Friday, March 31, 2017

Boiled Raisin Cookies -Flashback Friday

When I decided to repost this recipe for Flashback Friday, I couldn't help but use the same picture as in the original post. 
It brought back such wonderful memories of my dear Mother-In-Law, Ella Klassen.
 Her cookie jar still holds a place of honour in our kitchen and these Raisin cookies always remind us of the love she dispensed along with the cookies.



  • 2 cups sultana raisins (the light brown raisins, not the dark ones)
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 cup butter or margarine
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon each, cloves, nutmeg and ground star anise (if you have it)
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans 
  1. In a small saucepan, pour boiling water over raisins, bring to a boil again and cook for 5 minutes.
  2. Remove from heat and cool raisins (do not drain!) to to room temperature.
  3. Cream butter and sugar until fluffy.
  4. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well between additions.
  5. In another bowl, stir flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices until well mixed.
  6. Add cooled raisin mixture to butter and egg mixture, mixing well.
  7. Add flour mixture, a little at a time until well mixed.
  8. Stir in nuts.
  9. Using a cookie scoop or two teaspoons, drop dough on to greased or parchment lined cookie sheets.
  10. Bake in a 350ºF oven for 16 minutes or until lightly browned.
  11. Makes 5-6 dozen cookies.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

One Skillet Pierogie Reuben

We enjoy watching a Saturday morning show on the Food Network called The Kitchen and this idea was shared on the show by Jeff Mauro. We tried it on a Sunday afternoon and enjoyed it. It's easy to make with a frozen version of Polish Pierogies or you could make it with your own homemade Savory Wareneki/Vareniki. You can use corned beef or pastrami for this recipe. We used pastrami.

Ingredients:
  • 12 frozen Polish cheese or potato Pierogies or homemade savory Wareniki/Vareniki
  • 2 tablespoons butter 
  • 1 cup thinly sliced onions
  • 2 cups sauerkraut, drained
  • 2 or more cups grated Swiss cheese
  • 1/2 pound pastrami or corned beef cut in a 1/4 inch slice and then cut in bitesize cubes
  • Thousand Island Dressing to drizzle
  • 1/4 cup minced chives


Method:
  1. Par boil and simmer pierogie in a cast iron pan or oven safe pan until they are al dente in salted water, drain and shake off all excess water, wipe off pan and return to stove top.
  2. Turn on the oven broiler with the the rack set on the lowest level.
  3. In same pan melt butter and add the drained pierogie back to the pan.
  4. Brown on both sides, turn off heat.
  5. Add the onion evenly over the pierogie.
  6. Add the sauerkraut evenly over the onion and pierogie.
  7. Add the grated cheese evenly over the sauerkraut, onion and pierogie.
  8. Add the cubed pastrami or corned beef on top.
  9. Place the pan under the broiler on the lowest rack and watch carefully until the cheese melts and bubbles.
  10. Remove the pan and sprinkle the chives evenly on top.
  11. Serve with Thousand Island Dressing drizzled on top.
  12. Serves 4.
You can serve this with a salad or fresh veggies to round off your meal.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Taco Hand Pies


I made food for our grandson's road trip. He prefers hand held foods as they are not as messy. He likes tacos and so I thought taco hand pies would be just the thing! You can prepare the dough and the filling the day before which makes it easy peasy to make the pies the following day. I love recipes where you can do the prep work ahead of time. You could make them smaller to serve as an appetizer at a party. They freeze well, thaw and reheat in oven.

Rich and Flaky Dough:
  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups butter, cold and cut in cubes
  • 1 cup ice cold water
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten for brushing
  • 2 teaspoons water
  1. In food processor pulse flour and salt a few times, add butter and keep pulsing until butter is in small chunks. You still want pieces of butter to be visible.
  2. Add ice cold water slowly pulsing just until dough comes together.
  3. Dump out on slightly floured counter and gather dough together in a ball. Divide into 4 pieces and flatten into disks. Wrap each disk in waxed paper and refrigerate overnight or at least for an hour.
  4. Remove from fridge, roll out each piece approx 1/8" thick and cut rounds using a 4" biscuit cutter.
  5. Brush edges of each round with beaten egg and water mixture, place a rounded tablespoon of taco filling mixture in the center and fold dough over to make a half moon. 
  6. Press edges closed with a flour dipped fork. 
  7. Once you have made all your pies, brush with remaining egg and water mixture and pierce tops 2 or 3 times with a fork.
  8. Place on parchment lined baking sheets and bake at 400º for 18 minutes until golden in color. 
Taco Filling Mixture:
  • 10 oz ground beef
  • 2 tablespoons taco powder
  • 1 cup refried beans
  • 1 roma tomato, cut up in small chunks
  • 1/2 cup green sweet pepper, cut up in small chunks
  • 1 cup shredded cheese
*Update: I realized the taco filling mixture is for half the dough recipe. So if you want to make this amount of dough that I stated you will need to double the taco mixture.
  1. Fry ground beef until browned, breaking it up into small pieces while frying.
  2. Remove from heat and stir in taco powder, refried beans, tomato chunks, green pepper chunks, and shredded cheese until well combined.
  3. Yield: 44 hand held pies. They are good hot or at room temperature. Eat plain or dip in taco sauce or sriracha mayo. Taste great served with a salad.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Salted Caramel Budino


It was in spring a few years back, that eight of us gals from MGCC met up at the tulip fields of La Conner Washington. Once we were done trekking through the fields, we all went to Seeds Bistro for lunch. Though we had no intention of having dessert, the server talked us into sharing their specialty dessert that day...a salted caramel budino. One dessert.  Eight spoons.  We all had a taste.  I wrote down the name, one I had never heard of before.  Budino is the Italian word for custard or pudding.  Here is my attempt at replicating the 'sweet ending' we had in La Conner that day. 

