Saturday, November 30, 2013

Ten Thousand Villages Gift Ideas and Fair Trade Brownies


We have been enjoying our visits to various Ten Thousand Village stores across Canada since our  new book Celebrations was published in April. (check the link for purchasing online)

Our most recent signing was in Calgary Alberta and we enjoyed seeing all the fair trade Christmas decorations throughout the store.  Besides many gift ideas, the store was loaded with gift wrapping ideas, Christmas cards,  garlands, ornaments and also...
food! I wanted to highlight an idea for you today.
You might want to consider ordering a gift bundle for someone and have it shipped.

Today I am featuring some of their fair trade baking essentials in a recipe.
They had a  beautiful hand made basket with  tea towel and wooden spoon paired  with Organic Cane Sugar and Organic Cocoa Powder.  Attached to the basket was a recipe adapted from our website and so I thought I would share another version of that with you today.

Icing
  • 2 cups icing sugar
  • 4 tablespoons melted butter
  • 2 tablespoons Camino Cocoa Powder
  • about 2 tablespoons boiling water (you may need a bit more to make a spreadable icing)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
Topping
  1. Cream together butter, sugar and cocoa.
  2. Add beaten eggs and vanilla and beat until smooth.  Add flour and fold in nuts.
  3. Bake in a greased 9 X 13 pan for about 35 - 40 minutes. Expect the top to look slightly under-baked.  It will fall in the centre.  The brownies should be moist in the centre.
  4. Beat together icing while the brownies are baking and smooth over brownies as soon as they come out of the oven.
  5. Sprinkle with chopped nuts and chocolate chips and return to the oven about one minute or until the chocolate chips begin to melt.
  6. Allow to cool and then refrigerate to help set the brownies for cutting.




Friday, November 29, 2013

Potato Coconut Candy


This candy brings back many memories of years gone by. I was chatting with my friend last week and I know her Mom and mine made them every Christmas. I really enjoyed eating this candy together with peanuts..I would eat a few shelled peanuts and then I would take a bite of the candy. Candy was a special treat and so I tried to make it last as long as I could.
My Mom did not dip them in chocolate, just rolled them in coconut. I couldn't find her recipe so did the best of what I remembered and with the help of my friend I must say this candy tastes like I remembered. The extra dark chocolate coating helps balance the sweetness of the candy. I used potato flakes but I know my Mom did not have those around, she used regular mashed potatoes.

  • 1/2 cup potato flakes
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • 3 cups coconut, flaked
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 10 ounces semi sweet dark chocolate, chopped..(I used extra dark)
  1. Mix potato flakes, milk, icing sugar, coconut, and vanilla until well combined.
  2. Roll into balls approx 3/4" in diameter, it will be sticky so you have to press and roll the dough in your hands as you form the balls. Place on cookie sheet and refrigerator for at least 1/2 hour.
  3. Melt chocolate. Dip rolled candy balls in the chocolate, using a fork to push the balls around in the chocolate to coat all around.
  4. Place on a parchment lined pan and put in refrigerator to firm up.
  5. Store in a tightly sealed container in a cool place.
  6. Yields: 30




Thursday, November 28, 2013

Apple Pear Harvest Crumble Pie

Apples and pears make a delicious combination for a fruit pie. The crumble topping adds a light crunch. Serve with a scoop of ice cream and a drizzle of warmed caramel sauce.

Happy American Thanksgiving.
Many will gather around the table today giving thanks to God for His many blessings.

  • 1 9" unbaked pie shell (not deep dish)
  • 4 apples
  • 2 pears 
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp sour cream
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 3 tbsp butter
Crumble Topping:
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup quick oats
  • 1/2 cup cold butter, grated
  1. Wash, peel and cut fruit into small pieces. 
  2. Add lemon juice and sour cream to fruit and stir to coat.
  3. Add flour, sugar and cinnamon and stir.
  4. Melt together honey and butter. Pour over apple/pear mixture.
  5. Pour apple mixture into pie shell.
  6. Mix together first three dry ingredients for crumble. 
  7. Using a cheese grater, grate cold butter into dry mixture and stir with a fork till butter is coated.
  8. Using your hand sprinkle the crumble over the fruit.
  9. Bake in 375º oven for 50-60 minutes. 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Molasses Kissed Pumpkin Pie



There is no need to buy pumpkin pies from a bakery when they are really so simple to make.
If you don't have time to make your own pastry, purchase a package with two frozen deep dish shells and use one of the shells to cut out little leaves with the thawed pastry for garnish.
If you prefer to make your own pastry...
I've included a link to my favourite pastry which I mix up and then freeze the discs I don't need.
This pumpkin pie filling is delicious, has a smooth texture, slices beautifully and leftovers keep well in refrigerator. 

