Mennonite Girls Can Cook is a collection of recipes which were posted daily for a period of ten years from 2008 to 2018. We have over 3,000 delicious recipes that we invite you to try. The recipes can be accessed in our recipe file by category or you can use the search engine.

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Szechwan Caesar Salad

 With it being a holiday in Canada tomorrow, consider trying a Caesar salad with a twist and topping it with bbq Szechwan Chicken and instead of the usual croutons try it with peanuts, it really is very tasty. If you have roasted Asparagus, add that too, you won't be sorry. I won't add the amounts just the ingredients.
  • romaine lettuce
  • chicken breasts
  • store bought szechwan sauce
  • roasted peanuts (I use unsalted)
  • your favorite caesar salad dressing , homemade or store bought
  • fresh lemons
  • roasted asparagus
  1. Wash the amount of lettuce you want to use and tear into bite size pieces.
  2. BBQ the chicken breasts and brush with the szechwan sauce, then cut into thin slices. Or if you do not wish to bbq then slice the chicken thinly and cook on the stove top in a lightly oiled frying pan for a few minutes until no longer pink, then add the sauce and cook for just 2 or 3 more minutes. 
  3. Add desired amount of dressing. 
  4. Sprinkle with roasted peanuts
  5. Serve with fresh lemon wedges to squeeze over the salad.
  6. Add roasted asparagus if you wish. We love it with the asparagus. 
This makes a nice meal on a hot summers day. 

Grilled Peppers and Asparagus

It's Barbeque Season and I find it such a treat to have my husband in charge of the grill.
When he looks after doing the meat and often the veggies, my part of the meal is easy peasy.
I love peppers and I love asparagus and the two vegetables  
 complement each other so well.
Recently, I found some of those long pointed sweet peppers at my 
local produce market.
Their lovely shape took this combination of vegetables up a notch in presentation, 
matching the long strips with the asparagus spears.
Once again this is more a serving suggestion than a recipe.
  1. Take 3 long pointed sweet peppers - preferably 1 red, 1 yellow and 1 orange
  2. Cut them in half lengthwise, remove the seeds and white membranes and slice lengthwise into 1/2 inch strips.
  3. Mix about 1/4 cup olive oil with 1 - 2 cloves minced garlic.
  4. If you have one of those BBQ pans with the holes in them, place pepper strips and asparagus in a single layer on the pan and brush them all lightly with the olive oil and garlic. If you don't have a pan, grill the veggies on a piece of heavy foil instead.
  5. Grill over medium high heat until asparagus is crisp tender and peppers are beginning to char around the edges.
  6. If you like, sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper.
  7. Top with coarsely grated or shaved parmesan cheese and serve.

Bread for the Journey

Psalm 98 ESV

Oh sing to the Lord a new song,
    for he has done marvelous things!
His right hand and his holy arm
    have worked salvation for him.

The Lord has made known his salvation;

    he has revealed his righteousness in the sight of the nations.
 He has remembered his steadfast love and faithfulness
    to the house of Israel.
All the ends of the earth have seen
    the salvation of our God.
 Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth;
    break forth into joyous song and sing praises!
 Sing praises to the Lord with the lyre,
    with the lyre and the sound of melody!
 With trumpets and the sound of the horn
    make a joyful noise before the King, the Lord!
 Let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
    the world and those who dwell in it!
 Let the rivers clap their hands;
    let the hills sing for joy together
 before the Lord, for he comes
    to judge the earth.
He will judge the world with righteousness,
    and the peoples with equity.

As I read the first verse about singing a new song I wondered what it meant, does it just mean to sing a new song that you haven't heard before or does it mean more? To me it speaks of letting go of/forgetting negative thoughts/deeds from the past and starting fresh, being joyful and praising Him for all the marvelous things He has done for me.
That is my new song that I am singing to the Lord.

