Saturday, April 30, 2016

Roasting Nuts



I love making salads and it's just coming to that time of year where fresh produce will be ready. 
This is probably one of my favorite tips that I will pass along, as who doesn't enjoy nuts on a salad.
But what really gets me is when you find a new recipe and at the end of the recipe it suggests that you add roasted nuts and it's just like one extra step to make, but you know that it's worth it.
So a few years back, I started to buy my nuts in bulk and about once or twice a year I take an hour or so and roast nuts on large cookie sheets, making a variety and packaging them in Ziploc bags and freezing them.  They maintain their flavor and texture very well and you always have them available.


Slivered Almonds
  • Preheat oven to 350°
  • 3 cups (750 grams) of sliced almonds on a cookie sheet.  
  • Spread almonds evenly on a cookie sheet.
  • Bake up to 15-20 minutes, checking and stirring every 3 minutes.
  • At the end check more regularly till they are the desired color.
  • Remove from oven and let them cool and then store in Ziploc bags and freeze.

Coconut 
  • Preheat oven to 325°
  • 2 cups (500 grams) coconut flakes on a baking sheet.
  • The flakes will toast very quickly (5-10 minutes)
  • After a few minutes stir the coconut  frequently.
  • Sweetened flakes takes less time because the sugar speeds up the toasting process.

Sugared Almonds
  • 2 cups whole almonds
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • Place nuts and sugar into a frying pan on low heat, stirring constantly until sugar is melted and almonds are coated. (15 minutes)
  • Place almond mixture on parchment paper and let cool.
  • Once they are cooled you can either chop them into smaller pieces or leave them whole.
  • Store in a container in the fridge or freezer.


This is one of my most favorite nut mixtures.  But, you need to hide these, because they are like candy and very hard to keep around once my family knows they are in the fridge.

Toss your nuts on your favorite salad...
and remember how easy it is when you make them in advance.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Grilled Peppers with Tomatoes and Feta





For Flashback Friday, I am bringing back my recipe for Grilled Peppers
Harv and I did them for supper last week but added a few ingredients to the filling.
He thought black olives would be a great addition and I chose to add diced green peppers.
Either way, they make a colourful and delicious side dish.
We served them with grilled Basil Italian sausages from the grocery store and a big green salad.
With barbeque season beginning, you might enjoy making these.

Just a note about our Flashback Friday Posts.
Because of comments from some readers who've had trouble locating recipes on our blog,
we've decided to change the way we handle the Flashback Friday recipes. 
Today I am posting it in the new format.
From now on we will be posting an updated photo of the recipe we are featuring with a short description and will add a link to the original recipe.
In this way all the original comments on the recipe will be preserved.
We will also make a new Flashback Friday category in our index so you can see which recipes are worthy of a second post.
I hope this eliminates problems with finding that recipe you're looking for.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Rhubarb Meringue Torte



Here is a springtime favorite...with a press-in-the-pan shortbread crust that makes this dessert 'easier than pie'! 

Crust:
  • 1 cup cold butter
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  1. Combine flour and sugar; cut in butter until crumbly.
  2. Pat into an ungreased 9 x 13 inch pan, and bake in 350 F oven for 10 minutes.
  3. Cool slightly.
Custard:
  • 6 egg yolk
  • 1 cup whipping cream or half and half
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 Tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 5-6 cups rhubarb, cut into small pieces
  1. Beat egg yolks, cream, sugar, flour and salt together.
  2. Fold in rhubarb and pour over baked crust.
  3. Bake at 350°F for 45-55 minutes (until custard is set).
Meringue:
  • 6 egg whites
  • pinch of salt
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  1. Beat egg whites with salt and vanilla until foamy.
  2. Add sugar gradually, and beat until stiff.
  3. Spread over custard and bake at 350° F until golden (about 10 minutes).

Serves 12-15

*This is a large recipe...can be halved and made in an 8 inch square pan.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Slow Cooker Brisket

Preparing a brisket in a slow cooker is an easy method and while it is cooking your house will smell delicious.

Ingredients:
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon plus 1-1/2 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon celery salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
4-5 pound fresh beef brisket
1-1/2 cups ketchup
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
3/4 cup broth or water

Directions:
1. In small bowl mix together brown sugar, chili powder, cumin, celery salt, garlic powder, salt and pepper.
2. Spray the inside of a 6 quart slow cooker with cooking spray. Place brisket in slow cooker and rub all over with the mixture of spices.
3. In small bowl mix the remaining ingredients together setting aside 3/4 of this mixture for the end of the cooking cycle. Pour all but the 3/4 cup of liquid over the brisket in the crock pot.
4. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours.
5. Remove brisket to cutting board, let stand 10 minutes.
6. Drain all but 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid from the crock pot.
7. Add the reserved 3/4 cup of ketchup mixture to the 1/2 cup of the cooking liquids in the crock pot and cook on high for fifteen minutes.
8. Cut the brisket, transfer to serving dish and then pour the heated sauce from the crock pot over the meat.

