 
  • 4 eggs 
  • 2 cups cooked pureed pumpkin 
  • 3 cups flour 
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder 
  • 1/2 teaspoon soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon ginger
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • ¾ cup chopped nuts (optional)
  1. Prepare two 9 x 4 inch loaf pans by greasing with shortening or cooking spray, and dusting with flour.
  2. Beat butter and sugar well. Beat in eggs until light and fluffy. Add pumpkin. 
  3. Mix dry ingredients with spices and chocolate chips. Stir into wet mixture until combined.
  4. Bake for 50 minutes at 350 F, until toothpick tests done. 
  5. Cool 10 minutes in pans and then remove to cooling rack.


Before baking, I sprinkled some chocolate chips in a row on top. You can combine nuts and chocolate chips if you like. Once cooled, a drizzle of about 1/4 - 1/2 cup icing sugar with maybe a teaspoon of water and a drop of maple flavoring is optional. Plain is great too.

Grilled Corn Salad

The flavours of summer combine to make this salad a great side dish for a BBQ.  With sweet local corn and cherry tomatoes fresh from the garden...it's simple and delicious!


  • 6 cobs of corn, grilled*
  • 1/2 cup diced red onion
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped basil
  1. Preheat the grill to medium.  Remove the outer layers of the corn husks and then soak the whole cob in water for about 30 minutes.  Peel back remaining husks and remove hair.  Brush the kernels with olive oil; then pull husks back over the ear.   Place the cobs on the grill and cook for about 15 minutes.  
  2. Once the cobs have cooled, cut kernels off the cob.
  3. Add tomatoes, onion and basil to corn.
  4. Combine oil, vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper; mix well.  
  5. Stir the dressing into the corn salad and enjoy!
 *The grilled corn gives the salad a nice smoky flavour, but you can also use cobs cooked on the stove top.



Chocolate Zucchini Muffins



Chocolate Zucchini Muffins will always remind me of my mom who seemingly has baked these non-stop for her grandchildren for many years. It occurred to me recently that maybe I should get the recipe from her. These muffins freeze well and are easy to put into a lunch for a treat.

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup butter, room temp
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups shredded zucchini
  • 1 cup milk or semi-sweet chocolate chips (she uses mini size)
Method:
  1. Beat butter and sugar, adding in the eggs.
  2. Stir in oil, buttermilk and vanilla.
  3. Add combined dry ingredients. If cocoa does not incorporate nicely into flour, sift dry ingredients before adding to wet.
  4. Stir in zucchini and chocolate chips.
  5. Scoop into prepared muffin tins and bake at 350° F, 20 minutes for medium size. Makes about 24 medium size or 18 large size. These are also great done as mini muffins, bake less time, until toothpick test comes clean.

Double Chocolate Zucchini Bundt Cake

I was given a HUGE zucchini yesterday and everything in me called out for chocolate that compliments zucchini in this rich moist bundt cake. Take advantage of zucchini while it's in season. Don't forget to grate and freeze some zucchini in one or two cup freezer bags to use during the winter months in loaves, muffins and cakes.

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp espresso powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 3 cups grated zucchini (sometimes zucchini has a lot of moisture in it and then I squeeze out any extra moister before adding to batter using a salad spinner or just squeeze it with your hands, but not till dry...just if it's overly wet feeling. If you don't know....just add it all)
  • 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips, (you can cut back on this amount if you don't want it quite so chocolaty)
  1. Sift together first 5 ingredients and set aside.
  2. To a large mixing bowl add sugar, eggs, oil and vanilla. Beat well.
  3. Add sour cream and mix well.
  4. Add dry ingredients and mix until just incorporated.
  5. Add grated zucchini and chocolate chips and mix again until just incorporated.
  6. Prepare bundt pan by spraying with non stick cooking spray and then lightly dust with sifted cocoa powder, making sure it sticks to all creases of the pan. (cocoa powder is nicer than using white flour when baking with chocolate as you don't get any white markings from the white flour)
  7. Add batter to prepared pan and bake in 350ยบ oven for 50 minutes.
  8. Serve warm as is or with whipped cream or ice cream. Wrapped well this cake freezes well. 

Orange Peach Jam


Combine this jam, slightly runny and rich in citrus flavor, with cream cheese on a bagel OR with a barbecue sauce to use as a glaze on baked meatballs. I have given quite exact numbers when it comes to the fruit, but it does depend on size of fruit.