Saturday's Kitchen Tips ~ Clean Oven & Grill Racks

Who likes cleaning the oven? Not me.  I have double ovens...which are self-cleaning (LOL) though I only use that function very occasionally. A non-stick liner is the perfect solution for keeping the 'floor' of the oven clean. Made of heavy-duty non-stick coated fabric...even the most stubborn cooked-on spills simply wipe off or rinse away.  They last for many years (I've had mine for well over five years)...withstand high temp's and are easy to remove for cleaning.  The liners are available at kitchen shops and on-line...and can be trimmed to fit most sized ovens.   It works for me!  (This liner cannot be placed on the floor of ovens where the heating element is hidden in the base. It should then be laid on the bottom rack.)

As for the racks, I'll share my easy 'no scrub' method for getting them shiny and looking new again.  I remove them before the self-cleaning cycle since it discolours them.
  • Put the racks in a large black garbage bag...outdoors.
  • Spray them well with oven cleaner.
  • Tie the bag shut tightly.
  • Leave overnight (at least 12 hours).
  • Hose them down.
  • Wipe clean.
And here's the good news...this method works equally well for cleaning the cooking grates on your BBQ. And since it's grilling season, I thought this might just be a timely tip at this time of the year!

Ginger Cream Meringues with Berries (mini pavlovas)

For this flashback Friday I'm re-posting a recipe I first made in summer of 2008, using the inspiration from a summer issue of the Canadian Living magazine. I made these using a pavlova recipe I got from my friend Herta many years ago. While making these meringues I was reminded of childhood days, living in Brazil, where a certain corner store, which I passed on my way home from school, sold the best hard baked pink meringues. For 5 cents, I was the richest and luckiest girl on the street while I slowly enjoyed the melt in your mouth sweetness.  While these dessert meringues here don't come out as dense, but rather soften into a marshmallow texture with the toppings on them, I still enjoy the light and airy consistency, especially combined with the custard and berries. This is also another delicious gluten free option.

A bit of trivia included about blueberries:
Blueberries are Canada’s number 1 fruit crop in terms of crop area and they are as Canadian as maple syrup! Enjoy them when in season and freeze them for the winter.

  • 4 egg whites (save yolks for custard)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 4 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 c sugar
  1. Beat egg whites and salt until frothy, then add lemon juice, vanilla and cornstarch.
  2. Gradually add sugar, beating until very stiff (5 - 10 minutes)
  3. Line a large cookie sheet with foil (shiny side down) or parchment paper. With a large serving spoon, form six to eight 3 inch in diameter mounds; then, using back of spoon, swirl into nests.
  4. Bake at 250 F for approximately 75 min. Then turn oven off and leave in the oven for an hour or two to cool down. Can be made the day ahead and stored in a zip lock bag in the fridge.
  • 2 cups milk, divided
  • 1 piece ginger root, (1 - 2 inches) peeled, sliced thinly
  • 3 Tbsp sugar
  • 3 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream (to whip and blend in later)
  1. In small saucepan, heat 1 ½ milk with ginger over med heat until bubbles form around edge; remove ginger. If you prefer to omit the ginger, it is good just as a vanilla custard too.
  2. In bowl, whisk together sugar, cornstarch and ¼ cup milk; blend yolks in well, then another ¼ cup milk and vanilla. Use a tad more vanilla if not using ginger.
  3. Stir into hot milk and cook over med heat, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, pour into bowl. Place plastic wrap directly on surface and refrigerate until cool. Whip cream, then fold into cooled pudding. Cover and refrigerate. Can be made a day ahead.
Berry Topping: (approximate amounts)
  • 3 cups blueberries (can add in blackberries and/or raspberries)
  • 2 - 3 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  1. Put berries in medium pot with a tad amount of water if berries are fresh; if frozen no need for water. 
  2. Bring to boil on low to medium heat while stirring in sugar and cornstarch blended with 1/4 cup water. Stir as needed until it bubbles. 
  3. Simmer for a few minutes on low until juices run clear. Adjust flavor to personal preference with sugar and/or lemon, depending on sweetness of berries. Cool. At this point you can also add in fresh strawberries.
To serve:
A few hours before serving, scoop a generous amount of custard mixed with whipped cream on top of each meringue. Return to fridge until ready to serve, OR, for a more crusty meringue, you can fill and serve immediately. To serve, place filled meringues on individual dessert plates, using a large spatula to lift. Top with berries.