Cookie Crust:
  • 1 cup finely ground chocolate wafer cookie crumbs
  • 2 Tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
Mix crumbs, butter and salt in small bowl.  Reserve two tablespoons of mixture for garnish. Press remaining cookie mixture into the bottom of  six to eight small dessert cups or Mason jars.

Budino:
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 Tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 1/2 cups half-and-half or whole milk
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1 large egg plus two egg yolks
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  1. In large, heavy saucepan, combine brown sugar, water, maple syrup and salt and bring to a boil over medium heat.  Simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until mixture thickens.  Remove from heat and whisk in the half-and-half and whipping cream. Stir until smooth.
  2. In separate bowl, whisk the eggs and cornstarch until smooth.  Add to the brown sugar mixture in a slow stream, whisking constantly. Return to medium heat and continue to whisk until mixture thickens and is the consistency of pudding (about three minutes). 
  3. Divide among six to eight prepared dessert dishes.  
  4. Cover and chill until ready to serve.
  5. Spoon one or two tablespoons of caramel sauce (recipe below) over each budino. Top with a dollop of whipped cream and sprinkle with reserved cookie crumbs.

Caramel Sauce:
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half cream
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  1. Combine brown sugar, half-and-half, butter and salt in a saucepan.
  2. Cook over medium-low heat for about 5 minutes, whisking gently...until mixture begins to thicken.
  3. Add vanilla and cook for another minute.
  4. Cool to room temperature. (It can be made in advance and refrigerated.  Bring to room temperature before using or heat in microwave at 5 second intervals. Add a wee bit of cream if it is too thick.)
* Do not put the caramel sauce on until ready to serve, as it soaks into the custard.



Monday, March 27, 2017

Asian Slaw Salad

This is the time of year when the markets are beginning to show signs of spring while winter cabbage is still plentiful and the oranges seem to be sweeter than ever. Creative salad making is easy when there is so much to choose from. Don't get caught in the doldrums of boring salads. Explore the produce isles and get creative by adding some new fresh edibles to your menu. 
Fill a bowl with green and purple cabbage, kale, carrots, sweet peppers, green and red onions, peas, edamame beans, oranges. These are just my choices, but add or take away to suit your taste.
Try substituting mangos for the oranges, adding fresh avocado, or adding toasted almonds or pumpkin seeds. 

Dressing and salad toppings really make a salad.
This dressing is enough for 8-10 cups of vegetables.
Dressing:
  • 1/3 cup grape seed oil (or any light oil)
  • 1/3 cup liquid honey
  • 1/3 cup rice vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon powder mix from Ramen Noodle package (or add more to your liking)
  1. Place all ingredients into a small jar. Shake well and refrigerate until ready to use.
Crispy Ramen Noodle Salad Toppers:
  • 1 package Ramen dry Noodles (use part of the seasoning package in the dressing)
  1. Crumble noodles onto a baking sheet.
  2. Bake in 400º oven for approximately 5 minutes until golden and crispy. Watch them, as they can burn quickly. 
  3. Allow to cool and store in air tight container until ready to mix into salad. 
  4. When ready to serve, pour dressing over salad, toss. Add Crispy Noodles and toss again. 



Sunday, March 26, 2017

Bread for the Journey


Our oldest Grandson, Evan, was baptized recently.
At the service his Dad presented him with a Tow Strap.

Now you need to understand my Son in law. He is a hands on guy and grew up in a hard working, God honouring family. He lives and breathes vehicles of all kinds and when he, my husband and our sons get together the conversation is sure to center on the latest vehicle project. In their town he is known as the person to go to when someone needs a hand or something needs fixing.
So when he came up to speak a blessing to his son, none of us were surprised
when he threw out a Tow Strap on the stage.
He used it as an object lesson the importance of knowing God's Word and in living the Christian life
He's graciously allowed me to share it with you.

The value of a tow strap is:
It can pull you out of tight spot - like a ditch, a snowbank or thick mud.
It can be used to help someone else out of a tight spot
The strap is stretchy and resilient but can only do its work  if you look after it and keep it clean.
You keep it clean by soaking it in warm water to release the dirt.

The parallels are pretty straightforward.

As a Christian, you will be slogged through the mud, yanked hard and stressed to the MAX.
Sometimes you will only need a gentle tug.
Sometimes you will be the one to help someone else in their spiritual walk
When you sin, or become muddy, stretched, yanked and tested, the best thing you can do is soak.
Soak in God's word, soak with other believers in Church.
God's Word is there to help you just like this tow strap.

As you can see from the pictures, Evan's Dad and Mom collected Scriptures from family and close friends and wrote them on the Tow Strap. After the service those who had a verse to give to Evan were invited to add them to the strap. He now has these verses to remind him of the support he has from his family and community.
Our prayer is that he will hide them in his heart and draw on them often.

This made me think of Psalm 119:9-12 and I have made it my prayer for Evan.

How can a young man cleanse his way?
By taking heed according to Your Word.
With my whole heart I have sought you;
Oh let me not wander from Your commandments!
Your Word I have hidden in my heart,
That I might not sin against You.
Blessed are You, O LORD!
Teach me Your statutes.