Ingredients for one batch:
(the goal is approximately 7 cups raw fruit blended before adding sugar, equaling 8 cups cooked, for one batch. I recommend doubling the amounts and cooking two batches)
  • 9 ripe peaches
  • 3 seedless oranges
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 4 1/2 cups sugar, divided
  • 3 tablespoons Certo Light or 1 pkg regular pectin

 Method:
  1. Wash jars and lids. Place clean jars in 225° F oven to keep hot. Place lids in small pot with water to cover. Bring to a boil and turn off element, covering pot to keep lids hot.
  2. Peel peaches, quartering them to remove pit. In blender, blend only for a few seconds until barely smooth. Can have a few tiny chunks. Pour into large bowl. Stir in lemon juice.
  3. Peel oranges with potato peeler. Remove pith (white part) and discard. Blend orange segments with the orange rind until thick and smooth, for about 1 minute.
  4. Combine blended oranges and peaches. Measure out 7 cups (or at least 6) to pour into large stainless steel pot.
  5. Measure 1/4 cup of the sugar, blend with pectin and stir into fruit. Stirring constantly with wooden spoon, bring to boil on high heat.
  6. Add 4 1/4 cups sugar all at once and continue stirring until it comes to a full boil once more.
  7. The whole top layer should be bubbling before setting the timer. Boil for three minutes, while stirring and making sure it cooks hard the whole time. If it splatters quite a bit, turn down the heat just a tad.
  8. Using a canning funnel, ladle hot jam into jars and cover with lids to seal. Repeat process if cooking more batches.
  9. Cool sealed jars at room temp before storing. Jam thickens as it cools.
I prefer storing jam in the fridge or freezer, so that it keeps fresh tasting, but you do not have to if it is sealed. You can tell if it's sealed if the center of the lid is slightly inverted rather than rounded. Do not push it in by hand.

Fresh Tomato and Mozza Salad


The first time I had an Italian Caprese Salad, I wanted to make it at home.
At that time I was unfamiliar with the fresh mozzarella used in the original
so I came up with this version.
It's quick to make and is a popular salad at our house especially with
summer's fresh lettuce, tomatoes and basil.

For the Dressing:
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 - 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil (use 1/4 cup fresh if you have it - chopped fine)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
For the Salad:
  • green leaf lettuce
  • a handful of fresh basil leaves (optional)
  • 1 or 2 fresh vine ripened tomatoes (Romas are also nice)
  • coarsely grated good quality mozzarella
  • Chopped fresh chives or green onions
    1. Mix dressing ingredients together, blending well. Set aside.
    2. Tear washed and dried lettuce into bite sized pieces and arrange on a large platter.
    3. Slice tomatoes, pat dry and arrange in a circular pattern over the lettuce.
    4. Cut basil leaves into a chiffonade (thin slices) and sprinkle over tomatoes. (you can leave this step out if you can't get any fresh basil)
    5. Sprinkle with grated cheese.
    6. Sprinkle with chopped chives.
    7. Pour dressing over salad and serve.

    Rollkuchen


     
    Rollkuchen are a tasty, deep fried pastry that are a wonderful accompaniment to cold watermelon on a hot summer day.  How well I recall childhood picnics with big tubs of fresh Rollkuchen.  Let's just say that eating them is rather like eating peanuts...you can't stop at just one! Sometime over the years, Rollkuchen became paired with Roger's Golden Syrup (definitely a Canadian thing) on my table; they make a great team!

    My mother-in-law made the best flaky, crispy Rollkuchen. Mine never quite measured up, so I have always made the thicker, softer variety and they have become a family favorite. Hers were all uniform in shape; mine are rather 'free-form'. Each recipe seems to differ slightly but I've never met a Rollkuchen I didn't like!

    Rollkuchen

    • 5 - 6 cups / 1150 - 1350 ml flour
    • 3 teaspoons / 15 ml  baking powder
    • 1 teaspoon / 5 ml salt
    • 4 eggs
    • 1 cup / 250 ml sour cream
    • 1 cup / 250 ml milk
     
    1. Combine 5 cups / 1150 ml  flour, baking powder and salt.
    2. Beat eggs, sour cream and milk together and add to dry ingredients
    3. Continue to add flour to form a soft dough ... usually about 1/2 cup more.
    4. Allow the dough to chill for an hour or two before rolling, for easier handling.
    5. Divide the dough in half and roll out quite thin on a floured board ... if you prefer them soft, then not quite so thin.
    6. Cut strips of dough about 2x4 inches / 5x10 cm ... with two slits cut in center of each.
    7. Stretch the pieces somewhat before dropping into the hot oil.
    8. Fry in deep hot oil over medium heat until golden on one side. Turn and brown the other side.
       

    The rollkuchen puff up beautifully while cooking and are really mostly air pockets by the time they are ready to eat. A totally a healthy choice!  Who am I fooling?


    Serve with cold watermelon and Roger's golden syrup.  Grilled farmer sausage is also a nice touch!