Saturday, January 31, 2009

Quick and Easy Banana Cream Pie

banana cream pie 7

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. I find the Jello Cooked Pudding mix works just fine.

Graham Cracker crust

1/3 cup melted butter

1/ 1/2 cups graham wafer crumbs

1- 2 Tbsp sugar.

Mix all ingredients in a bowl.

Reserve about 1/2 cup crumbs and press remaining crumbs into 9 or 10 inch pie plate. Refrigerate while you make the filling.

Custard filling

1 package Jello Cooked pudding mix

2 3/4 cups milk

1 Tbsp. butter

1/2 tsp good vanilla

In a large bowl or glass 8 cup measure, stir pudding mix with milk, blending well with whisk. Microwave a minute at a time, stirring well each time until mixture begins to thicken and bubble. Add butter and vanilla, stirring well. Let it cool, stirring every few minutes while you prepare the bananas.

Cut 2 or 3 large bananas into 1/2 inch slices and arrange on the bottom and around the sides of the graham crust. Pour warm custard filling over bananas and refrigerate until filling is completely cold.

Banana Cream pie 1

Whip one pint of Whipping cream adding bit of sugar and vanilla to taste. Spread over custard and sprinkle with reserved crumbs. Refrigerate until serving.

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.

Friday, January 30, 2009

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.
SAUCE
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
STIR-FRY MIXTURE
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 one 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

Thaw filets according to package instructions. Preheat oven to 350. Lay fillets on a lightly greased baking sheet. Brush tops with pesto. Combine tomatoes, onion, garlic, vinegar, lemon peel, oregano, salt, pepper and sugar in a large bowl.
Spoon tomatoe misture evenly over fillers and sprinkle with cheese. Bake for about 5 minutes, or until fillets falke easuly with a fork.
serves 4-6

Alternate version and that is what the picture is.........top it pesto, 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. I even have halved or omitted the butter......but honestly butter does make it better. Hey, that sounds like a commercial doesn't it?
  • 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 until tender crisp.
  2. Strain.
  3. Melt butter, stir in other ingredients and toss with the carrots.
Be sure yo make lot, it goes over very well.
Enough for 4 servings, or 2 teenage boys.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

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
Preheat waffle maker and spray surface with non-stick cooking spray.

In large bowl, whisk eggs until frothy, then add remaining ingredients and whisk until well mixed (lump free).

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.

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!


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

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. . .
  • (I buy mine already sliced thin. . .but you can pound yours thin.)
  • 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. . .
  • (I can still remember insisting to my mom that we need this)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons prepared mustard
  • dash. . Tabasco sauce

A long time ago .. .I started doubling the sauce recipe. . .because it tastes so good on mashed potatoes.

  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. . 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. The recipe says 350 for 1 1/2 hours. .. . but slower and longer makes it more tender. You can also put it in the crock pot. . .which I did the day I took the picture. . .all day on low.
  7. Serve over mashed potatoes.

Monday, January 26, 2009

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.

Ingredients:
4 eggs
3 c milk
1 tsp salt
2 c flour
2 apples, slivered

Quarter and slice apples, as thin as you can. Beat eggs, then add milk salt and flour, beating until smooth. Heat (med size) Teflon coated pan and lightly grease (using paper towel) with butter or margarine for first pancake and then every other, if needed. 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. Cook at med or just below med heat until batter is not runny anymore and edges lift easily with plastic lifter. Flip carefully, but quickly. This recipe makes about ten 8 inch pancakes.
Sprinkle pancakes with cinnamon sugar. (mix 1 cup sugar with 1 tsp 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!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

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...

Borscht
  • 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.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Creamy Macaroni and Cheese

Today was a comfort food day and this dish tops my list of comfort foods. My kids always preferred it to the boxed mac and cheese and it really doesn't take much longer to make from scratch.

2 cups macaroni - cook and drain
cheddar cheese ( old/sharp is best) coarsely grated.

White Sauce:
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.
Melt butter in 8 cup microwavable bowl. Stir in flour with a wire whisk until smooth. Very gradually add milk, stirring smooth with each addition. Microwave for 1 minute at a time, stirring well each time until sauce bubbles. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Assemble:
In buttered casserole dish, place a layer of cooked macaroni.
Pour white sauce over to cover.
Sprinkle with grated cheese.
Repeat layers ending with cheese.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until it bubbles at the edges.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

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.

