Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Bacon Wrapped Pineapple Bites


I wanted to share with you one of the tasty morsels that will be served at our New Years eve party this year.  Fresh pineapple chunks wrapped in good quality bacon that has been caramelized with brown sugar.  Need I say more?
It's a delicious treat, quick to put together and easy to clean up!
 If you enjoy bacon and pineapple... I know you will enjoy these. 

  • 1 pound  of good quality bacon, sliced in half crosswise
  • 1 fresh pineapple cut into bite sized pieces (or one container cored and sliced)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  1. Prepare a pan by placing a piece of parchment paper large enough to fit over the sides. Crumple pieces of foil to act as a disposable rack so that the bacon fat can render off and allow the bacon to crisp without sitting in the fat.
  2. Place brown sugar in a plastic bag and add bacon a few pieces at a time to shake until they are fully covered in brown sugar.
  3. Wrap each half piece of bacon around a piece of pineapple and secure with a toothpick.
  4. Bake at 325 for 45 minutes.  Check every 15 minutes to see how they are doing.  You will need enough time for them to crisp up but not burn.  Baking them in a slow oven will allow them to caramelize perfectly. Serve warm. 
Blessings on each of you as you say goodbye to 2013!


Monday, December 30, 2013

Salted Toffee Pretzel Bark



We had a favorite holiday treat over here...that got changed up a little this year.  My recipe for Chocolate Almond Roca slice underwent a makeover...and is now Salted Toffee Pretzel Bark.  With a granddaughter who has nut allergies...this works much better.  And we love it!  The first recipe disappeared quickly...so I made another batch to take us through New Year's.  If you like a toffee and chocolate combination with a touch of salt...this is for you. It's not too late to make up some treats for your New Year's celebrations.
 
  • 1 bag mini pretzels (you will need 4 or 5 cups)
  • 1 cup butter (the real thing)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 340 gr / 12 oz. bag semi-sweet chocolate chips (about 2 cups)
  • Sea salt (optional)
  1. Line 11 x 17 inch bar pan with parchment paper.
  2. Cover the bottom with a layer of pretzels.
  3. Combine butter and brown sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat, and bring to a full boil while stirring.
  4. Pour carefully over the pretzels.
  5. Place in a 350° F oven for 8 minutes, or until bubbly all over.
  6. Remove from oven and sprinkle evenly with chocolate chips.
  7. Let sit for a minute to melt the chocolate. 
  8. Then smooth surface with a spatula.
  9. Sprinkle with sea salt if desired.
  10. Cool to room temperature.
  11. Place in freezer for 10-15 minutes to harden chocolate topping.
  12. Remove from the pan and break into bite sized portions.  
* These can easily be cut into bars as well.  Lift the hardened confection onto a cutting board and cut into bars using a sharp knife or pizza cutter.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Bread for the Journey



Romans 15:13
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

I had the privilege of writing the first Bread for the Journey of 2013 and it was based on this bible verse, hope, my theme for the year.  Now I am writing the final Bread for the Journey reflecting through the past year. Was the God of HOPE real in my life? I think that it is safe to say that between the 10 of us, we have likely experienced many of the same things that you, our readers have experienced. Joys, sorrow, hurt, forgiveness, illness, healing, loss, restoration.
As I thank God for how He has worked in my life and in the lives of the ones I love and care about, I stand in awe of answered prayers and prayers that we are still awaiting answers for. Life is not by any means easy, it continues with its earthly challenges, but I choose to continue to live in HOPE. We have a saying between the 10 of us when we share matters of prayer with one another, "Gott Kann" (God can). I am not one for platitudes, but that is not a trite statement of insignificance. It is a reminder of truth for me. I am so limited in my abilities as a human being, but I believe in a God of Hope that can bring about change in my life, if only I am open to His leading, and I continue to walk in hope and trust.
Join me will you, for 2014. Let us journey together, in Hope.
Lord, I ask that you reach into the hearts of each one that comes to read this today. Give them HOPE for their future, and to take that step of faith, one small step in front of the other. We rely on your infinite grace and goodness Lord, in your name I pray, Amen.



Saturday, December 28, 2013

Crock Pot Carnitas

This easy recipe using inexpensive meat would be great to have cooking all day long before your New Year's Eve festivities. Carnitas is Mexican slow cooked pork that is easily shredded for fillings in soft tacos or burritos or Chimichangas.

Ingredients:
3 lbs. pork ( I used a pork shoulder)
1 lb. pinto beans (dry)
6 cups water
1/2 Cup onion, chopped.
2 cloves garlic, minced.
2 Tablespoons chili powder
1 Tablespoon Cumin seeds
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 Tablespoon salt
1 small can diced jalapenos
1/2 - 1 cup salsa of your choice

Put all ingredients in a crock pot and cook on low for 7-8 hours or until beans are soft and meat falls apart. Uncover and cook on high to thicken liquid to desired consistency. At this stage you can skim off any fat if you desire.You can also cook these ingredients in a dutch oven on the stove top for 5 or more hours.

Serve with flour or corn tortillas, shredded cheese, cilantro, diced tomatoes, shredded lettuce, green onions, limes, avocado, and salsa.



This recipe will serve 8-10 people generously.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Turkey Shepherd's Pie


Here's another way to make use of the leftover Christmas Turkey and mashed potatoes. 
 I like the addition of Butternut squash.

