Quick and Easy Banana Cream Pie

This is the recipe I reach for when I want to make a quick dessert 
that will be guaranteed to please my guests. 
You can adapt this recipe by making your own custard filling but
 I find the Jello Cooked Pudding mix works just fine.

For the Graham Cracker crust:
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • 1/ 1/2 cups graham wafer crumbs
  • 1- 2 tablespoons sugar.
For the Custard filling:
  • 1 package Jello Cooked pudding mix
  • 2 3/4 cups milk
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Additional ingredients:
  • 2-3 large bananas peeled
  • 1 pint whipping cream
  • 1-2 tablespoons icing sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  1. Mix all ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Reserve about 1/2 cup crumbs and press remaining crumbs into 9 or 10 inch pie plate.
  3. Refrigerate while you make the filling.
  4. In a large bowl or glass 8 cup measure, stir pudding mix with milk, blending well with whisk. 
  5. Microwave a minute at a time, stirring well each time until mixture begins to thicken and bubble. 
  6. Add butter and vanilla, stirring well. Let it cool, stirring every few minutes while you prepare the bananas.
  7. Cut 2 or 3 large bananas into 1/2 inch slices and arrange on the bottom and around the sides of the graham crust. 
  8. Pour warm custard filling over bananas and refrigerate until filling is completely cold.
  9. Whip one pint of Whipping cream  icing sugar and vanilla. 
  10. Spread over custard and sprinkle with reserved crumbs. Refrigerate until serving.

Banana Cream pie 1

Date Loaf

I used to drop in on my Mom for coffee and there was always something good to eat in her kitchen or freezer. This recipe was one of her favorites and it is one of mine too. I make them in her two small old style bread pans. This loaf freezes well up to 3 months.
1/2 lb chopped dates
2 cups brown sugar
2 tsp baking soda
2 cups boiling water
Stir first 3 ingredients together in a glass bowl and pour boiling water over it. Stir well and let stand for 10 minutes.
In a separate bowl beat together:
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
Add 3 cups white flour
Add the softened date mixture.
Stir together until all the flour is incorporated.
Divide mixture into 2 greased loaf pans.
Bake for 1 hour at 300 until tooth pick inserted in centre of loaf comes out clean. Leave in pans for 5 minutes and turn out onto cooling rack.

Knock-off Lovella's Genoa Cake - Gluten-free !

Lovella's Cake of Genoa looked so delicious I couldn't resist making a gluten-free copy-cat cake.
I made it for our bible study group this week... there was seven of us....and the cake disappeared quickly with complements and second helpings and requests for the recipe!
So here it is !
Cake Layers
  • five eggs
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 cup white rice flour
  • 1/4 cup tapioca starch
  • 1/4 cup potato starch
  • 1 heaping tbsp. sweet rice flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. xanthan gum

(Alternative flour mix that I had good results with -- 1/4 cup white or brown rice, 1/4 cup white corn, 1/2 cup cornstarch, 1 tbsp potato starch)

Beat eggs and sugar until thick and creamy, add salt and vanilla.

Mix all dry ingredients together well....... and then add to egg mixture , beating until smooth.

Divide batter into two greased round cake pans, ( I put waxed paper on the bottom to facilitate easy removal )

Bake at 350' for about 40 minutes and cool in pan.

Butter Cream

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 3 eggs or 6 yolks (I've done it both ways, but the six yokes is definitely better!)
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 pkg Oeker's Vanilla Sugar (you can of course use Vanilla extract, but I LOVE the flavor of Oeker's Vanilla Sugar)
  • 1/2 cup very soft butter

Combine the sugar and cornstarch and Oeker's Vanilla sugar, add yokes (or eggs) and beat until fluffy .

Stir in the milk.

Cook until thickened.... remove from heat ..place plastic wrap directly on custard and let cool to room temperature.. Be patient !

Then mix in soft butter until perfectly smooth and place in fridge until firmed to spreading consistency .

Put Butter Cream filling between the layers and then cover top and sides as well.

Cover with toasted almond flakes ... and I drizzled chocolate over the top. (3 chocolate squares melted in the microwave with a little sugar and milk- ***note- let the milk boil and the squares just turn soft , then stir until they are melted, I find letting them melt completely takes the shine and smoothness out of the chocolate )

Vic liked his piece of cake served with homemade berry sauce.

Sweet & Spicy Chicken Stir Fry

This recipe is from the Best of bridge cookbook. They serve it over rice, but I usually serve it over Chinese noodles. They also toss in 1 1/2 cups of cashews just before serving. The fresh ginger and sesame oil are a must in this recipe. Serves 6.
1/2 cup ketchup
4 tsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
3 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp sesame oil
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 tbsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
3 whole boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into cubes
1/4 cup cooking oil
2 tbsp minced fresh ginger
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 small onion chopped
2 red peppers, cut in strips
2 carrots thinly sliced on diagonal
2 cups snow peas
toasted sesame seeds for sprinkling
Combine sauce ingredients and set aside. Combine cornstarch, sugar and salt. Add chicken and toss. Heat frying pan or wok to high and add oil. When oil if hot (not smoking) add chicken, ginger, garlic and onion. stir until chicken is opaque (about 1 minute). Add peppers and carrots. Stir 2-3 minutes. Add snow peas and sauce. Cook until sauce comes to a boil.
Serve over hot rice or noodle. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds. (if you want to add the cashews toss in just before serving.

