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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No Bake Cheesecake with Peaches and Sugared Almonds

This is my favourite recipe for No Bake Cheesecake and comes from the first cookbook our church published years ago. Credit goes to Yvonne W. who submitted it.
I made this using fresh peaches, but you can substitute whatever fruit is in season to top the cheesecake.
  • 1 cup slivered or sliced almonds
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 cups graham wafer crumbs
  • 1/4 cup sugar (or less)
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • 12 ounces cream cheese at room temperature (not the whipped variety)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • dash of salt
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1 1/3 cups milk
  • 1 1/2 packages gelatin
  • 1/3 cup cold water
  • 1 1/2 cups whipping cream
  • Several large peaches 
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  1. Place almonds and sugar in a frying pan over medium heat.
  2. Heat and stir until sugar is completely melted and the almonds are brown and crunchy. (watch closely as they will burn quickly)
  3. Spread out almonds on a sheet of waxed paper and allow to cool.
  4. In a mixing bowl, combine graham wafer crumbs, 1/4 cup sugar and melted butter.
  5. Press into a 9" x 13" glass pan. Refrigerate while you make the filling.
  6. Beat the cream cheese and sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy.
  7. Mix in lemon juice.
  8. Add milk and mix again, scraping sides of bowl.
  9. Dissolve gelatin in cold water and warm on stove until dissolved.
  10. Add to cream cheese mixture and mix well.
  11. Chill mixture in refrigerator until thickened, stirring every 5 minutes, until slightly thickened.
  12. Whip cream until soft peaks form.
  13. Fold gently into cream cheese/gelatin mixture.
  14. Spread over crumb base and refrigerate until set.
  15. When ready to serve, peel and slice peaches adding a tablespoon or 2 of sugar if desired.
  16. Spoon peaches over cheesecake and sprinkle with a tablespoon or so of the candied almonds.
Note - When I made this to take to a party a while ago, I forgot to add the milk. The cheesecake turned out just fine, However it was not quite as light as the next time when I remembered to add the milk!

Bread for the Journey

Today I thought I'd share some thoughts previously posted on  my personal blog
hoping that they will remind us to practice an attitude of gratefulness.
Just over a year ago I opened a gift in the mail . . .
a little blue journal she suggested I use as a Gratitude Journal. 

So I've had it in plain view in our family room this past year
to remember to daily write down two or three "thankfuls."
I knew others had done this and there was no reason not to.
So, today I'm grateful to God for family who cares to spur me on
and to God, for giving me more than 1000 reasons to give thanks!

To name a few
 . . .
   for a moment of quiet
    a walk in the park
  God's protection
    visit around a fire pit
    sleeping in
    shopping for summer tops
    rhubarb pie
    God's Word to encourage
     finding an old lace tablecloth and distressed wood
    chiropractor treatment
    dinner at friends
joy of serving
tooth implant done
Rollkuchen and watermelon 
God's faithfulness
a day at home in the kitchen
for the dads raising our grands
lunch with my girls
jam cooking
watching cousins play
good relationships
my mom
coffee brewing
new shoes
God's loving kindness
facetime smiles
very special news!
God's sovereignty
tender-hearted grands
a husband who loves coming home
granddaughter tea party
peach jam
pitter patter of rain
the park with kids
a good book to read
talking to God anytime
shopping date
holding a newborn 
my heritage
(snail) mail
seeing traditions passed on in my kids
the smell of wet earth
clean windows
. . .

When we give thanks to God, 
we acknowledge that every gift is from Him.
I know the Bible says that God causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good,
 He sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous . . .
yet I can't help but wonder if maybe God is like us,
 in that we find it so much more fun to give to someone who appreciates a gift? 

1 Thessalonians 5: 16 - 18  
 Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; 
for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

What are you are thankful for today?

Saturday in Lovella's Kitchen ~ Baking a level cake

I used to bake layer cakes and then cut the round mound off the top to make them level to layer, fill and frost.  Does that sound like something you do?

The easiest way to make your cake level is to create a cool wrap for them while they are baking.