Cake
Boil together:
1 cup margarine
6 Tbsp. cocoa
1 cup hot water
Remove from heat and put into mixing bowl
Add:
2 cups sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups flour
Beat until smooth
Add:
2 eggs
1/2 cup sour cream

Spread in jelly roll pan. Bake at 350˚ for 20 minutes or until done. Meanwhile prepare Caramel sauce.

Caramel sauce:
3/4 cup margarine
3/4 cup brown sugar
3 Tbsp. corn syrup
1 can sweetened condensed milk
Boil for 2 minutes. Watch carefully as it scorches easily.

Remove cake from oven, let sit for 5 minutes. Poke holes in cake with meat fork about 1/2-1 inch apart. Spoon some of the caramel sauce over the cake, filling all the holes. Let remaining sauce cool to spreading consistancy. Then spread remainder of sauce over cake.

When cake is no longer warm, whip 1 1/2 cups heavy cream, spread over caramel layer.
Crumble 2-3 Skor bars and sprinkle over cream layer.
Store in refrigerator until serving. Don't plan on leftovers!

If you want to freeze all or part of this cake, leave the Skor bar crumbles off until you serve it. They tend to lose their crunchiness in the freezer.

Cake of Genoa with Buttercream Frosting

The beauty of this blog is the pictures. . .I say that not to boast or beg affirming words. . .but really, unless you can see the beauty that a simple recipe can produce it can easily be overlooked. Take this recipe for instance... . I found it in the Mennonite Treasury of Recipes. It was submitted by E. Friesen of Winnipeg Manitoba. The recipe was easily followed. . .but I had never made it before. . . I tried it for a special birthday cake this last week and now, it will be made many more times.

Though the recipe calls for two 8 inch pans, I made it into a small 5 inch Spring form pan and cut it into many layers. . .There was enough batter for two such cakes. . .one is in the freezer.

Cake of Genoa
  • 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. Beat the eggs until light and fluffy.
  3. Gradually add the sugar, salt and vanilla.
  4. Beat until thick and lemon colored.
  5. Gently fold in the flour. . .2 tablespoons at a time.
  6. Pour into a well greased pan that is lined with parchment paper at the bottom.
  7. Bake for about 25 - 30 minutes. . test with a toothpick. . it should be clean.
  8. Cool in pan.
  9. Split cake into layers. . .at least 2 I did 3.
  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 not still a bit warm. . .be patient.
  9. Stir well.
  10. Add the softened butter. . .until smooth and combined.
  11. Cool a little till perfect spreading consistency.
  12. 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. . .and voila. . .chocolate shavings. . big and small.
  13. I also toasted some almonds in the oven. . .please don't walk away and blog while you are doing this. . .you'll repeat the process if you do.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Lasagna


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.

Ingredients:

  • 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 350F - 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.


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

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)


Monday, January 19, 2009

Schaubel Zup (Green Bean Soup)

My mom made a soup like this when I was growing up, but it’s not one of the soups I adopted. 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 would have made it and the Mennonite Treasury.

Ingredients:
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

Cover ham bone with about 8 cups water in large pot. Tie spices into cheesecloth and add to pot. Bring to boil, take off scum, and simmer about 1 hour. Take out ham bone. Add vegetables and cook another hour. While vegetables are cooking and after ham has cooled somewhat, remove ham from bone, chop into bite size pieces and return to pot. 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. Add ½ cup sweet cream or sour cream, before serving. Enjoy a trip down memory lane.

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.

Ingredients
  • 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.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

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.


Ingredients
  • 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!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

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.

INGREDIENTS
  • 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.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Fig and Apple Muffins

I got this recipe from the 2002 Robin Hood Baking Festival booklet that came to my house. 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 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.

Ingredients:
2 cups flour
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg, beaten
1 cup vanilla yogurt
1/3 cup butter, melted
2 cups finely chopped apples
1 ½ cups dried figs, chopped

topping:
1 Tbsp butter, melted
¼ cup brown sugar
1/4 cup almonds
¼ cup oats
½ tsp cinnamon

Combine dry ingredients in large bowl. Combine egg, yogurt and butter in small bowl. Add to flour mixture, stirring until just moistened. Stir in apples and figs. Spoon batter into greased muffin tins, quite full.
Combine topping ingredients and spoon over muffins, pressing in a bit.
Makes 12 large muffins (grease tops of muffin tin, if using regular size tins)
Extra large muffin tins work well.
Bake at 375 F for about 25 minutes, depending on size.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

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.

