Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Orange Burgundy Chicken

This recipe comes from an old Pillsbury cookbook via my Sister in Law. Over the years she has 'tweaked' the recipe and now when I made it I added my own touch.



For the chicken:
  • 2/3 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon Seasoned salt 
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 8 bone in chicken pieces - I used drumsticks and thighs
  • 1/4 cup margarine or butter

For the Sauce:
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup orange or peach marmalade
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange zest
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup orange juice.
  • 1/2 cup burgundy or dry red wine
  • 1 orange cut into thin slices
  1. Mix flour and seasoned salt and pepper in a shallow bowl
  2. Dredge chicken pieces one at a time in the flour mixture.
  3. In an electric frying pan or on the stove, melt margarine and brown chicken over medium heat.  Do not crowd the pan.
  4. Meanwhile mix all sauce ingredients except the wine.
  5. When chicken is browned on all sides, add sauce and stir to cover chicken.
  6. Turn heat to a low simmer and continue cooking for 25-30 minutes. Add more orange juice if sauce is too thick.
  7. Add the wine and  orange slices and continue to cook for another 5-10 minutes.
  8. Serve with mashed potatoes, noodles or rice.

To bake in oven:  Place browned chicken pieces in a 9x13 greased glass baking dish . Cover with sauce and bake in the oven for 30 minutes. Stir in the wine and oranges and bake an additional 10 minutes or until heated through)



Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Apple Pastry (Pirog)

In the Russian community I grew up in we called our sweet and savory sheets of yeast dough baked and filled with fruit or cabbage or meat, Pirog пиро́г (make sure to roll the r when you pronounce it).

This recipe will make enough dough for 2 small cookie sheet sized pastries. You can cut the recipe in half if you aren't feeding a crowd or giving some away.

Dough:
1/2 cup warm water
2 packages yeast (each packet is approx. 2-1/4 teaspoons yeast)
1 tablespoon sugar
2 cups sour cream
1/2 cup soft butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons salt
about 6 cups flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Dissolve yeast in warm water with the 1 tablespoon sugar.
Warm the sour cream carefully to lukewarm.
Mix the sour cream, butter, sugar, eggs, salt, and yeast mixture.
Start adding the flour 1 cup at a time till all mixed in and your dough comes away from the bowl and starts to form a ball. You might need a little more than 6 cups of flour.
Knead the dough on a floured surface.
Place the dough in a bowl in a warm place away from draft and let it rise twice punching in between rises. This could take up to 2 hours.
Divide the dough in half. Work with one half at a time if you are filling 2 small cookie sheets.
On a floured board or surface roll the dough out to the size of your small cookie sheet (approx. 15-1/2 x 10-1/2 x 1) The dough should be 1/4-1/2 inch thickness.
Carefully transfer the dough to the prepared cookie sheet (greased) and pat the dough down to fit to the edges and up the edges.
Fill the prepared dough with your choice of filling.
Bake in 350 degree oven for approx 40 minutes or until dough is a golden brown.
Cool before cutting in small portions and serving.

Filling:
4 cups fruit - fresh, previously frozen, or canned
1 cup sugar
4 Tablespoons corn starch 

Bring all the ingredients to a boil and then let cool before spreading evenly over the dough.
I added nuts on top of the filling but that is optional.
I used apple slices that I chopped into bite sized pieces.
*This filling recipe was enough for one cookie sheet of the dough. Double it if making 2 cookie sheets.


I had some roasted pecans and decided to sprinkle them on top before baking the Pirog пиро́г.
 The finished product. I'm a novice at baking with yeast doughs and kneading dough but slowly but surely I'm practicing my way into a comfort zone to try these recipes my mom made for larger gatherings. I'll share some of her savory Pirog recipes in the future using a slightly different dough recipe. My mom's Pirog usually had another layer of dough on top of the filling that was pinched to the bottom layer of dough. Then you would cut decorative slits on the upper dough before baking. Stay tuned for that method with a savory filling.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Hot Rueben Spread


If you need another idea for a cracker spread this season you should try this recipe. If you like rueben sandwiches you will love this dip! It's a delicious spread for crackers or breads of your choice. I could make a meal of this. And I did!
  • 1 cup of canned corn beef, chopped
  • 1 3/4 cups sauerkraut, drained and patted dry
  • 1 cup swiss cheese, grated
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons pickle relish or pickles, chopped
  • Dash of pepper
  • 3 drops Tabasco sauce..or more if you like 'heat'
  • Extra swiss cheese, grated (for the top)
  1. Combine all ingredients and spread into a greased oven safe dish. (approx 1 litre size)
  2. Sprinkle extra cheese on top.
  3. Bake at 350º for 25 - 30 minutes until mixture is hot and bubbly.
  4. Serve hot with crackers or bread. 