You can buy strips for your cake pans but the strips only come in certain lengths.

I used an old towel to create my cool strips.

  1. Measure around your pan.
  2. Measure how deep your pan is.  You will want the towel to be folded to make it double thick.
  3. Cut strips.  Serge together the length and then sew lengths of bias tape on each end to tie the strip together.  Safety pins work well too.
  4. Wet the strips well with cold water.  Squeeze out the drips, leaving the strips as wet as possible.
  5. Tie strips around cake pans and fill with batter and bake as usual.

I've done this for every pan I own including rectangular pans and it works well on them all. 

I used this method of baking my cakes for the Tiered Chocolate Cake

Flashback Friday ~ Pie Crust

We have a winner for this book give away.  Check below this first segment.

 Who does not enjoy pie?  Just this past weekend, the Calgary Cousins reminded me that I needed to bake a blackberry pie, it's tradition.   It's always enjoyable to take some of the old traditional recipes and make something that everyone loves.  Today I'm going to share with you my blackberry filling.
It's Flashback Friday and I'm bringing you back to my original pie recipe from the Mennonite Treasury.  How many of you have this cookbook in your kitchens?  Mine is so dirty, that it's almost an embarrassment but non the less, it works well and this recipe has fed many crowds. If you need a real tutorial, check out the first MGCC book, where Anneleise guides us through a step by step tutorial.
Just there someone here who has never tried making a pie?  Leave a comment and your name because you may just be eligible for our MGCC cookbook giveaway.  The lucky winner will receive her own cook book with a step-by-step pie making tutorial.   Leave your comment and name so we can contact you.  
I will announce the winner on this same post in the following week.  

We have a winner....The names were listed, folded and drawn from a hat.
Congratulations Selina!   You are the lucky winner. 
Thanks for the wonderful recipes on this blog, I don't comment often but I do look at it every day and use the recipes sometimes. I have never made a successful pie. I once tried when I was about 14 years old, but it was not a success. I sometimes make mini pies in my muffin tin, but they are not the same. I would love a copy of this book, and would use it often!! Especially after a tutorial.
Thanks again,

Please email me with your contact information. 
You can reach me at
Thank you.

Pie Pastry
  •  5 cups flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 lb. lard or shortening 
  • 2 tbsp. vinegar
  • 2 eggs
  1. Sift dry ingredients, flour salt and lard in a bowl.
  2. Using a pastry blender cut into flour until the size of large peas.
  3. Beat eggs in cup, add vinegar and fill cup with cold water.
  4. Slowly add this wet mixture to the loose crumbs and keep mixing.
  5. Remember you don't want to over beat this dough!
  6. Keeps will in refrigerator.
  7. The pastry is enough for about 3-4 /10inch pies, depending on how thick you make the crust.
Blackberry Pie Filling
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 6 cups fresh blackberries 
  1. Mix sugar, flour and cinnamon together in a bowl.
  2. Add blackberries and coat well.
  3. Add this mixture into a pie crust and add the top pie crust.
  4. Make a few slits into the crust.
  5. Bake at 425 degrees for 30 minutes
  6. Then lower heat to 325 degrees for 20 more minutes.
I do not cover my edges with tin foil, as suggested in many recipes and I generally don't add egg whites.   I prefer the edges and top crust to be well baked giving it a great flaky taste.

Here is my original Apple Pie filling used from the Betty Crocker Book.
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • 8 cups thinly sliced pared tart apples
  • 3 tbsp. butter
  1. Heat oven to 425 degrees, Prepare pastry as instructed above.
  2. Stir together sugar, flour, nutmeg, cinnamon and salt;
  3. Mix with apples.
  4. Turn into pastry-lined pie pan.
  5. Dot with butter.
  6. Cover with top crust and cut slits into the crust.
  7. Bake at 425 for 15 minutes and then reduce to 350 for 45 minutes.
First of all, don't go and look for your old re-cycled apples. Use those for applesauce.  I try to find the most crisp apples. (Granny Smith, Gravenstein, Jonagolds, Spartans)

Apple Pie is a favorite at our home any time. Add a scoop of ice-cream and we've got mouths wanting more.  Left over pie is perfect for any breakfast meal.  Pies have replaced birthday cakes in our home. Somehow I never exceeded at baking cakes, so I resorted to making pies.

