Monday, September 30, 2013

Pumpkin Pie Cupcakes

When I saw different versions of pumpkin pie cupcakes popping up on Pinterest...I decided to give them a try.  I adapted my tried and true pumpkin pie recipe...and we enjoyed the results.  They are like crustless mini-pumpkin pies. 


  • 1 14 oz / 398ml can pumpkin purèe
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon maple flavouring (optional)
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.  
  2. Line muffin cups with foil  (not paper) liners or spray with cooking oil.
  3. In large bowl, combine pumpkin, brown sugar, eggs, maple flavouring  and milk. Mix well.
  4. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt...and add to pumpkin mixture.
  5. Beat until smooth.
  6. Fill each muffin cup about 3/4 full.
  7. Bake for 20 minutes.
  8. Cool completely in pan before removing.
  9. Chill.
  10. Top with slightly sweetened whipped cream before serving.
*The cupcakes rise while baking and sink in the center while cooling. 

Yield: 12 large muffins.

 




Sunday, September 29, 2013

Bread for the Journey

 


Once again, this is one of those times I did not see until after the photos were on my computer, what was actually happening in this photo. I thought he was simply blowing out his candles, and then I saw something else - his seven year old sister, gently holding back his hand - without him even noticing.

I kept thinking on that image and how it may be a picture of God's hand
lovingly holding us back to protect us.
Just as our human hand can convey a loving touch, sympathy, protection or help,
God's hands speak of protection, healing and guidance.

Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life; you stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and your right hand delivers me.
Psalm 138:7

"Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you.  Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand."
Isaiah 41:10

 
If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.
Psalm 139:9,10
 
For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.
Isaiah 41:13 

I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.
John 10:28
 
I pray these words from scripture encourage and bless you today.
May you sense the hand of God
whether it be as a comfort,
holding you back to protect you
or guiding and empowering you in the way you should go.

 
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Saturday, September 28, 2013

Pear Muffins


We have been amazed at the bountiful crop from our pear tree this year! Yes, we can grow pears on the prairies. They are smaller in size but taste every bit as good if not better than the ones we buy in the store.
Other than eating them fresh from the tree, I have been busy peeling, coring, and slicing pears and using them in different recipes. They are delicious and I don't want to waste any.
I usually send muffins along with our son when he comes for a visit. This time I knew it had to be pear muffins.


  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 3 cups pears, peeled, cored, and cut in small chunks
  1. Cream together butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla until fluffy.
  2. Whisk together dry ingredients and add to the creamed mixture alternately with the buttermilk just until mixed. 
  3. Spoon batter into muffin tin.
  4. Bake in 400º oven for 20 to 25 minutes, when toothpick is inserted in center of muffin and it comes out clean.
  5. *Optional..you can sprinkle sugar and cinnamon on top of the muffins just before baking.
  6. Yields: 12 regular size muffins.
 





Friday, September 27, 2013

French Toast with Steamed Apples

 
Those who know me well, know that I enjoy my French toast. I realize most people probably do not use a recipe for this, but for those who like to follow one, here is my favorite version.
Ingredients:
  • 8 thick slices Texas Toast or French Bread (60% whole wheat)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 large apple, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
Method:
  1. Preheat griddle between low and medium heat.
  2. In a shallow dish, such as a pie plate, beat eggs well using a fork and blend in the milk
  3. Dip each slice into the egg batter, turning it over, then lifting it and letting the egg drip off, even slightly squeezing the sides to make sure bread is wet throughout but not heavy.
  4. Place on heated griddle (I use a square non-stick) and cook several minutes on each side. Make sure it is not so hot that it browns too quickly.
  5. Place cooked toast on rack in 175 F oven to keep warm.
  6. Meanwhile, in a small pot, cook apple in butter, sprinkled with a mix of 1 Tbsp white sugar and 1/4 tsp cinnamon. Cook, stirring as needed,  until soft, about 5 minutes.
  7. Serve toast with cooked apples and a drizzle of maple syrup.
  8. Left over slices freeze well. Make extra to pop in the toaster on mornings when you can't fuss.

 
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Thursday, September 26, 2013

Smashed Potato Frosting






When my kids visit their out of town friends there is a favourite restaurant that they love to go to.  It is family owned , the owner/chef a master of his trade.  The menu is  comprised of dishes using only organic, fresh,  from scratch, healthy  ingredients, focusing on an impressive presentation of plate.
In my daughter's last description of the food they ate - that apparently words could  not do justice to -  she mentioned the dessert cake that was iced with mashed potato frosting !
Their friend was so disgusted by the incongruence of mashed potatoes and cake on the same forkful,  that he refused to even taste it!   My daughter said it was delicious !
My curiosity got the better of me ... and short of taking a trip specifically to visit this restaurant , I decided to try it myself.
After a couple of trial and .... of course , errors !    here is what I ended up with !
I can't promise  it is exactly healthy but it has to be healthier than regular frosting, right ? ... and as they say .. 'every little bit counts' !

