Saturday in Ellen's Kitchen

In May Herald Press sent the 10 of us a complimentary copy of the latest printing of Mennonite Girls Can Cook.
The enclosed letter to us said "You will immediately notice that this latest printing includes a dust jacket and a new logo!
 
All of us did notice the changes. The changes came as a result of sales and marketing meetings that Herald Press representatives had with bookstore buyers. It was strongly recommended that in order to reach new markets our book should have a dust jacket.
They also encouraged Herald Press to put a matte finish on the book.
Another thing we noticed while looking at the new book is that it lays flatter than the original when opened up to a given recipe.

The recipes are the same and our hope is the same in serving and funding ministries around the world that nourish children with our author royalties.
Have a wonderful Saturday!

Sticky Ham, Pineapple and Cheese Rolls


These rolls are very tasty and you will be reaching for seconds! We enjoyed them hot from the oven and I think that is the best way to serve them.

  • 9 small sized dinner rolls
  • 9 ham slices, thinly sliced or shaved
  • 9 slices of Swiss cheese
  • 1/2 cup crushed pineapple, drained
  1. Cut rolls in half and layer the bottom half of the rolls in an 8 x 8" baking pan.
  2. Place a slice of ham and a slice of cheese on each roll, and top with pineapple. 
  3. Cover with the top half of the rolls and press down with your hand.
  4. Cover with sticky sauce.
Sticky Sauce:
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons poppy seeds
  1. Bring all ingredients to a boil in a small saucepan.
  2. Reduce heat to a simmer and allow to cook 1 minute.
  3. Pour sauce over the rolls and bake for 20 minutes in a 350º oven.
  4. Best served hot.

Roasted Rhubarb Sweet Rolls



Roasting your rhubarb for sauces or fillings gives the rhubarb a wonderful texture and improves the flavour over a rhubarb sauce cooked on the stove top.
By roasting the rhubarb, the pieces retain their shape instead of turning to mush.
These sweet rolls are moist and bursting with flavour. The addition of the leftover rhubarb syrup in the glaze adds a natural pink hue and flavouring.
Roasted Rhubarb Filling
  • 8 cups diced rhubarb (about 1/2 inch dice)
  • 1 cup sugar
Sweet Roll Yeast Dough:
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 2 tablespoons active dry yeast
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup very soft butter
  • 1 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 6 - 6 1/2 cups flour
Sprinkle for Rolled out Dough
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup flour
Glaze
  • icing / powdered sugar enough to make a pourable glaze (about 4 cups)
  • syrup from roasted rhubarb (about 1/4 cup)
  • additional milk as necessary
  1. Wash and dice rhubarb and spread onto parchment paper on a cookie sheet. Sprinkle with sugar. The rhubarb will lose about 1/2 the volume during the roasting.  You will end up with about 4 cups.
  2. Roast in a 350 F oven for about 45 minutes to one hour.  Remove from oven to cool until needed.
  3. In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of your kitchen machine, place warm water and yeast and allow to proof about 10 minutes.
  4. Add the eggs,  soft butter, sweetened condensed milk, and salt.  Stir in the flour until stirring becomes too difficult and then turn out onto a floured surface and add the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time  until it is smooth and elastic.  Alternately, use the dough hook according to your dough machine instructions.
  5. Turn into a large greased bowl, turning to moisten with fat and cover with with plastic wrap and a tea towel.  Allow to rise until double in bulk, about an hour.
  6. Combine the 1/2 sugar and 1/2 cup flour
  7. Roll dough into a 12 X 36 inch wide rectangle and sprinkle with the flour/sugar mixture.  Using a slotted spoon, transfer rhubarb to the dough, spreading fairly evenly.
  8. Roll up jelly roll style and divide into 36 rolls in three 9 X 13 parchment paper lined pans.
  9. Cover with tea towels and allow to rise another hour.
  10. Bake at 350 about 20 minutes, until the tops are golden brown.  Cool 10 minutes while making glaze. Drizzle with glaze and serve.  
These rolls can be frozen and then thawed at room temperature before serving.



Waldorf Salad with Vinaigrette Dressing



While on vacation in California, we have eaten at California Pizza and enjoyed their Waldorf salad. This is a twist of of the traditional recipe, trying to copy the tantalizing flavor combination of apples, celery and caramelized nuts mixed with a vinaigrette dressing. You can serve this salad as a delicious side without chicken or make it a quick meal by adding a rotisserie or grilled chicken. (photo is half recipe)

Ingredients:
  • 8 cups lettuce greens ( such as a mix of romaine, spinach and red butter lettuce)
  • 2 cups grapes (optional)
  • 1 1/2 - 2 apples, chopped fine (soak a few minutes in lemon/water to keep color)
  • 3 - 4 stalks celery, chopped fine
  • 3/4 cups feta cheese, crumbled or cubed
  • 3/4 cups dried cranberries
  • 1 1/2 cups pecans caramelized with 3 - 4 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 rotisserie chicken, cut up 
Dressing:
  • 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard 
  • 1/4 cup grapeseed oil  (or olive oil)
  • 3 Tbsp wine vinegar (can be a mix of wine vinegar and balsamic)
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
Method:
  1. In Teflon style pan, warm pecans on medium heat for a few minutes, stirring. Sprinkle with sugar and stir until sugar is melted and sticking to nuts. . . several minutes. Remove nuts to glass bowl to cool and soak pan and utensil.
  2. Put dressing ingredients into a small jar and mix / shake until well blended.
  3. If using chicken, pull pieces apart, slice breasts and chop up the rest of the meat.
  4. In large bowl, mix lettuce, apples, celery, cheese, cranberries, caramelized pecans and chopped chicken meat.
  5. Just before serving, pour dressing over salad, mix well and remove to deep large platter or serving bowl.
  6. Arrange sliced chicken breast slices and grapes on top or around salad. Delicious served with warm cheese stuffed breadsticks  (serves 6 as a meal  . . . leftover salad is still good the next day) 

Asparagus Salad



One of our favorite vegetables is asparagus.  Each spring I look forward to this highly prized vegetable, as it arrives with the 'coming of spring.'  Asparagus can be cooked and served in a variety of ways,  a drizzle of butter and lemon.  It can also be used in a stir fry, (page 77) in your Mennonite Girls Can Cook book.  Each year I threaten to grow my own asparagus.  The climate and region of our valley is perfect for growing asparagus and so hopefully next year I can show you a photo of asparagus growing in my garden. Again, it's loaded with antioxidants and vitamins.

