Mennonite Girls Can Cook is a collection of recipes which were posted daily for a period of ten years from 2008 to 2018. We have over 3,000 delicious recipes that we invite you to try. The recipes can be accessed in our recipe file by category or you can use the search engine.

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Raisin Apple Braids


These would make a nice gift for your neighbours. 
 Depending on the size you want, you can divide the dough to make 3 or 4 braids. I photographed them as Christmas gifts but of course you can make them any time of year and freeze the extras if you like. The recipe comes from the 1968 Pillsbury Bake Off Breads Cook Book.

  • 6 1/2 - 7 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons instant yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine
  • 2 eggs
Raisin Apple Filling
  • 2 1/2 cups peeled, finely chopped apple
  • 1 cup chopped raisins (I use sultanas. rinsed well through a sieve)
  • 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans (opt.)
  1. In large mixer bowl, combine 2 cups flour, sugar, salt, and dry yeast.
  2. In 4 cup glass measuring cup, microwave milk and butter until milk is warm and butter has begun to melt. (or warm it in a saucepan on the stove)
  3. Add warm milk to mixing bowl and mix on low
  4. Add slightly beaten eggs and continue to mix until well moistened.
  5. Mix for 3 minutes.
  6. Change to dough hook and then add remaining flour to make a stiff dough.
  7. Continue to mix or knead by hand for 5 minutes until dough is smooth and elastic.
  8. Place dough in a greased bowl, turning to grease top.
  9. Cover and let rise in a warm place until light and doubled in size. (I usually do this in the oven which I have warmed to 170 degrees and then turned off.)
  10. Line 2 cookie sheets (with edges) with parchment paper.
  11. Prepare Apple Raisin Filling: In saucepan, combine all filling ingredients except pecans. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Boil at least 5 minutes, stirring frequently or until it thickens somewhat. Cool
  12. Punch down dough and divide in half. (or into 3 sections)
  13. Roll each section into a rectangle and place on cookie sheet.
  14. Spread centre third of each rectangle with Raisin Apple Filling (see picture below).
  15. Using a pizza cutter, cut dough diagonally at 1 inch intervals on both sides of filling.
  16. Fold opposite strips of dough over filling, crossing in centre. (see picture below)
  17. Seal ends of each braid.
  18. Cover and let rise in warm place until light and doubled in size.
  19. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes or until golden brown.
  20. Remove to racks and cool.
  21. Ice and decorate as desired.





German Gingerbread Cookies


Ah! All I had to do was take a whiff of the spices that go into these cookies and I was transported into something that spelled Weihnachten! Leise Rieselt der Schnee may as well have been playing in the background. This is a recipe I stopped making once our kids got older, but it's fun to bring it back with little ones around again.  

Ingredients:
  • 1/4 cup butter, soft
  • 1/4 cup Crisco
  • 1 1/4 cup honey
  • 3 eggs
  • 6 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons Lebkuchen or Spekulatius Gewuerz*
  • 1 teaspoon ground star anise
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
* These gingerbread spices can be purchased (as a pkg) from a European Deli. In Chilliwack  you can find Abstwinder Lebkuchen Gewuerz at Hofstede's Country Barn, imported from Calgary. The spices are a combination of coriander, cinnamon, cloves,anise, nutmeg, star anise, fennel, cardamom. In Abbotsford you can find Lebkuchen Gewuerz at the Windmill Deli.



Method:
  1. In mixing bowl cream butter and Crisco. Add eggs and honey, beating in well.
  2. Stir in combined dry ingredients. Using a kitchen machine such as a Kitchen Aid with a hook attachment is helpful.
  3. Cover and refrigerate for 5 days to let flavors blend.
  4. Preheat oven to 350° F and prepare baking sheets by greasing - or line with parchment paper.
  5. Let dough sit at room temp for about 15 minutes. Divide into three parts.
  6. Lightly dust work surface with flour and work dough into a flat round shape by turning and using the heel of your hand. Roll out, using a fine dusting of flour, to dinner plate size. About 1/3 inch thickness. Cut with desired cookie shapes. 
  7. Bake for 9 minutes or until lightly browned underneath. Ice or decorate with Boiled Icing.
  8. Store in airtight container in cool place. The cookies just get better as they age. 
  9. Yield: 24 large gingerbread men plus approximately 20 regular sized cookies, such as star shapes.
Boiled sugar-meringue icing ( make 2 times for 4 dozen cookies)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 egg white
  1. In a medium glass bowl, beat egg white until soft peaks form when you lift beater. Set aside.
  2. In saucepan, over low / medium heat, bring water and sugar to a boil, while stirring.
  3. Once it keeps boiling, even while stirring, set timer on 3 minutes.
  4. Keep stirring, while liquid becomes totally bubbly, making sure sugar does not harden on sides of pot. Stir until it begins to feel slightly syrupy, about 2 - 3 minutes.
  5. Remove from heat. Slowly, pour into beaten egg white, while mixer is going. (I hold a hand mixer with my right hand and pour hot liquid with my left.) 
  6. Beat for about 2 minutes, until glossy and stiff. Fill piping bag if you wish to outline, or spread by teaspoons onto cookies, using the back of the spoon to smooth. Sprinkle with sugar sprinkles while wet. Allow to dry until hard. (several hours or overnight)
Hint: this icing can dry quickly, so cover any icing left in the bowl with a wet tea towel. If icing becomes slightly crusty, add a tsp of water and beat with mixer for a few seconds.