Mashed Potato Frosting

  • 1/2 cup mashed potatoes (do not use left over mashed potatoes) 
  • 1/4 cup softened butter 
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract 
  • 2 rounded tbsp. cocoa powder 
  • 2 cups icing sugar 


  1. Take one medium potato, and cook it in the  microwave for 4 minutes.  (I know microwaves vary in cooking times,  so cook the potato until it is cooked all the way through but before the skin wrinkles) 
  2. Cut the potato into pieces and if not completely soft, put back (covered)  into microwave for another minute or so.  Mash potatoes with fork.   ( I first tried using left over  mashed potatoes with the  milk and butter  - but then I found it was too thin to make the icing)  
  3. Place the fork-mashed potatoes into a mixer bowl with the softened butter, extract and cocoa powder. Mix until smooth. 
  4. Add the icing sugar one cup at a time, then 1/2 cup at a time and beat until frosting is light and smooth and of spreading consistency .   If necessary add a little more icing sugar .   
  5. Use immediately or freeze until needed.    

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Sweet and Sour Meatballs

My mom used to make sweet and sour meatballs for a weeknight supper and I always loved the pineapple and green pepper chunks in it. When I got married I soon realized that green peppers were not a favourite in this dish so I now omit them but we all still enjoy the pineapple. If your family don't care for pineapple or you just don't have any in your pantry they can be left out of the recipe and you'll still have a tasty sweet and sour meatball dish. I like to serve this over brown rice.

  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1/4 cup fine bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated onion
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 398ml can pineapple chunks, save the juice for the sauce.
  • 1 1/2 cups liquid, fill measuring cup with pineapple juice and add water to make the 1 1/2 cups. If you are not using pineapple in the recipe just use water for the 1 1/2 cups of liquid.
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup vinegar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp dry mustard
  • 3 tbsp flour
  1. Mix together ground beef, bread crumbs, onion, salt and egg.
  2. Form into golf ball size meatballs and place on parchment lined baking sheet. 
  3. Bake in 375º oven for 15 minutes.
  4. While meat balls are baking combine remaining ingredients except for the pineapple chunks.
  5. Whisk together until smooth and combined. 
  6. When meatballs are done place in a casserole dish and add pineapple chunks.
  7. Pour liquid mixture over and bake in 350º for 40 minutes. Serve over cooked rice.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Two Pan Cinnamon Rolls



Do we ever tire of trying new cinnamon roll recipes?  This is isn't that much different than any other dough recipe but you may have never tried to put cornstarch in your filling.  It helps the sugar and cinnamon to stay on the dough while it bakes instead of ending up in the pan....
and we all love the filling!
Bake up one pan for your family and share the other with your neighbour and tell them you are thankful for great neighbours!


  • 1 1/4 cup warm milk
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 4 tablespoons very soft butter
  • 1/4 cup canola or other vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • 4 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 5 cups flour
  1. Put all ingredients in a mixer bowl in the order listed.  Use a dough hook to knead until the dough is smooth and satiny.  If you don't have a dough mixer, stir all the ingredients but the flour together and then stir in flour (2 cups to start and then adding until stirring becomes too difficult).  Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead in remaining flour.
  2. Cover the bowl with a plate larger than the opening or cover bowl with a plastic grocery bag.
  3. Allow to rise until doubled.  Mix filling ingredients while it is rising.
Filling ingredients
  • 1/2 cup very soft butter
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  1. Stir all the ingredients together.
  2. Roll dough out into a large rectangle 1/4 inch thick.
  3. Spread filling over dough and roll up starting at the long side.
  4. Cut into 24 rolls and place into 2 9X13 pans that have been greased or sprayed with cooking spray.
  5. Let rise in a warm spot covered for one hour or until double.
  6. Preheat oven to 325 F convection or 350 F.
  7. Bake until golden brown.  (about 15 - 20 minutes)
  8. Ice while still a bit warm.
Icing
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • enough icing sugar to make a smooth spreadable icing.




Monday, September 23, 2013

Pizza Crust Gluten Free


This is my  new recipe for pizza crust that I served recently to my family -- both Celiac and wheat-lovers .   My son in law made this comment after he asked if I was going to put this on the blog to which I answered in the affirmative...... "Well, you should, and make sure you tell them from your wheat eating son in law that this is the best  pizza!"  
So, I told them, Vince!

Here is the crust recipe .....

  • 1/4 cup warm milk 
  • 1 tsp sugar 
  • 1 tsp unflavoured gelatin 
  • 1 tbsp. reg. yeast 
  • 1/2 cup creamed cottage cheese 
  • 1 large egg 
  • 2 tbsp oil 
  • 1/4 cup white bean flour (or chickpea) 
  • 1/4 cup potato starch 
  • 1/4 cup tapioca starch 
  • 1/2 cup white corn flour (or brown rice flour) 
  • 1/2 tsp xanthan gum 
  • 1 tsp salt 
  • sweet rice flour for handling 
  1. Mix sugar, gelatin and yeast together , add to warm milk and let proof until foamy. 
  2. Mix cottage cheese, egg and oil in mixer bowl , add yeast 
  3. Blend well together dry ingredients. 
  4. Add to liquid and beat for a couple of minutes until dough looks smooth and elastic. 
  5. Turn dough out onto counter dusted with sweet rice flour and knead lightly using just enough sweet rice flour to make the dough not too sticky to handle. 
  6. Roll dough on parchment paper dusted with sweet rice flour to fit pizza pan. Slide parchment paper with dough onto pizza pan. Shape the edges to form a ridge around the outside or leave flat if you prefer.  

