Thursday, April 30, 2015

Rhubarb Meringue Dessert


This rhubarb dessert tastes light and has just the right balance of sweet meringue,  rhubarb filling with a thin shortbread crust.
It's great for bringing to a potluck as it will serve 18 people. 

Shortbread crust
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup butter, cold and cubed
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  1. Blend all ingredients together in a food processor or mixer and pat into a 10 X 15 cake pan.
  2. Bake at 350 F for 10 minutes.
Rhubarb Filling
  • 6 cups finely chopped rhubarb 
  • 1/3 cup minute tapioca
  • 6 egg yolks 
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  1. Put rhubarb evenly over the baked crust.  Sprinkle evenly with tapioca.
  2. Beat together egg yolks, sour cream, whipping cream and sugar.
  3. Pour evenly over rhubarb.
  4. Bake for one hour.
Meringue Layer
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 6 egg whites
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  1. During the last few minutes of baking time, mix together cornstarch, 2 tablespoons sugar and water in a bowl.  Heat in microwave until clear and bubbly.  Alternately, mix in a small pot over medium heat and stir until clear and bubbly.  
  2. Whip egg whites in a large bowl while slowly adding in the 3/4 cup sugar.  When the egg whites start to form soft peaks, add the cornstarch mixture and beat until stiff.  
  3. Smooth meringue over the hot rhubarb filling.
  4. Reduce oven temperature to 325 and bake for 20 minutes or until the meringue is lightly browned on top. Turn off oven and leave dessert in for another 20 minutes.
  5. Cool and cut into squares using a wet sharp knife.   Refrigerate until ready to serve. 


Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Pineapple Coconut Pie


Can you go wrong with pineapple and coconut in a pie..I think not! Drizzle a bit of glaze on top or serve warm with ice cream and you have a delicious dessert to serve your guests.

  • Pastry for a 9" double crust pie
  • 1 cup flaked coconut
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted
  • 1 can ( 540 ml/19 oz ) crushed pineapple, drained (reserve 1 tablespoon juice for glaze)
  1. Prepare your favorite pie crust, enough for a 9" double crust pie. Roll out dough to fit a 9" pan and sprinkle with coconut.
  2. Drain crushed pineapple, reserving 1 tablespoon for the glaze.
  3. Whisk together sugar, flour, salt, lemon juice, melted butter, and drained, crushed pineapple and pour over coconut layer.
  4. Roll out pastry for top crust and place over filling.
  5. Trim and crimp edges. Cut slits in pastry.
  6. Bake at 400º for 30 to 35 minutes, until golden in color.
For glaze combine:
  • 1/2 cup icing sugar
  • 1 tablespoon pineapple juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon rum extract (or vanilla)
  1. Drizzle over warm pie. Serve warm or cold.

Since I had made a larger recipe of pie dough than I needed, I used the rest of the dough to make tart shells. I love the simple way of draping the dough over an upside down muffin tin before baking. How easy is that?


Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Spaghetti Squash Lasagna


This is one of those recipes, that once you see the idea you can basically do with it as you like and stuff it with your regular lasagna recipe, omitting the pasta, which is kind of ironic since the pasta noodles is what makes it lasagna. Whichever way you look at it, it is a delicious alternative.

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium sized spaghetti squash
  • 3/4 lb lean ground beef
  • 1/2 onion, chopped fine
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 (15 oz) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 Tbsp freeze dried basil
  • 1 Tbsp freeze dried oregano
  • 1 cup feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp freeze dried basil
  • 1 Tbps finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 cups grated mozzarella
Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Cut the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Lay 4 halves cut side down in a large roasting pan, with about 1/2 inch of water. Cook for 45 minutes, until soft when pricked with a fork. Remove from pan and cool slightly.
  2. Meanwhile, brown beef in skillet. Stir in the onion and garlic and cook until onion is soft. Add salt, tomatoes and spices. Allow to simmer for about 30 minutes.
  3. In a small bowl, mix feta and Parmesan cheeses with basil and parsley. Set aside
  4. Scraping with a fork, scoop out squash to within about 1/2 inch of shell. It will come off easily in strands like spaghetti. Leave some as a bottom layer. Collect the rest  in a small bowl and set aside.
  5. Drain roasting pan, wipe out and spray with oil. Place shells inside. 
  6. Divide feta cheese mixture among the shells. 
  7. Follow with a scoop of meat sauce and then some mozzarella cheese.
  8. Follow with a layer of shredded squash.
  9. Mix the rest of the shredded squash and meat sauce to add another layer. Finish off with mozzarella cheese.
  10. Cover roasting pan with lid and bake at 400 F for 15 minutes. Uncover and bake another 15 minutes.