This will serve up to 10 people, more if you use the meat in sandwiches.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Tequila Lime Flank Steak Fajitas

The marinade for this flank steak is also used to spice up sour cream for a tasty sauce.
Serves 4-6

Marinade:
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup tequila
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1 1/2 tsp season salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  1. Place all ingredients in a jar and shake well.
Tortilla Ingredients:
  • 1 flank steak
  • 4-6 flour tortilla shells
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • shredded lettuce
  • tomatoes, diced
  • avocado, sliced
  • cilantro, (optional)
  • grated cheese
  • 3 large peppers, sliced
  • 1 large onion sliced 
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp taco seasoning
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

  1. Place sour cream in a small glass bowl and add 2 tbsp of the marinade. Stir well, cover and place in refrigerator. This is a sauce to serve with the fajitas.
  2. Place flank steak in a shallow GLASS container and pour marinade over. (because of the ingredient of lime juice and tequila in the marinade it's important that you marinade in a non reactive container. I like to use a glass baking pan.
  3. Cover with plastic wrap (not foil) and place in the refrigerator for 8-12 hours.
  4. Slice peppers and onions into a bowl. Toss with olive oil, cumin and taco seasoning. Cover and allow to marinade for at least one hour. 
  5. Have all vegetables cut up and ready to serve.
  6. We grill on The Big Green Egg grill. You can saute the peppers and onions in a cast iron on the grill, or on your stove top. Keep them slightly crunchy. 
  7. Grill marinaded flank steak basting with marinade several times during grilling. 
  8. Remove from grill and allow steak to rest for 10 minutes. Slice very thin.
  9. Place flour tortillas on grill just shortly (watch closely) to get grill marks and heat slightly.
  10. Serve with flavoured sour cream, and other ingredients. Salsa is a nice addition to top it off...and we like a fresh squeeze of lime too.
Peppers and onions grilling.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Creamy Chicken Piccata with Mushrooms


This tasty chicken dish is a take off of some dishes I've enjoyed at Olive Garden.  Dare I say this one turned out even better? Basically you can't go wrong with thin slices of chicken dredged in flour and cooked in a cream sauce.

Ingredients:

  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • zest from 1 lime, divided
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • flour for dredging (1/2 cup)
  • 2 cups fresh mushrooms, sliced or 1 can sliced mushrooms
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 cup apple juice
  • 1 cup half and half cream
  • 1 tsp (chicken) better than bouillon or (1 cube)
  • 1/2 tsp fine, dried thyme or more if fresh
  • parsley, lime slices for garnish
Method:
  1. Hold each chicken breast standing on it's side and slice lengthwise, twice, to make 9 thin slices. This works best if the meat is barely thawed/from frozen. 
  2. Season with salt, pepper and a sprinkle of lime zest (about half)
  3. In large skillet, melt 2 Tbsp of butter with the olive oil over medium heat. 
  4. Dredge chicken pieces in flour and add to skillet to cook each side until lightly browned, about two minutes on each side. 
  5. Remove chicken from skillet. Continue with second round if needed. 
  6. To drippings in pan add sliced mushrooms, scraping up brown bits, and cook until tender or starting to brown slightly. Add garlic, stirring for a minute and then the apple juice. Cook several minutes, adding bouillon flavoring.
  7. Add cream, left over lime zest and thyme according to taste. Return chicken to skillet and simmer for five minutes. Serve with 250 g spaghettini. Serves 4 adults

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Bread for the Journey




How Good It Is to Thank The Lord

How good it is to thank the Lord,
And praise to Thee, Most High, accord,
To show Thy love with morning light,
And tell Thy faithfulness each night;
Yea, good it is Thy praise to sing,
And all our sweetest music bring.

O Lord, with joy my heart expands,
Before the wonders of Thy hands;
Great works, Jehovah, Thou hast wrought,
Exceeding deep Thine every thought;
A foolish man knows not their worth,
Nor he whose mind is of the earth.

When as the grass the wicked grow,
When sinners flourish here below,
Then is there endless ruin nigh,
But Thou, O Lord, art throned on high;
Thy foes shall fall before Thy might,
The wicked shall be put to flight.

Thou, Lord, hast high exalted me
With royal strength and dignity;
With Thine anointing I am blest,
Thy grace and favor on me rest;
I thus exult o’er all my foes,
O’er all that would my cause oppose.

The righteous man shall flourish well,
And in the house of God shall dwell;
He shall be like a goodly tree,
And all his life shall fruitful be;
For righteous is the Lord and just, 
He is my Rock, in Him I trust.

