Thursday, February 28, 2013

White Cake with Meringue Frosting

Today . . . this afternoon . . . Lovella, Kathy, Bev, Ellen, Judy, Marg, Julie and Anneliese
are excited to be guests on the Amish Wisdom Radio Hour
 with host Suzanne Woods Fisher.
You can tune in at 2:00 pm local Pacific Time or
times in between up to
5:00 pm Eastern Time - by clicking here
We will each have the unique opportunity to share a little more about the purpose of this blog,
our lives, our faith, our hopes and our dreams.
Our prayer is that others be encouraged and blessed.

 
To honor a special birthday today - or tomorrow (born February 29th) I decided to post a birthday cake my mom used to make. She usually filled it with a chocolate or vanilla pudding, but in her instructions to me, which I wrote down as a teen, she gave the option to fill it with pudding or fruit.
Ingredients:
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 4 egg whites, beaten
Fruit filling:
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1 Tbsp instant vanilla powder or 1 tsp sugar
  • sliced strawberries
Method:
  1. Grease an 8 inch springform pan. Dust lightly with flour and tap to spread. You can also use two greased 8 inch pans - lined with wax paper and greased again - before dividing the batter.
  2. In mixing bowl, mix sugar and egg yolks well. I like to use a wooden spoon. Add liquids.
  3. Stir in combined dry ingredients.
  4. Stir in about 1/2 cup of the stiffly beaten egg whites, then, using a rubber spatula, fold in the rest to make a light fluffy batter.
  5. Pour into pan/ pans and bake at 325 F, 40 - 45 minutes or until golden on top. Less time if using two pans. Run a knife around the edge and let cool for 10 minutes before removing rim.
  6. Invert onto serving plate and remove bottom, if using springform. Peel off wax paper if not using a springform pan.
To assemble the cake:
  1. Once cooled, cut through the cake, using a serrated knife.
  2. Beat whipping cream, adding optional vanilla pudding powder near the end to stabilize.
  3. Layer half the whipping cream on cake, followed by a layer of strawberries and the rest of the whipped cream. Add top cake layer.
Meringue Frosting:
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  1. In small pot, over medium heat, bring water and sugar to boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. While it continues to boil, beat egg whites in a heat proof mixing bowl until almost stiff.
  2. Boil sugar and water, stirring once in a while, for about 4 - 5 minutes or until clear and syrup like. It will be very bubbly. (Reading 240 F using a candy thermometer)  If you do not have a thermometer it's okay.You can test for when it's ready by dropping a drop off the spoon into a cup of cold water. It should turn solid.
  3. Slowly and carefully pour syrup  into beaten egg whites, with mixer going medium to high. Beat for about 3 minutes. Add cornstarch and lemon juice and beat another minute.
  4. Spread on top and sides of cake. Sprinkle immediately with toasted coconut and almonds or colored coconut or leave as is. To color coconut, drop about three drops of food coloring into a large jar. Add 1 Tbsp of water and 1 cup of shredded coconut. Shake and adjust to personal preference. Add more coconut to lighten and more color to darken.
  5. 
Extra tips:
I'm hoping that the pictures show you that this is not difficult. The cake is easy to mix. It may fall slightly after taking it out of the oven, but that's okay.
The meringue frosting is easy but needs a bit of patience. If you don't  cook the syrup long enough before adding it to the meringue, it will not stiffen up. Keep beating longer if peaks do not form after three minutes. If you cook it too long the texture of the frosting will be grainy.



Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Mars Bars

My friend Jane from work gave brought these little treats to work some time ago. They are a perfect 2-3 bite size homemade chocolate bar. Simply delicious.
Ingredients:
  • 3 full sized Mars Bars chocolate bars (these are a Cadbury product)
  • 3 ounces butter (which is 6 tablespoons)
  • 3 cups rice krispies
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 teaspoon butter
Method:
  1. Cut chocolate bars into small pieces. 
  2. Place them into a heavy bottomed medium sized sauce pan.
  3. Add butter, and melt over medium heat until melted and smooth.
  4. Immediately stir in rice krispies.
  5. Pour mixture into a butter greased 8"x8" pan.
  6. Melt together chocolate chips and second amount of butter until smooth. 
  7. Quickly spread over mars bars.
  8. Place in refrigerator to set. Cut into small squares and store in a covered container in refrigerator. They freeze well up to 3 months in a well sealed container. 

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Rice Pudding Deluxe

Comfort food...at its finest! Many years ago a local restaurant chain had a deluxe rice pudding on the menu. It came served on a very large platter...a warm rice pudding, smothered with a vanilla custard and topped with whipped cream. My daughter and I reasoned that if we shared the dessert it was almost a healthy choice. And so our shopping trips often included a stop at that particular restaurant for a treat. It was a sad day when we found our favorite item was no longer on the menu. Several years ago...I made up a copykat version at my daughter's request. Since that time...a rice pudding party has become an annual tradition...always in February. Our pudding day 2013 has come and gone... with four 'girls' around the table.  We each had our own big serving...and we didn't need dinner that day!


