Monday, April 30, 2012

Dinner to Go

I have been asked on occasion for suggestions as to what kind of meals to take to those who are sick, shut-in or for new moms.  As I was preparing a meal for a friend who is undergoing cancer treatments...I thought I would share my meal prep ideas with you.  A meal of soup, buns/bread and dessert is very basic...and always easy to transport.

 Toscano Soup
Bran Buns
Rustic Rhubarb Apple Pies


Toscano soup is always a favorite of mine at the Olive Garden...and we happen to have two similar soups on our blog.  The soup I cooked up the other day was based on those recipes...Char's version and Lovella's version.   Other soups that I have taken on the road are January Skiers Soup, green bean soup, borscht, and cauliflower cheese soup.

I thought I would post the recipe for bran buns...which have been a staple over here through the years...but found Charlotte had already posted a very similar recipe...so I'll just link to that.  Another favorite bread recipe which is easy to prepare quickly for 'dinner to go', is Anneliese's French bread.  It makes two loaves...so you can enjoy one and share one. 
 
As for the rustic pie for dessert...I combined rhubarb and apple (with rhubarb fresh from the garden).  Each free-form pie uses pastry for a single pie crust and approximately 1/2 the filling of a regular fruit pie. There are a few varieties of rustic pies posted on our blog....check out Betty's peach plum galette and Lovella's rustic rhubarb pie.   Rustic pies are simple and quick to make...and so delicious with a scoop of ice-cream.


Those are my dinner-to-go menu suggestions for today.   So...cook up a pot of soup, bake some bread to go with it, add a simple dessert and share it with someone who needs a little encouragement.  And remember to package your meal in such a way, that nothing needs to be returned! 


Sunday, April 29, 2012

Bread For The Journey


"The Truth shall set you free!" - Jesus
*******************

Truth, crushed to earth, shall rise again,
The eternal years of God are hers
But Error, wounded, writhes with pain,
And dies among his worshippers.
William Cullen Bryant

I read this little poem this week and thought about Pilot's question of Jesus, 
 "What is truth?"
I think it is a question that needs to be asked today.
We live in a time where information is in abundance -- only a mouse click away. 
With everyone's opinion indiscriminatingly published for the world to view, 
it is becoming harder and harder to know what to believe. 
Even the old saying.. "A Picture never lies", has been invalidated by photoshop.

One of my favorite verses is ... 
"Buy the truth and sell it not!" Prov 23:23 
But what truth ?   
There is only one truth that has never been proven wrong,
one truth that has stood the test of time,
one truth that stands when everything else falls.    
And that is God's Truth...   
I used to have a little magnet on my fridge that said ...
 "God said it , I believe it and that settles it for me!" 
A simple philosophy of life, isn't it ?   
But it has never failed anyone who lives by it.  
Jesus, the Word of God, come to us in human form, said...
"I am the way, the TRUTH and the life, 
no man comes to the Father but by me." 
John 14:6 

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Creamy Rice Pudding

When I was growing up, rice cooked in milk sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon was one of my favorite things. I have been making this simple dessert for years now, and with the increase of people not being able to have gluten products this is a good alternative to serve as a dessert, being that it is naturally gluten free. It is a delicate, creamy texture and not to sweet, make sure you make enough because the bowl gets licked clean. This serves about 4-6.
  • 4 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup of short grain rice, it is preferred for this kind of pudding
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • a sprinkle of raisins is optional
  1. Bring milk, rice and salt to a boil using medium heat. (Very important or you will scorch the milk and burn the pudding)
  2. Bring to a boil, stirring almost constantly. Be patient this takes a few minutes.
  3. Reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. (Add raisins at this time if using).
  4. In a separate bowl, mix the egg, sugar and vanilla.
  5. Take about 1/2 of cooked rice and whisk it into the egg mixture slowly.
  6. Stir the rice and egg mixture into the remaining rice and cook for 2-3 minutes.
  7. Serve warm or cooled completely. Each person can sprinkle cinnamon if desired.
  8. If you are cooling it completely, cover the pudding with a plastic wrap so it will not form a skin over it.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Almond Sweet Rolls Gluten Free


I am so pleased to share this recipe with you.
The rolls are wonderfully light and fluffy and the taste is exceptional .
I was rewarded by my granddaughter's reaction with her first bite ,
"Oh, my goodness, these are SO good !" and my gluten loving husband said... 
"These are miraculously good!"         I had to smile, didn't I ?
These keep well, they are still soft and good the next day.

