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!


Christmas Greetings From Our Home to Yours


Many of us will be gathering with our families around the Christmas tree this evening, celebrating God's one and only Son.  And what does the tree have to do with Christmas?  Apparently it was Martin Luther in the 16th century who first brought a tree indoors at Christmas.   He was walking through the forest one evening and looked up to see the stars shining through the tree branches. It was so beautiful that he decided to recapture the scene for his family, erecting an evergreen tree in the main room and wiring lighted candles to the branches. He told his children that it reminded him of Jesus, who left the stars of heaven to come to earth at Christmas.  Many centuries later, we are still putting up Christmas trees, with angels or stars at the top.  The evergreen trees these days are often 'not real' and the candles have been replaced by twinkling lights.  Today we will give you a wee peek into our homes and some of the trees our families will be gathering around this Christmas, along with a few of our family traditions.

Every year on the week before First Advent we make a date of cutting down our Christmas tree. 
The theme of our tree has carried the tradition that began when my oldest brother was born in 1944.  My parents who had very little money to spend on decorations, invested in a bird to celebrate the birth of their first child.  Each baby born added another bird to the tree including my own bird when I was born, the baby of the family.  When we grew up and left the family nest, our little bird went with us and was the first ornament for our new home.  Since then, I have collected many birds, reminding me of Christmases past and the family I was blessed to grow up in.  Our family takes turns with the families of our daughter in laws to have our family time together either on the 25th or the 26th.  It doesn't matter to us which day we are together, what matters most to me is that our family chooses to be together to celebrate the birth of Jesus who came to bring us life!  ~ Lovella


The tree above is our Mystery Tree this year. We have had live trees every year that we've been married, 42 trees now. We started the Mystery Tree tradition a few years ago to take the stress of finding the perfect tree out of our hands. Our immediate family has grown and our children have married. We celebrate together on Christmas Day leaving Christmas Eve for our kids to celebrate with their in-laws. On Christmas Eve we attend a service and have a simple meal. On Christmas morning we all gather and see what gifts were left in our stockings. After stockings Greg makes Swedish pancakes for breakfast and this tradition is one our kids will not let us replace. We read the Christmas story from Luke 2 before we open the gifts under the tree. We like to take a walk before we start preparing for our special Christmas meal of Prime Rib and Yorkshire Pudding. ~ Ellen


Since our three children married and established their own families, we celebrate Christmas Day with them in our home only every other year. This is the "off year" when our children will be celebrating Christmas day with their in-law families.  Two of our three children live at a distance from us and it is impractical to make the trip home every year. We miss having them all here but have come to appreciate the "off years". There's less hustle and bustle, more time to entertain friends and we enjoy  a quieter Christmas Eve and Christmas Day together as a couple. Our Christmas tree is hung with mostly gold and crimson ornaments but they are really just there to fill in the spaces between the ornaments that we've collected over the years.  Ornaments made by children and grandchildren, friends and some from the numerous trips Harv and I have taken together. Our oldest ornaments are the small nativity ornament Harv received as a young child from his Sunday School teacher and the reindeer passed down my my mom. My favourite ornaments are those that were gifted to us by our grandchildren one year. The clear glass balls feature white handprints transformed into snowmen by tiny hands. Whether the children are home or not, our Christmas morning tradition always includes a fire in the fireplace, the Christmas Story and a time of prayer before opening our gifts ~ Bev


Our favorite time to open gifts is in the evening, stemming from our tradition of gathering after the Christmas Eve service. Now our local families come on Christmas day in the afternoon. The kids (ten years and down) eat while the adults enjoy appetizers. Then the kids recite or sing something they have prepared, open their gifts and are free to go and play while the adults eat dinner. We drag out the anticipation of exchanging our adult gifts as long as possible. The joy of giving is truly the best - a reflection of God's heart. It is my favorite night of the year!  Oh . . . and the tree . . . this year we cut it at a tree farm and decorated it with white mini lights and blue, dark teal and silver balls. ~ Anneliese


In the German custom, my husband remembers his mother decorating the living room for weeks and no one was allowed to enter  until Christmas Eve.  When they heard her ringing the bell, all eyes lit up and everyone, young and old entered the living room each one finding their spot.  I still remember my first Christmas celebrating this tradition. The tree had  electric German candles, filled with straw stars that she had made.  I remember sitting with John's mother making those stars and today our tree has similar ornaments with the stars that I had made.  These stars are for me to cherish those memories and pass them along to my children and grandchildren. It's a treasure to keep these memories alive in our hearts.  Our Christmas tree stands in the family room in front of our french doors allowing us to see the snow fall.  We celebrate on Christmas Eve by going to a church service and then the children open their gifts.   While some of the babies go to bed, the rest of us eagerly anticipate an evening of appies and broth fondue, while we take time to share favorite Christmas memories,  open adult gifts and skype with family in California. ~ Marg


