Monday, December 31, 2012

Hot Chicken Ranch Dip


Look at this ooey, gooey cheese stretching, just trying to reach your mouth.
This is a good make ahead dish that you just pop into the oven before your guest arrive. It can even be made a day or two in advance to save on time . My friend Frieda makes this tasty dip, and it would be a perfect dip to serve New Year's Eve. I hope she makes it again. Oh I can just taste that cheesey goodness, irresistible.
  • 1-8 oz package of cream cheese
  • 1 tin, flakes of chicken drained
  • Franks hot sauce
  • Ranch dressing
  • Tex Mex cheese/or cheese of choice
  1. Cream the cream cheese til smooth and add chicken.
  2. Spread that into your 8x8 inch baking pan.
  3. Put a thin layer of prepared Ranch Dressing.
  4. Sprinkle Franks hot sauce over the ranch dressing according to taste, gently swirl that into the dressing. 
  5. Cover with grated cheese.
  6. Put in a 350 oven til the cheese bubbles and dip is hot about 15 minutes.
  7. Serve with Tortilla chips.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Bread for the Journey


Out with the old..in with the new.
The end of 2012 is quickly approaching! We will be thinking of all the things we had hoped to accomplish this year. We may not have reached all our goals but we are ready to set new ones.
This is the time I like to clean out my kitchen pantry, closets, and office space. I love the look of everything neat and tidy and in it's place..a fresh start for the new year.
It got me thinking that although it is good to do that, it is not the most important, it is more important to make sure our hearts are clean and ready to face the new year. Things like letting go of  past hurts, disappointments, and bitterness. And rather filling our hearts anew with love, hope, joy, and forgiveness that only God can give. A time to work through and restore relationships.
What a wonderful way to start a new year!

"Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit in me."  Psalm 51: 10 NIV

Wishing you all God's blessings for 2013!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Bacon and Tomato Dip

           
 As my boys say, "Everything is better with bacon!" 
This cream cheese dip is no exception.
You might want to add it to your New Year's Eve appetizer table.

  • 1  8 oz. / 250 g package cream cheese (brick style), at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons / 30 ml  mayonnaise (if desired)
  • 2 teaspoons / 10 ml  prepared mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon / 2 ml celery salt
  • 1/2 cup / 125 ml  pre-fried bacon, crumbled
  • 1 medium tomato, seeded and chopped fine
  • 1/4 cup chopped green pepper
  1. In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese until creamy and smooth.  (For a softer dip, add the mayonnaise and mix thoroughly.)
  2. Mix in mustard and celery salt.
  3. Using a spatula or wooden spoon, mix in bacon, tomato and green pepper.
  4. Pile into a serving dish and serve with crackers or baguette slices.

Note: The mixture can also be formed into a ball or log (do not add the mayonnaise).  
           Roll  log in shredded cheddar cheese, wrap and refrigerate until firm.  Unwrap and serve.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Cranberry Yeast Bread

  

 
One of my favorite sandwiches at a local tea house is made with a cranberrry bread. I decided to combine a French bread recipe with a raisin bread recipe to make this bread - which makes for some amazing turkey sandwiches! Slice up the fresh bread and layer on the mayo, lettuce and left over turkey. Add stuffing too, if there is some of that around. 
 
Ingredients:
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups very warm water
  • 4 1/2 - 5 cups flour, divided
  • 2 Tbsp instant yeast
  • 1 cup craisins
  • 1 cup cranberries
  • zest of one orange
  • 1/4 cup sugar
Method:
  1. In a large bowl, (or kitchen aid bowl) beat eggs, oil and salt, then slowly add very warm water, while beating.
  2. Stir in 2 cups flour, then yeast.
  3. Stir in combined craisins, cranberries, orange zest and sugar.
  4. Continue adding flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until dough hold together - is not too sticky and can be shaped into a ball with floured hands.
  5. Cover with tea towel and plastic bag. Let rise until double, about one hour.
  6. Divide in half. Roll each half out to about 8 x 14 inches, then roll up jelly roll style, starting with long side.
  7. Place on greased or parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Cover and let rise 30 - 60 minutes.
  8. Brush with beaten egg (optional) and bake at 400 F for 20 minutes.
  9. Remove to cooling rack to cool.
 
     
     
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Thursday, December 27, 2012

Antipasto Platter

 An antipasto platter is a great dish to share at a New Year's Eve party or to have around on New Year's Day while you enjoy football or other festivities. Here are some ideas for putting together a crowd pleasing platter.

  If available start with a colorful base like this rainbow Kale or another large leaf green.

 Choose 3 or 4 different kinds of Italian cured meats to add to the platter. If using prosciutto separate it ahead of time and twist it into a bud shape so it's easy for your guests to pick up. (Upper left)

 This is fresh mozzarella that I added a little olive oil, chopped parsley and red pepper flakes to. The other cheese on the platter is provolone that I bought in larger slices and cut into chunks myself.