Pork Chop Casserole

Earlier this summer I put out a request on facebook for good recipes using apples since our apple tree was full and ready to harvest. My bloggy friend Pat at Mille Fiori Favoriti suggested a family favorite and I tried it  and it was very good. Thank you Pat for letting me share it with our readers.

Pork Chop Casserole

4-6 bone in loin Pork Chops
2 Tablespoons Olive oil
1 Tablespoon butter
2 Cups thinly sliced onion
2 cups rice
4 cups chicken broth
4-5 peeled, cored and chopped apples
1 tablespoon cinnamon
2 Tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 Tablespoon brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large pan heat the 2 tablespoons olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter and saute the pork chops on both sides until nicely browned.
Set the sauteed chops aside.
In the same saucepan saute the rice and onions until the rice is golden and onions are soft.
Add the chicken broth and the apples and 1 tablespoon cinnamon and heat till almost boiling.
Transfer this mixture to prepared large casserole dish.
Place the pork chops on top of the rice mixture.
Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
Melt the 2 tablespoons butter and add the brown sugar and cinnamon to the melted butter.
Uncover the casserole and brush the pork chops with the butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon mixture.
Cook for 20 minutes longer or until rice is cooked to tender.

 This will serve at least 5 people and more if you split some of the pork chops.
If you are only serving 4 people use 4 chops and cut down the rice to 1 cup rice and 2 cups broth and 2 cups apples. Or you could add 1-1/2 cups rice and 3 cups broth with 3 cups apples. 

Refrigerator Healthy Grain Muffins

It's hard to believe summer vacation is nearly over and it's time to think about school lunches and breakfast that can be eaten on the way.  Put together this grainy good muffin mix in just minutes and keep it refrigerated for up to six weeks.  Add your preference of fruit as you bake them up.

  • 1 cup boiling water 
  • 1 cup All Bran Cereal
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup molasses
  • 2 cups / 1 pint / 473 ml buttermilk
  • 1/2 large orange, peel and pulp (remove peel with vegetable peeler to use,  remove the white part of the orange peel and discard)
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup 7 grain cereal ( I use Bob's Red Mill)
  • 1/2 cup flaxseed meal
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 cup raisins  (optional /omit if you are planning on adding fresh fruit just before baking)
  • 1 cup chopped nuts (optional)
  1. In a large bowl combine boiling water and All Bran and allow to cool.
  2. In blender place all the wet ingredients with the sugar, orange and orange peel, blend until smooth. Stir into All Bran mixture.
  3. Stir together dry ingredients, and add wet ingredients, stir until combined.
  4. Add in raisins or nuts if desired.
  5. Store refrigerated. 
  6. Fill greased muffin cups or paper liners 2/3 full, layering in a bit of chopped fruit. Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes.  

Date and Pecan Snacking Cake

This cake is delicious, it's a good snack anytime. It would be great for breakfast too.
We bought dates when we were in Palm Springs and I made sure I had extra for the freezer for future use.
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs 
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup dates, pitted and chopped finely
  • 3/4 cup pecans, toasted
  1. Beat butter and sugar on medium speed, mixture will be crumbly.
  2. Add eggs, milk, and vanilla, and beat until creamy and well combined.
  3. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt, and gradually add into creamed mixture until combined.
  4. Fold in dates and pecans.
  5. Spread batter into a greased 10" x 15" pan.
  6. Bake in a 350º oven for 25 minutes until golden brown. 
  7. Serve as is or dust with icing sugar.
  8. Freezes well.