Tilapia Brushetta/ Tilapia Parmesan

I try to incorporate a fish meal at least once a week in some way or the other. We really enjoyed both versions of the recipe. The first version of the recipe is-

Tilapia Brushetta:
  • 1-lb of any white fish, tilapia is nice and reasonable priced
  • 1/4 c. pesto
  • 3 plum tomatoes seeded and diced
  • 1/2 finely diced red onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp. white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp. grated lemon peel
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • pinch of sugar
  • 1/2 cup shredded parmaessan cheese
  1. Thaw filets according to package instructions. 
  2. Preheat oven to 350. Lay fillets on a lightly greased baking sheet. 
  3. Brush tops with pesto. 
  4. Combine tomatoes, onion, garlic, vinegar, lemon peel, oregano, salt, pepper and sugar in a large bowl.
  5. Spoon tomatoe misture evenly over fillers and sprinkle with cheese. 
  6. Bake for about 5 minutes, or until fillets flake easily with a fork.
  7. Serves 4-6
Alternate lazy version and that is what the picture is.
  1. Top the fish fillet with pesto.
  2. Top with left over pasta sauce and a sprinkle of parmessan.
Either way it is tasty, low in fat and healthy.
Recipe source from the back of Highliner Frozen Tilapia fillets package.

Lemon Basil Carrots

My son isn't a big fan of carrots, but he LOVES these. I use the sauce on other veggies too and it is something that gives just plain veggies a bit of punch to them.
  • 1 lb. carrots or green beans
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic salt (or powder if you want to reduce sodium intake)
  • 1/2 tsp. dried basil
  • freshly cracked pepper to taste
  1. Steam carrots or green beans until tender crisp.
  2. Strain.
  3. Melt butter, stir in other ingredients and toss with the carrots.
Enough for 4 servings, or 2 teenage boys.

Waffled Cinnamon Raisin French Toast

We're on somewhat of a waffle kick over here lately. I just discovered not so long ago that making french toast on the waffle iron is quite a simple thing and so delicious! So we've been trying it every which way, and today it was cinnamon raisin french toasted waffles.

Waffled Cinnamon Raisin French Toast
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 6 slices cinnamon raisin bread ~ thick sliced
  1. Preheat waffle maker and spray surface with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. In large bowl, whisk eggs until frothy, then add remaining ingredients and whisk until well mixed (lump free).
  3. Dip 1 slice of bread into mixture and turn to cover both sides. Place in waffle maker and cook until golden brown. Repeat with remaining slices.
  4. Dust with icing sugar and serve with warm maple syrup. 

It's a quick and delicious brunch!  That's my recipe, but feel free to use your favorite french toast dipping batter and give it a try.

If you prefer plain french toast with srawberries and whipped cream, check out the instructions over at My Front Porch.

And here is another fun idea for your waffle iron...why not try your favorite loaf or muffin batter baked on your waffle iron? The possibilities are endless and I can't vouch for them all! But, I did try pumpkin spice muffin waffles yesterday and had them for an afternoon tea party with the grands. They were ready in minutes and we enjoyed them hot off the press, smothered in butter, and they were quite yummy. So dust off your waffle iron and get creative!

Barbecued Steak Supreme

I have been making this dish since I was 15 or 16. It was one of the first dinners I had at Terry's house when we started dating . I asked his mom for the recipe and brought it home and made it.
I still make this steak dish when comfort food is needed for ourselves or for others.
At some point I came across the cookbook that she used.
  • 2 pounds steak (round or flank)  
  • 2 tablespoons seasoned flour (a good dash of salt and pepper)
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 can of tomato soup
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons prepared mustard
  • dash Tabasco sauce
  1. Pound the flour into the steak or if it is already very thinly sliced sprinkle it on either side.
  2. Heat the oil in a heavy saucepan and brown the steak on medium high heat.
  3. Remove the steak and set aside.
  4. Brown the vegetables and add the remaining ingredients.
  5. Stir well and add the steak.
  6. Cook in the oven at 325 for 3 hours. Slower and longer makes it more tender. You can also put it in the crock pot on low for 6 - 8 hours. 
  7. Serve over mashed potatoes.
Hint:  Double the sauce ingredients for plenty of sauce over mashed potatoes. 

Dutch Apple Pancakes

I got the idea for these pancakes from a local pancake restaurant, but after more than one serving of pancakes that were undercooked, I decided to try making them myself. I use the German Pancake (crepe) recipe from the Mennonite Cookbook.