\
These are red pepper slices that I added chopped garlic, olive oil and salt and pepper to before I added them to the platter.

 I also added pepperoncini, marinated artichokes with a circle of olives in the center. Serve with breadsticks or baguette slices alongside the platter.


Enjoy being creative with the ingredients you choose to build this platter for your guests and family. Here's a second platter I made for another event we attended with friends.


On this platter I used a bunch of radishes for the center of the platter. I'll take this opportunity to wish you all a Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Corn Chip Salad


This salad is perfect anytime or to take along for pot luck meals. You can mix everything ahead of time except for the corn chips which you add just before serving. It's a great recipe to keep in mind for those summer grilling days!  With our cold temperatures, nobody here is thinking of grilling anything these days!!

Ingredients:
  • 1 bag (10 1/2 oz) chili cheese flavored corn chips
  • 2 cans whole kernel corn
  • 1/2 cup peas, cooked
  • 3/4 cup mayo..you can add another tablespoon or two if you like it creamier.
  1.  Mix all ingredients together till well combined.
  2. Serve immediately or if you want to take it to a pot luck remember to add the corn chips just before serving.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Bread for the Journey



All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:
“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel”
 -which means, God with us.
Matthew 1:22,23

In our church we have been celebrating the Advent Season by comparing  Old Testament Prophecy to New Testament accounts.  Personally, while reading the story of the birth of Jesus in Matthew 2,
I got the impression that this writer did his homework about the
legitimacy of Jesus Christ being the true awaited Messiah
by the way he interjects details that were told about long ago.  
It’s not a small thing to realize that long before the day came to be, God chose the exact circumstances
of the time that He would send His Son.
 
 
The days of celebrating this event that our faith is based on are almost here. We’ve decorated our homes, made contact with relatives, sent out cards, bought gifts and stocked up our fridges.
We have thought through the details of family gatherings, travel and accommodations, where necessary.
In all of this, we’ve kept having to remind ourselves that Christmas will happen no matter how ready we feel.
The most important gift has been sent long ago. All of the important preparations were done for us when God sent forth His Son to be born so that he could die for our sins and show His power over death.
 
Last year I bought The Jesus Storybook Bible to read to our grandchildren.
 I opened the page to Luke Chapter 1-2 and it begins with,
Everything was ready. The moment God had been waiting for was here at last!
God was coming to help his people, just as he promised in the beginning.”

Does that not make you want to read on?  God was ready for Christmas.The Creator of the Universe could have chosen a much more noble way to enter our lives, but He chose a lowly manger, heralded by a lone beautiful star and visited by shepherds.
And just like He foreknew the circumstances of that humble birth,
God has known about us all along and made a way for us to know Him.
We wish you, dear readers, a most blessed Christmas! No matter how ready you feel, know that our Heavenly Father has already prepared the most important details to celebrate this day.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Golden Cheese Wheel


This cheese wheel goes well with a green salad or even as an addition to an appetizer buffet. 
Serve marinara or pizza sauce on the side to dip wedges into.

Ingredients for crust:

  • 1 tbsp yeast
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 2/3 cup warm water
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
Method:
  1. Stir sugar into warm water and sprinkle yeast over warm water. Allow to proof 8 minutes. Stir well.
  2. Add flour, oil and salt and knead together forming a moderately stiff dough. 
  3. Cover with a lint free towel and let rise 1 hour in a draft free area.
Cheese filling Ingredients:

  • 3 cups grated cheese, my suggestion is a combination of cheddar and mozzarella or muenster.
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped fine
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/8 tsp paprika

Method:
  1. Grate cheeses and combine. Add parsley and sprinkle with spices. 
  2. Whisk egg and add to cheese and spices. Using a fork stir to mix. Set aside.
  3. Punch down risen dough and divide into 2 equal portions.
  4. Roll one portion into a 13" circle and place on a greased or parchment lined round pizza pan.
  5. Spread egg and cheese mixture on this shell leaving a rim of dough 1" showing.
  6. Roll out remaining dough and place over the egg and cheese mixture.
  7. Pinch together the upper and lower crusts. Flute edges for a nice finish.
  8. Bake in preheated 400º oven for 20 minutes.
Topping Ingredients: 
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 1 1/2 tsp sesame seeds
  • 1 tsp sugar
Method:
  1. Whisk together egg and water while cheese wheel is baking.
  2. After the first 20 minutes of baking remove cheese wheel from oven and brush with egg mixture.
  3. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and sugar.
  4. Bake another 12-15 minutes, until golden.
  5. Cut into wedges and serve HOT. 