Crustless Zucchini and Mushroom Quiche

Don't judge the recipe by the photo, I apologize for the brightness of it. This quiche has a really nice flavor. Serve with a fresh salad which then makes it a nice light meal, perfect to share with girlfriends for a special luncheon.
  • 3 cups zucchini, grated
  • 1 cup mushroom, sliced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
  • 2 cups cheese, grated (any variety, I used 1/2 cup parmesan and 1 1/2 cups Mozzarella) 
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup cream or milk
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  1. In a frying pan with either the butter or olive oil, place the onions, mushrooms and zucchini. Saute for a few minutes until soft.
  2. Top with grated cheese. 
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the eggs, cream, flour and spices.
  4. Pour over vegetable mixture.
  5. Leave all the ingredients in the pan. Who wants to do extra dishes?  However if you wish it can be poured into a greased pie plate as well. 
  6. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 for 35 minutes or until the center comes out clean when poked with a knife. 
  7. Allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving. 
  8. If you prefer a crust, pour the filling into a crust and bake as above directions. 
*tip if you would like the quiche to have more color on top put it under the broiler for a few minutes but watch very carefully so it doesn't burn. 

Bread For The Journey

I have the pleasure of looking out of my kitchen window every morning, only to capture the beauty of the wind blowing the tassels in the corn fields.  One morning when I looked out, I gasped.  Who was that standing out there staring at me?
Suddenly I realized it was a scarecrow.  I remember long ago, my grandparents erecting scarecrows in the gardens.  It was to protect the garden from crows and today's farmers are challenged with crows pecking at the corn kernels.  When a scarecrow was erected, the crows believed that the image was a real person and left the field.  So as you know a scarecrow has no ability to hurt anyone or anything.  It has absolutely no power or no life,  it can frighten but cannot harm. I believe that our enemy, the devil is just like a scarecrow. We know that if we put Christ first in our lives, the enemy cannot prevail.

What are some of the scarecrows in your life? 
Is it fear of failing to succeed?  Fear can paralyze us.
Is it fear about anxiety? A diagnosis of terminal illness?
Is it fear of the future? What if I lose my job?
In Jeremiah 10, we learn that the people of Judah wanted to know their future and so they used horoscopes.  They wanted to know which mistakes they could avoid in life and how to climb the ladder to prosperity.  Here we see Jeremiah the prophet warning the people of Judah about their irrational fears.

"There stands their god like a helpless scarecrow in a garden. 
 It cannot speak, and it must be carried, for it cannot walk.  
Don't be afraid of such a god,
 for it can neither harm nor help, nor do anything good."  Jeremiah 10:5

The beauty of this truth is that we know that the scarecrows have no power. So how are you going to handle life when a scarecrow pops up in your life? God promises to guide you and knows your future. He will reveal the future to you and will walk with you as the future unfolds. Let's take God's word and let the warm rays of sunshine fill our lives.  Let's stand firm on God's promises and carry that useless scarecrow out of our lives.

I will never leave you nor forsake you,
 but I'm with you all the way even until the end of the world. Heb. 13:5.

BBQ Burger Loaf...Mr Mike's Style

I often get asked "do you make everything from scratch?" The answer is definitely not. There is one thing though that I do always make from scratch and that is hamburger patties for the grill. Fresh ground beef, with onions and just can't beat it. And the nice part is you can make and freeze them to have on hand for a quick hot summer's night BBQ. 
Not too long ago we called friends rather late in the day to come for supper. I ran to the grocery store to pick up buns and they were all out. I looked around the bakery and spotted one of those garlic breads in a foil bag and added it to my basket. Who remembers eating at Mr Mike's restaurant in the 70's? They would grill the best burgers and then lay the patties on toasted garlic bread. My guests reminded me of that when we bit into these yummy slices of burger loaf, and we all agreed it was a taste from the past.