Saturday, March 25, 2017

Saturday in Ellen's Kitchen

For Saturday in my kitchen I wanted to share some kitchen items I've been using for 42 years now. We were married in December of 1974 and these were some shower and wedding gifts we received. They are still serving me well. These high quality stainless steel bowls have been used over and over again for mixing anything from cookies to cakes and brownies and for savory things like egg scrambles.
My tried and true stand mixer has been a faithful friend over all these years beating up ingredients for me and saving my hands and wrists and arms a lot of wear and tear.
My aluminum pans have made so many cakes, crumbles, breads, brownies, and other wonderful treats.

These last two I have used mostly for storage of leftovers and haven't baked anything in them. They have plastic tops that fit snugly on top and are very convenient for storage in the refrigerator and for reheating the leftovers.

Are you still using gifts from your wedding showers and wedding day?

Friday, March 24, 2017

Flash Back Friday ~ Self-Crust Coconut Pie..the easy way



For Flashback Friday I'm sharing this delicious coconut pie. If you don't have enough time to bake the usual coconut pie, this is the easy route to go. The filling is like a custard, add a bit of whipped cream and toasted coconut sprinkled on top and you will have a wonderful dessert to serve!

  • 4 eggs
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 2 cups milk..I used skim and it turned out fine
  • 1 1/2 cups coconut..flaked is my favorite but shredded is fine.
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  1. Combine the ingredients in order given, whisking to combine thoroughly.
  2. Pour into a greased 10" pie pan, I used my glass pie pan.
  3. Bake at 350º for 45 to 50 minutes or until golden brown. The center will still be a bit jiggly.
  4. Cool completely on a cooling rack. I couldn't wait and tasted it while still warm..so good.
  5. I served the pie with whipped cream and a sprinkling of toasted coconut. 
  6. Serves: 8-10

Thursday, March 23, 2017

White Bean and Ham Soup


With Easter around the corner, there is bound to be some ham served soon.  Today I'm sharing my Mom in law's recipe for White Bean and Ham Soup that I just love.   The recipe can be doubled if using a large ham bone or two ham hocks. 

  • 1 smoked ham hock or leftover ham bone
  • 3 cups of dry white beans
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 10 peppercorns
  • 6 whole allspice
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon summer savory
  • 2 tablespoons dried parsley
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
    1. 3 carrots, diced
    2. dash of natural hickory liquid smoke (150 ml bottle Woodland brand)
    3. Salt and Pepper to taste
    1. Put the ham hock or ham bone in a saucepan and add water just enough to cover the bone.
    2. Bring to a boil and then simmer a few hours until the ham is very tender.  Remove bone from the pot, take the meat off, set aside meat until later, return bone to the pot.
    3. Place spices in a spice ball or tie into a square of cheesecloth and add to soup. 
    4. Add beans and onion and simmer several hours until beans are nearly tender.
    5. Add carrots, reserved ham and a dash of natural hickory liquid smoke.
    6. Serve with a dollop of sour cream and add salt and pepper to taste. 


    Wednesday, March 22, 2017

    Tapioca Dream Pudding


    Tapioca pudding takes me back to eighth grade Home Ec, one of the first things we learned to cook. More recently, my sister mentioned making it for friends for whom it is a favorite dessert. I just had to go back to it. The lightness in this recipe comes from beating the egg white separately and adding it at the end.

    Ingredients:
    • 1 egg, separated
    • 4 tablespoons sugar, separated
    • pinch salt
    • 2 cups milk
    • 3 tablespoons Minit Tapioca
    • 3/4 teaspoons vanilla 
    Method:

    1. In a 4 cup glass bowl, beat egg white, adding in 1 tablespoon sugar as it gets foamy.
    2. Beat until stiff peaks form.
    3. In saucepan, whisk egg yolk and 3 tablespoon sugar. Add salt and gradually stir in milk and then tapioca. Let sit 5 minutes.
    4. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until mixture comes to a full boil. Remove from heat.
    5. Immediately, with hand mixer on low speed, slowly add hot tapioca mixture into beaten egg white OR fold beaten egg whites into hot tapioca pudding with spatula. Add vanilla. 
    6. Stir after 20 minutes and scoop into dessert bowls. Serve warm or chilled, plain or with fruit. Yields 3 - 4 small servings
    Note- naturally gluten free

    Tuesday, March 21, 2017

    Chicken with Mushrooms and Tomatoes


    This is a nice one skillet meal.  Add some pasta or rice and your dinner is complete.
    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    • 3 chicken breasts cut lengthwise into 2 or 3 pieces
    • salt and pepper (I like to use seasoned pepper)
    • 1 large leek, cleaned and thinly sliced (white part only)
    • 2 large cloves garlic thinly sliced 
    • 2 cups grape tomatoes
    • 1 red pepper, seeded and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
    • 1 cup fresh button mushrooms (or larger mushrooms halved)
    • 1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh basil
    • 1/2 cup white wine (or chicken broth)
    • Fresh Parmesan
    1. Heat olive oil in a saute pan.
    2. Season chicken with salt and pepper and cook for several minutes on each side until the chicken begins to brown and is cooked through.
    3. Remove chicken from pan and set aside.
    4. Add the sliced leeks to the pan  (add more oil or a pat of butter if needed) and saute until they begin to soften
    5. Add the garlic, tomatoes, red peppers and mushrooms and continue to cook until the tomatoes begin to wilt and the mushrooms are cooked through.
    6. Return the chicken to the pan, add 1/2 the basil and the white wine and cook a few more minutes or until the wine is reduced.
    7. Sprinkle with the rest of the basil and freshly grated Parmesan if desired.
    8. Serve in the pan or in a wide deep serving dish.