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Bread for the Journey



Delight yourself in the Lord,
    and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Psalm 37:4 ESV
 
A new year is a good time to take stock and make plans for the future.  It may also be a good time to make resolutions.  My record with resolution-keeping is not that great and so my list is short. Very short! But this I know...if I make only one resolution it should be to 'delight myself in the Lord'. Then the rest will fall into place. 

He has my best interests at heart. He will lead and guide if I let Him. He will give counsel and direction. Though all else may fail in 2015...He will never fail.

And so I choose trust in God rather than fear the future...and I look forward to what great things He has in store for me.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Herb and Garlic Paste


We roast a lot of different large cuts of beef at our house and this preparation method with paste is tried and true.This recipe will be good for a six to ten pound beef roast like a Rib Roast or New York Strip.

What you'll need:
Balsamic Vinegar to lightly coat the beef.
3 cloves of garlic minced or pressed
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh thyme or 2 teaspoons dried.
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh Rosemary or 1 teaspoon dried.
3 Tablespoons salt
1-2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper.
2 tablespoons Olive Oil

Method:
Remove meat from refrigerator 1-2 hours before roasting.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Rub the whole portion of beef with the Balsamic vinegar.
Place the meat on rack in shallow roasting pan fatty side up.
Make a paste from the next six ingredients.
Coat the top, sides and ends of the roast with the paste.
Roast at 400 degrees for 15 minutes and then turn the heat down to 350 degrees and roast until internal temperature reaches 125-130 degrees for medium rare.



Friday, December 26, 2014

Lopsha - Russian Noodle Soup Flashback Friday

For Flashback Friday I'm re posting this peasant soup that we grew up with called Lopsha in Russian at our house and in our Russian community.
This soup (Lopsha) is made is made for large church gatherings. I have recipes to serve 200-250 people. They make their own noodles using 20 dozen eggs, 60 lbs. flour and 1 lb. salt, then make a stock from 35 lbs. of soup bones and 350 lbs of choice (kosher) beef. Usually Lopsha is served at funerals and Borscht is made for Weddings. This is basic Russian Peasant Village Fare. I’m giving you a very simple quick recipe.




All you’ll need is store bought (or home made) Chicken Broth and Jewish very fine egg noodles. (Manischewitz or similar)

Bring the Broth to a boil.

Add as many noodles as you like, but remember they expand while cooking. When the noodles are cooked the Lopsha is ready. Adjust your noodles as to how thick you like your Lopsha. If your soup gets too thick for your liking just add some more broth.

If you want a little more interest in the soup you can add cubed potatoes and carrots to the broth to cook them before you add the noodles. If you want those carrots and potatoes to be a lot tastier saute them in a little olive oil, salt and pepper before you add them to the broth. Happy memories!



After all our holiday eating of rich foods this would be a nice meal.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas 2014


(photo credit ... Beatriz Schellenberg)


“Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, 
which the Lord has made known to us.”  Luke 2:15



Thank you Heavenly Father for this Christmas and the true meaning it represents.
Thank you for eternal hope, for sending your son to save us from hopelessness.
Thank you for Jesus Christ, our Saviour who came to give us life.
Thank you that we can come to you just as we are.
Thank you for the gift of your presence.
Thank you for the joy in knowing you.
Thank you for the peace that you give.
Thank you for the love you pour out.
Thank you for the grace you give.
Thank you for coming to us.
Emmanuel.




From all of us at Mennonite Girls Can Cook
we wish you a Merry Christmas!

Anneliese   Betty   Bev   Charlotte   Ellen   Judy   Julie   Marg   Kathy   Lovella







Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Ginger Spice Cookies

Here we are, December 24th. You may still be needing to bake something sweet. This recipe is one that calls for basic pantry items, but the wonderful aroma from the spices will fill your home with an invitation to the kitchen, and after all isn't that where we all love to gather during the holiday season!

