Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Mom's Salad Dressing



My Mom always called this her Mexican salad dressing. 
 I don't know why she called it that or where she got the recipe but it was and still is
 a favourite with the family. 
 I'd forgotten about it until my daughter in law served it to us a few weeks ago. 
I mixed up a batch and we've been enjoying it again.
It's wonderful on any green salad - especially those with fresh fruit added.
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp celery seeds
  • 1 tbsp dry mustard
  • ½ cup oil
  • 1 medium onion (finely chopped or grated)
  • ½ cup vinegar
  1. Combine all ingredients in a bottle with a tight lid.  
  2. Shake well.
  3. Store extra dressing in the refrigerator.  It will keep for several weeks.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Cornmeal Blueberry Pancakes


Pancakes are a good way to start your morning, at least once in awhile, these did not disappoint. Loved the little 'cornmeal crunchiness' in the texture of the pancakes. They are a special treat when topped with a dollop of whipped cream, blueberries or Saskatoon berries, and maple syrup drizzled over the top!

  • 2/3 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • Saskatoon berries or blueberries
  1. Combine dry ingredients in a bowl.
  2. In a separate bowl whisk buttermilk, eggs, melted butter, vanilla, and lemon juice.
  3. Pour buttermilk mixture into the dry, stirring the batter just until combined,  it will look a little lumpy.
  4. Heat griddle to 350º or a frying pan on medium heat. Coat griddle with a little butter, just to cover surface.
  5. Scoop 1/4 cup batter for each pancake on the griddle. Sprinkle with a tablespoon of berries.
  6. Cook for 3 minutes or until golden on the bottom, flip over and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes.
  7. Serve hot with your choice of toppings. Leftover pancakes can be frozen and toasted another day.
  8. Yields: 12 pancakes

Monday, April 28, 2014

Chinese Fried Rice



My aunt Mary makes thee best Fried Rice I have ever had. She is always asked to bring it to our family gathering potlucks. Even though I make her recipe all the time, it just doesn't taste quite like hers. Isn't it true that when someone else makes something it always tastes better.


  • 6 cups of cooked rice
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cups celery, sliced thinly at a diagonal
  • 1 cup green onions, sliced at a diagonal
  • 1 small green or red pepper, julienned
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 1 tablespoon soya sauce
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 1 small can of sliced water chestnuts
  • pepper to taste
  • She always adds a tiny sprinkle of sugar to hers,maybe that is why it tastes so good. But I omit it.
  1. In a large frying pan or wok, heat the oil.
  2. Add all the veggies EXCEPT tomato and water chestnuts and stir fry for 3 minutes. 
  3. Add the cooked rice, Soya sauce, pepper, tomato and water chestnuts. 
  4. Stir fry for another minute or two until everything is heated through.



Sunday, April 27, 2014

Bread for the Journey



BECAUSE HE LIVES!

God sent His Son, they called Him Jesus
He came to love, heal and forgive,
He lived and died to buy my pardon, 
and empty grave is there to prove my Savior lives!

Chorus
Because He lives, I can face tomorrow,
Because His lives, all fear is gone:
Because I know He holds the future,
and life is worth the living, just because He lives!

How sweet to hold a newborn baby
And feel the pride and joy he gives:
But greater still the calm assurance:
This child can face uncertain days because He lives!

And then one day, I'll cross the river,
I'll fight life's final war with pain:
And then, as death gives way to victory,
I'll see the lights of glory and I'll know He lives!

On this Sunday after Easter, I can't help but think of this old song by Bill Gaither, reminding us that no matter what we face, we can face with the assurance that nothing is too hard God. The tomb had no power over the Creator of Life and this world has no power over His plans for a future and a hope for those who put their trust in Him.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD,
plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
Jeremiah 29:11

Dear Lord, I ask that You would help us to believe what You promise. On this day and in this coming week, when we don't understand, help us to tell you that we trust Your heart and believe that You love us.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

So Shiny - A New Learning Curve !


**Note added ---     I would like to thank you for your comments.  I found them very helpful and I'm sure our readers did as well !!  

We recently purchased a pressure cooker.  Having never owned one before, I  was  a little afraid of it , but was quite relieved to find pressure cookers are not scary at all !
So now I am learning to use it !
I have made soup,   rice pudding and a gluten free bread loaf  --- all in a fraction of the time conventional cooking would take!

If you have a pressure cooker,   what are your favourite ways to use it ?
What do you like about it , or what do you not like about it ?