    Monday, March 20, 2017

    Chickpea Salad

    Fresh, flavour, colour, easy, economical, healthy, delicious. 
    • 1 14 oz (398ml) can chickpeas
    • 1/3 cup finely chopped celery
    • 1/3 cup finely chopped fresh dill, (not not use dried dill in this recipe)
    • 1/2 cup shredded carrots
    • 1/3 cup finely chopped green onions
    • 1/3 cup chopped seeded cucumber
    • 1/3 cup finely chopped red pepper
    Dressing:
    • 1/3 cup olive or grape seed oil
    • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
    • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
    • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
    • 1 large clove garlic, minced
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1 teaspoon pepper
    • 1/2 teaspoon basil
    • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
    1. Drain and rinse Chickpeas.
    2. Place Chickpeas in a dry non stick fry pan and cook over medium low stirring frequently for 4-5 minutes. They will just barely start to look dry. Remove from heat. Immediately transfer to a bowl to cool completely.
    3. Cut up all vegetables. 
    4. Once Chickpeas are cold, combine with all vegetables.
    5. Make dressing. Shake together well. Pour over salad.
    6. Allow to marinade in refrigerator at least 1 hour or overnight. 


    Sunday, March 19, 2017

    Bread For The Journey



    Deuteronomy 1:6-8 (NASB) 
    “The Lord our God spoke to us at Horeb, ‘You have [a]stayed long enough at this mountain. 7 Turn and set your journey, and go to the hill country of the Amorites, and to all their neighbors in the Arabah, in the hill country and in the lowland and in the [b]Negev and by the seacoast, the land of the Canaanites, and Lebanon, as far as the great river, the river Euphrates. See, I have placed the land before you; go in and possess the land which the Lord swore to give to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to them and their [c]descendants after them.’
    I know that I have often stayed at 'my mountain' too long when I needed to leave and journey on. This mountain can be fear, discouragement, depression, and many other things which keep us from growing in the Lord. Our life becomes a rut and we know we have been at this mountain too long and that we need to move on. 
    Moses was preparing the people to enter the promised land. In this text God tells them it's time to leave this mountain and journey on to other areas. They have received their instructions and it's time to move out of the wilderness and learn other lessons.
    We can learn from this as well and be willing to move from 'our mountains', that we won't miss opportunities to show God's love.

    Saturday, March 18, 2017

    Icelandic Donuts ~ Kleinur

    I always enjoy sampling the traditional foods when visiting another country.  We were recently in Iceland and made sure we tried their Kleinur...a slightly sweet deep-fried bread which is rather like a twisted donut.  They are available in every bakery or coffee shop in the country.  I decided to give this Icelandic treat a taste-test in my own kitchen and I will share my version, which is quite similar to my Rollkuchen recipe. It is the addition of the aromatic spices (cardamom, nutmeg and cinnamon) that sets them apart.

    • 4 1/2 cups flour
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 4 teaspoons baking powder
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon each of cardamon, cinnamon, nutmeg (or use 1 1/2 teaspoons total of your favorite)
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 cup milk
    • 1 cup sour cream (or plain yogurt)
    1. Combine 4 cups flour with sugar, baking powder, salt and spices.
    2. In a separate bowl, whisk together egg, milk and sour cream. 
    3. Add liquids to flour mixture and stir to incorporate.
    4. Continue to add flour until a soft (but not sticky) dough is formed.
    5. Divide dough into two balls and chill for at least 30 minutes.
    6. Roll each piece out thin on a floured surface. Cut long strips about 2 inches wide and then cut diagonally across to for diamond-shaped pieces, using a pizza cutter or pastry wheel. Cut a small slit in the centre of each piece, and gently pull one end through the slit to make a twist in the donut. 
    7. Deep fry in hot oil until golden on one side.  Flip and fry on the other side until golden.
    8. Serve 'hot off the grill' dusted in confectioner's sugar, or leave them plain and dip in sugar while eating. 
    Someone 'near and dear' who was born in Iceland, recommended that we try Kleiner.  One of these days I'll have her sample my version and see if they pass the test.


    Friday, March 17, 2017

    Carrot Cake


    Today I'd like to take you back to a carrot cake I posted here years ago and still always turns out to be a favorite. It can be made ahead and frozen, but it also keeps well in the fridge for several days. It can be a special occasion cake, plainly iced or decorated with pineapple flowers or nuts. It also serves well for taking to someone who needs some TLC. If doing so, bake it in a disposable pan that comes with a lid. (if using foil pan use lower rack in oven)

    Ingredients:
    • 3 eggs
    • 3/4 cup oil
    • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
    • 2 cups flour
    • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
    • 1 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1 teaspoon soda
    • 2 teaspoons vanilla
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1 1/2 cup coconut
    • 1 cup crushed pineapple, drained and 1/4 cup of the juice
    • 2 cups carrots, finely grated (3-4 carrots)
    1. Preheat oven to 350 F. 
    2. Prepare 9 x 9 pan or 8 - 9 inch springform pan by greasing well and dusting with flour, tapping out any excess. If you plan to invert and decorate the whole cake (sides and top) and you don’t have a spring form pan, grease and line bottom of pan with parchment paper. 
    3. Beat eggs, oil and sugar well. 
    4. Add combined dry ingredients, then coconut, pineapple and carrots. 
    5. Spread into prepared pan.
    6. Bake 70 minutes.  Test with toothpick. Serves 9 large pieces or 12 - 16 fair sized

    Cream Cheese Frosting
    • 1/4 cup butter, room temp
    • 4 oz cream cheese, room temp
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1 - 1 1/2 cup confectioner's sugar (icing sugar)
    • Beat butter and cream cheese, gradually adding icing sugar until desired consistency for spreading. To use in a decorating tube for piping, you may need a little extra icing sugar.