Crab Melt

Sometimes we're hungry for a snack type lunch or simple supper. With a few ingredients I had I made this crab and cream cheese melt on a pizza pretzel bun. So tasty!

The amounts shown are for 2 pretzel buns. (bread options: bagel or brioche thinly sliced)
  • pretzel buns - these can be purchased in the baker of your local grocery store
  • butter
  • 1 cup crab meat, shredded
  • 3-4 tbsp soft spreadable herb and garlic cream cheese
  • 1 tbsp chives or green onion, chopped fine
  • 1 tsp finely chopped fresh dill
  • 1/4 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese
  • lemon pepper
  1. Using a very sharp bread knife or electric knife, cut the very top off the pretzel bun. This is the part of the bun that has the pizza sauce on it. eat that thin layer of bun.
  2. Lightly spread each bun with butter, and very lightly toast under your oven broiler.
  3. Mix together crab, cream cheese, and onions and mozzarella cheese. Spread over buns.
  4. Place prepared buns on baking sheet and bake in 400º oven for 15 minutes or until mixture is bubbly and hot. 

Roasted Asparagus

This recipe can't get any easier. It can be done with any amount of Asparagus you wish to feed a crowd or just for two.

  • Asparagus
  • Sea Salt
  • Olive Oil
  • Parmesan Cheese
  • Fresh lemon wedges

  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Drizzle Asparagus lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt and lay in a single layer on a large baking sheet. 
  3. Roast for 10 minutes or until it begins to turn color to bright green and slightly turning brown .
  4. Take out of the oven and sprinkle with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and a squeeze of fresh lemon to brighten the flavors. Enjoy. 
  5. An alternative is to sprinkle the asparagus with cheese and then roast instead of adding it after. 

Balsamic Pot Roast with Mushrooms

Although we often associate the slow cooker with cold winter days, 
there are times, even in summer, 
when it's nice to have a nice hot meal ready without a lot of
last minute preparation.
We really enjoyed this slow cooker beef and I hope you do too.

  • 1 - 3-5 pound boneless roast beef (round roast or chuck) I used a sirloin tip that had been in the freezer a bit too long.
  • 1 large onion halved and then sliced
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1- 2 tablespoons honey
  • 4 large cloves garlic coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp tabasco sauce or hot red pepper flakes
  • 2 cups whole, small white mushrooms
  • 1 -2 tablespoons cornstarch
  1. Place sliced onions in a layer at the bottom of the slow cooker.
  2. Place beef on top of the onions.
  3. Mix remaining ingredients (except mushrooms and cornstarch) in a large measuring cup and mix well.
  4. Pour over roast beef and top with the raw mushrooms.
  5. Cook on low heat for 6-8 hours or on high heat for about 4 hours or until roast can be flaked with a fork.
  6. When beef is done, remove to a platter and shred with a fork.
  7. Remove onions and mushrooms to another dish with a slotted spoon.
  8. Pour liquid into a pot. 
  9. in a small bowl, add 1 - 2 tablespoons cornstarch to 1/4 cup cold water and mix until blended
  10. Stir cornstarch slurry into meat liquid and cooks, stirring, over medium heat until it thickens.
  11. Place beef on platter, arrange mushrooms and onions over meat and drizzle with gravy.
  12. Serve with mashed potatoes, pasta or split burger buns. Pass remaining gravy.
Serving suggestion:

Pineapple Pastry

I found this recipe in the Mennonite Treasury. I made it a long time ago and it was delicious. I made it again with a few changes and only did half the recipe. I took it to my daughter's house for father's day lunch and everyone enjoyed it.