  6. Let rise in a warm place - about 45 minutes.
  7. Spread with pizza sauce -- your favourite or the following recipe.  Add your desired toppings and bake at 375 degrees until top is bubbly and crust is golden -  about 30-40 minutes.

My Favourite Pizza Sauce

  • 1  14 oz. tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 5.5 oz tin of tomato paste 
  • 1 tsp of dry Italian spice mix 
  • 1 tsp of oregano 
  • 1 tsp garlic powder or one clove garlic crushed 
  • 1/4 cup chopped onions
  • 1 tsp sugar 
  • 1/2 tsp salt 
  • 2 tbsp oil 
  1. Fry chopped onions in oil until soft. 
  2. Mix all remaining ingredients, add to onions and simmer for 15-20 minutes.
  3. Let cool ...  store in fridge until needed (will keep for 2 weeks)  or freeze. 

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Bread for the Journey


When we gather around our table we always begin with prayer.
"Who wants to pray?"...asks Grandpa.
Small hands fly up around the table..
and they take their turns.

I smile as I hear...
"thankyou for my fam-i-ly"...
and they draw out each syllable giving them time to think.
"Thankyou that we can come to Grammie and Grandpa's"...
and similar phrases are repeated as the little ones each take their turn to pray.

What has struck me is that while it seems like they are copying each other when they pray...
they are learning from each other how to pray..
all of them are learning how to pray from their parents.



Teaching children to be thankful for all God has blessed them with is pleasing to the Lord.
Whether they learn to be thankful through singing or through hearing us express our thankful hearts we can be sure of one thing...
we are teaching them from our experience.

Let's go into this week with intentional hearts to model thankfulness.

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!
Serve the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name!
For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.

Psalm 100  (ESV)




Saturday, September 21, 2013

Making Bread Crumbs

A while back I did a similar post to this one on my personal blog
and thought that it would be worth transferring the ideas here.
So if this looks familiar, you know why.
I grew up in  a home where it was just plain wrong to throw out bread.
As a child, in Brazil, my mom would let me take bread to beggars coming to our gate
They did not ask for money, they asked for old bread.

Generations before us quickly learned that stale bread has valuable use.
Did you know that French toast and bread pudding taste better, using stale bread?
 

 
Maybe this is the time of year when you will find left over hot dog or hamburger buns in your freezer. I recently found long slices of bread left over from when I was making spiral sandwiches for a shower. The trick is to put leftovers in the freezer as soon as possible and when you are ready to be rid of them, you can quickly toast them up for crumbs.



Put them in the oven at 300 F on convection
( if you do not have a convection oven, just bake them up 350 F) for 20 - 30 minutes until they are dried out and brittle - just beginning to brown on the edges.
 


Let them cool and whirl  them up in the blender or food processor.
 
You will have fine crumbs in no time.
Once the blades are covered, you may need to shake it up a bit,
to get the last chunks. 
 
 
From the bread basket to the jar . . .
It is one of those staples that is needed when least expected . . .
to top off a casserole, add to meat dishes such as meatballs and meatloaf
or quickly bread some fish fillets or country fried steak.
If you know what you will be using them for, you can add your
preferred spices and/or herbs.
I keep the crumbs in the freezer.

Hints on how to keep bread, including bagels, English muffins, from going bad:
Keep them in the fridge or freezer. Frozen, sliced bread toasts up just about as quickly as room temperature bread.
Pre-slice buns and bagels before freezing them, so that you can easily prepare and pack up frozen sandwiches.
 
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Friday, September 20, 2013

Grilled Halibut with Caramelized Vegetables.


On a recent fishing trip to Haida Gwaii my husband was fortunate to catch several halibut in addition to his limit of salmon.  We've not cooked halibut often and were anxious to get it right.  My husband grilled it on the wood pellet grill, smoking the fish for a few minutes before turning up the heat and grilling it.
It could also be baked in the oven or done in a fry pan on the stove.

For the Halibut
The amounts are for 2 servings however you can double or triple the amounts if cooking for 4-6.
  • 1 piece halibut - about 1 pound
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fronds from the fennel 
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons white wine (or lemon juice)
  1. Lightly season halibut with salt and pepper.
  2. Melt butter, add oil and remaining ingredients whisking to blend well.
  3. Set aside while you make the sauce and prepare the vegetables.
For the Vegetables
Note: All the vegetables should be  uniformly julienned. (cut into long, thin slices).
  • 1 bulb fennel, root end and fronds removed (chop up some of the fronds for the sauce) 
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 red pepper,seeded
  • 1 carrot, peeled 
  • 1/4 of a small savoy cabbage
  • 1/4 of a small red cabbage
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 tsp. anise seed
  • 1-2 teaspoons anise flavoured liqueur if desired (this just intensifies the licorice flavour)
  1. Prepare vegetables. (To cut up fennel, cut in half lengthwise and then cut into thin slices.)
  2. Add olive oil and butter to a large fry pan over medium heat.
  3. Add vegetables and anise seed and cook for about 20 minutes, stirring frequently and adding a bit more butter if necessary until the vegetables are nicely caramelized. If you want to use the anise flavoured liqueur, add it 5 minutes before turning the heat off.
  4. Set aside until fish is done.
  5. Heat grill or frying pan and cook halibut basting with the sauce for about 5 minutes per side depending on thickness. Be careful to not overcook. Fish will flake easily when it is done.
  6. Place vegetables on individual plates or serving platter and top with halibut.
  7. A vegetable kabob grilled at the same time as the fish and basted with the same sauce makes a colourful and delicious side dish.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Pear Spice Cake