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup molasses
  • 2 1/3 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp cloves
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp finely ground black pepper (this is a must in these cookies)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup cane sugar, for rolling dough in
  1. Cream butter. Add egg and beat. 
  2. Add both white and brown sugar and beat well. Add molasses and beat well.
  3. Measure all the remaining dry ingredients (except cane sure for rolling) into a large bowl and stir mix well.
  4. Add dry mixture into creamed butter mixture and mix until dry ingredients are blended in well and dough comes together.
  5. Cover dough and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 12 hours. 
  6. Roll dough into 1" balls, roll in cane sugar and place on parchment lined baking sheets.
  7. Bake in 350º oven and bake for 10-12 minutes.
  8. Remove to cooling rack to cool. Store in air tight container. 

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Peanut Crunch

You may think it is too late for cooking up goodies in your kitchen for Christmas 2014...but think again.  Here is a simple and delightful sweet 'n salty treat that you can whip up in a few minutes.  It is a great addition to the Christmas trays and also packages up nicely for a hostess gift any time of the year.  Thank-you to my friend Judy who shared this recipe on her blog many years ago.


  • 1 bag peanut butter chips
  • 1 bag white chocolate chips
  • 1 tablespoon peanut butter
  • 1 cup dry-roasted peanuts
  • 2 cups mini-pretzels, somewhat crushed
Place chips and peanut butter in a large, glass bowl.
Microwave on high for 2 minutes.
Stir until smooth. (Continue to heat in microwave for 20 seconds at a time, if necessary.)
Add peanuts and pretzel pieces.  Stir to coat evenly.
Spread on a parchment-lined cookie sheet.
Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Remove from the refrigerator and break the sheet of candy bite-sized pieces.
Place in a large container with a tightly fitting lid and store in the refrigerator until needed.



Monday, December 22, 2014

Easy Frozen Roll Cinnamon Bread


I've been making this delicious overnight Christmas morning treat for years.  It was a favorite as our children were growing up and now I'm introducing it to the new generation for sleepover breakfast treat.    It is as easy as it comes.  You can go ahead and make it from scratch if you want but this recipe allows little helpers to get the job done quickly and know that something delicious will be ready in the morning.  

  • 16 - 18 frozen raw dinner buns  (or make your own dough,  let rise once, form into buns and freeze on a cookie sheet before they start to rise again)
  • 1 small package vanilla pudding powder (unsweetened, not instant) I use Dr. Oetker brand.  (available at Neufeld's farm in Abbotsford) Alternately,  use two tablespoons vanilla custard powder.  Another option is to use a small package of your favorite brand cook and serve butterscotch pudding and cut back on the brown sugar.
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons  cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  1. Generously butter a bundt pan.
  2. Place dinner buns in the bundt pan.
  3. Combine vanilla pudding powder, brown sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over the buns in the pan.
  4. Drizzle melted butter over the dry mixture, do not mix.
  5. Cover pan with plastic wrap and leave on the counter to rise 8 - 10 hours or overnight.  
  6. Preheat oven to 350 and bake about 30 minutes.
  7. Immediately turn over onto a large plate and drizzle with glaze.
Glaze
  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • a few tablespoons of milk or enough to make a thick but pourable glaze.
  1. Drizzle over hot Cinnamon bread.




Sunday, December 21, 2014

Bread for the Journey




On the fourth Sunday of Advent, we celebrate God’s faithfulness in sending Jesus, and we remember that faithfulness as we look forward to Christ’s second coming.

John 1:14 (ESV) “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

Thou Didst Leave Thy Throne

Thou didst leave Thy throne and Thy kingly crown,
When Thou camest to earth for me;
But in Bethlehem’s home was there found no room
For Thy holy nativity.

Refrain
O come to my heart, Lord Jesus,
There is room in my heart for Thee.

Heaven’s arches rang when the angels sang,
Proclaiming Thy royal degree;
But of lowly birth didst Thou come to earth,
And in great humility.

Refrain

The foxes found rest, and the birds their nest
In the shade of the forest tree;
But Thy couch was the sod, O Thou Son of God,
In the deserts of Galilee.

Refrain

Thou camest, O Lord, with the living Word,
That should set Thy people free;
But with mocking scorn and with crown of thorn,
They bore Thee to Calvary.

Refrain

When the heavens shall ring, and the angels sing,
At Thy coming to victory,
Let Thy voice call me home,
Saying Yet there is room,
There is room at My side for thee.

My heart shall rejoice, Lord Jesus,
When Thou comest and callest for me.

Words: Emily E. Elliott, 1864.

 

 

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Homemade Vanilla Extract

Making vanilla extract couldn't be easier!  
All you need are two ingredients...vanilla beans and alcohol.


