Friday, November 30, 2012

Cracker Bark


This is a simple and easy candy treat to make for Christmas. The sweet and salty taste is delicious! It's great to pack in tins or in little cellophane packages for that special someone on your list. I have to admit that it is a little addictive, you keep reaching for more!

Ingredients:

  • 38 salted soda crackers
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 cup peanut butter chips
  • 3/4 cup nuts, chopped..I used a mixture of pecans and almonds
Directions:
  1. Line a cookie sheet, 10 1/2 x 15 1/2 (with edges) with foil.
  2. Place crackers in the pan.
  3. In a medium size saucepan on medium heat, melt butter and brown sugar. bring to a boil. Boil for 3 minutes stirring constantly.
  4. Remove from heat and quickly pour over the crackers, spreading with a knife to cover all the crackers.
  5. Bake in 400º oven for 5 minutes.
  6. Pour chocolate and peanut butter chips over the caramel covered crackers, wait a few minutes to allow chips to start to melt. Using a knife spread the mixture evenly.
  7. Sprinkle with nuts.
  8. Cool till chocolate hardens then break into desired pieces.



Thursday, November 29, 2012

Chocolate Mousse





I think Chocolate mousse is my favourite dessert hands down!  
And when it is made with dark chocolate, it's even better. 
 I've made a number of versions of it over the years but this is the one I like the best.
It's an elegant and light finish to a special dinner or holiday meal.

Two things to note before you make it.
1. The eggs are not cooked in this recipe.  This has never been a problem for me but I realize  that it does matter to some people. Young childen and people with compromised immune systems should be made aware that you are serving a dessert that contains raw eggs.
2. Make this recipe the day before your party.
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 8 ounces good quality dark chocolate (65-70% cocoa) finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 4 eggs, separated 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup coffee flavoured liqueur such as Baileys or Kaluha OR 1/4 cup brewed Espresso coffee
  • 1 envelope (.25 ounce) unflavoured gelatin
  • 4  tablespoons cold water
  • 1/3 cup sugar
For the garnish:
  • 2 ounces good quality dark chocolate 
  • 2 teaspoons shaved paraffin, if desired. (It is found in the canning section of the grocery store and I use it to firm up the chocolate shapes.)
  • Whipped cream
  1. In a heavy pot, over medium low heat, heat whipping cream.  Do not let it come to a boil.
  2. Remove from heat and add chocolate, stirring well to melt.  Place over low heat for a moment or two if needed to completely melt the chocolate.
  3. Add the butter a spoonful at a time and stir until it is incorporated into the chocolate/cream mixture.  It should be just lukewarm at this point.
  4. Beat yolks until frothy.
  5. Add  beaten egg yolks a little at a time to the chocolate mixture, stirring constantly with a whisk.
  6. Sprinkle gelatin over cold water in a small saucepan.
  7. When it has softened, heat gently until it is dissolved.  Remove from heat.
  8. Stir dissolved gelatin into chocolate mixture.
  9. Add vanilla and liqueur or Espresso and stir until blended.
  10. Pour chocolate mixture into a large bowl and set aside.
  11. In another bowl, beat reserved egg whites until frothy.
  12. Add sugar, a few tablespoons at a time, beating well between additions until stiff peaks form.
  13. Gently fold beaten egg whites into chocolate mixture, folding up and over until there are no longer any white streaks.
  14. Using small dessert dishes or teacups, measure 1/2 cup mousse into each dish.
  15. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  16. For Garnish, melt chocolate  and paraffin (if desired) in a small dish over hot (not boiling) water.  Stir until smooth.
  17. Place melted chocolate in piping bag or squeeze bottle with narrow tip.
  18. Place waxed paper on a baking sheet and "draw" filagree patterns or desired shapes (Christmas trees, stars, leaves) with the chocolate. and refrigerate until solid.
  19. Garnish mousse just before serving with a dollop of whipped  cream and a chocolate shape. 
Makes 10  1/2 cup servings


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Mystery Pumpkin/Squash Soup

 
I bought this green gourd for our Thanksgiving decor because I am partial to that color. It ended up sitting around for quite some time till I decided I need to do something with it. It was was quite hard to cut and it was all I could do to cut it into large pieces. I stuck the quarters, with peel on, into a roaster, drizz;ed with olive oil to cook for about an hour and a half. Then I made this easy soup.
Ingredients:
  • 6 - 8 cups cooked and mashed squash or pumpkin
  • 1 onion, chopped very fine
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 - 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 4 cups chicken stock ( I use water and better-than-boilon)
  • 2 - 3 tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 - 11/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • chilli flakes or chili powder according to personal taste. I used a rounded tsp chili paste.
  • 1 cup millk or half and half cream
Method:
  1. Cut squash or pumpkin into large pieces, removing seeds, keeping the peel on. Roast, covered, and drizzeld with olive oil, for about 75 minutes, or until soft,  at 375 F. Cool.
  2. Remove peel, return to roaster and mash with potato masher.
  3. In a large soup pot, cook finely chopped onion in oil until soft, then add garlic and stir once more.
  4. Add mashed squash, broth, spices and bring to simmer. Add milk or cream and continue to simmer until time to serve.
  5. This makes a large pot full. Can be divided into containers and frozen or just make half the recipe.
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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Friendship Soup