  • 4 cups peeled, cored and chopped pears
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil or melted butter
  • 1 cup chopped nuts (optional)
  1. Combine the chopped pears with the sugar and let stand at room temperature for one hour.
  2. Sift the dry ingredients together.
  3. Add beaten eggs and oil to the pear and sugar mixture.
  4. Add to the dry ingredients folding gently to incorporate all the dry ingredients. 
  5. Pour the cake batter in a greased bundt pan and bake at 350 for 80 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean.
  6. Cool in pan for 10 minutes before turning the cake into a cake rack to cool.
  7. Serve with Cinnamon Whipped Cream.
Cinnamon Whipped Cream
  • 2 cups of chilled whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons of icing sugar also known as confectioners sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon or more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
Whip all the ingredients together until stiff peaks form. Serve over pear spice cake.






Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Avocado Black Bean Salsa

With tomatoes still hanging on the vines...and plenty of fresh corn at my disposal...here is a salsa recipe we have enjoyed recently.  Serve with taco chips as an appetizer...as a side dish with chicken or on top of a bed of greens as a lunch salad.
  

  • 2 avocados, pitted and cubed
  • 1 14 oz./ 398 ml can black beans, drained and rinsed (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 1/2 cups corn kernels (kernels from 2 ears of fresh cooked corn or 1-15 oz. can corn, drained)
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion
  • 1 teaspoon of minced fresh jalapeno pepper (optional)
  • 4 tablespoons lime juice (2 limes squeezed)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse black pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  1. Combine avocado, black beans, corn, tomatoes, onion and minced jalapeno in a large bowl.
  2. Add remaining ingredients and toss.
  3. Chill until ready to serve.
*The amounts can be adjusted as to preference or servings required. If you don't care for the heat, omit the pepper.  
  




Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Meatballs with Pasta Sauce


Weeknights can be so busy during the school year, and I know when I was a young mom I was always looking for recipes that could be made ahead or slow cooked in the crock pot. When we have the grand kids coming over after school I like to have supper well under way before they run in the door, and these meatballs are always a hit. All I have to do before supper is boil a pot of pasta and pull out a tray of cut up veggies or a garden salad and supper is served. 
(this will yield approximately 25 meatballs)

  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 pound ground chicken or turkey (you can use 2 pounds of ground beef if you don't want to use poultry)
  • 1 small onion grated
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup bread crumbs
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp oregano

  • 6 cups spaghetti sauce, I like to use Prego brand for this recipe
  • pasta of your choice, enough to serve number of people around the table
  1. Mix the first 10 ingredients together with your hands. 
  2. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. 
  3. Form golf ball size meatballs and place close together on baking sheet.
  4. Bake in 400ºF oven for 15 minutes.
For crock pot method: Pour sauce into crock pot and add cooked meatballs. Cover with lid and turn to low and allow to simmer for 4-6 hours.

For oven method: Pour sauce into a large casserole and add cooked meatballs. Cover and bake in 350ºF oven for 1 hour. 

To freeze: You can freeze the meatballs either raw or cooked. Place either way onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Place in freezer. Once frozen remove and store in freezer bags. This way you can take out as many as you like.

You can also freeze the baked meatballs in the sauce right in the casserole dish. To serve place frozen casserole in refrigerator the night before. It will be thawed and ready to pop into the oven an hour before supper time. 





Monday, September 16, 2013

Pumpkin Scones


When I asked the question..what should I bake, my daughter said anything with pumpkin so that is what has been happening. We don't seem to tire of pumpkin around here. There are so many ways to enjoy it..pumpkin pie, loaf, cookies, muffins, and scones of course.

What do you make with pumpkin?

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 6 tablespoons cold butter, cubed
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 3 tablespoons buttermilk
  • 1 egg
  1. Whisk together dry ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Using a pastry blender or food processor if using, cut in butter cubes till crumbly.
  3. Whisk together pumpkin puree, buttermilk, and egg.
  4. Add to flour mixture and stir just until combined and comes together in a ball.
  5. Turn dough onto a floured surface, shape into a circle approx 1" thick.
  6. Cut dough in half, then in quarters and then into eighths so you end up with 8 triangle shapes.
  7. Place on parchment lined baking pan, bake at 425º oven for 15 minutes, until a light golden brown.
  8. Cool on cooling rack.
Glaze:
  • 1 1/4 cups icing sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk or cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • pinch nutmeg
  • toasted pecan pieces
  1. Whisk together first five ingredients and drizzle over still slightly warm scones.
  2. Sprinkle toasted pecan pieces on top.


Sunday, September 15, 2013

Bread for the Journey

"Tie a knot at the end of your rope and hang on for dear life."