  • 1 9 inch deep dish pie shell
  • 1 3/4 cups pure pumpkin puree (about 1 -  15 ounce /398 ml can)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups sweetened condensed milk  (can sizes vary between US and Canada)
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • dash nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  1. Preheat oven to 425 F. Adjust oven rack to second lowest level. Line a 9 inch deep pie plate with pastry. Decorate edge with leaf cutouts or crimp with your fingers or 
  2. Whisk together the pumpkin with the remaining ingredients until smooth. If you have a blender, put all the filling ingredients in there and process until smooth.
  3. Pour carefully into the pastry crust.  To prevent the crust edges from becoming too dark, use kitchen shears to cut out the inside of an aluminum pie plate and cover the pie as shown in the photo.  
  4. Bake at 425 F. for 15 minutes and then reduce heat to 350 F and bake an additional 35 minutes.  Test by putting a sharp knife an inch from the edge. It should be clean.
  5. Cool on rack. 


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Roasted Butternut Squash Salad

 
A mix of roasted and steamed vegetables tossed with orzo, baby kale, roasted pecans and dried cranberries or grapes . . . this beautiful salad may just be the perfect new addition to your thanksgiving table. Also serves as a nice luncheon salad that keeps for the following day.
 
Ingredients:
  • 5 cups peeled, cubed butternut squash
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 cup orzo
  • 5 cups broccoli, chopped
  • 4 cups baby kale
  • 1 cup pecans, toasted
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries or 1 cup grapes

Dressing:
  • 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp frozen orange juice concentrate
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1/8 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
Method:
  1. Toss squash, oil, garlic, salt and pepper in roaster and roast (uncovered) for 35 - 40 minutes at 400 F.
  2. During this time, cook orzo according to pkg directions, drain and rinse with cold water. Also, bring broccoli to boil in salted water and cook 2 minutes, then drain and cool in a bowl with ice water.
  3. In a large bowl, mix kale, cooled roasted squash, orzo, broccoli, pecans and cranberries with dressing. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Keeps well for the next day.



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Monday, November 25, 2013

Spiced Pumpkin Layer Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting


We stopped by to visit a cousin in California a few weeks ago...as we were traveling through.  It felt like summer...and we had lunch in the shade of an outdoor gazebo.  For dessert she brought out a moist and delicious frosted pumpkin layer cake.  I'm sharing it with you today...my version of Linda's spiced pumpkin cake dessert!   It may still feel like summer where you are...or maybe winter has already hit hard...but the calendar still says autumn.  Let's enjoy the pumpkin!

Pumpkin Layer Cake:
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 can 14 oz/398 ml pumpkin purée (remove two tablespoons to add to frosting if desired*)
  • 1 14 oz. can crushed pineapple (do not drain)
  • 1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  1. Whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and spices.
  2. In mixing bowl, beat together eggs, sugar and oil.  
  3. Add vanilla and pumpkin purée and mix until smooth.
  4. Add dry ingredients and stir until combined.
  5. Stir in pineapple, coconut and raisins.
  6. Pour into two 9-inch cake pans, sprayed with oil and lined with parchment paper.
  7. Bake at 350°F for 35-45 minutes...or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
  8. Cool for 15 minutes.  Then remove from pans, invert onto cooling rack.
  9. Frost with cream cheese icing when cool.

Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1 (250 gr) package cream cheese
  • 2 tablespoons pumpkin purée, optional
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups icing sugar
  • 1-2 tablespoons milk

  1. Cream butter and cream cheese together until smooth.
  2. Beat in pumpkin and vanilla.
  3. Add icing sugar one cup at a time, beating until smooth.
  4. Add milk as needed to get desired consistency.
*the pumpkin purée adds a creamy colour to the frosting

 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Bread for the Journey


Canadian Thanksgiving is celebrated in October and I decided I would look for something in each day to be thankful for.



I wanted to frame those thoughts ...
and found it wasn't hard at all to see something in each day to be thankful for.
I decided to share some of those framed thoughts with you today knowing that many of you are celebrating Thanksgiving in the US this coming week.


On good days it seemed there were many things to be thankful for...
and on other days I had to remind myself to breathe...
I was always thankful that God knew what concerned me each day.