  • 1 loaf purchased garlic bread
  • 4 hamburger patties
  • BBQ sauce
  • 4 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 4 tbsp spreadable cream cheese (plain, or flavoured, I used jalapeno cream cheese) 
  • 4 large slices cheese of your choice (suggestions: cheddar, provolone, pepper jack, mozzarella)
  • fillings of your choice (sauteed mushrooms and onions, lettuce, tomatoes, avocado, pickles)
  • condiments served on the side
  1. While burgers are grilling, prepare garlic loaf and toppings.
  2. Open up loaf ( I like to take a little bit of the butter off if it's too heavily spread).
  3. Stir together mayonnaise and cream cheese. Spread over garlic butter. 
  4. Saute mushrooms and onions if using.
  5. Brush burgers with BBQ sauce and top with cheese near the end of grilling.
  6. Place garlic loaf on a baking sheet and place under oven broiler until toasted to your liking. 
  7. Place grilled burger patties along toasted bread. Top with toppings of your choosing. Slice on the diagonal and serve with condiments on the side.

Mexican Stuffed Peppers ~ Flashback Friday

I first posted this recipe for Mexican Stuffed Peppers in 2008 and was reminded again about the recipe as I always am each summer when our pepper plants are heavy with fruit.  You can use any kind of sweet pepper.

  • 10 - 12  Sweet Peppers  
  1. Cut the tops off the peppers or slice them in half through the stem, remove the seeds. Arrange them in a deep baking dish. 

Meat Filling
  • 1 1/2 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 1/2 cup cooked rice
  • 1  onion chopped fine
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon taco seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped  cilantro
  • 1 cup black beans (canned, drained and rinsed or dried beans cooked)
  1. Mix together all the filling ingredients and fill peppers.
  • 1 10 ounce / 284 ml can of tomato soup
  • 1 10 ounce /  284 ml can of mushroom soup
  • 1 10 ounce / 284 gram can filled with salsa 
  • 2 cups grated cheddar or mexican blend cheese
Pour sauce over the peppers, cover with lid and bake at 350 for 1 1/2 hours. Serve with Tortilla Chips and Green Salad.

Rustic Nectarine Tarts

For these tarts I used a giant size muffin tin. If you do not have one, you can make 12 smaller sized tarts by rolling out the pastry and cutting smaller circles (4.5 inches), or lay them flat on a parchment paper lined baking sheet, putting fruit in the center and folding up the sides like mini pies or galettes. These are delicious dessert served with a light custard or ice cream and easy to assemble.

  • 3/4 cups butter and lard or shortening mix (half and half)
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup cold water 
  • 2 Tbsp sour cream
  • 1 egg white, whisked for egg wash
  • 5 nectarines sliced thinly
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • 1 Tbsp minute tapioca or cornstarch
  • coarse sugar for sprinkling
  1. With pastry blender, cut butter/shortening into flour, sugar and salt until it is coarsely crumbled. Sprinkle with combined water and sour cream. 
  2. Stir with fork until all the dry ingredients are absorbed and you can shape it into a ball.
  3. Divide into six to make giant size tarts. 
  4. Shape each wedge into a circle and roll out to a 6 inch circle on floured surface.
  5. Gently drop into muffin tin, folding/fluting sides roughly. (If you wash your pans in the dishwasher you  may want to spray them. Hand-washed are fine without spray.)
  6. Brush inside and tops with egg wash.
  7. Combine sugar, flour and minute tapioca, then mix with nectarines. Divide among tarts.
  8. Sprinkle generously with coarse sugar. 
  9. Bake at 375 F for 30 minutes. If tops become dark, cover loosely with foil, but be sure to bake until syrup filling bubbles/cooks. Cool for at least 15 minutes before removing to wire rack.
  10. These freeze well and can be reheated to serve single servings or a serving to share with a mound of ice cream.

Custard (optional)
  • 1 cup coffee cream, divided
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/4 tsp real vanilla powder or 1 tsp vanilla extract
In saucepan, bring 3/4 cup cream to almost boiling point. 
Combined sugar and egg, adding 1/4 cup cream, 
Stir into hot cream in small saucepan and continuing to stir, until it comes to a gentle boil. Add vanilla.

Mexican Chopped Salad

Chopped salads are a beautiful way of showing off  the fresh and colourful produce of the season.  The best thing about chopping a salad is that you get all the flavors in just one bite.  Why is it that when you chop ingredients into small pieces, it changes not only the texture, but the flavor as well? This Mexican-leaning chopped veggie salad is a perfect way to showcase our local corn and other fresh produce.