Today is exactly 40 years since I walked down the wedding aisle to be married to the man of my dreams.  My purpose in sharing this with you is to encourage you that every marriage has it's speed bumps and sometimes we need to learn how to slowly maneuver through them.

The theme for our wedding was "Let Love Be Your Greatest Aim..." Corinthians 14:1 Last summer I heard the 'Chapter of Love' being recited at my daughters wedding...and here today I can look back and say that 'Love' truly can cover a multitude of  mistakes.  I have enjoyed taking time to reflect through my '1973 Marriage File' looking through invitations, bulletins, photos, lists of music, themes and scriptures and am awed as I sit here and reflect on God's graciousness to us during the 40 years. 
 We have enjoyed celebrating with family and friends during the past weeks.  But what I found most interesting was a question posed by a close friend.

"Has your path taken you the way you planned?"  I thought for a moment....and realized we had experienced career changes, church changes, family changes...but somehow I knew deep down in my heart that I would not want to be anywhere else. But at the same time, we went through some unexpected changes.  Changes that left scars.  Somehow, it's difficult to know what to expect when one starts early in life, down that path and has no idea what winds of sail will blow your way. It's amazing how many times we were drawn back to our faith in God. 

Marriage for 40 years.  What does it mean?  What have we learned?  This past week I watched a friend go through a difficult time.  She had trained diligently for 1 1/2 years.  We spent many hours in the same gym chatting about her training program.  She was preparing for the Tour Des Geants in the Swiss Alps where she had to hike 336 km with varying elevations of 24,000 meters, in six days.  It was a grueling task, but I watched her train daily.  She inspired and motivated me.  It was her courage to take on such a difficult challenge.  But things changed for her...along Day 3, she succumbed to an injury in her knee and found that she could no longer continue the tour.   Medical reasons forced her to terminate her endurance trail as she hopped on the 'bus of shame' (as she described it to me) and drove back to the starting point.  Her husband, who trained by her side daily was also committed to this event.  I can only imagine the crushing moment when her husband would of paused and told her that he would terminate with her, but knowing her, she would of insisted that he continued to the end. My heart sank as I heard the words, 'bus of shame'  I can only see her feeling despair and failure to complete the race.

You ask...what has this got to do with marriage? I have truly loved my married life with my husband.  We have enjoyed the adventure that marriage brings.  We have enjoyed the children that God gave us.  We have appreciated the friends that God brought into our lives.  I think that I can rightfully summarize in one short sentence that my past 40 years have been wonderful and that I feel blessed by God. I had no clue what the plan would look like 40 years ago.
But, I too stopped in my tracks when I reflected and identified with the words, 'bus of shame' I know she worked hard, but in-spite of all her training...she still went through the struggles of defeat.
We can train, we can work hard, we can be disciplined...but what do we do when interruptions come alongside and shatter our dreams?  How do we respond to times like this?
I too, feel that we have given  our marriage it's best shot, and yet there have been times and seasons that we needed to crawl on our hands and knees before  God  looking for new direction.
 I truly believe that there are seasons that occur in our lives for whatever reasons, that bring guilt and despair to our lives...but the beauty of it all is that when we continue disciplining ourselves in God's word and recognizing that we both as marriage partners, came to the same wedding alter as two young adults, with sinful natures, then we can move forward in his unconditional love and grace.  We need to recognize and  identify with God's love, his forgiveness and redemption plan.  This truly brings wholeness and renewal again to the relationship.  It's important that we recognize that our challenges, joys, struggles and celebrations draw us closer to God and allow us to  grow in Christian character, not feeling as defeated individuals on the 'bus of shame'.
In God's eyes, there is no 'bus of shame.'  That is man made, but it's the courage and tenacity to enter the 'race' which can become incredibly inspiring.  Reality is, that it often is the 'bus of shame' that reshapes our character to become more Christ like.

Here's a few golden nuggets that have shaped our lives over the past years as 'lifemates'
  • If I prayed harder or read more scripture, my difficulties and challenges would disappear?    No, sometimes we need other resources.  Find some friends whom you respect to guide you through those difficult times. Who's marriage inspires you?  Hang out with them.
  • Many times we can dwell on problems, but do not take the time to look at solutions.  Make your marriage one that will focus on growth.  This does not happen over night.  It takes determination and energy.
  • Did God design marriage to make us happy?   I believe he wants us to be happy, but more than that, he wants us to become holy...The two entwined together give endurance.
  • Romance is wonderful, but it has no elasticity.  It cannot be stretched...You can't depend on that to get you through your life.
  • Mature love can stretch considering one has built a strong foundation of 'mature love' from God.
  • Challenges in marriage have given us opportunities to learn more about spiritual advancement.
  • Marriage takes a lot of time.  It forces us to face some character issues we'd never  faced otherwise.  Communication...Commitment...Connection
  • Respect each other allowing God to call each one, to recognize what is highly important.
  • Selfishness has no place or time in a marriage if you want to be successful.  I'm not referring to words like submission or boundaries with in a marriage. Know you boundaries...know what you can expect from each other and don't make unrealistic expectations.
  • Discover and share the same core values....Family Faith Friends Food
  • When things don't work out as planned, be willing to compromise and let God redirect and reshape your dreams.
  •  Learn to be intentional in your marriage and enjoy and savor each day. That's the biggest effort one can discover as you move ahead. If you want things to change, become INTENTIONAL!
  • Don't ever loose heart!
"Our marriages are the testing ground for God to win us to himself.  Our marriages are basic training for the one Marriage that will not disappoint." Dan Allender  (Sacred Marriage, Gary Thomas)

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Saturday in Julie's Kitchen - Feeling Rich!