  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 cup chopped fresh mushrooms
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped red pepper
  • 1/2 cup cubed roasted or cooked squash
  • 1/2 cup chopped cooked carrots
  • 1 1/2 cups cut up roast turkey
  • seasoned mashed potatoes - about 2-3 cups or to cover
  • 2 tablespoons bread crumbs 
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped parsley
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

    For the sauce
    • 1/4 cup butter
    • 1/4 cup flour
    • 1 cup turkey or chicken broth (you can add some of the turkey gravy if you have some)
    • 1 cup milk
    • Salt and pepper to taste.
    •  1 - 2 teaspoons Poultry seasoning (to taste)

      1. Place oil and butter in a frying pan over medium high heat.
      2. Add mushrooms, onion, celery and red pepper and saute' until soft.
      3. Place cooked vegetables in a casserole dish. (I used 2  4 cup casseroles)
      4. Add cooked squash, carrots and turkey. Set aside. 
      5. Make Sauce by melting butter in microwavable dish or saucepan.
      6. Add flour and stir until blended.
      7. Add milk a little at a time, whisking it well.  
      8. Cook until thick, stirring frequently.
      9. Stir in salt and pepper and poultry seasoning to taste.
      10. Pour over turkey and vegetables in casserole dish and mix
      11. Cover with mashed potatoes.
      12. To make topping, melt 1 tablespoon butter in a microwavable bowl.
      13. Add bread crumbs, parsley and Parmesan and toss together.
      14. Sprinkle potatoes with topping.
      15. Bake in a 350ºF oven for about 50 minutes or until heated through.
      16. Serve with a fresh green salad.
      I froze the extra casserole for another day.



      Tuesday, December 24, 2013

      Mushroom and Leek Sauce for Roast Beef


      This Mushroom and Leek Sauce turns a Roast Beef dinner into a special occasion meal.
      For the Sauce:
      • 2-3 tablespoons butter, divided
      • 1 cup finely chopped mushrooms
      • 3 medium sized leeks, the white and light green part only
      • salt and pepper
      • 2 cup low salt chicken broth
      • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
      • 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
      • 2 cups whipping cream
      • black pepper
      • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
      • 2 teaspoons lemon juice

      1. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a frying pan and add the finely chopped mushrooms.
      2. Saute' until mushrooms are soft.  Remove to a bowl and set aside.
      3. Add remaining tablespoon butter to pan and saute' leeks over medium heat adding butter if pan is dry.  Do not brown them.
      4. Add mushrooms back to the pan and pour in chicken broth, rosemary and thyme, and salt if needed.
      5. Simmer on low heat for about 10 minutes or until liquid is reduced by about half
      6. Add cream and black pepper, continuing to simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally until sauce is reduced to around 2 cups. 
      7. Remove from heat and add Dijon mustard and lemon juice, stir well
      8. Check seasonings, adding salt and pepper if needed.
      9. Serve alongside roast beef. I think it would be great with chicken or fish as well)

      Monday, December 23, 2013

      Orange and Lemon Marmalade..a Gift from the Kitchen!


      Jam is always a nice little gift to give someone for Christmas. This bright and pretty marmalade is simple to make. It's wonderful served on toast, biscuits, or buns. Or add to your meatball sauce for a little pizazz. And let me not forget, have you tried marmalade muffins? These are just a few ideas but no matter how you will use it..it is delicious!
      And there is just the best citrusy aroma wafting through the house as this jam cooks.
      So if you are still wondering what to give someone or add to a gift basket..wonder no more, you can quickly whip up a batch of this marmalade!
      • 4 large oranges
      • 2 medium sized lemons
      • 5 cups sugar
      1. Wash fruit, cut off any blemishes and remove seeds, leave peel on.
      2. Cut fruit into chunks and chop up finely in the food processor.
      3. Pour into a large pot, stir in sugar using a long handled wooden spoon.
      4. Bring to a boil over high heat, once it boils lower heat to medium high. Cook till it thickens, this process will take approx 20 minutes.
      5. Stir occasionally, be careful as the jam will splatter. That's why it is important to use a large pot and a long handled wooden spoon.
      6. Spoon into jars, wipe edges clean and screw on tops. As the jars seal, you will hear the lids pop indicating the jar is sealed. 
      7. Once cooled, refrigerate if not using right away. It will keep in the fridge for a long time, I put my jams in my spare fridge and they keep well for a number of months.
      8. There you have it..5 jars of pretty and delicious jam to give as gifts! Maybe keep one for yourself:) You can use paper cupcake liners to add a nice touch. This cute cupcake liner is a gift from my dear friend, Ellen!



      Sunday, December 22, 2013

      Bread For The Journey


      Today is fourth Advent.

                  As Christmas approaches, what preparations are you making?

                     In our house we are preparing for the coming of our children and their families from their distant homes.

      We're baking, cleaning up, making room.  
      We've even done some renovations to make their visit more comfortable.
      We've decorated the house and wrapped gifts.
      We're asking ourselves, "What else do we need to do before they come?"

      When those cars come up the driveway we will be running out with open arms 
      to welcome them with joy!

      These preparations are prompting other questions in my heart:
      What am I doing to prepare for Christ's coming?
      Am I cleaning away the dust and dry bits in my heart?
      Am I making room for Him in the midst of all the busyness of my life?
      Are there renovations needed to my attitudes and behaviour?
      What kind of welcome am I planning?
      Will I be waiting in eager anticipation to welcome Him in?

      What does the coming of the King of Kings require of me??

      MIcah asks this question in chapter 6 verses 6 and 8

      6 With what shall I come before the LORD, and bow myself before the High God?
      .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  (here he makes a list of things he thinks God might want him to bring)
      The answer to his question follows:

      8 He has shown you, O man, what is good;
      And what does the LORD require of you?
      But to do justice, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

      May He find me ready for His coming with a heart prepared
       and a joyous welcome as I run to meet Him.