  • 4 eggs
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 apples, slivered
  1. Quarter and slice apples, as thin as you can. 
  2. Beat eggs, then add milk salt and flour, beating until smooth. 
  3. Heat (med size) non stick pan and lightly grease with butter for first pancake and then every other, if needed. 
  4. Batter should not be too thick, but still coat pan nicely - add a little more milk, if needed. Pour a small ladle full of batter into pan while lifting the pan and tilting it in a circular motion, until the pan is covered with batter. Spread with thinly sliced apple slices and cover with another layer of the batter. tilting pan in a revolving motion. 
  5. Cook at med or just below med heat until batter looks dry on top and edges lift easily with plastic lifter. Flip carefully, but quickly. This recipe makes about ten 8-inch pancakes.
  6. Sprinkle pancakes with cinnamon sugar. (mix 1 cup sugar with 1 teaspoon cinnamon)

I had some leftover Schmoo sauce from Charlotte’s Schmoo Torte I had made earlier and drizzled some of that on the pancakes. I won’t tell you haw many I had!

Cabbage Borscht

The Ukrainians made borsch...and the Mennonites of the Ukraine borrowed the soup...but substituted cabbage as the main ingredient rather than beets, and called it Borscht.

My Borscht is much like the soup my mom cooked...for which there never was a written recipe. But it goes something like this...

  • 2 lbs. soup bones, with lots of meat
  • 8-10 cups water
  • 2-4 carrots, sliced
  • 4 medium potatoes, cubed
  • 1 large (or 2 medium) onions, chopped
  • 1 medium head cabbage, chopped fine
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 whole red chili peppers (dried)
  • fresh dill (a handful or to taste)
  • 2 tins tomato soup
  • 2 cups diced tomatoes (optional)
  1. Cover soup bones with water and simmer until meat is tender (several hours).
  2. Remove the bone and shred the beef. Add more water to make 8-10 cups of stock before adding the vegetables.
  3. Add vegetables and seasonings (put chili peppers and dill into a spice cup or cheesecloth), and cook until vegetables are tender.
  4. Add tomato soup, diced tomatoes, and shredded beef...and bring to a boil.
  5. Serve with sour cream.
Add a wee bit more of this or less of that, and if you like it fiery hot, add more red chili peppers. I often cook up a large pot, leave the spice cup in the soup and refrigerate it for a week of quick lunches. As the week progresses, our bowl of soup gets zippier!

Fresh dill is the best but can also be harvested in season and frozen in ziplock bags to be used in soup.

Creamy Macaroni and Cheese

Today was a comfort food kind of day and this dish tops my list of comfort foods. 
For many years my children preferred it to the boxed mac and cheese 
and it really doesn't take much longer to make from scratch.
  • 2 cups macaroni - cooked and drained
  • cheddar cheese (old/sharp is best) coarsely grated.
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • salt and pepper to taste
(I make my white sauce in the microwave but it can also be made on the stove.
The method is the same.)
  1. Melt butter in 8 cup microwavable bowl or medium saucepan. 
  2. Stir in flour with a wire whisk until smooth. 
  3. Very gradually add milk, stirring smooth with each addition. 
  4. Microwave for 1 minute at a time, stirring well each time until sauce bubbles or cook over medium heat, stirring constantly.
  5. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  6. In buttered casserole dish, place a layer of cooked macaroni.
  7. Pour 1/2 of white sauce over to cover.
  8. Sprinkle with grated cheese.
  9. Repeat layers ending with cheese.
  10. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until it bubbles at the edges.

Caramel Chocolate Sheet Cake

I served this cake at my husband's 60th birthday party this weekend and had so many requests for the recipe that I said I'd post it here. I got the recipe from my good friend Betti. 
The secret to the incredible taste is the caramel sauce poured over the warm cake and the Skor bar garnish of course. Read the recipe over before preparing.

For the Cake:
  • 1 cup margarine
  • 6 tablespoons cocoa
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
For the Caramel sauce:
  • 3/4 cup margarine
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons. corn syrup
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 1/2 cups Whipping Cream
  • 2 or 3 Skor Chocolate Bars or another crunchy brittle style chocolate bar.
  1. Melt margarine, add cocoa and hot water and bring to a boil.
  2. Remove from heat and set aside.
  3. Measure sugar,baking soda, salt, vanilla and flour into a large mixing bowl.
  4. Add hot mixture to dry ingredients and beat until smooth
  5. Add beaten eggs and sour cream and mix well.
  6. Spread in jelly roll pan. 
  7. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until done. 
  8. Meanwhile prepare Caramel sauce.
  9. Melt margarine.
  10. Add brown sugar, corn syrup and sweetened condensed milk.
  11. Bring to a boil and cook for 2 minutes. Watch carefully as it scorches easily.
  12. Remove cake from oven, let sit for 5 minutes. 
  13. Poke holes in cake with meat fork about 1/2-1 inch apart.
  14.  Spoon some of the caramel sauce over the cake, filling all the holes.
  15.  Let remaining sauce cool to spreading consistency. Then spread remainder of sauce over cake.
  16. When cake is completely cool whip 1 1/2 cups heavy cream,
  17. Spread over caramel layer.
  18. Crumble  Skor bars and sprinkle over cream layer.
  19. Store in refrigerator until serving. Don't plan on leftovers!
This cake works well to make ahead. Freeze the cake after spreading the caramel mixture.
Leave in Freezer until an hour or so before serving time.  Whip cream, spread over caramel and sprinkle the Skor bar crumbles just before serving.

Cake of Genoa with Buttercream Frosting

This cake can be served simply or made into a special cake with garnishes. 