Raw Asparagus Salad
  • 2 cups cut mixed greens (lettuce assortment)
  • 2 cups cut cup asparagus
  • 1/2 cup green onions
  • 5 slices bacon
  • 2 boiled eggs
Salad dressing
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 3 tsp. Dijon Mustard
  • salt and pepper to taste 
Method:
  1. Layer  greens in shallow dish.
  2. Layer onions and chopped raw asparagus on top of the lettuce bed.
  3. Slice boiled eggs and garnish around edges.
  4. Sprinkle crumbled bacon on top of asparagus.
  5. Mix salad dressing ingredients with a whisk in a container.
  6. Pour over salad prior to serving.
Another simple and healthy salad and only takes minutes to make.

Camp Fire Chicken Stew


Outdoor cooking is always popular during the summer time. This recipe can be made over an open camp fire or on top of your stove indoors. It is one of our favorite go to meals when we have company. Cooking it on an open fire results in a bit of a smokey taste which is awesome. We had company over last night and they really enjoyed it.

  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 1/2 lbs (1 kg) of boneless skinless chicken, cubed (we used thighs)
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 peppers, chopped (we used 1 red and 1 green)
  • 4 zucchini, sliced thinly
  • 4 carrots, sliced thinly
  • 1-28 oz can of tomatoes
  • 1 650 ml jar of salsa  (approx-2 1/2 cups)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 3 cups water (If you do it over a camp fire, you may need a bit more)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Heat your pot, add the oil. 
  2. When the pot and oil are hot add the diced chicken and brown. 
  3. Add the onions, peppers and garlic cook until the onions soften.
  4. Add tomatoes, salsa, water and carrots. 
  5. Cook about 15 minutes until the carrots soften.
  6. Add the zucchini, oregano, salt and pepper.
  7. Cook a few more minutes until the zucchini is soft.
  8. Serve over brown rice. 
Note:
Many people add the rice and added liquid to cook right in the pot when the carrots go in the pot but my husband likes the rice cooked on the side and the chicken served over the rice. Either way it is a very nice meal served along side a green salad. 

Bread for the Journey

Memorial Day in the United States is this Monday May 26th. My husband's father served in the U.S. Army during World War II. We had the chance to visit my father-in-law's grave site in California at the Riverside National Cemetery in May of 2012. 

Memorial Day was formerly known as Decoration Day and commemorates all men and women, who have died in military service for the United States. Many people visit cemeteries and memorials on Memorial Day and it is traditionally seen as the start of the summer season.

I understand that many Mennonites are Pacifists but have served in other capacities during times of war that did not involve combat. We remember everyone's service who have since died during this day in May. 

We all look forward to the day that we finally have peace. Until then and while we are on this earth we can have peace from God. Here are some verses about that peace.

John 14:27 (NASB) Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.

Romans 5:1-2 (NIV)
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.

The best peace is peace with God. 

Salted Caramel Tea Cup Cupcakes


My niece, who lives in Australia, recently shared photos of her visit to a local cafe called The Silva Spoon.  More specifically, she posted a photo of a yummy-looking cupcake served in a tea cup...and she assured me that those alone were worth a visit to Australia.  Since I don't think I'll be in Australia anytime soon, I just borrowed the concept of serving a special dessert in a tea cup.  We had some birthdays to celebrate over here...and had a girls' luncheon.  For dessert, we each had our own wee cake served in a family heirloom tea cup.

I used our family favorite apple cake recipe...which made 18 large cupcakes.  I made a Caramel Butter Cream frosting (recipe to follow)...and piped it onto the cupcakes with a tip of my choice.  Make that my second choice...since I couldn't locate the tip I was after.  I drizzled a little caramel sauce on top...and added a sprinkle of sea salt.  And those were our Salted Caramel Birthday Cupcakes-in-a-Teacup.

* * * * *

Caramel Buttercream Frosting
  • 1 cup salted butter, at room temperature
  • 4 cups icing sugar (powdered sugar)
  • 3/4 cup Caramel Sauce, cooled completely (recipe below)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract 
Whip butter on medium-high speed until light and fluffy (several minutes).
Add icing sugar and blend on low speed until combined.
Add caramel sauce and vanilla and beat until well blended.

Caramel Sauce
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup salted butter
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  1. In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat sugar and water over medium heat, whisking constantly to dissolve sugar. 
  2.  Once mixture reaches a boil, stop stirring and allow mixture to boil until it turns amber, swirling pan occasionally. 
  3. Add butter; whisk until butter has melted then remove from heat. 
  4. Wait 3 seconds then carefully pour in cream, whisking until smooth. 
  5. Allow caramel to cool completely. 
 * * * * *

Use your imagination.  Find a cupcake liner that fits nicely into your teacups (likely extra-large).  Bake your favorite cupcake; cool, then transfer to a tea cup and decorate as you please.  They will want to have dessert first.  I know! 
 

That is why, one of the wee birthday cakes seemed to have a piece missing when it came time for dessert! 



Creamsicle Pie




                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

This is a delicious and light dessert for summer.

