Saturday, August 31, 2013

a few of my favorite things...

I'm not usually one to rush out and buy the latest gadget...and I definitely think twice about all things high-tech. High-tech means I'd have to learn something new. So I tend to stick with the tried and true! But I do have some simple favorites in my kitchen...which I use on a regular basis.

In my early days of setting up house...I picked up a Boerner V3 vegetable slicer at a home show demo.


It quickly became a favorite...and I use it all the time. If I'm making a batch of salsa or a pot of soup...all the veggies get chopped on this gizmo. The onions are done in a jiffy...almost painless. I have replaced mine with a newer model several times over the years.  Who needs a food processor...if there is a Boerner slicer handy? And no...I don't sell them!  But if you live in this area... Lepp Farm Market carries a deluxe version.

More than ten years ago we took a road trip to Alaska...and my favorite souvenir was this rounded Ulu knife (pronounced oo'loo) and chopping block combo.

It is just perfect for chopping a handful of nuts...or a can of water chestnuts...or a sweet pepper. Everything stays in the bowl. If you ever visit Alaska...don't come home without one!  After my original chopping block/bowl fell apart...my dad made me a new one.  I love it.

Next is a tip I got from Rachael Ray some time ago.  How do you mince your garlic? 


If you have a microplane zester...try using it for garlic.



It works great...and the zester is so easy to clean up. Thank-you Rachael Ray for that tip!

Let me add one more of my favorite things...something that everyone has in the kitchen drawer. Why purchase an expensive gizmo to break up ground beef while browning...


...when you can just use your potato masher? It does a great job!  We left on a road trip with the RV earlier this month...and I soon realized there was no potato masher on board!  At the next stop...I picked up a masher.  Though we never had mashed potatoes even once...I used it for browning my ground beef several times.  

And those are a few of my simple, tried and true kitchen tips for today!

Have a wonderful Saturday!

Friday, August 30, 2013

Chow Mein..Oven Baked


Fall is on it's way and that's when comfort foods like this one come to mind. Today it's cloudy and dreary so a perfect time to cook this meal for supper.
It is also a great dish to make for company, once it's assembled you stick it in the oven and you have time to set a nice table!

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 2 large stalks of celery, chopped
  • 1/2 cup green pepper, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped (this is really good without the onion:)
  • 1/2 cup rice, uncooked
  • 1 1/4 cups boiling water
  • 1 can cream of chicken or mushroom soup
  • 1/2 cup mushrooms, chopped
  • 1/4 cup water chestnuts, drained and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups chow mein noodles
  1. In a skillet over medium high heat, cook ground beef, celery, green pepper, and onion (if you choose to use it) until the ground beef is lightly browned. Drain excess grease.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients except for the chow mein noodles.
  3. Pour into a greased 9 x 13" pan.
  4. Cover with foil and bake in a 350º oven for 60 minutes.
  5. Stir in half of the chow mein noodles and sprinkle the other half over the top.
  6. Serve immediately.


Thursday, August 29, 2013

Honey Garlic Ribs

You are invited to join Lovella, Anneliese, Bev, Ellen, and Kathy this afternoon on the Amish Wisdom Show.
Earlier this year we spent a wonderful hour chatting about the upcoming launch of our new book and we were so excited when they invited us back to talk about what has happened since the book launched.
Sherry Gore who has her own magazine called Cooking and Such as well as a cookbook called Simply Delicious Amish Cooking will be hosting us as we discuss a variety of topics about our blog and of course...
talk about the wonderful food we enjoy.

Click here for the link and details about what time it will air in your area as well as a chance to win a Celebrations cookbook. 


These ribs a good make ahead dish and just before the guests arrive you can quickly place the ribs on the BBQ ready for the table in no time.
This sauce makes enough for 2 or 3 full racks of baby back ribs.

