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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Marinated Cheese Platter


 This marinated cheese platter is fun to make and is a nice appetizer for New Year's Eve, New Year's Day, or a game day party. I saw this idea with the recipe for the marinade on Taste of Home and I added some extra things to the platter and deleted some, too.

Ingredients:
  • 2-3 blocks of white cheeses of your choice like cheddar, Swiss and Monterey Jack, sliced
  • Marinated Asparagus Spears
  • Marinated mushrooms
  • Assorted olives
  • Pimento for garnish
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh basil
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • Crackers or sliced baguette

Method:
  1. Whisk together olive oil, balsamic vinegar, basil, parsley, and garlic and set aside.
  2. Fill small clear glass bowl or other small bowl with olives and set in center of a round platter.
  3. Arrange cheeses on edge and asparagus alternating around the platter.
  4. Arrange marinated mushrooms around the glass bowl of olives.
  5. Sprinkle pimento on top.
  6. Whisk the marinade #1 again and sprinkle evenly over the top of the cheeses.
  7. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 8 hours before serving. 
  8. Serve with crackers or sliced baguette.
 The photo above is of the platter before the marinade is added. The original platter I saw did not have the asparagus or the mushrooms on it.You can use your imagination and your preferences to add or delete things to this platter. Also sliced baguette is probably a better choice as it will absorb the marinade better.

Happy New Year's Eve to all who come by here today!

Crab Cups ~ Flashback Friday

Years ago, I posted these little morsels and to this day...they are still a huge hit in our home. As  I wandered through the supermarket, they were sampling these little crab cups.  I asked about a recipe and ever since that day, this little appie accompanies our Christmas Eve celebration.  New Years is coming up and if you are looking for something simple, tasty and special, you've got it all in one package.


Crab Cups
  • 1/2 pound imitation crab
  • 1 stalk celery chopped fine
  • 1 green onion chopped fine
  • 2-3 tbsp miracle whip
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 boxes of mini fillo shells
Instructions
  1. Chop the crab, greens and celery, so it resembles the same texture.
  2. Add miracle whip
  3. Add salt and pepper
  4. Blend ingredients together
  5. Dish mixture into shell cups just prior to serving.
I always prepare this in the afternoon and store in a sealed container refrigerated.  
After we come home from the church service, I spoon, no, my son Jeremy spoons these into the shells, while I hardly even had a chance to take new photos. If you have any leftovers the mixture can be stored back in the fridge for the next day.  Quick, easy and simple.
(note:  they no longer make Siljans, they have been replaced by mini fillo shells, Athens brand)

Hidden Valley Ranch Chicken Wings


These wings were a hit over Christmas and they'll be perfect for the New Years Party. 

  • 2 pounds wings, tips removed and then cut in half at the joint 
  • 1/2 cup  Red Hot Sauce
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons Hidden Valley Ranch dressing and seasoning mix  (or about 1 envelope)
  1. Put wing pieces into a large Ziploc bag and pour in the Red Hot sauce and the cider vinegar.
  2. Marinade overnight.
  3. Arrange wings on a pan.  Use parchment paper for easy clean up.
  4. Sprinkle evenly with the Hidden Valley Ranch seasoning and salad dressing mix.
  5. Bake about 45 - 60 minutes at 350 F. 

Crab Filled Choux Bites


Cream puff pastry, also known as choux pastry, always creates a bit of a wow aspect, because it looks fancy. It is really just a simple pastry made by bringing water and butter to a boil, then stirring in the flour and eggs. The puff happens in the oven, creating a space for any kind of filling you like. This pastry has some cheese added in the mix and I've filled them with a crab filling that is also delicious served just with crackers.

Pastry Ingredients:

  • 1 cup water
  • ½ cup butter, cubed small
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 1 cup flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan or white Cheddar Cheese
  • ½ tsp dry mustard