  • 1 1/2 cups graham wafer crumbs
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1 package (3 oz) orange flavored gelatin
  • 1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups whipping cream, whipped and sweetened with 1/4 cup icing sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla, divided
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 package (3.4 oz) instant vanilla flavored pudding
  • orange zest
  1. Mix graham wafers and melted butter, press into an 8 inch springform pan. Set in refrigerator until ready to use.
  2. Microwave orange juice on high for 1 minute, add to orange flavored gelatin and stir until dissolved. Gradually beat in half of the softened cream cheese until well blended.
  3. Whisk in 1 cup of the prepared whipped cream and spread over graham crust.
  4. Beat the remaining cream cheese with 3/4 cup milk until mixture is well blended and smooth.
  5. Add dry vanilla pudding mix, beat till well blended. 
  6. Stir in 1 cup whipped cream and spread over gelatin layer.
  7. Spread remaining whipped cream over cream cheese layer, sprinkle with orange zest.
  8. Cover and refrigerate for 3 hours before serving.


Delicious Chicken

Chicken breasts baked in a Dijon wine and cream sauce. Simple, quick, delicious.
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup grainy Dijon mustard
  • 2/3 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  1. Heat oil in a heavy bottom fry pan. Add chicken breasts and lightly brown on both sides, approximately 4 minutes per side.
  2. Stir together mustard and wine. Add to pan and allow to simmer lightly along with the chicken for 10 minutes.
  3. Stir in cream. Simmer another 5 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat. Place chicken pieces in a casserole dish. Pour hot cream mixture over and bake in 350º oven for 20 minutes. Half way through baking baste the meat with the sauce it's baking in. 

Cracker Pudding


This is a simple but delicious pudding which takes minutes to prepare in the microwave. It reminds me of cream of wheat pudding. You can substitute graham wafer crumbs for the saltines. Both are delicious.
  • 2 cups milk
  • 12 saltine crackers, crushed 
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup coconut, flaked
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon cardamon
  1. In a microwave safe bowl, heat milk for 3 minutes until milk is hot but not boiling. 
  2. In a separate bowl whisk together cracker crumbs, sugar, and coconut.
  3. Stir cracker mixture into the hot milk.
  4. Beat egg, then temper egg by whisking in a few spoonfuls of hot milk. Stir in the rest of the milk and return to microwave to cook for 3 minutes, whisking mixture every minute.
  5. Stir in vanilla and cardamon. Cover and chill in fridge.
  6. To serve..spoon into dessert bowls and top with a dollop of whipped cream and a cherry or  fresh raspberries.
  7. Serves: 4



Sour Cabbage Cabbage Rolls



About 40 or 45 years ago I was a guest at a wedding reception.  It was a buffet meal and the only item I remember are the cabbage rolls, the taste of  which is still very fresh in my memory even after all these years!
 I remember the flavour explosion in my mouth when I took my first bite,  recognizing that the flavour was in the cabbage.
 I tried to find the chef who could give me the recipe but I had no success .
Last week I was reading about a company in Saskatchewan that makes sour cabbage heads and I wondered ..."what would it taste like if I used the sour cabbage leaves for my cabbage rolls?"

I found the sour cabbage heads at Safeway and made my cabbage rolls.
I will never use green cabbage again.
Not only is there the 'taste' advantage but making the cabbage rolls is sooo easy.  No need to freeze or boil to soften the cabbage leaves.   They peel off easily and perfectly and are soft and supple.

So this post is not so much to share a recipe but to share this sour cabbage 'tip' for those of you who would enjoy the extra zip in the cabbage.
 I know we have several cabbage roll recipes on our blog and  those who grew up eating cabbage rolls have their favourite family  recipe but just in case you want/need another  I will include my version  here, which is gluten free.


Cabbage Rolls (Holubschi)

**NOTE -  if using the sour cabbage - peel off the leaves  and immerse them in a large bowl of cool water -  you need to wash off the salt brine so cabbage rolls are not too salty.
  • 2 pounds lean ground beef 
  • 1 pound ground pork 
  • (optional)  a few strips bacon cut into small pieces
  • 2 cups sprouted brown rice (cooked)  - or regular cooked rice
  • 1 lg finely chopped onion 
  • 2 tbsp of parsley 
  • salt and pepper to taste (if using sour cabbage leaves add very little extra salt) 
  • 1  - 14 oz tin of tomato sauce 
  • 1 - 8 oz tin of  tomato paste 
  • water
  1. Mix thoroughly meat, rice, onion, parsley, salt and pepper 
  2. Place a  scoop of meat mixture onto a cabbage leaf that has been cut in two or three pieces depending on size of cabbage head and size of leaves, and the hard stem part cut out --   fold up bottom of leaf over meat , fold in sides and roll it over the top part of leaf making a nice firm wrap around the filling ...   place last folded side facing down in  baking dish that is at least 2" deep.  (my dish is 11 x 14") 
  3. When your dish is full of cosily placed rolls -  one layer only - then blend together the tomato sauce and tomato paste with enough water to completely cover the cabbage rolls.  Cover dish with tin foil or a lid if dish has one. 
  4. Bake at 350 degrees for about 2 or 3 hours.   
  5. These freeze well before or after baking.  
Tip --  Even when I make a large dish of cabbage rolls I usually have some meat left over and the small leaves of the cabbage head.   An easy way to use that up is to cover the bottom of a baking dish with cabbage leaves, spread the meat filling  and then another layer of cabbage leaves... cover with tomato sauce/paste/water  -  cover tightly and freeze   until needed.  Remove from freezer, thaw and bake.

Bread for the Journey



In our small group this week we studied how to break down a Bible verse. To dissect it word for word, so we can come to a fuller understanding of Gods word rather than simply skimming over it. To meditate on the entire meaning of it, not just part of it.