      Saturday, December 21, 2013

      Butterscotch Brickle Bars


      This layered cookie bar recipe would be good anytime of year. My mom made these in the seventies and I finally got around to making them this Christmas.



      Cookie layer:
      • 1-1/2 Cup sifted all purpose flour
      • 1/4 teaspoon salt
      • 1/2 Cup softened butter
      • 3/4 Cup firmly packed brown sugar

      1. Heat oven to 375 degrees F. 
      2. Grease a 12 x 9 x 2 inch pan lightly and dust lightly with flour.
      3. Sift together flour and salt.
      4. Cut in butter with pastry cutter.
      5. Add sugar and mix well.
      6. Press cookie dough evenly into the bottom of prepared pan.
      7. Bake for 15 minutes and cool slightly.

      Butterscotch Topping:
      • 1- 6 ounce pkg. butterscotch pieces
      • 1/4 Cup light corn syrup
      • 2 Tablespoons shortening
      • 1 Tablespoon water
      • 1/4 teaspoon salt
      • 2 Cups coarsely chopped nuts

      1. Combine all topping ingredients in the top of a double boiler. 
      2. Stir over hot, but not boiling water until smooth.
      3. (You could also do this in the microwave at 30 second intervals, stirring after each 30 second interval.)
      4. Stir in nuts.
      5. Spoon mixture evenly over slightly cooled cookie layer.
      6. Bake an additional 8 minutes.
      7. Remover pan to a wire rack and cool until slightly warm.
      8. Cut into bars.
      9. Cool completely before serving.
      Makes approx. 24 bars.


      Friday, December 20, 2013

      Margaritta Flat Bread

      Casual holiday entertaining calls for good appetizers. Take a look at our recipe index for a great selection of appetizer recipes. Todays recipe is a flat bread recipe which is basically a thin crust pizza with light toppings.
      • 1 1/4 cups flour (a little extra to sprinkle counter with when kneading)
      • 1/2 tsp instant yeast
      • 1/2 tsp salt
      • 1 small garlic clove minced
      • 1 tsp dry Italian seasoning
      • 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
      • 1/2 cup warm tap water, (you may need to add 1-2 tablespoons more to make a smooth dough)
      1. Stir together first 5 ingredients. 
      2. Add oil and water and stir until all comes together into a dough, adding a small amount more flour or sugar to make a smooth dough. Place on a lightly floured counter and knead for a few minutes.
      3. Place smooth dough in a lightly oiled bowl. Lightly cover and allow to sit for 30 minutes.
      Topping:
      • olive oil
      • garlic, crushed
      • mozzarella cheese
      • 2 Roma tomatoes, chopped fine
      • 3 tablespoons fresh basil leaves, chopped fine
      • 3 tablespoons red onion, finely chopped, optional
      • feta cheese
      1. Once dough has sat for 1/2 hour place pizza stone in oven. Turn oven on to 425º and allow pizza stone to heat as oven heats.
      2. Take dough and shape into a long oval shape. Lay it onto a piece of parchment paper. Press or roll until very thin.
      3. Rub a light topping of olive oil all over the dough.
      4. Spread with crushed garlic.
      5. Cover dough with a light layer of mozzarella cheese.
      6. Chop vegetables and basil and distribute over cheese.
      7. Sprinkle with feta cheese.
      8. Once oven reaches 425º stone will be very hot. Carefully place flat bread on the parchment directly onto hot stone.
      9. Bake for 15-18 minutes. Cut into small wedges and serve hot.

      Thursday, December 19, 2013

      Kringle

      Kringle is a Scandinavian pastry which developed over the years into several kinds of sweet, salty or filled pastries. My Tante Lena makes her Kringle with a buttery Zwieback (yeast) dough and I still hope to one day get together with her to see her make them. For now - I have her recipe and two methods of rolling and shaping them.
      
       
      This first method pictured is closer to the way she shapes them and since I was using one hand to hold the camera, I hope my explanation makes sense. I started off with pinching off evenly sized buns. Then I shaped the bun into a rectangle and rolled it into a snake about 12 inches long, just like kids do with play dough, using both hands. To get the twist I put one hand flat on top of the left side and the other on the right side, turning the roll counter clockwise and switching hands to keep going until the whole roll is twisted and easily turns into a circle.
       
      This second variety is shaped more like a fat pretzel. Maybe a little easier.
       
      I rolled the snake, shaped a lower case letter l, crossing one end over once again. Then I flipped the bottom part over onto the top part.
      Now for the recipe:
      Ingredients:
      • 2/3 cup butter melted
      • 2 cups warm milk
      • 1 1/2 tsp salt
      • 1/2 cup warm water for dissolving traditional yeast or just to add if using instant yeast
      • 1 Tbsp yeast
      • 1 Tbsp sugar
      • 5 cups flour
      Method:
      1. Pour warm liquids, butter and salt into mixing bowl.
      2. Stir in 2 cups flour, then dissolved yeast mixture or instant yeast and sugar plus water.
      3. Add flour, stirring and kneading in the last bit to make a smooth dough. This can be mixed in a Kitchen Aid with a dough hook attachment or in a bread machine.
      4. Let rise on counter, away from draft, in a large bowl, covered with a tea towel and plastic bag for one hour.
      5. Pinch of buns and roll on counter into desired shapes. Yields 24 buns or Kringle.
      6. Let rise on greased pans for one hour. Bake at 400 F for about 18 minutes or until golden.
      7. Let cool on wire racks. Kringle are a beautiful addition to a meal, served with honey for coffee time or enjoy warmed up along with a cup of hot cocoa.
      