Words: The Psalter 1912, Music: St. Petersburg ~ Dimitri S. Bortniansky

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Saturday Baking - Pecan Crumb Cake, gluten free


Saturday, was unfailingly an ABC day, in my childhood home. 
A -for - After breakfast
 No sleeping-in on Saturday.  
We all got up at the same time on Saturday for family breakfast around the table. 
B- for - Baking 
Baking had to be done because we never knew who would come knocking on our door
 Sunday afternoon and of course they would stay for faspa. 
C- for - Cleaning 
Whether the house needed it or not, it was thoroughly cleaned on Saturday 
to ensure it would pass company inspection!! 


One of my husband's favorite coffee cakes is my Pecan Crumb Cake (adapted from the old Mennonite Treasure Cookbook) that I now make gluten-free.
 He loves it served warm with his favorite ice-cream - cherry - and if one scoop is good, three is definitely better !

Pecan Crumb Cake 

  • 2 1/4 cups Julie's Flour Mix (or your own gf all purpose mix) 
  • 3 1/2 tsp baking powder 
  • 1 tsp xanthan gum 
  • 1 tsp cinnamon 
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg 
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar 
  • 1/4 cup butter 
  • 2 eggs 
  • 1 cup milk
  1. Mix dry ingredients together, then rub in the butter with your fingers until you have fine crumbs. 
  2. Blend together milk and eggs in mixer bowl. 
  3. Add dry ingredients and beat until batter is perfectly smooth. 
  4. Spread batter in parchment lined 13" x 9" cake pan and cover with crumbs. 
  5. Bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees.

    Crumb Mixture 
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup flour 
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup butter 
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans  
  1. Mix sugar, flour and cinnamon together, then rub in the butter with your fingers. 
  2. Mix in pecans. (you can use other nuts, or leave them out - but the pecans really make this cake special)
  3. Spread over the cake batter. 

Friday, April 22, 2016

Rhubarb Pie Roll- Flashback Friday

This is a shortcut easy pie roll to make with a store bought refrigerator pie crust. I used a rhubarb walnut mixture to fill it but feel free to use other fruit and nut combinations to fill it. You can leave out the nuts if you desire. For flashback Friday I added some notes and steps for a better result.
 Ingredients:

For the Roll:
  • 1 refrigerated pie crust (I used Pillsbury 15 ounce box)
  • 4 stalks of rhubarb, chopped (approx. 2 cups)
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped.
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons butter, softened.
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Frosting:
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar (icing sugar)
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 Tablespoon milk

Method:
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Lightly coat a baking sheet with nonstick spray or line with parchment paper.
  3. Shred the rhubarb in a food processor. Drain as much of the liquid as you can from the mixture. Keep pressing the rhubarb in a sieve until you remove up to a cup of liquid.
  4. Mix together the cornstarch, walnuts, brown sugar, butter and cinnamon. Add the drained rhubarb and mix well.
  5. Place the pie crust on a lightly floured surface.
  6. Spread the rhubarb mixture lengthwise on one end and roll into a log, moisten and seal the ends.
  7. Place on baking sheet with the seam side down.
  8. Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown.

Glaze:
In small bowl mix together the powdered sugar, vanilla, and milk to a drizzling consistency.

Remove roll from oven and let cool.
Drizzle the glaze on top.
Add sliced almonds if you desire.
Cut into slices and serve.
Yield: 6-8 slices


The roll is still not perfect in appearance but it is tasty and not overly sweet.


Thursday, April 21, 2016

Crunchy Asian Cabbage Salad


Our family loves this salad and it goes so well with meals where I would typically make coleslaw.  The dressing is a bit sweet and a bit tangy and it keeps well a few days if you keep the noodles separate from the salad except for the portion you know will be eaten in one day. 

  • 1 head Savoy Cabbage
  • 10 ounce / 284 grams package matchstick carrots (or about 2 cups)
  • 2 packages ramen instant noodles (I prefer Sapporo Ichiban)
  • 1 cup slivered almonds
  • 1 cup fresh garden chives, finely chopped
Dressing
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1/3 cup liquid honey
  • 1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1 package ramen noodle seasoning
  1.   Break noodles apart in the package and toast them along with the almonds in a 425 F oven for about 10  minutes, stirring occasionally,  until lightly browned. Set aside.  
  2. Combine the remaining salad ingredients and toss to combine.
  3. Combine dressing ingredients in a glass jar and refrigerate until ready to serve.  The salad can be dressed ahead of time but do not add the noodles/almonds until just before serving or they will lose their crunch. 
Hint ~ To make a meal out of the salad, add some protein such as grilled, sliced chicken. 


Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Lime Jello/Angel Food Dessert


Dishes made with jelly powder were quite popular in the 70's, whether it was in salads or desserts. I used to make a popular dessert with jello and angel food cake but couldn't locate my recipe. I found one on tasteofhome.com that looked like the one I used to make. I changed it up a wee bit.  My daughter Alison and I were discussing different ways to make this. She suggested incorporating cottage cheese which would be delicious and I thought different flavors of jello would work too.  Next time I make this (and there will be a next time, there are after all many jelly powder flavors:) I will fold the cake pieces into the jello mixture instead of putting the layer of cake cubes in the bottom of the pan. Then pour it into a jello mold.
This is a simple, light, and refreshing dessert for spring!
  • 1 84g (4 serving size) package lime jelly powder
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 prepared angel food cake..I used 3/4 of the cake..the rest can be used for another dessert:)
  • 1  250g (8 oz) package of cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 1/2 cups whipped topping
  1. Dissole lime jelly powder and boiling water in a bowl. Set in fridge for 45 minutes, just until it begins to thicken.
  2. Cut 3/4 of the angel food cake into 1 inch cubes and place in a greased 9 x 13 pan.
  3. In a medium sized bowl, beat together cream cheese, sugar, and lime juice until smooth.
  4. Add the slightly thickened lime jelly/water mixture and beat until combined. Fold in whipped topping and pour over cake cubes to cover completely.
  5. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Cut in squares, serve plain or for a pretty presentation, top with a dollop of whipped topping and a bit of grated lime zest.
  6. Serves 12 to 15 





Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Country Style Pork Chop Skillet Dinner



I love one pot meals. This is meal is easy to put together, let it simmer and in no time dinner is served with minimal clean up. The amounts are easy to switch up to serve as many or as little as you need.


  • 6  boneless pork chops
  • 6 carrots, sliced into chunks
  • 6 potatoes, cut into eighths
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, sliced thinly
  • salt and pepper
  • sprinkle of thyme
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  1. Season Pork chops with salt and pepper.
  2. In a large skillet, brown the pork chops in a bit of olive oil.
  3. Remove from chops from the pan. 
  4. Add onion, celery, potatoes and carrots and saute until the onions are softened. 
  5. Season with Salt and Pepper and a bit of Thyme. 
  6. Add 1 1/2 cups chicken stock. Add the chops on top of the vegetables, cover the chops and simmer for 40 minutes on medium low.  
  7. Put the flour in remaining chicken stock, shake until the flour is dissolved and pour into skillet. Cook a few more minutes til the sauce has thickened. 
Voila, wasn't that easy. 


Monday, April 18, 2016

Banana Blueberry Baked Oatmeal



While on an RV road trip through the eastern states several years ago...we spent some time in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.  We had the privilege of being invited to a home for dinner one night, and enjoying a wonderful home-cooked meal of favorite local cuisine.  As we parted ways that evening, we were given a parting gift by our hostess...a pan of blueberry baked oatmeal to enjoy on the road.  And enjoy it we did!!!  I have been stirring up my own version of that dish since that time...one that also has bananas in the mix. It always brings back memories of summertime in Lancaster County...the warm hospitality and wonderful foods we enjoyed while we were there. Baked oatmeal is a wonderful and healthy breakfast treat...and can be refrigerated for several days. 

Ingredients:
  • 2 cups old-fashioned oats (large flake)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup chopped almonds (optional)
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 bananas, mashed
  • 1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)

Method:
  1. Grease an 8" square baking dish.
  2. Mix oats, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, sugar and almonds together in a bowl.
  3. Whisk milk, egg and oil together in a separate bowl. Add mashed bananas.  (Or combine milk, eggs, oil and bananas in blender and pulse until smooth.)
  4. Add to oat mixture and stir to combine.
  5. Gently stir in the blueberries and spread in prepared baking dish. (I like to save a few blueberries to sprinkle on top.)
  6. Bake at 350° F for 35 minutes...or until top is golden.
  7. Serve warm with a drizzle of maple syrup, a dollop of yogurt or a splash of milk.

Serves: 9



Sunday, April 17, 2016

Bread for the Journey


I love the Lord 
because He hears my prayers
and answers them. 
Because He bends down and listens, 
I will pray as long as I breathe!
Psalm 116: 1&2 (TLB)



Saturday, April 16, 2016

Creamy Poblano Soup

Today is Saturday and I wanted to share something that I enjoy doing in my kitchen. Fred Meyer is a local store that has a large grocery section and other departments, too. The store sends a flyer with includes recipes. This time around they had recipes with a Latin Flair called What's Cooking. I tried two of their soup recipes. The first one I tried and the whole family enjoyed was this Creamy Poblano Soup. There are no credits given in the magazine for the recipe so I'll give Fred Meyer the credit. So don't throw out the flyers you get and see if they offer a recipe or two that are new to you and be brave enough to try something new.