What do these paper products have to do with eggs ??
They make me  'feel' rich  !!
 Let me explain!  smile.. (please note - (I am limiting my light-hearted comments  to material things -- excluding  the more important relational or spiritual riches.)  

Sometimes its the little things that matter most .  
I like feeling rich ... I know 'rich' usually brings to mind the amount of money someone has in their  bank accounts, how much equity they  have in stocks, businesses or real estate,  or where they fall in the income bracket of society. But  for those who seek after material  riches and possess them , feeling rich is an emotion that is often elusive.
As Benjamin Franklin wisely noted ..  "Content makes poor men rich, discontent makes rich men poor."

When I was growing up, my Mom was frugal , nothing was wasted - a good quality I cannot say I inherited. Two of the things that were on a 'restricted use'  list were paper products and eggs.   A recipe with more than two eggs used too many.
So somehow those items connected with my feelings to conclude that if I could use as much of them as I wished, I would be rich !   To this day, I am completely content  to see my fridge egg tray heaped and a good stock of paper products in my storage space.

What 'little'  things give YOU the 'feeling' of being rich  ??


A Saturday 'TIP' from my kitchen ---  There were very few Saturdays in my growing up years that my Mom did not bake buns.  The very word 'Saturday'  brings to mind  that wonderful aroma of buns baking in the oven !

I recently read of the best rising environment for yeast breads.   This works wonderfully well for my gluten-free loaves since I  bake  only one or two loaves at a time.
Wet a kitchen towel and wring out enough so it isn't dripping , lay  it folded on your microwave tray and zap   for 2 minutes.
Place your loaf pan on the towel in the microwave to let the dough  rise in the warm steamy environment.
Rising time needed is shorter so keep an eye on it !

Friday, September 13, 2013

Double Chocolate Zucchini Bundt Cake

I was given a HUGE zucchini yesterday and everything in me called out for chocolate that compliments zucchini in this rich moist bundt cake. Take advantage of zucchini while it's in season. Don't forget to grate and freeze some zucchini in one or two cup freezer bags to use during the winter months in loaves, muffins and cakes.

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp espresso powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 3 cups grated zucchini (sometimes zucchini has a lot of moisture in it and then I squeeze out any extra moister before adding to batter using a salad spinner or just squeeze it with your hands, but not till dry...just if it's overly wet feeling. If you don't know....just add it all)
  • 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips, (you can cut back on this amount if you don't want it quite so chocolaty)
  1. Sift together first 5 ingredients and set aside.
  2. To a large mixing bowl add sugar, eggs, oil and vanilla. Beat well.
  3. Add sour cream and mix well.
  4. Add dry ingredients and mix until just incorporated.
  5. Add grated zucchini and chocolate chips and mix again until just incorporated.
  6. Prepare bundt pan by spraying with non stick cooking spray and then lightly dust with sifted cocoa powder, making sure it sticks to all creases of the pan. (cocoa powder is nicer than using white flour when baking with chocolate as you don't get any white markings from the white flour)
  7. Add batter to prepared pan and bake in 350º oven for 50 minutes.
  8. Serve warm as is or with whipped cream or ice cream. Wrapped well this cake freezes well. 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Stuffed Gypsy Peppers


We planted several Gypsy Pepper Plants in our garden this year and we have a bumper crop.  I learned that they are thin skinned and can be harvested from the time they turn lime green and right up to the time they turn dark red.   They are not hot and as they turn colour they continue to sweeten.  

They have great flavour and stand up well in stir fries and are perfect for stuffing since they have a thinner skin that doesn't turn mushy when cooked.
 If you don't have any gypsy peppers around, go ahead and stuff bell peppers, either way, it is a healthy meal.  If you would prefer a less nutty texture, use plain rice instead of wild rice blend.
Serve with crusty bread and green salad.
  • 1 cup wild rice blend or rice of your choice
  • 8 - 10 gypsy peppers,  sliced in half and seeds removed  (remove stem or leave on for garnish) or small bell peppers
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground turkey
  • 1 medium onion, finely minced
  • 2 tablespoons canola or olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 cups broccoli slaw or minced celery
  • 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 can herb and spice canned diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • shredded Italian cheese for topping
  1. Spray 2 8X10 foil pans with cooking spray or a large rectangular casserole.
  2. Cook rice with water according to package instructions but drain the rice 10 before the end of cooking time so that it is slightly undercooked.
  3. In a large skillet,  heat oil and add ground turkey and onion, garlic and broccoli slaw and fry scramble using an egg flipper until the turkey is no longer pink.
  4. Add the  poultry seasoning, red pepper flakes, salt, rice  and undrained tomatoes.
  5. Stir to combine.  Add the feta cheese and stir gently.
  6. Spoon into pepper halves, mounding the filling and place in pan.   Sprinkle with cheese and cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes at 350 F.  Remove foil and continue to bake for 30 - 45 minutes.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Oma's Apple Pie Filling Recipe