Pure homemade vanilla extract smells heavenly...
adds intense flavour to baked goods...
and makes a fun little gift from the kitchen.



  • 12 Vanilla Beans 
  • 2 cups vodka 
 Rule of thumb ~ use six beans per 1 cup of alcohol.  (Never less.  More is better!)

Directions:
  1. Split each bean in half lengthwise using a sharp knife or a pizza cutter.  Leave an inch connected at each end of the bean.  (Just because.  For looks!)
  2. Place the beans in a clean jar.  Cover them with vodka to submerge completely.  Place the lid on the jar and give it a little shake.
  3. Put the date on the lid...just so you know how long it has been steeping.
  4. Store the jar in a cool, dark place for several months.  Shake occasionally.The longer you wait, the richer it is.
  5. Strain the infusion through a coffee filter to remove the flecks of seed.  Or, leave them if you prefer.
  6. Decant the extract into pretty bottles for gift-giving...using a funnel.
  7. Add more vodka to the 'spent' vanilla beans in the jar and make more vanilla!  Eventually the beans will need to be replaced...once all the flavour has been extracted.  I left the 'used' beans in the jar and added fresh ones as well.
Vanilla happens to be among the most expensive spices, since growing the seed pods is very labour intensive.  I ordered Madagascar beans on-line.  As for the vodka, I used the least expensive kind I could find.   Vodka is the preferred alcohol since it is virtually flavourless.

And that is the synopsis of my first foray into making vanilla extract.  The vanilla has been packaged and gifted...and the next batch is steeping in a dark corner of my pantry.  I thought I would share my experience with you now...to give you plenty of time to get your vanilla extract production going before next year's gift-giving season is upon us.


Friday, December 19, 2014

Baba Ganoosh


If you like hummus, you will enjoy baba ganoosh. This dip is made with roasted eggplant instead of cooked chick peas. A good healthy alternative for creamy dips that is also dairy free, you can enjoy during the Christmas season.

  • 2 eggplants
  • 1/4 cup tahini (sesame paste, bought in the imported food isle)
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • dash of smoked paprika
  1. Line a baking pan with foil or parchment paper. 
  2. Cut the eggplant in half and place cut side down and skin side up. 
  3. In a preheated 375 degree oven bake the eggplant for 25-30 minutes and very soft. 
  4. Cool until the eggplant is easily handled. 
  5. In a food processor place the flesh of the eggplant discarding the skin and liquid, along with the remaining ingredients, EXCEPT the olive oil. Pulse until smooth. Can be done in a blender as well. 
  6. Place into your container and drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle smoked paprika on top. 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Hot Apple Cider


During winter and especially at Christmas time, hot apple cider is a nice treat. Sittting all cozy by the lights of the Christmas tree with a cup of cider in hand is a wonderful way to relax. This recipe has a nice twist with the addition of pineapple juice. Goes really well with savory snacks.

  • 6 cups of pure apple juice
  • 2 cups of pineapple juice
  • 1 stick of cinnamon, broken into a couple pieces
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  1. Combine all ingredients in a saucepan.
  2. Bring to a gentle boil, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
  3. Serve immediately or cool down and refrigerate until time to reheat.



Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Fair Trade Fruit and Nut Chocolate Clusters and Breakfast Television Segment




Fair Trade Chocolate Fruit and Nut Clusters​


Kathy and Lovella recently visited Breakfast Television in Vancouver to showcase the products available at Ten Thousand Villages across Canada.  Looking for Fair Trade Products for your Christmas giving this year?  
  • ​2 100 g bars Fair Trade Divine Milk Chocolate 
  • 2 100 g bars Fair Trade Camino Dark Chocolate
  • 2 tablespoons Fair Trade Zatoun Olive Oil (divided)

Assorted Fruits and Nuts
  • 4 oz  (112 g) Brazil Nuts (chopped)
  • 2.5  oz (75 g) Fair Trade Dried Pineapple (chopped)
  • 2.5 oz (75 g) Fair Trade Golden Berry
  • 2.5 oz (75 g) Fair Trade Exotic Fruit Mix (Dried Dragon Fruit, organic Golden Berry and Coconut)
  • 2.5 oz (75 g) locally sourced dried cranberries
  • Himalayan Fair Trade Salt (optional)
  • Melted White Chocolate for garnish (optional)