Wishing you all God's richest blessings this week as you intentionally think on those things you are thankful for.


Saturday, November 23, 2013

Good Things Make Life Better


Although we live in an electronically advanced age, some things just never get old -- like receiving  letters/cards in the mail or packages delivered to your door.  
I had a package delivered to my door not long ago!  
I was expecting it. 


While we as MGCC do not endorse companies,  we will give praise where praise is due when someone comes up with something new or something better!  
When I was asked by Tamar from Catelli if I would be willing to test their new gluten free pasta, 
I almost said no, because I knew I would so hate to tell her I didn't like it!  
But, I decided to risk it, and am so happy I did!  
I have not enjoyed pasta for the last eight years that I have been gluten-free due to having Celiac. 
BUT...    I did  enjoy the Catelli GF pasta!    
Texture and flavour - perfect!  and just as good warmed up the next day! 
In fact, my wheat loving husband declared there was no longer any need to buy wheat pasta.  
He would be happy for us both just to share and enjoy the GF.  
The pasta is a blend of 4 flours including the healthy quinoa. 

( Ohh ... and if you are heading out the door to buy some... 
remember to first print out the one dollar off coupon  )  

I know there are about as many pasta recipes as there are cooks,  every family having their favourite. Throughout my growing up years,  I always enjoyed the following simple pasta dish my Mom would often serve  - I still enjoy it, modified now to be gluten free.   (my mom would not put in the cheese because my Dad didn't eat cheese - still doesn't) 

  • 3 1/2 cups Catelli gluten free pasta ( or 1 box) 
  • 1/3 chopped onion  
  • 1 tbsp oil 
  • 2 cups whole milk 
  • 1/3 cup butter 
  • 1 tbsp sweet rice flour 
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch 
  • salt / pepper to taste 
  • 1/2 cup grated cheese 
  1. Cook pasta as per package instructions...  drain, set aside. 
  2. Sauté onion in oil until soft 
  3. Add milk and butter and heat until butter is melted and mixture is hot. 
  4. Add blended  sweet rice flour, cornstarch, salt and pepper .  
  5. Cook,  stirring until thickened. 
  6. Stir in cheese until it melts.  
  7. Pour over pasta, mix and top with more grated cheese.  

 NOTE :  Catelli Gluten Free pasta is produced in a dedicated gluten free facility and has been recently certified by the Canadian Celiac Association,  

ADDED NOTE - to our American followers --   Catelli recommends Ronsoni GF pasta  sold in the US that is comparable to theirs -- same ingredients ..  here is the link  

Friday, November 22, 2013

Meringue Spice Cupcakes Gluten Free


These spice cupcakes are baked with their own meringue topping! No need to ice.
They have a great flavour and melt in your mouth texture.
This recipe makes 2 dozen cupcakes or if you prefer a cake, use a 9" x 12"  cake pan.


  • 1/4 cup room temp. butter 
  • 1/4 cup shortening 
  • 1/2 cup white sugar 
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar 
  • 1 egg 
  • 1 egg yolk 
  • 3/4 cup milk 
  • 1/2 cup brown rice flour 
  • 1/2 cup millet flour 
  • 1/3 cup white bean flour 
  • 1/2 cup potato starch 
  • 3 tsp baking powder 
  • 1 tsp xanthan gum 
  • 1/4 tsp salt 
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves 
  • 1 tsp cinnamon 
for topping 
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar 
  • crushed walnuts 
  1. Cream butter and shortening 
  2. Add sugars and beat until fluffy 
  3. Beat in egg and egg yolk 
  4. Add milk 
  5. Add blended dry ingredients Beat until perfectly smooth 
  6. Divide batter into 24  muffin tins or cake pan as desired 
  7. Beat egg white until foamy, beat in brown sugar until thick 
  8. Smooth over top of batter -  about 3/4 tsp per cupcake 
  9. Sprinkle tops with crushed walnuts. 
  10. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Pear or Apple Bran Muffins


I've made these muffins several times in the past while.
They are adaptable to what you have handy. Try adding fresh or frozen blueberries or a finely chopped nectarine in place of the apples or pears and dates or dried blueberries instead of the raisins.
 There's lots of bran in them and stored in the fridge or freezer, they stay moist and delicious.
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 cups natural wheat bran (not the cereal)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder,
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, 
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons molasses
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup melted butter



  • 1 pear or apple, peeled and chopped into small pieces
  • 1/2- 3/4 cup raisins or Craisins (dried cranberries)
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans (opt.)

