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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Butter Tarts

Before Christmas I love sitting down with my mom's book of 
hand written recipes to decide which ones I'll be making.
Every year without fail I make these butter tarts.
Each pretty pastry shell is filled with golden raisins
and topped with brown sugar buttery goodness.

Ingredients for filling:
  • 2 tbsp butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup golden raisins, plumped
Method:
  1. Beat very soft butter, brown sugar and egg together until creamy.
  2. Add salt and vanilla.
  3. Pour boiling water over raisins. Allow to stand for 5 minutes. Drain well.
  4. Do not add to filling. Once you have the pastry shells made, place raisins into each shell. This will keep them uniform.
Pastry: this is Lovella's favorite pastry recipe that came from our friend Dorothy, but you can use your favourite pastry recipe. 
  • 5 cups flour
  • 4 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 pound lard
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp white vinegar
  • water
Method for Pastry:
  1. Measure flour, sugar, salt and baking powder into a large bowl.
  2. Cut in cold lard until you lard is broken up into pea sized pieces.
  3. In a glass measuring cup beat 1 egg well. Add vinegar and then enough cold water to make 1 cup.
  4. Pour water mixture over flour mixture and stir, incorporating all the dry ingredients. Use your hands to pull the dough together into a ball. 
  5. Sprinkle some flour on your counter or pastry mat. Roll out 1/3 of the dough fairly thin. Using a cup or fluted cookie cutter, but out rounds and place into lightly greased tart tins.
  6. To ensure that each tart gets the approximately the same amount of raisins, I spoon the raisins into the bottom of each unbaked shell. (About 5-8 raisins, depending on the size of your shells.
  7. Pour the butter tart filling over each raisin filled shell.
  8. Bake at 375ยบ for 18-20 minutes. Let rest in pan for 5 minutes then remove to cooling rack.
This filling recipe makes 2 dozen tarts. I often double or triple the recipe as they freeze well for several months. You will have left over pastry. Shape into discs or line a pie plate or two. Wrap well and freeze.

Toffee Drops


Years ago my friend Debbi, who also happened to be my son's teacher at the time, shared this recipe with me. Our family loves these and it's made every Christmas by at least one of us.
It is a super simple easy recipe and can be put together quickly. What takes the longest is unwrapping the toffee pieces! This toffee used to come in a bar but I can't find those anymore.

You will need:
  • 2 cups of Special K cereal..you can use rice krispies.
  • 16 pieces of toffee..I use Mackintosh's toffee.
  • 2 tablespoons whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons butter
What you need to do:
  1. Chop toffee pieces, add to cream and butter in a microwave safe bowl.
  2. Melt in microwave for 1 1/2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds just until mixture is smooth. 
  3. Stir into special k cereal and mix well.
  4. Drop by spoonfuls on a parchment lined pan. You have to work quickly before the mixture hardens.
  5. Let cool and store in a covered container in a cool place. Who am I kidding, I doubt they will make it that far!
  6. Yields: 1 dozen

Angel Kisses (Alfajores)


This cookie has a ‘melt in your mouth’ kind of texture, like shortbread. The filling is cooked sweetened condensed milk, also known as dulce de leche, if purchased in a jar. The recipe came from a friendly neighbor, who invited me for coffee when I was a newly wed. I loved the cookies because the filling was just like what we used to spread on our bread when we lived in South America. I found out that they were quite a bit of work to make when I made them for our daughter’s first birthday, so I decided that they would be Christmas cookies and eventually we ended up calling them angel kisses, because we did not know the real name.