  1. Prepare a cookie sheet  with parchment paper.
  2. Melt Dark and Milk Chocolate each with 1 tablespoon Olive Oil over low heat in separate small saucepans. Stir continuously to keep from scorching.
  3. Remove from heat, and stir in fruits and nuts as desired.  Alternately, leave fruit and nuts out of the melted chocolate allowing a variation of nuts and fruits as to your preference onto chocolate.  Placing fruit and nuts on top of the chocolate is a good way to make visible what is in the chocolate for those with nut allergies. 
  4. Using a small spoon, drop chocolate mixture in small mounds.   If desired, sprinkle with sea salt or drizzle with melted white chocolate.
  5. Refrigerate to set.  Because this recipe does not temper the chocolate, the chocolates should be packaged and stored in the refrigerator. 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Chocolate Cinnamon Crinkle Cookies using Ten Thousand Village Fair Trade Ingredients

 In today's post I'm featuring Fair Trade baking essentials from Ten Thousand Villages.

I received a box in the mail a few weeks ago which contained a gift set from Ten Thousand Villages. The gift set contained Camino Cocoa, Golden Cane Sugar, cinnamon, and a few little novelty items for the kitchen all wrapped up in cellophane. I played with a recipe I had received years ago from a co worker for Chocolate Crinkle Cookies, adding Fair Trade cinnamon, and double dipping the cookie dough balls in Fair Trade cane sugar and then powdered sugar before baking.


Chocolate Cinnamon Crinkle Cookies
Yields 4 dozen cookies
  • 1/3 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup Camino Cocoa
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
Sugar cinnamon for rolling cookie dough balls:
  • 1/3 cup Camino Golden Cane Sugar
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  1. Beat butter until creamy. 
  2. Add brown sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and cinnamon. Beat well.
  3. In a small bowl whisk together egg whites and sour cream. Add to first mixture and beat well.
  4. Add flour and mix well. 
  5. Turn cookie dough out onto a long piece of wax paper. Shape dough into a long snake. Roll wax paper around the dough and place in the refrigerator for one hour.
  6. Cut 'dough snake' into thin slices that when rolled up make into small balls. 
  7. In a small bowl mix together the 1/3 cup Camino Golden Cane Sugar and the cinnamon.
  8. Put the 1/2 cup powdered sugar in another small bowl.
  9. Dip and roll the cookie balls in the cane sugar and cinnamon mixture and then dip and roll in the powdered sugar. (see note)
  10. Place dipped cookie balls onto parchment lined baking sheets. Bake at 350º for 10-12 minutes. Remove immediately while still hot to cooling rack. 
NOTE: Dipping first in the cane sugar and cinnamon helps the powdered sugar to not melt into the cookies when baking and also helps the baked cookies to maintain the snow looking powdered sugar. 


Ten Thousand Villages is a great place to shop in store or on line. Perfect for Christmas gift giving.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Nuts and Bolts with Bugles

Those cute little crunchy horn shaped bugles add a nice crunch to this old stand by party mix that I'm sure most of you have a number of recipes for. Bugles may be a new addition for you. I make a huge roaster full early in the holiday season, bag it and put it in the freezer. They stay crisp and fresh for a long time that way. This mix makes a really nice gift in a tin. 
  • 6 cups Shreddies (These are a Canadian cereal. They are denser and not as light tasting as Chex. If you can't find Shreddies use equal amounts of more Chex cereal)
  • 6 cups Cheerios
  • 10 cups Rice or Corn Chex, or a combination
  • 6 cups pretzels
  • 6 cups bugles
  • 6 cups peanuts ( I leave these out to make a peanut free snack option, but the addition of nuts is always nice)
  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp garlic salt
  • 2 tsp seasoning salt
  1. Measure all dry cereal, bugles and pretzels into a large roasting pan. Make sure it's big enough so you can stir it easily during baking.
  2. Melt butter and stir in spices.
  3. Drizzle butter/spice mixture over dry ingredients, stirring to coat.
  4. Bake in 250º oven for 1 1/2 hours. Set timer and stir mixture every 20 minutes. 
  5. As the mixture cools it will crisp up. Once cooled bag and store in dry cool place or in freezer. Make sure you use freezer bags to insure they are airtight. 