    1. Preheat oven to 375 º F.
    2. Combine all dry ingredients in a bowl.  Set aside.
    3. Combine all wet ingredients in another bowl, mixing well with a mixer. 
    4. With a spatula, stir dry ingredients into wet mixture being careful to not over mix.
    5. Fold in pear, raisins and pecans.
    6. Spoon into lightly oiled muffin cups- about 2/3 full.
    7. Bake at 375 º F for 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into a muffin comes out clean.
    8. Makes 1  1/2 dozen medium sized muffins.
    Note: I always loosen the muffins and tip them sideways in the pan as soon as they come out of the oven. This keeps them from sweating as they cool.

    You'll want to try one hot out of the pan with a pat of butter!

    Wednesday, November 20, 2013

    Pumpkin Pecan Jelly Roll

    Funny how a jelly roll always brings some sings of delight and this one did not disappoint. If you  have never tried rolling up a jelly roll, why not try it? It may just be a lot easier than you think, but if it flops, you can always put the whole thing in a trifle bowl and decorate the top. It will taste just as delicious.
    Ingredients:
    Jelly Roll
    • 1 cup flour
    • 1 1/2  tsp baking powder
    • 2 tsp cinnamon
    • 1 tsp ginger
    • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 4 eggs
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
    • 4 Tbsp water
    • 1 tsp vanilla
    • 1 cup pumpkin puree
    Filling
    • 6 Tbsp butter
    • 3/4 cup (loose meas.)brown sugar
    • 3 Tbsp corn syrup
    • 3/4 cup roasted pecans, coarsely chopped
    • 1 1/2 - 2 cups whipping cream
    • 4 Tbsp instant vanilla pudding powder
    Method:
    1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
    2. Prepare jelly roll pan or cookie sheet with edges (10" x 15" or 11"x17") by greasing well. Line with wax paper, then grease well again, all the way up the sides as well. I like to use shortening for greasing.
    3. In a small bowl mix dry ingredients and set aside.
    4. Beat eggs with hand mixer for several minutes, then beat in the sugar well, until thick and lemon colored. Stir in lemon juice, water and pumpkin.
    5. Stir dry ingredients into pumpkin mixture.
    6. Spread into prepared pan and bake 15 - 18 minutes.
    7. In the meantime, melt butter for filling. Stir in sugar, syrup and pecans. Bring to a boil, stirring until thickened and set aside to cool.
    8. Prepare a clean tea towel by laying it on the counter and dusting generously with powdered sugar, using a sieve. When cake is done and still hot, turn it onto the towel. Peel off wax paper and roll up the cake along with the towel (beginning at narrow end). Let sit for about 1/2 hour.
    9. Beat whipping cream until it begins to thicken, then add vanilla pudding powder mix and continue beating until thick for spreading.
    10. Unroll cake. Starting where you begin to roll up from, spread cooled sticky pecan mixture as far as it will go. It will only cover about 1/2 of the cake. Then spread whipped cream all over the cake, keeping about an inch from the edges.
    11. Gently roll the cake back up again, starting from same end as before. Don't worry if it cracks a bit. When rolled up, carefully lift onto serving platter. Use left over cream to decorate the top if you like or just leave it. Freeze uncovered for 1 hour to set or longer if preparing days ahead. Once frozen, slip into plastic bag. On day of serving, refrigerate until ready to serve. Just before serving dust with icing sugar, using a small sieve.

     

    Tuesday, November 19, 2013

    Autumn Sausage Medley



    I'm thinking it's definitely past Autumn in most parts of Canada now but the ingredients of this dish still speak to me of crisp Fall days.
    Farmer Sausage, Butternut squash, apples flavoured with a touch of Rosemary - what's not to like?
    • 1-2 cups butternut squash, cubed
    • 2 apples, cubed
    • 1 onion, coarsely chopped
    • 1 small can sliced water chestnuts drained (optional)
    • 1 red pepper cut into 1 inch pieces
    • 6 large mushrooms quartered
    • 1 link Farmer Sausage cut into 1 inch pieces (you can use garlic or Kielbasa sausage if you like)


     Sauce


  • 1 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup apple juice
  • 2-3 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons chili sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups apple juice
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary

    1. Saute' apple and squash in 1 tablespoon oil in a large frying pan until lightly browned.  Remove to 3 or 4 cup casserole dish.
    2. Place onion, red pepper and mushrooms in pan, and saute' until wilted adding more oil if needed.
    3. Remove to casserole dish. 
    4. Add sausage pieces.
    5. Mix cornstarch and 1/2 cup apple juice in a small bowl.  Set aside.
    6. Add remaining sauce ingredients to pan  stirring well until sauce boils. 
    7. Add cornstarch mixture and stir and cook until sauce returns to a boil and thickens. If you like a sweeter sauce, feel free to add more honey. Add more cornstarch mixed with a bit more apple juice if you'd like the sauce a bit thicker.
    8. Pour sauce over ingredients in casserole dish and bake at 350˚ for 30- 45 minutes or until squash and onion are tender.
    9. Serve over rice or noodles.
    10. Serves 4-6.