Grace ~ a gift freely given to us by God, though we are undeserving of it.
Peace ~ freedom from an inner turmoil resulting with a sense of inner calm.
Abundance ~ a large quantity til  overflowing.
through ~ coming in one side and out the other of my entire being, going from head knowledge to heart knowledge.
knowledge ~ a keen awareness and comprehension gained by personal experience.
God ~ creator, ruler, authority over all
Jesus Christ ~ teacher
Lord ~ someone having influence

Now read the verse again, keeping these definitions in mind and really contemplating  them.

Make the verse personal. Which word stands out for you?

For me it is the word Grace and what it means in my own life. God freely gives it. It is a gift, because of His great love for me. It is lavished upon me, whether I deserve it or not. I don't always accept it.
Breaking the verse down word by word and taking the time to meditate on it makes me realize that Grace and Peace is a promise for me that will overflow in my life if I seek Him and get to know the triune God more intimately and make Him ruler over my life. ALL of my life. (Easier said than done).
It leaves me with hope, encouragement, reassurance that even in my failings, I am loved, forgiven as I get to know God / Jesus more intimately. That gives me comfort.

May Grace, and Peace abound in your life as you seek a closer relationship in Christ. Receive the gift, it is freely given.

Banana Oatmeal Cookies





This recipe is all over Facebook these day, and my daughter just had to try them and treated our family to fresh, soft baked goodness that not only tastes good but it good for you too.
They are gluten free if you use gluten free oats, no added sugar, dairy free, egg free. Definitely not a sugary sweet cookie, so how can they possibly taste good? Trust me, they are tasty. I have made them a few times now and this time I added dark chocolate chips. Give it a try, you may be pleasantly surprised.

  • 3 mashed overripe bananas (they are naturally sweeter)
  • 2 cups of old fashioned oats, not instant
  • 1/3 cup of unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/4 cup almond milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup of any of the following- raisins, craisins, nuts, chocolate chips
  1. Mix all the ingredients in the order given. 
  2. Lightly grease a cookie sheet.
  3. Drop cookies a tablespoon at a time.
  4. Bake about 15-20 minutes in a preheated 350 degrees oven. 


Strawberry Ala Mode


It's our first long May Day weekend.
Victoria Day!
Invite a few friends and serve up a fresh strawberry shortcake.
How do you serve strawberry shortcake to a large crowd?
Instead of plating each one individually, I made it in a large fruit bowl.
You can use biscuit dough or your favorite shortcake recipe.
 I used my favorite sponge cake recipe.
Oh, how many of you know the difference between a sponge cake and an angel food cake?
Sponge cake only uses the fat from the egg yolk.
Angel food cake uses no fat.(egg whites only)
 Ingredients for Sponge Cake
  • 9 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 4 pounds fresh strawberries quartered
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 cups whipping cream for topping, adding sugar to taste or you can use softened ice-cream.
Method
  1. Mix eggs, sugar, vanilla and baking powder in your mixing machine at high speed for five minutes.
  2. Slowly add flour and cornstarch and mix at slow speed till mixtures are combined.
  3. Bake in a tube pan with a removable bottom.
  4. Dust bottom of pan with flour.  Do not grease an angel food cake pan, preventing it from falling when you turn it upside down.
  5. Bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees.
  6. When baking is completed, remove from oven and turn upside down for about 40 minutes.
  7. Remove cake from pan and lay on rack.
  8. I used a 4 1/2' x 13" pan (rectangular).  It's easy to cube and I can freeze what I don't use.
  9. I always have a few extra pieces in my freezer. 
Strawberry Mixture
  1. Cube and layer sponge cake in a glass bowl.
  2. Combine sugar and strawberries and layer over the cubed cake.
  3. Repeat this procedure 3 times, finishing off with strawberries on the top.
  4. Swirl whipping cream till it reaches a high mound. 
  5. Top with a few extra berries.
  6. Prepare ahead of time, let the flavors juice together and chill in fridge.
Have fun creating your own version.
Just in time for the long Victoria Day Weekend.

More than a Basic Platz Mix


This is a follow up on the recently posted a Basic Platz mix to share ideas on how to mix a few more quick snacks. Click here for the recipe of the mix. Although buttermilk is a preferred liquid to use in these recipes, you can also use milk OR a combination of milk and yogurt or milk and sour cream.

Cherry Platz
  • 3 cups basic Platz mix
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 can cherry pie filling
  • 1 cup mix and 2 - 3 Tbsp cream for crumb topping 
  1. Using a fork, whisk egg, blending in the buttermilk. Continue to use fork to stir the wet into 3 cups dry mix. Keep stirring until blended.
  2. Spread into 9 x 9 inch greased pan (for a lower cake you can use 9 x 13 pan)
  3. Spread with cherry pie filling
  4. Make crumbs, using your hand to mix and crumble on top.
  5. Bake at 350 F for 35 - 40 min. (to make a large cookie sheet size Platz, double the recipe)

Coffee Cake
  • 2 cups basic Platz mix
  • 1 egg
  • 2/3 cups buttermilk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/3 cup mix, 1/3 cup brown sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 Tbsp milk for crumb topping
  1. Using a fork, whisk egg, blending in the buttermilk. Continue to use fork to stir the wet into 2 cups dry mix. Keep stirring until blended.
  2. Spread into greased 8 or 9 inch round pan.
  3. Top with cinnamon crumbs.
  4. Bake at 375 F for 30 - 35 minutes. Serve plain or with whipped cream.
Muffins
  • 3 cups basic Platz mix
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 - 1 1/2 cups berries or 1/2 can cherry pie filling
  • coarse sugar, optional
  1. Using a fork, whisk egg, blending in the buttermilk and vanilla. Continue to use fork to stir the wet into dry mix. Keep stirring until blended.
  2. If using fruit, such as blueberries or cranberries, gently fold in the fruit and scoop into 12 lined muffin tins. (10 if you want them large) Sprinkle with coarse sugar - optional.
  3. If using pie filling, fill 12 lined muffin tins half way, add a tablespoon of filling and top with another tablespoon or so of batter. ( 10 if you want them large) Sprinkle with coarse sugar - optional.
  4. Bake at 375 F for 20 - 25 minutes.

