Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Cranberries and Pecans


Brussels sprouts, cranberries and pecans combine to make a tasty and colourful side-dish for the holiday feast. Add a drizzle of balsamic reduction to kick it up a notch. 

  • 1 1/2 pounds brussels sprouts
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • sea salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup toasted pecan halves
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic reduction to drizzle over, optional *
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Prepare rimmed baking sheet by lining with parchment paper.
  3. Toast pecan halves in a dry skillet over medium heat until golden; set aside.
  4. Trim brussels sprouts and cut in half. 
  5. In a medium bowl, toss brussels sprouts with olive oil.
  6. Spread on prepared baking sheet and season with salt and pepper.
  7. Roast for 20-30 minutes (until tender inside), stirring about halfway through cooking.
  8. Transfer roasted brussels sprouts to serving platter; sprinkle with cranberries and pecan halves.
  9. Drizzle with balsamic reduction.
  10. Serve immediately
*Use bottled balsamic reduction or make your own. In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup balsamic vinegar with 1/2 cup sugar and bring to a boil, while stirring. Reduce heat; then simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until quite thick, stirring occasionally.

Serves six.

 

 

Home Made Salami



Here is an idea for a home made Christmas gift.
For our Mennonite Girls Can Cook Christmas party this year, 
we were each asked to bring a "Gift From the Kitchen".
I'd made  homemade Salami many years ago and thought it might be fun to 
resurrect the recipe for this occasion.
I placed it in a bright red serving dish  lined with paper shred and
 added a few bright silver ornaments before wrapping it all up in cello gift basket wrap.
It was a hit and everyone wanted the recipe.  So here it is.
  • 5 pounds medium ground beef (I had trouble finding this so I used lean ground beef)
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons coarse ground pepper
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons mustard seed
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons liquid smoke (found in the condiment aisle)
  • 4 tablespoons Curing Salt (like Morton's Tender Quick or Windsor Quick Cure) It is a sugar based curing salt.
  • red pepper flakes to taste - if desired.
  1. In a large glass bowl, mix all ingredients well.
  2. Knead for 5 minutes.
  3. Cover glass bowl with plastic wrap and weigh down the meat mixture with a plate.
  4. Refrigerate for 24 hours.
  5. The next day, remove from fridge and knead meat mixture for 5 minutes.
  6. Cover again and refrigerate for another 24 hours.
  7. Repeat on the third day.
  8. On the fourth day, knead mixture once more and then form into 7 rolls - about 3/4 pound each. I made the rolls about 10 inches long and 2 inches in diameter.
  9. Place on a broiler pan and bake in preheated 200 degree F oven* for 4 1/2 - 5 hours. 
  10. TURN ROLLS EVERY HOUR. Salami will be quite red in colour when it is done.
  11. Remove from oven, let cool completely.
  12. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and store in refrigerator.
  13. You can freeze the salami.
*We smoked it on our wood pellet grill instead of putting it in the oven this time and it worked well.


Salami rolls ready for the oven.


Bread For The Journey ~ Peace


PEACE OR PACE

Today is the second Advent week meaning Peace.  I took a hike up one of our local mountains this past week, recognizing that I needed to pace myself.  As I was climbing I began to think about the fast-paced world that we live in especially during the Christmas season.  We have places to go, and things to do, after all, this is the season for spending and celebrating and eating and gifting. How often we are left leaving out the most important meaning of Christmas and so you are left with a choice,
 "Keep the pace or find the peace."  Two words which look the same but have different meanings.
Over this past year, there's been a  plaque on my mantle reminding me to reflect on knowing God.
"Be still and know that I am God." It's been almost a year that we lost our son in law tragically in an accident.  I only knew him for four short years, but during this short time, he inspired each one of us with his peacefulness and his giving heart.  I know that when I have given to others there's a real sense of peace that permeates my heart.
I'm not sure what you are all struggling with but we do know that we live in a very fragmented world filled with discord, confusion, loneliness, depression, anxiety, insecurity, and uncertainty. The demands of keeping the pace do not always allow us to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas.
What are some practical ways that you can navigate through this hectic holiday schedule and experience peace?