    Monday, November 18, 2013

    Pistachio Cranberry Cookies


    Looking out the window I see a beautiful covering of snow on the trees, and so that turns my thoughts to Christmas. I love to bake cookies and will share a festive cookie recipe today. I usually make quite a variety for Christmas and I like to fill plates with cookies and give them away to family and friends. If you want less sweetness in this cookie you can omit the white chocolate chips and double the amount of pistachios.


    • 1 box of yellow cake mix..my box says 468 g
    • 1/2 of a small box of instant pistachio pudding and pie filling (approx 1/3 cup)
    • 2 eggs
    • 1/2 cup oil
    • 1/4 cup cranberries, chopped
    • 1/2 cup pistachio nuts, shelled and chopped
    • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips
    1. In your mixer, combine cake mix, pistachio pudding, eggs, and oil until just blended.
    2. Stir in cranberries, pistachios and white chocolate chips.
    3. Scoop rounded tablespoons of dough and place on parchment lined cookie sheets.
    4. Bake in 350º oven for 12 to 14 minutes, until edges start to become golden in color.
    5. Leave in pans for a few minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack.
    6. Yields: 2 dozen

    Sunday, November 17, 2013

    Bread for the Journey


    Listen to the lyrics of this song and allow His name to come alive in your heart today.

    Jesus Name above all Names

    Saturday, November 16, 2013

    Saturday in Bev's kitchen

    Chopping Onions

    There are a lot of different tips out there for chopping onions efficiently and without tears.
    Today I thought I'd share my tried and true method.


    First of all, I  have found that standing at my counter between an open window and the stove exhaust fan is the best place to chop onions.  The open window causes a draft that directs
     the onion fumes out through the exhaust fan
    .
    I always start by cutting off both ends of the onion, I cut the onion in half from stem to root.
    The onion skin is then easier to remove.




    I cut it lengthwise into strips, holding the onion together with my fingers,  
    then if I want diced onions, I hold the slices together,
      turn the cut onion 45 degrees and cut it the other way forming a dice.


     As you can see from this picture, I have printed the word ONION with permanent marker on one side of my cutting board. 
     In dedicating one side of a cutting board to onion I avoid having the onion taste transfer itself to the milder fruits and nuts I might need a chopping board for later..


    Just a few tips on a Saturday morning.  Thanks for stopping by and enjoy your day.

    Friday, November 15, 2013

    Spanish Rice

    I always enjoyed eating at my mom-in-law's table...and Spanish Rice was a dish she served often.  I've made a few changes to her recipe over the years (adding salsa for some zip and using diced tomatoes instead of tomato soup)...but whenever I make Spanish Rice I am always reminded of 'mom'.  Serve with green salad and warm dinner rolls for the perfect fall meal.

    • 1 1/2 cup long-grain rice, white or brown...uncooked
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 6-8 slices bacon*
    • 1/2 cup chopped onion
    • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
    • 1 398 ml can diced tomatoes (about 1 pound)
    •  1/2 cup hot salsa
    • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
    1. Cook rice according to directions...adding salt if desired.
    2. Fry bacon in large skillet until crisp.
    3. Remove bacon from skillet and pour off all but two tablespoons of drippings.
    4. Add chopped onion and green pepper to skillet; saute until tender.
    5. Stir in cooked rice, bacon, diced tomatoes, salsa and pepper.
    6. Cook uncovered on low heat for about 15 minutes.
    Serves 4-6

    *Variation: Omit bacon and add 2 cups of  cooked ham. 



    Thursday, November 14, 2013

    Cranberry Apple Chutney


    Cranberries pair so perfectly with Turkey and even more my favourite...
    Turkey sandwiches.
    If you enjoy cranberry sauce then this simple quick chutney might become another option to try.
    It is a little less sweet than regular cranberry sauce and has a hint of savoury.
    It makes a beautiful hostess gift and if you make it a few weeks before the holiday and store it in the refrigerator you are ahead of the game.