Rosemary Cranberry Seeded Crackers, nut free


I've rarely splurged on Raincoast Crisp crackers. It was at a bridal shower that I saw these little Raincoast copycat crackers. Having a nut allergy I could not eat them, but came home and made them without nuts and added a few extra seeds. The addition of fresh rosemary also had me at first bite. A wee spread of cream cheese....say no more!
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped fine


  1. Stir together first 4 ingredients.
  2. Stir together next 3 ingredients and add to first dry mixture.
  3. Stir together remaining ingredients and add to wet mixture. Stir well to combine.
  4. Grease 4-6 small or mini loaf pans. Divide mixture between. 
  5. Bake in 350º oven for 40 minutes. Remove from pans and allow to completely cool.
  6. Slice each loaf into very thin slices. I use my electric knife for this. 
  7. Lay slices in a single layer onto a cookie sheet. 
  8. Bake at 300º for 20 minutes. Turn slices over and bake another 20 minutes. Crackers will become hard, and once baked cool on pans. They will crisp up even more as they cool.
  9. Store in airtight container. Shelf life is best within 2-3 weeks.



Avocado Caesar Salad


Here's a Caesar salad with a bit  of a twist...an avocado dressing. 

Dressing:
  • 1 avocado
  • ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more in needed
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1- 2 tablespoons red or white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  1. Cut the avocado in half lengthwise. Remove the pit from the avocado and discard. Remove the avocado from the skin and place the avocado flesh in a food processor or blender.
  2. Add the olive oil, Parmesan, vinegar, lemon juice, garlic cloves, Dijon mustard, salt, and pepper. Pulse until smooth and creamy.  
  3. Thin the dressing, if you need to, with more olive oil.
  4. Use immediately or refrigerate for several days. 
Salad:
  • 3 hearts of romaine
  • 12 slices bacon, fried and crumbled
  • Parmesan cheese, shredded
  • croutons, avocado slices (optional)
  1. Place lettuce into a large mixing bowl. 
  2. Add dressing and toss to combine. (Use only enough dressing to lightly coat the lettuce.)
  3. Transfer lettuce to individual serving plates and top with Parmesan, bacon, croutons and avocado slices.




Lasagna on White Cheese Sauce


This is a delicious way to serve leftover lasagna to your family or even to company.
When you have unexpected company and wonder how to make that lasagna that has already been cut  seem like it has been served the first time...
try this trick.  In the time it takes to reheat the lasagna, a white cheese sauce can be ready to make it a new comfort meal.

This sauce can also be used as a white cheese sauce for macaroni.


  • leftover lasagna  (check our recipe index under main dishes for lasagna recipes) 
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 4 cups milk  (low fat can be used but full fat makes a creamier sauce)
  • 1 1/2 cup aged white cheddar, grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  1. Place lasagna in 350 oven, tented with foil to reheat for 30 minutes. Alternately, reheat in microwave.
  2. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.
  3. Add flour and stir to form a roux.  Cook for several minutes to cook the starch. The mixture will be very thick.
  4. Add 1/2 cup of milk and stir and then add milk slowly, using a whisk the whole time to avoid lumps in the sauce.  Once all the milk is added, continue to stir over medium heat until the sauce is smooth and beginning to bubble.
  5. Add the cheese and stir to melt and then season with salt.
  6. To serve, place 1/3 cup of cheese sauce in shallow serving bowls and place a serving of lasagna over the sauce and serve immediately. 
Serve with crusty french bread and crisp salad.




Bread For The Journey

UNSHAKEN

On April 23rd  British Columbia experienced a 6.6 magnitude earthquake centred near Port Alice on Vancouver Island.
 Harv and I were sitting at the kitchen table visiting with a friend,  when he interrupted the conversation saying, " We're having an earthquake!"
My ever observant husband had seen the light fixture begin to sway and as looked around we saw the cords from the window blinds swinging back and forth.
Later on the news we received confirmation that BC had indeed been shaken!

A phrase in Psalm 112:6 caught my attention later in the week and I reflected on what it means to be unshaken.
It means standing firm when everything around you is shaking.
When others question your faith and their own; asking those really hard questions,
 does your foundation remain firm?
When illness or death strikes, does it shake your trust in God's love and care?
When facing financial loss, when relationships crumble, where is your foundation?
Psalm 18:2 declares
The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer;
My God my strength in whom I will trust...my stronghold
and Psalm 62:2 affirms that:
He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress.
I shall not be greatly shaken.

In this world there will be earthquakes
 - times when we are fearful, times when we question God's presence in our lives,
 times when we call out in desperation as we feel the earth shake.
However the Bible assures us that God is our firm foundation
Stand Firm on Him.



Quick What's for dinner - Hot Sandwiches


When you get home from work in the evening and have nothing planned for dinner, you don't need to order in pizza or pile the kids in the car and head for a fast food outlet.  In this (third) installment of "Quick What's for dinner"  I'm passing on a few hot sandwich ideas that can help you have dinner on the table in no time flat.  Serve with a salad or fresh veggies and dip.

 Chicken Philly Sandwich – Sauté sliced raw chicken in oil with a minced garlic clove until chicken is no longer pink.  Remove from pan and add sliced peppers and onions and sauté until tender. Add chicken, grated mozzarella cheese and heat until cheese melts. Serve on hoagie or sub bun or toast. 

Beef or Pork Philly Sandwich –Make as directed for the Chicken Philly sandwiches. Use thin sliced leftover beef or pork instead of the chicken.  Add BBQ sauce to the bun.