Monday, April 27, 2015

Fig Balsamic Salad Dressing

This is a dressing recipe I got from my sister Rhoda, and I get great comments and requests for the recipe. It's a simple combination of  purchased dressing and a few pantry and fridge ingredients. Dressing will keep well in refrigerator for 2-3 weeks.
  • 1/2 cup Kraft Fig and Balsamic dressing (or any brand fig and balsamic dressing)
  • 3 tbsp grape seed OR avocado oil
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp liquid honey
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp dry basil
  1. Mix all ingredients together in a jar and shake well. Refrigerate for several hours to allow flavours to blend.
  2. Make salad and drizzle dressing over just before serving. 
Salad mix that I like to use when serving the above dressing.
  • baby spinach
  •  finely diced red onion
  • fresh oranges, peeled and sectioned
  •  sliced fresh strawberries
  •  crumbled feta
  • candied pecans (optional)

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Bread for the Journey


Psalm 92

A Song for the Lord’s Day

It is good to give thanks to the LORD,
    to sing praises to the Most High.
 It is good to proclaim Your unfailing love in the morning,
    Your faithfulness in the evening,
  accompanied by a ten-stringed instrument, a harp,

    and the melody of a lyre.
You thrill us, LORD, with all you have done for us!
We sing for joy because of what You have done.
 LORD, what great works You do!
    And how deep are Your thoughts.
 Only a simpleton would not know,
    and only a fool would not understand this:
 Though the wicked sprout like weeds
    and evildoers flourish,
    they will be destroyed forever.
But You, O LORD, will be exalted forever.
Your enemies, LORD, will surely perish;
    all evildoers will be scattered.
But You have made us as strong as a wild ox.
    You have anointed us with the finest oil.
Our eyes have seen the downfall of our enemies;
    our ears have heard the defeat of our wicked opponents.
 But the godly will flourish like palm trees
    and grow strong like the cedars of Lebanon.
For they are transplanted to the LORD's own house.
    They flourish in the courts of our God. 
Even in old age they will still produce fruit;
    they will remain vital and green.
 They will declare,
 “The LORD is just!
    He is my rock!
    There is no evil in Him!”
            New Living Translation


Saturday, April 25, 2015

How to easily peel the freshest eggs


If you have ever gathered eggs from your hens in the morning with the hope of hard boiled eggs for lunch, then you will surely want to take a look at how easy it is to peel those eggs.
The eggs pictured in the photo were cooked the same day they were laid.

  1. Have the eggs at room temperature.
  2. Bring a pot of water to a full boil.  Be sure to have a large enough pot to have several inches of water covering your eggs when they are in the pot.
  3. Place eggs into a large sieve, a few at a time and very gently place them in the pot.  Do not let them drop, hitting the bottom as this could cause the eggs to crack. You could use a spoon to place them but to ensure they are all cooked evenly, you want to get them all into the pot relatively quickly. 
  4. Set the timer for 15 minutes, continuing to boil eggs. Stir the eggs ever so gently every few minutes to keep the yolks centered.
  5. While the eggs boil, prepare a bowl with ice cubes.  At the end of 15 minutes, drain eggs and dump them into the bowl with ice.  Cover with water.  Stir to be sure all the eggs are being chilled evenly.   
  6. Once the eggs have cooled, tap the wider end to crack it and peel.   


Friday, April 24, 2015

Shnetchi (biscuits) - Flashback Friday



For flashback Friday I am bringing back my shnetchi recipe. 

These shnetchi are very good served with jam, honey or Roger's Golden Syrup. This recipe was passed down from my Dad. He told me to always use whipping cream, although I sometimes use buttermilk and they turn out great too. My Dad used to have a shnetchi booth at the Mennonite Heritage Village Museum during Pioneer days. His booth was called 'Uncle Knals Shnetchi'.
  • 2 3/4 cups flour
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 2 eggs, well beaten
  1. Mix dry ingredients together.
  2. Cut in butter with pastry blender until crumbly.
  3. Make a well in the dry ingredients, add cream and beaten eggs.
  4. Using a fork stir together just until mixed. Don't overwork the dough or the biscuits will be tough.
  5. Gather dough into a ball and pat out on counter to desired thickness, approx 3/4 to 1" thick.
  6. Cut with round cookie cutter or whatever shape you want.
  7. Place on pan and bake at 400º for 15 minutes or until golden in color.
  8. Yield: 9 - 12 shnetchi..depending on the thickness and size of cutter you used.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Asparagus-Pancetta Phyllo Appetizers

This is a simple appetizer with a pretty presentation. I used mini Phyllo cups that come frozen in the freezer aisle of the grocery store. The sky is the limit on what filling combination you could use. We had these at Easter so the Asparagus was my go to choice with added ingredients that I thought would go well together.