Method:
  1. Bring butter, salt, pepper and water to boil in a small pot.
  2. Remove from heat and quickly stir in flour all at once. 
  3. Return to medium heat, stirring vigorously, until it completely loosens from sides of pot, easily forming a ball.
  4. Stir in cheese and mustard. Let sit for five minutes to cool slightly.
  5. Beat in eggs, one at a time. (I use a wooden spoon, but you can use a mixer. The eggs slip and slide a bit as you stir to incorporate them, but keep stirring until you have a smooth, stiff pastry.)
  6. Drop by rounded teaspoon (swiping off with a finger) onto parchment lined or greased and floured cookie sheets. You can use a wet butter knife to shape ragged sides into uniform circles.
  7. Bake at 450 F for the first 10 min. Lower temp to 350 F and bake another 30 min.
  8. Cool and slice open. These can be made ahead and frozen. Yield 40
Filling Ingredients:
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 3/4 cup miracle whip
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 3 Tbsp green onion, finely chopped
  • 6-8 oz (1 1/2 cups) imitation crab, finely chopped
Method:
  • Beat cream cheese, adding in miracle whip, until creamy. 
  • Stir in the rest of the ingredients. This can be made up to a day before.
  • Just before serving, use a rounded tsp to fill each puff and bake at 375F for 8 minutes.

TIPS for choux pastry

  • One14X21 inch cookie sheet is great to bake the whole batch, if you have that size) If not, fill first sheet with 20 puffs, spacing about 2 inches apart. Leave remaining dough in covered pot. When first batch is baked, stir up the remaining batter and repeat.
  • Some cooks brush on an egg wash to create a glossy top. Optional. 
  • DO NOT open oven door for first 20 minutes of baking. 
  • Even if puffs look done sooner, bake at least 30 minutes in total, but 40 is better as long as they do not get too dark. If you take them out too soon they can collapse from moisture still inside. If in doubt, you can turn off the oven, open the door slightly and let them sit to dry for another 10 minutes. 

Hasselback Potatoes


I'm sure that most of us have enjoyed a lot of great food over the past few days. The past few years I've baked less sweets, because I was finding that they were not being eaten and I'd have too many left in the freezer with no takers. Looking into my fridge yesterday I smiled at the sight of shelves that are not filled up with containers of left overs. With it just being the two of us there was just enough meat from Christmas eve to grill and I added steamed veggies and these tasty crumb crusted potatoes. Pretty enough for company, and easy enough for a weeknight supper. 
My recipe today if for 2 large russet potatoes, but you can just make more topping for the number of spuds you are baking.
  • 2 large russet potatoes,  long potatoes are best for slicing
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • salt & pepper
  • 1/4 cup dry bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon parsley flakes
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  1. Wash and scrub potatoes well.
  2. Slice a thin piece of potato off on of the long sides so that each potato sits flat.
  3. To get even slices without slicing through, place a long wooden spoon under each long side of the potato and using a thin blade sharp knife slice 1/4" slices all along. The knife will cut only to where the wooden spoons sit so that you don't cut through to the bottom. Clever...I know! 
  4. Place sliced potatoes on a foil lined baking sheet. Drizzle, getting into all the little slits the first amount of melted butter, and salt and pepper.
  5. Bake potatoes covered for 45 minutes in 375º oven.
  6. While they are baking, mix together other ingredients.
  7. Uncover potatoes. Divide crumb topping between potatoes and bake another 10-15 minutes until the topping is crusty and golden brown.
  8. Serve with sour cream on the side. 

Bread for the Journey



Christmas has been celebrated for years.
It's been etched in our hearts as the celebration of the birth of Jesus as a gift to be
experienced daily, not only at Christmas.
By now the Christmas preparations have been completed by most of us.
I wonder how can we we continue to celebrate Christmas year round as 'people of faith'? 

Christmas is not only a historical date....but a gift to be lived.

When  you take the first step to forgiveness and find peace with a loved one, 
then you have Christmas.

When someone asks you for help....and you assist them, 
that is Christmas.

When you let go of something meaningful to give to someone else, who needs it more...
then that is Christmas.

Living with joy and hope rather than fear and anxiety.  
That is Christmas.

When you share life with someone who has nothing,
that becomes Christmas.

Christmas is about love...God sending down his son to a virgin Mary,
to give life and significance to be born in our hearts.  

The gospel is incredible news.  It's the reality that Jesus came to bring you
HOPE, PEACE, JOY, and LOVE that ultimately satisfies.

Turn to Jesus ~ the light of the world ~ this is Christmas!


Chocolate Peppermint Cookies ~ Flash Back Friday


One of the joys of Christmas baking is to get the whole family involved and so picking cookies that are child friendly to make are a great idea.  This simple little drop cookie is so easy for kids to make and it looks fancy with some easy techniques.    I first posted this recipe in 2008  just a year after our two oldest grandchildren were born.  Our five granchildren aged between nine and five all love to help me bake.