Creamy Poblano Soup

6 poblano peppers
1 lb. ground beef (80% lean)
2 cups sliced leeks (from 2 large leeks, white part only)
2 cups corn kernels, fresh or frozen
3 cups chicken stock
1 cup whipping cream
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the broiler in your oven.
Arrange Poblanos on a sheet pan and place 4-6 inches under the broiler.
Cook until charred on all sides, turning every few minutes, about 8-12 minutes or more.
Transfer the charred peppers to a bowl and cover them tightly with plastic wrap.
Let them steam for 10 minutes then peel and chop the peppers, discarding the skin and seeds.
Set aside.

Add the ground beef to a large pot over medium heat.
Cook, stirring often, until the fat is rendered and the beef has begun to brown.
Using a slotted spoon, remove the beef and set aside, leaving the fat in the pan.
Add the leaks and cook, stirring occasionally until they have softened, about 5 minutes.

Add the reserved poblanos and corn, and continue to cook until the corn has cooked through, about 5 minutes. (add some olive oil to pan if it seems dry) Add the chicken stock and simmer until the flavors incorporate about 5 minutes. Stir in the cram and reserved cooked ground beef. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer until the soup is warmed through then serve at once, refrigerating any leftovers.
This will serve 4-6 people.

Notes: I salted the raw beef lightly while it was cooking and I also salted the leeks and corn lightly while they cooked. You could prepare the poblanos a day ahead to speed up the cooking process on the day you want to eat the soup. If you have a gas stove top you can char the peppers over the flame but it's easier to char them under the broiler.

We really enjoyed this flavorful soup! Pablono peppers have a more gentle spiciness than jalapenos or Anaheim chilies.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Flashback Friday / Cottage Cheese Rolls

As part of Flashback Friday I have used this pastry recipe and baked up some savory appetizers instead of this sweet version. Anyway you make it, sweet or savory, this is a great recipe. Scroll all the way down to see what I have added. Baking directions remain the same. 



I have been making these tasty rolls for almost 30 years now. My cousin Anne has shared the recipe with many of us. It can served on a tray of dainties glazed with a thin layer of icing, or with out the glaze and serve them alongside a bowl of soup and salad. Whether you choose to serve them sweet or savory, they are delicious! A very quick and easy to make recipe that is very popular among our circles and in our churches, but perhaps for some of you it is a new recipe. This recipe can be made ahead and frozen before you bake it guaranteeing  freshly baked warm rolls.



Dough
  • 2 cups of unbleached flour
  • 1 1/2 cups of creamed cottage cheese (1% works fine too)
  • 1 cup butter or hard margarine
  • pinch of salt optional
  1. With a pastry blender cut the butter into the flour and salt if using.
  2. Add the cottage cheese and knead into a ball of dough just comes together like you would for biscuits.
  3. Divide dough into 4 equal parts.
  4. Chill the dough for a few hours as this dough is very soft and sticky if you don't
  5. Roll each ball into a 10-12" circle. Cut into 12 equal pieces.
  6. Starting at the wide end roll towards the narrow.
  7. Place them on a parchment lined baking sheet and freeze.
  8. Take them out of the freezer. Preheat the oven to 350 and bake for 20-30 minutes (no need to thaw them first). When they get golden brown flecks they are done. So watch your oven carefully. Each oven bakes slightly different hence the time difference.
  9. Serve them plain or glazed.
Glaze
  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • 3-4 tablespoons milk 
  1. Mix these ingredients together and lightly brush over warm rolls.
Try making the dough and roll little sausages in the pastry for a tasty treat. 





Or how about using the pastry for making some Turnovers with your choice of filling. These are Tuna turnovers.....very tasty. 


Check out Julie's Gluten Free version here.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Beef Stir Fry


Stir fry is a great meal to make when you don't want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen and very versatile by using whatever vegetables you have on hand. The sauce is what makes this stir fry so delicious and adds a lot of flavor. Serve over rice or rice noodles.

  • 1 1/2 pounds beef, thinly sliced
  • 1 onion thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 bell peppers, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups frozen green beans
  • 4 roma tomatoes, cut into chunks
  • drizzle of oil
Feel free to use finely sliced cabbage, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, mushrooms. The possibilities are endless.
Sauce
  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/3 cup water
  1. Stir fry the onions, garlic and peppers in a wok or large frying pan with a drizzle of oil for about 4-5 minutes. Remove from pan into a bowl.
  2. Add the frozen green beans and stir fry until it is bright green and there are slightly cooked. Remove into vegetable bowl. 
  3. Add the beef and stir fry until the meat begins to brown.
  4. Add the red wine vinegar, soy sauce and honey for 6-8 minutes stirring frequently so the honey won't burn. 
  5. Add the cornstarch mixed with the water to beef, simmer for 10 minutes. 
  6. Add all the vegetables including the cut tomatoes and heat through


*Cutting the beef into thin strips while it is still semi frozen makes it easier. If you bought it fresh, put it in the freezer for about 30-45 minutes and then slice it.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Chocolate Espresso Pavlova Cookies (Gluten Free)



This naturally gluten free drop cookie is so quick and easy to make. I found the inspiration for this great recipe on Rock Recipes. It satisfies a chocolate craving and makes a bowl of ice cream  and strawberries feel like a special dessert.  