  • 2 Packages of Mini Phyllo Pastry Shells (30 total)
  • 15 stalks of Asparagus, washed and chopped into small pieces.
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 Shallot, chopped
  • 1/2 cup diced Pancetta (you can substitute bacon)
  • 1/4 cup white wine or chicken stock
  • 1 Tablespoon White wine vinegar or Sherry Vinegar
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste

Added Optional Ingredients:
  • 2 egg whites from 2 hard boiled eggs, chopped. Discard the yolk.
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheese of your choice

  1. Defrost the Phyllo Shells in refrigerator overnight.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  3. In a saucepan, melt the butter on medium heat and cook the asparagus for 2 minutes. Set aside in a bowl.
  4. In the same saucepan, cook the chopped shallot for 2 minutes.
  5. Now add the Pancetta to the pan and cook for 1 minute. (If you choose to use bacon instead precook it before this step and add it to the mix when you add the egg whites.)
  6. De-glaze the pan with white wine and reduce by half. (Shallots and Pancetta stay in pan for this step)
  7. Add the white wine vinegar and reduce by half again.
  8. Pour over the Asparagus.
  9. Add the chopped egg white solids to the Asparagus bowl.
  10. Mix gently and season with salt and pepper.
  11. If you want to add the grated cheese do it now and mix gently.
  12. Place thawed Phyllo shells on a cookie sheet that is large enough for the 30 shells.
  13. Fill each cup full with the Asparagus mixture.
  14. Bake in 350 degree oven for 10-15 minutes. Just long enough to warm all ingredients through.

Set out on pretty plate and watch them disappear!


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Roasted Rhubarb Scones


These scones are so delicious and beautiful and fit for the prettiest teas and yet simple to put together for a quick coffee if you have your rhubarb roasted and ready in the refrigerator.

I usually keep a container of roasted rhubarb in our refrigerator for a week to put over vanilla yogurt, 
or to add to scones or over ice cream for dessert.









Roasted Rhubarb 
  • 8 cups diced rhubarb (about 1/2 inch dice)
  • 1 cup sugar
  1. Wash and dice rhubarb and spread onto parchment paper on a cookie sheet. Sprinkle with sugar. The rhubarb will lose about 1/2 the volume during the roasting.  You will end up with about 4 cups.
  2. Roast in a 350 F oven for about 45 minutes to one hour.  Remove from oven to cool until needed.
  3. Refrigerate the Roasted Rhubarb that you are not needing for scones.
Scone Dough
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup cold butter, cubed
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 egg
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  2. Stir together dry ingredients in a bowl.  Cut butter into dry ingredients with a pastry blender.
  3. Stir together buttermilk and egg and gently stir into flour mixture.
  4. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead a few times.  Shape into a long rectangle about 1/2 inch thick.  (the exact measurement doesn't matter, as long as  you can fold the dough over twice.
  5. Using a slotted spoon (leaving most of the liquid behind) place roasted rhubarb along the center 1/3 of dough.  Fold the bottom third of dough on top of rhubarb and add more roasted rhubarb on top.  Fold the top third of dough over the center, covering the roasted rhubarb.  
  6. Cut into triangles and form into a circle with the sides not quite touching  on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. 
  7. Bake for 15 minutes or until tops are lightly browned.
  8. While still warm, drizzle with glaze.
Glaze
  • 2 cups icing / powdered sugar 
  • a few teaspoons of syrup from roasted rhubarb 
  • additional cream to make a smooth runny glaze
  1. Combine ingredients and pour over scones while they are still warm.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Plum Sauce / Cream Sauce (Schmaundt Fat)



This recipe was shared with me by my friend Renee who got the recipe from her dear mother by love Elizabeth Strempler. This is a wonderful sauce to pour over the cottage cheese perogies and cream sauce (Schmaundt Fat), it raises perogies to a whole new level. Thank you Renee for sharing this recipe and your family tradition. It was a lot of fun enjoying a meal after making so many perogies together. It is way more fun making time consuming recipes like vareniki with friends.

Plum sauce -
  • 8 cups prune plums
  • 2 cups damson plums OR
  • a combination of your favorite plums to equal 10 cups
  • 3 cups white sugar
  • 1/3 cup minute tapioca
  1. Cut up the plums in bite size pieces. 
  2. Combine the sugar and tapioca and sprinkle over the plums and let sit for 20 minutes. 
  3. Bring to a boil and cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes. 
  4. Cool the sauce and freeze in desired portion sizes. 
  5. To serve, thaw sauce and heat gently til warm. 
  6. Pour over vareniki and cream sauce. 