Chocolate Peppermint Drop Cookies

  • 2/3 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup cocoa
  • 1/2 cup hot coffee or water
  • 1 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 3 tablespoons crushed candy canes

  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • additional crushed candy canes for sprinkling on top
  1. Cream the butter with the sugar.
  2. Add the egg and the vanilla and beat well.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the hot coffee and the cocoa and stir until no lumps remain.
  4. After it has completely cooled, add to the sugar mixture.
  5. Combine the dry ingredients and add to the creamed mixture.
  6. Add the chocolate chips and the crushed candy canes.
  7. Drop by a small ice cream scoop onto a cookie sheet that has been lined with parchment paper.
  8. Bake for about 8 minutes for little cookies at 350. The shiny spot in the middle of the cookie should have gone dull but don't wait longer than that to remove them from the oven.
  9. Melt the chocolate chips and white chocolate chips separately.
  10. Put each of the melted chocolate in a zip loc bags or cake decorating bags and cut a small hole in the corner to squeeze the chocolate onto the cookie as shown.
  11. Sprinkle a little bit of crushed candy cane on top of each cookie while the chocolate is still melted.
Yield: 3 1/2 dozen small cookies

Mini Farmer Sausage Rolls and Refrigerator Dough



I made these Mini Sausage Rolls recently for a senior's tea in our church. 
They proved to be a hit so the next day I promptly made another batch for holiday entertaining.  
They freeze well and can be quickly reheated to add to an appetizer buffet.

  • One recipe Refrigerator Dough
  • 1 - 2 links cooked farmer sausage
  • Honey Mustard Mayonnaise either prepared or homemade
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1- 1/2 tablespoons cream 
  • poppy seed or sesame seed 
For the Refrigerator Dough
(This is my go-to recipe for a quick mix dough that can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week.)
  • 2 cups warm milk or water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup margarine softened
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons instant yeast
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • about 6 cups flour - can include 1 or 2 cups whole wheat flour
  1. Place 4 cups flour into bowl of stand mixer. Add sugar, salt, yeast and margarine.
  2. Beat eggs and add to bowl.
  3. Add milk or water (I often use half milk and half water) and let mix until dough is sticky. 
  4. Add remaining flour until dough forms a medium soft ball and then and leave mixer run or knead for about 5 minutes.
  5. Place in greased bowl. Cover bowl and place in refrigerator for several hours or overnight.
  6. When ready to bake, form into crescent rolls, cloverleaf rolls or whatever shape rolls you like,  (Ham and Cheese Pinwheels are made from this recipe)
  7. Let rise on the pans and bake at 375º F for 12 - 15 minutes.
For the Honey Mustard Mayonnaise
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1-2 teaspoons Dijon Mustard
  • 2-3 teaspoons honey
  1. Make refrigerator dough early in the day or the day before so it has time to rise.
  2. Cut up sausage into 1/4 inch x 1 1/2 inch pieces
  3. Prepare Honey Mustard Mayonnaise by mixing all ingredients until well blended. Set aside.
  4. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  5. Divide dough into 8 wedges
  6. Roll out one wedge of dough into a long rectangle approximately 3 1/2 inches x 14 inches.
  7. Using a pizza cutter, cut into triangles  that are 1 1/2 inches on the wide end as shown below.
  8. Using a small spoon or spatula, smear a dab of Honey mustard mayonnaise at the wide end of each triangle.
  9. Place a piece of sausage on the wide end and roll up, tucking the tip underneath as you place it on the pan.
  10. Repeat with remaining wedges of dough.
  11. Cover with plastic and let rise in a warm place.
  12. Mix beaten egg and cream in a small bowl and brush over sausage rolls.
  13. Sprinkle with poppy seed or sesame seed.
  14. Bake at 375º F for 12 minutes.
  15. Remove from pans and store in zippered plastic bags.  These freeze well.
  16. To serve, heat rolls briefly and serve with Honey Mustard Mayonnaise for dipping.