Years ago,  ladies that attended my bible study group brought me little thank you gifts.  I loved them all but there was one gift that was 'unusual' since this was before the time that these kind of 'home gifts' were recognized for their simple joy and worth!
I smiled and thanked the lady who gave it to me, little realizing how much I would enjoy her gift and years later still be enjoying it !
The gift was a tall narrow glass  jar filled with layers of dried beans. Attached to the jar was a rolled up piece of red  construction paper on which was a hand written soup recipe entitled 'Friendship Soup'.
I kept the jar for a long time and then one day decided to make the soup.  It was DELICIOUS and stayed a family favorite.
With Christmas coming  -- I thought what a neat idea this would be to tuck into a gift basket or just to bring as a hostess gift.
I had trouble finding the 'right' glass jar, I wanted a tall, narrow one  -- the one pictured  exactly doubles the recipe. (so if you are going to use a jar that doubles the recipe make sure you make a note of that somewhere on the enclosed recipe)

The hand written recipe reads  as follows....

Friendship Soup 
(in this jar are a combination of  7 kinds of dried beans -- 1/4 cup each)

  • 1/4 cup  kidney beans
  • 1/4 cup   green split peas 
  • 1/4 cup  yellow split peas 
  • 1/4 cup pinto beans 
  • 1/4 cup  small white beans 
  • 1/4 cup  lima beans 
  • 1/4 cup soya beans
  1. WASH -  the beans thoroughly.  Place in a pot , cover with  water and 2 tbsp. salt and soak overnight. 
  2. DRAIN - Add two quarts water and 1/2 ham or ham bones (or bouillion cubes) Bring to a boil, Stir occasionally -- simmer 2 or 2 1/2 hours.  
  3. ADD -   
  • one large onion chopped 
  • juice of one lemon
  • salt and pepper 
  • 1 large can of tomatoes (29 oz) 
  • 1 pod red pepper (or 1 tsp. chilli powder)
    4. SIMMER - another 30 minutes. This makes a large pot of soup. It is even better aged in the fridge. 
    5. ENJOY WITH FRIENDS


Monday, November 26, 2012

Saucy Cranberry Chicken

With Thanksgiving behind us, you may just need a suggestion for using that cranberry sauce that is now in the fridge.  Here's a chicken dish that is sure to please!  It's a variation of an apricot chicken recipe that my mother-in-law used to make...and was known as 'grandma's chicken' by her grandchildren.


  • 3 lbs. skinless chicken pieces (breasts and/or thighs)
  • 1 cup Russian dressing
  • 1 1/2 cups cranberry sauce (or 1 can 398 ml cranberry sauce)
  • 1 pkg. dry onion soup mix
  1. Place chicken pieces in a 9" x 13" baking dish.
  2. Combine dressing, cranberry sauce and onion soup mix in a small bowl.
  3. Spoon evenly over chicken pieces.
  4. Bake at 350°F for about 1 hour and 15 minutes...or until chicken is done (170 degrees F).

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Bread For The Journey



From my patio I over look the valley where nestles a city .
I love to look down on it and enjoy the peace and tranquillity in which it seems to rest.
At about this time of year, the Christmas lights begin to add to the night time twinkling  and I know people are decorating their yards and homes for the season.
In my mind's eye I see Jesus walking  up and down the streets, observing the decorations, looking into the windows to see families busily preparing for the holidays  and I wonder if He stops to gaze into each home to see if there is room for Him.
The season is after all,  all  about Him -- He is the celebrity, nay,  more than a celebrity - He is the Creator of all, and yet so often  He is completely ignored.

May we all make room for the Lord Jesus Christ  this season and I pray that all our homes are ones where He knows that He is more than just a guest.
 " Jesus answered and said to him, 
"If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, 
and We will come to him and make Our home with him." (John 14:23)


When I was a child I once memorized the following poem for a church program.
The poem  stirred my young heart then and it still stirs me today.
I'm sure you have heard it before but I thought I'd like to share it again .

                                                     If Jesus Came to Your House 

If Jesus came to your house to spend a day or two
If he came unexpectedly, I wonder what you’d do.
Oh, I know you’d give your nicest room to such an honored Guest,
And all the food you’d serve to Him would be the very best,
And you would keep assuring Him you’re glad to have Him there
That serving Him in your own home is joy beyond compare.