  • 2 or 3 racks of baby back ribs
Sauce:
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup liquid honey
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice or white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 soya sauce
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry ginger powder 
  1. Cut the ribs into serving size pieces either 3 or 4 ribs per serving.
  2. Bake the dry ribs in a covered roaster at 325 for 1- 1/2 hours.
  3. Drain the ribs from the juices. 
  4. Put the ribs back in the roaster and pour over sauce.
  5. Let it sit in the refrigerator overnight to marinate.
  6. The next day bake the ribs in the sauce for 1 more hour. 
  7. Remove ribs from the sauce. Place on BBQ basting the ribs with remaining sauce over medium heat for 15 minutes to glaze the ribs.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Balsamic and Honey Glazed Salmon with Vegetable Slaw

 My husband Harv went fishing  off the west coast of Vancouver Island recently and caught his limit of Chinook salmon.  So when Anneliese  and her husband Herb invited the Mennonite Girls (and spouses) for a potluck supper this past Sunday, we offered to bring the Salmon.
It was a lovely evening - Good food, good friends and great fellowship all in an idyllic lakeside setting.
We fed 12 people from this recipe but the ingredients can be halved if you are feeding 6.
Harv cooked the salmon on our wood pellet grill but you can prepare this in the oven or on a gas grill.

On a personal note, today is our 42nd wedding anniversary.
Like most couples, we've had our ups and downs over the years but by God's grace we are still enjoying marriage - more now than ever before.  Happy Anniversary Harv.
For the Salmon
  • 2/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons grainy mustard
  • 3 tablespoons white wine
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 5-6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon seasoned pepper (or steak spice)
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • 6 lb. salmon filleted
  1. Place all ingredients in a jar or gravy shaker and blend well.
  2. Pour over salmon fillets in a large zippered bag, being sure to squeeze as much air out as you can.
  3. Refrigerate for 2-3 hours.
  4. Drain marinade into a bowl and place salmon, skin side down on a baking sheet lined with foil.
  5. Grill or bake at 350ºF, basting occasionally until meat thermometer registers 145ºF or until fish flakes when tested with a fork.
  6. Prepare serving platter by spooning vegetable slaw around the edge.
  7. Using a wide spatula, lift fish off the skin and place on slaw lined platter.
  8. Serve.

For the Slaw: (Prepare vegetable slaw while fish is marinating)
  • 1 zucchini (about 10 inches long)
  • 2 large carrots, peeled (Or you could used the  packaged broccoli slaw instead of the zucchini and carrot). 
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley
  1. Cut zucchini into 2  5 inch lengths and cut into julienne pieces. (you can buy peelers or mandolins to do this) 
  2. Trim ends of peeled carrots, cut in half and julienne.
  3. Measure remaining ingredients into a jar or shaker and blend well.
  4. Toss slaw with dressing and refrigerate until fish is done.

See what a great meal results when we potluck? 
Harv was taking the picture and we were missing Marg and Kathy who had other commitments, and Betty and Charlotte who just live too far away.  But as you can see the rest of us enjoyed the meal and the fellowship around the table on a lovely Sunday afternoon by the lake.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Pie Dough Scraps


Just a few ideas of what I do with pie dough scraps, the leftover dough when baking a pie.
I remember as a little girl when my Mom was baking pies she would give me some of the scraps of dough to shape into whatever I wanted..oh the possibilities! By the time I was done though, the dough would be tough and rather gray looking! Good thing Mom had already been sprinkling the rest of the dough scraps with a sugar cinnamon mixture and it was baking in the oven. Oh how I loved those..like a little appetizer before the pie was ready.
What do you do with leftover pie dough scraps?

Left hand photo:
-I made a few strawberry jam pockets with icing drizzled on top.
-Then for 'pie cookies' I gathered another batch of dough scraps, rolled out, brushed on butter and sprinkled generously with a sugar/cinnamon mixture. I folded the dough over, rolled it out again, and repeated with butter and sugar/cinnamon mixture. Repeat once again and cut into circles. When baked you have little cookies with flakey layers.
- I also cut out rectangle shapes with just a sprinkling of sugar and cinnamon and some plain rectangle and round shapes like crackers to enjoy with soup or chili.
I baked these in a 350º oven..'pie cookies' and jam pockets for 20 to 25 minutes and the plain rectangle and round shapes for 15 minutes or until golden.
Top right photo:
-Mini quiches..roll out dough and cut out circles, press into mini muffin pan.