Mushroom Melt – Fry up some bacon, remove from pan and set aside. Saute' fresh mushrooms and a few sliced onions in butter.  When golden and tender, grate mozzarella or cheddar cheese over them. When the  the cheese has melted, slide onto buttered toast. (it's also good without the bacon)

Hot Beef or Chicken sandwich -
Add sliced leftover roast beef or chicken to gravy - either leftover or made from a package. Serve hot over toasted bread or buns.

Beef Au Jus Sandwich- 
Prepare a package of Au Jus mix as directed.  Add deli sliced roast beef to the au jus just long enough to heat the meat.  Toast or grill hoagie buns and spread lightly with garlic butter.  Pile meat on buns and serve with small bowls of the au jus.  You can also fry an onion until caramelized and add this to the sandwich.

Open Faced Grilled Sandwich – spread a bun or piece of toast with butter and mayo, and mustard or BBQ sauce.  Top with meat – sliced deli meat, leftover meatloaf, thick spaghetti sauce, or tuna  (mix with a bit of mayo).  Grate cheese over top and grill under broiler.


Grilled Cheese and... – Butter 2 slices of bread and spread with mayo, mustard or BBQ sauce if desired.  Grate cheese on one slice.  (you can add a slice of deli meat if you like)  Top with second slice of bread and butter both sides of the sandwich on the outside.  Place in heated frying pan and toast until golden, flip and toast other side.

Wrangler (great for breakfast or late supper) – Cut a hole in the centre of a piece of bread. (about 2-3” in diameter)   Cut a piece of bacon in half and fry in fry pan until one side is done.  Flip bacon pieces and press bread slice over them in the pan.  Break an egg into the hole in the bread and fry on medium heat until egg begins to set.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper before flipping to cook other side until egg is done to your liking.


Denver – Fry up some chopped bacon with chopped onion, green and/or red peppers.  Lightly beat 2 eggs with 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce.  Pour into pan with bacon and cook over med. Heat until set, flip and cook other side.  Serve on or between slices of toast. 

Monte Cristo – Any sandwich  made with deli meat and cheese, dipped in beaten egg and fried on both sides in a lightly buttered pan .


 

Variations on a Biscuit theme.

A few weeks ago I was invited to do a presentation on behalf of Mennonite GirlsCan Cook at the Eastern Mennonite Women's  Spring Enrichment conference in my home town of St. Catharines Ontario.

The ladies at the St. Catharines United Mennonite Church did a fabulous job of decorating for their event with aprons and quilts.  There must have been over 300 aprons, from modern to vintage, purchased and hand made.  It was fun to tour the church and take a close look at many of them.

As part of the presentation I did a demonstration on the versatility of Biscuit dough.
Some of the following ideas were part of a hand out given to the women at the conference. 
 I thought it would be fun to share it with all of you.
Biscuits are quick to make when you've run out of bread or buns and 
would like a fresh baked addition to a meal.

The recipes for Judy's Buttermilk Biscuits, or Charlotte's Biscuits Supreme as well as other recipes for biscuits can be found in the MGCC website index under Quick Breads.

Tips for Making biscuits:
1. Always heat your oven before beginning to mix the biscuits. Once they are mixed  and formed they should go directly into the oven. The baking powder starts to work the second it is moistened.
2. Place all dry ingredients in the bowl first.
3. Grate the butter or margarine into the flour. (my favourite tip!)  Just be sure the butter is very cold.  It is much quicker than using a pastry blender. Toss the butter with the flour until it is coated well.
4. You can refrigerate the dry mixture at this point to be mixed with the liquid just before baking.
3. Mix liquid ingredients before adding to flour.
4. Mix together lightly with a fork.
5. Knead only enough to incorporate the flour and liquid. No more than 12 times!
6. Anything made with biscuit dough is always best eaten the same day.  You can cover leftovers loosely and serve the next day but they are better fresh.



Ideas for Biscuit dough:
Any of these would make a nice quick appetizer or snack.  The savoury biscuits are great served with soup and the sweet ones as a last minute dessert.

BBQ Hamburger Cups
Roll dough 1/4" thick, Cut into rounds to fit inside muffin tins.
Fry 1 lb. hamburger with onions and peppers. Season with salt and pepper.  Add 1 small can of corn and enough BBQ sauce to moisten.
Fill unbaked biscuit cups with hamburger mixture . Top with grated cheese and bake 10-15 minutes.
See the recipe here: Beef and Corn Cups
  
Biscuit Pinwheels

Roll dough 1/2" thick. Spread with desired filling.  Roll up as for cinnamon buns.  Slice 1 1/4" thick and lay slices on parchment lined baking sheet. Bake at 400º for 10-15 minutes or until golden.





Fillings for Pinwheels:

Basil Cheese Biscuits Spread with mayonnaise and sprinkle with approximately 1 teaspoon dried basil or chopped fresh basil. Season if desired with garlic powder or seasoned pepper.
Top with 1 cup shredded cheese (cheddar or parmesan or combination), roll up and slice. Or you can follow a more detailed recipe for Basil Cheese Biscuits on our blog.
Salsa Cheddar Biscuits:
Spread dough with thick salsa instead of mayonnaise. Sprinkle with Cheddar cheese, roll up, slice and bake.
Check out Judy's Cheddar Salsa Biscuit Rolls
Ham or Salmon Biscuits:
Mix chopped ham  or a can of salmon with a bit of mayonnaise, chopped celery and 1/ 2 cup shredded cheese. Spread over dough and roll up. Roll up, slice and bake. Serve with a cheese sauce or cream gravy.
Cinnamon Roll Biscuits:
Spread with softened butter, sprinkle with a combination of 1/2 brown sugar and 1/2 white sugar (about 3/4 - 1 cup altogether) and cinnamon.  Roll up, slice and bake.
Drizzle with a thin icing sugar glaze while still warm.
Check out Kathy's recipe in the Celebrations Cookbook.
Your variation:
Be creative - try bacon tomato and cheese, ranch dressing and chopped vegetables or anything else you can think of.