Greek Salad





Greek Salad

1 cup cucumber sliced
1 cup tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup canned chickpeas (garbanzo), drained, rinsed.
1/4 cup kalamata olives, pitted, sliced
1/4 cup scallions, sliced
1/4 cup coarsely chopped parsley
Juice of 1 lemon
1 clove garlic minced
1 teaspoon sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
2-3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 Tablespoons fresh mint, chopped
One thing I didn't add that would enhance the salad is feta cheese!

Combine the cucumbers, tomatoes, chickpeas, olives, scallions, and parsley in a large bowl.

Whisk together lemon juice, garlic, sugar, salt, and pepper for the vinaigrette in a bowl.
Drizzle olive oil into lemon juice mixture in a steady stream while whisking, after it emulsifies stir in mint and adjust seasonings to taste.


I'm pretty sure I more than doubled the recipe and it's great the second day, too. I served it with Marinated Chicken Breasts.

Smoked Salmon with Cream Cheese Pizza

One of our favorite places to go in Vancouver is at the Harbour . .where we enjoy the Smoked Salmon Pizza. It isn't pizza in the sense of pizza sauce and is definitely more likely enjoyed by adults. This last Christmas . . .I came up with a recipe that tastes very much like it. . .and we love it.
The dough has olive oil base and it sits in the fridge until you are ready to use it. .
Dough
  • 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 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. I had mine in the fridge for several days before using it.
  6. 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.
  7. Bake the dough at 400 on the parchment paper and cookie sheet until firm .. .about 10 minutes. Put your desired toppings on ...for the Smoked Salmon Pizza. . .
  8. Spread, half a brick. . .4 ounces of cream cheese.
  9. Top with very thinly sliced smoked salmon .. .I bought mine at Costco
  10. Sprinkle on very thin red onion and finely chopped fresh dill weed.
  11. 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. .

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Sausage Rolls, Pizza and More (Gluten-free)


I combined and altered and added ....smile... until I came up with this versatile pastry recipe that can be used for sausage rolls, dinner meat rolls or as a pizza base.

The dough is easy to handle... can be prepared ahead of time and kept in the fridge several days until needed or even frozen for future use. After it is baked I find it also keeps very well for several days ... either eaten cold or reheated in the micro wave.

The ingredients are as follows.....

  • 1 cup Kinnickinnick bread/bun mix (or other brand)
  • 1/2 cup sorghum flour
  • 1/4 cup tapioca starch
  • 1/2 cup potato starch
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 pkg unflavored gelatin
  • 1 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup club soda
  • 1/2 cup ice water
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

  • 1/2 warm water with one tsp sugar to proof 1 tbsp yeast

Method

  • add sugar to warm water and sprinkle yeast on top ..set aside
  • mix all day ingredients together well - either in bowl or Ziploc plastic bag
  • in mixing bowl combine water with oil and egg - add soda
  • add risen yeast
  • add dry ingredients and beat until smooth. (beat on high speed for 2 or 3 min)

The trick is to get the consistency just right....(add a little more club soda or water if it seems too stiff) it should not be hard to get off the beaters but neither should it fall off too easily either... It WILL be soft ...



Turn the dough out on a surface sprinkled with sweet rice flour (or tapioca starch) and knead the dough into a ball.. Even though it seems very sticky still . .. you will be surprised how little extra flour it takes to make it a soft workable unsticky dough.

Sausage Rolls..... pictured above (you may use your own preferred filling)

  • Roll out to about 1/4" thickness
  • cut into approx. 2" stips
  • lay down a line of mustard
  • put cut pieces of Farmer Sausage along the middle of the strip
  • bring sides of strip up and pinch closed

Press fork along top to ensure a good seal and bake strips on cookie sheet and bake for about 25 minutes at 400' or untill nicely browned.

Cut stips into serving pieces and serve warm.

Meat Roll

I also use this dough for a meat roll. You can use any meat or vegetable filling you like adding your prefered spices or sauces for flavor. You can make them individual sized or one large roll... play with it according to your personal preference or need.

Roll out the dough into a rectangle and lay your filling across the lengthwise middle . Cut the dough as show in pic below.

Fold up the end pieces first ... then alternately fold over the cut side strips like a two strand braid... over lapping the pieces .... Bake in 400' oven until browned. For the last few minutes of baking I brush with slightely beaten egg white to give a nice sheen to the pastry.


(sorry the above is not a very good photo .. I just made the above roll with the left over dough from the sausage rolls so I could include the optional use here in this post)

Pizza.

If using for thin crust pizza, roll out to desired thickness and bake for 15' minutes at 375' before speading with pizza sauce and desired toppings.

Other You could also use this dough for topping a Pot Pie.

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

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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!