Friday, December 21, 2012

Bacon-wrapped Cocktail Sausages


During the holiday season, we have many occasions to serve appetizers. Here's a tasty number that is simple to prepare and a great addition to the appetizer buffet table.


  • 1 package cocktail smoked sausage links (500 g or 1 pound)
  • 1 lb bacon, any kind 
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar, not packed  
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F degrees.
  2. Spray 9x13 inch oven-proof pan with cooking oil.
  3. Open package of bacon and cut the entire slab into thirds.
  4. Wrap a third of a slice of bacon around each cocktail sausage.
  5. Place each bacon wrapped sausage in pan, crowding them together to fit in pan.
  6. Spread brown sugar over entire surface.
  7. Bake for 40-45 minutes, basting with 'drippings' several times to dissolve the sugar.
  8. Cook until sugar is completely melted and bacon is thoroughly cooked.
  9. Remove cocktail sausages to serving platter, using toothpicks to serve as appetizers.
Serves 10.

We enjoyed these tasty little morsels at our MGCC Christmas party over the weekend...along with so many other wonderful eats and treats.
  

 If you need an idea for a festive way to serve cheese...


...here's a simple one!

We have had a good time getting to know one another these past few years...
but at our Christmas party we realized that we don't know each other all that well after all.

We played a MGCC trivia game...
the object being to find someone in our group (or their spouse) 
who could answer to each of the statements.

It took awhile...
and we needed a few clues...
and eventually Kathy came up with all the correct answers.
I'll post the game below...
just in case you wish to get to know us a little better.

1.     I once fell into a manure pit. ~ Julie

2.     I drove a dump truck short distances for my dad before I started  school at age 5. ~ Harv (Bev)

3.    I played in a band at Disneyland.  ~ Kathy

4.     I fear water more than I fear heights. ~Anneliese

5.     I rode an Enduro bike with Jake brakes. ~ Marg

6.     I coached football. ~ John (Betty)

7.     I once had a sea lion come to visit me in my backyard on July 1st…it swam up the drainage ditch. ~ Elmer (Judy)

8.     I once kayaked through the Cayes and jungles of Belize for over 2 weeks, camping each night. ~Bev

9.     The first job I took was assisting the town drunk hitchhike.  He told me that he would get a ride easier if he had kids with him. He paid me a few coins for standing with him.  ~Terry (Lovella)

10.   I ran a leg with the Olympic torch in the 1984 Olympics. ~Greg (Ellen)

11.   I had a blood transfusion at birth. ~ Betty

12.   My first car was a 4-door ‘47 Mercury flathead V8 with suicide doors and a honeymoon shifter 3-speed. ~ John (Marg)

13.   I weighed in at 13 pounds when I was born. ~Herb (Anneliese)

14.   I speak three languages and two dialects fluently. ~Tony (Charlotte)

15.   I was attacked by a snowflake eel while snorkeling in Hawaii. ~Judy

16.   I skipped the second grade and was always younger than my classmates. ~ Ellen

17.   I designed and made the prototype for fiberglass floats for Conair water planes. ~Vic (Julie)

18.   I used to play accordion. ~Scot (Kathy)

19.   I have travelled to 21 countries. ~Charlotte

20.  I was once the fastest runner of all the girls in my school and competed in the Provincial Games. ~Lovella

Who knew?

Enjoy the weekend...
and these last few days before Christmas!



Thursday, December 20, 2012

Mixed Vegetable Casserole - GF conversions given


This veggie casserole is an old favorite and is always enjoyed whenever I serve it.   One nephew once said as he reached for a second helping ... "Now you have me eating vegetables and I don't even like them!"
  • 4 cups chopped mixed vegetables of your choice 
  • 1/2 cups crushed cornflakes (gluten-free if so needed) 
  • 1 tbsp oil
  •  3 tbsp oil or butter 
  • 1/3 cup chopped onions
  • 3 tbsp flour (for gluten -free - 1 tbsp sweet rice flour and 2 tbsp cornstarch)
  • 1 tsp salt 
  • 1/8 tsp pepper 
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk 
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese 
  • (optional) 1 cube chicken bouillon and/or  1/2 cup chopped ham or sausage
  1. Cook vegetables until tender, drain 
  2. Saute onions in 3 tbsp oil
  3. Mix flour, salt,  pepper and whisk into the milk in a saucepan.
  4. Add onions to milk mixture and cook until thickened,  stirring continually to keep smooth.
  5. Stir in grated cheese (and meat if desired).
  6. Add cooked vegetables and spread into a shallow baking dish. (1 1/2 quart size) 
  7. Toss cornflakes in 1 tbsp oil and spread on top of vegetables. 
  8. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes. 
  9. This is nice to prepare ahead, refrigerate,  and then bake just before serving.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Thank you to our Sponsors


Today we want to acknowledge our blog sponsors and thank them for partnering with us.
These people give faithfully and generously each month to help and bless others in their own communities and around the world. Read more about each of our sponsors by clicking on the  link. 