 For the filling I started off with a main base of:
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup cream..you can use milk
  • 1/3 cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • dash of cayenne
  1. Whisk together until combined.
  2. Now add whatever you like or have on hand. I added bits of chopped green and red pepper, threw in some leftover cooked corn and chicken, little red tomatoes and grated cheddar cheese. Just make sure your mixture is still somewhat runny.
  3. Fill muffin pans with the egg mixture, don't overfill. Any leftover mixture can be used for an  omelette for breakfast the next day.
  4. Bake at 350º for 25 minutes or until golden in color and the egg mixture has puffed up.
  5. Sprinkle with chopped herbs of your choice.
Bottom right photo:
-I call this an upside down banana cream pie! Just layer your pudding and whipped cream in a dessert bowl and stick in a few of the baked pie dough scraps on top.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Ginger Chicken with Hot Potato Salad

 
I thought I'd squeeze in one more grilling recipe, before the season is done. Along with this chicken I served a German Potato Salad and thought I'd share it as a meal combo idea. It's a nice menu for four adults or you can multiply as you like.
Ginger Chicken Marinade
  • 3 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp sherry cooking wine
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Tbsp fresh minced ginger root*
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp Montreal Chicken Spice
  1. Mix all ingredients and let sit for an hour or so to blend flavors. Pour over 8 boneless chicken thighs and allow to marinate for about one hour before grilling.
* An easy way to have fresh ginger on hand is to peel a piece and freeze it. To use, simply grate on fine part of grater while still frozen and return unused portion to freezer.
 
Hot German Potato Salad
  • 16 - 20 nugget potatoes (about a pound)
  • 4 - 5 slices bacon, fried, drained and  diced (keep drippings)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 3/4 tsp prepared mustard
  • 3 Tbsp vinegar
  • 4 Tbsp water
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 2 - 3 Tbsp cream (optional)
  1. Cut potatoes in half and cook, leaving skin on. This will take about 10 - 15 minutes. Drain.
  2. In the meantime, prepare bacon, set aside and cook onion in drippings until golden / transparent looking. Stir in sugar, mustard, vinegar, water, salt and pepper. Let simmer.
  3.  Just before serving, add bacon, then add mixture to potatoes in pot. Stir in cream and reheat.
  4. Garnish with parsley or minced green onion.

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Sunday, August 25, 2013

Bread for the Journey


The first thing I want you to do is pray.
Pray every way you know how, for everyone you know.
1 Timothy 2:1 The Message


When you speak...God hears.

Those who pray keep alive the watch fires of faith. For the most part we don't even know their names. Such is the case of someone who prayed on a day long ago. His name is not important. He is important not because of who he was, but because of what he did.

He went to Jesus on behalf of a friend. His friend was sick, and Jesus could help, and someone needed to go to Jesus, so someone went. Others cared for the sick man in other ways. Some brought food; others provided treatment; still others comforted the family. Each role was crucial. Each person was helpful, but no one was more vital than the one who went to Jesus.

John writes: "So Mary and Martha sent someone to tell Jesus, 'Lord, the one you love is sick'" (John 11:3, emphasis mine).

Someone carried the request. Someone walked the trail. Someone went to Jesus on behalf of Lazarus. And because someone went, Jesus responded.

In the economy of heaven, the prayers of saints are a valued commodity. We can and must repeat the phrase in manifold ways. "The one you love is tired, sad, hungry, lonely, fearful, depressed." The words of the prayer vary, but the response never changes. The Savior hears the prayer. He silences heaven so he won't miss a word. The Master heard the request. Jesus stopped whatever he was doing and took note of the man's words. This anonymous courier was heard by God.

You can talk to God because God listens. Your voice matters in heaven. He takes you very seriously. When you enter his presence, the attendants turn to you to hear your voice. No need to fear that you will be ignored. Even if you stammer or stumble, even if what you have to say impresses no one, it impresses God--and he listens.

You are the someone of God's kingdom. Your prayers move God to change the world. You may not understand the mystery of prayer. You don't need to. But this much is clear: Actions in heaven begin when someone prays on earth. What an amazing thought!

When you speak, Jesus hears. And when Jesus hears, the world is changed. All because someone prayed.


...an excerpt from Max Lucado's book 'For These Tough Times'.

I posted a photo of tulips today...even though the tulip season for this year is long past.  They remind me of someone in my life who is a great prayer warrior.  Over the years she has assured me time and again that she is praying for me...and for my family.  Last fall she was diagnosed with cancer...and she knew her days were numbered.  She asked us to pray for her...that she might live to see the tulips of spring once again.  We prayed.  Earlier this year...we had a tulip tea party in her honour.  She is still enjoying life....and counting every day as a gift from God.  Yesterday she celebrated her 89th birthday.  Her prayer since spring has been that she will live to see her son and his wife return from a service assignment in Kenya at the end of August.  We have joined her in this prayer. They will be home this week...and Frieda is so looking forward to seeing them again.