    Tips and Decorating options:

    1) Cool completely in pan and spread icing on cake. Dab, using the back of a spoon to lift waves or just sprinkle with nuts or toasted coconut.

    2) Cool 10 min. Invert onto cooling rack, remove paper. Cool completely to decorate sides and top of cake.  Double the icing amount.

    3) You can use a 9x13 pan for this recipe as is, baking time will be less as it will not be as high. If you need a larger cake, use 1 ½ times the recipe, for a 9x13 pan. (4 large eggs, 1 cup oil, 2 cups sugar, 3 cups flour, 2 tsp BP, 1 tsp soda, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 2 cups coconut, 3 cups carrots, 1 can crushed pineapple with the juice.) For frosting just the top, icing recipe is still fine. Bake time at least 70 min. Turn oven temp down to 325 F if using a glass pyrex pan.

    3) For making dried pineapple flowers check here


    Thursday, March 16, 2017

    Lemon Cake


    This lemon cake has a real citrusy punch to it. Add a dollop of whipped cream with a little lemon zest and you will have yourself an awesome dessert!
    • 1/2 cup butter, softened
    • 3/4 cup sugar
    • 4 large eggs, beaten and at room temperature
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
    • Juice and zest of 3 medium sized lemons
    • 2 cups flour
    • 3 teaspoons baking powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    1. Cream butter and sugar until creamy and light.
    2. Add eggs one at a time, beat until well combined. 
    3. Stir in vanilla and the juice and zest of the lemons.
    4. Sift together flour, baking powder, salt and fold into the rest of the mixture.
    5. Bake in a greased 8" x 8" pan at 350º for 35-40 minutes or until golden in color.
    6. Remove cake from oven to a cooling rack and pour glaze over the hot cake and sprinkle with sugar.
    Glaze:
    • 1/2 cup citrus juice, I used 1/4 cup lemon and 1/4 cup orange
    • 1/4 cup honey
    • 1 tablespoon sugar
    1. In a small saucepan over medium heat heat juices and honey until honey is dissolved.
    2. Pour over hot cake and sprinkle with sugar.
    3. Serve warm or cold with whipped cream.

    Wednesday, March 15, 2017

    Cream of Potato soup



    This hearty and delicious soup is my friend Erna's recipe, perfect for those cold wintery days that seem to linger on far too long. This soup warms you up from the inside and so satisfying.  The rolls in the background are Ham and Cheese buns.

    • Half a link of smoked sausage (Farmer Sausage), cut into little chunks
    • 6 russet potatoes, peeled, halved and sliced thinly
    • 2 onions, chopped
    • 1 celery, diced
    • 1 carrots, diced
    • 4 cups chicken broth
    • 5 cups water
    • salt and pepper to taste
    • 1-13 oz. can evaporated milk
    • 1/4 cup melted butter
    1. Saute onions, celery and carrot in the butter until translucent. 
    2. Add the chopped farmer sausage, potatoes, broth, water and seasonings. 
    3. Simmer until the vegetables are cooked. Add the milk and heat through. 

    Crock Pot option- 
    1. Saute the veggies in the butter, place into crock pot.
    2. Add the remaining ingredients, cover and cook on high for 4 hours or low for 10-12 hours. 
    3. Stir in the milk at the end and heat through. 
    Serve with your favorite biscuits or ty something different like these Ham and Cheese Rolls



    Tuesday, March 14, 2017

    Wild Rice and Chia Bread ...Gluten Free

    "Let them eat cake  grass !"

    Living is learning, and sometimes randomly gathered information comes together - unexpectedly.

    For example --  last week I learned,
    • why cows chew their cud
    • that my granddaughter for personal reasons decided to leave meat out of her diet
    • wild rice isn't rice at all -- it is GRASS 
    Cows  - as well as other grass grazing animals -  thrive because nitrogen rich grass has a surprising amount of protein.  The animals are selective in choosing the grass that is rich in nitrogen, avoiding the sour grass. The reason they chew their cud is to extract the maximum amount of protein from the grass.

    Wild Rice --  I was surprised to learn that it is not rice at all but an aquatic grass - and what makes it so healthy is its protein, mineral and vitamin content. 
    Wild rice is good for the heart, for the bones, for the immune system - it reduces signs of aging, regulates digestive tract and helps prevent diabetes and cancer.   

    Another challenge - So I have another challenge preparing my family dinners, not just gluten free and avoiding nut allergies but now also being considerate of  my granddaughter not eating meat.
    As mothers, grandmothers, we care about the health of our families .. and I am concerned about my granddaughter getting all the nutrients that she needs on a meat-less diet. 