Ingredients:
  • 4 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup short grain pearl rice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Method:
  1. Place rice, milk and salt in a deep, heavy saucepan.*
  2. Bring to a boil over medium heat, while stirring.
  3. Reduce heat and simmer gently for about 45 minutes (or until rice is cooked) stirring frequently.
  4. In a small bowl, combine egg, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg with a whisk.
  5. Stir 1/2 cup of the cooked rice into the egg mixture...then add the egg/sugar mixture to the cooked rice.
  6. Add raisins.
  7. Cook on low for two or three minutes.
  8. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.
  9. Cool slightly and serve warm or chill in the refrigerator and serve cold. It is delicious either way.
*If you have a double boiler, the simplest method is to cook the rice in the top of the double boiler over boiling water.  This takes a little longer but reduces the risk of scorching the rice.

To bump it up a notch:
  1. Prepare your favorite vanilla custard.
  2. Whip up a pint of whipping cream, slightly sweetened and laced with vanilla.
  3. Spread a layer of rice pudding on dinner plate or platter.
  4. Top with a layer of vanilla custard.
  5. Garnish liberally with whipped cream.
  6. Sprinkle with cinnamon.
  7. Indulge in rice pudding deluxe!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Kale

Plain and simple....Kale!
I've been adding this dark green leafy and very healthy vegetable to our plates. No one is complaining about this new addition to our meals.

There really is no recipe...just follow the simple steps below.

1)Wash Kale.
2)To remove stem from Kale, hold end of stem in one hand and pull down along stem with other hand. Leaves will pull away nicely from the bigger centre stem. Discard large stem.
2)Add several inches of water and 1 slice of lemon to a low pot that has a lid. (if doing a large amount of Kale add an extra slice of lemon) Place cleaned and stemmed Kale into pot. Place lid onto pot.
3)Place pot with Kale over high heat and allow to come to a full boil.
4)Turn burner to low and allow Kale to steam. Lift lid every couple of minutes to turn leaves, making sure that all the Kale leaves are all softening. Do this until Kale is bright green and soft....but not limp. It only takes 5-8 minutes depending on how much is in your pot. It's better to serve it a bit firm rather than limp and soggy.
5)Drain well, discard lemon and serve.

An extra squeeze of lemon and a dash of lemon pepper really adds a nice finishing touch.


Sunday, February 24, 2013

Bread for the Journey

 
Letting Go!

It was back a few years when I walked into my favorite shop.
My eyes spotted and stayed glued to this matted sketch.
It had my name written on it.
I went to the cashier...
 Tears started rolling down my face.
This motto represented my heart.
I had taught this to my children, the best way I could.

 I watched my older daughters make some choices.
One was off to the inner city of Camden, NJ, using her educational skills,
to serve and support the needy children of Camden.
The other was off to Haiti, using her medical experience, 
helping families recover from the earthquake torn country.

 It tugged at my heart as I saw them moving ahead with hearts for service.

It was one of those days when I was muttering to myself about letting go,
my daughter turned to me and said.
"Mom, you always told us that you wanted to give us roots and wings."

Little did I know what that meant.
I too have wrestled with these questions concerning letting go.
Yes, I thought to myself,  roots go deep and help our children to grow strong, while
wings lift children upward and inspire them to soar freely, strongly and close to God.
I have to admit...'the wings part is my challenge.'

While children are loaned to us from God only temporarily,
it is our responsibility to love, nurture, train and finally release them
so they can seek God's will for their lives.
Letting go does not mean abandoning them, but it means to give them back to God.
It means to release those controls that are stirred up from needless fears.
 
"Like an eagle that stirs up its nest and hovers over the young,
that spreads its wings to catch them and carries them on its pinions."  Deut. 3:11

Just as an eagle stirs up the nest, to encourage the eaglet to test it's wings,
 when it's capable, it finally flies away, strong and free.
This word picture from the Bible gives me the assurance and inspiration
that God too, will be their to help our children reach their potential.
 
Many of us have had to let go...cutting ties, pushing off and stirring up the eagles nest.
It truly is a process as we learn to give our children independence.
We want them to serve God - not us.
We want them to depend on God - not us.
 We also want them to know that God will always be with them.
~ we won't.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Saturday in Bev's kitchen


This is how Saturday used to look in my kitchen.


This is how it looks now.

After 37 years of working in this kitchen, we have taken the plunge into demolition and renovations.
I can hear the groans and feel the shudders of those of you who have been this route and lived to tell about it.
Tales of microwaves in the laundry room, TV dinners and barbequing in the rain. 
Of missing (and needed!) kitchen tools buried in bins who knows where, 
washing dishes in pails, and dust over everything.
Yes, it's all true, but a beautiful new kitchen will emerge from the dust and chaos and I'm holding on to that.

So where am I cooking this Saturday morning?
Here - in our cozy camper parked beside the house.


We cooked and ate our meals in this camper for 7 weeks a few years ago as we traveled across Canada from West to East and back again and we figure we can do it again over the next 2 or 3 months.
I have everything I need, with the bonus of electricity and more fridge space 
(we've moved my refrigerator to the garage til the work is done)
Thankfully we are having a warm winter here so I don't have to bundle up to run the short distance 
between the house and the camper. 
If we lived near Betty and Charlotte this winter, we'd be microwaving in the laundry room for sure! 