Friday, April 25, 2014

Bruschetta with Blue Cheese and Balsamic Drizzle


  • 4 medium firm tomatoes (I used red and yellow cherry tomatoes)
  • 2 oz. fresh basil
  • 4 cloves fresh garlic minced
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp fresh ground pepper
  • 2/3 cup olive oil

  • 1 rustic loaf of bread (like a crusty Italian or Ciabatta)
    • 4 oz. Danish blue cheese or a soft cheese like Boursin
    • 1/4-1/3 cup milk or light cream
    • ½ tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
    •  
    •  Bottled Balsamic reduction (It should be thick like a syrup)

    1. Dice tomatoes into ¼ inch pieces and place in medium size mixing bowl.
    2. Remove basil leaves from stems and dice finely.  Add to tomatoes
    3. Add minced garlic, olive oil and salt and pepper and mix thoroughly.
    4. Allow to rest for 30 minutes so that the flavours meld.
    5. Cut loaf in half horizontally and place both halves on baking sheet.
    6. Spread bruschetta mixture evenly over both halves.  Drizzle remaining oil from mixture evenly over bread.
    7. Place baking sheet in preheated oven (350º) and bake for 15 minutes.
    8. Blend blue cheese and milk with a hand blender until smooth.  Add lemon juice and mix until consistency is that of a creamy dressing
    9. Place  mixture in piping bag or small Ziploc bag and cut a small hole (1/8”) in one corner.
    10. Drizzle blue cheese mixture back and forth across bruschetta.
    11. Repeat with the Balsamic reduction.
    12. Slice and serve and watch it disappear!




    Thursday, April 24, 2014

    Berry Cobbler




    I was going to wait till summer time to post this berry cobbler, but with frozen berries most likely still in your freezer or easily found in the freezer section where you shop, I decided it was time for a dessert. It's prepared in no time if you have the biscuit mix on hand. If you don't - mix your favorite recipe and measure off the dry amount before liquids are added.

    Ingredients
    • 4 cups berries ( a mix of blueberries, blackberries, raspberries)
    • 6 Tbsp sugar
    • 2 Tbsp cornstarch
    • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
    • 1 1/2 cups large biscuit mix
    • 1/3 cup sugar
    • 1/2 cup milk ( a little more if preferred for easy spreading)
    • coarse sugar for sprinkling (optional)
    Method:
    1. Combine frozen or fresh berries with sugar, cornstarch and lemon juice in a medium pot and cook, stirring as needed, until boiling and liquid is clear. This takes about 5 -10 minutes.
    2. Pour into small Pyrex, stone or glass bake-ware to serve about six. 
    3. Combine biscuit mix, sugar and milk and stir until combined. 
    4. Scoop onto fruit by large spoonfuls. Sprinkle with coarse sugar.
    5. Bake at 400 F for about 25 minutes, until golden and bubbly. Let cool about 15 minutes.

    Serve warm as is


    or a la mode

    Wednesday, April 23, 2014

    Carrot Potato Bake



























    In this dish, carrots and potatoes are married together in perfect harmony under a crunchy crust.
    Perfect served with Mushroom Stuffed Meatloaf or Salisbury Steak
    • 6-8 potatoes 
    • 1 1/2 cups peeled and shredded carrots
    • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
    • 2 cups whipping cream
    • 1 - 2 teaspoons salt
    • dash pepper
    • 1 Tbsp. melted butter or margarine
    • 1 cup soft bread crumbs
    • 1/2 tsp. Seasoned salt 
    • 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
    1.      Heat oven to 350°.  Lightly grease a 9 x 13 inch baking dish.  
    2.      Peel and shred into cold water, enough potatoes to make 6 cups. Drain thoroughly and pat dry with paper towel.
    3.      In large bowl, combine potatoes, carrots, onions, cream, salt and pepper.  
    4.      Spoon into prepared dish.  
    5.      Melt butter; stir in bread crumbs, seasoned salt and parsley. 
    6.      Sprinkle over potato mixture.  
    7.      Bake at 350° F for 50-60 minutes or until vegetables are tender




    Tuesday, April 22, 2014

    Ginger Chicken Wonton Tacos

    These little bundles make a nice appetizer or light lunch over a bed of cole slaw.
    Tender pulled chicken in a spicy sweet ginger sauce wrapped in Wonton Wrappers. 
    Shredded poached chicken

    • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts (this is enough for approximately 25) 
    • 1 bay leaf
    • 1 2 tsp salt
    • 1 tsp coarse black pepper
    • 1 package Wonton Wrappers (Found in the fresh food isle of the grocery store. They come in a stack and are about a 3"x3" squares)
    • 1/2 cup of your favourite thick bottled spicy ginger sauce, plus more for drizzling over slaw
    • 1/3 cup finely grated mozzarella cheese
    • 1/3 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro 
    • 1 tbsp butter, melted
    •  slaw mix, chopped very fine
    • 1/4 cup finely chopped red pepper
    • avocado, sliced
    1. Poach chicken by placing both chicken breasts in a pot and covering with water. Add bay leaf, salt and pepper. 
    2. Bring to a boil, turn down and allow to slow boil for 10 minutes. 
    3. Remove from heat, cover and let chicken sit in water for another 10 minutes.
    4. Remove chicken from water to a cutting board and immediately shred chicken, using two forks. ***see photo above***
    5. Add ginger sauce, cheese, and cilantro to the shredded chicken. This can be made ahead of time.
    6. When ready to bake, assemble Wonton Tacos by taking one Wanton Wrapper in the palm of your hand and laying a strip of meat filling from one point to the next. (about 2 tbsp per wrapper) 
    7. Pull up other two points as shown in photo below and pinch together. 
    8. Melt butter and using a pastry brush, and lightly brush the outsides of each bundle.
    9. Place on parchment lined baking sheet and bake in 400º oven for 19 minutes.
    10. Finely chop slaw and red pepper. 
    11. Place baked Wonton Tacos on top of bed of slaw that has been lightly drizzled with more ginger sauce. Garnish with avocado slices and serve immediately.