Our prayers matter! It is a wonderful experience...to pray for each other and to see how God answers. When we speak...Jesus hears.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Caprese Salad



Fresh summer tomatoes are candy from the garden. Not far from where I live is a little fruit and veggie stand where I can find Heirloom, beef steak and the sweetest little cherry tomatoes. I like to pick through and find unique shapes and colours which adds to the presentation of this fresh summer salad. Sliced tomatoes layered with Bocconcini soft cheese, fresh picked basil, a sprinkle of capers and then drizzled with a balsamic reduction just before serving.....such goodness!

There is no exact recipe for this other than the balsamic reduction, but I'll give you a few pointers on assembling this salad.



Wash and slice as many tomatoes as you need for the number of people you are serving.
1 200gram tub Bocconcini cheese (this will have 4 golf ball sized soft cheese balls) Slice as many as you will need to layer between tomatoes. 
Wash and dry fresh basil and tuck whole leaves between layers. If you can find some lavender basil it's very flavourful and makes a pretty garnish.
Add a sprinkling of capers, and if you like add some cherry and grape tomatoes for garnish. 

Balsamic Reduction:
  • 3/4 cup good quality balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  1. In a small sauce pan heat the two ingredients together until it comes to a boil.
  2. Turn it down to simmer and allow mixture to reduce to about 1/2. This will take about 10-15 minutes. The mixture should thicken slightly so that when you put a spoon into it, it coats the spoon but is still able to be poured. Remove from heat and cool.
  3. When ready to serve salad drizzle cooled balsamic reduction dressing over salad. 

Friday, August 23, 2013

Maple Dill Glazed Carrots





These Dill glazed carrots make a delicious side dish that is one of my personal favorites. 


  • 4 cups of carrots cut into chunks
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup (brown sugar can be used in place of the maple syrup if you don't have any)
  • 1 tablespoons of fresh dill, or 1 teaspoon of dried dill (Or more depending on your preference)
  1. Place all the ingredients into a frying pan large enough to hold all the carrots, except for the dill.
  2. Cover and allow the carrots to cook for 3-5 minutes until tender but still have a firm bite to them.
  3. Remove the cover and let the water evaporate, forming a sauce with the butter and syrup. Keep a close eye on the pan, you don't want the carrots to burn or over cook.
  4. Take off heat, add dill.


Thursday, August 22, 2013

Patty Melt Grilled Sandwich


One of my beloved's favorite sandwiches is a Patty Melt.
He often ordered it in restaurants while we dated and when we grill burgers it is a great way to use up extra meat patties.  It is a great way to use up the leftover grilled burgers from a party.
Whether you fry them just before putting together your sandwiches or use left over grilled burgers from the night before....they'll be a favorite at your house too.

For two sandwiches
  • 2 grilled or fried beef patties
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 slices swiss cheese
  • 2 slices cheddar cheese  (processed)
  • salt and pepper 
  • 4 slices rye bread
  1. Wrap cold leftover beef patties in foil and warm in 350 F oven for 15 minutes to take off the chill.
  2. Dice the onion and fry it in 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat until caramelized and set aside.
  3. Butter one side of each slice of bread and place two pieces buttered side down in still warm fry pan.
  4. Top with 1 slice cheddar cheese, then place beef patty over cheese, top with onions, sprinkle with salt and pepper and top with the slice of swiss cheese and then finally the other slice of bread (buttered side up).
  5. Turn heat to medium low and leave on the first side until bread is golden brown and the cheese is starting to melt.
  6. Flip sandwich over and continue to fry until the second side is brown and the cheese has melted.
  7. Serve with thousand island dressing and dill pickles.



Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Waffles with Peaches


It is peach season. That's when I crave waffles with peaches! Is there anything better than homemade fluffy waffles covered with sweet white sauce and fresh peach slices?
Waffles are a favorite food in our family and always have to be served with sweet white sauce. I remember years ago when we were on a holiday with our daughters and eating out was a novelty. We stopped at a restaurant for breakfast and they were excited to see waffles on the menu. I reminded them that they would not be getting the white sauce. They could not believe that waffles would ever be served with anything else and so ordered them. Were they ever disappointed when the waffles were served with pancake syrup.
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 1/4 cup whipping cream
  • 1 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  1. Whip egg whites until soft peaks form, set aside.
  2. Beat egg yolks, cream, melted butter, and buttermilk in a separate bowl.
  3. Mix dry ingredients and stir into the buttermilk mixture until well blended. 
  4. Scoop out 1/4 cup of the mixture and set aside for the sauce.
  5. Now gently fold the egg whites into the rest of the batter.
  6. Pour 1 cup of batter into a hot waffle iron and cook until golden brown.  
  7. Yield: 4 belgium waffles.
Sweet White Sauce:
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/4 cup waffle batter, that was set aside.
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1/2 cup milk..for mixing the batter, sugar and flour.
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  1. Pour 2 cups milk in a microwave safe bowl and cook in microwave until milk is hot. 
  2. Whisk waffle batter, sugar, flour, and 1/2 cup milk until smooth and add to the hot milk.
  3. Continue to cook for 2 minutes, then stir. 
  4. Repeat till mixture has thickened.
  5. Stir in vanilla.
  6. Scoop white sauce over hot waffles and top with fresh peach slices. I sprinkled a bit of sugar over the peach slices and let sit for a few minutes before serving.





Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Cool Cucumber and Tomato Salad

Cool cucumbers and fresh red tomatoes from the garden make this salad a summertime delight for the taste buds. It is very simple yet very tasty, easy to adjust the amounts according to how many people gathered around your meal table. All you need is:

  • One large English cucumber, quartered and sliced
  • 4 fresh tomatoes, cubed,
  • green onions or chives to taste about 1/4 cup
  • salt (lightly) and fresh cracked pepper (lots) to season 
  • 1 tablespoon fresh dill chopped or 1 teaspoon dried (I didn't have fresh this time)
  • 1/4 cup of mayonnaise,sour cream or plain greek yogurt. I used greek yogurt, (choose only one of the options or 2 tablespoons mayo and 2 tablespoons sour cream)
  • a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, to taste, I used about 1 tablespoon
This amount serves 4 generously, or 6 medium sides.




Monday, August 19, 2013

Avocado Chicken Salad for Two

At this time of year a salad is often the full meal around here.  Avocado and chicken go well together...and with fresh seasonal veggies thrown in, it's a great combo. Add a dinner roll...find some good company...and enjoy it out on the front porch!


Salad:
  • 4 cups mixed salad greens (or baby spinach leaves)
  • several slices red onion, coarsely chopped
  • 12 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup chopped cucumbers
  • 1/2 cup corn (or kernels cut from 1 cob)
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked chicken, chopped
  • 1 avocado, halved and sliced
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • Sunflower seeds or roasted pine nuts to sprinkle on top, optional

Dressing:

  • 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon liquid honey
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Method:

1. Place salad greens in a large bowl. Add remaining salad ingredients.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients. Pour over the salad and toss.

 

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Saturday in Bev's Kitchen

Organizing your Kitchen - part 1

I love organizing.  When everything has its place, even cleaning up is a pleasure.  This is especially so in the kitchen.
When planning our recent kitchen renovations, I spent hours thinking how I could make my kitchen as efficient as possible.  I liked the  general arrangement of my old kitchen but knew there could be some improvements. The stove area in particular needed careful consideration since I spend a lot of time here.


I started by choosing a work area for each function - baking, cooking, clean up and serving.
I decided that my baking area would be to the right of my stove top, near the pantry, the appliance garage and my ovens. The cooking area would be to the left of the stove top, handy to the sink.

When the kitchen was complete (I'm waiting for the back splash and window seat cushions) and I was ready to fill my kitchen shelves, I did more thinking before choosing the space for each group of items.

I first divided the spices generally used for baking from those used in cooking.
I asked our carpenter to build me two narrow boxes so I could arrange my spices in two rows and be able to see them all.  I found the spice jars at a local dollar store and a sheet of printable labels at the stationery store.   I then arranged them in alphabetical order and now I can find the spice I need at a glance instead of shuffling dozens of different shaped bottles looking for the right one. This is the baking spice cupboard.