  • 3 cups icing sugar
  • 2/3 cup cocoa
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon instant coffee powder (I use Starbucks)
  • 3/4 cup egg whites (about 4 large egg whites)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 3/4 cup chocolate chips

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. In a large bowl, sift together the dry ingredients through a sieve 3 times until it all looks the same color.
  3. Add the egg whites, vanilla, and vinegar and beat together until thick and glossy and smooth.
  4. Stir in chocolate chips.
  5. Line 3 cookie sheets with parchment paper. Spray the parchment lightly with cooking spray.
  6. Drop 12  large teaspoons of cookie dough on each cookie sheet.
  7. Bake about 10 minutes or until cookies puff up and have a crackled top.
  8. Let the cookies completely cool before removing from parchment paper.

Makes 36 cookies

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Moroccan Stew with Chicken


I first had this dish at my sisters and immediately made a copy of her hand written recipe.
When I went home I thought the title sounded familiar and sure enough, I found the source.
I'd not been attracted to the recipe earlier as the spices seemed a bit too exotic for our taste.
But having tasted it, I was proven wrong. It is delicious.
I don't usually post other people's recipes but this was such a good one I wanted to share it.
I did make it my own by increasing the spices and adding chicken to make it "non-vegetarian" for my meat loving husband.
Credit for this recipe goes to Janet and Greta Podleski from their "Looneyspoons Collections".

serves 6
  •  2 tablespoons olive or grapeseed oil
  • 1-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1/2 a green pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 a yellow pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
In a large saute pan or fry pan, heat oil and add remaining ingredients. Cook for 5 minutes or until vegetables soften.  Add the following ingredients:
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed to equal about 3 cups
  • 1 14ounces can diced tomatoes
  • 3 cups chicken broth or vegetable broth*
  • 1 14 ounce can garbanzo beans (chick peas)
  • 2 teaspoons grated fresh or frozen ginger (see this ginger tip) Do not use powdered ginger
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon each, curry powder, coriander, chili powder and cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt or more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper ( I like to use the seasoned pepper such as Montreal steak spice)
Bring to a boil and then cover it, simmering the stew over low heat for about 20 minutes or until yams are soft but not mushy. Then add:
  • 2 cups cubed cooked chicken *
  • 1/2 cup Thompson raisins (the black ones)
  • 2-4 tablespoons Peanut Butter
  • 2 tablespoons chopped Parsley or Cilantro
Stir together and simmer for another 5 -7 minutes.  Top with additional chopped Parsley or Cilantro and serve in pasta bowls.
* To make this vegetarian, use vegetable broth and omit the chicken.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Coffee Cake Muffins





Nothing like a warm muffin and a good cup of coffee to share with a friend.
I got this recipe from my friend Eileen and it hit the spot just right.



Streusel Topping:

  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons chopped walnuts
  1. Combine the flour, sugar, cinnamon.
  2. Cut in the butter to make coarse crumbs. 
  3.  Add walnuts and mix well. 
Batter:
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup of sour milk* or buttermilk (*to make sour milk add a teaspoon of lemon juice or vinegar to milk and let stand or 5 minutes). 
  1. Mix in all the dry ingredients in a large bowl. 
  2. Cut in the butter to make coarse crumbs. 
  3. Add the sour  milk and beaten egg to the dry mixture and stir until just moistened. Do not over mix. 
  4. Fill greased muffin tins half full. Top with half the streusel. Add remaining batter and top with remaining streusel. 
  5. Bake at 375 for 18 minutes until golden brown or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. 

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Bread for the Journey


Hebrews 11:1 (NIV)
"Now Faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see."

We recently completed a ladies Bible study called "Forging Faith"- "Where Reverence and Intimacy Collide" written by Lisa DeVries.

Lisa defined Faith as:
"Being so persuaded as to the truth about God that it results in trusting Him with hope and certain expectation that He will come through for us as God"

To illustrate the definition above, Lisa took a familiar analogy on faith even farther.
"This is a chair", she said.
"We know it is used to sit on, that it is meant to support our weight.
We can look at the chair, examine it's quality and workmanship;
we can walk around it, look under it, take it's measurements, 
check out the materials used in making it."
"We can study it, talk about it, share the story of the chair with our friends and 
even hold a conference about it.
But unless we actually sit in the chair, it is all rhetoric.
When we sit on that chair, and actually pick our feet up off the floor, 
we demonstrate our faith in that chair, that it is actually safe to sit in it"

It is a simple analogy that I've heard often but what got me was that phrase
"sit..and actually pick our feet up off the floor"
I've been sitting in my faith chair for many, many years.
I had to ask myself, "How often have I  abandoned my fears, 
and actually picked my feet up off the ground,
demonstrating my complete trust in God?"
So often I've kept my feet firmly planted on the floor, just in case God doesn't come through for me.
That is a fraudulent faith, full of talk and short on real belief.