Almond Sweet Rolls
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp gelatin
  • 1 1/2 tbsp reg. yeast
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 tsp almond flavoring
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup millet flour 
  • 1/3 cup white bean flour
  • 1/4 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/2 cup tapioca starch/flour
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/3 cup almond flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp xanthan gum
  • sweet rice for handling dough
  • 1 egg white
  • sesame seed or poppy seed (optional)
  1. Mix sugar and gelatin, add warm water and yeast - let proof
  2. Beat butter and sugar, add egg flavoring and warm milk
  3. Blend well together dry ingredients
  4. Add dry ingredients all at once to liquids , blend on low , then beat on high for 2 minutes.
  5. Turn dough out onto counter sprinkled with sweet rice ... Work in enough sweet rice (I use about 1/4 cup) to make the dough just barely not sticky (on the outside, don't try to work the flour into all the dough) It is important to keep dough as soft as possible.
  6. Pat dough into a 13 or 14 inch circle -- using a pizza cutter dipped in sweet rice flour, cut circle into 16 equal segments.
  7. Starting at the wide end of each segment roll up ending at point - dipping fingers into sweet rice flour if dough is sticking.
  8. Brush tops (I find it easier to use my fingers rather than a pastry brush) with whisked egg white.
  9. Optional -- sprinkle tops with poppy seed or sesame seed
  10. Place rolls on parchment lined cookie sheet and let rise in warm place about 1/2 -3/4 hour.
  11. Bake in 375 degree oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Skillet Naan Bread Gluten Free



This is the newest favorite treat in my family. Since out of the 6 of us 3 eat Gluten Free it is always nice to be able to serve food that is enjoyed by all 6.
And my granddaughters (one Gluten Free, one not) are always my official taste testers appropriating approval ratings. My Naan bread got rave reviews !

Naan Bread
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp gelatin
  • 1 1/2 tbsp reg. yeast
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup yogurt , I have also used sour cream with great results!
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup millet flour
  • 1/4 white bean flour
  • 1/4 brown rice flour
  • 1/2 tapioca starch/flour
  • 1/4 cup sweet rice flour
  • 1 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • sweet rice flour
  1. Mix sugar and gelatin , add warm water and yeast - let proof
  2. Beat oil, egg, and yogurt (or sour cream )
  3. Add proofed yeast
  4. Blend well together dry ingredients and add all at once to liquids
  5. Mix together, then beat on high for 2 minutes
  6. Turn dough out onto counter sprinkled with sweet rice flour
  7. Using as little sweet rice flour as possible, work into dough only until dough is able to be handled
  8. Using hands pinch off pieces of dough to form into thin circles
  9. No need to let them rise for more than a few minutes.
  10. Pan fry in a hot skillet in a little oil. Brown on both sides -- bread will rise and puff up with bubbles.
  11. Serve with Judy's Tzatziki Dip , or use for Anneliese's Naan Pizzas, or just enjoy them any way you please !
*

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

My favourite kitchen tools

Everyone who cooks has an arsenal of favourite kitchen tools.
These are among my most indispensable ones.


This is one of the most used tools in my kitchen.
It's a form of whisk of which I have several in different sizes.
I use them for :
- beating an egg or two,
- stirring gravy and sauces.
(It whips lumps smooth and keeps
sauces from sticking to the bottom of the pot)
- frothing an egg white
- stirring mayonnaise and sour cream into dips and dressings
making them lump free.


Here are 2 similar tools with different uses.
The one in the back is a pastry blender
the one in front is a potato masher
They are sturdy, with tines that don't bend and handles that are easy to grip.


Two more tools I use a lot.
The one above is a bench scraper. It has many uses:
-to scrape up the bits of pastry, or bun dough or glued on food bits that dry on the counter.
-to scoop up chopped vegetables or nuts
-to slice squares and cakes (it does a lovely job of this)
to lift and serve a slice of chilled dessert

The tool at the bottom is a microplane or zester
Again, I have several.
- this one which finely grates lemon zest or parmesan cheese
- one that has a coarser cut for chocolate and hard cheeses
- and one that cuts longer ribbons


I could not work in a kitchen without several of these close by.
They are spatulas.
I love these silicone ones, because they can be safely used in cooking and don't stain.
I must have 8 or 9, in different widths and sizes.
They are in constant use:
- scraping every last yummy bit of goodness out of a bowl or bottle,
- stirring a sauce as it cooks
- turning potatoes and onions as they sizzle in a pan
- scraping the edges of the bowl as I mix up batters and doughs.
- folding whipped cream or beaten egg whites into cake batter and desserts


This last tool I'll feature today is a form of mandoline or slicer.
This one slices only one thickness but makes perfect, very thin slices.
I use it for slicing cabbage, onions and potatoes.
It would be great for thinly sliced apples or pears, carrots or cucumbers.
It has a plastic guard with points that hold the vegetable
so that you don't end up adding a sliced finger tip to the mix.

These are just a few of the kitchen tools I use almost every day.
What are the things you can't cook without?

Monday, April 23, 2012

Baked Potato Bar for 20

This is more of an idea or a guide than a recipe post. Amounts can easily be adjusted according to the number you plan to serve. It was the first time we hosted a potato bar for dinner and we all enjoyed it very much! Obviously there are many more possibilities for toppings, such as salmon and Hollandaise sauce or pulled pork and coleslaw. You could make it a vegetarian bar or use sweet potatoes as well. This is an easy, economical way to serve a large group, especially if you make it a potluck and guests each bring a topping, ready to go.