Of course, cooking has become simpler - 
I just don't have access to all my pans and gadgets.  
But I have already baked Cherry Platz  and made a hearty soup, proving that you don't need a large, perfectly equipped kitchen to put good food on the table.
Small and simple is just fine - fewer dishes to clean up for one thing!
That's all for now but I promise to come back in a few months with a picture of 
Saturday in Bev's NEW kitchen.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Egg Benedict Gluten Free


Something I use to order quite regularly when we went out to eat was Eggs Benedict -  but Celiac put that on the taboo list.
I knew the English Muffins were a given to be made with wheat,   but I was surprised to learn that Hollandaise sauce in a restaurant is made from a mix containing wheat flour.
No problem --  I just make it all gluten-free and I can again enjoy one of my favorite meals - Eggs Benedict with fresh fruit on the side.
The extra work is worth it !
.
English Muffins 
  • 1/2 cup warm water 
  • 1 tsp sugar 
  • 1 tsp unflavored gelatin 
  • 1 1/2 tbsp traditional yeast 
  • 1/2 cup warm milk 
  • 1 tbsp honey 
  • 1 1/2 tbsp oil 
  • 2 lg eggs 
  • 1 cup millet flour 
  • 1/4 white bean flour (or brown rice flour or sorghum flour) 
  • 1/4 cup potato starch 
  • 1/4 cup arrowroot starch 
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch 
  • 1 tsp xanthan gum 
  • 1 tsp salt
  1. Mix sugar and gelatin, add warm water and yeast and proof. 
  2. In mixing bowl put eggs , oil, honey and milk 
  3. Add proofed yeast and mix.  
  4. Blend together dry ingredients and add all at once to liquids. 
  5. Mix on low, then beat on high for 2 minutes. 
  6. Divide batter between 9  -  3" English muffin rings (or make your own with folded parchment paper) placed on greased cookie sheet. 
  7. Let rise until doubled in bulk. 
  8. Bake in 350 degree oven for about 25 minutes. 
  9. Enjoy same day or freeze. 

Hollandaise Sauce  

  • 2 egg yolks 
  • 2 tsp water 
  • 1/2 cup clarified butter (see instructions below) 
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice 
  • salt and pepper to taste 
  1. Put a couple of inches of water in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. 
  2. In a bowl whisk the egg yolks and the water . 
  3. Place bowl on saucepan (don't let it touch the simmering water) 
  4. Continue to whisk until the egg mixture begins to thicken. 
  5. Remove from heat ...   and continuing to whisk,  very slowly add the warm clarified butter.  The sauce will continue to thicken. 
  6. Add the lemon juice and salt and pepper. 
  7. This is a lovely Hollandaise sauce that does not separate.  


***Clarified butter  - 1 cup butter in saucepan on low heat ... the white milk solids will separate and float on top --  skim them off .. until all that is left is a clear golden liquid.  It takes a few minutes.   The golden liquid - clarified butter- keeps longer than butter. Store in a jar in refrigerator. (Save the skimmed off milk solids to pour on your popcorn !)

Poached eggs -  to poach eggs bring water to a soft simmer in a saucepan, with 1 tbsp of vinegar added to the water.   Break the eggs and slide gently into the water.   Let them cook until the yolk is almost set --  about 3 minutes.  Lift them out of the water with a slotted spoon.  

On the plate - Eggs Benedict 
  • 1 English Muffin 
  • 2 poached eggs 
  • 2 slices of back bacon or ham 
  • Hollandaise Sauce 
  • fresh fruit - what ever is in season 
  1. Cut an English muffin in half,  toast and butter. 
  2. Place muffin halves on a plate, cover with a slice of back bacon or ham
  3. Add the poached eggs on top of the meat. 
  4. Drizzle Hollandaise sauce generously  over top.  
  5. Arrange fresh fruit on the plate. 

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Roasted Chicken Avocado Sandwiches




Recently I put these sandwiches together for two of us. I had an idea of what I wanted and used what I had in the fridge. A nice change to the ordinary.
 
Ingredients:
  • multigrain rolls
  • Caesar salad dressing
  • roasted sweet pepper
  • roasted chicken breast
  • Danish Camembert cheese
  • ripe avocado
  • spinach
 


Method:
  1. Spread one side of open rolls with dressing and top with a few thin slices of roasted pepper.
  2. Place a few thin slices of chicken on the other side.
  3. Top both sides with a slice or two of cheese
  4. Bake in 400 F oven for 5 - 10 minutes, until cheese melts.
  5. Top with sliced avocado and spinach leaves and enjoy!
  6.  

 
 
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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Applecrisp Cheesecake



What do you do when you have guest for dinner? Do you make the entire meal or do you ask them bring something?
It varies for me. Sometimes I like to do the entire thing, and sometimes the guests contribute. That way we share the cost and preparations to ease the event for the hostess.
I love that our friends enjoy contributing to that kind of dinner. It sure makes it easier, and they know that when it is their turn to host, we all bring something in return as well.
My cousin Doris brought this delicious cheesecake for dessert that I just had to share with you! Next time you are asked to bring dessert somewhere, consider this Apple Crisp Cheesecake.  Mmm,so good! Thanks Doris.