Monkey Bread  These are on the table in the picture above - I'm sorry I didn't get a picture of them.
Using 1 or 2 recipes of biscuit dough, divide each recipe into 16 small portions. Roll into balls.
Mix 1/2 cup sugar and 1 tsp. cinnamon in a plastic bag.
Placing a few balls in  the bag at a time, shake until coated in sugar and cinnamon.
Place coated balls in  2 or 3 layers in a lightly greased tube or bundt pan. You'll need 2 recipes for this. Or using 1 recipe layer in a medium sized loaf pan)
Sprinkle raisins and/or pecans in between layers if desired.
Melt 2/3 cup butter and mix with 1 cup brown sugar.
Pour over biscuit balls in pan and bake for 20-25 minutes or until browned and bubbly.
Cool in pan.  Invert on to a plate and serve.

Biscuit Crescents and Pockets
Apple Pockets: Lay a peeled, cored and quartered apple slice in across the centre of a 4"square of rolled out biscuit dough, sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon and pull two corners towards the centre over the apple slice. Bake at 400º for 10 - 15 minutes. Drizzle with icing sugar glaze.
Smokie Crescent Rolls: Roll biscuit dough into a circle, cut into 8 wedges. Place a smokie or piece of pepperoni and a small piece of cheese (if desired) on the wide end and roll up.  Bake for 10-15 minutes at 400º.

Add Ins
Add the following ingredients to the dry biscuit mix before adding the liquid.  Mix lightly with a fork, knead lightly 10-12 times and cut biscuits into desired shapes. Bake as directed.
1. Crumbled farmer sausage and shredded cheese.
2. Chopped ham and shredded cheese.
3. Shredded cheese, finely chopped sautéed onion and fresh herbs.
 Or try Charlotte's Corn and Cheese Biscuits, or Judy's Garlic Cheese Biscuits

Toppings for Baked biscuits:
1. Chicken A la King
2. Creamed salmon and peas. Add a can of drained salmon, and frozen peas to a basic cream sauce.   You can flavour it up with sautéed onion and celery if you like.
3. Strawberry Shortcake (split fresh biscuits and top with fresh berries and whipped cream)
4. Shortcake with any other kind of fresh fruit - Blueberries, peaches, raspberries etc.
or try Creamed Ham on Biscuits

Upside down Biscuits:
Melt butter and brown sugar and spoon a tablespoon in the bottom of each muffin cup.
Top with chopped pecans, raisins, drained crushed pineapple or rhubarb.
Cut biscuit dough into rounds and place over brown sugar mixture.
Bake as directed and turn pan upside down  on to a baking sheet after baking.

And last but not least - try Charlotte's Stuffed Biscuits

The variations are limited only by your imagination. Try a batch for dinner tonight and let us know what you did with this versatile dough!

Cream Filled Puff Pastry Cones


Here's a sweet and pretty idea to serve on Mother's Day.
The china I've used today were my mom's. Royal Albert, Lavender Rose.

For the pastry cones:
Molds can be purchased at cake decorating stores or kitchen shops. They are very inexpensive. You can also make your own which will end up being quite a bit larger. Take boxed waffle ice cream cones and wrap them in foil. Then wrap in parchment and use as directed below. Discard cones after use.

  • 1 397 gram box puff pastry -this is found in the frozen food section of the grocery store (I use Tender flake brand)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp water
  • raw sugar, optional
  1. Thaw pastry as directed on package. There are 2 blocks of pastry in a box. Take one out at a time.
  2. Lightly flour a pastry mat. Place block of pastry onto map and gently roll block out into a 10x12 sheet. 
  3. Whisk together egg and water. 
  4. Lightly brush pastry with egg wash. (you will not nearly use it all)
  5. Cut pastry into long strips 1/2" wide. 
  6. Wrap parchment paper around cone molds and then take one strip of pastry at a time and wrap around molds overlapping as you work from bottom point to the top. The pastry will stick together well.
  7. Lightly brush a little more egg wash over the pastry wrapped around the cone and then sprinkle with sugar.
  8. Place pastry wrapped molds on parchment lined baking sheet. 
  9. Bake pastry cones in 375º oven for 12-15 minutes, until golden brown.
  10. Pastry will be very flaky and fragile. Carefully pull baked pastry off cones and remove parchment. Cool on a rack. 
  11. Once cooled store in airtight container until ready to fill. Best used the same day.
For the filling:
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1 tbsp powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla OR almond extract
  • 1 package Whip It, (this is a whipping cream stabilizer, or you can use 1 tbsp instant vanilla pudding powder)
  • fresh raspberries
  • fresh mint leaves
  1. Whip cream until it just begins to thicken.
  2. Add sugar, flavouring and Whip It. Continue to whip cream until cream is thick.
  3. Fill a piping bag fitted with a tip with whipped cream.
  4. Just before serving fill cones with cream, adding a few fresh raspberries as you fill the cones. 
  5. Make a nice swirl at the top of the cone with the cream and garnish with a fresh raspberry and mint sprig.
NOTE: The cones can be made earlier in the day and once cooled keep in an airtight container until ready to fill. The pastry is so delicate, so it's best if you can have your cream ready to go in the pastry bag in the fridge and fill as near to the time they will be served as possible insuring that your cone is crisp and flaky and do not become soft.

For a savoury version of Puff Pastry Cones see this recipe.


Stuffed Biscuits




This is a great way to use little bits of leftovers that you don't know what to do with. You can use anything to fill them. I used leftover pulled pork with goat cheese in some and bits of farmer sausage, onions, peppers and mushrooms in the others. Be creative and try pizza fillings and dip them in pizza sauce for a evening snack with company, or pack it for lunches. I used my favorite biscuit dough. Use your favorite dough or any posted on the blog.