Dan and Audrey Neufeld own and operate Neufeld Farms, their family business in Abbotsford BC.  As a group we have had the privilege of visiting their business and meeting some of their great staff. 
They are making a difference through their faithful giving.

Rob and Charlotte Lepp own and operate Lepp Farm Market in Abbotsford BC.
We enjoy teaching evening cooking classes at Lepp's and would invite you to join us sometime.
Visit their web site for details on cooking classes.
We are so thankful to them for their donations to Matthew's House.

Wendy Murray is the owner of Winks Home Garden and Gifts in Chilliwack BC. 
Winks hosted a book signing for us in her lovely store, and has been an on going support.
Wendy and her husband Dave give to help people in Romania and also locally.
We appreciate their generosity both in their community and abroad.

The Fort Langley Guesthouse located in historic Fort Langley in British Columbia is a beautiful place to stay and relax.
Their support to people in need is much appreciated.

Tracey Dueck is the owner of Tracey Cakes
If you are looking for a sweet place to stop and enjoy coffee or lunch with a friend,
choose Tracey Cakes. Cupcakes are her specialty.
We are grateful for their support.


Meda has been able to passionately support impoverished women in underdeveloped counties.
We encourage you to take some time to visit their web site. Their giving is making a difference.


Grand Pappy's Furniture in Chilliwack BC is owned and operated
by the young entrepreneurial spirits of Matt and Brandi Schmidt.
They have involved us in a book signing and we have enjoyed
 supporting their 'Extravaganza Show' in the fall time.
They are generously donating their book proceeds to  Ruth and Naomi's Mission in Chilliwack, BC.


The true heart of Christmas is in the giving.
Thank you!

Wishing you and your families a blessed Christmas Season,

Anneliese, Betty, Bev, Charlotte, Ellen, Judy, Julie, Kathy, Lovella, Marg


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Breakfast Bake with Roasted Red Pepper and Sausage





















I recently entertained guests for brunch.  I was looking for a recipe that I could make ahead so that there would be a minimum of fuss and bother on the morning of the meal.
I thought  a strata would be perfect and looked in the cupboard for some way to add a new twist to this standby breakfast meal.  We really enjoyed this combination of flavours.
  • 6-8 slices thick sliced bread, white or whole wheat 
  • 1/2 of a link (approximately 3/4 lb.) smoked (not raw) farmer sausage, skin removed 
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1 jar roasted red peppers, drained 
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 3/4 cup half and half cream
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce 
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • fresh ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped or 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 2 cups shredded cheese (I used Cheddar, Gruyere  and Swiss)


  1. In a buttered 9"x13" pan or casserole dish, lay out bread slices, fitting them tightly together in the bottom of the dish.
  2. Cut 6-8 slices from the sausage and set aside.
  3. Using a table knife or 2 forks, coarsely shred the rest of the sausage meat and lay over bread.
  4. Saute' onion in butter until softened and spread over sausage.
  5. Lay out roasted red peppers on a paper towel to blot out some of the liquid, then cut up and arrange over onion.
  6. Sprinkle with chopped basil.
  7. In a large mixing bowl beat eggs until frothy. Then add milk, cream, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper, mixing well.
  8. Pour over bread and sausage in dish.
  9. Top with shredded cheese and arrange sausage slices on top.
  10. Cover with foil or plastic wrap and  refrigerate overnight.
  11. The next morning, remove casserole from fridge, then preheat oven to 350º F.
  12. Bake casserole for 1 hour or until knife inserted in middle comes out clean.  
  13. Remove from oven and let it rest 10 minutes before serving.
  14. Serve with a fruit salad and muffins if desired.





Monday, December 17, 2012

Egg Nog



My mom used to make cold eggnog for us in summer when eggs were plenty and before smoothies had  been discovered.  She made it nutritionally simple without spices, chilled it well and it was enjoyed by us all.  Following these instructions gives you a good base for eggnog and following the link will give you suggestions on how to spice it up.

  • 1 dozen eggs
  • 2/3 cup liquid honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 8 cups 1% milk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  1. Break eggs into a large saucepan.
  2. Add honey and salt and beat with a handmixer until the egg white and yolks are well blended.
  3. Add half the milk and stir constantly with a heat proof spatula over medium low heat until the mixture coats the back of a spoon or 160 F.  Do not allow it to come to a boil.  
  4. Place a large heat proof bowl into ice water and pour the mixture through a fine sieve into the bowl.  Add remaining cold milk. Add flavouring and stir to cool. Pour into jars with lids and refrigerate for up to a couple of days.
  5. For additional flavouring tips visit Egg Farmers of Canada's website for their suggestions.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Bread for the Journey



Dear Readers,

There are no words that can express our heart felt sympathies to the families who have lost their loved ones in this senseless tragedy which occurred in Connecticut this past week.  We too, like the rest of the world want to send our love and prayers for all of you, for the parents, the grandparents, the siblings, the teachers, the friends, and the community of Newtown.   