Schmaundt Fat (Cream Gravy)

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup milk
  • salt to taste
  1. On medium heat, melt the butter in a saucepan or frying pan.
  2. Add the flour and stir together with a whisk cooking until a the flour begins to change color.
  3. Pour in the cream and milk and cook until bubbly, stirring frequently with the whisk to prevent lumps. 
  4. Add salt to taste. 
  5. When the sauce is smooth and thickened it is ready to serve, it takes about 3 minutes.  
  6. If you desire to use all cream or all milk that is just fine. 


Monday, April 20, 2015

Wild Rice Pancakes


A friend of ours said he had ordered wild rice pancakes in a restaurant and had really enjoyed them. He wondered if I could make them:) That intigued me so went in search of wild rice in my cupboard. All I had was a wild rice blend which worked just fine. These pancakes turned out nice and fluffy with a bit of a nutty texture and flavor. Delicious drizzled with pancake syrup and served with a side dish of strawberries.
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 cup wild rice blend, cooked
  1. Whisk together eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla.
  2. In another bowl combine dry ingredients.
  3. Slowly add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients just until combined, stir in melted butter and cooked rice.
  4. Heat up your lightly greased griddle to medium high heat. 
  5. Using a small ladle, scoop batter on the grill. Cook approx 2 minutes or until golden in color. Flip pancakes and cook another 2 minutes.
  6. Serve immediately..at least that is how we like them.
  7. Yields: 8 pancakes



Sunday, April 19, 2015

Bread for the Journey



Everyone needs compassion
A love that's never failing
Let mercy fall on me
Everyone needs forgiveness
The kindness of a Savior
The hope of nations
Savior, He can move the mountains
My God is Mighty to save
He is Mighty to save
Forever, Author of salvation
He rose and conquered the grave
Jesus conquered the grave
So take me as You find me
All my fears and failures
Fill my life again
I give my life to follow
Everything I believe in
Now I surrender
Savior, He can move the mountains
My God is Mighty to save
He is Mighty to save
Forever, Author of salvation
He rose and conquered the grave
Jesus conquered the grave
Shine Your light and let the whole world see
We're singing for the glory of the risen King ... Jesus
Shine Your light and let the whole world see
We're singing for the glory of the risen King ... Jesus
Savior, He can move the mountains
My God is Mighty to save
He is Mighty to save
Forever, Author of salvation
He rose and conquered the grave
Jesus conquered the grave
Written by Ben Fielding and Rueben Morgan
When we can't move those 'mountains' in our life we know that God can. He takes us as we are with all our fears and failures, all we need to do is surrender to Him.

Zephaniah 3:17 ESV
"The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing."

Saturday, April 18, 2015

New Vareneki Dough (Perogy)



I got this recipe from my friend Elsie who has been making perogies for generations.  She too got the recipe from her mother and her mother before that. As usual, the recipe said "add enough flour to make a soft dough". Her daughter Lorrie, who is also one of my dearest friends, took the time to measure each ingredient out to make it perfect so she can pass the recipe and tradition on to her children. Elsie says, the best recipes are the simplest recipes, and she was right! In our grandmother and great grand mother's era they didn't have the luxury of rich ingredients available to them at all times. These ingredients make a soft and elastic dough and I did not have one perogy open while boiling.  Follow the recipe exactly and you won't have any trouble. Thanks Lorrie for perfecting the ingredients amounts saving us all the trouble of figuring out what a soft dough means.
NOTE: This dough has no dairy in it, there for it has a bit more of a "chew" or "bite" to the texture when you eat the finished product. Using dairy like milk, cream or sour cream makes the dough more tender and has a softer bite to it. 
  • 8 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 3/4  cups hot water
  • 3/4 cups oil
  1. In a large mixer with a dough hook attachment add 8 cups of flour to the mixing bowl. Can easily be done by hand if you don't have a mixer large enough to make dough. 
  2. Heat the water til it is almost too hot to touch or hot water from the tap. 
  3. Add the oil and the hot water to the flour, knead the dough for about 5 minutes in the mixer or ten minutes if you are doing it by hand. 
  4. Let the dough rest for at least an hour or more on the counter. 
  5. Divide into 4 balls to make the rolling of the dough easier to manage. Cover the remaining dough with plastic wrap to keep from getting a dry outer crust.
  6.  On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough thin, cut in circles or 3 inch squares. 
  7. Place the prepared perogies on parchment lined cookie sheets. Can be frozen at this stage if you desire. Once completely frozen place them into ziplocked bags. 
  8. To cook, have ready a large pot of boiling water. Place perogies into the water without crowding too much and boil for a few minutes. Once they float to the top boil another 3-5 minutes. If you are cooking them frozen, cook about 8-10 minutes.
  9. This amount makes about 15 dozen 3 1/4 in circles. 
For 1 recipe of dough, I used 2- 650 gm containers of dry cottage cheese (3 cups), mixed with 2 eggs, salt and pepper (optional) as desired. 