Crust:
  • 1/2 cup of butter
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup flour
  1. Beat the butter, sugar and vanilla until smooth and creamy. 
  2. Add the flour and mix well.
  3. Pat the dough  on bottom and 1" up the sides of a 9" spring form pan.
Cream Cheese Filling:
  • 2-8 oz / 250g packages of cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  1. Beat cream cheese and sugar until well blended.
  2. Add 1 egg at a time beating after each egg addition.
  3. Add vanilla beat again mixing well.
  4. Spread over crust.
Apple Crumble:
  • 4 cups sliced apples
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup oatmeal
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup softened butter
  1. Layer the raw apples over the cream cheese filling.
  2. Combine ingredients until crumbly and sprinkle over apples.
  3. Place the spring form pan on a parchment lined cookie sheet for easy clean up. Bake at 450 for 10 minutes. 
  4. Reduce temperature to 300 and continue baking 1 hour longer or until golden brown.
  5. Cool on a cooling rack. 
  6. Chill for at least 3 hours before serving.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Pork Chili Verde


Are you familiar with Tomatillo's?
I admit I didn't actually start cooking with them until recently.
I don't know what I thought green (verde) salsa was made of since I had never bothered to read the label. It might just have been me...but now I know.
After trying a Pork Stew at our favorite mexican restaurant I asked the waitress what exactly was in the stew and I knew then I would be looking for tomatillo's next time I bought groceries.


I don't have the nutritional values of this meal but the ingredients in the stew were healthy and low in fat, high in protein and rich in nutrients.
The stew has plenty of sauce which works beautifully with steamed rice.


I put the finished photo of the dish last because it isn't the most attractive looking sauce but wow...it is delicious.  If you want the meat to be less like pulled pork, simply stop cooking it sooner.

  • 3 pound lean pork roast, cubed like stew meat
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 2 onions
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 1/2 - 2   cartons chicken broth (1 litre or quart)
  • 4 anaheim peppers, chopped
  • 2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 1/2 pounds tomatillos, husks removed
  • 1/2 cup cilantro leaves
  1. In a large dutch oven, heat pan over medium high heat and oil.  Add and brown pork in batches, removing to a separate dish as it is browned.
  2. Remove all the meat, add onion and garlic to pan and stir fry until tender.
  3. Add seasonings, pork and 1 carton chicken stock and simmer 30 minutes.
  4. Dice tomatillos and place in blender with cilantro. Puree until smooth.
  5. Add to pot with peppers.
  6. Place in a 325 oven uncovered to reduce the sauce for 3-4 hours.
  7. Serve with rice, salsa, guacamole and green salad.
Tip: If you want to serve the Pork Chili Verde in soft tortilla shell, keep the meat firmer.  Add more chicken broth as needed.

Serves 8

Monday, February 18, 2013

Surprise Meatloaf Meatballs

We have enjoyed reading through the comments about the celebrations you all enjoy,
be it the birth of a baby, a wedding coming up, return to health, family gatherings, Easter,
Christmas, Thanksgiving and more! I, for one, was touched by the person who commented
about reunions being the best kind of celebrations!
We wish we could make all of you winners of the book!
The winner of our draw is someone who is
 looking forward to her son's high school graduation this year.
Congratulations, Virginia!
We will need your contact information.
Please email foreverythingaseason@gmail.com
within the next three days,
after which time we will draw another name if
we do not hear from you.


This is my meatloaf recipe switched up to look a bit more kid-friendly. With this slight face lift, one  cannot call it a meatloaf any more. It's the cook's secret.
Ingredients:
  • 1 1/4 lbs lean hamburger
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 cup dried bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 onion, chopped or 1 – 2 tsp onion flakes
  • 1/3 cup milk
  •  8 -3/4 square-inch square cheese cubes
topping:
  • ¼ c ketchup
  • ¼ c BBQ sauce
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
 
 
Method:
  1.  Mix all ingredients, except cheese.
  2. Divide into 8 balls. Squeeze a piece of cheese into each, shaping well around it.
  3. Place meatballs on parchment paper lined pan.
  4. Mix glaze and coat meatballs. (you can refrigerate at this point for several hours.
  5. Bake at 350 F for 30 minutes.
  6. Serve with wild rice, macaroni and cheese or scalloped potatoes and steamed vegetables.


 Happy Family Day to those living in Alberts, Saskatchewan and Ontario!
(And everyone else as well!)
 
 
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Sunday, February 17, 2013

Bread for the Journey ~ On Marriage


We've just seen another Valentines Day come and go...
and for some, it was just as they had hoped and for others there is a big sigh of relief that it's over for another year.

Before we tuck away the last of the pink napkins and eat up the last heart shaped sugar cookies...
I would like to share with you one of my favorite quotes on marriage and our responsibility in it.
At first glance Bonhoeffer's quote may seem like a set of values from another place in time but I find it has a message that is timeless and if applied is powerful to make our marriages noteworthy and inspirational.

 Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German Lutheran pastor, put into a Nazi concentration camp during World War II for his staunch resistance to Hitler and his genocidal persecution of the Jews. He was executed by hanging shortly before Germany surrendered in 1945. During his time in prison his niece was married and if he would have been able he would have taken her wedding ceremony.

His sermon was smuggled out of prison and read out loud at her wedding and I share a short portion with you here today to perhaps challenge your thinking on marriage and to encourage you to see your responsibility in your marriage in a new way.  If you are in the planning stages of your marriage I would encourage you to seek a godly marriage course that will get you off to the best possible start.


“Marriage is more than your love for each other. It has a higher dignity and power, for it is God's holy ordinance, through which He wills to perpetuate the human race till the end of time. In your love you see only your two selves in the world, but in marriage you are a link in the chain of the generations, which God causes to come and to pass away to His glory, and calls into His kingdom. In your love, you see only the heaven of your own happiness, but in marriage you are placed at a post of responsibility towards the world and mankind. Your love is your own private possession, but marriage is more than something personal - it is a status, an office. Just as it is the crown, and not merely the will to rule, that makes the king, so it is marriage, and not merely your love for each other, that joins you together in the sight of God and man.” 
― Dietrich BonhoefferLetters and Papers from Prison



Saturday, February 16, 2013

Saturday in Ellen's Kitchen


Have you seen or heard of Onion Goggles? At one of our cooking demonstrations at Lepp Farm Market I spotted them and decided to buy 2 pairs.