Ingredients/toppings:
  • 20 - 25 large russet potatoes
  • chili made with 3 lbs lean ground beef
  • 12 cups cut bite size broccoli and cauliflower, steamed
  • 2 cups cheese sauce to pour over broccoli and cauliflower
  • 4 cups cheddar cheese, grated
  • 6 cups Greek salad made with cucumbers, peppers tomatoes and feta
  • 3 cups fresh salsa
  • 3 cups cooked corn
  • 3 large onions, caramelized
  • 16 slices Ready Bacon, crisped in the oven and crumbled
  • 1 cup butter, cubed into single servings, in dish
  • 2 cups sour cream and/or plain yogurt
  • 1 cup chives
  • salt, pepper

Method:

As mentioned, it’s easy, but if you are making toppings from scratch, the chopping takes some time, so give yourself a few hours, earlier rather than later to:
  1. Set out all the serving dishes on the bar, thinking through what goes into each dish and most practical order.
  2. Scrub potatoes, let dry, set out on parchment paper lined cookie sheet (extra large size).
  3. Prepare chili and keep warm in slow cooker.
  4. Cut broccoli and cauliflower into bite size pieces and set in pot ready to steam.
  5. Prepare veggies for Greek salad, tomatoes etc. for salsa, chop chives, and grate cheese. Refrigerate all.
  6. Place canned corn in pot or dish, ready to heat.
  7. Crisp bacon, crumble and set aside
  8. Caramelize onions (cook in heavy pan with a bit of olive oil, stirring often until golden). Set aside.
  9. One and one half hours before dinner, brush potatoes with olive oil, poke with fork and place in 400 F oven.
Half an hour before dinner:
  1. Lightly steam broccoli/cauliflower and prepare cheese sauce. Mix and put in small crock pot, if desired, to keep warm.
  2. Mix Greek salad, cook corn and re-heat onions.
  3. Set out all ingredients, as well as butter, sour cream, salt and pepper.
  4. Just before serving, cut a long slit into top of each potato and squeeze both ends toward center, to open the potatoes.

Learn something new about someone and don't forget to have fun!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Bread For The Journey

He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. 
When they are troubled, 
we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. 
2 Corinthians 2:4 NLT



In April of 2008 our wee granddaughter was born.  Her name was Hannah Shiloh...and it suited her just right.  We cradled her briefly...admired her dark curls and soft skin...and then we said our farewells.  She was our visitor from heaven...and stayed only a short while.  But our lives were touched forever. 

The pain and the grief are indescribable at a time like that.  But the God who created us sees the big picture.  He does not leave us alone in our struggles.  He brings comfort in so many ways.  I can testify to that.

At the time of Hannah's passing we were given a little tree to plant in her memory.  It's a beautiful pink magnolia tree...and it chooses to bloom on her birthday each year.  Though I am sad when the date comes and goes...and I pause to think of the granddaughter that is missing from our little clan...the flowers make me smile.  They are God's reminder that she is in His loving arms! 

2 Corinthians 1:4 reminds me again of how God provides strength...surrounds us with friends and brings us through our difficult times.  And because of that...I can walk alongside others who are going through similar trials and offer empathy.  God is our comfort and we are His hands and feet in comforting others.

God comforts us not to make us comfortable but to make us comforters.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Peanut Butter Cupcakes


I made these delicious cupcakes especially for my son, he loves..really loves peanut butter! The frosting is nice and fluffy and a perfect finish for these cupcakes.

Ingredients:
  • 1/3 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoon buttermilk
  1. Line a muffin tin pan with paper cupcake liners and spray with cooking spray. 
  2. In a large bowl cream butter, peanut butter, and brown sugar until light and fluffy.
  3. Beat in the eggs one at a time and stir in vanilla.
  4. Blend flour, baking powder and salt and mix into the creamed mixture alternately with the buttermilk. Mix just until blended.
  5. Scoop batter into prepared muffin tin.
  6. Bake at 350º for 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  7. Remove cupcakes to rack until completely cool before frosting.
Frosting:
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 2 cups icing sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • Peanuts, chopped (optional)
  1. Beat butter and peanut butter until light and fluffy.
  2. Slowly beat in icing sugar alternately with cream. Add vanilla.
  3. Beat until frosting is light and fluffy.
  4. Now decorate your cooled cupcakes with frosting, a bit fancy if you like or just plain will do!
  5. Sprinkle chopped peanuts on top if you wish.
  6. Yields: 12 cupcakes

Friday, April 20, 2012

Oatmeal Toffee Cookies with Hazelnuts


Oatmeal, hazelnuts, toffee bits and white chocolate. 
All in a crunchy package.
Need I say more?


Ingredients:
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup butter or margarine
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups flour (or 1 cup white flour and 1/2 cup whole wheat flour)
  • 1 teaspoon salt (less if using margarine)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 1/2 cups quick oats
  • 1 cup chopped hazelnuts
  • 1 cup toffee bits (from the baking aisle)
  • 1 cup white chocolate pieces
Method:
  1. Mix sugar, brown sugar and butter in a large bowl.
  2. Add eggs one at a time and mix well each time.
  3. Add vanilla, flour, salt and baking soda.
  4. Stir to mix.
  5. Add oats and stir well.
  6. Add hazelnuts, toffee bits and white chocolate pieces and mix until distributed.
  7. Using a 1 1/2" scoop or 2 teaspoons, place cookies on pans.
  8. Bake in preheated 350 º oven for 10 - 12 minutes or until cookies are set and beginning to brown on the edges.
  9. Remove to brown paper or racks and cool.
  10. Store in tightly covered container.  Makes about 3 dozen cookies. 
  11. These freeze well.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Homemade Tomato Sauce


I had a lot of tomatoes leftover from our pre-wedding gathering so I decided to try some homemade tomato sauce.