  • Let go of some of those unreal expectations.
  • Are there some things that you could say no to?
  • Are there things that you could let go of to create a more peaceful environment?

Peace is more than sitting quietly around a warm fire after the kids are tucked in bed and the gifts are all wrapped. Grab some moments of stillness to refocus on God's special gift to mankind.  God offers us the kind of peace that flows from things being in harmony.  When our heart, soul, mind, and strength are in alignment, we will experience inner peace. God wants to lavish peace abundantly on all of us. Are you a peacemaker or a pacemaker? 

"Peace, I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."  John 14:27

Flash Back Friday ~ Brandy Snaps



I first posted these brandy snaps a few years ago but I recently made them gluten-free.
Brandy snaps are such a quick dessert to make that even when company pops in, you can quickly put these together and let the company help you roll them around a wooden spoon handle or a cone.  
Fill them with whipped cream and you have a quick dessert.  

  The top photo is the brandy snaps made with all-purpose flour and then wrapped around a wooden spoon handle. 

These two photos are the brandy snaps made with almond flour and wrapped around stainless steel cones. 
 
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons white corn syrup
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2 teaspoons brandy or alternately 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour or to make it gluten-free, use 1/4 cup almond flour
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  3. Put the sugar, corn syrup and butter into a small saucepan and stir.
  4. Stir continuously over medium heat until bubbly.
  5. Beat in flour and flavorings until smooth.
  6. You will only make 6 cookies per cookie sheet. One teaspoon of batter per cookie.
  7. Watch the cookies closely because they will turn from caramel colored to dark brown very quickly. Aim to have them a nice caramel color, about 6 minutes.
  8. Remove the pan from the oven, wait a few seconds and then roll one at a time over a wooden spoon handle and then remove to cool on a rack.
  9. Repeat until they are all rolled. You will have to work quickly. If they become too hard, put them back in the oven for half a minute.
  10. Once cool, use a pastry bag with a thick tip to fill with sweetened whipped cream that has been stabilized with whipping cream stabilizer and chill until serving. Don't fill more than an hour before serving. Preferably, have the cream in the pastry bag ready to fill them and do that just before serving
  11. The remaining lacy shells or cookies keep well in an airtight container for several days.

Yet another Fleisch Perishky Recipe (Meat / Sauerkraut Buns)



This is my friend Frieda's recipe. The pastry is easy to work and less bready than others I have tried.  The filling is very moist and holds together well to fill the bun. I have tried every recipe of meat buns on our blog and all of them delicious. You can't go wrong no matter which recipe you use. Give this one a try as well, I know you can't stop eating just one. Get your husband and some friends to help, lots of fun that way!

Make ahead tip: The meat filling is easier to work with if it is cold, I usually prepare the meat a day or two in advance and refrigerate it. The dough can be made a day in advance as well and kept in the refrigerator for a couple of days as well.