    Having learned about the nutritious value of wild rice, as well as its protein content,  I began to think of ways to incorporate it into my cooking.  I wondered about putting it in my bread - as the cost of wild rice demands I stretch it.
    I bought some wild rice and ground it into flour -- 1 cup of flour cost me $6.50.  Why is it so expensive to be healthy ????

    I am so happy with my last totally fool-proof bread recipe - found here -- but I am always reaching to make good better and better perfect!!  Adding more nutrients has to make for a better loaf - and I wondered if the wild rice might improve my bread in other ways as well. And it did
    I found that the wild rice flour not only added flavour but also added a 'springy-ness' to the bread texture . I also added Chia seed flour to my bread, since Chia seed helps as a binder and is also very rich in nutrients.

    I wasn't sure whether to soak the wild rice flour before using it or not - some  say yes, some say no - so I erred on the side of caution and soaked it .. So glad I did or I would have ended up with a very heavy loaf of bread.

    My loaf smelled so wonderful baking -- and really tastes great.  My husband thought it was very good, he is my  honest critic!
    If you have become discouraged with gluten-free bread, do try this bread before you give up !




    While you could add the wild rice flour to your favorite  'wheat' bread recipe, you could use my recipe making the following changes - substitute wheat flour for Julie's flour and then add as much as you need to knead the dough as you usually do, and  leave out the baking powder, the xanthan gum and the Psyllium powder.

    I have copy/pasted my bread recipe with the variations added...  
    •  3/4  cup warm water
    • 1 tsp sugar 
    • 1 1/2 tbsp traditional yeast 
    • 1 tbsp  honey
    • 1/2 cup milk 
    • 1/4 cup wild rice flour
    • 3 eggs 
    • 1/4 cup oil
    • 1/3 cup mashed potatoes **see note
    • 1 1/2 cups Julie's Flour 
    • 1/2 cup flaxseed meal 
    • 1/3 cup chia seed flour
    • 1/3 cup sunflower seeds
    • 1 tsp salt 
    • 1 tsp baking powder 
    • 1 tsp xanthan gum
    • 1 tsp Psyllium Husk powder (optional) 
    1. About two hours before baking, soak the wild rice flour in the 1/2 cup milk 
    2. Proof yeast in warm water and sugar  - about 10 minutes. 
    3. Put eggs, oil, honey, mashed potatoes, wild rice/milk mixture into blender and blend on high for about a minute until perfect smooth. 
    4. Pour into bowl of mixer with the proofed yeast 
    5. Blend together the dry ingredients, add to liquid and stir to blend, then beat on high (with paddle) for about 5-7 minutes.
    6. Line bottom and long sides  of glass loaf pan with parchment paper 
    7. Fill loaf pan with batter to about half full - spoon, by large tablespoon,  any remaining batter onto parchment lined pan or pie plate, to make buns. 
    8. Let rise in warm place until bread rounds over the the top of the pan. 
    9. Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes ... about 30 minutes for buns. 
    10. Remove from pan and cool on wire rack. 
    ** note -- I make mashed potatoes and then divide into 1/3 cups portions, put them in plastic bags and store in the freezer - then when I am making bread I just need to take one bag out of the freezer and thaw.  


    Do you include wild rice in your cooking?  
    Share with us your favorite ways of using/serving wild rice to your family. 


    Monday, March 13, 2017

    Creamy Chicken Enchiladas

    My sister made this dish for me and her when I was visiting in California and I wanted to try them out at home with a few modifications. It's a messy process with a tasty result.

    Ingredients:
    • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
    • 1 onion, rough chopped
    • 1 pound tomatillos, husks removed, washed and rough chopped
    • 1 Poblano chile, seeded and rough chopped
    • 1 Anaheim or Jalapeno chile, seeded and rough chopped 
    • 4 cloves of garlic, smashed
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
    • 2 cups fresh cilantro
    • 1-1/2 cups Mexican Crema or sour cream
    • 3 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
    • 1 cup frozen corn
    • 1-1/2 cups or more grated Mexican cheese blend, or Monterey Jack.
    • 10-12 corn tortillas 
    Tomatillos are also called “tomate verde” in Mexico (which means green tomato) and are considered a staple in Mexican cooking.  Tomatillo is a member of the nightshade family, related to tomatoes.They grow in a husk.

    Method:
    1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
    2. Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat.
    3. Add the onion and cook for 4 minutes, stirring occasionaly.
    4. Add the chiles, tomatillos, garlic, and seasonings to the onions and cook for 8-10 minutes. 
    5. Transfer the vegetable mixture to a food processor, add the cilantro, and pulse to a rough chop.
    6. Add the crema and puree until smooth.
    7. Taste sauce and add more salt if needed.
    8. Spread 1-1/4 cups of this sauce in bottom of a greased 9x13 baking dish. 
    9. Transfer the remaining sauce to a medium sized bowl. 
    10. In a large bowl combine chicken and 3/4 cup of the sauce.
    11. Add the corn and 3/4 shredded cheese to the chicken mixture.
    12. Wrap the tortillas in double layer of damp paper towels; microwave on high until soft, about 1 minute.
    13. Working with one tortilla at a time, dip in the remaining sauce in medium bowl shaking off any excess.
    14. Place on a work surface like a large plate or cutting board (this is the messy part!).
    15. Add about 1/2 cup of the chicken filling, roll up and place in baking dish seam side down.
    16. Repeat the process with the remaining tortillas and filling, I had enough filling for 10 tortillas.
    17. Spoon any remaining sauce on top of the rolled tortillas.
    18. Sprinkle remaining grated cheese evenly on top, cheese lovers can add more cheese if desired.
    19. Bake until the cheese begins to brown, 12-15 minutes.
    20. Serves 4-6 people.