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 cup crushed pineapple, drained (reserve juice)
  • 1/3 cup of the reserved pineapple juice
  1. In a small bowl whisk sugar, cornstarch, and salt. 
  2. In a small saucepan, whisk together egg yolk, crushed pineapple, and pineapple juice, then add in sugar mixture, whisking until smooth.
  3. Cook over medium heat until mixture thickens. Set aside to cool.
  • 1 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon yeast
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2 egg yolks
  1. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together flour and yeast.
  2. Using a pastry blender cut in butter like you would for pie dough.
  3. Whisk water and egg yolks together and add to flour mixture. Gather up dough and form into a ball.
  4. Divide dough into two pieces. Roll one piece of dough to fit an 8" by 12" pan. 
  5. Spoon filling into pan, spreading it evenly. Roll out the second piece of dough and place on top of the filling.
  6. Crimp edges and cut little slits on top as you would for pie.
  7. Allow to rise in warm place for 35 minutes.
  8. Bake in a 375º oven for 20 minutes, until golden in color.
  9. While still warm spread with the following glaze:
  • 1/2 cup icing sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • Enough pineapple juice to make a slightly thin glaze.
  1. Whisk together all ingredients until you have a smooth thin glaze.

Bread for the Journey

On this day, set aside to honor our dads, I naturally think back to the father image modeled to me by my dad, who loved me and wished the best for his children. His way of showing his love was in providing for us, guiding and protecting us. As a grown up woman now, I understand even more how he loved us and desired to be proud of us. It is a natural feeling for a father to hope his children will recognize his love by what he has unselfishly given and done for them.

The most beautiful example of a father's love is described in the parable of the prodigal son. In this story the son asked his father for his share of his forthcoming inheritance, so he could go and spend it. I imagine the father would have loved to stop his son from making a huge mistake, but he let him go. As the story goes, once the money was gone and the son was trying to stay alive by feeding pigs for a farmer, he came to his senses and decided to go home. What I love is the description in Luke 15:20, "while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him."

Can you imagine, God running! The ultimate love of a father is depicted in teaching his children, watching them make choices that sadden him, yet waiting with open arms to forgive. Whether it's our natural father or our heavenly father we envision in this scene, may we use this day to reconcile the distance we may have created and know the love that is waiting for us.

Happy Father's Day to all the dads in our circles!
Your unselfish giving 
and encouragement 
does not go unnoticed.
May God bless you!

Homemade Coffee Ice Cream Pie

Summer is here and it's the perfect time to have a few easy no bake treats tucked in the freezer.

Combining pantry items brings this frozen ice cream pie together in no time. 

Chocolate wafer Crust
  • 1 1/2 cups chocolate wafer crumbs
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  1. Combine crust ingredients and press on the bottom and sides of a pie plate.
  2. Chill until coffee ice cream is ready.

Coffee Ice cream
  • 3 sleeves Starbucks instant coffee (about 1 1/2 tablespoons good quality instant coffee)
  • 2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 tablespoons coffee liqueur (optional)
  • 1 2/3 cup whipping cream
  1. Combine the instant coffee, sweetened condensed milk and coffee liqueur with a mixer until well combined.
  2. Add the whipping cream and beat at high speed until mixture is fluffy and keeps it's shape when a spoon runs through it. 
  3. Pour into prepared crumb crust, cover well with plastic wrap and freeze until firm.
Garnish Options
  • toasted almonds
  • hot fudge sauce (purchased or homemade)
  • sweetened whipped cream

Baked Rhubarb (Bread) Pudding

This recipe began with one in the Mennonite Treasury of Recipes (p 117), evolving into a delicious dessert once I cut the liquids in half. If you have bread (a few days old), eggs, milk and sugar in the house you have all you need to make bread pudding. If you don't have rhubarb, try chopped apples, pears or raisins. This recipe serves 5 - 6