    Filled and pinched Wantons

    Brushed with butter, ready to go into oven.

    Monday, April 21, 2014

    Balsamic Mushroom Chicken with Angel Hair Pasta


    This tasty dish is served in one pan... allowing you to tidy up the kitchen while the pasta is finishing in the sauce. It is easy to make this dish serve more or less by deciding first how many chicken breasts you will need.  If you want to double this to serve this to a family, start with a large heavy pot rather than a fry pan. 
    Serves 3 - 4 

    • 20 large white button mushrooms
    • 2 tablespoons butter
    • 4 cloves garlic
    • 2 large chicken breasts, cut in half lengthwise to make 4 pieces.
    • 2 tablespoons oil  (olive or avocado oil)
    • 1/4 cup good quality balsamic vinegar  (go ahead and try various flavours.  I used fig on this day)
    • 1  1/2 cup chicken broth
    • 1 teaspoon oregano
    • 1/2 cup heavy cream
    • 1/2 pound / 225 grams angel hair pasta
    • fresh broccoli
    1. Slice button mushrooms and add to pan along with the butter and garlic cloves.  Stir occasionally on medium heat until the liquids begin to release from mushrooms and then turn mushrooms to medium low and allow to simmer until the liquid has cooked away and the mushrooms have browned.  Once the garlic cloves have softened, smash them with a fork. Remove mushrooms and garlic to a bowl and set aside.
    2. Add chicken breasts and along with oil to the pan and turn heat to medium.  Sear on each side until all sides have browned.  (About 10 minutes) 
    3. Bring water to boil in a large pot for the pasta.  Add 1 teaspoon salt.
    4. Add balsamic vinegar, oregano, cream and chicken broth to the chicken and cover with a lid for a few minutes until the chicken is no longer pink at the thickest part.
    5. Add the pasta to the pot and stir for 2 minutes until softened.  Drain and add to the chicken pan.
    6. Stir until all the liquid has absorbed into the pasta.  The pasta should be cooked through but if all the liquid has absorbed and the pasta is still too firm add a bit more chicken broth and continue to stir until it has cooked through.
    7. Arrange steamed broccoli on top of the dish and serve.


    Sunday, April 20, 2014

    Bread for The Journey


    Easter Blessings

    I serve a risen Saviour,
    He's in the world today;
    I know that He is living,
    Whatever men may say;
    I see His hand of mercy,
    I hear His voice of cheer,
    And just the time I need Him
    He's always near.

    He lives, He lives, Christ Jesus lives 

    today!
    He walks with me and He talks with me
    Along life's narrow way.
    He lives, He live, salvation to impart!
    You ask me how I know He lives:
    He lives within my heart.

    In all the world around me
    I see His loving care,
    And tho my heart grows weary
    I never will despair;
    I know that He is leading
    Thro' all the stormy blast,
    The day of His appearing
    Will come at last.

    Rejoice, rejoice, O Christian,
    Lift up your voice and sing
    Eternal hallelujahs
    To Jesus Christ the King!
    The hope of all who seek Him,
    The help of all who find,
    None other is so loving,
    So good and kind.

    Saturday, April 19, 2014

    Easter Egg Nests


    Over the past decade, we have made wee bird's nests in my kitchen every year about this time. From the oldest to the youngest, the grands have all participated.  Usually, we make the nests from rice krispee treats and add little peeps and eggs.  This year we tried something different as well.  The nests are made using a 'Chinese Noodle Cookie' recipe. 
    • 1 cup chocolate chips (semi-sweet or milk chocolate)
    • 1 cup butterscotch chips
    • 3 cups chow mein noodles

    1. Line a baking sheet with parchment or waxed paper.
    2. Place chocolate and butterscotch  chips in large glass bowl. 
    3. Heat in microwave at full power, stirring every 30 seconds until chips are melted (about two minutes).
    4. Stir in chow mein noodles until fully coated.
    5. Drop by large scoops onto prepared baking sheet, forming a nest shape with your fingers.
    6. Place a few 'birds eggs' in the center of each nest.
    7. Chill for 30 minutes to harden. 
    To make the nests of Rice Krispee Treats...press scoops of the mixture into greased muffin pans and shape into nests.  Or simply forms balls of the mixture and create free-form nests with well-greased hands on a lined cookie sheet.  Then call the wee grands...

    ...and let them fill the nests with 'peeps and eggs'.  It's a fun Easter project for kids in the kitchen!

    This year Lucy, the youngest grand (upper right), came to help me fill the nests.  Some went home with her.  Others are the place-cards for our family dinner this Easter.


    If you are in need of some bird's nests for your Easter table...there is still time.  Both methods are simple...and can be created in short order. 

    Happy Easter from my kitchen to yours!

    Friday, April 18, 2014

    Good Friday


    Matthew 27:45-46 Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

    Matthew 27:50 And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit.

    Matthew 27:54 When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!”

    John 19:31-33 Since it was the day of Preparation, and so that the bodies would not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken and that they might be taken away. So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first, and of the other who had been crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs.