But when you saw Him coming, would you meet Him at the door
With arms outstretched in welcome to your heavenly Visitor?
Or would you have to change your clothes before you let Him in?
Or hide some magazines and put the Bible where they’d been?
Would you turn off the radio and hope He hadn’t heard?
And wish you hadn’t uttered that last, loud, hasty word?

Would you hide your worldly music and put some hymn books out?
Could you let Jesus walk right in, or would you rush about?
And I wonder if the Savior spent a day or two with you,
Would you go right on doing the things you always do?
Would you go right on saying the things you always say?
Would life for you continue as it does from day to day?
Would your family conversation keep up its usual pace?
And would you find it hard each meal to say a table grace?
Would you sing the songs you always sing, and read the books you read,
And let him know the things on which your mind and spirit feed?
Would you take Jesus with you everywhere you’d planned to go?
Or would you, maybe, change your plans for just a day or so?

Would you be glad to have Him meet your very closest friends?
Or would you hope they’d stay away until His visit ends?
Would you be glad to have Him stay forever on and on?
Or would you sigh with great relief when He at last was gone?
It might be interesting to know the things that you would do?
If Jesus Christ in person came to spend some time with you.


*************************

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Saturday in Kathy's Kitchen

I'm not here advertising for a particular company I just happen to love all things parchment and was given a bag full of  assorted parchment products I wanted to tell you about. I usually purchase parchment paper on the jumbo roll from Costso because I use so much and those big rolls are wider and I get more for my buck.

Parchment paper in great for lining baking pans when baking meat balls, chicken pieces, salmon, natchos pizza and appetizers.
It's also great for lining baking sheets and pans for cookies and cakes.
Using parchment is a heathy way of cooking as you don't need to use any butter, oil or spray.....things won't stick.
There is little and sometimes no clean up of pans after baking.... bonus!

Parchment cooking bags are another favourite of mine. They look something like a microwave popcorn bag when opened. With just the two of us at home I slide 2 chicken breasts or pieces of salmon in a bag along with some herbs and spices, fold it over at the top several times, place the bag on a baking sheet and bake in oven just as you would without a bag. The difference is.....no pan cleanup. I also find that using parchment bags keeps meat really moist.

Then there are the baking cups which I have found in small and large sizes. Have you ever baked muffins and go to pull the paper liner off and the muffin sticks to the paper? You won't have that trouble if you change over to parchment cups. The paper pulls away clean from the muffin or cupcake.

My latest find in parchment are the tulip cups. I'm a sucker for anything new and different to use in my kitchen.
Your muffins will look like they came from a gourmet coffee shop...they did....right from your own oven served warm with a good cup of coffee.

With the holiday season just around the corner you might find these products useful and fun.



If you have our Mennonite Girls Can Cook cookbook go to page 36 where you will find my recipe for these Blueberry Crumble Muffins.
In the photo above I've used that recipe 1 1/2 times to bake up 12 gourmet size muffins using the parchment tulip cups.
The only thing you need to do is add about 5-7 minutes onto the baking time as the muffins are bigger.
To test use a toothpick or  a cake testing spear. If it comes out clean muffin is done.
(Bev gave each of us girls one of those little testing spears last year for Christmas....love that pretty little kitchen gadget too... like kitchen jewelery.)

Parchment paper can be found in most grocery stores. Follow all instructions for baking and oven temperatures on brand you choose. For a Christmas gift giving idea for someone who has most everything or a new bride who is just beginning to set up her kitchen make up a kitchen basket and fill it with some parchment products,  a cake testing spear.......
and a Mennonite Girls Can Cook cook book.

Happy baking!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Sugar Plum Brunch Ring

Candied fruit is worked into this sweet dough that bakes up into a pull apart ring. Maraschino cherry juice adds a hint of pink to the icing drizzle.


Ingredients: (yields 1 brunch rings)
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons  white sugar
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil 
  • 1 teaspoons salt
  • 1 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoons instant yeast
  • 3 1/2-4  cups flour
  • 1/3 - 1/2 cup candied fruit, small pieces
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
Method:
  1. In a glass microwave bowl beat together first 6 ingredients until frothy. 
  2. Microwave one minute at a time for 3 minutes, whisking well every minute. Mixture should be  warm like that of a baby bottle.
  3. In a large bowl stir together yeast and 3 cups of the flour.
  4. Pour warm milk mixture over flour and yeast. Add the candied fruit and stir until mixture begins to come together.
  5. Knead adding remaining flour until dough is smooth and not sticky. You may need to add a little more flour if your dough is too sticky. Knead well for about 10 minutes.
  6. Cover bowl of dough with a clean, lint free kitchen towel and place in a draft free place to rise for one hour or until double in bulk.
  7. After first rise, punch dough down and pinch off golf ball sized pieces of dough. Roll each ball in melted butter and place in lightly greased bundt pan so that dough balls are touching. The dough balls will fill the bottom of the bundt pan. If you have extra just place on top of others. 
  8. Cover, and again place in a draft free place and allow to rise 3/4 of an hour. Dough ring will have risen to double or more.
  9. Bake in oven preheated to 350º for 20-23 minutes. Remove from oven and turn out onto cooling rack. 
  10. Ice with a thin drizzle icing of 3/4 cup icing sugar thinned to a thick drizzle with 2 teaspoons melted butter and either 2-3 teaspoons of milk or maraschino cherry juice. Using the juice adds a little flavour and colour to your icing. 
Tip: When kneading the dough I like to have 1-2 extra tablespoons of oil close by and add a little at a time along with the remaining flour. It will help the dough not stick to your hands and helps to make a nice smooth soft and none sticky dough. This dough produces nice bubbles from the yeast as you knead it. If you don't care for the candied fruit you can substitute with raisins. 