Cocoa, Shortening and other baking ingredients go above the spices.
Baking powder and soda, vanilla, cornstarch and syrups are handy in this wonderful pull out shelf beside a bank of drawers. The top drawer houses my measuring cups, spoons and spatulas, the middle, my mixing bowls and  the flour and sugars reside in bins in the bottom drawer


I did the same to the left of the stove where I do my cooking prep.  It is closer to the sink so that I can wash veggies before chopping them.  I keep my knives under the stove top,  my pots and pans in the middle drawer and casseroles in the bottom drawer.


Above the counter on the left of the stove are my cooking spices, also arranged in alphabetical order in two rows.  As you can see there are twice as many used in cooking than in baking.  Bouillon, packages of dips and sauces (in a clear acrylic bin), beans and barley etc. are on the upper shelves.


There were a lot more cooking spices so I needed the full width of the cabinet.
The drawer below the counter has lovely dividers so I can easily find my cooking tools. My choppers, graters and colanders  are below the counter to the left of the stove. Of course my most used tools (spatulas and wisks) are handy  on the counter top in a kitchen gadget holder  made by our potter friend, Ted. (see first picture)


Cooking oils, sauces, vinegars and seasonings have a home in the pull out shelf to the left of the stove.


Being organized really helps to make my time in the kitchen less frustrating and more enjoyable. For those of you wishing to be more organized in your kitchen, there are so many bins, trays and shelves available, many of them quite inexpensive.  They can be found at places like dollar stores, discount stores and home outfitters. Saturday in my kitchen is so much more enjoyable now that everything has its place.
I'll share a few more of my organizing tips in a later post.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Nectarine Plum Jam

I love summer and one of the best parts of summer where we live is the fresh fruit we have access to in abundance. Freezing and making jams is one way to tuck summer away into the cold winter to come. I was inspired to try this jam when I took note of a similar one done with peaches. Like the one Lovella posted recently, this one also has no pectin, is low in sugar and very easy to make.
Ingredients:
  • 3 lbs soft, ripe nectarines
  • 2 lbs soft, ripe red plums
  • 4 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup water
Method:
  1. Pit nectarines and plums and coarsely chop into small pieces.  No peeling required. You should end up with about 12 cups of fruit.
  2. Combine fruit, sugar, lemon juice and water in large heavy pot (on near high heat) and bring to a foamy boil, stirring frequently.
  3. Set timer to 20 minutes and cook fruit on medium high heat, stirring every few minutes. It should be bubbling, but not too hard. Meanwhile put a saucer in the freezer to check jam later.
  4. After 20 minutes, or when jam starts to thicken up, set timer for 10 minutes. During the next five minutes gently use potato masher to mash and stir while simmering.
  5. Check if the jam is done by dropping a teaspoon of jam onto the frozen saucer. Put it back in the freezer for a minute. If the jam looks a tad jelly like and you can run your finger through it and make it part, it's done. If it's watery and runs together, continue cooking for 5 minutes and test again. Thirty to thirty-five minutes seems to be average cooking time.
  6. Pour hot jam into sterilized jars and cover with sterilized lids. When cooled, store in fridge or freezer for optimum fresh tasting jam. This recipe makes 8 - 9 (250 ml) jars.
 
chop fruit
 
 put in heavy pot with sugar, lemon juice and water
Cook about 30 minutes. Gently mash near the end.

Enjoy!!!
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Thursday, August 15, 2013

Strawberry / Blueberry Yogurt Cake

This moist cake makes a very nice any time treat, 
for your brunch table, dessert or snack.
Bonus is that it tastes even better the next day.
  • 1 cup butter or hard margarine, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 2 1/4 cups of flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon  baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or 1/4 teaspoon finely ground sea salt
  • 1 cup vanilla yogurt
  • 2 cups diced strawberries or blueberries coated with an additional 1/4 cup flour (This prevents the berries from sinking to the bottom of the cake)
Glaze
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
  • enough powdered sugar also known as icing sugar to make a pourable thin glaze
  1. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. 
  2. Beat in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  3. Mix in the 1 tablespoon of lemon juice.
  4. Sift the dry ingredients into a separate bowl. (Yes sifting makes a difference.)
  5. Add the flour mixture alternately with the yogurt into the butter mixture, ending with yogurt.
  6. Gently stir in the strawberries that have been coated in the flour with a spatula.
  7. Pour into a well greased and floured Bundt pan.
  8. Bake in a preheated oven at 325 degrees for 60 minutes or until the center is cooked through. Check it with inserting a long skewer or thin knife into the center of the cake. It will come out clean with out any sticky batter sticking onto it when it is done.
  9. Allow the cake to cool in the pan for 15 minutes before inverting the cake on to a wire rack to cool completely.
  10. Drizzle the glaze over the cake while it is still slightly warm, cool completely. 
  11. Serve with or without whipped cream and additional berries on the side.
Note* I have made this cake with Greek Yogurt and regular yogurt, low fat and regular. It does change the thickness of the batter with greek yogurt, but after it is baked it doesn't change the texture or flavor of the cake at all. Baking time remains the same. Go ahead and use what ever yogurt you have on hand. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Coconut Pie..the easy way.