      Posted by Picasa

      Wednesday, December 18, 2013

      Caramel Egg Nog


      I'm not only a Mennonite Girl Can Cook but I'm also an Egg Farmer of Canada.
      Last week I was invited to come to Global News to do an Eggnog segment wearing my Egg Farmers of Canada apron.  This eggnog is smooth and creamy and since it only uses 1% milk with no cream it is a healthy eggnog option.   Check this and  other recipes on eggs.ca for many more ideas on what to make for your Holiday meals.


      Caramel 
      • 1 cup white sugar
      • 6 tablespoons water (divided)
      • 6 eggs
      • 4 cups 1% milk
      • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
      • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
      • 1/8 teaspoon salt
      Whipped Cream Topping
      • 1 cup whipping cream
      • 1 teaspoon vanilla
      1. Begin by making the caramel.  Combine sugar and 2 tablespoons water in a large saucepan.  Stir over medium heat constantly until the sugar melts and turns amber.  Remove from heat and carefully drizzle in remaining water and stir to make a smooth caramel.  Be careful with this step because it can easily spatter and it is very hot.
      2. Whisk eggs in a large saucepan and add milk continuing to whisk.  Turn heat to medium and whisk in caramel. 
      3. Continue to whisk until the egg mixture begins to steam and coats the back of a spoon.  (See the video to see how this should look)
      4. Immediately pour mixture through a fine sieve into a bowl which is placed over ice water and ice cubes. Add flavouring and stir for 15 minutes.
      5. Chill well.
      6. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream if desired and a drizzle of liqueur of your choice.


      Tuesday, December 17, 2013

      Christmas Cranberry Coconut Loaf



      This loaf keeps really well for several day and is perfect loaf to serve with a cup of tea...
      or to serve along side Mandarin oranges on Christmas morning gift opening.
      Bake it ahead, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap  and refrigerate for several days.
      The fresh cranberries add a touch of tart to this moist loaf.

      • 1 1/2 cup flour
      • 1/2 cup oatmeal
      • 1/2 cup shredded coconut
      • 3/4 cup sugar
      • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
      • 1/2 teaspoon salt
      • 1 large egg
      • 1/2 cup fresh orange juice ( about 1 large naval orange)
      • 1 teaspoon orange rind
      • 2/3 cup plain greek yogurt
      • 1 cup  fresh or frozen cranberries (cut in half)
      • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
      1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray a 8 X 4 inch loaf pan with cooking spray.
      2. In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients.  Make a well in the center.
      3. Combine the wet ingredients in another bowl.
      4. Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients and add cranberries. Stir until combined.
      5. Scrape into loaf pan and bake for 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
      6. Cool on wire rack.

      Monday, December 16, 2013

      Hot Prawn Appetizer


       A few years ago we had the privilege of employing a family from Quebec.  We were mostly challenged by our languages.  We could not understand French and they could not speak English.
      It did not take long for Danielle and I to find a common interest in cooking.  We both laughed as we read labels and compared notes in French and English.  Within a short while we realized that we truly  understood the 'language of food'. This recipe is shared and cherished from her home to my home.  If you are a sea food lover, this dish is for you.  It's a  perfect hot appetizer for that cool night. 

      Ingredients 
      • 1 pound uncooked shrimp
      • 1/4 pound scallops
      • 1/4 pound crab (imitation crab works great)
      • 1 cup white wine
      • 1/4 tsp. paprika
      • 1/4 tsp. salt
      • 1/4 tsp. pepper
      • 2 onion greens chopped
      • 1/4 cup fresh parsley
      • 2 cups mozzarella cheese.
      Sauce
      • 1/4 cup butter
      • 1/4 cup flour
      • 1 cup milk

      Instructions:
      1. Peel and discard tails from the prawns.
      2. Chop seafood mixture into bite size pieces.
      3. Combine mixture with wine in sauce pan.
      4. Add seasonings.
      5. Take a piece of wax paper and grease one side with butter and place it face down onto the meat mixture. The wax paper keeps the moisture in the sauce pan.
      6.  Let simmer on medium heat till your shrimp begins to turn pink. (5 minutes)
      7. Prepare sauce during this time.
      8. Combine melted butter with flour and milk and cook in microwave for about 2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds to avoid any lumps. Sauce needs to become slightly thickened.
      9. Take the wax paper off of meat mixture and combine the sauce with the meat mixture and stir.
      10. Add two onion greens and 1/4 cup fresh parsley to mixture.
      11. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
      12. Pour into casserole dish and top with mozzarella cheese and cook/broil till the cheese bubbles.
      13. Serve with a fresh baguette.
      14. You can also pour the mixture into various shaped ramekins and serve individually.
      Bon Appetit! 

      Sunday, December 15, 2013

      Bread for the Journey


      On this 3rd Sunday of Advent as we think of the coming of Jesus Christ we light the candle of joy!

      Luke 2: 8-12 NIV

       8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”


      Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
      Let earth receive her King;
      Let every heart prepare Him room,
      And Heaven and nature sing,
      And Heaven and nature sing,
      And Heaven, and Heaven, and nature sing.

      Joy to the earth, the Savior reigns!
      Let men their songs employ;
      While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains
      Repeat the sounding joy,
      Repeat the sounding joy,
      Repeat, repeat, the sounding joy.

      No more let sins and sorrows grow,
      Nor thorns infest the ground;
      He comes to make His blessings flow
      Far as the curse is found,
      Far as the curse is found,
      Far as, far as, the curse is found.


      He rules the world with truth and grace,
      And makes the nations prove
      The glories of His righteousness,
      And wonders of His love,
      And wonders of His love,
      And wonders, wonders, of His love.