Ring right after baking. You can see how it becomes a pull apart ring as it bakes. The individual balls have baked together, and will pull apart nicely when serving.

A Sugar Plum brunch ring.....oh so soft and just the right amount of sweet!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Turkey Enchiladas


 Today is Thanksgiving Day in the United States and many of us will be gathering around the table with family and friends to have our traditional meal of Turkey with all the fixings and side dishes that our families enjoy. For dessert there will be pumpkin pie and other favorites. Over the next few days we might wonder what to do with the leftover turkey. Here is one idea for those leftovers.

  • Flour or Corn tortillas
  • Shredded cooked turkey
  • Shredded Cheese
  • Refried or whole beans (black, ranch or pinto)
  • Enchilada or Ranchero Sauce

Take one flour or corn tortilla at a time and fill with shredded leftover turkey, a little shredded cheese and refried or whole beans.  Fold and place seam side down in a casserole dish side by side. Cover with your favorite sauce and more cheese.  Bake in 350 degree oven for 30 minutes or until sauce bubbles well and cheese melts.

I used green enchilada sauce and flour tortillas because that is what I had on hand. Corn tortillas would lend themselves well to this recipe. A red ranchero sauce instead of the green enchilada sauce would be a moce alternative.You could also substitute your favorite salsa in place of the sauce for this simple turkey leftover dish. If you only need a quick meal for one, place ingredients in your choice of tortilla and heat in the microwave.


Happy Thanksgiving! We at MGCC are very thankful for all of you!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Barley Mushroom Bake


This casserole is great served as a sidedish to fish or chicken, but can also be served as a main dish if you like to go for a meatless dinner. The wonderful neighbor lady who shared the recipe with me many years ago knew how to cook up the tastiest vegetarian menu.

Ingredients:
  • olive oil for cooking
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cups mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 cup pearl or pot barley
  • 2 1/4 cups chicken, beef or vegetable broth
  • 1/4 tsp salt
Method:
  1. Cook chopped onion in a bit of olive oil until tender. Spread into buttered 5-cup casserole.
  2. Cook chopped mushrooms until tender and juicy, then add to onions.
  3. Add barley to onions and mushrooms, then stir.
  4. Cover with broth and salt (or boiled water in which you have dissolved 2 tsp of Better than Boiulon or your prefered cubes).
  5. Bake covered at 350 F for 1 1/4 hours or until liquid has evaporated.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Chocolate Macaroons

If you love chocolate and coconut you will want to run to the kitchen and bake up these little mounds of goodness. Have the coffee ready when they are still just a wee bit warm....bet you can't just eat one.

Ingredients: (yields 16 large or 24 small macaroons)
  • 1/2 cup good quality chocolate, chopped fine
  • whites from 3 large eggs (save the yolks for an omelet) 
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup cocoa, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon espresso powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 1/2 cups sweetened fine coconut
Method: 
  1. Place chopped chocolate in a small metal bowl or top of double boiler. 
  2. Place over a pot of simmering water and allow chocolate to melt. Stir several times while it is melting. Once it is completely melted remove from heat and set aside.
  3. Place egg whites and vanilla in a medium sized bowl and whisk until slightly frothy.
  4. Sift sugar, cocoa, espresso powder and salt into bowl of whisked egg whites.
  5. Whisk well to incorporate the dry ingredients into the egg whites.
  6. Whisk in the warm melted chocolate until mixture is smooth.
  7. With a spatula stir in the coconut. 
  8. Using an ice cream scoop place large mounds of mixture onto parchment lined cookie sheets. 
  9. Place cookie sheets with macaroons in the fridge for 1/2 hour-1 hour. This will insure that they don't spread out during baking. 
  10. Bake in preheated 325º oven for 13-15 minutes. Macaroons will be shiny on the outside and still very soft when touched lightly. They will seem under baked, but they are done.
  11. Cool on pans and then remove to plate or an air tight container to store. 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Apple / Pear Spice Muffins