This is one easy coconut pie to make! I will take coconut pie most any way I get it. The filling is custard like with toasty coconut..what can I say but it's delicious!

  • 4 eggs
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 2 cups milk..I used skim and it turned out fine
  • 1 1/2 cups coconut..flaked is my favorite but shredded is fine.
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  1. Combine the ingredients in order given, whisking to combine thoroughly.
  2. Pour into a greased 10" pie pan, I used my glass pie pan.
  3. Bake at 350º for 45 to 50 minutes or until golden brown. The center will still be a bit jiggly.
  4. Cool completely on a cooling rack. I couldn't wait and tasted it while still warm..so good.
  5. I served the pie with whipped cream and a sprinkling of toasted coconut. 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

RV Breakfast Apple Cinnamon Rolls and the Contest Winner



We are just back from our annual camping trip to the mountains where there is no cell phone reception and no wi-fi.  What we do have is a cozy trailer where we sleep better than we do at home since there are no chores waiting for us when we wake up. I enjoy baking in that little kitchen and find that blessing our camping neighbors with treats from my trailer oven is both fun and a great way to make new friends.  I made these breakfast rolls and shared them with a couple from Germany who was on their honeymoon and touring beautiful British Columbia in a rented motorhome.
Whether you bake these at home for special breakfast or in an RV, they will be welcomed by your neighbors where ever you live.

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/3 cup shortening
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup of heavy cream
  • 1/2 apple, shredded
  • 2 tablespoons soft or melted butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • cinnamon 
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  2. Stir together the flour, salt, sugar and baking powder and cut in shortening with a pastry blender.
  3. Beat the egg in a small bowl and add the whipping cream and then stir both together into the flour mixture.  Stir until combined.
  4. Roll into a rectangle and spread with melted butter, sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon and then the shredded apple.
  5. Roll up starting from the longest side and cut into 16 - 1 inch slices. Place on a greased cookie sheet and bake about 20 minutes or until light brown and set. In the trailer I bake them on two 9 X 11 foil pans.  In a conventional oven they would fit onto one cookie sheet
While still warm, ice the rolls with a with a simple icing made by mixing together icing sugar and whipping cream until it is a spreadable consistency. Serve warm.

There is a contest winner to announce today as well!
Congratulations Mimi!

Did you enter the contest that we had posted on our sidebar?
Our publicist Graf-Martin Communications hosted a contest in honor of our new cookbook Celebrations.

Mimi from Markham Ontario entered the contest and made Betty's Layered Lemon Loaf.
Her entry was chosen and she has been sent her gift pack.

Congratulations Mimi!

If you haven't ordered your cookbook yet..




Monday, August 12, 2013

Summer Orzo Salad

 
This recipe is a version of my cousin's summer noodle salad. It's great as a complete meal along with some crusty bread or as part of a salad bar or summer potluck. Serves 6 - 8 as a side.
Ingredients:
  • 1 cup orzo noodles
  • 100 - 150 grams Gypsy salami, about 1 cup cubed (or any other salami)
  • 1 cup broccoli, chopped fine
  • 1/2 small red pepper, chopped fine
  • 3/4 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 green onions, chopped fine
  • 2 Tbsp parsley, chopped fine
dressing:
  • 1 tsp better-than bouillon (or 1/2 bouillon cube) dissolved in 2 Tbsp hot water
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lemon or lime juice
Method:
  1. Cook noodles according to pkg directions, drain and rinse with cold water.
  2. Mix all salad ingredients
  3. Stir in combined dressing ingredients. Can be mixed and refrigerated several hours before serving.
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Sunday, August 11, 2013

Bread for the Journey


(Photo Credit to Tara Jakobson)