Cranberry Brie Pizza


This pizza is a quick snack you can whip up easily for company or family during this busy season. If you would like to use your own pizza dough that works too. This is the time we are all happy to find quick delicious snacks to serve. The bright color of cranberries adds to the festive look. Pistachios would complement the color of the cranberries so that could be used instead of pecans.
  • 1 tube (13 oz) refrigerated pizza crust
  • 8 oz package Brie cheese
  • 3/4 cup cranberry sauce, make your own or use canned
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans or pistachios
  1. Unroll crust onto a lightly greased 12" pizza pan, Flatten dough to fit the pan and build up the edges slightly.
  2. Bake in a 350º oven for 12 minutes until crust is light golden in color.
  3. Remove rind from the cheese and cut into 1/2" cubes and sprinkle over baked crust.
  4. Spoon cranberry sauce evenly on top of the cheese and sprinkle with nuts.
  5. Bake 8 - 10 minutes longer, until cheese is melted and the crust is golden brown.
  6. Remove from oven and allow to sit a few minutes before cutting.
  7. Yield: 12 slices

JOY Veggie Tray


It's that time of year and we all tend to be scrambling to bring a veggie tray.  Here you go. Something simple yet filled with JOY!   During Advent Season we always invite the family for a simple traditional meal of meat and buns, mandarin oranges and Pheffernusse while we light the candles. Tara brought her famous veggie tray and I appreciate how she arranged her tray to celebrate the Advent Season of Joy,  Our idea around this is to help the family think about the real meaning of Christmas rather than exhausting their energy on things that distract them.
You too,  can make this tray and make sure you have some colorful red and white veggies so that the word JOY stands out. 


Christmas Morning Life Saver


This breakfast casserole has been on our Christmas brunch table every year for decades.  It is tradition; a good one!  I clipped the recipe from a 'holiday recipe insert' in a local paper originally, and have tweaked it a little over the years...adding red and green peppers for a festive look. It is made the previous day and then popped in the oven in the morning. 

Ingredients:
  • 16 slices white bread, crusts removed
  • ham, thinly sliced (about 1/2 lb./250 gr or 16 slices)
  • grated cheddar cheese (about 1/2 lb/250 gr)
  • 6 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2-1 tsp. dry mustard
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • dash of hot sauce, optional
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 1/4 cup minced onion
  • 1/2 cup red and/or green pepper, chopped 
  • 1/3 cup butter 
  • 1 cup crushed Corn Flakes (or Special K)
Directions:

  1. Lay 8 slices of bread into a 9″ x 13″ (23 x 33 cm) buttered, glass baking dish. 
  2. Cover bread with sliced ham. 
  3. Spread with grated cheddar cheese and then cover with remaining slices of bread.
  4. In a bowl, beat eggs, salt, dry mustard, Worcestershire sauce, optional hot sauce and milk. Pour over the casserole. 
  5. Sprinkle black pepper, onions and peppers evenly over surface. Cover and refrigerate overnight. 
  6. In the morning, melt the butter and drizzle over top. 
  7. Sprinkle with crushed cornflakes. 
  8. Bake uncovered for 1 hour at 350 deg.F (180 deg.C). 
  9. Let stand for10 minutes before serving. 
Serves 8.



 

Bread For The Journey


While I have been preparing inside for Christmas, I've been keeping one eye on  the comfort of our hummingbirds that are making their home on our farm this winter. When the temperatures are above freezing it is just a matter of making six cups of sugar water every other day but last week the temperatures plummeted to below freezing even during the day.   This is not often the case on the southwest coast of Canada so we were not very prepared.   Between my hair dryer and "Hot Pockets" we were able to keep the water from freezing until we could come up with a more permanent solution.


This is where we are at now.  It is not a pretty solution at all.  We have heat tape, pipe insulation, and heat lamps.  Gone are the attractive photo opportunities but the hummingbirds have sugar water to drink and they have a better chance of survival.

The time spent keeping these tiny creatures alive has caused me to reflect on the ways I prepare for Christmas and what I am most thankful for.  I have spent considerable time making the home beautiful.  Baking and decorating and shopping for special gifts are all lovely. Our family appreciates coming home to a place prepared for their comfort and enjoyment but unless my heart is ready and I am thankful for Jesus in my heart, all the gifts and sparkles and delicious foods have little meaning for me when considering the real meaning of Christmas.

I'm so thankful to God for the great gift of the Saviour who left the glory of Heaven and came to live in a broken world and died to save me and all those that believe in him.


"In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins."