  • 2 ears corn, kernels cut from cob * (grilled or cooked and cooled)
  • 4 mini orange peppers, diced(or use one large)
  • 4 Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 4 mini cucumbers, diced
  • 1/2 medium red onion, chopped
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1 small can black beans,  drained and rinsed (about 1 cup)
  • Cilantro Lime Ranch Dressing (recipe below)
  • Tortilla strips, optional 
  1. Chop all ingredients in small, uniform sized pieces.
  2. Combine in salad bowl, adding the avocado pieces last.
  3. Drizzle with dressing and top with tortilla strips, if desired.
  4. Serve along-side grilled chicken.
Serves 4. 

    Cilantro Lime Ranch Dressing:
  • 3/4 cup plain or Greek Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup light mayonnaise 
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lime juice (juice of one lime)
  • 3 Tbsp milk (more or less as desired)
  • 1/3 cup cilantro, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced 
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • dash of cayenne pepper
  1. Place all ingredients into a blender or food processor and bend until smooth and creamy. 
  2. Store dressing in air tight container for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator. 

Apple Cookie Pizza

We were gifted a bag of apples from our friend Noel's tree. I have made juice, applesauce, and now this cookie pizza, all are very tasty. Any ideas for the rest of the apples?

Cookie Crust:
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  1. Cream butter and sugar until combined. Stir in vanilla.
  2. Whisk together dry ingredients and add to creamed mixture until well combined.
  3. Pat dough on a parchment lined 10" x 12" pan, turning up the dough all around to give it an edge.
  4. Spread with apple filling.
Apple Filling:
  • 3 cups apples, cored and sliced. I left the peel on these apples.
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  1. Core and slice apples.
  2. Whisk together sugar, flour, and cinnamon. Mix it with the apples.
Crumble Topping:
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  1. Stir together flour, oats, and brown sugar.
  2. Drizzle butter over mixture and stir until crumbly.
  3. Sprinkle over apple mixture and bake in a 350º oven for 35 minutes until golden in color. Serve warm, plain or with ice cream. 


Chocolate Snaps

Attention, all you chocolate lovers out there! 
Here's a cookie guarrenteed to please.
They are full of chocolatey goodness and have a similar texture to ginger snaps 
(I'll post my recipe for those at a later date)
I brought a box full of them to our neighbourhood BBQ last night and 
they disappeared in no time flat!
  • 1 1/2 cups butter or margarine
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3 eggs
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 tablespoons shortening or margarine*
  • 4 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • sugar
*Because I used cocoa instead of unsweetened melted chocolate in this recipe,  I needed to add 2 tablespoons shortening to complete the substitution.
  1. Preheat oven to 350º.
  2. In bowl of stand mixer, beat together the butter, sugar and brown sugar until light and fluffy.
  3. Add the vanilla and the eggs one at a time, beating in between each addition.
  4. Add cocoa and the 2 tablespoons of shortening and blend well.
  5. Add remaining dry ingredients and mix until blended.
  6. Refrigerate mixture for a minimum of 1 hour for easier handling.
  7. Scoop out dough on to cookie sheets using a cookie scoop or soup spoon.  Leave room for the cookies to spread during baking. 
  8. Roll each scoop of dough into a 1 1/2 inch ball.
  9. Dip each ball into sugar covering the tops.
  10. Bake in 350º oven for about 10 minutes.  Cookies will puff up a bit in the oven.
  11. When you take them out, drop the pan on the counter so the cookies will "deflate". This makes them extra chewy.
  12. Cool on pan for 3-5 minutes and then remove to brown paper or a rack.
  13. These freeze very well.

Bread for the Journey

We live on the beautiful coast of British Columbia where locals are known to affectionately call it the wet coast.  This summer has been unusually dry and our farm has taken on a new look with feathers from the chicken barns coordinating with the dry grass.  

Normally we mow the field every week to keep it tidy but this year the only thing that needs mowing is the weeds that still seem to be thriving. 