  • 3 cups bread cubes (2-3 days old) I use Texas style thick sliced 60% WW bread
  • 2 cups rhubarb, chopped 
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 cups sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 cups milk (whole milk or part cream is good)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar for topping (optional)
  1. Prepare a medium pie dish size pan by greasing with butter.
  2. Wash, trim and chop rhubarb. Place in a bowl.
  3. Trim a thin crust off white or part whole wheat bread, cube and add to rhubarb.
  4. In a separate small bowl, beat eggs, add in the sugar, cinnamon, milk, vanilla and salt.
  5. Pour over bread and fruit. Toss lightly to cover.
  6. Allow to sit for about 1/2 hour for bread to absorb the liquids, tossing in-between. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  7. Pour into prepared dish. Dot with butter. Cover lightly with aluminum foil and bake 20 minutes. Uncover and bake another 40 - 50 minutes. Sprinkle with brown sugar for final 5 - 10 minutes of baking.  Done when you can pull it apart with a fork and there is no liquid.
  8. Allow to cool for about 30 - 60 minutes. Serve warm with ice cream or room temperature with warm vanilla custard.
Simple Vanilla Custard: 
  • 1 cup milk, divided
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 Tbsp flour
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract OR 1/4 tsp vanilla powder
In a small saucepan, bring 3/4 cup milk to boil. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk sugar, flour, 1/4 cup milk, egg yolk and vanilla until blended. Whisk into milk in saucepan just as it comes to boil and continue stirring until it bubbles. Serve warm. Can be re-heated.

Halibut & Lemon Basil

It's the time of year that local halibut can be found fresh in your local supermarkets. Take advantage of this short season, ( May-September) Adding fresh lemons and basil create the perfect twist for a summer BBQ. You can choose to use fillet or steaks. Steaks are cheaper and you need to work with cartilage. Don't add sweet sauces to this recipe.  Whatever you do, don't mess with this fish, it's delicious in its own seasonings.
  • 5-6 ounces halibut steaks or fillet.
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic crushed
  • juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel
  • 3 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh basil
  • 2 teaspoons drained capers.
  1. Whisk lemon juice, oil, garlic and lemon peel in small bowl to blend
  2. Stir in basil and capers. 
  3. Season to taste with salt and pepper 
  1. Prepare barbecue/  (medium-high)
  2. Season fillets with salt and pepper (medium seasoning)
  3. Rinse fish and pat fish dry with paper towel.
  4. Brush fish with vinaigrette dividing equally for coating of both sides.
  5. Skin side should be laid down first.
  6. Cook fish approximately 4 minutes per side depending on how thick it is.
  7. Transfer fish to plates and pour remaining vinaigrette over fish and garnish with fresh basil.
  8. Fresh roasted potatoes and asparagus are perfect side dishes. 

Coconut Rice

Here's a simple way to dress up rice.
I serve it alongside prawns, salmon or halibut.
It would also be a good side dish for Sweet and Sour Meatballs or glazed chicken.

  • 1 cup uncooked rice
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped red pepper
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped celery
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons butter
  • 1/2 - 3/4 cup shredded coconut ( I used sweetened coconut)
  • salt and pepper to taste

  1. Cook rice as per package instructions.
  2. While rice is cooking, chop red pepper, onion and celery.
  3. Heat oil and butter in a non stick frying pan, add vegetables and saute until soft.
  4. Add coconut and cooked rice and fry a bit longer until coconut browns a little.
  5. Serves 4 as a side dish.

Fish Taco Salad

From fish-'n-chips to fish sandwiches or fish tacos...those are often my picks on a fast food menu.  Just yesterday we sat in the sunshine on the dock at Steveston and enjoyed fish 'n chips.  That is fish as at best!

Here is a new favorite way to enjoy fish this summer and so simple to make up at home.  And healthier than 'fish and chips' as well.  This is the 'fast food version', but you can easily step it up a notch by using fresh fish of your choice...grilled to perfection!

  • 4 frozen cod fillets, breaded
  • 5 cups mixed lettuce greens
  • 2 cups shredded cabbage
  • 1 sweet bell pepper (red or yellow), chopped
  • 1/4 cup red onion, chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 avocados, sliced
  • Tortilla strips

  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise or Miracle Whip dressing
  • 2 teaspoons lime zest 
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced cilantro or parley
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh chives
  1. Prepare dressing by combining all ingredients in a medium bowl and whisking well. Chill until ready to serve.
  2. Line baking pan with foil or parchment paper and bake fillets at 400° F for 20 minutes or according to package instructions.
  3. Combine mixed greens and cabbage and divide evenly between four large salad plates or bowls.
  4. Top each plate with peppers, red onion, chopped tomatoes and avocado slices.  
  5. To serve, place a filet of fish on top of each salad and drizzle with dressing. 
  6. Garnish with tortilla strips, if desired.
* The dressing will keep well in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. It will also thicken up as it you may want to thin it down with additional milk or buttermilk.