I had two pretty sad looking pears in my fruit basket, so I decided to see if I could make some muffins out of them. So I stewed together two apples and two pears added some spice and it resulted in these delicious  muffins perfect for fall.
  • 2 apples peeled, cored and chopped
  • 2 pears peeled, cored and chopped
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger 
  • 1/2 cup of hard margarine or butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3/4 cup raisons
  1. Cut  the apples and pears into small pieces. I left the peel on but you can peel it if you wish. No need to add water or sugar to the pot. Cook on low heat  until soft.
  2. Add the cinnamon and ginger. Mash together.
  3. Cream together the softened butter with the sugar adding the eggs one at a time.
  4. Mix the dry ingredients together stir.
  5. Add the raisins to the flour, add that into the creamed butter mixture.
  6. Stir the stewed fruit and combine until all the dry ingredients are mixed in.
  7. Place into 12 greased muffin tins.
  8. Bake at 350 for 18-20 minutes.
  9. Leave the muffins in the tins for 5 minutes, remove and cool on a cooling rack.
  10. Serve with a warm cup of tea, perfect for those cool fall afternoons.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Bread for the Journey

Therefore, as God's chosen people,
holy and dearly loved,
clothe yourselves with compassion, 
kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
Colossians 3:12 NIV


She stood before the mirror...
checking to be sure everything looked just right.
She loves to raid the 'tickle trunk' and dress up!

I asked her...
'Maggie, is it more important to look nice or to be nice?'

Without hesitation she said,
'To be nice.'

That's my girl!
  
She cares how she looks...
but she knows that how she acts is more important.

May I be more concerned with being clothed in compassion and kindness...
humility, gentleness and patience...
than about what I am wearing or how my hair looks.

Only then will I be 'best-dressed'!


Saturday, November 17, 2012

Farmer's Omelette


With the Christmas season quickly approaching us it is a busy time of preparations, you need a good breakfast to start the day. It is Saturday today, how about making this hearty omelette? This recipe is very versatile, use the ingredients you have on hand or what you prefer and it will be delish! This recipe makes 2-4 servings depending on the appetites.
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 2 cups diced uncooked potatoes
  • 1/4 cup finely diced onions
  • 1/4 cup of finely diced peppers (green or red)
  • 1 cup of ham, diced
  • 1/4 cup of finely chopped parsley
  • 6 eggs
  • salt and pepper to taste (I omit the salt)
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1/2 cups of low fat shredded cheese
  • 1 seeded and diced tomato
  1. Pre heat your skillet first, then add a bit of oil.
  2. Add the potatoes, peppers and onion. Cover and cook over a medium heat, stirring occasionally til browned.
  3. Add the cooked ham and cook til lightly browned and warmed through.
  4. Beat the eggs with the milk and parsley.
  5. Pour over the potatoes and ham. Cover and cook on medium low heat until set, lifting the edges occasionally to let the eggs mixture run under and cook evenly. This takes about 8 minutes or so.
  6. Top with the diced tomato, and cheese and cover again until the cheese melts.
Serve with a fresh fruit salad, toast, banana bread or muffins.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Refrigerator Potato Rolls

Have you ever wanted to pull hot rolls out of the oven just before serving supper but just don't quite know how to accomplish that.  This recipe can be made and kept in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, and when you want to bake rolls, take out all or just enough of the dough to make as many rolls as you want.
Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup warm mashed potatoes (approximately one large or 2 small potatoes)
  • 3 tablespoons of the water used to boil potatoes
  • 1 1/2 cup warm water
  • 2 tbsp active dry yeast, (not instant)
  • 1/3 cup liquid honey
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs, well beaten
  • 1/4 cup butter flavoured shortening, melted 
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 6 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/3 cup melted butter, for brushing on unbaked rolls
  • sesame seeds, optional
Method:
  1. Boil potatoes until soft. Measure out 3 tablespoons of the potato water and place in measuring cup. Discard remaining potato water. Mash potatoes and measure out 1/2 cup of mashed potatoes and add them to the 3 tablespoons of potato water. Stir together well. 
  2. Add melted butter and shortening to mashed potato mixture.
  3. Crack eggs into a small mixing bowl and beat well.
  4. Measure warm water, yeast, honey and salt into bowl of stand mixer, or large bowl. Mix well for 2-3 minutes.  If you are doing this without a mixer use a wire whisk and beat hard. 
  5. Add beaten eggs and potatoes to this mixture and beat or whisk to incorporate.
  6. If using your standing mixer attach the dough hook, or use a large wooden spoon and add 3 cups flour. Mix well and continue to add 1/2 cup of flour at a time until dough begins to come together nicely.
  7. Turn dough out onto lightly floured counter and continue to knead until your dough is smooth and elastic. 
  8. Place dough in a well greased bowl. Cover with parchment paper and a clean lint free towel, or a bowl that is twice the size of your ball of dough and cover with the lid.
  9. Place dough in refrigerator for 2 hours. Take out and punch down and then return to the refrigerator. 
  10. You can form the dough and bake it at this point or keep it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. If you are keeping the dough for several days it must be punched once each day. 
Note: because the dough is in the fridge it will not feel soft when you take it out to form rolls. The dough will puff up and become very light and soft after they have risen before baking. They will be feather soft once baked, 
 10) 2 hours before serving remove dough from refrigerator, punch down and shape into rolls. Here I have shown crescents and pan rolls. See instructions below.
11)Place rolls onto greased or parchment lines baking pans and allow to rise for 1 hour.
12)Bake at 375º if using convection oven or 400º for regular bake for 12-14 minutes.
12) When baked remove to cooling racks. Serve warm.
For pan style rolls/buns, pinch off golf ball size pieces of dough and place into pan almost touching. Brush with melted butter once on pans before the rise time.
They will 'hold onto each other' when they rise and bake.