As I've walked across our dry field this summer I have thought about how our spiritual lives are a bit like a drought when we don't do anything intentional to keep it nourished and thriving.   When we neglect worshipping with believers and reading the Bible, our struggles quickly become hard to overcome.  I also notice how encouraged I am when I am in church worshipping God,  filling my soul with the truth of his lovingkindness for another week ahead. 

Let's encourage each other to keep our hearts and minds filled with the truths of God's word that revives us.

Revive me, O Lord, according to You lovingkindness.  The sum of Your word is truth, and every one of Your righteous ordinances is everlasting.

Psalm 119:159-160 NASB

Saturday in Ellen's Kitchen

It's time for Saturday in my kitchen and I wanted to share some very easy recipes using puff pastry that I buy from the freezer aisle at the grocery store. These puff pastries come in handy when you need a fast and easy dessert or appetizer or even a breakfast treat.

I got this first idea from the Pioneer Woman and since I have an apple tree with an abundance of apples I decided to try it.

4 apples cored cut in half and sliced.
1 cup brown sugar
Dash of salt
Juice of half a lemon
1 sheet of puff pastry thawed
1/4 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Mix brown sugar, salt and lemon juice together.
Prepare apples.
Gently mix in the apple slices with the brown sugar mixture.

Place sheet of puff pastry on parchment paper lined sheet pan.
Cut the pastry sheet in half
Arrange apple slices down the center of each sheet.
Bake for 20 minutes or until the pastry is golden
Sprinkle the pecans over the apples on each half sheet of apple pastry.

 For an extra treat drizzle with your favorite caramel sauce that has been heated.

Tomato, Tarragon & Cheese Puff

1 sheet puff pastry
2 cups grape tomatoes, sliced.
1-1/2 cups of your favorite cheese grated (I used Gruyere)
1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1/4 cup tarragon or basil leaves, roughly chopped
Salt and Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Place sheet of puff pastry on parchment lined sheet pan.
Use a fork to punch holes all across the surface.
Scatter the tomatoes over the pastry.
Salt and pepper the tomatoes.
Top with your cheese choice.
Drizzle with olive oil.
Bake until pastry is golden brown, approx. 20 minutes or longer.
Let stand 5 minutes and then top with the roughly chopped tarragon or basil.
Slice and serve immediately.

This could be a meal for two or an appetizer selection for a small group.

Refrigerator Bread and Butter Pickles-Flashback Friday

I originally posted this recipe on August 3, 2008. That was during our first year of blogging. It's been interesting for each of us to go back and look at some of the first recipes we posted. Bringing them back to life with new photos and sometimes giving more details or making corrections. 

This recipe comes from my friend Jan. I like to make these with fresh young cucumbers, but I have also made them in winter using long English cucumbers. 

To begin, wash and then thinly slice enough cucumbers to fill an ice cream bucket.  Add 1-2 small onions cut into thin rings. I use the narrow blade of my mandolin. This time of year try to find sweet walla walla onions.

  • 4 cups white sugar
  • 2 cups white vinegar
  • 2 tbsp pickling salt
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp celery seed
  • 1 tsp mustard seed
  1. Measure brine ingredients into a pot and bring to a boil. Turn down and simmer for 2-3 minutes.
  2. Pour hot brine over sliced cucumbers and onions. 
  3. Stir and allow to cool on counter. Once cool, cover and place in refrigerator. 
  4. Stir every few days. They are best after they have had a chance to sit in the brine for about a week...but you can eat the almost a day or two after making.Several days after they have sat I like to transfer them into glass jars. I find they keep better in glass and it's also easier for storage and use. Like any pickles, these keep well for a long time. 

Hobo Dinner with Farmer Sausage

Our family has camped for years at the same campgrounds, known as Manning Park.  I keep saying they were almost all born there.  Some of the traditions that had begun 30 years ago are still some of their favorites.  They have all looked forward to the traditional 'hobo dinner' a dinner without plates or dishes.  This year I decided to change things up and instead of wrapping them in tin foil, I used aluminum pie plates and covered them with tin foil.