Bread For The Journey

What is faith?  It is the confident assurance that something we want is going to happen. It is the certainty that what we hope for is waiting for us even though we cannot see it up ahead.(TLB) Hebrew 11:1

What is is that this world is looking for?  HOPE!
The definition of Hope: a feeling of expectation and desire of something to happen.
This past winter I was dealing with some injuries and was gifted a plaque with the words HOPE. 
This plaque sits on my window sill, reflecting the words inside and outside and people driving up on my driveway could see the word clearly as it was spelled backwards.
There is not a day that I pass this sign thinking of what HOPE really means.   Over the past few months, I have reflected on a running tab of conversations with family and friends that always end with the phrase...
 "And we are hoping for...." 
  • Restored relationships of those who have abandoned marriages
  • Recovery from on-going health issues....Cancer shingles surgery alzheimer dementia
  •  Renewed strength to support aging parents making transitions to assisted living.
  • Healthy pregnancies and healthy new-borns.
  • That God will find favor in business, job searches and benefit packages.
  • Safety for our adult children serving in ministry overseas.
  • For confidence and integrity when purchasing/selling homes.
  • For complete recovery for a loved one on life support.
  • A stable government
  • Freedom, a world without war and famine.
  • Salvation for our kids and grandkids and extended families.
 I love watching the women's soccer matches and HOPE is not hoping that the Canadian Women's Soccer Team wins the world cup. Hope is not based on emotions, feelings and wishful thinking.  Biblical hope is more than wishing for something to happen. It is a hope that is like faith, a faith that cannot be moved by circumstances or what the eye sees, because an unseen God is seen in His faithfulness. A believer confessing true faith has the solid, concrete evidence because it is grounded on God's word.
Over the years I have discovered that it's not always about me making all these personal requests to God, but understanding that when things don't go as expected I can ask God, "What can I learn?" rather than thinking "why me?"  Learning that  is a sweet reality, and learning to deal with the issues,  gives much more HOPE than "Why Me?"
This does not say that life is going to be easy, but it is one more way to find a perspective in which God can allow something to happen in our lives that we may not understand.  This allows us to cultivate new habits that move us along so that we can become more 'growth focused' in our lifestyle. It's about moving beyond and looking ahead to see how God can teach us through our daily challenges. Let's continue to ask God to transform our hearts and allow us to experience the power and freedom of true HOPE!


Simply Pretty Floral Ideas

Spring and summer backyard gardens are the best place to find a few little posies to make up a pretty and economical centre piece or wee gift to bring to a friend, put on your window sill or bedside stand.

Several weeks ago I hosted a bridal shower for my niece and needed a centre piece with some height  for the food table. I have a cupboard full of serving pieces that I only use occasionally and this tiered cupcake stand is often a go to for me for decor or food presentation.

For the flowers I picked large hosta leaves from my garden and peonies that were in full bloom.
The problem with peonies is that they are often the hiding place for little bugs and ants that one certainly does not want to have crawling out and onto a food table. 

Here's what I did.
Several hours before the party I picked my peonies and hosta leaves.
Filled a sink with warm water and a bit of dish soap.
Snipped peonies near the base of the flower. Turn flowers upside down into the sink of warm soapy water and swished flowers gently. I then rinsed them gently under running water and lay upside down on a cookie cooling rack to 'drip dry' the flowers petals.
Washed and patted dry hosta leaves. Laid large hosta leaves on each tier and arranged cleaned peonies on top of hosta leaves. They were still be a little bit wet which was fine.