      Saturday, December 14, 2013

      Maple Cream Fudge


      Holidays call for a few extra special treats, and these little squares of fudge are creamy and smooth. 
      Wrap fudge up in some parchment and find a pretty box, tie with a bow and give as a gift. Make sure to add a tag saying 'Store in refrigerator'. When making this fudge you need to make sure you have about an hour where you won't have any interruptions because you will be stirring it while it cooks and then continue to stir while it cools. Anything this good is well worth the time. 
      • 1 cup white sugar
      • 1 cup brown sugar
      • 1 cup heavy cream
      • 1/3 cup butter
      • 1/4 cup maple syrup
      • 1/8 tsp salt
      • 1 tsp vanilla nut extract ( I use Watkins, but if you don't have just use vanilla extract)
      • 1 tsp maple extract 
      1. In a heavy bottom pot add sugars, cream, butter, maple syrup and salt. 
      2. Turn stove to medium and begin to stir. Once mixture begins to heat the sugars will begin to melt. I like to use a flat wide metal spatula and keep running it over the bottom of the pot while stirring to make sure nothing scorches.
      3. Continue stirring until mixture begins to boil. 
      4. Turn heat down but keep mixture at a soft boil. Keep stirring mixture for about 7-9 minutes. 
      5. To test either take a small spoonful and drop into a cold glass of water. The mixture should form a soft ball in the water, not just float to the bottom of the glass. OR the temperature on a candy or instant read thermometer needs to reach 234ºF.
      6. Once it's reached this stage remove from heat and add extracts.
      7. Now stir for 14-16 minutes off the heat. The mixture will slowly start to lighten in colour and thicken. 
      8. Line a small pan with parchment and scrap the thick mixture into the pan. This mixture will make  a square approximately 6"x 6"x 1" deep. If you don't have a small pan use foil and form a wall in the pan to keep the fudge contained. 
      9. Place in refrigerator to set completely. Fudge will become solid but not hard.
      10. Pull the edges of the parchment lifting the brick of fudge out onto a cutting board.
      11. With a very sharp knife cut into 1" squares. 
      12. Store on parchment in a sealed container in the refrigerator. They will keep for 2 weeks.

      Friday, December 13, 2013

      Lemon Delight



      This dessert has been a favourite at our house since 1980 
      when my friend Rowena submitted it to our first church cookbook. 
      Since then I've come across many versions of this recipe.  
      Some use chocolate pudding mix, others a combination of chocolate and vanilla instant pudding. 
       I made it  for a dinner party this past week using a lemon pie filling instead of the
       lemon instant pudding Rowena's recipe called for. 
       We enjoyed the more intense lemon flavour the pie filling added.  It was delicious.
       If you are gluten intolerant, you might want to try Julie's gluten free version.  http://www.mennonitegirlscancook.ca/2011/10/lemon-dessert-squares-gluten-free.html
      • 1/2 cup ground hazelnuts
      • 1 cup flour
      • 1/2 cup cold butter
      • dash of salt
      • 2 cups whipping cream
      • 1 8 oz. package cream cheese, softened
      • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons icing sugar divided
      • Lemon pie filling -  packaged or the following:
                                        1 cup sugar
                                        1/3 cup cornstarch
                                        1 tablespoon flour
                                        1 3/4 cups water
                                        1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
                                        1 tablespoon lemon zest
                                        3  large egg yolks
                                        3 tablespoons butter
                                        1 teaspoon lemon extract
                                       
      1. For crust, cut butter into hazelnuts, flour and salt to form crumbs.  
      2. Press crumbs into the bottom of a 9" x 13" pan.
      3. Bake at 350º for about 15 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on a rack.
      4. For the lemon pie filling, mix sugar, cornstarch and flour in a medium saucepan or the top of a double boiler.
      5. In a large measuring cup, combine egg yolks with lemon juice and zest and beat well.
      6. Add water and whisk to combine.
      7. Whisk liquid into dry ingredients and heat over medium heat stirring constantly.
      8. Cook until it begins to bubble and thicken.
      9. Stir in butter and extract.
      10. Set aside to cool.
      11. Whip 2 cups whipping cream until soft peaks form.  Do not over whip. Set aside.
      12. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese until creamy
      13. Add icing sugar to the cream cheese a little at a time until it is well blended.
      14. Measure 1 cup of the whipped cream into cream cheese mixture and fold gently until it is incorporated.
      15. Spread cream cheese mixture over cooled crust.
      16. Spread cooled lemon pie filling over cream cheese layer.
      17. Add 2 tablespoons icing sugar to the remaining whipped cream and beat just until it is mixed in.
      18. Spread whipped cream over lemon filling.
      19. Sprinkle with more ground hazelnuts or chopped hazelnuts and refrigerate until serving time.
      Serves 16
      Note: be sure the crust and lemon filling have cooled to room temperature before topping with the cream cheese and whipped cream.

      Thursday, December 12, 2013

      Honey Cinnamon Butter..Gift from the Kitchen


      We have a local cafe that serves honey butter with scones, biscuits, bagels, or toast and it is delicious. The recipe is a secret!  I have not managed to get that exact flavor but this stuff tastes pretty amazing anyway. It's perfect for gift giving. A basket of fresh scones and a jar of this delicious butter will make someone very happy!
      • 1 cup butter, softened
      • 1/2 cup honey 
      • 1/2 cup icing sugar
      • 1 teaspoon vanilla
      • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
      1. Whip butter till pale in color.
      2. Add the rest of the ingredients and whip a few more minutes until light and fluffy.
      3. Spoon into small jars. Add fabric and ribbon for gift giving.
      4. Keep refrigerated. Serve at room temperature.
      5. Yields: 4 small jam jars.