I love how sunflowers always turn their face towards the sun to bask in the fullness of it's goodness. 
I often find myself in a place that I need to either seek forgiveness from someone I have hurt or wronged, or I need to forgive someone that has hurt me, knowingly or unknowingly.
The bible mentions forgiveness so often. It speaks about God's forgiveness towards us and also towards one another.
Somehow I find it easier to ask for forgiveness, or forgiving someone that comes to ask for forgiveness. But what about those that never ask, nor do they feel they need to?
Sometimes it is difficult for me is to forgive myself. How about you, do you have difficulty forgiving yourself for mistakes you have made in you life?  Perhaps you said something that should have been left unsaid. Maybe it was a poor choice you made a long time ago that you can not go back and correct. Perhaps you have experienced a deep hurt that you are unable to let go of. We have the assurance of God's word that God forgives us our transgressions, but are you really able to accept that forgiveness? God has freely given us that gift through his Son Jesus. We have the hope of living free and forgiven through Christ. I invite you today to be gracious with yourself, as Christ is gracious to you.
May the words of 1 John 1:9 encourage you.
If we confess our sins,
he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
May you be filled with the confidence and assurance that not only are you forgiven, but made pure.


Saturday, August 10, 2013

Chocolate Cupcakes or Cake with frosting - Gluten Free



This recipe is enough for  24 mini cupcakes and one 9" round cake pan - so you can please kids and adults with one effort.
The cake is delicious --  after all, it IS chocolate !  and the frosting is truly  ' the icing on the cake' !!
  • 1/2 cup brown rice flour 
  • 1/4 cup white bean flour (or chickpea flour) 
  • 1/4 white rice flour 
  • 1/4 cup potato starch 
  • 1/4 cup tapioca 
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder 
  • 1/2 tsp xanthan gum 
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar 
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda  
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder 
  • 3/4 tsp salt 
  • 2 lg. eggs 
  • 3/4 cup water 
  • 3/4 cup milk 
  • 1 tsp vinegar 
  • 1/4 cup oil 
  • 2 tsp vanilla 
  1. Mix dry ingredients together
  2. In mixer bowl blend together liquids, add dry ingredients and beat until perfectly smooth. 
  3. Pour into 24 mini-cupcakes and one 9" cake pan.  (or your preference pans) 
  4. Bake @ 350 degrees for about 20- 30  minutes.   
  5. Let cool. 
  6. Decorate cupcakes as desired. 
  7. Slice cake in half and fill with sweetened whipped cream. (I add 1 tsp instant vanilla pudding powder to stabilize)  Then ice  sides and top with following frosting. 
 Frosting 
  • 1/2 cup butter 
  • 1/2 cup nutella 
  • 3 tbsp milk 
  • 1 tsp vanilla 
  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips (melted) 
  • 1 2/3 cups icing sugar (or amount needed to make it spreadable) 
  1. Cream the butter, nutella,  
  2. Add the melted chocolate chips, milk and vanilla 
  3. Add icing sugar and beat until thick and creamy. 



Friday, August 9, 2013

Blackberry Cobbler


Wild blackberry bushes line roads and fields here in the Fraser Valley. I have a found a few favourite spots where the berries hang heavy and are relatively easy to reach. Aside from the thorns I love berry picking and I pick many a pail full for fresh eating, jam, syrup, pies and berry toppings. This recipe can be made as a whole dessert in a low casserole or pie plate, or baked in individual serving dishes.

  • 6 cups blackberries (if you can't get blackberries substitute with blueberries)
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 4 tbsp corn starch
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • butter to grease baking dishes
Topping:
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp cold butter
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk (if you don't have buttermilk make a sour milk using 1/2 cup milk and 2 tsp vinegar. Allow to sit for several minutes and give a stir, then add to ingredients)
  1. Place berries in a glass bowl. Add other filling ingredients and stir gently to mix. Set aside.
  2. Heat oven to 425ºF.
  3. Measure dry ingredients for topping together. Cut in cold butter until fine. Using a fork stir in milk and mix until everything is incorporated, but don't over mix. 
  4. Grease baking dishes well with butter. Divide berry mixture into baking dishes or put it all into one dish. Heat in microwave for 5 minutes, stirring between. 
  5. Drop mounds of topping over warmed berry mixture and place in pre heated oven immediately.
  6. Bake for 20-25 minutes. The dough will rise and take on a nice golden brown colour. 
  7. Serve warm with ice cream.