The cut flowers won't be immersed in water in this arrangement but I find that peonies last this way for up 6-7 hours before they begin to wilt.
Try arranging any of your seasonal blooms on unique serving pieces for a pretty and inexpensive centre piece.
On another special occasion I used the same stand to display teacups from my grandmothers, mom and mom in law. It was so pretty and made for a nice conversation piece. Try adding small flowers from your garden to teacups. 
Why not pot some posies in an old roaster. This old roaster is from my mother in law's kitchen that I remember being the turkey roaster....a gift at their wedding over 60 years ago. The enamel has chipped away making it unsafe for cooking...but it makes for a fun and whimsical way to add colour to my backyard table.
Think outside the box.....create some centre piece fun. 
A simple vinegar jar becomes the perfect little posy holder. My hydrangea's are just beginning to bloom. Try tying a tag to the little handle with a note and this becomes a perfect little hostess gift. Simple and pretty.

This teapot was a wedding gift almost 40 years ago. I've maybe used it a few times to serve tea, but it's been one of my favourite containers when my roses bloom and I want a pretty bouquet on my table.

I really enjoy perusing the dishes isle of second hand stores. I look for little cream and sugar pitchers in glass or silver. They make for another fun hostess gift when filled with a few small snips from my garden...and I like to bring a little bit of what's blooming in my garden inside every few days.

Banana Coffee Cake

I had one ripe banana and wanted to find a recipe that would work using it. This is what I came up with. It turned out lighter, more moist, and fluffier than banana bread. That was my husbands analysis! Delicious!

  • 4 oz. of sour cream
  • 1/4 cup softened butter
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 ripe banana, mashed
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1-1/8 Cup flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, beat the sour cream, butter and sugar until blended. 
  3. Add egg, beating well.
  4. Add the banana and vanilla. 
  5. Combine flour, baking powder and baking soda; 
  6. Gradually add these dry ingredients to the creamed mixture. 
  7. Combine topping ingredients; add half to batter. 
  8. Transfer to a greased 9-in. x 9-in. baking pan. 
  9. Sprinkle with the remaining topping. 
  10. Bake at 350° for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. 
  11. Cool on a wire rack.  
  12. Yield: 6-8 servings. 

Filipino Macaroni Salad

This is not the usual macaroni salad that I make but sometimes it's good to try something new. My friend who is from the Philippines says that back home they served this as an appetizer but that most Filipinos eat this as an afternoon or midnight snack. This would be a great side dish for pork.
  • 2 cups macaroni..I used penne but elbow macaroni would be good too
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 398 ml / 14 oz can of pineapple tidbits, drained and chopped finely, reserve juice
  • 3 tablespoons pineapple juice
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 chicken breast, cooked and shredded
  • 1/3 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup carrots, finely shredded
  • 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, grated
  1. Cook macaroni according to package instructions, set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, finely chopped pineapple, 3 tablespoons of reserved pineapple juice, sugar, salt, and pepper. 
  3. Stir in macaroni, chicken, raisins, and carrots until well combined.
  4. Gently stir in cheese.
  5. Cover bowl and refrigerate for at least an hour.
  6. Serves: 6

Fresh Strawberry Pie

There is nothing quite like fresh strawberries bursting with the sweet flavour of early summer..... 
unless.... it is fresh strawberries piled high in a tender pastry crust and topped with a sweet fruit glaze.
The only thing that can improve this pie is a dollop of slightly sweetened whipped cream flavoured 
with just a hint of vanilla.
This pie is best served the same day you make it.  
The juice from the berries will make the crust soggy by the second day. 

  • Approximately 3-4 quarts of  whole fresh strawberries, washed and hulled. Leave one large berry with the green hull attached to use as a garnish.
  • 1 baked pastry crust
  • Whipped cream for serving.
For the glaze:
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 cup crushed strawberries (try to crush them as much as possible so that they are almost pureed.
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon rind, if desired
  1. Wash berries and lay out on a paper towel and pat dry. Set aside.
  2. Prepare glaze:
  3. Mix sugar and cornstarch in microwave safe bowl.
  4. Add crushed berries, juices, water and lemon rind and stir well.
  5. Microwave at 1 minute intervals, stirring after each minute, until mixture thickens.
  6. Cool slightly in a cold ice water bath, stirring frequently.
  7. In the meantime, fill baked pie shell with berries. Place each starwberry pointed side up, starting on the outside and making circles of berries towards the centre until the bottom of the pie shell is covered.  It's nice if the berries are of fairly uniform size.
  8. Spoon about 1/3 of the glaze over berries until they are covered.
  9. Make another layer of berries, repeating the circular pattern with the points up.
  10. Again, spoon glaze over berries.
  11. Starting from the centre this time, make 2 more circles of berries (there should be one berry in the very centre) And cover with the rest of the glaze.
  12. Take the strawberry reserved for the garnish, and cut slices from the point  almost to the stem, keeping the hull and top part of the berry intact.  Gently spread the slices of the berry open and place in centre of pie.
  13. Refrigerate for several hours.
  14. Serve pie with a dollop of whipped cream.