Let the words of Max Lucado's Christmas Prayer live deep in your hearts.

A Christmas Prayer.

Dear Jesus,

It’s a good thing you were born at night. This world sure seems dark. I have a good eye for silver linings. But they seem dimmer lately.

These killings, Lord.  These children, Lord.  Innocence violated.  Raw evil demonstrated.

The whole world seems on edge. Trigger-happy. Ticked off. We hear threats of chemical weapons and nuclear bombs. Are we one button-push away from annihilation?

Your world seems a bit darker this Christmas.  But you were born in the dark, right? You came at night. The shepherds were night shift workers. The Wise Men followed a star. Your first cries were heard in the shadows. To see your face, Mary and Joseph needed a candle flame. It was dark. Dark with Herod’s jealousy. Dark with Roman oppression. Dark with poverty.  Dark with violence.
Herod went on a rampage, killing babies. Joseph took you and your mom into Egypt. You were an immigrant before you were a Nazarene.

Oh, Lord Jesus, you entered the dark world of your day. Won’t you enter ours? We are weary of bloodshed. We, like the wise men, are looking for a star. We, like the shepherds, are kneeling at a manger.

This Christmas, we ask you, heal us, help us, be born anew in us.

Hopefully,
Your Children

May God continue to hold you in the palm of His Hand.


Saturday, December 15, 2012

Cinnamon Bun Cake


This cake really does taste like a cinnamon bun! Delicious served warm. I think it would be great to serve for brunch even if it is a cake.

Ingredients:

  • Cake:
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • Topping:
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 3 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • Glaze:
  • 1 3/4 cups icing sugar
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon maple extract
Method:
  1. For the cake:
  2. Cream butter and sugar, add eggs, vanilla, and milk.
  3. Add dry ingredients and mix well.
  4. Pour into a 9 x 13" greased pan.
  5. Topping:
  6. Stir together topping ingredients until creamy
  7. Drop evenly over batter by tablespoons and swirl through the batter with a knife.
  8. Bake at 350º for 45 minutes.
  9. Glaze:
  10. Whisk glaze ingredients till smooth.
  11. Drizzle over warm cake.
  12. Best served warm..although it tastes great even after it has cooled!


Friday, December 14, 2012

Chocolate Pate

Just recently I had the privilege of taking in a cooking class at The Dirty Apron culinary school in Vancouver.  The chef demonstrated all of the dishes, and then we each replicated them at our own station.  The dessert was so simple...and yet elegant...and just perfect for Christmas. I've changed it up a wee bit...and will share it with you today.


  • 500 g dark sweetened chocolate
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/3 cups heavy cream 
  • fresh raspberries (for garnish)
  • roasted hazelnuts (for garnish)
  • additional whipped cream (for garnish)
  • mint leaves  
  1. Microwave the chocolate (in chunks or pieces), butter, and sugar in large bowl for 2-3 minutes at medium power, stirring occasionally. (Or melt over hot water in a double boiler.)
  2. Once smooth, cool to room temperature.
  3. In a separate bowl, beat the heavy cream until soft peaks form.
  4. With a spatula, fold the cream into the dark chocolate.
  5. Line a loaf pan with plastic wrap, so sides and bottom are covered...or line several mini-loaf pans.
  6. Spoon the chocolate mixture into the loaf pan, smoothing the top.
  7. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.
  8. Before serving, carefully remove the pate from the loaf pan and place on work surface.  Then slice the pate (at least 1/2 inch pieces) with a hot thin-bladed knife and place on dessert plate.  Serve with raspberry coulis, whipped cream, fresh raspberries and toasted hazelnuts Add mint leaf for a splash of color. Dust with icing (confectioner's) sugar if you wish.

    Raspberry Coulis

    • 1 1/2 pint raspberries (fresh or frozen)
    • 1/2 cup confectioner's sugar (icing sugar)
    1. Cook the berries and sugar over low heat for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
    2. Strain through a fine sieve to remove seeds.
    3. Chill. 
    Serves 8-10

    Using good quality chocolate is important!  I visited our local chocolate shop, and purchased Belgian chocolate to make this dessert.  It made a melt-in-your-mouth pate that even a non-lover of chocolate could appreciate.  This dessert can be prepared in advance...as it keeps well for four or five days. 




      Thursday, December 13, 2012

      Apple Butternut Squash soup

      This is a tasty soup that would work nicely as a starter to a Christmas Dinner.