Sunday, December 14, 2014

Bread for the Journey



Third Advent reflection is on Rejoicing

As I spend time pondering during the advent season,  I can't help but wonder what Mary must of felt like. Young and unwed, what would people think, how will Joesph her betrothed take to this news of her carrying within her the Son of God? Will he believe her that she was a virgin? I could imagine that Mary was filled with fear in the beginning. It took her some time to come to that place that she accepted the Lord's will on her life. 
I am sure that we all have had times where we have been asked to do something that the Lord has asked of us that filled us with apprehensions, fear and uncertainty just like Mary.
The word rejoice is rooted in joy and grace. Mary spent time away with her cousin to come to this place of joy and gratitude in her life by being mindful of God's grace that had transformed her. Read the full scripture in the link below and enjoy this beautiful song sung by Steve Bell. 
May this advent bless you with the gift of rejoicing. 

Luke 1:46-56New Living Translation (NLT)

The Magnificat: Mary’s Song of Praise

 Mary responded,
“Oh, how my soul praises the Lord.

    How my spirit rejoices in God my Savior!

 For he took notice of his lowly servant girl,
    and from now on all generations will call me blessed.
 For the Mighty One is holy,
    and he has done great things for me.
 He shows mercy from generation to generation
    to all who fear him.
 His mighty arm has done tremendous things!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Melting Shortbread Cookies Gluten Free



Many years ago, I was visiting my parents and my dad mentioned that the lady,  for whom he was doing  some work,  had  brought him a treat for coffee time - shortbread and coffee.  He mentioned several times how this was the best shortbread he had ever had, that it melted in his mouth.
That became my standard for shortbread - did it melt in my mouth?
Always enjoying shortbread, I wanted a gluten free recipe in time for the holiday season.
This one works really well and passes the shortbread test - Does it melt in your mouth?  YES, it does!
  • 3/4 cup butter - or half butter/half margarine
  • 1/2cup icing sugar 
  • 1 1/2 cups  Julie's Flour Mix  (gluten free) 
  • 3/4 tsp xanthan gum 
  • 1 tsp vanilla 
  • glazed red and green cherries
  1. Soften butter to room temperature. 
  2. Combine butter and icing sugar in mixer bowl - then beat until butter is white 
  3. Add flour mixed with xanthan gum - blend into butter/sugar
  4. Beat on high for at least 6 minutes. 
  5. Chill in refrigerator for a few minutes - or longer. 
  6. Drop by scant teaspoon onto parchment lined cookie sheet, top with cherries cut in half. 
  7. Bake at 300 degrees for 10-11 minutes  or until the edges begin to hint of turning golden. 
  8. Let cool completely before removing from pan - I slide the parchment paper onto a cooling rack to free up the pan for the next cookies. 
* These can also be baked in a cake pan with cherries even spaced to allow pieces cut in 1" squares. It is hard to keep the cherries centred on the cookies, the batter is very soft and the cherries want to slide as they bake.



Friday, December 12, 2014

Caramel Apple Pudding - Flashback Friday


Tonight it's cold in BC and the rain is pelting down.  
It's the perfect night for this yummy apple pudding.  
Apples and almonds are nestled in a cinnamon flavoured pudding
 surrounded by warm caramel sauce. 
Add a scoop of ice cream and you have the ultimate comfort food dessert.
Pudding:
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped apple (about 1/4 " size pieces)
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds (these add more crunch than the sliced almonds)
Sauce:
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup boiling water
  1. In mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and cinnamon.
  2. Add milk, stir with a spoon until blended and then add apples and almonds.
  3. Spread in a 1 1/2 quart casserole dish that you have buttered on the bottom only.
  4. Mix sauce ingredients and stir until butter is melted.
  5. Pour gently over pudding.
  6. Bake at 375 degrees for 40-50 minutes or until top starts to brown. If you over bake it, you will have less sauce.
 



When you dish it out, you will find the caramel sauce on the bottom. Serve warm with ice cream.
*To make it ahead, assemble the dry ingredients of the pudding and the sauce and set them aside until you are ready to bake it. Then add the milk to the pudding and the hot water to the sauce, assemble and bake.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Crown Roast of Pork


A crown roast gets it's unique look when you tie a rack of pork rib chops into a circle with the meat facing the inside. If you cannot find one in the fresh meat section, you can ask the butcher to tie one for you. He will most likely want to know how many ribs you need. I would choose one rib per person plus a few extra. The tips of the ribs facing the top get trimmed to create the crown and when it is tied up, the top of the center will be hollow, ready to fill with stuffing. It looks beautiful on a platter and is definitely for a time you want to splurge and spoil some people in your life. I got the gist of this recipe from Good Housekeeping, December 2013. Our family loved the lemon and rosemary rub along with the fruit in the stuffing.