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup soft butter
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups cornstarch
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • flaked coconut
Method:
  1. Put unopened can of sweetened condensed milk, standing up, in a pot of water, water coming up about 3/4 of the way. Bring water to boil and simmer for 11/2 hours. Add water if needed. Cool completely in fridge. Good if you can do this the day ahead. I like this method because the dulce tastes fresh and creamy. If you prefer, you can use 1 jar purchased Dulce de Leche. 
  2. This cookie recipe has no liquids, so I find it is very important to use very soft butter, but not melted. I take it out of the fridge the night before. It also helps to use a large mixer that has a dough (hook) attachment.
  3. Beat butter until very creamy. Beat in the yolks. 
  4. Mix sugar and lemon rind, then add to creamed mixture, along with vanilla. 
  5. Stir in cornstarch and combined other dry ingredients (using hook attachment if you have) until smooth. Shape into ball.
  6. Taking about 1/4 of the dough at a time, roll out on floured surface to about 1/4 inch thickness.
  7. Cut with small, round cookie cutter or tomato paste can. 
  8. Place on floured cookie sheets and bake at 350° F for about 8 min. Do not over bake. Cookies should just be starting to get color on the underside, not on top. Cool.
  9. Stick two cookies together with cooked sweetened condensed milk, spreading the sides (edges) as well and rolling them in coconut. 
  10. Freeze to set. Store in air tight container in freezer and beware if someone in your family likes eating them frozen! Yields 4 dozen cookies 





Christmas Fruit and Nut Cake with Caramelized Pineapple





Fruitcake is our favorite small bite treat with a cup of coffee during the Christmas season.  Be sure that you use ingredients that are fresh.  Nuts and dried fruits that are even a bit stale will taint the fruitcake and will ruin all the work.   Fruitcake lovers will all enjoy this delicious Christmas treat.
Fruitcake improves in flavour and texture over time, so make it now to enjoy at Christmas.
  • 1 cup slivered blanched almonds
  • 1 cup whole blanched almonds
  • 1/2 cup whole walnut halves
  • 1 1/2 cups seedless raisins
  • 1 1/2 cups dried cranberries
  • 1 cup / 225 grams glace cut mixed peel
  • 1 cup / 225 grams glace fruit cake mix
  • 2 cups 500 grams glace whole cherries
  • 1 cup finely chopped dates
  • 1/2 cup apricot brandy
  1. Stir together all the fruit and nuts in a large glass bowl.  Stir in brandy and cover with lid or tightly with plastic wrap.  Stir occasionally and leave at room temperature until the next day.
Caramelized Pineapple
  • 1 14 ounce / 398 ml can crushed pineapple with the juice
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup apricot jam
  • 1/4 cup apricot brandy
  1. Combine pineapple, juice and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Stir  occasionally to prevent scorching and simmer to reduce liquids, 30 - 40 minutes.  Once the liquid has mostly evaporated and the pineapple has started to caramelize, remove from heat, add jam and brandy.  Refrigerate overnight in sealed container. 
Fruitcake Batter
  • 2 1/3 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup room temperature unsalted butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 7 eggs (should measure 1 1/2 cups)
  1. Prepare 2 - 3 loaf pans by cutting brown paper bags to fit first lengthwise and then across the width, allowing the paper to come just over the edge of the pan.  Grease paper well. Alternately, for gift giving, use disposable paper bakeware.  
  2. Preheat oven to 275 F. 
  3. Stir together dry ingredients in a large bowl.  Mix 1 cup of the flour mixture with the fruit and nuts and set aside. 
  4. In a large bowl, beat butter, then gradually add sugar and eggs with mixer. Add remaining flour mixture and beat to combine. 
  5. Use a large wooden spoon to stir in fruit and nut mixture along with the pineapple mixture. Stir well to combine.
  6. Divide into loaf pans and bake.  Baking times will vary depending on size of the pan. You can bake the fruitcake in small individual loaves or square pans.  Whatever you decide to use, check every 30 minutes to start if you use small pans.  The loaves will feel firm in the center when done. Test with a toothpick once you think the top feels firm.  Regular bread pan loaf pans will be up to 3 1/2 hours. Check several times to make sure the top of the cakes are not getting too brown.  If that happens, cover loosely with foil.   The bakeware shown in the photo held 3 cups of batter, measured 1 1/4 inch X 6 inch diameter and took just over an hour to bake. 
  7.  Remove from oven, remove from pan, allow to cool for half an hour and then carefully remove brown paper.  Brush with additional apricot brandy before storing. Leave cakes in the disposable bakeware pans for easy gift giving.   Seal well in plastic bags and store in the refrigerator for several months or freeze.

Pfeffernuesse ~ Flashback Friday



Years later, so many things have changed.  When I looked at my last post in 2009, I realized that I made this with my sister. It's obvious that it's Flashback Friday again. Now I'm starting all over and introducing this wonderful recipe to my dear little grandaughters who visit regularly.  And today, you get to see them in action.  It brings so much laughter and joy into our lives to watch these young ones pronounce PFEFFERNUSSE!