    What Christ's Sacrifice Means for those who will believe

    Romans 6:22-23 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

    1 Peter 2:24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.

    1 John 5:11-12 And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.

    It's so comforting to know that Good Friday isn't the end of the story but that Resurrection Day is coming. God bless you as you prepare to celebrate Christ's Resurrection.

    For those of you who are still preparing food for Easter Sunday Celebrations I'll re-post my Seernaya Paska recipe here. You still have time for it to be ready to go with your Paska on Easter.


    Seernaya Paska for Kulich/Paska (Russian Easter Bread)
    The X and the B are for Xpucmoc Bockpec (Christ Arose)


    Seernaya Paska
    Ingredients:
    9- hard boiled eggs
    1-1/2 pounds Farmers cheese /a dry curd cheese like a dry cottage cheese can be substituted.
    1 cup whipping cream
    3/4 cup butter
    1-1/2 cups sugar

    Press the Farmers cheese through a sieve. (This is the hardest part of the recipe and optional) We do this if the cheese we are using has large curds. I usually use a wooden spoon and press it through a wire strainer a little at a time.
    Separate the egg yolks from the whites. (You will not be using the whites).
    Press the egg yolks through the sieve.
    Cream the sugar and butter together.
    Beat in the egg yolks.
    Beat in the cheese.
    Add whipping cream and mix well.
    You will place the mixture into a container lined with 3 layers of cheesecloth with holes in the bottom so the liquid can be strained. (I've used plastic flower pots adding extra holes in the bottom) You will need enough cheesecloth to wrap up and over the top of the cheese. Place the cheese mixture into the cheese cloth lined strainer. Bring the ends of the cheese cloth up and tie the ends on top of the cheese in a knot. Place the sieve into a larger bowl suspended with enough room for the cheese to drain without sitting in the drained liquid. Place a plate on top of the cheese an place a heavy rock, brick, or other weight on top of the plate. Refrigerate over night draining off the liquid every few hours.

    Farmers Cheese or Hoop Cheese can be hard to find. There are Russian/Ukrainian delis that sell a dry curd cottage type cheese that will work. If you can find a dry cottage cheese at the grocers that will work too.

    Thursday, April 17, 2014

    Lemon Magic Custard Cake


    With photos of 'magic cakes' showing up all over the blogs and pinterest lately...I decided to try a lemon version over here.  What's so magic about it?  You pour in one batter and once it is baked you have distinct layers...a custard beneath a cake.  Serve with a dusting of powdered sugar and top with a dollop of whipped cream and some blueberries.

    Ingredients:
    • 4 eggs, separated
    • 1 tsp lemon juice
    • 3/4 cup sugar
    • 1/2 cup butter, melted
    • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
    • 2 cups milk (lukewarm)
    • 1/4 cup lemon juice
    • 1 1/2 Tbsp lemon zest
    • icing sugar, whipped cream, berries (optional toppings)
    Directions:
    1. Preheat oven to 325F.
    2. Grease an 8" or 9" square pan or a 9" deep pie plate (or spring form pan)*.
    3. Separate the eggs. 
    4. Beat egg whites with 1 teaspoon lemon juice until stiff. (The lemon juice stabilizes and adds volume to the egg whites.) Set aside.
    5. In a separate bowl, beat the yolks with the sugar until light and fluffy. 
    6. Add the melted butter, lemon zest and lemon juice, and beat until combined.
    7. Slowly add flour, mixing well.
    8. Add the milk slowly and combine thoroughly.
    9. Gently fold in the egg whites, 1/3 of them at a time. Make sure there are no lumps.
    10. Pour batter into prepared baking dish. This is a very runny batter.
    11. Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until the top is lightly golden.It should still be slightly jiggly in the center.
    12. Cool completely before serving. 
    13. Dust the top with powdered sugar. Serve with berries and whipped cream, if desired.
    *Unless your spring form pan has a very tight seal, the batter may leak through into the oven at the start of the baking period.   Though the spring form pan makes it easy to serve the cake...you might want to consider that!



    Wednesday, April 16, 2014

    Oatcakes


    We discovered oatcakes when we visited Cape Breton. They are delicious served plain with tea or coffee. My sister and I decided to put date filling between the oatcakes and had a nice snack while travelling.
    Another way to enjoy them..crumble on your yogurt for a delicious breakfast.

    • 1 cup flour
    • 2 cups rolled oats
    • 3/4 cup brown sugar
    • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
    • 1/2 cup butter
    • 1/4 cup hot water
    1. Mix dry ingredients together, cut in butter until mixture is crumbly.
    2. Add hot water and stir until mixture comes together.
    3. Turn out dough on floured surface and roll out to 1/2" thick.
    4. Cut into squares and place on parchment lined pans.
    5. Brush with milk and sprinkle with coarse white sugar.
    6. Bake in 375º oven for 10 minutes or until the edges are golden in color. Bake them a few minutes longer if you prefer them crispy. 
    7. Yield: 9 oatcakes
    * Someone asked for my date filling recipe so I will add it here.
    • 1 pound package dates, chopped
    • 2 small apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
    • 1/2 cup brown sugar
    • 1 cup hot coffee..I always use coffee but you may use water if you wish.
    1. Cook on low heat until thick and apples are tender, stirring occasionally..approx 10 minutes.
    2. Add more coffee or water as needed.
    3. Cool slightly before filling your cookies.