We as a family set up the tree for the first Advent. Now that our girls are married and have homes and traditions of their own, it brings me joy that this tradition is still important to them and they come help decorate. My Oma had a tree with an angel on top and white or yellow lights, and her tree was filled with angels and snow flakes, with a Nativity scene set up at the base of the tree. I took on part of that tradition with also having white lights and a collection of angels in our tree among the childhood favorite ornaments. I can appreciate that as families grow, we may not always be able to celebrate right on Christmas day. It really doesn't matter to me what day we celebrate Christmas as long as we are together. We have been very fortunate that it has always been Christmas day, but I don't take that for granted. We start off with a German style breakfast including beautiful "broetchchen", specialty meats and cheeses that we don't often have throughout the year including a sour cherry and amaretto jam called Christmas jam. Fruit salad, yogurt and homemade granola along with scrumptious cinnamon buns or maple twists are a must. We don't have a traditional turkey dinner with all the trimmings because the kids have had that with other gatherings, so every year we have a theme meal like Greek or Mexican etc. Christmas is so much more than gifts, trees and picture perfect scenes. It is often a difficult time for many and I pray for those struggling with loneliness, loss, physical or emotional pain. It is exactly for these reasons that God gave us His son Jesus Christ so that those who are hurting will find His Peace, Grace and Comfort during these difficulties in life. ~ Charlotte


Welcome to our home. This summer we moved from a home that allowed room for three trees, each decorated differently, to our cottage style home. Perfectly suited for our new space is a narrow 7' artificial flocked tree. In our den I still put out some of the decorations we've had for many years that hold memories we cherish. This flocked tree is sparkly and pretty with white mini lights, and clear sparkly stars and snowflakes. Words have always played a part in my home decor, and so I incorporated words in white and silver. Celebrate, Believe, Joy, Hope, Love, Jesus.....words that give way to thought and spur on conversation with meaning as we consider the Reason we celebrate. Years ago my parents started a tradition that we have carried on. Christmas eve those who come to our home are given a candle. One by one we light our candles and those who want to share something, can. There is no pressure for those who just want to participate by lighting their candle and listening. We keep it casual. As grand parents it's wonderful to hear our grand children reading the Christmas story together with grandpa. It's fun to watch the anticipation in the children as they eye the presents under the tree, eat their favourite candies and wait for grandpa to finish praying. We enjoy our exchange of gifts and then a wonderful spread of appetizers or a fondue. We celebrate late into the evening while the adults typically help the children assemble and play with their gifts.  ~Kathy



Some years ago I found this lit-up "houses-on-a-snowy-mountain" creation, and I loved it.  It has become the downstairs family room corner decoration with a little decorated tree beside it. I love to celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve and for the 51 years I have been married we have made it our traditional family celebration. This year we will attend the candle light service at our church at 4:30 pm. and then come home for a turkey dinner... saving the extra-special dessert that no-one has room for. We will make short work of cleaning up the food and loading the dishes in the dishwasher.
Then we go downstairs - read the  Christmas story, or sing some carols - followed by the opening of the gifts ... We linger ...  opening them one at a time. When we are done, we will go back upstairs to enjoy the waiting dessert! We then stretch the evening out into the night as far as we wish, just enjoying each other - if there is fresh snow or it is a lovely evening, we may all go for a walk to admire the decorated homes in our immediate neighborhood. When the kids go home, my husband and I will relax with another cup of coffee and more Christmas treats, listening to our favorite Christmas music and being thankful for all the Lord has been to us and done for us. ~ Julie


Our tree is artificial so we put it up before Grey Cup day! Our tree has a variety of ornaments with an angel on top, each with a story to tell.  We celebrate with our family on Christmas Eve. The family gathers around the breakfast bar as dinner is prepared. I enjoy the laughter and chatter and the wonderful cooking aromas wafting out of the kitchen. After dinner and a quick clean up we head downstairs. One member of the family reads the Christmas story before we open gifts and play some games.  This is our time together to celebrate the birth of Jesus! ~ Betty


Our Christmas tree can be found in the library/balcony above the great room...all creams and golds with an angel on top. We will be gathering the family beneath the tree again this Christmas, having brunch together on Christmas morning and celebrating our love for each other with the exchange of gifts.  And most important, we will be celebrating God's love for us in sending His Son. ~ Judy


Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!
II Corinthians 9:15



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

Anneliese   Betty   Bev   Charlotte   Ellen   Judy   Julie   Marg   Kathy   Lovella

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.