      Wednesday, December 11, 2013

      Cranberry Salsa

      This cranberry salsa is delicious served with Brie cheese or with tortilla chips. The layered tastes of the crackers or bread with the brie and salsa is delicious. It's simple to make, too.

      3 cups fresh cranberries
      1 bunch cilantro, chopped
      1 bunch green onions/scallions cut into 2 inch lengths
      1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
      2 limes juiced
      1/4 cup granulated sugar (white)
      1/8 teaspoon salt

      Put all ingredients in bowl of food processor and chop to medium consistency. Refrigerate if not using immediately. Serve at room temperature.



      Tuesday, December 10, 2013

      Meaty Baked Beans for a Bunch


      I made these beans several days ahead of the day we made apple juice as a family.
       I knew I'd not feel like cooking after a long day and these beans needed only to be heated through in the oven.  This is one of those recipes that is flexible to your preferences. ie: If you like more heat,Use Chroizo sausage and add hot salsa in place of the medium,
       if you think there is too much sugar, reduce it to your taste.
      • 1 lb ground beef, browned and drained
      • 1/2 lb Italian sausage meat, browned and drained
      • 8-10 slices bacon, cut up and fried until crisp
      • 1 large onion, coarsely chopped                      
      • 2 stalks celery, chopped 
      • 1/2 cup chopped green pepper                              
      • 1/2 cup chopped red or yellow pepper  
      • 1  24 oz. can pork and beans, drained                  
      • 1  14 oz. can pork and beans, drained
      • 1 can niblets corn, drained
      • 1  19 oz. can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
      • 1  19 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
      • 3/4  cup brown sugar
      • 3/4 cup Chili Sauce
      • 1 1/2 cups medium salsa 
      • 2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
      • 1 Tbsp. prepared mustard
      • 1-2 tsp. liquid smoke
      •  4-6 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
      1. Place crumbled ground beef and sausage meat in a large roaster.
      2. Fry bacon until crisp, remove from pan and add chopped onions and celery. 
      3. Sautè until soft.  
      4.  Place beans and corn, bacon, onion celery and peppers in large casserole. 
      5. Mix sauce ingredients in a large bowl.
      6. Pour sauce over bean mixture and stir to combine.
      7. Cover and bake for 2 hours in 350˚ F oven.  Remove lid for the last 1/2 hour.
      8. Serve with Patty's Oriental Salad (http://www.mennonitegirlscancook.ca/2010/01/pattys-oriental-salad.html) or Apple and Cabbage Coleslaw ( http://www.mennonitegirlscancook.ca/2012/01/apple-and-cabbage-cole-slaw.html) and fresh baked buns.

      *This will serve at least 10-20 people depending how much else you are serving.

      *You can increase this recipe by adding another can or two of the pork and beans.


      Monday, December 9, 2013

      Slow Cooker Sourdough Tuscan Sausage Dressing





      Making stand alone Dressing for your turkey dinner makes your turkey dinner preparation easier.  Here is a hostess idea for you. Send this recipe to someone else in your family to bring as a side dish! It's easy to transport and can easily be kept warm until dinner is ready.
      •  2 pounds / 907 grams sourdough bread, crusts trimmed and sliced and cubed   (or bread of your choice)
      • 1 pound / 500 grams  (approximately) Tuscan or mild Italian sausages (casings removed)
      • 1 large onion, diced
      • 4 stalks, sliced celery
      • 1 tablespoon poultry seasoning
      • 1 cup fresh flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
      • 1 can cream of celery soup
      • 1 beaten egg
      •  1 cup dried cranberries (optional or choose a dried fruit of your choice)
      1. Prepare bread put it on a cookie sheet and bake at 275 for about 30 minutes to dry the bread. Put the bread cubes in a large bowl.
      2. Prepare slow cooker by putting 1 cup of water in the slow cooker. Line the slow cooker with heavy foil.   This will create a double boiler and keep the stuffing from getting too brown on the bottom.   You can eliminate this step if you don't mind a crispy bottom of your dressing. Spray the bottom and sides with cooking spray. 
      3. Remove casings from sausage by slitting with a sharp knife and scramble fry in a large fry pan over medium high heat until slightly browned.
      4. Add onion and celery and continue to fry until the vegetables are softened.
      5. Stir in poultry seasoning, parsley,  soup and cranberries and heat until bubbly.
      6. Pour the mixture over the cubed bread and toss to combine, add egg and then turn into the foiled slow cooker.  Cover with lid.
      7. Turn Slow cooker on High for one hour and then turn to low for 5  hours. Change to Keep Warm Setting if available. 

      Sunday, December 8, 2013

      Second Advent



      CHRISTMAS LOVE
      - paraphrase of 1 Corinthians 13

      If I decorate my house perfectly with plaid bows, strands of twinkling lights and shiny balls,
      but do not show love to my family, I'm just another decorator.

      If I slave away in the kitchen, baking dozens of Christmas cookies,
      preparing gourmet meals and arranging a beautifully adorned table at mealtime,
      but do not show love to my family, I'm just another cook.

      If I work at the soup kitchen, carol in the nursing home and give all that I have to charity,
      but do not show love to my family, it profits me nothing.

      If I trim the spruce with shimmering angels and crocheted snowflakes,
      attend a myriad of holiday parties and sing in the choir's cantata
      but do not focus on Christ, I have missed the point.