  • 1 cup of eggs (about 5)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/4 cup flour
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Prepare two 8 inch pans or one 5 inch springform pan by greasing and lining with parchment paper. 
  3. Beat the eggs until light and fluffy.
  4. Gradually add the sugar, salt and vanilla.
  5. Beat until thick and lemon colored.
  6. Gently fold in the flour, 2 tablespoons at a time.
  7. Bake for about 25 - 30 minutes. Test with a toothpick. 
  8. Cool in pan.
  9. Split cake into layers.
  10. The recipe calls for Butter Cream between all the layers and then icing the outside the same. I whipped heavy cream, added a bit of sugar and used some Whip it to stabilize the cream and spread the whipped cream between the layers.
Butter Cream
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 3 eggs or 6 egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup very soft butter
  1. Combine the sugar and the cornstarch in a large microwave safe bowl.
  2. Add the eggs or egg yolks. Beat until fluffy.
  3. Stir in the milk.
  4. Put in the microwave and heat for one minute at a time, stirring well after each minute.
  5. Continue to heat until thick.
  6. Add 1 teaspoon vanilla
  7. Cover with plastic wrap right on the surface of the custard
  8. Allow to come to room temperature. Make sure it is completely cool. Stir well.
  9. Add the softened butter, until smooth and combined.
  10. Cool a little till perfect spreading consistency.
  11. Decorate your cake as you please. I spread melted chocolate onto parchment paper. . very thinly, put it in the fridge for a day or two, and then rolled it up and allowed the chocolate to fall into a zip loc bag to create chocolate shavings, big and small.
  12. Garnish with toasted almonds. 


I got this recipe as a newly wed, from a friend. Over the years I've made minor changes, but all in all, it's a basic lasagna recipe that always goes over well.

  • 9 lasagna noodles
  • 1 1/4 lb lean hamburger
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 - 19 oz can tomatoes
  • 1 small can tomato paste
  • 1 clove crushed garlic
  • 1 Tbsp oregano
  • 1 Tbsp basil
  • 2 cups cottage or ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese
  • 2 Tbsp parsley
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 6 - 8 cups grated mozzarella cheese
  • (or 4 cheese Italian Mix)
  1. Cook noodles according to package instructions. 
  2.  Brown meat in large frying pan, drain, add seasoning, tomatoes (while cooking, chop tomatoes into smaller pieces with spatula)) and tomato paste according to taste.
  3. Mix cottage or ricotta cheese with egg, Parmesan, parsley, salt and pepper.
  4. Cover the bottom of a 9 x 13 glass baking dish with noodles (3). Layer with 1/3 of the meat, cottage cheese and mozzarella. Repeat to make three layers. Cover lightly with aluminum foil and bake at 350 F - 45 min. (serves 8)
  5. For two people: Make 2 smaller casseroles, freeze one (before baking) and you’ll still have left overs to enjoy each time.

Sharon's Beef Soup

To be honest, I don't know who Sharon is but her beef soup is delicious! This recipe was passed along to me by my friend Aretha, who got it from our friend Angela, who got it from....???
I don't know who to give credit to but this hearty and delicious soup is a keeper.

In a large stock pot saute:

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium red onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced

Add 1 lb ground beef

Now add:

5 small red potatoes, diced
3 carrots diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp bisto
1 large can tomato juice
1 10oz can beef broth

Bring to a boil and then simmer for 20 minutes

Now add:
1/2 small red pepper
1/2 cup pearl barley or miniature pasta
1 can corn

Simmer for 10 more minutes and enjoy!
I served this with Anneleise's delicious French Bread and it was a wonderful winter supper.

(sorry...photo is not great quality)

Schaubel Zup (Green Bean Soup)

My mom made a soup like this when I was growing up, but it wasn't one of my favorites. Recently I decided to revisit this green bean soup and found that it’s actually better than I remember. The broth, with a little sweet cream in it, reminds me of the Zuppa Toscana soup at Olive Garden. How much better can it get? Here is the recipe – a combination of ideas of how my Mom made it and a recipe in the Mennonite Treasury.

  • 1 lb smoked ham hock
  • ½ dried red hot pepper
  • 10 black pepper kernels
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 - 3 carrots, chopped
  • 2 medium potatoes
  • 6 cups chopped (frozen or fresh) green beans
  • summer savory
  • 1 bouillon cube (chicken or beef) if needed, for extra flavor

  1. Cover ham bone with about 8 cups water in large pot. Tie spices into cheesecloth and add to pot. 
  2. Bring to boil, take off scum, and simmer about 1 hour. 
  3. Take out ham bone. Add vegetables and cook another hour. 
  4.  While vegetables are cooking and after ham has cooled somewhat, remove ham from bone, chop into bite size pieces and return to pot. 
  5. About ½ hour before it’s done, add a handful of summer savory, tied together for easy removal. If you can’t get summer savory, use a tiny sprinkle of thyme. Adjust flavors with bouillon if needed.
  6.  Add ½ cup sweet cream or sour cream, before serving. Enjoy a trip down memory lane.
To make this soup with farmer sausage, simply cook  peeled and chopped sausage along with vegetables for an hour. You can also pre-cook the onion, then add water, sausage and vegetables. Use bouillon cube and summer savory for flavor.