Homemade Tomato Sauce

10 ripe tomatoes, skinned and seeded
2  Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons butter
1 onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 teaspoon celery seeds
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/4 tsp. fennel, crushed
1/4 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/4 cup red wine (can be omitted)
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons tomato paste

Directions:

1. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Have a large bowl of iced water ready. Place whole tomatoes in boiling water until skin starts to peel. Remove with slotted spoon and place in ice water. Let rest until you can handle. Remove skin and squeeze out seeds. Chop 8 of the tomatoes and puree in blender or food processor. Chop remaining tomatoes and set aside.

2. In a large pot or Dutch oven cook onion, bell pepper and garlic in oil and butter until onion starts to soften, about 5 minutes. Pour in pureed tomatoes. Stir in chopped tomatoes, and seasonings.  Add wine if you choose and add bay leaf. Bring to boil, then reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 2 hours. Stir in tomato paste and simmer an additional 2 hours. Discard bay leaf.

3. For a hearty pasta sauce, fry 8oz. of mild Italian sausage until cooked through and add it to the tomato sauce. Serve over cooked pasta of your choice with fresh basil and shaved Parmesan cheese and garlic bread.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Rhubarb Sauce

It is spring...and that always spells fresh rhubarb.  Though my garden supply is not quite ready for harvest...there is plenty at the farmer's market.  I recall having cherry rhubarb sauce at Knott's Berry Farm many decades ago...served as a side dish with their chicken dinner.  That was the inspiration for this recipe.  It is good served alone (like applesauce), with chicken or pork, or as a sundae topping for dessert.


Ingredients:
  • 1.5 pounds rhubarb ~ about 5 cups chopped
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons cherry flavored gelatin.
Method:
  1. Cut rhubarb into 1/2 inch pieces
  2. Place in saucepan, together with sugar and water.
  3. Bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce heat and simmer for about ten minutes or until rhubarb is soft.
  5. Remove from heat and stir in cherry flavored gelatin.
  6. Serve warm or cold.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Coconut Cream Pie

There are no little flakes of coconut in this Coconut Cream Pie. Coconut milk is the secret to the smooth and creamy filling that sits in a flaky crust.  Toasted coconut adds a delicate little crunch on top of the whipped cream.

Ingredients:
  • 1 baked pie shell (there are a number on the blog to choose from under 'Pies' in the index)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups light coconut milk
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 3 eggs plus 2 egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 cups whipping cream 
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup coconut, toasted

Method:
  1. Combine sugar, coconut milk and regular milk in a medium saucepan.
  2. In a separate bowl combine, eggs and yolks, cornstarch and salt. Whisk till frothy and well combined.
  3. Heat first mixture in saucepan over medium heat stirring constantly until it just begins to steam. Remove from heat. Pour about 1/2 cup of the hot milk mixture into the beaten egg mixture stirring constantly until very smooth.
  4. Stirring constantly pour egg mixture into saucepan with hot milk. Place saucepan back onto medium heat and cook until mixture begins to thicken. Stirring is key to keeping filling from scorching and also making it creamy smooth. Add vanilla and butter. Stir well.
  5. Pour hot filling into your favourite baked pie shell. Cover with wax or parchment paper and allow to cool on counter for 15 minutes, then place in refrigerator for at least two hours. 
  6. Whip cream with remaining sugar and vanilla until thick. Top cooled pie just before serving.
  7. Spread coconut onto a baking sheet. Bake in pre heated 350º oven for 1 minute at a time, giving pan a shake every minute. After 2-3 minutes the coconut will be toasted golden. Allow to cool. It will take on a crunchy texture as it cools. Sprinkle over cream.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Party Pizza Buns

My mom has made these Pizza Buns for as long as I can remember and has become a family favorite. I make a double or triple batch and freeze the extra in containers with the serving amounts we would use for our family at a meal. They are really tasty and a nice snack or lunch.
You don't need to be restricted to exactly these ingredients, use what you enjoy.


  • 1 lb of browned and drained ground beef or Farmer Sausage or finely diced Pepperoni
  • 1 lb bacon chopped, browned and drained well*
  • 1 medium onion finely chopped
  • 1 green or red pepper diced
  • mushrooms (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 10 oz can of Tomato Soup or Sauce*
  • generously add to taste-garlic powder, chili powder, oregano, pepper
  • 1 lb grated mozzarella cheese*
  1. Slice buns in half, I used whole wheat.
  2. Spread desired amount of filling on bun.
  3. Broil until cheese melts and the edges brown a little.
*There is a way of making this much lower in fat, and taste wonderful.
Use 1 lb of Italian turkey sausage, turkey pepperoni in place of the other meats, low fat cheese and sodium reduced tomato sauce to make a healthier option.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Bread For The Journey


Lord of all pots and pans and things
Since I’ve no time to be
A saint by doing lovely things
Or watching late with Thee
Or dreaming in the sweet dawn light
Or storming Heaven’s gates,
Make me a saint by getting meals
And washing up the plates.