      Love stops the cooking to hug the child.
      Love sets aside the decorating to kiss the spouse.
       Love is kind, though harried and tired.
      Love doesn't envy another's home that has coordinated Christmas china  and table linens.
      Love doesn't yell at the kids to get out of the way.
       Love doesn't give only to those who are able to give in return
       but rejoices in giving to those who can't.
       Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
      Love never fails. Video games will break, pearl necklaces will be lost,
       golf clubs will rust, but giving the gift of LOVE will endure.

      ~ author unknown
      Posted by Picasa

      Saturday, December 7, 2013

      Double Chocolate Walnut Cookies Gluten Free


       
      Do you feel like me??  Counting down the days until Christmas, hoping there is enough time to get everything done on that still- to-do list?
      What better way to 'slow down' and enjoy the season than with a cup of coffee and a chocolate cookie, or three or four ...   no one is counting!

      We did a  Cookie class this week at Lepp's Farm Market and for that class I developed a chocolate cookie that I am really happy with !   Gluten free cookies tend to be crispy but this cookie is wonderfully 'chewy' with an excellent flavour!
      It is a cookie that is quick, easy and a one pot clean-up!

      Here is the recipe !!

      • 1 cup dark chocolate chips 
      • 1/4 cup butter 
      • 3/4 cup white sugar 
      • 3 tbsp milk 
      • 1 lg egg
      • 1 tsp vanilla
      • 2/3 cup flour + 1 tbsp .. --  flour is equal amounts of  white bean flour, millet flour, brown rice flour and potato starch.   (tip --  if you mix together  1/2 cup of each of the flours - then you can use it as a gf flour mix) 
      • 1/4  tsp baking powder 
      • 1/4 tsp xanthan gum 
      • 1/4 tsp salt 
      • 1 1/4 cup chopped walnuts 
      • more chocolate chips if desired 
      1. In a  saucepan, melt chocolate chips and butter over med. heat, stirring continuously.  Be careful not to over heat .. heat just until mixture is perfectly smooth and glossy.  
      2.  Remove from heat and add sugar, stirring quickly.  
      3. In a cup whisk the egg, milk and vanilla and add to the mixture, stirring until smooth. 
      4. Add the flour , mixing until blended.  
      5. Add the chopped walnuts and if desired more chocolate chips (I find the cookie is chocolatey enough without adding more -  for my grand girls who don't like nuts, I leave them out and add more chocolate chips- 1/2 - 1 cup)  
      6. Drop by teaspoon onto a parchment covered light-coloured cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes.  Do not over bake. 
      7. Wash pot and you are done!   


      Friday, December 6, 2013

      Christmas Tree Cheese Platter

      Are you looking for a fun yet simple appetizer idea for the holiday season?  I have a cheese tray that doesn't take long to put together...and will be the perfect addition to your festive buffet. 

      • 1/2 lb / 200 g Cheddar Cheese, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
      • 1/2 lb / 200 g  Smoked Gouda Cheese, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
      • 1/2 lb / 200 g Monterey Jack Cheese, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
      • 1/2 lb / 200 g 200 g Swiss  Cheese, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
      • 1 lb (450 g) each seedless green and red grapes
      • 1 pkg (40 g) fresh thyme or rosemary sprigs
      • 1 stalk celery
      • 1 yellow pepper (use star-shaped cookie cutter to cut out tree-topper) 


      1. Arrange cheese cubes and grapes in rows on a large wooden board or platter in a Christmas tree shape.
      2. Add sprigs of greenery.
      3. Cut tree trunk (2 or 3 inches) from celery stalk and place at bottom of tree.
      4. Place star-shaped piece of yellow pepper at top of tree.
        
      On Wednesday night we hosted a cooking class featuring Old Fashioned Christmas Cookies at Lepp Farm Market.  The guests enjoyed hot apple cider and appetizers while the cookie demonstrations took place.  We prepared a Christmas Tree Cheese Platter for them...using cheeses that the market deli had chosen and cubed for us in advance.   But one could substitute any cheese.  A small cheese ball also works well as a tree-topper.  Add the best crackers...and enjoy your party-worthy cheese platter!

      Enjoy!



      Thursday, December 5, 2013

      Glazed Honey Cookies




      Some of you may recognize this Christmas cookie. Our moms and grandmothers went to some work mixing up their large recipes of spiced and glazed cookies, but once they were done and stored away in a cool place, they kept for a long time. In fact, I find they taste better as they age and they do not take up freezer space. Although a recipe for honey cookies with a quick glaze method has been posted, I  though I'd share this one because it does not use baking ammonia and gives you the option of a boiled glaze. This recipe is cut in half already to make it more user friendly. It still makes 8 dozen.
      Ingredients:
      • 3/4 cups butter, room temp
      • 1 cup brown sugar
      • 1/2 cup white sugar
      • 1/2 cup honey
      • 2 eggs
      • 3/4 cups sour cream
      • 4 cups flour
      • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
      • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
      • 1/2 tsp of ground star anise
      • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
      • 1/2 tsp cloves or allspice
      Glaze
      • 2 cups sugar
      • 1/2 cup water
      • 2 egg whites
      Method:
      1. Beat butter, gradually adding sugar, then honey, eggs and sour cream, beating well after each addition.
      2. Mix baking powder, soda and spices into some of the flour and add to wet ingredients
      3. Continue adding flour 1 cup at a time (this can be done in a kitchen machine with a dough hook) until mixed thoroughly. Dough will be on the soft side, like a cookie batter.
      4. Pat top smooth with spatula and refrigerate overnight or up to a few days.
      5. Lightly grease and flour aluminum cookie sheets. Tilt cookie sheets and tap end to distribute the flour evenly.
      6. Divide dough into quarters. Dust rolling mat or counter with flour. Taking one quarter portion at a time, using both hands, roll into a thick, 24 inch long roll, then cut into 1 inch slices and roll each slice into a ball.
      7. Bake at 375F for about 12 minutes on upper rack of oven - no lower than center of oven. Check bottom of cookie for light browning before taking out of oven. You don't want to over bake them but you also don't want the top to sink.
      8. Cool on wire racks.
      Glazing
      1. Line cookie sheets with wax paper.
      2. In a medium sized glass bowl, beat egg whites until almost stiff. Set aside.
      3. In a small pot, between low and medium heat, bring sugar and water to boil, stirring often. Once sugar has completely dissolved, liquid clears and is filled with tiny bubbles, set timer to 3 minutes and continue cooking stirring often.
      4. With mixer on, slowly pour hot syrup into beaten egg whites and beat for about 3 minutes until thick and glossy when you lift the beater.
      5. Now, be ready to work quickly without distractions, because the glaze can dry on you. Scoop some glaze up in your left hand fingers to coat bottom of cookie and hold it in place. Scoop some more with your right hand fingers and coat top, smoothing with index finger. Cover the entire cookie with a thin layer of glaze and slide onto wax paper, not touching other cookies.
      6. Allow to dry on wax paper for several hours - may need to leave overnight if still tacky when you lift them.
      Assessing glaze texture:  