    Tuesday, April 15, 2014

    Looking at the Easter Table


    At this time of year I like to go and look for the first signs of spring . . .  even in the wild . . . tiny bright green leaves or delicate buds of all colors making their first appearance.
    A few sprigs in a vase can add a simple, yet beautiful look to the table.


    One Easter I used a bunny shaped chocolate container to cut out some large cookies
    and they added some fun.
    I rolled them out slightly thicker than the small cookies and baked them until golden around the edges. I let them cool on the cookie sheet for fear of breaking them.
    I've been asked for the icing recipe and, although I gladly share it, it's not one I  measure.
    Start with about 2 Tbsp of soft butter or margarine in a 4 cup measuring cup or bowl. 
    Then add about 2 cups of icing sugar (confectioners sugar) and a few Tbsp of milk. 
    Stir well and adjust to a consistency that spreads nicely ... 
    adding more icing sugar or milk, as needed. 
    For piping, make sure it's not too runny. 
    Spread on cookie and let air dry a few hours until set. 
    I froze these cookies and thawed them, leaving them to air dry,
     as the icing thawed out wet and then dried again.


    Another way to make a pretty centerpiece is to display sugar cookies in a basket.


    Behind this bunny, you will notice the Paska used as a centerpiece.
    I got that idea from Ellen.


    Still another way to use Paska in a decorative way, before it  disappears,
     is to make Paska in cupcake tins and put them in little cupcake baskets or holders.

    I hope these ideas inspire you today.
    You can find the sugar cookie recipe here
    and Lovella's Paska recipe here

    Monday, April 14, 2014

    Chicken Crepes for a Crowd


    When I planned this meal I knew the biggest part of the prep would be cooking the crepes, but after that it is a very simple and easy meal, even for a crowd. While I stood there flipping the crepes, I stirred the sauce and altogether had them cooked and assembled in about and hour and a half. This part can be done the night before or whenever it works. The crepes along with the sauce, can be refrigerated on the pan and reheated 20 minutes before eating. I served them with rice, stove top dressing, cranberry jelly and a cucumber/tomato salad. Easy accompaniments. This recipe makes 36 (7 inch) crepes and will serve 12 - 15.

    Crepes:
    • 6 eggs
    • 3 1/4 cups milk
    • 1 1/2 tsp salt
    • 2 1/4 cups flour
    1. In large mixing bowl, beat eggs with hand held mixer.
    2. Add the rest of the ingredients, mixing until smooth.
    3. Preheat non-stick 7 inch pan just below medium heat. You may want to slightly butter after every third crepe or so. 
    4. Holding pan up at a slight angle, pour a small ladle full (about 1-2 oz) of batter into pan, rotating to cover, then set back on element and cook until edges are firm enough to insert spatula to check if bottom is done. Flip and cook other side. Stack cooked crepes on plate.
    Sauce:
    • 1/2 cup butter
    • 1/2 cup flour
    • 5 cups milk
    • 4 Tbsp Cheese Whiz or shredded Swiss or Mozzarella Cheese. (or combination)
    • 1 1/2 cubes chicken bouillon or 2 tsp better than bouillon 
    1. In medium saucepan, over low heat, melt butter, then stir in the flour.
    2. Using whisk, stir in milk just gradually enough to first get a smooth paste and then slowly adding the rest of the milk. 
    3. Stir frequently until bubbly. (I did this while cooking the crepes.) Add cheese and bouillon while cooking.
    To Assemble:
    • 6 - 7 cups cubed/shredded cooked chicken (2 rotisserie chickens work well) 
    • sauce
    • 30 - 36 crepes
    1. Mix 3 - 3 1//2 cups sauce into shredded chicken, reserving the rest for the top.
    2. Place about 2 - 3 Tbsp of filling into each crepe, roll up and place side by side in Pyrex pans or cookie sheets. Plan so you can fit all in the oven at the same time.
    3. Drizzle with leftover sauce and refrigerate until ready to cook in the oven at 350 F for about 20 - 25 minutes, covered loosely with foil.
    4. Sprinkle with finely chopped parsley and serve hot with steamed broccoli and/or rice. Cook 2 1/2 - 3 cups rice, flavoring with 1 1/2 bouillon cubes or 2 tsp better than bouillon



    Sunday, April 13, 2014

    Bread For The Journey



    This week I've been listening to Handel's Messiah.  The familiar scriptures set to extraordinarily beautiful music reveals God's plan to redeem mankind by the coming of the Messiah.
    As I listen to the different portions of scripture set to music I am brought to tears by the beauty, the hope of salvation and the love of our God eternal.
    Two hundred and seventy-two years ago, on April 13, 1742 seven hundred people attended the premier performance of Handel's Messiah in Dublin.

    Today is Palm Sunday!
    The people of Israel had waited for their Messiah to come.
    When Jesus came into Jerusalem on a donkey the people lined the streets with palm branches and sang praises to him. 

    Are you ready for Easter?  It is so much more than colouring Easter eggs, baking Paska and setting a beautiful table. For those of us who believe that Jesus came to redeem us, there is a preparing of our hearts and minds as we remember the sacrifice God made when he sent his son.