For crescents, roll a portion of the dough into a 12" circle that is about 1/4" thick. Brush with melted butter, and then cut into 12 each pie shape pieces. Roll each piece from the outside forming a crescent. Place on pans almost touching. Brush lightly with more melted butter, and if desired sprinkle with sesame seeds. Follow instructions above for rise and bake times.

Once baked turn out onto cooling rack.
These rolls are so light and fluffy. Carefully flip them right side up and allow to cool for a few minutes before serving.



Thursday, November 15, 2012

Chocolate, Chocolate Cookie Cake

If you don't have the time or inclination to bake and decorate a cake...here's a simple and delicious alternative for your next celebration that's always a hit for 'kids' of all ages! 


  • 1/2 cup  butter
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup cocoa
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup chocolate chips (use white chocolate, dark chocolate or milk chocolate)
  1. Cream butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla until light and fluffy.
  2. Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt; add to creamed mixture.
  3. Stir in chocolate chips.
  4. Line two nine inch round cake pans with parchment paper.
  5. Divide dough in half, and spread each half evenly in a lined cake pan, leaving a small gap around the edge of the pan
  6. Bake cookies on center rack at 350°F for about 15 minutes..or until set.
  7. Cool completely before removing from pan.
  8. Now your cookie-cake is a blank canvas waiting to be written on.  Melt white chocolate,  put into a Zip-loc bag, snip one corner and write a message to the happy recipient. Or mix up a batch of butter-cream frosting, use a pastry bag and decorate. 
* I usually double the recipe and make large cookies with the remaining dough.  These can also be personalized and used as party favours. If you have another cookie recipe that you prefer, most cookie doughs will make up nicely into a 'cake'...keeping in mind that each 9" cookie-cake uses about 1/4 cup butter and 1/2 cup flour. 


Place on serving platter...
and enjoy!

 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Yam Shepherd's Pie

 
Shepherd's Pie . . . what can I say about it? You love it or hate it. I think it's a great family meal if you introduce the kids to it early . . . that's the trick. It's also a great potluck casserole and just plain comfort food.
Ingredients:
  • 3 large potato sized yams
  • 2 Tbsp milk
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 egg white, beaten
  • 1 lb extra lean ground beef
  • 1 onion, chopped fine
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 ribs celery, chopped
  • 1/2 green pepper, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 3 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 cup green peas
  • 1/4 cup water mixed with 2 Tbsp flour
Method:
  1. Cook yams in salted water until soft. Drain. Mash, adding in milk and butter.
  2. Cook meat until browned and crumbly.
  3. Stir in onion, carrots, celery and green pepper, cooking until soft, about 10 minutes.
  4. Add garlic, tomato paste, seasonings, bay leaf and water. Cook 45 minutes. 
  5. Shake up water and flour in a small jar and add to meat. Stir in peas and cook another 5 minutes.
  6. Spread into deep dish pie plate or 5 cup casserole dish.
  7. Beat egg white and fold into mashed yams.
  8. Spread over meat and bake 30 minutes at 350 F.
  9.  
 
Can be made ahead, refrigerated or frozen and baked when needed.
If frozen, thaw in refrigerator for the day.
 
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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Shortbread Pecan Fingers


It is that time of year when I start baking for Christmas. It may feel early to some of you but hey it snowed here this weekend so I am ready to get started! This is a delicious crispy, melt in your mouth kind of cookie. They are one of my favorites on the Christmas cookie tray. They freeze well and can easily be made a few weeks in advance of serving.
(Looks like a plate ready for Santa:)

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup icing sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup pecans, finely chopped
  • Additional icing sugar for sprinkling on cookies
Method:
  1. Cream butter and icing sugar till well mixed.
  2. Combine flour and salt and stir into the creamed mixture.
  3. Stir in pecans which have been finely chopped, this dough will be crumbly but will gather quite nicely into a ball as you can see in the photo.
  4. Shape dough into 3" finger lengths. 
  5. Place on parchment lined cookie sheets.
  6. Bake at 350º for 18 to 20 minutes or until lightly browned.
  7. Cool cookies for 5 minutes, then sprinkle icing sugar over them. I used a sieve to do this.
  8. Yields: 2 1/2 dozen