Lentil, Black Bean and Sweet Potato Chilli

A good source of fiber, protein and iron; the addition of lentils to vegetarian chilli is a bonus in more ways than one. Lentils do not require soaking before cooking if you are putting them in a liquid based dish like this one. Or, if you are like me and always have cans of beans...you can just as easily put a can of lentils in instead. All in all....vegetarian chili's such as this one are quick to make and GOOD for you. This is just one such version. There are lots of recipes out there so you can quickly come up with your own. One tendency I find, is for people to add everything 'but the kitchen sink' into their vegetarian dishes. Although it will all cook up nicely, you eventually tire of the dishes as they all taste the same. So if you find a recipe and want to 'replace'...make sure you stay in the same food group and replace...don't keep adding. For instance, for this chilli I found a similar one in the January issue of Alive Health Magazine. I followed it closely but made a few changes to make it my own.

  • 1 tbsp olive oil - I use extra virgin
  • 1 large onion - chopped
  • 3 or 4 stalks of celery (leaves included) - diced
  • 2 to 3 cups orange fleshed sweet potato - chopped in 1 inch cubes (or substitute yams or yellow fleshed sweet potato)
  • 1/4 cup carrots - chopped (I added these to give colour as I did not have the orange sweet potatoes.)
  • 4 cloves of garlic - chopped fine
  • 1 tsp of sea salt - salt is not imperative but it will 'boost' the spicier spices we are adding in a bit here
  • fresh ground pepper to taste
  • 2 tsp of chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp of nutmeg
  • 1 tsp of cumin (you could use curry powd. in a pinch but it does tend to 'meld' everything into a one blend taste)
  • 1/2 tsp of cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp of crushed red pepper flakes - or a shot or two of red hot sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups of dry red lentils - or canned (I use 1- 14 oz canned)
  • 2 1/2 cups of low sodium broth - true vegetarian can use a veggie bullion or veggie broth...for today I only had chicken broth....
  • 1 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes - you can use diced but as you need thickener...you will need to add one small can of tomato paste to make the chili 'come together'
  • 1- 14 oz. can of black or kidney beans - drained
  • 1 medium bay leaf
  • 3 tbsp of lime juice - remember 'fresh is better'....save the remaining lime wedges for decoration.
Put oil in large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, potatoes, carrots, garlic and spices. Stir until well mixed. Cover under heat for about 5 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients except the lime juice and wedges. Stir. Bring to a quick boil WHILE stirring ocassionally. Turn on low and simmer for about 1/2 an hour. The sweet potatoes should be tender and have absorbed the extra moisture. Stir in the lime juice and serve with hearty brown bread and a slice of lime.

Healthy Beef Wraps - Middle Eastern Style

Do you like 'Donair', a turkish kebab also known in Middle Eastern terms as Shawarma ? Yum...me too! This is my version of the wrap....real simple but very tasty...just as good and, depending on where you get yours ready made, perhaps a bit healthier. When you make your own you can buy organic yogurt, use whole wheat tortilla wraps (rather than the thicker white pita bread used in fast food service) and you can control the amount of fat that remains in the beef mixture. The addition of kidney beans adds fibre and because it adds protein too, you can reduce the amount of actual ground beef in a typical recipe. Don't omit it though if you are not fond of beans....just use less. The mashed beans help to thicken the meat 'sauce' with all the flavour that you want to preserve for the wrap.

  • touch of light oil (if you need it)
  • 1 lb (or about 450 g) lean ground beef (I used extra lean minced steak)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion (yes...keep it fine :P..)
  • 1 garlic clove finely minced (at least one...I use about three to be honest...and my motto of course is fresh is best but you could use 1/4 tsp garlic pwd. to replace the ONE clove.)
  • 1 14 oz can of drained red kidney beans (I think that would be about a 400 ml?)
  • 1/4 cup low sodium prepared beef broth
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt (I use organic and 2% but it is only a matter of choice. I do have to say this...when using 2% or less in 'cooking' .....as opposed to baking...you most likely have to increase your seasonings as it doesn't 'take' that much. The complaint I often get from my boys is that although they appreciate the lower calories...the dishes lack more in flavour...so....)
  • 1/4 tsp lemon juice (Adding lemon juice will boost flavour always - of course too much will detract)
  • pinch of sea salt (also a flavour booster)
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh dill
  • 1 tsp SPIKE (I love SPIKE for these healthy recipes. You could use Mrs. Dash or similar. Some mixed spices have a strong flavour favoring a specific spice in the mix. I prefer SPIKE because it has a good balance. You can omit this if you want and add a bit of cumin instead...cumin is always a good addition for these type of dishes.)
  • 1 cup -more or less - chopped English cucumber
  • 1 cup chopped tomato
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese (optional but I suggest you try!)
  • Whole wheat flour tortillas (I use the larger size; it fits more 'filling' in it)
  • tin foil and parchment paper (or wax) for wrapping
Put touch of oil in a large frying pan. Add the beef, onions and minced garlic. Fry until no pink remains in the beef. Drain fat if necessary. Mash half of the drained beans with a fork on a small plate. Add it to the beef mixture. And the rest of the beans and broth. Heat through and then remove it from the heat.