Tip - I use a round cutter to make cottage cheese, cut 3" squares for the potato and cheddar cheese filling and shape them into a triangle, and shape the squares into rectangles or squares for the fruit filling, so there is no guessing as to what they are filled with. Plus cutting them in squares means no rolling and re rolling.
For filling ideas check out Kathy's suggestions here.

Try to pinch them a little fancy for that special someone, or if you have four options of a variety of perogies. 


Friday, April 17, 2015

Napoleon Cake (Blaettertorte)



For this Flashback Friday recipe I'm re-posting Napoleon Torte, which I grew up knowing as Blaettertorte, literally translated, cake with leaves. In this cake the pastry gets divided and rolled out into plate size cookies, baked and then stacked with a custard filling. This recipe yields two cakes, which is great because you can fill one cake and freeze half of the baked pastry leaves/cookies for another time.

Ingredients:
  • 1 c sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 c butter, softened
  • 3 Tbsp milk
  • 3 cups flour
  • 3 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 3 tsp baking powder
Method:
  1. Beat sugar and eggs well, then beat in the soft butter and milk. 
  2. Combine dry ingredients and stir into first mixture. 
  3. Turn dough onto floured counter to shape into a log.
  4. Wrap or cover and refrigerate for a couple of hours.

After refrigeration:
  1. Prepare 3 large cookie sheets with shortening and then flour. Tip sheet slightly and tap so that flour covers evenly. No need to repeat after first use.
  2. Slice log into 12 even slices. (This will make a scant 12 slices. For a more forgiving amount to roll, or if you use a larger template, divide into ten.)
  3. On lightly floured surface, shape each slice into a circle, then roll out to barely the size needed - use an 8 inch salad plate or bowl to cut circles. The first one is the hardest and then you can add the left over to the next one etc. Use the rolling pin to roll up, lift and unroll onto prepared sheet. 
  4. Try not to move cookies by hand because you will stretch them – use a spatula to move or tilt and tap the sheet. Place 2 at an angle to fit or bake one at a time.
  5. Bake at 400 F for about 5 min., until very light golden in color. Allow to cool on sheet until cookies harden, (5 min) then transfer gently, using spatula, to cooling rack. Re-use the same sheet, without washing, for another set. Keep a few in rotation mode. Bake leftover strips (cuttings) to use for crumb topping.


It takes about 1 hour to roll out and bake 10 - 12 cookies. To freeze, stack in a round Tupperware or plate with a topper, using wax paper between each layer and paper towels around the stack to cushion. Sometimes, after freezing there may be some cracks, but with correct handling, they will never show once the cake is assembled and set. The traditional way is to fill 5 - 8 layers with vanilla custard. In our family we sometimes opt for chocolate pudding.

Vanilla Custard/Pudding (this makes a generous amount)

Ingredients:
  • 5 c milk, separated
  • 5 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 5 Tbsp flour
  • 5 Tbsp sugar
  • ¼ tsp pure vanilla powder OR 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1 cup whipping cream, to add later
  1. In medium sized pot, bring 4 c milk to boil using just below med. heat.
  2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl or 4 cup measuring cup, mix cornstarch, flour, sugar, vanilla and 1/4 c milk. 
  3. Add egg yolks, blending them in well, then 3/4 cup milk, gradually, stirring to make a smooth, thick liquid.
  4. When milk starts to form small bubbles along the side and/or skin forms on top, add the egg mixture, using whisk, stirring until it comes to a second boil. Stir until smooth. Cool completely. (Place pot in ice water and/or lay plastic wrap right on pudding and refrigerate.)


To Assemble Torte:
  1. In mixing bowl, beat 1 cup whipping cream with 1 tsp sugar until gentle peaks form, then add cooled custard/pudding, beating on low until mixed well for about half a minute.
  2. Put a small amt (1 Tbsp) of pudding in the center of a flat serving plate. This is to keep the cake from slipping around while you try to layer it. 
  3. Using a large serving spoon, cover first layer with about ¾ - 1 cup pudding and repeat four or five times.There may be some wobble if the cookies are not very even - make up for it by the way you place them on top of each other – rotating fat end over skinny end etc. Cup sides with one hand as you spread the pudding. 
  4. Use the leftover pudding to cover the sides, if you like. Sprinkle with separately baked cookie crumbs. 
  5. Cover and refrigerate at least 10 hours. It will take a few hours for the cake to set, during which time you can help it along a bit. If it leans, place something under one side of the plate. Best after 24 or 48 hours. Keeps (refrigerated) for up to a week. 