Ingredients ~ serving for 8 people
  • 3 pounds smoked farmer sausage (1 1/2 rings)
  • a medley of garden vegetables: potatoes, carrots, beans, onions, and garlic
  • 8 medium potatoes, 
  • 8 carrots, 
  • 4 cups beans
  • 2 large onions
  • 8 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • salt & pepper.
  • sprigs of summer savory 
  • 8 aluminum foil plates/tin foil

Single serving: 1 medium potato, 1 carrot, 1/2 cup beans, 1/4 cup chopped onion, 1 clove chopped garlic and a 3"piece of sausage, 1 aluminum plate

  1. Cut up vegetables into bite-size pieces approximately 1 inch.
  2. Pre-boil potatoes for about 5 minutes to start the cooking process.
  3. Cut up the farmer sausage into bite-size pieces.
  4. Drain potatoes
  5. Combine all vegetables, sausage, and potatoes in one large bowl.
  6. Add olive oil to mixture and season to taste.
  7. Prepare your aluminum plates and grease generously with olive oil.  Also, grease the tin foil used for the cover.
  8. Dish out vegetable mixture into foil plates. ( used 2 cups for child size portion and added 3 cups mixture for adult portions.)
  9. Sprinkle onions, garlic, and a sprig of summer savory on top of each tin foil dish.
  10. Cover tightly with aluminum foil.
  11. Grill at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or wait till briquettes are hot and then spread out the coals and place tin plates over heated BBQ.  Remember the meat and potatoes have been cooked so it really needs to let the other vegetable juices cook and become nice and hot.
Tip:   The hobo dinners can be prepared ahead of time and stored in the fridge.  Because the potatoes have been cooked they do not discolor and therefore preparing them in advance alleviates all the chopping on a crowded camping table. Secondly, you don't need any extra dishes. And they are easy to customize. These hobo dinners were an exceptional hit this past week.  There are a few weekends left for camping...what are your favorite camping traditions?

Grilled Peach Sundaes

We have been enjoying peaches 'every which way' this past month...and here is a simple favorite.

  • four large, firm peaches (preferably free-stone)
  • 1-2 tablespoons oil (canola or grapeseed or other flavour-neutral oil) 
  • vanilla ice-cream
  • warm caramel sauce (recipe below)
  • granola or chopped nuts for topping
  1. Pre-heat grill to medium-high.
  2. Cut peaches in half and remove pits. (No need to peel)
  3. Brush peach halves with oil and place on hot grill, cut side down.
  4. Grill until golden and showing grill marks....probably about 4 minutes.
  5. Turn peaches over and grill until slightly soft and just warmed through...several minutes longer. 
  6. Transfer peach halves to serving plates.
  7. Top each half with a scoop of ice-cream.  Drizzle with warm caramel sauce and sprinkle with granola or chopped nuts of your choice.

Warm Caramel Sauce: (can be made in advance and re-heated)

  • 3 Tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  1. Melt butter in large skillet on medium heat. 
  2. Add sugar, cook until melted stirring occasionally. 
  3. Reduce heat to low. 
  4. Gradually stir in sour cream...cook 1 minute stirring occasionally. 

Yields four delicious peach sundaes.  Or spread the goodness around...and make eight smaller sundaes.   

Mixed Greens Salad with Apple, Jicama and Honey-Dijon

Summertime BBQ's call a salad on the side and in our family we are always open to another version of a green salad. This one comes with a hint of a Waldorf salad idea.


  • 6 cups greens
  • 4 slices crisped turkey bacon, chopped
  • 2 cups Gala apple, slivered
  • 1 cup jicama, slivered fine
  • 1 cup cranberries, optional
  • 2 Tbsp grapeseed oil (or olive oil)
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 2 Tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp honey-dijon mustard
  • 1 Tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp ginger, grated
  • salt, pepper to taste
  1. Combine salad ingredients in bowl. 
  2. Whisk dressing ingredients together until smooth and mix with salad just before serving.