    Go into this week with joy. Jesus Christ came to seek and save the lost.  Spend time reading God's word and thank him for the Messiah, his gift of salvation we celebrate not only at Easter and Christmas but everyday.  


    The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!

    John 1:29 ESV

    Saturday, April 12, 2014

    Puff Pastry Savoury Easter 'Carrots'



    Peter Rabbit would be ever so delighted to find this little carrot patch.
    Puff pastry wrapped around horn molds turn into delicate 'pastry carrots'. A delicious filling of egg salad fills the pastry carrots and for the carrot tops......sprigs of baby dill. These are very light and dainty making them a perfect little appetizer or sandwich alternative at a baby or bridal shower.
    (For an alternative to this Easter theme just leave the pastry the colour it is and fill with chicken or tuna salad and garnish with a little sprinkle of parsley or other creative garnish.)

    Supplies:
    1. Set of cream horn molds. (I bought Fox Run brand at $2.99 for 6 molds)
    2. Parchment paper.
    3. Small paint or pastry brush.
    To make puff pastry shaped carrot cones: (this makes approximately 16 filled carrots)
    • 1 397gram package puff pastry (there are 2 blocks of puff pasty in a box of Tender flake brand)
    • 1 egg 
    • 1 tsp water
    • 1-2 drops orange food colouring
    Method:
    1. Roll out puff pastry on a lightly floured pastry mat, 10"x12". **roll out one block of pastry at a time***
    2. Whisk together egg and water. Brush pastry sheet lightly with this mixture. (you won't nearly use  all the egg wash)
    3. Cut the square of pastry into long 1/2" strips.
    4. Cut parchment into triangles and wrap around the metal molds. 
    5. Pick up a strip of pastry and starting at the bottom of the molds wrap, just overlapping until you reach the top of the mold. You want the egg washed side on the outside.
    6. Place each mold on a baking sheet lined with parchment. *** I only have 6 molds so I make and bake 6 at a time, remove from molds and quickly make more cones until they are all baked***
    7. Brush wrapped pastry lightly with orange food colouring, to resemble carrots.
    8. Bake in 375º oven for 15 minutes or until lightly golden. 
    9. Remove from oven and pull carrot cones off of molds. They will slide off well because of the parchment. They are very delicate and crisp so handle with care. Remove to a cooling rack.
    10. You can store these once cooled in loosely covered container at room temperature for a day before filling, but the sooner you use them once cooled the flakier they will be. The baked shells will not loose their shape but the long they sit the less crispy they will be...but still tasty.
    Egg salad:
    • 5 eggs, hard boiled
    • 1/4 mayonnaise
    • 2 tsp mustard 
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1/2 tsp pepper
    • 1 tbsp capers, chopped fine, optional
    • 1 dill pickle, diced very fine
    • 1 tbsp fresh dill, chopped fine
    • fresh dill for making carrot tops
    Method:
    1. Boil eggs, peel and cool.
    2. Mash eggs, adding remaining ingredients and mix well. 
    3. This mixture can be made ahead of time and kept in the refrigerator.

    To Assemble: (best assembled just before serving so that the cones do not get soft) 
    1. You can fill a pastry bag with the egg salad and pipe it into the pastry cones, or use a regular dinner knife and fill the cones. 
    2. Top with a sprig of fresh dill.
    Molds and unfilled baked cones. Wrapping the molds in parchment before wrapping the pastry around will insure that the pastry never sticks to the molds. 

    Friday, April 11, 2014

    Paska Buns



    Every family has their own traditional Paska recipes they love. My mother makes a citrus flavor Paska. A friend of mine uses saffron in her recipe, another Cardamon and of course we all love the famous Paska by Lovella. Each recipe delicious yet different.This is my sister by love's recipe using potatoes and potato water but no citrus. I prefer to make Paska Buns instead of loaves for the simple reason that we are not tempted to eat the whole loaf.  Each bun has lots of icing and sprinkles, what is not to love about that.  This dough is easy to work with, ending with a soft and tender bun. I got 92 buns from this batch. Thanks for sharing your family tradition with us Patty.

    • 3 tablespoon traditional yeast
    • 3 tablespoon sugar
    • 1 1/2 cups warm water
    In a very large mixing bowl combine the yeast and sugar in the water and give it a stir. Let it rest for 10 minutes until you have a nice foam.
    • 2 medium potatoes peeled and diced 
    • 2 cups water
    • 2 cups melted shortening
    • 2 cups milk
    • 10 eggs, beaten
    • 3 1/2 cups sugar
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1 tablespoon vanilla
    • approximately 16 cups flour
    1. Cook the diced potatoes in the cups water. Mash and let cool. (Or put it in the blender for no small chunks of potato).
    2. Heat the milk, sugar and vanilla til very warm to touch.
    3. Add the beaten eggs and pour it into the potato water and milk mixture.
    4. Add the liquid ingredients to the yeast bowl.
    5. Add 6 cups of flour to make a paste.
    6. Let this mixture rest and rise for 20 minutes.
    7. Add remaining flour to make a soft dough. You may need a bit less or more depending on the humidity that day. 
    8. Knead for about 10 minutes until dough is no longer sticky but soft.
    9. Let rise in a warm place for 2 hours.
    10. Form into buns and let rise about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
    11. Bake at 325 for 15-20 minutes.