Step One:
  • 1 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves
  • 1 teaspoon cardamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons /15 grams Neunerlei Lebkuchen Gewurz (this is a gingerbread spice purchased at a Delicatessen) I ordered them from the Edelweiss Delicatessen in Calgary this year, as no one else carried them in our town. 
  1. Warm honey in microwave or stovetop and add sugar and spices.
  2. Cool mixture to room temperature.
Step Two:
  • 1 cup margarine
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  1. Melt margarine and add sour cream.
  2. Now add to cooled honey mixture.
Step Three:
  • 6 cups flour (add up to 1/2 cup more if needed to make a heavy dough )
  • 3 teaspoons baking soda
  1. Sift together flour and baking soda and add the above honey mixture and mix well.
  2. I blend flour and soda into an electric mixing bowl.
  3. I usually use my kneading hook, as this dough is heavy. One time I broke my cookie beaters.
  4. Place in fridge overnight to cool. 
Step Four:
  1. To bake, grease cookie sheets
  2. Roll dough into rolls (snakes) and slice.(thickness of your index finger)
  3. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Bake for 9 minutes. Just slightly browned.
  4. When baked, leave cookies on sheet 2 minutes, then remove from pan.
While Ivy, who will be four in February knows that first, we grease our hands, then follows my instructions to a tee, Joy on the other hand who will be two,  totally seizes every moment to enjoy laughter.  We've had lots of fun and I know we will be making several batches to give to the big cousins. I've enjoyed handing down some traditional recipes to the grandchildren.

Apple Fritter Rings




It's autumn and we are enjoying apples every-which-way these days.  Once a year we have apple fritters...this year they became apple ring fritters.  I used a mandolin slicer to get thin (1/3 inch) slices and a dollar store apple corer to remove the core.

Apple Ring Fritters
  • 1 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 large tart apples
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup sugar 
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  1. Blend flour, baking powder and salt in a mixing bowl.
  2. Beat eggs and add milk; pour into flour mixture, stirring until smooth. 
  3. Peel, core and cut apples into thin slices.
  4. In an electric skillet or a heavy frying pan, heat oil to 375°. 
  5. Dip apple rings into batter to coat and place into hot oil.
  6. Fry several at a time until golden...turning over to cook on both sides. 
  7. Drain on paper towels. 
  8. Combine sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over hot fritters.  Or, serve warm with syrup.
Yield: about 18 - 24 fritters

And just for the fun of it...I tried apple ring pancakes using the very same method.

  • Peel the apples. 
  • Remove core. *If you do not have a corer, slice first and then use a biscuit cutter to cut out center circle.
  • Slice thinly.
  • Dip each apple slice into your favorite pancake batter. (I added 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon to the batter).
  • Transfer the apple slices to greased and pre-heated skillet. 
  • Cook on medium heat for 1 to 2 minutes, and then flip. 
  • Cook until golden brown.
  • Drizzle with syrup and enjoy!
 Both the fritters and the pancakes were great.  My pick?  The fritters, of course!

Apple Sweet Rolls



I'm using my favourite sweet roll dough for this apple filled sweet roll recipe. 
I find that the sweetened condensed milk in this dough helps to stabilize the dough and keep it from shrinking down after it has been baked.  

The dough is tender and soft. 


Don't let apple season pass without making up a batch of these delicious rolls to share with family and friends. 