Monday, November 12, 2012

Big Batch Lasagna

We love Lasagna but  it takes time to make from scratch.  
So when I do make it, I like to make more than one.  
This recipe made  3 Lasagnas - one 11x13 inch pan, one 8x12 inch pan and one 9x7 inch pan.  The large one went to a birthday party the next day, 
The smaller one went into the freezer of a new mom and
 the third I brought for a potluck family meal at my sister's.
This time I added Italian sausage to the meat sauce for a hearty flavour change., 

For the sauce
  • 2 pounds / 1 kg hamburger
  • 2 pounds / 1 kg bulk Italian sausage meat
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 2 red peppers  or 1 red and 1 yellow pepper,chopped
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced 
  • 2  8 ounce / 398 ml cans tomato sauce
  • 3  5.5 ounce / 156 ml cans tomato paste
  • 2 cups / 500 ml water
  • 2 tablespoons / 30 ml Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon / 15 ml dried basil
  • 1 tablespoon / 15 ml dried oregano
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons/ 8 ml salt
  • 1 teaspoon / 5 ml pepper or more to taste
  1. Brown hamburger in large skillet, drain and remove to large Dutch oven.
  2. Using the same skillet, brown sausage meat, drain and add to hamburger.
  3. Add remaining ingredients  to Dutch oven and stir well.
  4. Bring to a boil on medium high heat and reduce heat to simmer.
  5. Simmer, stirring frequently, for about 1 hour or until sauce is thick. 
  6. Note: This sauce can also be used for other casseroles or pasta dishes.
For the Cottage Cheese Mixture
  • 1  24 ounce / 750 ml carton 2% cottage cheese
  • 2  16 ounce / 425 g cartons Ricotta cheese
  • 2 cups / 500 ml grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons / 30 ml chopped fresh parsley
  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  1. Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl.
Additional Ingredients :
  • 1  16 ounce / 500 g box lasagna noodles, cooked 'a la dente' and drained.
  • 2 1/2  16 ounce / 55 g packages mozzarella cheese, sliced
  • 1  4 ounce / 125 g package shredded Asiago cheese
  • 1  4 ounce / 125 g package shredded Parmesan cheese
To assemble Lasagnas: 
Note: Assemble one lasagna at a time.  That way you can determine what size the last pan should be according to how much sauce and cheese mixture is left after the first 2 pans are complete.


  1. Spread a thin layer of sauce in bottom of pan.
  2. Lay cooked lasagna noodles over sauce.
  3. Spoon a generous amount of sauce over the noodles.
  4. Spoon dollops of the cottage cheese mixture on to the sauce layer and carefully spread it to cover the sauce. (some sauce will still show through)
  5. Add a layer of  mozzarella cheese slices.
  6. Add one more layer each of noodles, sauce, cottage cheese and cheese slices.
  7. Top with a generous handful of shredded Asiago and Parmesan cheese.
  8. Repeat with the next pan(s).
  9. Wrap tightly in foil and place in a plastic bag and freeze or
  10. Cover lightly with foil and bake in preheated 350º F / 125 º C oven for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until bubbling.  (Remove foil for the last 15 minutes to brown top)
  11. Set stand 10 minutes before cutting and serving. This ensures nice firm pieces when you cut it.
Tips:
1. When baking the frozen lasagna, it should be removed from the freezer about 6 hours before baking as directed.  Always give yourself plenty of time to bake a lasagna.  Sometimes it takes a bit longer depending on how cold it is when you put it in the oven.. 
2. Lightly oil the foil before covering the lasagna.  This will help to keep the cheese from sticking to the foil when you remove it during baking.


Sunday, November 11, 2012

Bread For the Journey

Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.


Today is Remembrance Day, Veteran's Day in the U.S.A. We remember with gratitude those who have served us and those who have paid the ultimate price for our countries freedoms. Although we all hope for peace in our world we recognize that our greatest need is peace with God. The only way we will have peace with God is through his son, Jesus Christ, and the ultimate sacrifice He made for all of us when he paid the penalty for our sin on the cross. We pray that you will experience new life and peace with God through a new life in Jesus Christ. Is God calling you today? Why not respond and ask Him to forgive you for your sins and receive what Christ did for you on the cross? He will help you start a new life today.

Acts 4:12 (ESV) ~ And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.

Romans 1:16 (ESV) ~ For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes...


Saturday, November 10, 2012

Caramel Grapes

I saw this idea on Pinterest and decided to try them. These treats are really easy since I used caramel bits that melt quickly.