Mix the yogurt with the dill, lemon juice and spices and salt. Taste a bit and see, it may need a bit more of this or that. Add cumin or curry pwd. to taste.Rip off one tin foil sheet and one parchment paper sheet and lay on counter, parchment paper on top. Lay one tortilla on the sheets. Spread yogurt mixture on tortilla spreading until about 1 inch from the edges. Spoon beef mixture down the centre. Sprinkle the toppings on the beef. Fold bottom end of tortilla over filling. Fold in the sides leaving the top end open. Wrap up with the foil/paper and voila...you have an easy to hold and healthy snack. I served these last night with a light salad after an evening at the gym and it was perfect for a light meal.

Note: Yikes...in the photo my chicken broth made it in to the shot rather than the beef broth. And my tomatoes, feta and spike plus a few other 'subjects' were camera shy so they did not attend the 'group shot'.....sheesh...the things us photographers have to deal with....eh? Grin!

Ginger Applesauce Fruitcake

Still have some dried fruit left over from your Christmas baking? Want to make a healthier version of the traditional fruitcake? This moist cake is good enough to pack in every day lunches or to serve with coffee without too much guilt in the New Year because it is sweetened with applesauce and brown sugar.

  • 1 bag of orange pekoe tea
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 1/2 cups dark raisins
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup chopped mixed glaze fruit
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup applesauce (I use unsweetened)
  • 1/3 cup chopped walnuts or almonds
  • 1/4 cup minced crystallized ginger
  • 1/4 cup margarine or butter, melted
  • 2 cups flour ((I used 1 cup whole wheat and 1 cup white)
  • 1 tsp flax seed (my addition - I am always trying to get that in somewhere)
  • 1 tsp baking pwd
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt (regular will do - I use sea salt when I do use salt)
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon (I used 1/2 tsp AT LEAST...love that cinnamon)
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
Place tea bag in a medium size blow and pour the boiling water over top. Cover and let it steep for 5 minutes. Squeeze out the teabag and discard. Add the raisins, brown sugar and glazed fruit. Stir and cover letting stand for 1 to 2 hours until the raisins are softened. Mix the next 5 ingredients in a large bowl. Add the raisin mixture and the remaining ingredients. Stir until it is just moistened. Spread into a greased or parchment lined 9 x 9 pan and bake in 350 F oven for 45 minutes or until done in the middle.

A friend served this delicious cake for me over the holiday. I am thinking it shouldn't have to be saved for holiday baking. Although she wrote out the recipe for me I believe it was one she tried from a cookbook given to her for Christmas called Easy Healthy Recipes by Jean Pare.

Fig and Apple Muffins

I got this recipe from a 2002 Robin Hood Baking Festival booklet. These are one of my favorite muffins and really it’s hard to believe that something so good is also healthy! If you’re extra health conscious, you can substitute half of the flour for whole wheat, use a little less sugar, and non-fat yogurt. If I don’t have figs, I use chopped dates.

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 cup vanilla yogurt 
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted
  • 2 cups finely chopped apples
  • 1 ½ cups dried figs, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup almonds
  • ¼ cup oats
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  1. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. 
  2. Combine egg, yogurt and butter in small bowl. Add to flour mixture, stirring until just moistened. 
  3. Stir in apples and figs. 
  4. Spoon batter into greased muffin tins, quite full.
  5. Combine topping ingredients and spoon over muffins, pressing in a bit.
  6. Makes 12 large muffins (grease tops of muffin tin, if using regular size tins)
  7. Extra large muffin tins work well.
  8. Bake at 375 F for about 25 minutes, depending on size.

Krispie Date 'n Sunflower Seed Balls

These yummy treats are not only easy to make...
they are down right healthy too.

I make a date granola bar with similar ingredients but I wanted a lighter snack to put in the boy's lunches. I came across one in Company's Coming Healthy Choices which looked so simple I had to try it. A nice, light, nutritious bite (or two) and 1 roll is only 53 calories.

  • 1 tbsp butter (or margarine)
  • 1/2 cup chopped pitted dates
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups rice crisp cereal
  • 1/4 cup salted roasted sunflower seeds (yep...I said salted..you need to balance the taste of the dates so salted it is)

Melt the butter in a small pot on medium heat. Add the next three ingredients. Cook for about 3 minutes, stirring constantly until thickened. (The dates will 'melt' and combined with the sugar and butter it will turn into a brown 'paste'.) Remove from the heat. Add the cereal and sunflower seeds. Stir. Let stand for about 10 minutes until it is cool enough to handle. Shape into 1 inch balls.

You might want to coat your hands with cooking spray to keep the date mixture from sticking to them while you form the balls.

Smoked Salmon with Cream Cheese Pizza

 We love smoked salmon pizza.
The dough has olive oil base and it sits in the fridge until you are ready to use it. 