Sweet Roll Yeast Dough:
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 2 tablespoons active dry yeast
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup very soft butter
  • 1 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 6 1/2 - 7 cups flour
Apple Filling
  • 6 cups peeled, quartered and sliced apples (be sure to use apples that keep their shape after being cooked)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar (taste after the apples have cooked and decide then if you want to add more sugar)
  • 2 teaspoons  minute tapioca
  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon  
  1. In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of your kitchen machine, place warm water and yeast and allow to proof about 10 minutes.
  2. Add the eggs,  soft butter, sweetened condensed milk, and salt.  Stir in the flour until stirring becomes too difficult and then turn out onto a floured surface and add the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time  until it is smooth and elastic.  Alternately, use the dough hook according to your dough machine instructions.
  3. Turn into a large greased bowl, turning to moisten with fat and cover with  plastic wrap and a tea towel.  Allow to rise until double in bulk, about an hour.  While the dough rises, prepare the apple filling. 
  4. Melt butter in a large saucepan and add apples. 
  5. Add sugar and tapioca and stir to combine.  Cook over medium-high heat until the apples are just tender and the sauce has thickened.
  6. Remove from heat and bring to room temperature.  
  7. Roll dough into a 12 X 36 inch wide rectangle, transfer apple filling to the dough, spreading fairly evenly.
  8. Roll up jelly roll style and divide into 36 rolls in three 9 X 13 parchment paper lined pans.
  9. Cover with tea towels and allow to rise another hour.
  10. Bake at 350 about 20 minutes, until the tops are golden brown.  Cool 10 minutes while making glaze. Drizzle with glaze and serve.  



Apple Roses Cheesecake - Gluten Free


These roses are popular on Pinterest, and I found them intriguing and beautiful - so I decided to try them myself.
 I made the above dessert twice this Valentine's week-end - once for a potluck and once for my kids.
I don't think these roses need be limited to Valentine's Day. Any special occasion would welcome them - Mother's Day, bridal showers, birthdays.
Though the roses are not difficult to make, they are a bit time consuming -  however, the comments I got more than compensated me for my effort.

Since there are numerous sites giving step by step instructions, I'll just offer some tips that may be helpful if you haven't done these before.

1. Cut the apple in half, cutting away the core and ends, then with cut side down , slice the half-apple as thin as possible -- That first slice that is all peel is great to roll up as a deep color center for the rose, or bud,  after the pulp is easily scraped away (after microwaving)

2. Slices are microwaved in liquid (1 cup water, 1/2 cup sugar, juice of 1/2 lemon)  until they are just at the soft  stage - doesn't take long - I did one apple at a time, in my microwave took 2 1/2 minutes) You just want to 'limp' the slices, not cook completely.  Drain them on toweling after they are microwaved, and allow to cool slightly before forming your rose petals.

3. When creating your roses, roll up the center, then add petals , placing the middle of each apple slice to cover the ends of the previous slice, wrap and then finger roll the red top edge of the slice over to resemble a rose petal. Make the roses different sizes and make some buds.

4. I formed all the roses and set them up on doubled toweling to drain off the excess moisture. Because of the sugar in the water they were microwaved in,  the petals stick together nicely.

5. I used a green apple in an attempt to add leaves - but I wish the color stayed more vibrant - I'm wondering if green food color in the cooking water would intensify the green peel.

6. I made a fruit glaze to drizzle over the apples once placed on the dessert to make them shiny.

7. Use the reddest apples you can find  - I used Red Prince apples, they worked wonderfully well.

8.  I placed the roses randomly over the top - but then found that cutting the dessert was not easily done without ruining the roses -- so I think next time I might arrange the roses in such a way that when the dessert is cut into pieces there would be a rose arrangement on each piece.

9. These roses keep amazingly well ... I thought they would have to be done the same day served - but after a few days in the fridge they are still perfectly fine!

10. For an 8" x 10" pan I needed 4 medium apples for the roses. (the photo shown above was made in a larger pan for our pot luck , 9" x 12" and for that I needed 6 apples and made 1 1/2 times the recipe for the base and the filling)

Note- I haven't tried it but I see no reason the apple slices could not be 'softened' in simmering water/sugar solution on the stove top, if you prefer not to use the microwave. It may even work better since the temperature would be uniform.

While you could put these roses on your own choice of a variety of desserts,  the following is the dessert shown in the photo.