True faith results in abandoning ourselves to God, living our lives in such a way that it is evident that we really believe that He is who He says He is and will do what He says He will do.

My prayer is that I will joyfully embrace this kind of faith and abandon myself to His care,
stepping out with the hope and certain expectation that God will fulfill His purpose for me.



Saturday, April 9, 2016

Mango Salad for a Crowd (with video)



With mango season starting, I thought I'd re-post this salad using amounts to feed a crowd of 40-50. For a smaller size, check here. It is one of my favorites to serve for a family or staff picnic or BBQ, because it is always almost certain that it will become someone else's favorite as well. The colors and blended flavors are unique as they are beautiful. Once you get past the fear of cutting up a dozen mangoes, it is fun to prepare. If you are still uncertain about how to cut up a mango, see the two minute video attached.

 Ingredients:
  • 12 mangoes, peeled and chopped into cubes
  • 2 English cucumbers, chopped 
  • 1 medium sized jicama*, peeled and cubed finely (about 3 cups)
  • 4 shallots, sliced
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint, chopped
  • 1/2 cup cilantro or parsley, chopped
dressing:
  • 1/2 cup grapeseed oil (or light olive oil)
  • 1/2 cup fresh squeezed lime juice 
  • 1/2 cup frozen orange juice concentrate
  • 3/4 tsp cumin
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 2/4 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp chili
Method:
  1. Mix dressing ingredients.
  2. Pour dressing over salad ingredients about an hour or two before serving. Refrigerate or keep in cooler with ice if taking on a picnic. Leftovers keep for a few days refrigerated and can be served like fruit salsa on fish tacos or on salmon.

*jicama is a Mexican root vegetable with a similar texture to a turnip or water chestnut. It adds a nice crunch to the salad. To peel, slice a piece off the bottom and top so it can sit firmly on a cutting board, while you hold and slice down the sides with a sharp paring knife.




Friday, April 8, 2016

Cottage Cheese Blintze

I'm bringing back these blintzes for Flashback Friday. They are an old favorite of ours. I know there are other ways of making them but this is how I make them. Sometimes I roll them up instead of these bundles..the taste is the same. I use the recipe for German pancakes to make the blintzes. I changed it up a wee bit.

German Pancakes:
  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups milk
  1. Mix flour and salt, add eggs and milk. Beat until free of lumps, this makes a thin batter.
  2. Heat up a cast iron frying pan, works in other pans but I like my well seasoned cast iron pan the best and when 'almost smoking hot' brush with butter and pour approx 1/4 cup batter in the pan tilting the pan till a thin layer covers the bottom of the pan.
  3. Cook on med high until dough is set. Turn and cook until golden brown underneath. Watch carefully as these brown up fast.
  4. Pile up on a plate and keep warm in oven.
Cottage cheese mixture for the blintzes:
  • 1 375g tub dry cottage cheese
  • 1 egg
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Mix well and start making the blintzes.
  2. Place a spoonful of cottage cheese mixture in center of pancake, fold in the edges and place folded side down in well buttered cast iron frying pan.
  3. You may now just pile them all up in the pan as I did and bake them covered at 350 for 15 to 20 min OR brown the blintzes in the frying pan and serve immediately. They are delicious served with cream gravy.
Cream gravy:
  • Melt 3 tbsp butter in frying pan, add 1 cup whipping cream and salt and pepper to taste and bring to a boil over high heat. I also add a pinch of sugar.
  • Turn oven down to medium heat and cook until gravy thickens, stirring frequently. 
  • Pour over blintzes and enjoy. These are good served with farmer sausage and coleslaw.


Thursday, April 7, 2016

Asian Coleslaw Stirfry

Simple, tasty and healthy as well!  Here's my version of a hamburger cabbage slaw recipe that I've seen all over the internet.  Serve in a bowl as is and call it a meal...or serve over rice.
 

  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 2  tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons minced ginger root
  • salt and pepper
  • 1-1 pound (454 gr) package coleslaw mix *
  • 1 red pepper, thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons Hoisin sauce
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Sambal Oelek (or use Sriracha sauce to add heat)
  • chopped green onion and sesame seeds, for garnish
  1. Heat oil in very large skillet over medium high heat.
  2. Add beef, garlic and ginger and cook through, while stirring.**
  3. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Add coleslaw mix and peppers.
  5. Cook for about 5 minutes or until veggies are tender, stirring frequently.
  6. Combine hoisin sauce, soy sauce, and Sambal Oelek. Add to skillet and stir for about 30 seconds longer.  (Use Sriracha Sauce instead of Sambal Oelek if your prefer.)
  7. Spoon into serving bowl and garnish with chopped green onions and sesame seeds.
* Using pre-cut coleslaw mix is a huge time-saver and makes for a quick and simple meal.  If you are more interested in saving money than time, buy a small head of cabbage and do your own shredding.
**Tip ~ Use a potato masher to crumble the ground beef while browning.


Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Pudding Macaroons

These macaroons are chewy and good. One of the ingredients is a box of vanilla pudding. Because Jello Pudding from Kraft is gluten free this recipe is a gluten free recipe.

Ingredients:
1 package (4 serving) Jell-O pudding, vanilla flavor, regular not instant
2-2/3 cups Angel Flake Coconut
2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Method:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Prepare baking sheet with grease and flour or prepare pan with parchment paper sprayed with cooking spray.
Combine pudding mix, coconut, milk, and extract.
Drop by teaspoonfuls onto prepared baking sheet.
Bake at 325 for 12 to 15 minutes or until edges are golden brown.
Remove from baking sheets immediately and cool thoroughly on racks.

My yield was 19 cookies because I used a larger scoop. If you start with a smaller drop you can yield up to 2-1/2 dozen cookies.




Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Blackberry Sweet Rolls

Why not start your week off with some sweet rolls! For these rolls I cut down the size of my favourite cinnamon bun dough recipe and fill the rolls with frozen blackberries from my freezer. 
Top with a lemon flavoured glaze...make coffee and call a friend. 

Dough: (yields approximately 1 1/2 - 2 dozen rolls...depending how big you make them)
  • 4 cups flour, plus a little on the side to use while kneading...if you need
  • 1 tbsp instant yeast
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  1. Measure flour into a large bowl and stir in the dry instant yeast.
  2. Mix together remaining ingredients and heat until warm in the microwave or on the stove top.
  3. Pour warm mixture over flour mixture and stir to mix and then knead, adding more flour if needed to make a soft non sticky dough.
  4. Allow dough to rise till double. Punch down.
  5. Roll out as you would for cinnamon rolls. Follow with filling recipe below.
Filling:
  • 1/4 cup soft butter, to spread over dough
  • 2 cups blackberries, frozen (not thawed, or freshly picked in season)
  • small amount of corn starch or flour for dusting berries...see note below. 
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • zest from one lemon (save the juice from the lemon for the glaze)
** If using frozen berries very very lightly dust them with cornstarch or flour. Not till they are all white..just a dusting. This will help the moisture when they begin to thaw to not go runny. 

  1. Spread soften butter over rolled out dough.
  2. Place frozen (tossed with the light dusting of flour) or fresh blackberries over dough. Don't over load with berries. I like to put a single layer and still see dough between the berries. 
  3. Sprinkle the sugar over the berries and dough, and grate lemon zest over all.
  4. Roll up as you would for cinnamon buns, slice into 1" to 1 1/2" slices. 
  5. Place rolls onto greased or parchment lined baking pans. 
  6. Rise, covered for 30 minutes. 
  7. Bake in 350ºF oven for approximately 20 minutes. 
  8. Allow to cool to warm or completely cool and drizzle with glaze of 1 cup powdered sugar and enough lemon juice from the lemon until you get a smooth and pourable glaze. 

Monday, April 4, 2016

French Onion Soup


 I got this French Onion Soup recipe from my sister in law Dolly.  It's a soup for onion lovers that is easy to make and will satisfy even the heartiest appetites. 
You can make the soup ahead of time and then toast the baguette pieces and put the bowls together with cheese to broil when the family is ready to come to the table. 

  • 4 large / jumbo yellow onions
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 2 tablespoons beef bouillon  ( I use Better Than Bouillon Beef Base)
  • 1 tablespoon worcestershire  sauce
  • 5 cups water
  • 1 baguette, sliced into 1 inch slices
  • 8 slices mozzarella cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F
  2. Slice onions into half  and then into slices.
  3. Melt butter in a large roasting pan in the oven.  Add sliced onions and cover.  Bake for about one hour.  Stir once or twice in between to help them roast evenly and also to see when they begin to brown.  Dark roasting pans will brown the onions  quicker than light roasting pans.  When the onions have begun to caramelize, transfer to a large pot.
  4. Finish browning the onions over medium heat and then add the bouillon, worcestershire sauce, and water.  
  5. Simmer for 30 minutes.
  6. Toast baguette slices on a cookie sheet  under the broiler, flipping once to lightly toast both sides. 
  7. Ladle soup into oven safe bowls, top with enough slices of bread to cover a good part of the soup surface.  Top with cheese slices to cover the bread.  
  8. Broil on low until the cheese has melted and has begun to brown.
  9. Remind your family that the bowls are hot.  I find it helpful to serve the bowls on folded dishcloths so the bowl can be safely handled. 
Serves 4 for main dishes