  • 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
  • 2 teaspoons yeast
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cups of unbleached white flour
  1. Mix together the yeast, sugar, salt and olive oil with the water in a large bowl.
  2. Mix in the flour with a wooden spoon and stir well.
  3. Cover but not airtight.
  4. Put in the fridge for a few days or leave on the counter for a few hours and use right away.
  5. Take half the dough and spread it on a large cookie sheet that had a smidge of olive oil on it and let it rest a few hours.
  6. Bake the dough at 400 on the parchment paper and cookie sheet until firm, about 10 minutes. 
  7. Spread, half a brick (4 ounces) of cream cheese.
  8. Top with very thinly sliced smoked salmon. (I buy mine at Costco).
  9. Sprinkle on very thin red onion and finely chopped fresh dill weed.
  10. Put back into the hot oven or on a grill without the cookie sheet. 

Just a crisp salad is all that is needed to make a nice dinner.

Lettuce Wraps

We have a wonderful Chinese food restaurant in our town and one of my favorite menu items is their lettuce wrap.  When I found a recipe that looked similar (in the Mt. Cheam Christian School Cookbook #3), I decided to give it a try. I will be making this dish again...and again!

Lettuce Wraps
  • 1 large head iceberg lettuce
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 red pepper, finely diced
  • 1 green pepper, finely diced
  • 2 carrots, finely diced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 or 3 cups steam fried noodles
  • 1 bottle hoisin sauce
    1. Core head of lettuce. Hold upside down under cold, running water...gently pull the leaves away from the core, one at a time. Each leaf will from a natural cup. Remove excess water from leaves...and chill in refrigerator until needed.
    2. Brown ground beef in heavy skillet. Add ginger, garlic, peppers, carrot and onion. Fry until veggies are tender. Add the steam fried noodles and cook for 2-3 minutes longer (noodles should still be crunchy). Transfer mixture to serving platter.
    3. Place platter on table, alongside a plate of lettuce leaves and bowl of hoisin sauce. To serve, allow each person to spoon a portion of the meat into a lettuce leaf...top with hoisin sauce. Wrap the lettuce around the meat like a burrito, and enjoy!
    Cooks notes: The hoisin sauce can be found in the Asian section of the grocery store. It's what gives the flavour, so it is not optional!

    Plushche or Plushke

    This sweet bun is pronounced ploosh-tche in Low German or ploosh-ke in High German, which is the German I grew up with. My mom-in-law speaks the Low German to me and I answer in the High German. That’s how we have communicated for over 30 years and although we hardly notice it, it would sound funny to someone listening. Since she was born in Russia, experienced the same hardships as my grandparents did and is 40 years older than I am, she has often been more of on Oma image to me. She loves calling and seeing what I’m doing. When she found out I was making Plushke, she was in heaven! She asked me if I was having “yast” (guests). Obviously she would have made these for guests. I didn’t even try to explain why I was really making them. So, here’s to all of our blogland “yast’, a recipe that, when I bit into them reminded me of being a child and dipping by bun in sugar. This is my Mom’s recipe.

    • 2 cups milk
    • ½ cup butter
    • ½ teaspoon salt
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 4 eggs
    • 8 cups flour
    • 2 tablespoons yeast
    • ¼ cup melted butter
    • ¾ cup sugar
    1. Scald milk and butter and salt. Cool slightly with a few ice cubes if using instant (fast acting) yeast, or to ‘warm’ if using traditional yeast. (If using traditional yeast, mix with a 2 Tbsp sugar, then ½ cup warm water to dissolve – let stand 10 min) I’ve found that instant yeast (which you just add to the flour) is more forgiving when it comes to hot liquids, whereas regular/traditional yeast can be killed if the liquids are too hot.
    2. Beat eggs and sugar well in large mixing bowl or dough machine bowl.
    3. Slowly stir in milk and butter, then regular yeast mixture or instant yeast mixed with 1 cup flour, continue adding flour, one cup at a time. Using a dough hook makes this easy. Knead until dough is smooth and holds together nicely.
    4. Transfer to larger bowl and cover loosely with tea towel and plastic.
    5. Let rise 1 hour.
    1. Now, my mom used to cut little squares and do a crossover thing with little cuts so that it looked like a flower, but you can do whatever you want. What I did: Divide the dough into 4 parts. 
    2. Pat each part into a circle on floured surface and use a rolling pin to roll out a bit larger than a dinner plate. 
    3. Spread each circle with 1 tablespoon melted butter and sprinkle with 3 tablespoons sugar. Cut into 12 wedges.
    4. Roll wedges up starting from the outside. Place on parchment lined cookie sheet.
    5. Cover and let rise 1 hour. Bake at 350 F for about 15 minutes.
    • 2 cups icing sugar, 
    • 1 tablespoon soft margarine
    •  milk to make an easy spread
    Oma would have thinly covered the whole bun. I like to play with icing, so I did a drizzly spread.

    Addendum: I found out that plyushki is a Russian pastry, which makes sense when I consider that my mom-in-law lived in Siberia

    Spicy Thai Soup.