It's worth it!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Rigatoni Pasta Cake


Who said a birthday cake must be loaded with sugar and whipped cream? Here's a savory cake that served the purpose just fine!  I invited friends for dinner with plans of serving birthday cake for dessert...but then the birthday girl said she would bring dessert.  So I served the cake for the main course.  The pasta cake was an idea I saw on-line...where there are many versions to choose from.  I used rigatoni...though I think I will try a spaghetti cake next time.  It's a fun way to serve an Italian classic...for kids of any age to enjoy!  

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound rigatoni pasta
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • 1/4 teaspoons black pepper
  • 4 cups prepared pasta sauce (use your favorite bottled variety or prepare your own)
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • 1 1/2 cups grated Mozzarella cheese

Directions:

  • In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook pasta until slightly underdone (about 2 minutes less than the indicated time). Drain; rinse in cold water and drain again. Toss pasta with 1 tablespoon olive oil and set aside.
  • Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the ground beef and cook until it's browned, about 5 minutes. (Use a potato masher to break up the lumps of meat while sautéing.) Add the garlic, salt and pepper. Sauté another minute.
  • Add pasta sauce and heat through.
  • Toss pasta with Parmesan cheese. 
  • Lightly oil a 9-inch springform pan. Tightly pack pasta into the pan, standing each piece on end. (It really doesn't take long!)
  • Spread the meat sauce on top of pasta and push into the holes as much as possible. (I used the handle of a wooden spoon to do this.)
  • Bake in a 400 degree oven for 15 minutes. 
  • Sprinkle mozzarella cheese on top and bake another 15 minutes...until cheese is browned and bubbling.
  • Remove from oven and let stand for 15 minutes. Run a knife around the edge to loosen and then un-mold.
  • Slice and serve.


Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Taste of the Tropics Cake Ring

For my  recent "milestone" birthday, my husband took me on a Jamaican holiday. 
 This upside down cake ring reflects the flavours we enjoyed there - pineapple, orange and coconut.



For the Topping
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup drained crushed pineapple
  • 1/3 cup orange marmalade
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut
  1. In a bowl, combine all topping ingredients and mix well.
  2. Prepare a baking pan.  I used a ring shaped spring form pan which I lined with parchment paper to keep it from dripping in the oven. If possible, use a 9 inch ring shaped pan.  If you don't have that, you may use a 10 inch cake pan.
  3. Spread topping evenly in the bottom of the pan and set aside.
For the Cake:
  • 1/2 cup softened unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons orange marmalade
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup milk
  1. In mixing bowl, beat butter until fluffy.
  2. Add sugar and beat again.
  3. Add eggs, one at a time, beating between additions.
  4. Add vanilla and marmalade mixing until blended..
  5. Add dry ingredients alternately with milk and mix until batter is thick and smooth.
  6. Spread batter carefully and evenly over topping in bottom of pan,
  7. Bake at 375º for 30 - 35 minutes or until cake tester comes out dry.
  8. Remove from oven and let stand on counter for 5 minutes.
  9. Invert pan on to a serving dish and let cool.
  10. Serve with ice cream or whipping cream.


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Ham and Swiss Cheese Sliders

Sliders are just a mini sandwich. Before Easter I saw a few recipes for ham and Swiss and thought I'd make a copy cat recipe with our left over Easter ham. The ham disappeared before I could make these so I used deli style sliced honey ham. When I make sliders of any kind I usually make my own slider buns, but they can be found in most grocery store bakeries. These warm little sliders make a great light meal served with a salad, or serve them at the next game night. 

  • 12 slider buns (these are very small soft dinner buns)
  • 12 slices of ham, baked left over ham or deli honey ham
  • 12 slices Swiss cheese
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard (I like to use the hot and spicy, or the honey style)
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1/4 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tbsp finely minced red onion
  • 1/2 tbsp poppy seeds
  1. In a small bowl make a spread by stirring together the mayonnaise, first amount of Dijon (1 tsp) and sugar.
  2. Slice open slider buns and spread both sides with spread.
  3. Place a slice of Swiss cheese, then ham, then another slice of cheese. (Swiss cheese slices are usually large, so I cut them to fit the small buns) Place the top of the slider buns on top.
  4. Place filled sliders close together in a low casserole or pie plate. 
  5. Melt butter, stir in remaining ingredients. Stir well to combine and spoon this poppy seed butter mixture over sliders.
  6. Cover with foil and bake in 350º oven for 15 minutes. Remove foil and let bake for 2-3 more minutes. Serve immediately. 