    • 1 cup sugar
    • 1/2 cup brown sugar
    • 3/4 cup water
    • 4 cups fresh cranberries
    • 1 cup dried cranberries
    • 2 large tart apples, peeled and diced
    • 1 medium onion, diced
    • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
    • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
    • 1/8 teaspoon ginger
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    1. In a large saucepan, combine all the ingredients and bring to a simmer over medium low heat.  Stir often to keep from scorching.
    2. Simmer uncovered about 30 - 35 minutes.  
    3. Pour into sterilized 8 ounce jars and seal. Refrigerate until you use it.
    Makes 6 cups.




    Wednesday, November 13, 2013

    Sticky Toffee Pudding


    We really enjoyed this dessert while traveling in Great Britain so duplicating it for special meals here on the other side of the Pond was a fun adventure for me. It's a warm dense cake with a caramelized sauce. There are many versions of Sticky Toffee Pudding and this is one that has been successful and good. Don't let the pudding confuse you. It's not like our creamy soft pudding. This "pudding" is cake like.

    Sticky Toffee Pudding

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9 x 13 inch pan

    Pudding:

    1/2 cup butter
    2 cups confectioners sugar (powdered sugar)
    2 eggs
    3 cups flour
    8 ounces dates (pitted and chopped into pieces)
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    2 cups boiling water

    Sauce:

    1 cup butter
    2 - 3/4 cups brown sugar
    2 cups whipping cream

    You will need extra whipping cream to top off the cake with when ready to serve.

    Directions:

    For the pudding:

    Cream butter and sugar.
    Beat in eggs one at a time and incorporate completely.
    Fold in flour.
    Put the chopped dates in a separate bowl.
    Pour the boiling water over the dates and add the soda to this mixture.
    Give the water time to be absorbed into the dates.
    When water is mostly absorbed add the flour mixture and blend well.
    Pour the mixture into prepared pan.
    Bake for 40 minutes. Time may vary slightly depending on your oven.

    Sauce:

    Mix all ingredients and bring to a boil over medium heat.

    When cake comes out of the oven poke the top of the cake evenly with many holes. Pour half of the sauce over the top of the cake evenly. Allow Sauce to soak into cake.

    When ready to serve cut cake into squares and place the squares on your dessert plates. Top with remaining sauce that is hot onto the warm cake. Top with a dollop of whipped cream.


     


    Tuesday, November 12, 2013

    Filet Mignon Dinner in the Oven

     
    This easy steak dinner may very well be what you'd order at a good steakhouse, but enjoyed in the comfort of your home with very little preparation. The best guarantee for a very tender steak is a tenderloin, priced accordingly, but  well worth it when you consider the price of a dinner out.
    Ingredients for a dinner for two:
    • 2 medium baking potatoes or yams
    • olive oil for brushing
    • 2 tenderloin steaks
    • 4 - 6 slices ready-cooked bacon
    • spinach caesar salad
    marinade
    • 1 Tbsp olive oil
    • 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
    • 1 large clove garlic
    • 1/2 Tbsp Montreal steak or chicken spice
    Method:
    1. About 75 minutes before dinner, mix up the marinade and pour under and over steaks. Let sit at room temp. Preheat oven to 400F.
    2. Brush potatoes/yams with olive oil. Prick with fork and place on parchment paper lined oven safe plate to bake for one hour.
    3. About 20 - 25 minutes before dinner: wrap steaks with bacon. Secure with toothpicks.
    4. Pre-heat cast iron or heavy frying pan. Spray pan with a light coat of cooking spray and cook steaks one to two mintues on each side until browned.  One option:  when turning steaks over to do second side, place on top of extra bacon pieces.
    5. Turn oven down to 375 F and place steaks in ovenproof  pan alongside potatoes. Bake 12 - 15 minutes for medium to medium well doneness. Let rest a few minutes before serving.
    6. Toss salad and enjoy dinner!
    
     
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    Monday, November 11, 2013

    Remember



    We must never forget the profound sacrifices of those who have died...

     those who are serving....

    and the families that love them.

    Today we wear a poppy on our lapel and we remember.

    For your sacrifice..
    for our freedom..
    we thank you.

    Lest we forget.

    Looking forward to that day when all wars will cease.