1 John 4:10 NET





Mini Date Pudding Cakes


This traditional pudding cake recipe was inspired by a Canadian Living version of mini pudding cakes. Like the cake, these are moist and filled with deliciousness that is hard to pinpoint, meaning you would probably not guess there are dates in the cake. It is one of my favorite desserts and can be made ahead, frozen and reheated to serve warm with a caramel sauce. A perfect dessert after your Christmas meal.

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup dates, chopped fine and 1 cup water
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted and cooled or very soft
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
Caramel Sauce:
  • 2/3 cups butter
  • 2/3 cups brown sugar 
  • 3 Tbsp corn syrup
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream 
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • whipped cream for garnish

Method:
  1. In saucepan, bring finely chopped dates and water to boil and continue simmering for about 5 minutes until soft. Turn off heat and add baking soda, stirring to mash well. (it will bubble) Add vanilla, Set aside to cool.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease 12 count regular muffin pan or 8 count giant muffin pan. I prefer the giant size for a better spread of the cake. (Fill 4 empty wells half -way with water.) 
  3. In mixing bowl, beat sugar and eggs until pale. 
  4. Stir in melted butter and then date mixture.
  5. Combine dry ingredients and stir into wet, until smooth.
  6. Fill muffin tins (larger ones half way) and bake about 20 minutes, until toothpick cake test done.
  7. In the meantime, mix sauce ingredients in saucepan and bring to soft boil. Stir and cook on low heat about 7 minutes, until thick and creamy. This can be kept in a sealed jar and re-heated to serve.
  8. When mini cakes come out of the oven, poke with large fork. Spoon 1 Tbsp of sauce over each cake and let sit for about 10 minutes.
  9. Invert cakes onto serving plates. Serve with warm sauce. If you make these ahead, invert into container with lid to freeze or keep in fridge one day. To serve warm, thaw, wrap loosely in foil and reheat for 10 minutes in oven. Serve with warm sauce and a dollop of whipped cream. 

Cherry Berry in a Cloud

It's Flashback Friday again. I decided to re post this dessert as it's a perfect for the holidays. I'm actually serving this dessert to guests tonight.

This recipe has been in my recipe box for years,
and I recently pulled it out to make for a family gathering.
Cherries and strawberries glaze the top of the cheesecake
like filling, that is piled high onto a baked meringue crust.


Ingredients for meringue base:
  • 6 egg whites
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cream of tarter
  • 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
Method:
  1. Beat egg whites until they begin to turn frothy. Add salt and cream of tarter.
  2. Gradually add the sugar, beating until the whites are very stiff. (over beat rather than under beat)
  3. Grease a 9x13 pan and spread meringue in pan.
  4. Bake at 275º for 1 hour. Leave in oven over night or for at least 8-12 hours. Do not open door during baking or cooling time. I like to bake the meringue crust in the evening. Turn the oven off and in the morning it is ready for the cream cheese topping.
Filling ingredients:
  • 8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups heavy cream, whipped
  • 2 cups mini marshmallows
Method:
  1. Whip cream until stiff.
  2. In another bowl cream together cream cheese, sugar and vanilla.
  3. Fold whipped cream and marshmallows into cream cheese mixture.
  4. Spread over meringue crust.
Topping Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh sliced strawberries, or frozen strawberries thickened with 1/2 tbsp corn starch.
  • 1 10 oz (540 ml) can cherry pie filling
  • 1 tsp lemon juice.
Method:
  1. Stir together and spread over cream cheese filling.
  2. Cover and refrigerate for 8-12 hours.


Raspberry Cucumber Salad with Creamy Raspberry Dressing


I served this salad at this year's Mennonite Girls Can Cook Christmas Party.
It's a special salad to serve during the holidays with its out of season Fresh Raspberries.
But in Summer when raspberries are in season, you can enjoy it as often as you like.