Ingredients:

for roast:
  • 7 - 8 lbs crown loin of pork ( about 10 ribs)
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves stripped from stem
  • 1 Tbsp grated lemon peel
  • 2  tsp salt 
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
for stuffing:
  • 8 cups cubed bread, slightly toasted or left to dry for a day 
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 celery ribs, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 8 slices ready cooked bacon, chopped
  • 2 pears, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup dried cranberries or cherries, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves stripped from stem
  • 1 Tbsp fresh rosemary leaves, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 cup broth (or apple juice)

Method:
  1. Mix/rub together seasonings/spices for roast until well combined and then rub all over the roast. Place on plate, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and refrigerate 4 - 24 hours.
  2. About three and a half hours before dinner, preheat oven to 400 F and place pork in roaster (sprayed with oil), roasting 45 minutes uncovered. 
  3. Meanwhile, in large skillet, melt butter and cook onion and celery until soft, add garlic, pre-cooked bacon, pears, cherries (or cranberries) and spices and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. 
  4. Transfer to large bowl, adding bread cubes, toss gently and add juice or broth a little at a time until moist but not soaked. Set aside.
  5. After pork has roasted for 45 minutes, remove from oven and fill cavity with as much stuffing as fits, mounding slightly. Put leftover stuffing in a buttered dish or wrapped in foil, to cook alongside the roast later.
  6. Turn oven temperature down to 325 F and continue roasting for about one and a half to two hours, until meat thermometer reads 155 F when inserted in several places. 
  7. In the last half hour of roasting, put the left over stuffing to bake alongside the roaster, During this time, cover the top of the roast and tips with foil to prevent over browning.
  8. When the roast is ready, remove from oven, tent loosely with foil and let rest for 20 minutes during which time you can tie up the rest of the meal. Garnish roast on platter with cranberries, pear slices and sprigs of rosemary. Carve at the table. (Cut string and cut between each rib to serve.)
NOTE - It is valuable to have a meat thermometer on hand for assessing if the meat is cooked to perfection. After all the work and expense of this beautiful meal you do not want to slice into an under cooked or over cooked roast because of a wrong guess. Plan on about 20 minutes of cooking time per pound.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Gingerbread Cookies


Gingerbread cookies are always a hit with the younger crowd although I sure don't mind one with my coffee either! I used to bake these cookies when our children were younger and then later for the grandchildren. I thought it was time to bring back some memories. These cookies are easy and fun to make.  As you place the cut dough on the pan you can move the body parts to give them a whimsical look. And decorate as elaborate or as plain as you want. I am not a 'fancy decorator' as can be seen in these photos..but they make me smile anyway. These cookies are 'soft and chewy'. If you want crispy cookies roll the dough thinner, and bake a little longer.

  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup molasses
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 3 teaspoons ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  1. Combine butter, brown sugar, molasses, milk, and vanilla. Mix until smooth.
  2. Whisk together dry ingredients and stir into the wet ingredients until well combined and dough forms into a ball.
  3. Wrap up in waxed or parchment paper and refrigerate overnight.
  4. Roll out dough ( approx 1/4" ) on very lightly floured parchment paper, cut into gingerbread shapes. I used approx a 5" cutter.
  5. Place on parchment lined cookie sheet and bake at 350º for 10-12 minutes. 
  6. Cool completely and decorate with your favorite icing. Allow to dry before packing into cellophane bags for gifts or into containers for freezing. I like to lay the cookies on a cookie sheet to freeze, once frozen they can be packed into containers for freezing without messing up the decorating.
  7. Yields: 20 cookies

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Greek Feta Dip


This tasty dip was brought to a Christmas gathering my friend hosted. It was so good I just had to have the recipe. Thanks Pat for bringing this great dip and sharing the recipe with the rest of us. You can lighten it up using light cream cheese and the Greek yogurt instead of the sour cream.
  • 1-8oz package of cream cheese
  • 1 cup of feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup of sour cream or plain Greek yogurt
  • pepper and dried oregano according to personal taste
  • cucumber, diced 
  • red onion, diced 
  • tomatoes, diced 
  • colorful peppers, diced
  • Kalamata Olives, diced
  1. Combine the first 4 ingredients in a mixer and mix until smooth and creamy.
  2. Spread onto a platter.
  3. Top with the chopped vegetables and olives
  4. Sprinkle with more oregano, dried or fresh.
  5. Serve with pita or tortilla chips.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Orange Coconut Christmas Wreath


Last week we were invited to a Christmas brunch and I offered to bring the sweet rolls. 
I've made yeast Christmas wreaths for years with different fillings but this idea for dough came to me as I thought about combining the flavours of  Paska dough and my refrigerator dough.