Yields about 75 Perishky

Pastry:
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons dry active yeast (you may use instant or quick rise yeast, adding it in directly with the flour without dissolving the yeast in the water. Add the water in with the egg and sour cream. )
  • 1  egg
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup butter or hard margarine, melted and cooled a bit. 
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 4 1/2 - 5 cups flour or as needed to make a soft dough. 
  1. Dissolve the yeast and the sugar  in the water for 10 minutes until it proofs. 
  2. In a large bowl add 4 cups flour, salt yeast mixture, egg, melted butter and sour cream. Stir until it is too difficult with a spoon. Turn the dough onto a floured board adding enough of the remaining flour to make a soft dough. 
  3. Place the dough in a large lightly greased bowl cover with plastic wrap and a tea towel and let the dough rise in a warm place until double in size which is about an hour or so. 
Filling:
  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 2 large onions finely diced (I used 5 medium onions)
  • 1 cup of  mashed potatoes ( I used about 3 medium potatoes, or use left overs if you have it)
  • generous amount of salt and pepper to taste
  1. Peel and dice the potatoes add salt to taste and boil until soft. Drain and mash, with out adding milk or butter. 
  2. Brown the beef with the pork and onions in a very large pan. If you don't have a pan big enough divide the meat up and brown in batches. 
  3. Season the meat generously with salt and pepper.
  4. Add the mashed potatoes, combine well and allow the mixture to cool. I usually prepare the meat a day in advance and refrigerate it until I am ready to make the meat buns. 
  5. Divide the dough in 4. Roll out each piece to a 1/8" thick. Cut with 2 1/2 - 3 inch circles. 
  6. Place a heaping teaspoon of filling into the center. Pinch the dough around the filling to close. 
  7. Place the perishky seam side down on a parchment line baking pan. 
  8. Let rise a 1/2 hour and bake at 375 for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. 
Sauerkraut Filling:
  • 4 cups of your favorite sauerkraut, drained and rinsed 
  • 1 lb bacon, diced and browned
  • 1 large or medium onion, minced
  1. Brown the diced bacon and drain the fat, and bacon removed to paper towel to drain. 
  2. In a bit of the bacon fat cook the onion until soft. Add the drained and rinsed sauerkraut to the softened onion. Brown until it is lightly browned. Add the diced bacon back in and cool mixture before making the perishky.
  3. Follow above directions for filling and baking. 
*We also did a batch with half whole wheat flour mixed with white. It also works well. I find with using whole wheat that less flour was needed.





Peanut Fudge


Recently my kids gifted me with a fun little package of fudge they purchased on their trip and it piqued my interest to go back to some of my old recipes that I'd not made in a long time. This peanut fudge is super easy to make. The original recipe calls for ground peanuts, but I decided to try it with regular peanut butter. Let's just say I'll have to hide it from view before I eat too much.

Ingredients:
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 1 1/2 cups peanut butter (smooth or crunchy)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
Method:
  1. Prepare large loaf pan (about 9 x 4 inch) by lining with wax or parchment paper.
  2. In a medium sized heavy pot or saucepan, bring sugar and cream to boil, stirring. 
  3. Simmer on low heat for about 6 minutes, watching to be sure it does not come up too high in the pot, but still simmering. (if you use a thermometer, it should reach 237° F) 
  4. Add peanut butter and vanilla, stirring until it thickens, about 1 - 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
  5. Spread into prepared pan. Allow to cool. Lift out of pan and cut into one inch pieces. Yield: 36

Make-ahead Christmas Casserole



We may be familiar with shepherd's pie made from Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner leftovers.  But this is a bit of a different spin on the classic favorite...a casserole that includes stuffing, turkey, gravy and mashed potatoes and is prepared in advance to makes it easy to serve a turkey dinner to the masses.  I got the recipe from a friend who has prepared this dish to serve a crowd of over 100 at a community Christmas dinner for several years.  I served it for a family Christmas dinner for 40 people that I hosted at another location last year, doing four times the recipe shown below.  It is easy to transport and reheat and with all the prep done in advance, it frees up time and kitchen space on the day of the event. We served this casserole buffet-style, along with cranberry sauce, several cooked veggies, a green salad and dinner rolls. It was enjoyed by all and I will be making it again.

  • 2 boxes stuffing mix (or homemade stuffing from 5 cups bread cubes)
  • 1 Tablespoon poultry seasoning 
  • 5 cups cooked turkey, cut into bite-sized pieces*
  • 2 cans condensed cream of chicken soup, undiluted
  • 1/2 cup roasted turkey drippings
  • 6 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks (or 5 1/2 cups mashed potatoes)
  • 3/4 cup sour cream, divided
  • 4 oz softened cream cheese (herb and garlic flavour)
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  1. Mix stuffing mix as per box directions, but with an additional 1 tablespoon poultry seasoning added to liquids. Spread in greased 9x13 pan.
  2. In a large bowl, combine turkey, chicken soup, drippings and 1/4 cup sour cream.  Spoon over stuffing mixture.
  3. Boil potatoes in a Dutch oven or large pot until tender. Drain potatoes. Mash in a large bowl, beating in the cream cheese, pepper, salt and remaining sour cream. (Add 1/4 cup milk if the mixture seems too thick.) Spread over turkey mixture. 
  4. Sprinkle with cheese. 
  5.  Bake uncovered at 350°F for about 45 minutes (or until thermometer inserted in center reaches 160°).  
Serves: 8-10

 *Turkey can be cooked and carved well in advance. Be sure to save drippings for the sauce.