      Apple Butternut Squash Soup
      •  2 tablespoons butter
      • 2 tablespoons olive oil
      • 4 cups chopped onion
      • 2 tablespoons mild curry powder
      • 2 large butternut squash 
      • 4 sweet apples
      • 2 teaspoons salt
      • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
      • 2 cups chicken broth

      1. Heat the butter and olive oil in a large cast iron dutch oven or large stockpot over low heat. 
      2. Add the onions and curry powder and cook for 15 to 20 minutes or until the onions are tender. 
      3. Stir and scrape the bottom of the pot every couple minutes.
      4. Peel squash, cut in half and remove seeds. Cut the squash into chunks.
      5. Peel and core the apples and cut into chunks.
      6. Add the squash, apples, salt, pepper, and 2 cups broth to pot.
      7. Bring to boil, cover, reduce heat to low and cook until the squash and apples are soft, approx.40-50 minutes.
      8. Use a food processor or hand blender to puree the squash and apples.
      9. Return to pot if you used the food processor and taste, adding salt and pepper if needed.
      10. If the consistency is too thick add a little more broth or water and heat through.
      11. Serve with toasted walnuts and pomegranate seeds, optional.
      Serves: 16-24 (approx. 1/2 cup servings)




      Wednesday, December 12, 2012

      Poached Pears in Puff Pastry



      The first time I remember having poached pears was on a cruise. They were served in a fruity sauce and I always wanted to try and re-create them. When I found an old recipe in my stash of "recipes to try one day" I liked the idea of the added pastry around the pear. I used plums because it was fruit I had in my freezer. This makes a beautiful dessert after a big dinner and works well into a day of prep by being able to make it ahead and refrigerating until dinner is out of the oven.

      Poached / Wrapped Pears and Filling:
      • 6 pears, peeled and cored
      • 1 cup sugar
      • 2 cups water
      • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
      • 1 pkg frozen puff pastry
      • 4 oz cream cheese
      • 1/2 cup icing sugar



      Plum Sauce
      • 1 - 1 1/2 cups syrup, left after poaching pears
      • 3 cups / 750 ml chopped plums, fresh or frozen
      • 1/2 teaspoon / 2 ml cinnamon


      1. Peel and core pears, slicing just a tad off the bottom to make them stand easily.
      2. In the meantime, bring sugar, water and lemon juice to boil in a pot large enough to hold the pears standing up.
      3. Place prepared pears in syrup, bring to boiling point, then reduce and simmer until pears are tender, about 10 - 15 minutes.
      4. With slotted spoon, lift the pears out of the syrup, place on a plate and cool in refrigerator.
      5. To syrup in pot add chopped plums, bring to boil and simmer for about an hour, until thick and syrupy. Stir in cinnamon or any flavor you prefer.
      6. Beat cream cheese and sugar until fluffy and pipe into cooled pears.
      7. Roll out each half of thawed pastry to about 12 x 12 inches. Cut square into quarters.
      8. Place a prepared pear in the center of a quartered square. Taking one corner, pull up and wrap over the top, around the stem. Brush edges with water as you repeat with the next three corners. Repeat with the rest of the pears and place on parchment lined cookie sheet. Cut leaves out of the leftover pastry and decorate as you like. Chill 20 minutes or until ready to bake.
      9. Bake at 425 F 25 - 30 minutes until golden.
      10. Serve with plum sauce.



       
       
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      Tuesday, December 11, 2012

      Greek Lemon and Rice Soup (Avgolemeno)

      This is one of my families favorite soups and a quick and easy dinner solution, especially this time of year when there seems to be a lot more busyness going on with shopping, concerts, baking, wrapping, Can you relate?
      If we go out for dinner, we prefer going out for Greek food. Usually we order this soup as a first course. I can't recall there being carrots in the soup, but I like to sneak in veggies where ever I can. This is my version of the soup better known as Avgolemeno. If you don't have a homemade broth ready, use a good quality low / no sodium broth, that is a good option. The creaminess comes from the eggs simmered in the broth, adding some protein.
      • 8-10 cups chicken broth
      • 1 small onion, diced
      • 1 cup carrot, diced
      • 1 cup celery, finely diced
      • 1-2 garlic cloves minced
      • 1 cup uncooked rice
      • 6 eggs
      • 1 or 2 lemons, juiced depending on personal taste*
      • parsley and lemon slices for garnish
      1. Bring the chicken broth to a boil, with the added vegetables.
      2. Boil for about 15 minutes until carrots and celery are tender.
      3. Add the rice cook for 15 minutes longer.
      4. Turn the soup to barely a simmer, before adding the eggs.
      5. While the soup is cooking, crack the eggs into a large bowl and add the lemon juice, beat together. Let it sit on the counter to reach room temperature.
      6. Take about 2 cups of the broth and while whisking the eggs vigorously ever so slowly add the broth to the eggs so the eggs won't scramble but have this creamy texture. (if the eggs scramble, no big deal, it all tastes good and then it becomes egg drop soup. Don't sweat it, I don't always accomplish this creaminess texture every time either if I am in a bit of a hurry, really it's OK.)
      7. The eggs cook quickly and as soon as the soup becomes thick take it off the heat and let it rest with the lid on. 
      8. Add the chopped parsley for garnish and color.
      *We like things lemony so try using the juice of one lemon first and adjust the seasoning after the eggs have been added and cooked through. Always use fresh lemon juice for the best lemon flavor, you just can't compare the taste to the bottled juice. I also throw in the lemon shells for the last 5 minutes of cooking time and take it out before I add the eggs for more lemon flavor. If you leave the shells in for too long the soup becomes a bit bitter. Or add a bit of the lemon zest to the broth in the end too, that is optional.