Although I must have Martha’s hands,
I have a Mary mind,
And when I black the boots and shoes,
Thy sandals, Lord, I find.
I think of how they trod the earth,
What time I scrub the floor:
Accept this meditation, Lord.
I haven’t time for more.

Warm all the kitchen with Thy love
And light it with Thy peace;
Forgive me all my worrying,
And make all grumbling cease.
Thou who didst love to give men food,
In room or by the sea,
Accept this service that I do–
I do it unto Thee

Colossians 3:17 (ESV):
“And whatever you do , in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to the Father through him.”

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Chocolate Chews


The oatmeal and pecans provide fibre and the marshmallows and hint of almond add interest to these yummy cookies.
Keep them handy in the freezer for lunches.

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup mini marshmallows
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon soda
  • 1 1/4 cups oatmeal
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
Method:
  1. Melt chocolate chips, marshmallows and water over low heat until melted, stirring constantly. Set aside.
  2. In large mixing bowl, beat together shortening, sugar, brown sugar and egg.
  3. Add extracts, chocolate/marshmallow mixture and mix well.
  4. Add dry ingredients, oatmeal, pecans and chocolate chips and mix again.
  5. Drop by rounded teaspoon onto ungreased cookie sheets.
  6. Bake at 350º for 10- 12 minutes or until cookies are set.
  7. Remove from pans to a wire rack or brown paper.
  8. Store in tightly covered container.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Cheese Stuffed Breadsticks



If you have tried the French Bread or Pizza Buns with the same recipe, today's breadsticks should come by quite easily, as it's the same recipe recycled once again. It's the bread recipe with endless options and so easy to mix.

Ingredients:
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 Tbsp oil
  • 2 Tsp salt
  • 2 cups hot water
  • 4 - 4 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 Tbsp instant yeast
  • 3 cups shredded cheese (mozzarella or mix )
  • 1 egg
  • 2 Tbsp milk
  • 2 Tbsp finely grated Parmesan
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 clove garlic crushed


Method:
  1. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Put first four ingredients in mixing bowl or Kitchen Aid mixing bowl. Stir in 2 cups flour and yeast.
  3. Mix until well combined and then add the rest of the flour 1/2 cup at a time, until dough can easily be shaped into a ball with all the flour well mixed in. No need to rise.
  4. Divide in half. Roll first half out on floured surface, to approx size of cookie sheet. Roll up on to rolling pin and unroll unto cookie sheet. Stretch into shape where needed. Sprinkle with cheese.
  5. Roll out second half, a bit larger. Roll onto pin and unroll on top of cheese. Fold under the bottom layer, along edges. Cut through the dough with a pizza cutter to create 20 - 24 pieces. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rise 20 minutes.
  6. Preheat oven to 425F.
  7. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, milk, Parmesan, oregano and garlic. Brush evenly over dough.
  8. Bake for about 15 minutes, until breadsticks are light golden in color. If a large bubble pops up while baking, simply break with a knife to keep the sticks even.
  9. Cut along the seams of the breadsticks and serve warm with soup. Can also be used for kids' sandwiches.

    Thursday, April 12, 2012

    Vanilla Buttermilk Cupcakes with Pistachio Cream



    A tender little white buttermilk cupcake is a perfect base for all your creative ideas.
    Over Easter I made cupcakes together with my grandgirlie and after they were swirled with "green grass frosting"....she sent the bunnies a - hoppin'.

    Pistachio instant pudding was a staple in our home when our boys were growing up.
    It makes me think...it it time to revisit the pistachio pudding cake...
    one of these days.


    I am making good use of the Buttermilk Powder that I found in the last months.
    It is so handy to have tucked away and I do find it creates the lightest products.
    You can of course...
    *just substitute Buttermilk for the powder and the water adding it when you would add the water.

    • 1/2 cup shortening
    • 1 1/4 cup white sugar (divided)
    • 2 egg whites
    • 4 tablespoons Buttermilk Powder *
    • 2 cups cake flour
    • 1 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
    • 1 cup water
    1. Preheat the oven to 350.
    2. Cream together the shortening and 1 cup of the sugar in a large mixing bowl until it is light.
    3. Beat the 2 egg whites in a clean bowl with a hand mixer.  Once the egg whites are foamy, add the 1/4 cup sugar and beat until stiff.
    4. Sift together the dry ingredients and add to the shortening/sugar mixture, alternately with the water.
    5. Fold in the egg whites and vanilla until evenly combined. 
    6. Divide into 24 paper cup cake liners.
    7. Bake for about 25 minutes or until lightly browned and a toothpick comes out clean.
    Pistachio Cream Frosting
    • 2 cups whipping cream
    • 1 - 4 serving size Pistachio instant pudding
    1. In a medium mixing bowl beat the whipping cream until it is beginning to thicken.
    2. Add the Pistachio pudding and continue to beat until it is thick and holding its shape.
    3. Either spread evenly over cupcakes or put the Frosting into a piping bag with a wide star tip and swirl around each cupcake.
    4. Refrigerate.