Monday, April 13, 2015

Chicken Parmigiana





This is one of our family favorites and often requested for birthday meals. It is such an easy recipe and can become one of you favorites as well. I like to use boneless chicken thighs because it is economical and they don't dry out. This serves about 10 people with 2 pieces each. 
  • 3 lbs boneless chicken thighs
  • 2 beaten eggs with a tablespoon of water
  • 1 cup of grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup of bread crumbs
  • 1 recipe of pasta sauce or 2 jars of your favorite sauce
  • Grated mozzarella cheese
  1. Pour the pasta sauce into the bottom of 2 9x13 pans.
  2. Dip the thighs into the egg mixture.
  3. Then into the combined cheese and bread crumbs.
  4. Brown in a bit of olive oil on medium heat. 
  5. Place the browned chicken on the sauce.
  6. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes
  7. Add desired amount of grated mozzarella cheese and bake for another 10 minutes. 
  8. Serve with your favorite pasta, greek or caesar salad and garlic bread.



Sunday, April 12, 2015

Bread for the Journey


We were visitors to a church new to us, slipping into the back as a small choir was leading the worship.The surroundings were different and everyone a stranger, until I was struck once again with what we had in common. Words to well known songs flowed  from one to the next reminding us that the same God is worshiped all around the world and what a wonderful feeling it is to be part of this family, adopted by His amazing love. With gratefulness we joined in these well known words by Chris Tomlin,

I'm forgiven, because You were forsaken
I'm accepted, You were condemned
I'm alive and well
Your Spirit is within me
Because You died and rose again.

Amazing love, how can it be?
That You, my King, would die for me
Amazing love, I know it's true
It's my joy to honor You
In all I do, I honor You.

But what if we were to visit a place where there was no such a feeling of kinship? What if everything was strange?  In this week after Easter, a friend passed along a thought or a question regarding the verse where the angel at the tomb asked the women, "Why do you seek the living among the dead?" I don't know if I'd ever really considered the question in more ways than what the context implies, but this time I saw it in a new way. My prayer today is that in our search for answers, with our attention being pulled in many directions, we will fix our eyes on Jesus, the One who is no longer in the grave but interceding for us at the right hand of God. He is for us!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Someone's in the Kitchen with an iPad

The iPad is quickly becoming one of my favorite kitchen companions.  No more running to the office and printing off the recipe...or trying to read a recipe off my phone...or digging through the vast library of splattered and worn cookbooks for the recipe I need. I love having the recipe open right next to my work space in the kitchen.  Many of my own tried and true favorites from ages past are posted right here on Mennonite Girls Can Cook.  Then there are all my new favorites...published by my blogging friends over the years .  They are so easy to follow on the iPad...


...propped up on my counter with a great gadget called a Belkin Chef Stand and Stylus.  It  supports my iPad at a decent angle without any fear of it toppling over and has an anti-slip bottom to make it stay put.


And then there is the wand...which lets me move around on the screen while I'm cooking without ever touching the iPad with my messy hands. What's not to like?  I am thankful to a friend who recommended this stand to me...and now I'm passing along the tip. I found one on-line at a reasonable price...and it showed up at my door in a few days time.


And here's one more tip. Did you know that there is a free Betty Crocker Cookbook App available?  I have always been a fan of her original 'Big Red' cookbook...along with the 75 million others who purchased it over the years.  And now I am enjoying her revised digital cookbook (released in fall of 2014) on my Ppad...with its 15,000 recipes. 

And those are my iPad tips for today...from my kitchen to yours!  Feel free to share yours.



Friday, April 10, 2015

Flashback Friday ~ Frankfurter Kranz


This cake is one of those favorite birthday cakes that many of the Europeans enjoyed.   When my husband tasted this cake while visiting the Calgary Cousins, he asked whether I thought I could make him one. I took on the challenge and have been making this for him annually.  Bake a simple sponge cake and yes, you can bake this in a round pan, but I prefer to use the loaf pan so that I can cut it into slices and freeze it.
I invited Frieda Bartel, a pro at baking cakes, for a lesson on cake baking...three simple steps.


Sponge Cake  ~ Step One
  • 9 eggs separate yolks from whites
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 half tbsp. cornstarch
Instructions.
  1. Set oven at 350 °
  2.  Separate egg whites from yolks.
  3. Mix yolks and sugar at high speed for 5 minutes.
  4. Add vanilla, baking powder, flower and cornstarch.
  5. Blend ingredients well together.
  6. Whip egg whites till stiff and fold into cake batter.
  7. Grease the bottom of your pan and dust lightly with flour.
  8. Pour sponge batter into your cake pan.
  9. Bake for 40 minutes.
  10. Turn the cake pan over and let it hang upside down for 40 minutes.
  11. Cut cake into two layers.
Whip Cream~ Step Two
  • 2 cups whip cream 
  • 2 Tbsp. instant vanilla pudding
  1. Spread whip cream over one sliced layer.
  2. Spread whip cream over loaf.