      I thought I'd show you the goal of what the glaze should look like. When it's cooked the right amount of time it goes on easy, and dries smoothly.


      If glaze is cooked too little it will be easy to coat, but take a long time to dry into a hard icing. If you have undercooked the glaze, you will notice that it does not thicken as you beat it with the egg white.  You may save it by adding a Tbsp. of cornstarch and keep beating a few minutes more.

       
      If glaze is cooked too long, it will dry quickly as you are glazing the cookies. It will end up being  grainy, making it impossible to achieve that smooth finish. It helps to moisten your hands. The taste will still be good, just not as easy to work with. It may me easier to start again, cooking a minute less
      on your next try.
       

      Wednesday, December 4, 2013

      Hot Spiced Apple Cider



       Tonight we are off to Lepp Farms.
      We have baked some of our favorite specialty cookies for Christmas.
      Tonight each guest will go home with their own beautifully packaged tray.
      We are so thankful that Lepp Farms donates all their proceeds
      from our MGCC cooking classes to Matthew's House,
      a respite facility for children with severe disabilities.

      We will be serving Lepp Farm's hot apple cider made from their own apples.
      It's the perfect drink to add to that cold wintery night,
      just for the two of you, or for a  quiet night with friends and family 
      that have gathered together during this festive season.
        You can all sit back and smell the aroma of spices fused together
      as you quickly warm up this drink and serve your guests.

       Hot Spiced Apple Cider
      • 12 cups water
      • 4 tea bags
      • 2 tablespoons whole cloves
      • 2 cinnamon sticks
      • 1 cup sugar
      • 4 cups apple cider
      • 4 cups orange juice
      • 3 Tablespoons lemon juice
      Instructions
      1. Simmer water and tea bags together with spices for 30 minutes.
      2. Add 4 cups apple cider.
      3. Add 4 cups orange juice from frozen concentrate
      4. Add 3 tablespoons lemon juice
      5. Heat it up to a quick boil.
      6. Take out tea bags, cinnamon sticks and spice container.
      7. Simmer slowly for another half hour. 
      8. Cool and pour back into glass jugs and store in cool place.


      Tuesday, December 3, 2013

      Beet leaf and Swiss Chard Rolls

      I like to change up the wrapping of cabbage rolls by using beet leaves or Swiss chard leaves. The beet leaves give you a much smaller roll, and both of them give your rolls a darker look. Both these leaves are also thinner and also give you a slightly different flavour than cabbage. 

      Yields approximately 50 small rolls
      • enough beet or Swiss chard leaves to make 50 rolls (using these leaves in place of cabbage will usually give you smaller rolls
      • 1 pound lean ground beef
      • 1 pound ground pork
      • 1 large onion, finely grated
      • 1 1/2 cup cooked rice
      • 2 eggs
      • 1 tsp dry parsley
      • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
      • 2 tsp salt
      • 1 tsp pepper
      Sauce (for serving 4 guests, using 16-20 rolls)
      • 1 10 oz can tomato soup
      • 1 cup tomato juice or V8 juice
      • 1/4 cup sour cream
      • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
      Method:
      1. Wash and stem leaves. Cut away any large thick stem veins that run up the Swiss chard leaves. Beet leaves don't have the heavy vein and they are smaller and finer leaves.
      2. Place leaves in a shallow pan and add hot tape water. If using both kinds of leaves make a separate pan for each kind.
      3. Mix together all ingredients for meat filling.
      4. On a clean counter lay out washed leaves right side down. Place a mound of meat filling onto the end of each left and then roll up. Some of the leaves will be big enough to tuck under the sides, don't worry if the meat is a bit exposed at each end of the roll. 
      5. To bake immediately place rolls in a single layer in a pan, and continue with step #7.
      6. If freezing at this point, line a large sheet pan with parchment and lay rolls on the sheet. Freeze until very firm and then transfer frozen rolls to freezer bags and place in freezer immediately. When ready to use count out as many as you need and place in a single layer in low casserole dish. Add sauce and bake covered from frozen. Begin with baking frozen rolls at 325º for one hour. Turn oven up to 350º bake 1/2 hour longer. Them remove cover and bake 15 more minutes.
      7. (this is the step if baking immediately) Mix together sauce ingredients and pour over rolls. 
      8. Bake covered at 350º for 1 hour. Remove cover and bake another 30 minutes.
      9. Serve over mashed potatoes.