Butter Tarts

Before Christmas I love sitting down with my mom's book of 
hand written recipes to decide which ones I'll be making.
Every year without fail I make these butter tarts.
Each pretty pastry shell is filled with golden raisins
and topped with brown sugar buttery goodness.

Ingredients for filling:
  • 2 tbsp butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup golden raisins, plumped
Method:
  1. Beat very soft butter, brown sugar and egg together until creamy.
  2. Add salt and vanilla.
  3. Pour boiling water over raisins. Allow to stand for 5 minutes. Drain well.
  4. Do not add to filling. Once you have the pastry shells made, place raisins into each shell. This will keep them uniform.
Pastry: this is Lovella's favorite pastry recipe that came from our friend Dorothy, but you can use your favourite pastry recipe. 
  • 5 cups flour
  • 4 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 pound lard
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp white vinegar
  • water
Method for Pastry:
  1. Measure flour, sugar, salt and baking powder into a large bowl.
  2. Cut in cold lard until you lard is broken up into pea sized pieces.
  3. In a glass measuring cup beat 1 egg well. Add vinegar and then enough cold water to make 1 cup.
  4. Pour water mixture over flour mixture and stir, incorporating all the dry ingredients. Use your hands to pull the dough together into a ball. 
  5. Sprinkle some flour on your counter or pastry mat. Roll out 1/3 of the dough fairly thin. Using a cup or fluted cookie cutter, but out rounds and place into lightly greased tart tins.
  6. To ensure that each tart gets the approximately the same amount of raisins, I spoon the raisins into the bottom of each unbaked shell. (About 5-8 raisins, depending on the size of your shells.
  7. Pour the butter tart filling over each raisin filled shell.
  8. Bake at 375º for 18-20 minutes. Let rest in pan for 5 minutes then remove to cooling rack.
This filling recipe makes 2 dozen tarts. I often double or triple the recipe as they freeze well for several months. You will have left over pastry. Shape into discs or line a pie plate or two. Wrap well and freeze.

Toffee Drops


Years ago my friend Debbi, who also happened to be my son's teacher at the time, shared this recipe with me. Our family loves these and it's made every Christmas by at least one of us.
It is a super simple easy recipe and can be put together quickly. What takes the longest is unwrapping the toffee pieces! This toffee used to come in a bar but I can't find those anymore.

You will need:
  • 2 cups of Special K cereal..you can use rice krispies.
  • 16 pieces of toffee..I use Mackintosh's toffee.
  • 2 tablespoons whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons butter
What you need to do:
  1. Chop toffee pieces, add to cream and butter in a microwave safe bowl.
  2. Melt in microwave for 1 1/2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds just until mixture is smooth. 
  3. Stir into special k cereal and mix well.
  4. Drop by spoonfuls on a parchment lined pan. You have to work quickly before the mixture hardens.
  5. Let cool and store in a covered container in a cool place. Who am I kidding, I doubt they will make it that far!
  6. Yields: 1 dozen

Angel Kisses (Alfajores)


This cookie has a ‘melt in your mouth’ kind of texture, like shortbread. The filling is cooked sweetened condensed milk, also known as dulce de leche, if purchased in a jar. The recipe came from a friendly neighbor, who invited me for coffee when I was a newly wed. I loved the cookies because the filling was just like what we used to spread on our bread when we lived in South America. I found out that they were quite a bit of work to make when I made them for our daughter’s first birthday, so I decided that they would be Christmas cookies and eventually we ended up calling them angel kisses, because we did not know the real name.