For the Dressing:
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil or Grapeseed oil
  • 2-3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons raspberry or blueberry Balsamic Vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 1- 2  teaspoons Dijon Mustard
* Spiced Almonds:
  • 1 cup slivered almonds - preferably unblanched
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Chinese 5 Spice Powder
For the Salad:
  • 2 cups torn romaine lettuce
  • 1 cup fresh baby spinach
  • 1 cup mixed red and green salad greens
  • 1 cup fresh raspberries
  • 1 -2 mini English Cucumbers 
  • spiced almonds *
  • 1 green onion - green part only
  1. Prepare the dressing first and set aside.
  2. Mix all ingredients in a salad shaker or jar and shake vigorously to blend. Note: start with the smaller amounts of sugar and mustard and adjust to suit your taste, Set aside.
  3. Prepare the almonds. Lay out a piece of waxed paper on the counter.
  4. In a medium no stick fry pan, place sugar and spice, stirring over medium heat for a few minutes .
  5. Add almonds and continue to stir until sugar melts and almonds begin to brown. Watch very closely as they will burn quickly.
  6. When sugar is almost all dissolved, turn almonds out onto waxed paper to cool. If you do this ahead of time, store the nuts in a covered container.
  7. Prepare the salad  on individual plates.
  8. Place some romaine, spinach and mixed salad greens on each plate, top with cucumber slices and green onion.
  9. Sprinkle with a few raspberries and spiced nuts.
  10. Drizzle with dressing and serve immediately.

Pear Soup

This Pear Soup recipe is easy to make and would be a great starter soup for a nice holiday meal. Creamy without cream and a nice balance between the sweet pears and the subtle saltiness of the cheeses.

Pear Soup Ingredients:

  • 2 cups Chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 3 fresh pears peeled and cored
  • 1/2 cup Gruyere cheese, grated
  • 1/2 cup crumbled Stilton Cheese
  • Toasted walnuts to garnish

Method:
  1. In a heavy bottom dutch oven or pot add the broth and wine.
  2. Add peeled and cored pear chunks to the broth and wine and poach over medium heat until pears are soft.
  3. Puree the pears until smooth using a hand immersion blender or a stand blender.
  4. If you used a stand blender put the puree back into the pot and add the cheeses.
  5. Lower the heat and stir until cheeses are melted and smooth.
  6. Serve in small bowls garnished with toasted walnuts.
  7. Serves 4-6 with hearty portions or 12 with small starter portions.  
The toasted walnuts blend nicely with the pears and cheeses giving a nice crunch to the soup.
Add a few pomegranate seeds or bacon bits to add extra flavor and color splash to the soup.
If you do not like Stilton cheese you can substitute the Stilton for Gruyere and use a full cup.

Buche de Noel with Mushroom Meringues


This simple to make chocolate cake roll is gluten free and whips up in no time. 
The instructions may look daunting but if you read through them you will see that they are easy to do.


You can serve this dessert simply by filling with whipped cream and dusting the top with powdered sugar or you can go all out and cover it with buttercream, garnish with chocolate bark and meringue mushrooms.


The meringue mushrooms are best made on a dry day and we haven't had many of them around the west coast so when we had a cold spell this last weekend I was delighted to make up a batch of meringues. 



Buche de Noel (Yule Log)

  • 6 eggs, separated
  • 3/4 cup sugar, divided
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • powdered/confectioners/icing sugar for dusting tea towel
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.  
  2. Line a 10 X 15 inch jelly roll pan with parchment paper.  
  3. In a large bowl, beat egg yolks with 1/2 cup sugar until they are thick and pale.  Sift in the unsweetened cocoa powder, vanilla and salt and continue to beat until combined.
  4. With clean beaters,  beat egg whites in a large bowl with cream of tartar and slowly add 1/4 of the sugar.  Beat until stiff peaks form.
  5. Add a spoonful of the egg whites to the beaten egg yolk mixture and stir.  Add another spoonful and stir again.  This lightens up the batter.  Carefully fold the remaining egg whites carefully into the egg yolk mixture.
  6. Spread batter into prepared pan and bake 15 minutes.  Cake should spring back when lightly touched. 
  7. While the cake is baking, dust confectioner's/powdered sugar.  Flip the warm cake onto the powdered sugar and carefully remove parchment paper.
  8. Roll up from the long side.  Don't roll tight and be gentle.  Cool.