I am so pleased with how well they keep me from tearing up while chopping, mincing, dicing, and slicing onions!


I highly recommend these glasses to anyone who loves to add onions in their recipes. We love the flavor that onions add to dishes so I do a lot of chopping in my kitchen.


The next photo shows who I bought the 2nd pair of onion goggles for and he was happy to model his and send me a photo!

Our son Josh who is enjoying his onion goggles, too.

You can check Lepp Farm Market to see if they are still stocking the goggles. If they aren't find out where you can purchase them by googling onion goggles!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Celebrations Book Giveaway


Hello Friends!

We are very excited to announce that our new book Celebrations due to be published May 2 is now available for preordering.

We have just finished proof reading and have seen the beautiful pages in their design and can hardly wait to share it with all of you!

Celebrations is filled with recipes and stories that honor all of life.
From tender mini-muffins to an elegant egg souffle roll to campfire cookout meals and ideas on what to bring to someone who needs a meal of comfort.
We've included our favorite family meals that are sure to please and  recalled the recipes that make children of all ages smile.
We have included tips on how to make hosting guests in your home a simple and stress free event and special ideas on making milestone events an occasion to remember.
We've put our heads together and each come up with something that is a must serve for our holiday menus and came up with our most commonly requested recipes to bring to a potluck.

As in our first book we have once again shared stories of how the ten of us celebrate all of life's events and offer inspirational thoughts that reflect the same themes.

With over 300 pages filled with photos, recipes and stories we hope that you will once again feel compelled to share it with family and friends.
The royalties will be designated to the  WASH program in Africa.

We are most grateful to all of you who have encouraged us in so many ways. 

For those of you who have been eager to order your book the online retailers are ready and now prepared to take your order for delivery the beginning of May. Check here for your favorite online site.  Look for it at your a retailer near you May 2.

To launch the celebration we are offering two chances to win a Celebrations book, one here and one on our Facebook page.


  1. Leave a comment telling us which celebration you most look forward to.
  2. Share our give away on your own blog or Facebook pages and with your family and friends.
  3. We'll randomly draw one winner here and one on our Facebook page.
  4. Contest closes Sunday morning 4 AM PST.
  5. Winners will be announced Monday morning.






Thursday, February 14, 2013

Puff Pancake- Valentines Day

Welcome to my kitchen table on this Valentines Day morning. We enjoyed this breakfast on Monday, which was Family Day here in BC. My husband was most impressed by the high inflation of these orange zest infused individual puff pancakes, filled with fresh sliced strawberries and a dusting of powdered sugar. Served with warmed maple syrup and my homemade Blackberry Syrup, it was a sweet treat. 

Do something unexpected for someone today......just because you care.
We all could use a touch of love where nothing is expected in return.

Ingredients: (for 2 individual or one 9" pie plate which serves 2-3)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter 
  • fresh strawberries, unsweetened
  • powdered sugar
  • syrup
Method:
  1. Pre heat oven to 425º.
  2. Add eggs, milk, flour, vanilla, orange zest and salt into a mixing bowl. Whisk to combine.
  3. Place butter into oven proof glass pie plates. I used two individual 7"pie plates that are 1 1/2" deep, but you can use one 9" or 10" pie plate. If using two, place 1 tablespoon butter in each. If using one larger pan put all the butter in the pan.
  4. Once the oven is up to temperature, place pans with butter in oven until butter is melted and small bubbles begin to show,  but don't allow the butter to brown. It will melt quickly. 
  5. As soon as the butter is melted quickly pour your pre mixed batter into the pans. Do not stir. 
  6. Close the oven door.....and do not open for 18 minutes. Turn on the light and watch as the pancake begins to rise up....but please listen...DO NOT OPEN THE DOOR TO PEEK...THE PANCAKE WILL FALL. Through the window of your oven door you will see it become golden brown as the sides puff up and there will be a deep hollow in the centre, creating a bowl. It's beautifully baked through when it's done. The bottom is very thin, and the sides will be thicker and done to perfection.
  7. During the last few minutes of baking I put my plates into my warming oven. These pancakes cool off fast, so it's nice to have a warm plate to serve it on. 
  8. Fill with fresh cut strawberries or a mixture of any fruit. Peaches, raspberries, blackberries and blueberries are some of my favourites. Dust with powdered sugar and syrup on the side.
As shown I made individual which are served whole.  If you make it into one large pancake, cut and serve in a wedge. If you have small stoneware ramekins that are approximately 5" round and 1 1/2" deep you could use those and get 4 small individual puff pancakes from this recipe. 

Here's a peek right after they came out of the oven. See how they have pulled away from the pan. There is not sticking.
You may think these are hard to make....don't be fooled. So simple, so good! Just don't open the oven door and peek....