    Sunday, November 10, 2013

    Bread For The Journey

     The Necklace 

    I was a young girl, I'm not sure how old but definitely under the age of ten. 
    I was shopping  with my mother in the local 5-$100 Store. 
    This was long before the popular dollar stores but it was a store filled with a great variety of goods.  
    There was so much to look at.   
    Not that I expected to be allowed to have anything.
     I knew that was not why we were in the store, but I loved to look! 
    My mother was at the till paying for her purchases conversing with the owner's wife. 
    I stood waiting, admiring the jewellery that hung from a stand at the end of the counter.
    Daring to reach out and touch, I fingered the stone in a necklace pendant. 
    To my horror as I pressed my  thumb across it, the stone fell out of its setting. 
    My heart racing, I looked around to see if anyone was watching! 
    It seemed no one had. 
    If I told what I had done, what would happen?  Would they be angry ? 
    Would they take me away from my family?  
    My heart pounding, my stomach in a knot , I made my decision.  
    I slipped the stone out of sight under the hanging jewellery and said nothing. 
    I walked out of the store with the guilt and shame of what I had done. 
    I spend a sleepless night, fearing that someone had seen me and even if they hadn't, would figure out it was me that had broken the necklace. The police would be called..  would I go to jail?  
    Was the sin of hiding my crime worse than the crime itself?
    Guilt is not always measured by the severity of the crime, and secret guilt magnifies itself.   
    Over time, the guilt was not as deep or as heavy but I never forgot what I had done.
    I never told anyone.

    Over 20 years later, I had grown up, married and was working at Eatons. 
    A new employee was hired to work part time in the fabric department. 
    I recognized her immediately as the owner of that 5-$100 store. 
    Had God given me another chance to do what was right ? 
      I was in conversation with her one day and I took a deep breath and said,  
    "I have something to confess to you."  
    She smiled, wondering what it could possibly be! 
    And I told her the story. 
    She laughed, gave me a big hug and said, 
    "I'm sure we must have just glued it back in. 
    But thank you for telling me !"  
    I was forgiven !!   
    Even after all those years it was a burden lifted  -  my heart felt so light !     

    Forgiveness! 
    What a gift to give or to receive. 
    So often we live with the burden of guilt fearing someone's anger or retaliation, 
    when it is so much easier just to confess and ask for forgiveness. 
    I think of God's forgiveness that He offers as a gift to anyone who asks for it. 
    No matter what we have done, He smiles, hugs us and says... 
    "You are forgiven, your sin is gone, but thank you for your confession!"  

    "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
    I John 1:9 


    Saturday, November 9, 2013

    Make your gift giving a Celebration

     Celebrations
    2013 certainly has been a year of celebrating here at Mennonite Girls Can Cook. We waited with great anticipation for the launch of our second cookbook called Celebrations this past spring, and we have been kept busy with different events. It's always so interesting for us to hear stories from those who have given or received one of our books.
    With Christmas just around the corner you may already be looking for gift ideas.

    In our first book Mennonite Girls Can Cook you will find many of our Mennonite heritage recipes along with our personal stories and inspirational thoughts.

    In our second book Celebrations we chose recipes that would be suitable for 10 different celebrations in life. Most of the recipes in this book are not from our heritage collection, but are our personal family favourites we have served for family dinners to holiday dinner parties. Again we added our stories and inspirations in this volume along with more beautiful photography, making this not only a cookbook, but a coffee table book.

    Here is a sneak peek into the pages of Celebrations.





    Here is the link to find your local retailer who carry both of our cookbooks.
    You can also order both books from amazon.ca and amazon.com.

    Every time a book is purchased you are also helping those in need. 100% of our royalties always goes to one of our projects.

    Friday, November 8, 2013

    Spelt Buns / Bread




    Spelt is an ancient grain and has a really nice nutty flavor. Lately I have enjoyed using spelt flour to make my buns and bread. It doesn't work any differently than other wheat flour and has a nice taste to it. I modified my Honey Bran Bun recipe replacing the wheat and bran for spelt to make these.