      Monday, December 10, 2012

      Toffee Drops


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

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

      Sunday, December 9, 2012

      Bread for the Journey

      Years ago I had a friend who had an only child who was born with very severe asthma. 
      Countless nights the frantic parents rushed her to emergency to save her life. 
      This child, when I knew her was only two years old and there was a sensitivity about her that gave  you the sense she was not an ordinary child - something about her was 'other-worldly'. 
      Her mother told me the following story.
      It was Lisa's (not her real name) second Christmas and in her paternal extended family there was a family tradition where the youngest child got to put the baby Jesus in the manger on Christmas Eve.  
      That year it was Lisa's turn.  
      She did not attend church  or Sunday School (her father was not a believer) and as far as the mother knew no one had told her enough for her to understand to do what she did. 
      Lisa took the offered 'baby' from her grandmother and obeyed the instructions to go put it in the manger.  She walked over, laid the baby in the manger and then kneeling down in front of it folded her hands and bowed her head. 
      Her grandmother asked in surprise, "What are you doing, Lisa?" 
      The child replied, "I'm worshipping Him."   

      We read ... "A little child shall lead them" (Is. 11:6)  and Jesus says.. "Except you become as a little child.." (Matt. 18:1-5)

      For the world the baby in the manger is quite comfortable to accept, after all every one loves a baby! 
      But this baby came to rule as  King of Kings and Lord of Lords!
      He came worthy of our worship. 

      Does the babe of Christmas rule in your heart ? 
      Is your response to Him to fall down and worship Him? 

      The chorus of the old Christmas Carol , "O Come all ye Faithful" is an invitation.
      "O come let us adore Him,
      O come let us adore Him,  
      O come let us adore Him, 
      Christ, the Lord!"

      Saturday, December 8, 2012

      Trifle in a Mug



       
      This simple Black Forest trifle in a mug is sure to go quick . . . but if not, rather than being left with a messy bowl, you have dessert for another day. These keep well, refrigerated, for several days.

      Ingredients:
      • 1 cup water
      • 1/2 cup butter
      • 1/2 cup oil
      • 2 cups flour
      • 1 1/2 cups sugar
      • 4 Tbsp baking cocoa
      • 1 tsp baking soda
      • 1/2 cup buttermilk
      • 2 eggs
      • 1 tsp vanilla

      • 1 can cherry pie filling
      • 1 small pkg instant chocolate fudge pudding
      • 2 cups milk for pudding
      • 2 cups whipping cream
      • 2 Tbsp sugar
      • chocolate shavings or mint candy, crushed

      Method:
       
      1. Prepare a large rimmed cookie sheet (11x17) by greasing, lining with wax paper and greasing again.
      2.  Bring water, butter and oil to boil.
      3. Add hot liquids to combined flour, sugar, cocoa, soda in bowl.
      4. Stir in buttermilk, eggs and vanilla.
      5. Spread into prepared pan and bake at 350 F for 20 minutes.
      6. After cooling, cut out 24 rounds with cookie cutter or glass to fit mugs or small jars.
      7. Place a round of chocolate cake in the bottom of 12 mugs.
      8. Top with two tablespoons of cherry pie filling.
      9. Beat whipping cream with sugar, then top cherry filling with two tablespoons of whipped cream.
      10. Top whipped cream with second layer of cake, then add two - three tablespoons of prepared chocolate fudge pudding.
      11. Top with whipped cream and chocolate or mint. To make chocolate shavings use a potato peeler on semi sweet dark chocolate. 
      12.  
       