    Thursday, April 10, 2014

    Broccoli with Bacon and Veggie Topping


    Broccoli is one of those vegetables that is fun to dress up.
    What is your favourite flavour boost for this bright green vegetable?
     I had some finely diced carrot and peppers leftover from another meal.
    Added to bacon and onions, it made a very tasty topping for broccoli.

    • 2 slices of bacon, very finely sliced
    • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
    • 1/2 cup finely chopped carrot
    • 1/4 cup finely chopped red and yellow peppers
    • 1 bunch fresh broccoli
    • 1-2 tablespoons butter if desired
    1. Fry bacon until it is crisp.
    2. Drain off most of the bacon drippings.
    3. In about 1 tablespoon of bacon drippings, saute onions, carrots and peppers until they start to brown and caramelize.
    4. Add  bacon and mix well.  Set aside.
    5. Steam broccoli or microwave it until it is crisp tender.
    6. Toss broccoli with butter if desired and arrange on a serving platter.
    7. Spoon the vegetables over the broccoli  (I like to spoon them in a strip across the middle of the platter).
    8. Serve immediately.

    Wednesday, April 9, 2014

    Easter Bread..for Children


    I remember baking this colorful bread around Easter time for our young children and then later for our grandchildren. At the time I didn't have these vibrant food colors and so the bread was more pastel in color. This is a fun bread to put together and a good project to do with your children. Can you imagine their smiles when eating a slice of this bread?
    • 1 cup warm water
    • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
    • 2 tablespoons sugar
    • 2 tablespoons oil
    • 3/4 teaspoon salt
    • 2 3/4 cups flour
    • food coloring of your choice
    1. Whisk together warm water, yeast, sugar, and oil.
    2. Stir in flour and salt to the liquid mixture, knead until well combined, approx 5 minutes.
    3. Separate dough into balls, as many as the colors you have chosen. I had 6 colors..red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple.
    4. Add each of the colors to each of the balls of dough for desired color.
    5. It takes awhile to evenly knead in each color..be patient, it does come together. Be sure to wash your hands and the surface you are working on between each color.
    6. Place each ball of dough into it's own bowl, cover and allow to rise until doubled.
    7. Once doubled, take each ball and roll out in a rectangle to fit a 9 x 5" loaf pan.
    8. Stack them up and place in a well greased loaf pan.
    9. Cover and allow to rise until almost double in bulk.
    10. Bake in 350º oven for 30 minutes.
    11. Remove bread from pan to cool on a cooling rack.
    12. Slice, slather on your favorite spread and enjoy!
    13. Yield: 1 loaf

    Tuesday, April 8, 2014

    Vegetable Noodle Soup


    Here is a quick and delicious noodle soup which is perfectly delicious as a vegetarian dish. But if you happen to have cooked chicken handy...that is also a good addition.  It started with a vegetable soup recipe on the back of a 'fine egg noodle' package and evolved from there.  Since we like things zippy around here...I add Sambal Oelek (a chili paste) but a hot sauce of any kind would do the trick as well.

    • 1 Tablespoon oil
    • 1 medium onion, chopped
    • 2 carrots, sliced
    • 2-3 cups chopped cabbage
    • 8 cups chicken stock or vegetable broth
    • 1 cup fine noodles, uncooked
    • 1 cup green peas (small)
    • 2 tablespoons Soy sauce
    • 1 teaspoon Sambal Oelek (hot chili paste), optional
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
    • 2 Tablespoons chopped parsley
    1. Heat oil; cook onion, carrots and cabbage for 5-6 minutes.
    2. Stir in chicken stock.  Bring to a boil; then simmer for 10 minutes.
    3. Add noodles, peas, soy sauce and salt (along with hot sauce, if desired).  Simmer for about 5 minutes, or until noodles are tender.
    4. Stir in the parsley and serve.
    Serves six.

     


    Monday, April 7, 2014

    Boiled Raisin Cookies




    Grandma's Cookie Jar
    This cookie jar always had a prominent place in Ella Klassen's kitchen. She was my mother-in-law and very dear friend. Her boys, Harv and Jim, and later, her grandchildren, knew that the jar was always full of cookies baked by a loving woman who would urge them to "take 2 or 3 - they're small!".
    The cookies I remember her baking most often were these Boiled Raisin Cookies - they were soft and moist, full of raisins, walnuts and aromatic spices.
    • 2 cups sultana raisins (the light brown raisins, not the dark ones)
    • 1 cup boiling water
    • 1 cup butter or margarine
    • 1 3/4 cups sugar
    • 3 large eggs
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla
    • 4 cups flour
    • 1 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 3/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
    • 1/4 teaspoon each, cloves, nutmeg and ground star anise (if you have it)
    • 1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans 
    1. In a small saucepan, pour boiling water over raisins, bring to a boil again and cook for 5 minutes.
    2. Remove from heat and cool raisins (do not drain!) to to room temperature.
    3. Cream butter and sugar until fluffy.
    4. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well between additions.
    5. In another bowl, stir flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices until well mixed.
    6. Add cooled raisin mixture to butter and egg mixture, mixing well.
    7. Add flour mixture, a little at a time until well mixed.
    8. Stir in nuts.
    9. Using a cookie scoop or two teaspoons, drop dough on to greased or parchment lined cookie sheets.
    10. Bake in a 350ºF oven for 16 minutes or until lightly browned.
    11. Makes 5-6 dozen cookies.