Bread for the Journey

A few weeks ago we planted our first grape vines.  
  It's mostly an experiment and we are hoping there will be some fruit in the years ahead that will be enjoyed by the grandkids who are always interested in what is growing in our garden.

I couldn't help but think of the Jesus talking about being THE vine.  He is not one of the vines but he  he is "the vine". 

In John 15:4 - 5 Jesus said...

"Abide in me, and I in you.  As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing."

What does it mean to abide in Christ? 
It is a choice we can make to spend time in prayer, reading the Bible and focusing on Christ.
We cannot bear fruit in our lives apart from a connection to the vine. Any good fruit we bear will be Christ's work in our lives and not something we ourselves have produced.  
The good news is that fruit is the natural result of abiding in Christ.

'Salad Bowl' / 'Herb Bowl' Planter

Some years ago my daughters gave me a salad bowl like this for mother's day. Cool idea. They even found this large wooden spoon and fork at our local thrift store, you know the kind that used to hang on our kitchen walls in the 70's era. Ever since then I have kept up the tradition and filled the bowl up with salad fixings every spring. These bowls are a pretty and useful addition to our deck, as well as a conversation piece.

This year I decided to add a herb bowl. Very handy to have these planters on the deck close to the kitchen door. A quick snip here and there and you have a salad and a vinaigrette made from your herbs, vinegar, and oils.

Find your favorite herbs at the greenhouse to place in your 'bowl'. You can also start from seeds, I prefer buying the plants so I can start using the herbs right away.

This salad came from the first pickings of the 'salad bowl' and I used some of the herbs for the zingy vinaigrette.
  • 1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon red grapefruit infused olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fresh basil, chopped
  • 1/8 teaspoon Worcesteshire sauce.
  1. Whisk ingredients together and drizzle over salad.
  2. Yield: enough vinaigrette for 2 plates of salad.

These are some of my favorite vinegar and oils I like using purchased at our local Prairie Oils & Vinegar store.

Tex Mex Burgers

For my flashback Friday recipe I chose to republish one of our favourite summer burgers.

I've left up the original photo and post I published June 13, 2011, and below I added a photo showing these same burgers served without the bun and wrapped in lettuce. Either way...they are packed with great flavour and taste so fresh with Pico de Gallo and spicy mayo.

Serve with large leaf fresh lettuce that can wrap around the meat and toppings. 

Ingredients for burgers:
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup fine bread crumbs
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • 1/4 cup grated onion
  • 1 1/2 tbsp dry taco seasoning
Using your hands mix all ingredients together well. Form into 4 burger patties.

Ingredients for Pico de Gallo:

  • 3-4 Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 3/4 cup diced yellow and red pepper, combined
  • 1/2 cup red onion, diced
  • 1 small seeded jalapeno pepper, dice very small
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro or parsley
  • 2-3 grinds fresh pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • juice of one fresh lime (do not use bottled lime juice)
Add all ingredients together in a non metallic bowl. This can be made earlier in the day, covered and refrigerated. 

Ingredients for spicy mayo and other toppings:

  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp Sambal Oelek, which is ground fresh chili paste. You could substitute with hot sauce, or if you don't like it hot use ketchup.
  • 2 avocados, sliced
  • Tex Mex cheese
  • 4 kaiser buns
Method: Once you have all your toppings ready, fire up the barbecue. The last few minutes the burgers are on the grill top with cheese. Build your burger and enjoy!