    Wednesday, April 11, 2012

    Rhubarb Cake

     Fresh rhubarb season is almost here! I've been checking my rhubarb plants, they are growing but not quite ready to pick. So I checked my freezer and was happy to find a package of rhubarb. This is a quick and easy dessert to put together. Serve warm and if you like you can top it with a scoop of frozen yogurt or ice cream and you have a wonderful dessert!
    Ingredients:
    • 4 1/2 cups rhubarb, chopped
    • 3/4 cup sugar
    • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
    • 1 small package strawberry flavored gelatin powder
    • 1  517g (18.25 oz) package of yellow or white cake mix
    • 1/2 cup butter, melted
    • 3/4 cup water
    Method:
    1. Place chopped rhubarb evenly in an ungreased 9 x 13 inch baking pan.
    2. Mix sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over rhubarb.
    3. Next sprinkle strawberry gelatin powder on top of the sugar mixture.
    4. Sprinkle cake mix on top of the gelatin powder.
    5. Drizzle melted butter on top of the cake mix.
    6. Pour water over all.
    7. Bake at 350º for 1 hour.
    8. Yields: 12 generous pieces
    Tip: I used slightly frozen rhubarb..if you use fresh rhubarb increase water to 1 cup.

    Tuesday, April 10, 2012

    Creamy Carrot Soup

    Carrot soup...good anytime of the year!  Though most of us harvest our carrots in fall, I just dug up the carrots that spent the winter in the ground.  They were crisp and tasty, and some of them found their way into the soup pot before long. 


    • 2 tablespoons butter
    • 1 large onion, chopped
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 1/2 tablespoons ginger root, minced
    • 2 pounds carrots, sliced
    • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
    • 5 cups chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
    • dash of nutmeg
    • 1/2 cup cream (or milk, if you prefer)
    1. Melt butter in large pot, over medium heat.
    2. Add onion and saute until transparent.
    3. Add garlic and ginger root.  Cook for several minutes longer.
    4. Add broth, carrots and potatoes.
    5. Simmer for 20-30 minutes, or until very tender.
    6. Remove from heat.
    7. Puree with hand held blender until smooth.
    8. Return to stove.
    9. Add seasonings and cream. 
    10. Heat until steaming.
    11. Serve.

    Monday, April 9, 2012

    Cashew Broccoli with a Garlic Butter Sauce

    If you are like me, I really try to serve some sort of veggies either in the form of a side dish or salad at most meals. It is difficult to be creative and always come up with a fresh idea not always serving the same old thing. This is a nice recipe serving broccoli with a garlic butter sauce instead of the usual cheese sauce or plain.  What is your favorite veggie side dish?

    • 1 1/2 pounds fresh broccoli, cut into bite size pieces
    • 2-3 tablespoons butter
    • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
    • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
    • 2 teaspoons vinegar or lemon juice (I prefer the lemon juice)
    • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1/3 cup chopped salted cashews (I used unsalted)
    1. Cook the broccoli with about 1 inch of water in the pot.
    2. Bring to a boil, and cook for 5-7 minutes, or until tender but still crisp.
    3. Drain, and arrange broccoli in a serving bowl.
    4. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small skillet over medium heat.
    5. Mix in the brown sugar, soy sauce, vinegar, pepper and garlic.
    6. Pour over the broccoli.
    7. Top with chopped cashews.

    Sunday, April 8, 2012

    Bread for the Journey


    The First Easter Sunday at Dawn
    The Unveiling of God's Greatest Gift to Man

    In those early morning hours no one recognized how important the dawning day was -
    that it would forever change the world.
    In fact many hearts were still heavy with the sorrow of knowing Jesus was dead.
    But then the word spread from mouth to mouth, from house to house.
    Could it be?
    HE IS ALIVE?? HE HAS RISEN?? THE TOMB IS EMPTY??

    Resurrection Sunday was God's trump card!
    It was in His hand from the very beginning, even before He began His creation.
    The best kept secret was finally unveiled !
    Though Adam sinned and through him, everyone stands condemned before God,
    God was not willing that man should perish in his sin.
    Jesus, the Son of God, slain for the sin of the world,
    would not remain in the grave, but rise triumphant and victorious over death.
    He would reign as King of Kings,
    a King
    of a glorious Kingdom of Light.
    Anyone who believes on Jesus, embracing His life and love
    and following Him in obedience
    will reign with Him ,
    forever in glory !

    Jesus said...
    "I am the resurrection and the life ,
    he that believes in Me,
    though he were dead ,
    yet shall he live!"
    John 11:25
    ***

    "Jesus Christ is risen today,
    Our triumphant holy day;
    Who did once upon the cross,
    Suffer to redeem our loss.
    Hallelujah!
    --from a Latin hymn of the 15th century

    Saturday, April 7, 2012

    Plumi Moos

    I chose this recipe for this Easter weekend because Plumi Moos was often served along side a ham dinner on Easter Sunday in many Mennonite homes. This may bring back some memories around your family Easter table. I remember eating this at my Grandma Janzen's house. You can serve this 'fruit soup' warm or cold. It's a really nice addition to a potluck or buffet table. 