Apple Roses Cheesecake 

The base is a hazelnut crumb base
  • 1/3 cup hazelnut flour 
  • 1/2 cup gluten free  flour - I used Julie's Mix 
  • 1/4 cup sugar 
  • 1/4 tsp xanthan gum 
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  1. Mix together dry ingredients then work in the butter until well mixed. Press evenly into a baking pan -  8"x10"
  2. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. 
The filling is the easiest baked cream cheese filling I have ever made and seems fool-proof - no cracks , sets well and is delicious. 
  • 1 pkg. cream cheese (8 oz) 
  • 2/3 cup sugar 
  • 2 cups sour cream 
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  1. Beat cream cheese with sugar until smooth 
  2. Add sour cream and flavorings. Blend well. 
  3. Pour over pre-baked base. 
  4. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes 
  5. Cool 
Fruit Glaze 
  • 1/3 cup fruit juice (I used the juice from a can of peaches)  
  • 2 rounded tablespoons of sugar 
  • juice of 1/2 lemon 
  • 1 tsp cornstarch 
  1. Cook juice, sugar and cornstarch until it thickens - if too thick add a little water
  2. Add lemon juice
When cheesecake is cool, arrange the roses over the top, pressing only slightly into the filling. Drizzle glaze sparingly over the top of the roses. Chill for at least two hours before serving.
Can be made a day ahead. 



Salsa

Since there's an abundance of tomatoes and peppers out there right now, I thought I would share my salsa recipe. It's a recipe I got from my sister Kathy about twenty years ago and is a staple at our home. I cook up a large batch in fall and we enjoy it year-round.  This is a zippy salsa; if you prefer yours on the mild side, remove all the seeds and ribs from inside the jalapeno peppers.

 

Salsa
  • 10 cups tomatoes (peeled, chopped and drained)
  • 8 small jalapeno peppers chopped (remove seeds for less heat) 
  • 3 cups chopped onions
  • 1 cup chopped green peppers 
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 1/3 cups vinegar 
  • 1 can 12 oz. can tomato paste 
  • 1 tsp. cumin 
  • 1 Tablespoon red pepper flakes 
  • 3 Tablespoons pickling salt 
  • 3 Tablespoons brown sugar
  1. Combine all ingredients and simmer for 1 hour.
  2. Ladle into jars; tighten lids and process for 20 minutes in hot water bath.
*Optional : Stir in 1/3 cup cornstarch diluted in cold water and simmer for several minutes to thicken salsa before filling jars.



*This also makes a wonderful, tasty fresh salsa.  Place chopped veggies in a large bowl.  Mix vinegar, tomato paste, herbs and seasonings and add to chopped vegetables. Stir to combine.  Keeps well in the refrigerator for a week.


Cabbage Rolls (Holubtsi)



This recipe takes me back to my Mom's kitchen and early years of marriage when I wanted to make something fancy. We called them Galopse ( a variation of the Polish name for them, while others call them by the Ukranian, Holuptsi). Although we don't have these that often any more, (mainly because we have so much to choose from today) I still do enjoy that "comfort food" flavor. It's a good make-ahead meal because they are always good re-heated. Cabbage rolls are great for pot-lucks and very economical. This recipe makes 12-18 rolls. Sometimes I form a few meatballs for those who don't care for the cabbage.

Ingredients:

Rolls / Filling:
  • 1 head Savoy cabbage
  • 1- 1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • pepper
  • 1/2 grated onion
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 – 1 1/2 cups cooked rice
Sauce:
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • ½ chopped onion
  • ½ chopped pepper, any color
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 4 cups water (approx)
  • 1 chicken bouillon cube (or 2 teaspoons better than bouillon)
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste (according to taste)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 can tomato soup (optional) 
  • 1 bay leaf
Method:
  1. Place cabbage in a large pot of boiling water and peel off leaves as they become soft. Set aside. If you are using regular cabbage, cut around the core before placing it in the water.
  2. In a large frying pan, cook onion and pepper in a small amount of oil until tender. 
  3. Mix flour and half of the water in a sealed container until well blended and add to onion/peppers. While cooking, add the rest of the water and stir until smooth and bubbly. Add bouillon and tomato paste. For more sauce, mix more flour and water and add another bouillon cube for flavor. Adjust amounts according to desired consistency and add salt and pepper according to taste.
  4. Mix raw meat, salt, pepper, onion, sour cream and cooked rice. Place a few tablespoons of meat mixtureonto each leaf, fold ends and roll up. Place close together in roaster.
  5. Pour sauce over cabbage rolls, tuck in bay leaf and bake at 350° F for 1 1/2 hours. 
  6. Once cooked, remove rolls to serving plate. If there is not enough gravy, add a can of tomato soup to the liquids in the roaster and bring to boil. With the soup you can also adjust flavors by adding some milk or cream.