    Sunday, April 6, 2014

    Bread For The Journey

     Downtown Abbey Photos
    The door squeaks, and I know it's her.
    And the door squeaks...and she's gone.
    She's completed her legal paperwork to become the bride of a young American.
    She had one more border crossing, in hopes of having the custom officials accept and recognize her K-1 Visa.
    I remember pacing and praying during my gym class, listening for the tiny notification alert on my IPhone. Her final text to me read... "Made it!! Phew, no issues!! Here we go!!"

    I was overwhelmed with tears and peace in my heart.  It was at this point that I realized how many times I let myself become anxious over the detailed paper work, border crossings and the wedding plans.

    But as I continued reading through Ann Voskamp's writings, I was inspired as I realized that I could embrace a lifestyle of radical gratitude rather than thinking about the daily deadlines, budgets and daily tasks that had often taken priority.

    This past week I have taken the verse from Psalm 37:4 and started to intentionally write down the moments that I claimed to be "the desires of your heart"  Before long I had a list of experiences that that were teaching me about gratitude.  It's about learning to be content in everyday experiences and sharing the happiness with others. True contentment is not about finding impressive careers or exciting travels.  It's about seeing your grandson's face light up,  after he has asked if he could wear a suit jacket, rather than shirt and pants to the wedding and finding the right jacket at a bargain price.  It's about sitting outside with my spouse, discussing wedding plans and feeling the sun's ray on our faces as we think about God's design for marriage. It's about phoning a friend who's all excited about sharing her granddaughter's wedding plans.  It's about helping your daughter prepare for the stagette, feeling her excitement and being thankful that you are included in 'some' of the plans.   It's about asking God to direct you through those last minute details and feeling the satisfaction as you hunt down some more bargain prices.

    Taking a pencil and writing these moments down, has become meaningful and valuable, because I can look back and see how God has intervened in some of the difficult tasks, and yet I can see beauty in those moments.
     It's about focusing on the day to day things and realizing that I 'get to do life' with so many family and friends.  Let's wake up and discover God's everyday blessings, rather than letting stress and anxiety control our lives.
    Why not start thinking about some of your moments and let God's joy transform your life.

    "Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart". Psalm. 37:4

    Julie shared a beautiful devotional for us last week called, My Beloved.  We are entering the season for weddings and there will be many brides/grooms and families working through their plans.  Let's encourage these young brides, and share examples of gratitude rather than negativity.  We want to pray that we can model and help our newlyweds understand the new meaning about committing themselves to God and receiving "the desires of your heart."

    It won't take long now and I'll hear the door squeak again, hearing the laughter and joy in their voices together, knowing that the border crossings have little meaning anymore.

    Saturday, April 5, 2014

    Eggs plain and simple


    Get Cracking!

    Did you know that the best quality eggs are usually those sized Small in stores?
    The reason for that is because when a hen begins to lay eggs they are small and the eggs get larger as the hen matures. 

    If you are going to make eggs the centrepiece of your breakfast,  consider small or medium eggs. The white will stand nice and high with the yolk on a fresh egg so watch for that as well. 
    When you crack an egg and the white spreads all over the pan, it is usually a better idea to scramble the egg.

    When we bring eggs into the house from those first few days of a hen laying there is nothing better for breakfast than a fresh and tender egg.

    Whether I am making eggs benedict or soft boiling them or even just simply cracking them into the pan...
    eggs for breakfast are always a nutritious choice.



    Happy Saturday!

    Friday, April 4, 2014

    Stuffed Baby Bok Choy


    When I passed by this baby bok choy at the grocery store I suddenly had a thought of how they might taste if stuffed like cabbage rolls. They went into my cart and we were not disappointed.

    Ingredients:

    • 1 lb baby bok choy (about 20)
    • 1/2 to 3/4 lb lean ground beef
    • 1 cup cooked white or brown rice (1/2 cup raw)
    • 3 Tbsp sour cream
    • 3/4 tsp salt
    • pepper
    Sauce
    • 2 Tbsp oil
    • 1/2 onion, chopped fine
    • 1/2 yellow sweet pepper, chopped fine
    • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
    • 2 single serving (200 ml) tomato vegetable cocktail
    • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
    • 1 cup broth (or 1 tsp better-than-bouillon and 1 cup water)
    • 2 Tbsp flour and 1/2 cup water for thickening
    Method:
    1. Mix meat stuffing ingredients
    2. Cook onion and sweet pepper until soft, then add garlic.
    3. Add tomato cocktail, soy sauce and broth and bring to boil.
    4. Thicken with flour by shaking flour and 1/2 cup water before adding to sauce. Simmer 10 minutes.
    5. In the meantime, open up bok choy babies and fill with prepared meat stuffing. Lay or stand up in small roaster and cover with sauce.
    6. Bake at 350 F for 1 1/2 hours. Halfway through, gently turn stuffed bok choy so that more of the top gets covered with the sauce. 
    We had the first go with mashed potatoes and the left overs with a Waldorf salad and a roll. Tasted even better the second round.