    Ingredients:
    • 10 cups water
    • 1 cup white sugar
    • 1 cup prunes, cut in half
    • 1 cup raisins
    • 1 cup dried apples, diced
    • 1/2 cup dried apricots, cut in half
    • juice of half a lemon
    • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
    • 1/3 cup cornstarch
    • 1/4 cup water
    Method:
    1. In a large pot bring water. Add all the chopped fruit. Turn to a slow boil and cook for 10 minutes.
    2. Shake together cornstarch and remaining water until you have a smooth paste. Stir into water and fruit. 
    3. Add remaining ingredients and continue cooking at a slow boil until fruit is soft, and the moos begins to thicken slightly. The total cooking time should be no longer than 30 minutes.
    Plumi Moos can be served immediately, or re heated later. You can let this fruit soup cool down and then place in a sealed container in the fridge to get really cold. A nice serving suggestion is to place moos in a large glass serving bowl with little fruit nappies to dish it into. 

    Friday, April 6, 2012

    Good Friday




    Today is
    Good Friday !
    Someone asks 'Why do we call it good?'
    It was the agonizing death of an innocent Man for crimes he did not commit.
    We cannot bear to see His suffering on a rough hewn cross.
    In the words of Isaiah we agree...
    "We hid our faces from Him, He was despised and we did not esteem Him."
    Is. 53:3b

    But, look again.

    The Man who died never did anything wrong.
    That was GOOD ...
    As the sacrificial Passover Lamb the Man was perfect , without blemish.
    That was GOOD
    The Man willingly gave His life to save others.
    That was GOOD
    The Man even as He hung on the cross spoke comforting words to sinners ...
    "Father, forgive them... " and ...
    "Today you will be with Me in paradise.. "
    That was GOOD
    His Father in heaven was watching ...
    He knew Sunday was coming and it would reveal God's ancient plan.
    and He said...
    "It is GOOD!"
    *****

    Thursday, April 5, 2012

    Hot Cross Buns

    I broke the tradition a few days early and made my Hot Cross Buns in the beginning of the week.
    My Mom made them every Easter  and we ate them still warm from the oven on Thursday before Good Friday.  If there were any left...they would be our breakfast on Good Friday.

    These lightly spiced buns are soft and moist and perfect with a hot cup of tea.
    This is a smaller batch.  It would make 24 buns in 2 9X13 pans...or  you can make part of the dough into small loaves which you can slice up.  It toasts up wonderfully.
    • 5 teaspoons yeast
    • 1 tablespoon sugar
    • 3/4 cup warm water
    • 3/4 cup milk
    • 1/3 cup butter
    • 1/3 cup sugar
    • 3 eggs
    • 2 cups candied diced fruit (sometimes called Glace Cake Mix) found in the baking aisle
    • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
    • 2 teaspoons vanilla
    • 4 1/2 - 5 cups flour
    1. In a large bowl, mix together the yeast, sugar and warm water and allow to sit for 10 minutes until the yeast has puffed up.
    2. In a microwave safe bowl, heat the milk and butter until the butter begins to melt. 
    3. Add the sugar and the eggs to the yeast mixture and the milk and butter after.  (Be sure not to add very hot milk to the yeast and egg mixture.  It should be warm but not hot to touch.
    4. Mix 1 cup of the flour with the candied fruit and stir well.
    5. Add several cups of flour and the nutmeg and vanilla to the liquid ingredients and then add the fruit. 
    6. Knead until it forms a ball.  Don't over knead.  It should come together but it will still be sticky because of the fruit.  Knead using a bit of additional flour for a few minutes.
    7. Put into a large bowl where it can double in size.  Cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm place to rise.
    8. Once it has doubled, form into buns and place them in greased pans.  Take a very sharp knife and cut an X across each bun. Cover with a tea towel and allow to rise until doubled and very light.
    9. Preheat oven to 325 Convection or 350 F regular bake and bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.
    10. Once cooled...pipe your favorite butter icing across each bun in the X's. 
      
    

    Wednesday, April 4, 2012

    Simple Strawberry Topping


    This simple sauce would be a nice topping for shortcake or you could try it on your Easter Paska.

    Simple Strawberry Topping

    1/3 cup white sugar
    1 tsp. vanilla
    1 pint strawberries stemmed and halved

    Combine sugar, vanilla and 2/3 of the strawberries in a saucepan. Over medium high heat cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens, approx. 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
    Smooth out sauce with a whisk, immersion blender, or standing blender. Stir remaining 1/3 strawberries into sauce.

    Serve as a topping over ice cream, angel food cake, shortcake, waffles, or pancakes. Refrigerate any leftovers.

    Tuesday, April 3, 2012

    Glazed Ham


    A smoked ham can be on the pricey end, but when you consider how many it serves and the fact that you can cook up a nice pot of split pea or bean soup with the ham bone later, it's actually quite economical.

    Ingredients:
    • 6 lbs bone in cured pork picnic shoulder or butt end
    • 1/3 cup liquid honey
    • 1/3 cup pineapple juice
    • 2 tsp mustard
    • ¼ tsp cinnamon
    • cloves
    • 1 pineapple




    Method:
    1. Place ham, fat side up in a roasting pan. Add 1 cup water, cover with foil and bake at 300 F for 2 hours. Remove ham to carving board.
    2. Take out 1/3 cup ham drippings and pour into a small saucepan, leaving the rest in the roaster. Add honey and pineapple juice to ham drippings in saucepan and cook over medium heat for 5 – 10 minutes. Add mustard and cinnamon, stirring with whisk until smooth.
    3. Remove thick fat layer on ham, leaving just a thin layer of fat. Score fat side and all around in a criss-cross pattern. Stud centers with cloves. Return to roasting pan.
    4. Brush half of the glaze all over ham and return it to 350 F oven, uncovered for 30 – 40 minutes, basting half way through once more with reserved liquid.
    5. Transfer to serving plate. Tent with foil and let stand for 20 minutes before serving, adding caramelized pineapple as garnish.
    6. To serve, lay ham on its side, cut slices down to bone on most meaty side first, then turn over and continue. Serves 10.
    Caramelized Pineapple
    Cut peeled pineapple into quarters, core and slice. Brown in 1 Tbps butter in heavy pan, until golden, turning to cook both sides. This can be done ahead of time and re-heated just before adding to ham platter.