Burnt Almond Mixture: Step Three.   This is the real secret to this cake.
  • 2 cups whole blanched almonds chopped coarsely
  •  2 cups sugar
  1.  Immerse  almonds into hot water for 1 minute, to avoid nut crumbs flying all over the place. Chop coarsely and evenly.
  2. Add almonds into frying pan and add 2 cups of sugar.
  3. Stir slowly in frying pan at med-high heat, until all the sugar caramelizes and turns brown.
  4. Rotate the heat from med to med-high over the next 45 minutes.
  5. It needs to be done slowly, otherwise the sugar will not caramelize.
  6. This process is what makes the cake special and as you can see, it takes.....TIME!
  7. I had enough nuts left over to make another cake for a later time. I just froze them. 

Frieda carefully showed me how to stir the almonds to make sure they were the right texture and then how to apply them to the cake. 

Summary of Three Steps.
  1. Make your simple sponge cake recipe, or buy a cake mix.
  2. Remember to turn the cake upside down to cool for 40 minutes.
  3. Slice cake into two layers.
  4. Whip  two cups of whipping cream and add 2 Tbsp. instant vanilla pudding.
  5. Spread first layer with whip cream mixture.
  6. Spread middle layer with tart raspberry jam.
  7. Spread remaining whip cream mixture over the entire cake.
  8. Spread burnt almond mixture over the entire cake.

It's always fun to cook with someone else. You learn so many life lessons. I love her last words of advice to me.  Thanks Frieda.

"Marg, learn to buy cake mixes rather than thinking you need to do everything from scratch....The results are the same and no one knows."

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Artichoke and Spinach Dip

Some of us girls and our husbands got together for an appetizer and dessert evening last month at Anneliese's place. We all brought something to add to the buffet of amazing food. My contribution was this Artichoke and Spinach Dip. This dip can be made the day before and heated before serving. 
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup red onion, minced fine
  • 4 cups fresh spinach
  • 3/4 cup cream
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup cream cheese, cut into small cubes
  • 2 cups canned artichokes, drained and chopped
  • 2/3 cup roasted red peppers, chopped
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese, grated
  1. Heat oil in a large heavy skillet. Add garlic and onions and saute over medium heat until they begin to sizzle but not brown.
  2. Add spinach and cream. Stir and cook until spinach wilts and cooks down. Add salt, pepper and lemon juice.
  3. Cut cream cheese into small cubes and add to the creamed spinach mixture, stirring until cream cheese has melted.
  4. Remove from heat and add artichokes, roasted red peppers, and remaining 2 cheeses.
  5. Stir well until cheeses have melted. 
  6. Pour this mixture into a low oven proof dish.
  7. Bake at 375º for 20 minutes or until dip is hot and bubbly. 
  8. Serve hot, with pita chips or crackers. 

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Bruschetta Skillet Chicken

This is a simple stove top meal with good flavor. It would be good served with pasta on the side.

  • 1-1/2 cups of grape tomatoes halved. (You can substitute a 15oz. can of chopped tomatoes, drained)
  • 3/4 cup shredded Italian blend cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1 pound of Chicken Tenders
  • 1 8 oz. can of tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
  • 1 cup small garlic or Italian flavored croutons, crushed slightly

  1. Stir together tomatoes, cheese and basil in medium bowl and set aside.
  2. Combine tomato sauce and garlic in large skillet: add chicken.
  3. Bring sauce to a boil over medium-high heat.
  4. Reduce heat to medium-low.
  5. Add the mixed tomatoes, cheese and basil evenly on top of the chicken.
  6. Cook for 15 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.
  7. Top with croutons and more cheese if  desired.
  8. Serve hot with pasta or another side dish.
Serves 4

You can use boneless skinless chicken breasts instead of the tenders but you will need to pound them to a 1/2 inch thickness.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Potato Cakes




Do you have leftover mashed potatoes from your Easter weekend festivities? Often towards the end of the week my mom would use up the leftovers and on occasion she would make these potato pancakes using mashed potatoes. She didn't usually add cheese, I did. Isn't everything better with a bit of cheese?
  • 2 cups of seasoned mashed potatoes
  • 1/2 cup of grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 or 2 tablespoon of chopped green onion
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • oil for browning
  1. Combine all the above ingredients. 
  2. Shape into patties.
  3. Brown in a bit of oil on medium heat.
  4. Serve with sour cream and or ketchup.