    We like spicy fare in our home and Thai will certainly get you there! I make a 'kind of' Thai soup with red curry paste and green beans but when I saw a recipe in Company's Coming Healthy Choices which was similar but used spinach instead I was intrigued and had to try it. The end result...another successful dinner for my boys! I changed the recipe up to suit the offerings in my well stocked curry cupboard...and voila! I served this up with thin rice noodles on the side which were quickly brought to a boil and then pan fried with grated ginger and soy sauce. Chopsticks were 'offered' to help pull out the veggies so the hot (and I mean hot) broth could be slurped on it's own.


    • 1 tbsp cooking oil
    • 1/2 lb pork tenderloin trimmed of fat and cut into thin strips.(good grief...that is a lot...I think you can get away with what you prefer AND...omit altogether if you want to go vegetarian)
    • 1 tbsp red curry paste (now I did not have any handy but I always have a packet or two of Thai Spicy Basil Stir Fry so I used that instead...perfect)
    • 4 cups low sodium prepared chicken broth
    • 14 oz. can of cut baby corn, drained
    • 1 cup thinly sliced red pepper
    • 1 tsp fish sauce (truly this is a good investment for your cooking)
    • 2 cups fresh spinach, stems removed and lightly packed - so the recipe says...I like thick soups so I packed that spinach down hard! (I usually use a thin french green bean here so I know it works just as well...just a different presentation)
    • 2 tbsp finely shredded basil (please use fresh - OR - about 1 1/2 tsp dried - just don't tell me!)
    • 1 tbsp lime juice
    Heat the cooking oil in large pot over medium heat. Add the pork and cook until lightly browned. Transfer pork to a small bowl. Heat and stir the curry paste in the same pot for about 1 minute until it BURSTS with fragrance. Add the next five ingredients, stir and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer covered for about five minutes or until the red pepper is softened. (Here is a tip...if you are going to wait to serve....remove from heat at this stage until you are ready to serve.) Then add the pork and spinach. Stir and simmer for about 2 minutes more, stirring occasionally until the spinach is just wilted. Add the basil and lime juice.

    ...Healthy AND Delicious...

    Baked Potato and Leek Soup with Cheddar and Bacon

    Think of a loaded baked potato with butter, sour cream, onion, cheese, and bacon. Now picture it as a creamy bowl of delicious soup. Yum! Potatos are used skin and all so be sure to scrub them well.

    You might recognize this recipe from the front cover of 'The Rest of the Best of Bridge'!

    Prep Time: 35 minutes
    Cook Time: 1 hours, 30 minutes

    2 medium russet potatoes (about 1/2 pound each)
    4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
    2 medium leeks (white and light green parts), sliced and rinsed well
    2 medium cloves garlic, minced
    Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
    2 cups homemade or low-salt canned chicken broth
    4 thick slices bacon, cut into 1/2-inch dice
    1/2 cup milk
    1/2 cup sour cream
    1 cup (about 1/4 pound) grated sharp Cheddar (see Cook's Note)
    2 Tablespoons thinly sliced scallion greens or chives


    Heat the oven to 375 degrees F.

    Scrub the potatoes, pat dry, and pierce several times with a fork. Set them directly on the oven rack and bake until very tender, about 1 hour. Let cool completely on a cooling rack.

    Melt the butter in a soup pot over medium-low heat. Add the leeks and garlic, season with salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the chicken broth and 2 cups water. Simmer until the leeks are very tender, about 20 minutes.

    Meanwhile, cook the bacon over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until browned and crisp. Transfer to a paper-towel lined plate to drain.

    Cut one of cooled potatoes in half lengthwise and scoop the flesh out in one piece from each half. Cut the flesh into 1/2-inch cubes and set aside. Coarsely chop the potato skin and the entire remaining potato and add to the pot with the leeks. Puree the contents of the pot in batches in a blender until very smooth.

    Return the soup to a clean pot and reheat over medium low. Whisk together the milk and sour cream and then whisk this into the soup, along with 1/2 cup of the cheddar cheese. Stir in the diced potato.

    Season with salt and pepper. Serve garnished with the remaining cheese, the bacon bits, and the scallions or chives.

    Yield: 6 cups, 4 servings Cook's Note: Sharp cheese works well in this soup because it melts smoothly. Extra sharp will give you a more pronounced flavor but because of the lower moisture content, the soup will be less smooth.

    Poached Halibut in Lemon Tarragon Sauce

    This is such a simple dish to make...everyone has made a similar dish at one time I am sure. But sometimes we forget how tasty and nutritious these simple recipes are.

    You will need:
    • 2 tbsp butter
    • t tbsp of flour
    • 1 cup of low sodium chicken broth or veggie broth (you can make it with a bullion)
    • 2 tbsp of lemon juice (fresh is always my motto)
    • 1 tsp of dried tarragon
    • 1 lb (4 nice fillets) of fresh (or frozen but thawed) halibut or haddock or cod about 1/2 inch thick and with small bones removed
    • some chopped fresh tarragon for garnish
    Melt the butter in a large frying pan on medium heat. Sprinkle in the flour. Heat and stir for a minute. Slowly add the broth, stirring constantly until it boils and thickens. Add the lemon juice and the dried tarragon and stir. Pat the fillets dry with a paper towel and then add to the sauce. Reduce the heat to low and simmer covered for about 8 minutes until the fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. Garnish with fresh tarragon.