     Although there are many steps to making these creamy Suiza style enchiladas the effort is worth it. If you like heat add one or two jalapeno chiles instead of the Anaheim chile.
    I
    I found that with all the sauce and the melted cheese it was hard to distinguish each enchilada. Just split up the pan in even portions for your family or friends. 



    Sunday, March 12, 2017

    Bread for the Journey


    I'm always intrigued with the parables Jesus taught and how their meaning plays out.  The parable of the sower is one that has us think about the condition of the soil of our heart and how it may accept the seed of the Word of God.

    Have our difficult experiences hardened us so much that the seed has no chance to germinate? Or maybe we only have a little space, an area of shallow soil among the rocks, to hear what we like to hear, but when trouble comes we lose heart because the seed has not been able to take root.  It could also be that the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of riches choke out the seed in the same way thorns take over a garden. I think we can relate to all of these.

    Yet, Jesus does not leave it there. He simply blesses us with a challenge to open our eyes and to pay attention to the warnings. I pray that our hearts may be soft, removing the rocks and weeding out the thorns. May of the busyness and worries of everyday life not keep us from sitting at His feet to quiet our hearts and learn from Him.


    Matthew 13:3 - 9 and 16

    “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. Whoever has ears, let them hear.”

    16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear.


    Saturday, March 11, 2017

    Weekend Burgers

    Weekends around here are often home made fast food. You just can't go wrong with a good burger.
    A good burger must start with a good meat pattie.
    From there it's up to you.
    Bun or crispy lettuce to wrap it all up in?
    Swiss, blue cheese, cheddar, provolone? Everyone can choose their favourite.
    Sliced or diced veggies? This one was served salad style.
    Sauce? Mayo, spicy, BBQ? How about the works!
    Always add a pickle..and you can see we love pepper!
    When you eat out typically you'll order a side of fries....so why not bake a tray of fries.


    Here are a few other great weekend burger recipes.
    BBQ Burger Loaf
    Tex Mex Burgers

    Self serve ice cream sundaes would be a great way to top this weekend off.

    Happy Saturday everyone!



    Friday, March 10, 2017

    Farmer's Chili ~ Flashback Friday



    Let's guess....did you have snow last night?  I'm not even looking at the weather anymore.
    Can you see the low snow line on the mountains?  That tells me that many of you may be thinking about heading out to the slopes, skiing or sledding over spring break with your families.   Flashback Friday takes us back to winter ski holidays.  Here's a perfect recipe to take with you.   This recipe has a smoked taste, which will guarantee you that there will be no leftovers.  
    • 2 pounds ground beef
    • 1/2 pound (half a ring)  farmer sausage cubed.
    • 2 medium onions,  chopped fine.
    • 3 cloves garlic, chopped fine.
    • 1 can of canned tomatoes (28 oz.)
    • 1 can tomato sauce (14 oz.)
    • 2 cans tomato paste (6 oz.)
    • 1 can kidney beans drained (19 oz)
    • 1 can beef broth (10 oz.)
    • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
    • 1 tablespoon chili
    • 11/2 cups salsa
    • 1 tsp. oregano
    • 1/2 tsp. pepper
    • 1 tsp. salt
    1. Brown ground beef and saute onions and garlic together.
    2. Drain off the extra liquids and pour contents into large pot.
    3. Add all your canned ingredients and spices in order.
    4. Simmer and cook for 2 hours on medium heat.
    Add a loaf of artisan bread and a fresh salad and you are set to go.

    Thursday, March 9, 2017

    Broccoli Apple Salad


    Here's a salad I put together quickly with what I had in the fridge.
    You can use a bottled coleslaw dressing or your favourite homemade coleslaw dressing.

    • 2 cups raw broccoli chopped
    • 1 large apple cored and chopped (I leave the peel on for added colour and the nutrition)
    • 1/2 red pepper cut into 1 inch pieces
    • 1/2 yellow pepper cut into 1 inch pieces
    • 1/2 cup raisins
    • 1/2 toasted pine nuts or almonds (not pictured)
    • 1/4-1/2 cup coleslaw dressing - bottled or homemade. (a poppyseed dressing might be a nice option)
    1. Combine all salad ingredients in serving bowl.
    2. Add dressing and toss.
    3. Refrigerate until serving.

    Wednesday, March 8, 2017

    Lemon Mini Biscuits


    Lemon recipes are always a sign of spring for me. Although I love lemon any season. These mini lemon biscuits are delicious served with lemon curd. This recipe can easily be doubled or more for amount needed.
    • 1 cup flour
    • 2 teaspoons sugar
    • 1 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
    • 1/4 cup cold butter
    • 1/2 an egg, beaten (which equals 2 tablespoons of beaten egg..you could use a small egg instead)
    • 1/4 cup milk
    • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
    1. In a mixing bowl whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and lemon zest.
    2. Grate cold butter on top of the flour mixture and stir into dry ingredients, it will look like coarse crumbs.
    3. In a small bowl stir together egg, milk, and lemon juice, pour over the coarse crumb mixture and stir just until moistened. Gather dough into a ball.
    4. Flatten dough to approx 1/2" and use a 1 3/4" cutter to cut out biscuits.
    5. Place on a parchment lined cookie sheet and sprinkle biscuits with topping
    6. Bake in 400º oven for 10 to 12 minutes until golden brown.
    7. Serve with lemon curd.
    8. Yield: A baker's dozen.
    Topping:
    • 1 teaspoon sugar
    • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
    1. Rub sugar and lemon zest together until combined.
    2. Sprinkle on biscuits and bake.