    Monday, April 2, 2012

    Bunny Bread

    With Easter just around the corner try this fun version of "French Bread" shaped into a Bunny. Cut out the belly of the bunny and fill with your favorite dip, serve along a vegetable tray and extra bread for dipping.
    My recipe is so close the Anneliese's Recipe, however for convenience sake I will post my version here.
    I doubled the recipe (except the yeast amount) to have extra bread on hand for dipping.

    • 2 tablespoons of quick rise yeast
    • 2 tablespoons sugar
    • 2 teaspoons salt
    • 2 1/2 cups warm water
    • 2 tablespoons oil
    • 5 1/2 - 6 1/2 cups flour
    • 1 beaten egg mixed with 1 tablespoon water to brush over bread
    1. Mix all the dry ingredients together, including the dry quick rise yeast, holding back about 1 cup of flour.
    2. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture.
    3. Add the oil and water in the center slowly incorporating the dry ingredients with the wet.
    4. Knead together til a soft dough that is no longer sticky using a bit of the extra flour as needed to make it smooth and elastic.
    5. Divide the dough into the parts for the bunny like the picture. There is no exact size, just big enough to fit you baking sheet.
    6. Use two raisins for the eyes, two almond slices for the teeth, and cut in the whiskers and into the paws with a sharp knife or kitchen shears.
    7. Brush the dough with the beaten egg.
    8. Let rise on for 30-40 minutes, covered with a tea towel.
    9. Bake at 400 for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

    Place the finished and cooled "bunny" onto a platter lined with lettuce leaves. Surround with a variety of cut vegetables. Cut out a whole in the tummy of the bunny and scoop out the bread saving it for dipping. Fill with you favorite dip. Serve extra bread along side for dipping as well.




    Sunday, April 1, 2012

    Bread for the Journey


    Today is Palm Sunday, the beginning of the Easter Season.
    The Bible tells the story best.

    Luke 19: 28-40 TLB

    Jesus went on towards Jerusalem, walking along ahead of his disciples.  
    As they came to the towns of Bethphage and Bethany, 
    on the Mount of Olives, he sent two disciples ahead, with instructions to go to the next village, and as they entered they were to look 
    for a donkey tied beside the road.  
    It would be a colt, not yet broken for riding.
    "Untie him," Jesus said, "and bring him here.  And if anyone asks you what you are doing, just say, 'The Lord needs him.' "
    They found the colt as Jesus said, and sure enough, as they were untying it, the owners demanded an explanation.
    "What are you doing?" they asked. "Why are you untying our colt?"
    And the disciples simply replied, "The Lord needs him!"
    So they brought the colt to Jesus and threw some of their clothing 
    across its back for Jesus to sit on.
    Then the crowds spread out their robes along the road ahead of him, [and others cut palm branches and spread them out before him.(from Matt. 21:8)] And as they reached the place where the road started down from the Mount of Olives, the whole procession began to shout and sing as they walked along, 
    praising God for all the wonderful miracles Jesus had done.
    "God has given us a King!" they exulted. "Long live the King!"  Let all heaven rejoice!  Glory to God in the highest heavens!"
    But some of the Pharisees among the crowd said, 
    "Sir, rebuke your followers for saying things like that!"
    He replied,  "If they keep quiet, 
    the stones along the road will burst into cheers!"


    There are several things that catch my attention from this story:
    1. When Jesus has something He wants done, He makes sure everything is in place. The colt was there, tied up and the owners were willing to let Him use it. When I am obedient to Christ's instructions,  I can be sure that He will do His part in making sure His will is done.
    2. The crowds recognized Jesus as the One who had been doing miracles in their midst.  They acknowledged Him as coming from God. Do I recognize and acknowledge Christ in the midst of my daily life?
    3. The people honoured Him by spreading out their robes on the ground and by waving palm branches as they would have for royalty. God is present whereever I am at any given moment.  Do I honour Him with uninhibited worship?
    4. The Pharisees wanted Jesus to tell them to cool their enthusiasm but Jesus replied that the stones would cheer if everyone else was silent.  Am I willing to speak out - or do I expect nature and other people to tell of God's glory?
    5. Finally, although it's not part of this passage, it's entirely possible that many of these same people were in the crowd that cried, "Crucify Him!" several days later. Do I let those around me influence my reaction to Christ?  Or do I stand up and follow Christ when there is a cost involved?

    My prayer is that I will recognize and acknowledge Christ's presence in my life, that I will obey Him and honour Him with unrestrained praise.