Filling for the Buche de Noel
  • 2 cups whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 packages whipping cream stabilizer (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Whip together whipping cream and powdered sugar with the whipping cream stabilizer if you are using it.  If you don't have access to whipping cream stabilizer, you can use a heaping teaspoon of instant vanilla pudding but then eliminate the vanilla extract. Add in vanilla extract when soft peaks form.
  2. Gently unroll cooled cake.  Spread whipped cream evenly over cake and roll up again using the tea towel to help.
  3. Place seam side down on a platter.  Keep in mind that you will be cutting off a little piece of one end of the roll off to form a branch on the side.
Buttercream Frosting
  • 3/4 cup softened butter
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 2 cups powdered/ confectioners/ icing sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla 
  • a bit of milk 
  1. Cream butter in a large bowl.  Sift together cocoa powder and icing sugar into the bowl.
  2. Beat together, adding vanilla and a bit of milk to make a spreadable consistency.
  3. Spread over the Buche de Noel.
  4. Cut a 3 or 4 inch piece of the cake roll off on a diagonal and place it on the side of the cake to make a branch.
Chocolate Bark
  • 1 cup chocolate chips or chocolate bar
  1. Melt slowly over low heat in a small pot or melt in the microwave, stirring every 15 seconds. 
  2. Spread the chocolate over parchment paper and chill until it hardens.
  3. Roll the parchment paper with the chocolate into a tube.  Unroll.  You should have bark like chocolate bark.
  4. Place chocolate bark all over the log.
  5. Sift with icing sugar.




Mushroom Meringues

  • 2 egg whites
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • cocoa powder
  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Beat egg whites in a large bowl with cream of tartar until foamy.  Add sugar a little bit at a time until stiff peaks form.
  3. Place a large hole piping tip into a piping bag. Fill with meringue.
  4. Pipe out meringue imagining the size of the mushroom cap you want to achieve.  Don't lift the tip until it is the size you want.  Stop pressure on the bag and lift up the tip.  After all the caps have been piped, use a damp finger to pat down the point.
  5. To make the mushroom stems.  Pipe stems, lifting the tip as you apply pressure.   Sift a tiny bit of cocoa powder over mushroom caps before baking. 
  6. Place in the oven.  Turn oven off after one minute and then leave in oven 2 hours.



Once meringues have cooled, cut a bit off the top of the stem.


Melt a bit more chocolate and spread the bottom of the mushroom cap with melted chocolate.



Put the stem on and allow to cool.  

Decorate your Buche de Noel with the mushrooms and use a bit of fake greenery to complete your masterpiece.  (mushrooms should remain at room temperature, so add them just before putting the Buche de Noel on display to serve)

Refrigerate until serving time.  



Bread for the Journey



Christ our Hope

The word hope is often used very loosely. We hope for this or that, more like a wish with no security. When life hurts or disappoints we can feel hopelessness and despair.

But there is good news. God sent Jesus, who was and is the true hope for us all. As a believer in Christ our hope is secure and comes with a favourable and confident expectation. Our hope stands ready in expectation as we wait on God.

Hope for a believer is resting in the truth that everything will be according to God's will, and covered with sufficient grace.
Christ is our living hope, yet we often look past Him, missing out on His presence and power in our daily life.

The angels so beautifully expressed what true hope means when they sang,
"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom His favour rests".

My prayer for those of you who come here today is found in Romans 15:13.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

Saturday in Ellen's Kitchen

Welcome to Saturday in Ellen's Kitchen and my Mystery Tree Episode. We started the Mystery Tree tradition at our house several years ago and will be enjoying it again this year.
These are the easy rules to play along. First, go to the nearest store to you that has a large collection of trees for sale. Choose a bundled tree in the height and price range you want and load it on the cart and pay for it. Do Not Remove the string. Throw it in your vehicle and head home.
Second, after cutting off a section of the trunk so it will absorb water better bring the tree in to your prepared area with the tree stand positioned and set it in the stand and secure it well. You can add water at this point but just enough to come up past the freshly sawed off section.
Third, this is the fun part, cut away the string and step back and see the mystery revealed.
Voila! Not bad. Now we move on and see how the angel will fit on top.
That will be just fine so we move on to adding the lights before our first clean up.
Add more water at this point. Now it's time to vacuum up the dry needles that fell. You might want to let the branches have a chance to relax before you add your ornaments. Here are some other mystery trees in our past.
The best part of this tradition at our house is how easy and stress free this has been for us. We used to go to a tree lot and pull out tree after tree and then turn it this way and that way and on and on we'd go till we could finally settle on one. When our kids were little we had fun trekking to Christmas tree farms and cutting down our own. Now that we are empty nesters we find the Mystery Tree tradition to be the best for us. The mystery and fun of the reveal could also work for your little ones. It is relaxing to know the tree does not have to be perfect.

Hope you enjoyed this Saturday in Ellen's kitchen and that you are enjoying the Wonder of the Christmas season. Joy to the World!