 Ingredients:

  • 1 package 11 oz. caramel bits, or make your own caramel 
  • 2 tablespoons of water
  • A large bunch of grapes washed and stems removed
  • Strong round toothpicks
  • 1 cup pecans finely processed
 Process:

  1. Stick a toothpick in each individual grape so they are ready to dip.
  2. Melt caramel bits with 2 tablespoons water in a heavy bottomed saucepan.
  3. Dip the grapes into the caramel.
  4. Swirl the dipped grapes in the finely chopped pecans.
  5. Place gingerly on a serving platter.
These will make a fun addition to your next fall party. They will be a surprise taste treat for your guests.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Jalapeño Burgers


We had such a bumper crop of Jalapeño peppers in our garden this year that they are finding their way into our everyday meals and we are loving the flavour and a bit of heat.
If you are not fond of hot peppers...take the seeds and the white parts out before you add to the food processor.  We grill all year!
  •  1 small onion
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, stem removed
  • 1 green onion
  • small handful parsley
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 pounds good quality ground beef
  1. Roughly chop onion, jalapeño, green onion, and parsley and place in a food processor bowl.
  2. Pulse until the vegetables are finely minced.  Add the Worcestershire sauce, egg and salt and pulse to combine.
  3. Add the ground beef and pulse just until combined.
  4. Form into 5 - 6 patties and grill over hot coals until the center is no longer pink.
  5. Serve with shredded cheese, caramelized mushrooms, onions and Roasted Garlic and Chili Mayo on Thin Multigrain buns.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Family Style Asian Beef


If you already know me, you would know that I love quick, easy and economical meals. I created this version to use lean ground beef instead of steak, a much more affordable option.This is done in the time it takes to cook the rice and a side dish of stir fried veggies. Voila supper on the table and everybody's happy. Thai sweet chili sauce has become my new ketchup, I love it on almost everything.
  • 1 1/2 lean ground beef
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 pepper, I used a half of two colors making one pepper, chopped
  • 2 cups of mushrooms, sliced (I did not have any this time)
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon of chili flakes (optional)
  • 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup Thai sweet chili sauce
  1. Brown the beef well with the cloves of minced garlic and drain any excess fat. 
  2. Add the ginger with the sesame oil and chili flakes if you are using them.
  3. Add the soy sauce, brown sugar and sweet chili sauce.
  4. Simmer for 10 minutes.
  5. Top with sliced green onions or parsley.
  6. Serve over rice and your favorite stir fried vegetables.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Cauliflower Serving suggestions





With cauliflower at it's best this time of year, here are two simple ways to dress it up.
I usually cook my cauliflower in the microwave oven as it does not require any added water.
However you could also steam it on the stove.

Cauliflower with Boursin ( herbed soft cheese)
  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 1/2 package Boursin Cheese (this comes in a box and can be found in the deli section of your grocery store.  It's usually served as a spread for crackers)  I think that a herbed cream cheese would also work well.
  • milk
  • a few leaves fresh basil or chopped fresh parsley for garnish.
  1. Cut cauliflower into florets and microwave or steam to desired doneness.  We like it when it still has a hint of a crunch.
  2. Over low heat or in microwave, melt cheese with 1 tablespoon of milk. Stir constantly with a wire whisk, adding more milk  1 tablespoon at a time until a medium thick sauce consistency is achieved
  3. Pour over well drained cauliflower and top with jullienned fresh basil or chopped fresh parsley.

Cauliflower with Peppers
  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion,chopped 
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped red and yellow bell peppers
  • 1/2 teaspoon dillweed or 1 teaspoon fresh chopped dill
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  1. Cut cauliflower into florets and microwave or steam to desired doneness.
  2. In small skillet, saute' onion and peppers in olive oil until soft.
  3. Add dill and butter and stir until melted.
  4. Pour over prepared cauliflower and serve.



Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Chocolate Chip Bread Pudding


We first had this dessert at our daughter's house and I've been meaning to make it for a long time. You say bread pudding and I'm in. It's like glorified French toast. What's not to  like?

Ingredients:
  • 1 loaf thick sliced bread, a few days old
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cups skor toffee bits
  • 4 Tbsp butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 8 eggs
  • 3 cups milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla
Method:
  1. Cube bread. I used Texas toast, 60% whole wheat, trimmed crust slightly.
  2. Butter a 9X13 glass pan and spread bread cubes into greased dish.
  3. Sprinkle chocolate chips and toffee bits over bread.
  4. Mix the rest of the ingredients, using a whisk.
  5. Pour egg mixture over bread, making sure all the bread gets soaked.
  6. Let sit for 1/2 hour or for the rest of the day in the fridge.
  7. Bake in preheated oven at 325 F for 60 minutes. If it's as brown as you like, cover with foil, but bake another 10 minutes.
  8. Serve slightly warm or cooled with a butterscotch/caramel (ice cream) topping.
This bread pudding puffs up nicely in the oven, but deflates as it cools. I wish it wouldn't but that seems to be normal.