The apples are in abundance right now. My parents crab apple tree makes the most wonderful apple pie filling. For that matter most any apple makes a good pie filling. The top picture is Crab apples,  and the bottom picture is with Goodland apples from my cousins tree.  I freeze them in the amount I would use for a pie or platz in a plastic zippered bags and store them flat, that way they don't take up much freezer space. Take them out of the freezer and place into cold water to thaw. By the time you have your dough made the apples are thawed enough to use in whatever recipe you want. I like to use it in platz, or crisps as well.
  • 8 cups of apples, peeled and sliced. If you are using crab apples, don't bother peeling them.
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 1/4 cup sugar
  • 4 tablespoons quick cooking tapioca
  • Cinnamon and nutmeg to taste (optional)
  1. Peel and slice apples.
  2. Place into a pot large enough to hold the ingredients.
  3. Sprinkle with one cup of sugar. Let stand 5 minutes.
  4. Add the water, bring to a simmer and cook mixture about 2 minutes on medium heat. 
  5. Stir together tapioca with remaining 1/4 cup of sugar, add to the apples, cook 2 minute more.
  6. Spoon into containers or plastic zippered bags and freeze, ready for pie. 
  7. Two recipes make 3 10' deep pies.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Oatmeal Fudge Bars

 
My niece, Carolyn is known for bringing these squares to family gatherings and one is lucky to get a piece, because they go fast! An oatmeal bar with a fudge filling that is hard to resist.

Ingredients:
chocolate fudge
  • 1 can (10 oz / 300 ml) sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla
cake
  • I cup butter, room temp
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3 cups rolled oats
Method:
  1. On medium/low heat, melt fudge ingredients, stirring as needed, until well combined. Set aside.
  2. In large bowl of mixer, cream together butter and sugar, then beat in the eggs.
  3. Gradually, stir in flour, baking soda and oatmeal. This will end up resembling a stiff cookie dough. For easier mixing you can use a hook attachment on the machine if you have it... but it works fine by hand too.
  4. Using a wet spatula or wet hands,  press 2/3 of the dough into a 9x13 inch greased pan. Glass or light colored aluminum is good. Keep 1/3 for top layer.
  5. Spread with fudge filling.
  6. Randomly scoop spoon fulls of the left over dough all over the top - like islands - allowing spots of the filling to show. (I add a few Tbsp of milk to this part of the dough to have an easier consistency to work with)
  7. Bake at 350 F for 25 - 30 minutes. (Do not over bake - may appear a bit jiggly when you take it out of the oven) Let cool. Cut into 36 - 48 bars. Keeps well for days, refrigerated. Freezes well.

 
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Monday, September 9, 2013

Pear Banana Bread

I have a pear tree that had a bumper crop this year and I wanted to find more ways to use some of the ripe pears. This is a tried and true quick banana bread recipe with the new addition of pears. Today is a special day at our house as my dear husband turns 60! Time to celebrate this milestone with his favorite Creamy Cheesecake on page 230-231 in the Milestone section of our new cookbook ~ Celebrations!

Ingredients:
  • 2-1/2 cups flour, sifted
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup soft butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 small ripe banana, cut up
  • 2 small ripe pears, peeled, cored and chopped
  • 1/2 cup milk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

1. In medium sized bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
2. Chop walnuts in a blender and add to the dry ingredients.
3. In same blender container add the sugar, butter, egg, banana, chopped ripe pears, and milk.
4. Blend for 12 - 15 seconds, stopping motor to push down banana if necessary. 
5. Pour the blended ingredients over the dry ingredients and mix until all ingredients are well moistened.
6. Pour batter into greased 9 x 5 x 3 loaf pan and bake on center rack of preheated oven for 55-60 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean.


Sunday, September 8, 2013

Bread for the Journey


Has your soul been dry? Like the woman at the well, God is the living water who can refresh and quench the dry and barren places we find ourselves in. I've been experiencing this personally in the past month and God has given me precious 'cups of water' from His word.

Take a moment and listen to the old hymn
 Fill my cup Lord.


Saturday, September 7, 2013

Saturday in Bev's kitchen

Freezing Corn
7 of us Mennonite Girls live here in the Fraser Valley 
where Chilliwack is known far and wide for its excellent corn.
At this time of year you'll be seeing a lot of posts featuring sweet Chilliwack corn,
 both here at MGCC as well as on some of our personal blogs.
Today I have a couple of tips for freezing corn.