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Lasagna Reg and Gluten Free



Every cook has some dishes that make her 'famous' among the people who are invited to eat around her table.  One of mine is my Lasagna.  I have a recipe given to me by a co-worker many years ago and the original recipe card is faded and discolored 
When I had to eliminate gluten from my diet (as well as for my daughter and granddaughter)  I was very relieved to find that my Lasagna recipe did not need to change.    All I had to do was exchange the wheat lasagna noodles for gluten-free ones and there is no perceivable difference in preparation or in the eating  of it !
My favorite gluten free lasagna noodles are the Kinnikinnick ones -- either regular or brown rice ones.  
If you are cooking dinner for someone who has Celiac or simply gluten/wheat restricted this is an easy meal to make .. all you have to do is buy the gf noodles. Serve it with a salad and dessert and everyone is happy!   

Meat Sauce 
  • 1 cup chopped onion 
  • 1/2 cup minced celery 
  • 1/4 cup oil 
  • 2 lbs ground lean beef 
  • 1 1/2 tbsp salt 
  • 2 - 28 oz tins of crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce (or one of each)  -- for gluten-free do NOT use tomato soup since it has flour in it ) 
  • 2- 6 oz tins of tomato paste 
  • 1/2 cup water 
  • 2 tsp sugar 
  • 1 tsp oregano 
  • 1 tbsp. parsley flakes 
  • 1 tsp black pepper 
  • 1/4 tsp garlic 
  1. In heavy roasting pan cook onions and celery in oil until cooked but not browned. 
  2. Add beef and cook stirring until meat is no longer pink. 
  3. Add remaining ingredients mixing well. 
  4. Cook covered in 325 degree oven for 2 1/2 - 3 hours  - it will be nice and thick. 
  5. Sauce can be used immediately or frozen in containers for future use.  
Lasagna  ( for a dish 13" x 9 1/2") 
  • 5 cups meat sauce 
  • 1 pkg lasagna noodles (wheat or gluten free) 
  • boiling salt water (if desired to pre soften noodles) 
  • 1 lb. cottage cheese (creamed) 
  • 1/2 lb. mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
  1. I don't precook my lasagna noodles but if you prefer to cook them, do so according to instructions on the box. 
  2. Spread 1/2 of noodles in baking dish. 
  3. Cover with half of the meat sauce. 
  4. Cover meat sauce with 1/2 of cottage cheese 
  5. Cover cottage cheese with 1/2 of mozzarella slices 
  6. Repeat layers with the remaining noodles,  meat sauce, cottage cheese, mozzarella slices 
  7. Cover lightly with a layer of tinfoil  and bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees.   

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Chinese Chicken and Greenbeans with Pecans


I came across some lovely fresh green beans at the market the other day and had a craving for the Chicken and Green bean dish our local Chinese restaurant makes.  
The dish I came up with did not resemble the one they make 
however it was delicious and my husband suggested I share my version with you.

  • 3 boneless chicken breasts sliced diagonally
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 4 tablespoons cooking oil, divided
  • 2-3 cloves garlic 


  • 4 cups  whole fresh green beans


  • 1 shallot or small onion, sliced
  • 2 cups fresh sliced mushrooms


  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon oyster sauce
  • 2 teaspoons rice vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger or to taste
  • 1 1/4  cups chicken broth divided
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch (second amount)


  • 1/2 cup pecans or walnuts, toasted
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seed
  • 1 tablespoon chopped green onion
  1. Place chicken in small bowl and toss with soy sauce.  Let sit for 15 minutes.
  2. Place 1/2 cup cornstarch in a plastic bag.
  3. Chop garlic.
  4. Blanch green beans in boiling water for 1 or 2 minutes, 
  5. Drain beans and plunge into cold water.  Drain and set aside.
  6. Drain chicken and drop several pieces at a time into the bag with the cornstarch.  Shake until chicken is coated and repeat with remaining chicken.
  7. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a skillet and when it is hot, fry half of coated chicken pieces with 1/2 of the sliced garlic.  Do not crowd pan. 
  8.  When chicken is done (cut into one piece to check for doneness) remove from pan to a plate.  Add more oil to pan if needed and repeat with remaining chicken and garlic. 
  9.  In the same pan, saute shallot and mushrooms in 2 teaspoons oil  
  10. Add honey, soy sauce, oyster sauce, rice vinegar and 1 cup chicken broth to the pan with the fresh grated ginger.  Simmer  briefly to blend flavours.
  11.  Mix 2 teaspoons cornstarch and remaining 1/4 cup chicken broth and add to sauce gradually until sauce  simmers and thickens slightly.
  12. Add chicken and green beans, cooking just until heated.
  13. Remove to a serving platter and top with pecans, sesame seed and chopped green onions.
  14. Serve over rice.
Serves 4





Monday, February 11, 2013

Creamed Halibut



Frozen Halibut portions make a quick dinner  with fresh veggies and pasta.
There is just enough creaminess in this dish to coat the pasta and make it feel like a special meal... for two...or more
yet light enough to give a hint that spring is coming!