  • 2 c. sifted flour
  • 4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. cream of tartar (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 1/2 c. butter
  • 2/3 c. milk

  1. Sift together dry ingredients, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse oatmeal. Add milk all at once and stir with fork only until blended. 
  2. Knead ten time in a lightly floured board. 
  3. Roll or pat out dough to 1/2 " thickness. 
  4. Cut with floured biscuit cutter.
  5. After you cut out the pieces, roll each one 1/4-1/2" thin. Fill with your filling of choice.
  6. Fold over the seal so the filling won't leak out.
  7. Place fairly close together on a greased baking sheet and brush with some olive oil, and sprinkle with garlic powder, basil, parmesan cheese.
  8. Bake in a 425 degree oven for 12-15 minutes. 
  9. Makes about 8-10.

Mexican Resort Style Omelettes


This spring break our family vacationed at an all inclusive mexican resort and I quickly discovered the only thing I wanted for breakfast each day was an omelet fresh off the grill.
I watched this omelet chef put together the omelet in less than a minute and I knew then I would be making my omelet like this once we'd be back home.


She spread her egg very thin and then rolled the filling up burrito style.
There is no need to flip the egg and it takes less than a minute to make each omelet.
You will need two pans.  One pan quickly stir fries the filling and the other pan cooks the egg.
Try it... you might be eating an omelet for lunch most days like we do.
The ingredients are simple!

  • 2 eggs per omelet
  • 1 tablespoon milk  for each 2 egg omelet
  • cheese of your choice
  • chopped veggies of your choice 
  • choice of  chopped precooked bacon, chorizo sausage, ham (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. In one small pan, place meat and veggies over medium heat, stirring to heat through.
  2. In a large as possible non stick skillet, heat 1 teaspoon butter over medium heat.
  3. Break eggs into a bowl, add milk and whisk until well mixed.
  4. Pour just enough egg mixture to cover the bottom of your non stick skillet.
  5. As soon as it begins to set, season with salt and pepper and sprinkle cheese and your fillings onto the egg.
  6. Wait until the egg is set (about 30 seconds) and use egg lifters to fold it up like a burrito.


Lemon Parmesan Coins



A friend posted a family favorite recipe for homemade crackers on her blog some time ago and I bookmarked it.  Today I'm sharing my adaptation, since I changed it up a wee bit.  She used rosemary...I used dill.  She used the food processor...I did it without. We quite enjoyed these crackers...having them as an pre-dinner appetizer with guests on several occasions.  The best part is the pastry can be made in advance...even stored in the freezer.  Thanks, Lorrie!

  • 1 1/3 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 Tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1-2  tablespoons fresh dill, rosemary or thyme, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup butter, cold and hard
  • 1 egg yolk
  • juice of 1 lemon (about 3 tablespoons)
  1. In large bowl, combine flour, Parmesan cheese, lemon zest, salt and pepper.  
  2. Using a large holed grater, grate the butter.
  3. Add grated butter to the dry ingredients, and toss to create  pea-sized pieces.
  4. Combine egg yolk and lemon juice. Drizzle over flour mixture.
  5. Stir to combine.
  6. Turn mixture onto work surface and work the dough until it sticks together.
  7. Shape into a log, about 1 1/2 inches in diameter.
  8. Wrap in plastic wrap.
  9. Chill for at least one hour.
  10. Slice 1/4 inch think and place on parchment lined baking sheet.
  11. Bake at 350° for 15 minutes or until golden.

Large Basic Platz Mix


This Platz mix can be used as a base mix for near any kind of fruit Platz, muffin mix or coffee cake. Having the dry ingredients pre-mixed with the butter is a time saver when you need to make something quick for coffee or dessert. This amount makes about 13 cups of mix and will yield about 4 recipes, depending on what you make. The total recipe would serve 48 - 50. 

Ingredients:
  • 8 cups flour (I use unbleached)
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup baking powder
  • 1 Tbsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 cups cold butter
Method:
  1. In a large bowl, mix dry ingredients and use a grater to grate in the butter, like cheese.
  2. Stir well, if too chunky, use pastry blender to stir and finish it up.
  3. Store in refrigerator for up to three months.

 For Basic Platz:
  • 3 cups mix
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cups buttermilk
  • 1 - 1 1/2 cups sliced fruit
  • crumbs made from 1 cup mix and 2 - 3 Tbsp cream
  1. In a small bowl, whisk egg with fork and add buttermilk. Add to dry mix in a larger bowl , stirring with a fork until blended.
  2. Spread into greased 9x9 inch pan and cover with sliced plums, apricots, apples or finely chopped rhubarb. Sprinkle with about 2 Tbps of sugar if desired or cinnamon sugar for apples.
  3. Top with crumbs using your hand to mix them.
  4. Bake at 350 F for 35 - 40 minutes.

Bread for the Journey


  1. Simply trusting every day,
  2. Trusting through a stormy way;
    Even when my faith is small,
    Trusting Jesus, that is all.
    • Refrain:
      Trusting as the moments fly,
      Trusting as the days go by;
      Trusting Him whate’er befall,
      Trusting Jesus, that is all.
  3. Brightly doth His Spirit shine
    Into this poor heart of mine;
    While He leads I cannot fall;
    Trusting Jesus, that is all.
  4. Singing if my way is clear,
    Praying if the path be drear;
    If in danger for Him call;
    Trusting Jesus, that is all.
  5. Trusting Him while life shall last,
    Trusting Him till earth be past;
    Till within the jasper wall,
    Trusting Jesus, that is all.
  6. by Edgar P. Stites
  7. As small as our faith sometimes is, let us simply trust.
  8. "Trusting Jesus, that is all."