    Tuesday, March 7, 2017

    Broccolini with Mustard Sauce


    Broccolini may quickly become one of your favorite hot vegetables. What I like is that it's quick and easy to prepare without any trimming or cutting. It has a slightly sweeter, more delicate taste than regular broccoli and pairs up very nicely with this mustard sauce.

    Ingredients:

    • 170-200 g ( 8 oz) broccolini
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 1/4 cup butter
    • 1 Tbsp flour
    • 1/3 - 1/2 cup milk
    •  2 tsp Dijon mustard
    • 1 tsp Worcestershire's sauce
    • dash of Cayenne or chili powder
    Method:
    1. In medium pot, bring broccolini to boil in half an inch of salted water. Cook until just tender. About 3-5 minutes.
    2. In saucepan, melt butter, whisk in the flour, then the milk, mustard, Worcestershire, and spice.
    3. Cook, stirring, until it bubbles. Can be made ahead and reheated. Serve over hot vegetables.
    4. Serves 3-4

    Monday, March 6, 2017

    Warm Quinoa Salad


    We have a meatless Monday recipe for you today. 
    This is a recipe I watched my daughter in law make one day for lunch and I thought it was a brilliant idea and it was delicious.  Quinoa is high in protein and with the added egg and vegetables it is a hearty but healthy lunch! 


    It's hardly a recipe as much as a combination of what you have in your refrigerator and pantry.


    Mix it together on Monday, have it for dinner or enjoy it over salad greens for lunch throughout the week.

    • 2 cups prepared quinoa (either with vegetable stock or water)
    • 1 tablespoon oil
    • 1 large onion, diced
    • 1 portabella mushroom, gills removed and mushroom diced, or a handful of button mushrooms, diced
    • 2 bell peppers, diced
    • 2 garlic cloves, minced
    • 1 can 10-ounce can / 284 ml diced tomatoes 
    • 1 small can green chilis
    • 1 teaspoon or more to taste of dried chili flakes
    • 2 handfuls of kale salad
    • Romaine greens for a salad bed
    • fried soft eggs 

    1. In a large saute pan, heat oil and fry onions and mushrooms together until tender.  Add remaining vegetables, seasoning and kale salad.  Simmer for 10 minutes.
    2. Add prepared quinoa and heat through.
    3. Arrange greens on a plate, put a large serving spoon of quinoa salad in the center and top with a soft egg.  



    Sunday, March 5, 2017

    Bread for the Journey



    Hope Amongst  Adversity

    January has been a month of joy and adversity that I never would've imagined.  It all happened so fast.  On January 19th, I received the most beautiful 'face time' with my son-in-law Joe, letting us know with high hopes that he and Mikki and Cannon had received all their Canadian documents allowing entry to Canada. They would be coming to celebrate our birthdays in February.  Excitement grew over the days as I so happily shared this news with family and friends.  Plans to celebrate were in place.

    Then came the shuddering call on January 24th that there was an accident and that Joe was no longer with us.  His life had been taken protecting others.  You can read more about the details if you are interested.  
    Yes, we have cried and mourned the loss of this wonderful family member.  Our hearts have been broken.
    Why?  Why? Why would God take a charming young father, husband, uncle and son?  How could this happen to our daughter?
    Their life together was short-lived, and they did not waste their three years. It was a moment in time.
    She knew that Joe and her had been living their dreams. And she responds, "I have no regrets."

    Again, I was drawn back to the old scriptures from Isaiah 43:1-3 The promise that God will be with us through the dark hours.  Even though we know we will go through difficult times in our lives, walking with Jesus will make the load lighter. He promised protection and gives renewed hope to all. Now that we are walking through this time, it's sometimes hard to accept and understand all these promises.

    But now, this is what the Lord says—
        he who created you, Jacob,
        he who formed you, Israel:
    “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
        I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
    When you pass through the waters,
        I will be with you;
    and when you pass through the rivers,
        they will not sweep over you.
    When you walk through the fire,
        you will not be burned;
        the flames will not set you ablaze.
    For I am the Lord your God,
        the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;

    Ah ... yes, I know there is grace and a turning corner came to me this week when a dear friend showed me the difference between 'why' and 'how'.  That gives new perspective doesn't it?  How should I carry on in my brokenness?  How does it help us to hear the promises from God? How does my daughter raise a young man without her husband?  How do I as a mother give support to a daughter's brokenness?  How do we live this one broken life as Ann Voskamp would say?
    What did Jesus do with his brokenness?  Instead of drawing back to protect Himself, He gives thanks, breaks and gives away what he has to give.  Is this something possible for me?

    "The seed breaks to give us the wheat. The soil breaks to give us the crop. The sky breaks to give us the rain.  The wheat breaks to give us the bread.  The bread breaks to give us the feast ... Could it be that we, too, must fall to the ground, break, and die to ever bear much fruit?" -- Ann Voskamp
    Being a farmer's wife and growing wheat on our farm, I can totally identify with Ann on this quote.

    God, I thank you for your promises to be with us all the time and to walk alongside us giving new HOPE as we travel these uncharted waters.

    Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow may never come.  But we have this moment today.