  • 4 - 6 ounce halibut fillets  (frozen and thawed)
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 lemon
  • 4 green onions
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 cups sliced button mushrooms
  • 8 - 10 stalks asparagus
  • 4 cups baby spinach  (keep one cup for garnish under the halibut)
  • 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon crushed chili flakes  (optional)
  • 1/2 cup white wine (or chicken broth)
  • 1 cup cream
  • cooked Pasta of your choice
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Place halibut fillets in a greased  (use 1 tbsp butter) baking dish and salt and pepper each piece.
  3. Slice half the lemon and lay a slice over each piece of halibut.  Bake for about 20 minutes or until fish flakes easily.
  4. While the fish bakes, melt the remaining 1 tablespoon butter in a skillet over medium heat.
  5. Add the vegetables (except the spinach)  and seasonings and fry until just tender.
  6. Add the wine and the cream and the juice from half the lemon and simmer a few minutes to condense.
  7. Just before serving add 3 cups of spinach and stir gently until it has wilted.
  8. Place the halibut over some fresh spinach.  Pour the sauce over the halibut and pasta.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Bread for the Journey


Proverbs 4:20-27

New International Version (NIV)
20 My son, pay attention to what I say;
    turn your ear to my words.
21 Do not let them out of your sight,
    keep them within your heart;
22 for they are life to those who find them
    and health to one’s whole body.
23 Above all else, guard your heart,
    for everything you do flows from it.
24 Keep your mouth free of perversity;
    keep corrupt talk far from your lips.
25 Let your eyes look straight ahead;
    fix your gaze directly before you.
26 Give careful thought to the[a] paths for your feet
    and be steadfast in all your ways.
27 Do not turn to the right or the left;
    keep your foot from evil.
This week while listening to a CD by Casting Crowns, the lyrics from one of the songs called,
'It's a Slow Fade' gripped my heart. The scripture verses from Proverbs 4:20-27 came to mind and I began to ask myself some questions.

Am I being careful what I look at, and where I go?
What are the gray areas in my life?
Am I careful what I listen to and what I say?
What about my thought life....my choices?
In what areas of my life am I slowly fading?

God's Word gives us some clear instructions on how to keep from fading and eventually crumbling in our walk with Him.

He instructs us to read His Word.
 To guard our heart and our minds in Christ Jesus.
To be careful with our words, our eyes, and our footsteps.
We are instructed to stay away from evil.
and remain on the pathway that He has set before us.


Below are the words to the song 'It's a Slow Fade'.
Ask yourself the same questions I asked myself.









Be careful little eyes what you see
It's the second glance that ties your hands as darkness pulls the strings
Be careful little feet where you go
For it's the little feet behind you that are sure to follow

It's a slow fade when you give yourself away
It's a slow fade when black and white have turned to gray
Thoughts invade, choices are made, a price will be paid
When you give yourself away
People never crumble in a day
It's a slow fade, it's a slow fade

Be careful little ears what you hear
When flattery leads to compromise, the end is always near
Be careful little lips what you say
For empty words and promises lead broken hearts astray

It's a slow fade when you give yourself away
It's a slow fade when black and white have turned to gray
Thoughts invade, choices are made, a price will be paid
When you give yourself away
People never crumble in a day

The journey from your mind to your hands
Is shorter than you're thinking
Be careful if you think you stand
You just might be sinking

It's a slow fade when you give yourself away
It's a slow fade when black and white have turned to gray
Thoughts invade, choices are made, a price will be paid
When you give yourself away
People never crumble in a day
Daddies never crumble in a day
Families never crumble in a day

Oh be careful little eyes what see
Oh be careful little eyes what you see
For the Father up above is looking down in love
Oh be careful little eyes what you see
(lyrics from Casting Crowns 'It's a Slow Fade')

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Saturday in Julie's Kitchen



The photo above is my kitchen, but I don't want to tell you about my kitchen today. I want to reminisce about Saturday in my Mom's house when I was growing up.
Saturdays were rigidly set as to Mom's order of things and 'Saturday work'  followed the same routine week after week, year after year!
Most Mennonite homes would have been much the same.

Saturday was always a preparation day with Sunday in mind.

The house needed to be cleaned.. top to bottom.
Everything that could be, was dusted  including the baseboards.  I remember the baseboards being one of my first chores as a child  and I remember crawling around on my hands and knees making sure they were all free of dust and every other week washed.
Floors were scrubbed , and every other Saturday were also waxed and polished.
Everything was tidied and put away.
Beds were stripped and changed, every other week, ready for Monday wash day.


Mom always baked white buns as well as pies, cakes, cookies or squares.  As I got older I was allowed to bake cakes or cookies but I never made or participated in baking the bread or buns.
The noon meal for Sunday  was prepared on Saturday  so that when we came home from church,  lunch would be ready.  It was either soup or a cold meal such as potato salad and cold meat.  
Living on a small farm ensured there was always lots of meat -- our own beef, pork and chicken  -- and  vegetables either fresh  from Mom's large garden or canned. The shelves in my  Mom's well stocked basement pantry were filled with jars of jam,  fruit, vegetables,  a variety of pickles and sauerkraut.  
The baking was a must because you never knew who would be coming over on Sunday afternoon and would of course stay for Faspa -- a light meal of buns, meat, jam, pickles and baked desserts.
It was accepted  that Sunday afternoon everyone was free to just hop in the family car and arrive at family or friends' homes uninvited, yet assured of their welcome.  Somehow, it wasn't too often that you arrived at someone's house and found that they had gone visiting somewhere else!  
Faspa was always served  between 4 and 4:30 to make sure everyone could get to the evening church service on time.

One of my Saturday jobs was to polish the shoes.   I gathered up everyone's Sunday shoes and lined them up - six pairs.   I so remember the  white liquid shoe polish that was used on summer  shoes.  It had a particular smell and came in a bottle with a wand attached to the lid that was used to 'paint' the shoes.    Paste was wiped onto the dark leather shoes with a rag and then polished to a shine.