  • Husk the corn cobs, removing the silk.  I don't get too worried if there is a bit of silk left among the kernels - it just tells my family and friends that the corn they are eating was fresh from the farm.
  • Place in a large pot and cover with cold water and add 1 Tablespoon sugar and 1 or 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. I have a tall soup pot that I use and I find I can get a good dozen cobs in it if I stand them on end.
  • Bring to a boil.
  • Have a sink full of ice water ready and when the pot boils, drain the hot water off and plunge the cobs into the ice water.
  • Remove from the water once they have cooled down.
  • Get your freezer bags ready by marking them with the date.
  • Using a cutting board set into a large baking pan, and a sharp knife, stand a cob on end and cut the kernels close to the cob.  Set the cobs aside but don't throw them away yet.
  • Take the "naked" cob, stand it up on a plate and run the blade of your knife down the cob.  This will strip all the leftover bits of corn on to the plate.  I then bag this juicy goodness separately and mark it to use for corn chowder later.
  • Place into freezer bags, remove as much air from the bag as possible and close tightly.
  • Place bags in freezer and enjoy summer goodness long into the winter.
For other suggestions for freezing corn, see Marg's post on creamed corn.








Friday, September 6, 2013

Kernel Corn Salad

Join us tonight and Saturday at the MCC Relief Sale in Abbotsford BC at the Tradex.
We'll be signing our Celebrations book near the Ten Thousand Village booth.
Signing times...
Friday evening 6 - 7:30 PM
Saturday morning 9 - 11 AM

Admission is FREE
Enjoy Mennonite Food and see the beautiful Quilt display and auction.
There are activities for kids and live music!

All book royalties go to the MCC project WASH program in Kenya.


 It's Corn Season!  If you drive through the valley you will see many yellow barns selling corn.
Here's an incredible, easy, zesty corn salad with a hickory smoked flavor.  Seeing we live in the land of Chilliwack Corn, it's only suitable that I share another fine vegetable dish chock-full of fresh vegetables from my garden. We are thrilled to grow corn on our acreage.
Find out more about the best corn in Chilliwack.
 
Kernel Corn Salad
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 cups whole kernel corn ( 1 cob corn equals approximately 1 cup corn)
  • 1/2 cup minced red onions
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
  •  1 cup diced red bell pepper
  • 1 clove minced garlic

  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder
  • 1 cup quartered grape tomatoes
  • 1 cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 2 Tbsp minced fresh cilantro
  • 1 Tbsp hickroy-flavored barbecue sauce
  • 1 tsp granulated sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste

  1. Heat olive oil in a large, non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.
  2. Add corn.  You can also substitute canned or frozen corn.
  3. Cook and stir until corn just begins to char, up to 8 minutes.  Don't burn it.
  4. Or you can grill your corn on the BBQ slowly. 
  5. Add onions, jalapeno, peppers, garlic, cumin and chile powder.
  6. Cook and stir 1 more minute.
  7. Remove from heat and transfer corn into large mixing bowl.
  8. Add remaining ingredients.
  9. Add fresh cilantro just before serving.
  10. Cover well and refrigerate over night prior to serving.

This is my favorite corn recipe which I use when I am preserving corn for the winter.
 Punch the words, 'corn' into the Google search and you will find many wonderful soups and vegetable plates that will leave you with mouth watering recipes.


Thursday, September 5, 2013

Pumpkin Molasses Cookies


Autumn is almost here and the pumpkins are ready for picking!
Pumpkin and molasses are a wonderful combo in these soft cookies. When my daughter brought me a taste of these cookies I knew I would be adding them to my list of favorite cookies.
Do you use canned pumpkin from the store or do you prefer to cook up your own?

  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin, cooked
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 1/3 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • sugar for rolling cookies
  1. Beat together butter and sugars until creamy.
  2. Add egg, molasses, pumpkin, and vanilla, mix till well blended.
  3. Whisk together dry ingredients and add to the creamed mixture just until combined.
  4. Refrigerate dough for 1 hour.
  5. Scoop tablespoons of dough, roll in balls, and roll in sugar. The dough is sticky so this is a bit messy.
  6. Place 2" apart on parchment lined baking pans.
  7. Bake in 350º oven for 10 to 12 minutes.
  8. Let cookies cool on the baking pan for a few minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.






Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Peach Almond Scones

We are so enjoying the local peaches at this time of the year.  By local...I don't mean that they are grown in my neighbourhood...but that they are British Columbia peaches.  Peaches are grown in the southern areas of the Okanagan, Similkameen, and Kootenay valleys....by about 800 peach growers.  BC produces 7 million kilograms of peaches...about 20% of the Canadian production....mostly sold as fresh produce.  I'll be sad when the peach season ends.

Here's a recipe for fresh peach scones you might also enjoy!


  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup cold butter
  • 1/2 cups sliced almonds, slightly toasted, divided
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 cup diced peaches
Glaze:
  • 1/2 cup icing sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  1. Preheat your oven to 375°F. 
  2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt, sugar, baking powder and baking soda.
  3. Cut in the butter, using a pastry blender...or grate with a coarse grater and combine with fingertips. 
  4. Stir in 1/4 cup of toasted almonds. 
  5. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk and the almond extract. 
  6. Stir this mixture into the dry ingredients. 
  7. Add the peaches and stir just until well-combined. (This is a somewhat wet and sticky dough, perfect for drop scones.)
  8. Drop by large spoonfuls (ice-cream scoop) onto parchment paper lined cookie sheet.
  9. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup of sliced almonds.
  10. Bake until golden...15 to 18 minutes.
  11. While still warm, drizzle with glaze.
 Yield: 1 dozen large scones.



This is just one more way to enjoy our local peaches!