    • 2 cups very warm water
    • 1/3 cup of honey
    • 1/2 cup of olive oil, or the oil of your preference
    • 7 cups of organic spelt flour 
    • 2 eggs, fork beaten
    • 1 tbsp. dry instant yeast (added to the flour)
    • 1 tsp. salt
    • 1 tablet of crushed Vitamin C* (optional)
    1. Combine  honey, water oil, salt and eggs (and Vitamin C if using).
    2. Add 3 cups of spelt with the dry yeast, stir well to mix.
    3. Add remaining flour gradually as you are kneading to make a soft dough but not too sticky. You may need to add a little more flour as needed.
    4. Knead about 8 minutes until smooth and elastic.
    5. Place in a large greased bowl, turning once to grease all the dough
    6. Cover with a tea towel and put into your oven with the oven light on, for about 40 minutes or until doubled in size.
    7. Punch dough down and shape into buns or bread. I usually get about 3 dozen buns, or 2 loaves of bread from this recipe.
    8. Let them rise on the cookie sheet or loaf pan for another 30-40 minutes.
    9. Bake at 375 for about 15-18 minutes, depends on your oven and how brown you like them.  For the loaf bake for 25-30 minutes. The bread will sound hollow when you tap on it, then you will know it is done.
     * A professional baker told me a tip that they use in their bakery is to crush a vitamin C tablet and dissolve it into the water. I did that for one recipe and not for the other. The dough may have been a bit lighter in texture, but I didn't find it to be essential to have good results.  I also only had orange flavored tablets and we could not taste the flavoring in the buns at all.



    Thursday, November 7, 2013

    Butter Pecan Pumpkin Squares


    These Butter-Pecan Pumpkin Squares would be a nice alternative to Pumpkin Pie. They have a good base and the filling stays moist and is very similar to pumpkin pie filling.



    Base Ingredients:

    1/2 cup sugar
    1-1/2 cups flour
    1/2 cup butter, softened

    Filling Ingredients:

    1 - 15oz. can of pure pumpkin (2 cups pumpkin if you make your own)
    1/4 cup milk
    2 eggs, beaten
    3/4 cup sugar
    1 teaspoon cinnamon
    1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
    1/2 teaspoon salt

    Topping Ingredients:

    1/2 cup brown sugar
    2 tablespoons butter, softened
    1/2 cup chopped pecans

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

    1. To prepare base: Combine sugar, flour and butter in a bowl with pastry cutter until crumbly. Press into 12 x 8 x 2 inch greased baking dish. Bake in preheated oven for 8 to 10 minutes until slightly browned and puffed. Set aside to cool.
    2. To prepare filling: Combine pumpkin, milk, eggs, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt with electric mixer until smooth. Pour over baked crust. Bake in preheated oven for 30 to 40 minutes or until slightly firm.
    3. To prepare topping: Combine brown sugar and butter in small bowl with pastry blender until crumbly. Add nuts and stir to mix. Sprinkle over pumpkin filling and return to oven for about 10 more minutes until mixture is bubbly and browned.
    4. Cool thoroughly before cutting into squares.
    Yield: Approximately 36 squares, 2 by 2 inches.


    Wednesday, November 6, 2013

    Healthy Quinoa Salad



    Some of you have asked if we ever have some healthy dishes. Here's a salad that is chopped full of powerhouse nutrients. I have joined a group of ladies this past fall, for a 7-week challenge.  No junk food nor refined sugars. Truly this has been a challenge, but I've noticed how quickly those extra pounds can sneak on.  So this week I chose kale and quinoa.  I'm very content to eat the same old, but during this time I challenged my self to eat healthier and wiser, hoping to see some beneficial results.
    Kale is known as one of the powerhouse of nutrients, high in antioxidants.  Quinoa is also known as an ancient grain which is high in fiber and protein and very low in fat and it's gluten free. 
    You'll notice that we only use olive oil and lemon juice for the dressing, keeping things light.


    Ingredients
    • 2 cups cooked quinoa
    • 2 cups spinach
    • 2 cups kale
    • 1 cup chopped cucumber
    • 1 cup cherry tomatoes halved
    • 1/2 green pepper
    • 1/4 cup red onions.
    • 1/4 cup pure virgin olive oil 
    • 1/2 freshly squeezed lemon  
    • I/2 pound cooked shrimp (optional)
    1. Cook quinoa as per instructions.  I cooked my quinoa in my rice cooker. 
    2. Layer spinach on the bottom of the platter.
    3. Chop up kale and drizzle pure olive oil on leaves.  It gives a perfect healthy shine.
    4. Combine kale and spinach to form a bed of greens.
    5. Spoon cooked quinoa on greens.
    6. Combine cucumbers, tomatoes and onions in bowl and mix well with 1/4 cup olive oil.
    7. Spread over quinoa mixture. 
    8. Optional: Top with some freshly cooked shrimp.
    9. Take your lemon pieces and drizzle juice over the whole salad.
    10. Add your favorite seasoning spice on top.
    11. Let the juices and oil marinate your salad.
    It's simple, nutritious and it's paid off.