Saturday was  weekly bath night and girls/women's  hair  put up in rollers or pin curls.
Saturday night was late night shopping in town and you could always tell which women were going to church the next morning because they would have their hair in rollers under a scarf.

I no longer hold to this rigid schedule of 'Saturday work' , but I do remember the feeling of security it gave me.  It was something that remained predictable and constant throughout my growing up years and gave me a feeling of  'all's right with my world'.

 *

Friday, February 8, 2013

Dutch Apple Tart

I found this Fruit Platz recipe in the Mennonite Treasury and thought I'd adapt it to fit into a tart pan. If you have never tried using one, this is a great recipe to try it with. The unique thing about this pan is that, once the cake is baked and cooled, you can push through from underneath and place the tart, along with the removable bottom, onto a serving plate.
Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup shortening or butter, room temp
  • 1 egg
  • 5 Tbsp milk
crumbs
  • 1/3 cup butter, room temp
  • 3/4 cup golden or regular sugar
  • 3/4 cup flour
Method:
  1. Grease and flour an 11-inch tart pan or a regular 9X13-inch pan. (tap to make flour disperse evenly)Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Combine dry ingredients and cut in butter with pastry blender to make fine crumbs.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk egg, adding milk and then stir into dry ingredients with a fork.
  4. Gather together, pressing to shape into a ball.
  5. Roll out on floured baking mat or counter until an inch larger all around than the pan you are using.
  6. Roll up on rolling pin to unroll onto pan, or carefully lift into pan. Press up dough to make an edge all around.
  7. Arrange peeled and sliced apples or other desired fruit.( If you are using juicy fruit, such as berries, sprinkle with 1-2 Tbsp cornstarch mixed with 1/4 cup sugar.)
  8. Make crumb mixture, using pastry cutter or fingers, squeeze to shape crumbs and sprinkle over apples/fruit.
  9. Bake for 40 minutes, until crust and topping is a nice golden brown.
  10. Serve plain, with whipped cream or ice cream.
  11. 
Serve rustic style 
 
 or elegant style
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Thursday, February 7, 2013

White Chocolate Valentine Popcorn

We have a bit of a Valentine's party with the grands over here every year.  A favorite treat is always the Valentine popcorn...which is also easy to package in clear cellophane bags and tie with a red ribbon as a take-home treat.  


  • 2 packages microwave popcorn, popped (white or kettle corn variety)...about 16 cups
  • 8 oz. / 225 gram package Baker's white chocolate squares, melted*
  • 1 cup pink and red Smarties or M&M's.
  1. Place popcorn in large mixing bowl.
  2. Melt chocolate according to directions on package.
  3. Pour warm chocolate over popcorn and toss to coat.
  4. Add candies and stir well.
  5. Allow to cool.
  6. Package as you please.
*You can substitute white chocolate chips, but they must be of good quality or they will clump when melting.

 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Homemade Flour Tortillas


I had been told that tortillas were easy to make..and now I know that they are! Fresh flour tortillas really taste better than store-bought. These can be made in a cast iron or a non-stick frying pan. I used my trusty old cast iron frying pan and the tortillas turned out great.

Ingredients:
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup vegetable shortening
  • 2/3 cup hot water
Method:
  1. Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.
  2. Cut in shortening until crumbly.
  3. Pour in hot water, a little at a time, mixing with a fork until dough comes together.
  4. Place dough on a lightly floured surface and knead a few minutes until smooth.
  5. Cover and let rest 45 minutes.
  6. Divide dough into 8 pieces and roll each piece into a ball, cover balls with plastic wrap. 
  7. With a rolling pin, roll each ball into a 6-7 inch circle, don't worry they don't have to be perfect circles. Cook one tortilla while you roll out the next one. 
  8. Preheat your pan on medium heat. Do not add oil.
  9. Place tortilla in hot pan and cook until small bubbles appear before flipping to the other side, cook approx one minute on each side.   
  10. Stack cooked tortillas and cover with a tea towel till all are cooked.
  11. Now they are ready for your favorite recipe.  Can be frozen for future use.



Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Potato Pancakes


These are an easy blender version of potato pancakes that we enjoyed recently.

  • 3 cups frozen hash brown potatoes or 3 cups peeled chopped raw potatoes
  • 1/2 onion coarsely chopped
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 green onions (scallions) chopped

  1. Put all ingredients but the green onions into blender container. 
  2. Cover and blend, stopping to make sure all ingredients are getting chopped. 
  3. Push down onions or potatoes with a spatula if necessary. 
  4. Continue till blended well. Some coarseness of the potatoes and onions is O.K.
  5. Stir in green onions.
  6. Pour batter onto hot greased griddle. Brown then flip once to brown the other side.
  7. Serve with sour cream and applesauce.
We enjoy our potato pancakes with maple syrup or fruit syrup, also.


Monday, February 4, 2013

Creamy Garlic French Dressing




I more often than not make my own salad dressings. I like being able to pronounce the ingredients that go into it.  They are easy to make and cost effective too. On many occasions I have made a salad bar for supper for guests or just our family. Everyone can add their own choices, with several dressings to choose from. Creamy Garlic French is just one of them.
  • 1-2 cloves garlic depending on the size of the clove and how much you like garlic. 
  • 3 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  1. In a blender, combine the first 8 ingredients.
  2. With the blender running pour in the vegetable oil in a very slow thin stream. This process should take about 2-3 minutes, other wise the dressing may separate.
  3. This keeps for about 2 weeks in the refrigerator.