Peanut Chews


This is a square you will want to add to your Christmas tray. They taste similar to an Eatmore bar. Thank you to niece Cheryl for this recipe. It's been in my Christmas collection for years.
  • 1 cup honey
  • 2 cups chocolate chips
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 2 cups salted peanuts
  1. Pour honey into a microwave safe bowl and add chocolate chips. Place in microwave and stir occasionally until chocolate chips have melted and the mixture is smooth and hot.
  2. Add peanut butter and stir until well blended. Stir in peanuts.
  3. Pour into parchment lined pan, approx 11" x 13" size.
  4. Allow to cool on counter then place in fridge until hardened.
  5. Cut into desired size pieces and store in a covered container in a cool place. I place sheets of waxed paper between layers of bars.

Bread For The Journey ~ First Advent


Today we celebrate First Advent. 

During the week I did what my Mom always did the week before the first advent.
 She would create a simple centerpiece with greenery from our yard which she poked into wet oasis foam, a few sparkly pine cones and one candle for each week of Advent.

It was very simple but for us, it was the beginning of Christmas.


On the first day of December, our family would sit in the living room which in itself was special.  Normally, we did not use the living room as we use family rooms today.
It was always ready in case company showed up unexpectedly. 

She would light the first candle and we would sing carols together with one of us playing the piano. 

She would always have a Japanese orange for each of us and a few candies which we would enjoy before bedtime. 

We continued to sing carols together and enjoy a few treats every evening until Christmas. 



I've added a new tradition for our family.

Since the grandkids have been toddlers, I've given them an advent calendar every year to help them to reflect on Christ's birth and the expectation of Christ coming to earth again. 


I add an Advent verse and a chocolate to the little toy in the box.


This year, I invited them to come over to help me stuff their boxes and I found them reading their verses as they put them in order.

If you would like to do this for your family you can find the link I use, for the verses here. 


I wonder which traditions our littles will take with them when they have their own children.

The main thing is that we take time during what can be a very busy time of year to quiet our hearts each day to ponder that Christ came to earth for us. 

My beloved and I don't sing carols around the the advent wreath by ourselves but there are many ways to prepare our hearts.   I've signed up to receive John Piper's daily readings leading up to Christmas day.
If you are interested to also follow along the link to that invitation is here. 

How do you prepare your heart for Christmas in your home?
I'd love to know what your family does.  

May you be blessed and experience the joy of the Saviour during the Advent season.


 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 9:6




Nuts and Bolts with Bugles - Flashback Friday


It's that time of year again when many of us are making all kinds of treats and sweets. A few years ago I posted this recipe, and I think it's worth sharing again. 

  • 6 cups Shreddies
  • 6 cups Cheerios
  • 10 cups Rice or Corn Chex
  • 6 cups pretzels
  • 6 cups Bugles
  • 6 cups peanuts, optional
  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons garlic salt
  • 2 teaspoons Seasoning salt
  1. Measure all cereal, pretzels, bugles and peanuts into a large bow. Stir to combine.
  2. Melt butter and stir in remaining ingredients.
  3. Drizzle melted butter/seasoning mix over cereal mixture a little at a time stirring between to make sure the butter mixture is well distributed.
  4. Place mixture on large baking sheets or in large roaster and bake at 250ยบ F for 1 1/2 hours, stirring every 20 minutes. 
  5. Allow to cool completely. Store in airtight container or in zip lock bags. 
** these keep well in the freezer if tightly sealed***