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      Friday, December 7, 2012

      Pear Snacking Cake




      I've been making this cake for years.  
      It's moist and flavourful and perfect to pack for lunch or serve with afternoon coffee.
      • 1/2 cup unsalted butter softened
      • 3/4 cup sugar
      • 2 eggs
      • 1 teaspoon vanilla
      • canned pears;  drain and chop each pear into 6 -9 pieces  to make approximately 2 cups (reserve 1/4 cup pear juice)
      • 1 tablespoon grated orange zest
      • 1 2/3 cups flour
      • 1 teaspoon baking soda
      • 1/2 teaspoon salt
      • reserved 1/4 cup pear juice
      • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
      1. Grease the bottom of a 9 inch square pan.
      2. Cream butter and sugar until light coloured and well blended.
      3. Add eggs beating well after each one.
      4. Add vanilla, canned pears and orange rind, beating well.  The beaters will chop up the pears even more and the mixture will look somewhat curdled.
      5. Add dry ingredients and pear syrup and mix at low speed just until well blended.
      6. Fold in nuts.
      7. Spread batter in prepared pan.
      8. Bake at 350ºF for 25-35 minutes.  To test doneness, insert toothpick in centre of cake.  If it comes out dry, cake is done.
      9. Frost with Browned butter icing:
      Browned Butter Icing:

      NOTE: This frosting sets in a very short time so work quickly when making it.

      In a medium pot, melt 1/4 cup butter over medium heat, watching closely.
      When it begins to turn a golden brown, remove from heat and add 2 cups icing sugar.
      Working quickly, beat icing sugar with a spoon, adding  1 teaspoon vanilla and 2 or 3 tablespoons cream to make it of spreading consistency.
      Stir in  and spread over cake.

      After the frosting has set but is still a bit warm I use the flat tines of a fork to press a pattern in the top of the cake.



      Thursday, December 6, 2012

      Chocolate Eggnog Cake

      A chocolate cake mix, eggnog, a Jersey Milk chocolate bar and a splash of strong coffee.
      Moist and delicious! 

      Ingredients:
      • 3 eggs
      • 1 cup eggnog
      • 1/4 cup grape seed or vegetable oil
      • 1/3 cup strong hot coffee
      • 1 100 gram milk chocolate chocolate bar ( I use Jersey Milk)
      • 1 box Swiss Chocolate cake mix
      Method:
      1. Beat together first 3 ingredients.
      2. Break chocolate bar into small pieces, place into hot coffee and stir until completely melted.
      3. Add to eggnog mixture and beat until combined.
      4. Sift powdered cake mix into eggnog mixture and beat for another 2 minutes until ingredients are well combined.
      5. Grease two 9" cake pans or one 9x13" pan and then dust lightly with cocoa powder.
      6. Pour cake batter into prepared pans.
      7. Bake in oven pre heated to 350º for 30-35 minutes. Cake is done when it springs back when lightly pressed on, or a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. 
      8. If using a 9x13" pan you may want to just leave the cake in the pan to cool.  Once cooled frost or serve with ice cream.
      9. If baked in rounds for a layered cake allow to cool for 5 minutes in pans and then invert onto cooling racks.
      10. Cool and frost with your favourite chocolate buttercream  or pudding and whipped cream frosting.

      Wednesday, December 5, 2012

      Pizza Rolls


      These pizza rolls are great for packing in lunches and to have in the freezer for a quick supper. I like to have them handy around Christmas time when you want something different from the usual buffet of leftovers! You may add chopped mushrooms, green peppers and bacon if you like. Another idea, the one my daughter suggested..with tomato, olives, mushroom and feta!

      Pizza Rolls
      • Dough:
      • 1 tablespoon sugar
      • 2 teaspoons salt
      • 1 tablespoon oil
      • 2 1/4 cups warm water
      • 1 tablespoon instant yeast
      • 6 1/4 cups flour..I used 2 cups multigrain and 4 1/4 cups white flour
      • Filling: 
      • 1 cup pizza sauce
      • 2 cups pepperoni, finely chopped
      • 5 cups cheese, grated..I used half cheddar and half mozzarella
      • Topping:
      • 1 egg, slightly beaten for eggwash
      • Italian seasoning
      • cornmeal for sprinkling in cookie sheet (optional)
      1. To make the dough: stir together sugar, salt, oil, and warm water.
      2. Add flour and yeast and mix well. Start with 4 cups of flour and keep adding as needed.
      3. Knead well for 5 minutes.
      4. Cover and let rise in warm place until doubled in bulk.
      5. Divide dough into 2 pieces and roll each out into a rectangle, approx 1/4" thick.
      6. Spoon half the sauce on each rectangle of dough, then sprinkle pepperoni and cheese on top.
      7. Roll up as you would for cinnamon rolls and pinch edges to seal.
      8. Place rolls in a parchment lined pan sprinkled with cornmeal. If you don't have a pan large enough you can make these rolls in smaller sizes. 
      9. Brush slightly beaten egg over the rolls and sprinkle with Italian seasoning.
      10. Bake at 400º for 30 minutes, till golden brown.
      * These rolls never seal completely for me and they kind of fall in after baking but nobody here seems to mind if some of the filling oozes out and the rolls flatten a bit:)