  • 1 large orange
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup liquid honey
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons yeast
  • 5 cups flour
  1. Peel orange with a vegetable peeler, and place peel in blender jar.  Remove the white part of the orange rind from orange and discard.  Slice orange and discard seeds. Place orange in blender with the water and eggs.
  2. Place butter in microwave safe measuring cup and melt in microwave.  Add honey to the cup to make one cup and pour butter and honey into blender jar.  Add salt.  
  3. Blend on high for 2 minutes.  
  4. Place in mixer bowl along with the yeast.  Add 2 cups of flour and then one cup at a time and then knead with the dough hook (or by hand) according to your dough mixer instructions until the dough is smooth and elastic.
  5. Place in a greased large mixing bowl.  Turn once to coat all the sides of the dough.  Place a large plastic bag over the bowl.  Refrigerate overnight.
  6. In the morning, divide dough into two pieces and roll each piece into approximately 20 X 6 inches.
Filling
  • 1/4 cup softened butter
  • finely grated orange rind of one large orange
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
  1. Divide butter and spread on each rolled out piece of dough.
  2. Combine grated orange rind, sugar and coconut in a small bowl with your fingertips.  Sprinkle over both pieces of dough.  
  3. Roll up each piece of dough long side first as you would a cinnamon roll.
  4. Place each roll on a greased round baking pizza shaped pan, leaving an inch around the edges of the pan for rising. 
  5. Pinch together ends of dough and slice through the front and top, leaving the back of the roll uncut. 
  6. Lay each slice down, first towards the front and the next slice towards the back, forming a wreath.
  7. Cover lightly and allow to rise in a warm place about an hour and a half.
  8. Preheat oven to 325 F convection or 350 without convection.
  9. Bake about 25 minutes or until lightly browned.
Orange Sour Cream Topping
  • 1 cup full fat sour cream
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • juice of half a large orange
  1. While the wreath is baking, prepare the topping by mixing together.  Pour over hot wreaths as soon as they comes out of the oven.
To estimate time in having this ready for a morning brunch.  Remove cold dough at 7 AM to have wreath coming out of the oven for 9:30.  








Sunday, December 7, 2014

Bread for the Journey - 2nd Advent

Light in the Darkness


A Light in the Darkness
Second Advent

Matthew 4:16
 The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and 
shadow of death, light has dawned.

2 Corinthians 4:6
For God, who said, "Light shall shine out of darkness," is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.

When we walk in the darkness of night our eyes gradually adjust 
and we see enough of what is around us to walk in reasonable safety.
However when a light shines, the darkness is revealed and our eyes look to the light.
So it is now during Advent.  
We have adjusted to the darkness of the world around us and think that we know where we are 
and where we are going. 

However, the birth of Christ illuminates our souls and turns our hearts to focus on Him
and the path He calls us to walk.

During this season of Advent - ask God to shine His Light on the areas
of your heart where darkness prevails.
Ask Him to reveal to you relationships that need mending,
To show you things that you can do to bless others .
And to make your life be a reflection of His Light.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Mac & Cheese Salad

This macaroni salad can be served hot or cold and it can also be kicked up by adding cooked and seasoned ground beef to make a more hearty meal.

  1. 16 ounces of small elbow macaroni cooked in well salted water
  2. 5 ounces of crumbled feta cheese
  3. 4 ounces grated fresh Parmesan cheese
  4. 1/2 cup or more of fresh baby spinach julienned
  5. 3 green onions chopped
  6. Olive oil
  7. Salt and Pepper to taste

  • Bring a big pot of water to boil with a good amount of salt. 
  • Add the elbow macaroni and cook to a nice al dente stage.
  • Drain water and add a little olive oil to slightly coat the elbow macaroni.
  • Immediately add the feta and Parmesan cheese while macaroni is still hot.
  • Add green onions and spinach.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Toss and serve hot or you can refrigerate to serve cold at a later time.


If you want a more hearty meal instead of a nice side dish add some cooked seasoned ground beef to the salad and top with a little more Parmesan cheese. If you want the dish to be cheesier just add more feta and Parmesan cheese. You can also add more green onions or spinach. It's up to you and your taste buds.