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup soft butter
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups cornstarch
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • flaked coconut
Method:
  1. Put unopened can of sweetened condensed milk, standing up, in a pot of water, water coming up about 3/4 of the way. Bring water to boil and simmer for 11/2 hours. Add water if needed. Cool completely in fridge. Good if you can do this the day ahead. I like this method because the dulce tastes fresh and creamy. If you prefer, you can use 1 jar purchased Dulce de Leche. 
  2. This cookie recipe has no liquids, so I find it is very important to use very soft butter, but not melted. I take it out of the fridge the night before. It also helps to use a large mixer that has a dough (hook) attachment.
  3. Beat butter until very creamy. Beat in the yolks. 
  4. Mix sugar and lemon rind, then add to creamed mixture, along with vanilla. 
  5. Stir in cornstarch and combined other dry ingredients (using hook attachment if you have) until smooth. Shape into ball.
  6. Taking about 1/4 of the dough at a time, roll out on floured surface to about 1/4 inch thickness.
  7. Cut with small, round cookie cutter or tomato paste can. 
  8. Place on floured cookie sheets and bake at 350° F for about 8 min. Do not over bake. Cookies should just be starting to get color on the underside, not on top. Cool.
  9. Stick two cookies together with cooked sweetened condensed milk, spreading the sides (edges) as well and rolling them in coconut. 
  10. Freeze to set. Store in air tight container in freezer and beware if someone in your family likes eating them frozen! Yields 4 dozen cookies 





Christmas Fruit and Nut Cake with Caramelized Pineapple





Fruitcake is our favorite small bite treat with a cup of coffee during the Christmas season.  Be sure that you use ingredients that are fresh.  Nuts and dried fruits that are even a bit stale will taint the fruitcake and will ruin all the work.   Fruitcake lovers will all enjoy this delicious Christmas treat.
Fruitcake improves in flavour and texture over time, so make it now to enjoy at Christmas.
  • 1 cup slivered blanched almonds
  • 1 cup whole blanched almonds
  • 1/2 cup whole walnut halves
  • 1 1/2 cups seedless raisins
  • 1 1/2 cups dried cranberries
  • 1 cup / 225 grams glace cut mixed peel
  • 1 cup / 225 grams glace fruit cake mix
  • 2 cups 500 grams glace whole cherries
  • 1 cup finely chopped dates
  • 1/2 cup apricot brandy
  1. Stir together all the fruit and nuts in a large glass bowl.  Stir in brandy and cover with lid or tightly with plastic wrap.  Stir occasionally and leave at room temperature until the next day.
Caramelized Pineapple
  • 1 14 ounce / 398 ml can crushed pineapple with the juice
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup apricot jam
  • 1/4 cup apricot brandy
  1. Combine pineapple, juice and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Stir  occasionally to prevent scorching and simmer to reduce liquids, 30 - 40 minutes.  Once the liquid has mostly evaporated and the pineapple has started to caramelize, remove from heat, add jam and brandy.  Refrigerate overnight in sealed container. 
Fruitcake Batter
  • 2 1/3 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup room temperature unsalted butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 7 eggs (should measure 1 1/2 cups)
  1. Prepare 2 - 3 loaf pans by cutting brown paper bags to fit first lengthwise and then across the width, allowing the paper to come just over the edge of the pan.  Grease paper well. Alternately, for gift giving, use disposable paper bakeware.  
  2. Preheat oven to 275 F. 
  3. Stir together dry ingredients in a large bowl.  Mix 1 cup of the flour mixture with the fruit and nuts and set aside. 
  4. In a large bowl, beat butter, then gradually add sugar and eggs with mixer. Add remaining flour mixture and beat to combine. 
  5. Use a large wooden spoon to stir in fruit and nut mixture along with the pineapple mixture. Stir well to combine.
  6. Divide into loaf pans and bake.  Baking times will vary depending on size of the pan. You can bake the fruitcake in small individual loaves or square pans.  Whatever you decide to use, check every 30 minutes to start if you use small pans.  The loaves will feel firm in the center when done. Test with a toothpick once you think the top feels firm.  Regular bread pan loaf pans will be up to 3 1/2 hours. Check several times to make sure the top of the cakes are not getting too brown.  If that happens, cover loosely with foil.   The bakeware shown in the photo held 3 cups of batter, measured 1 1/4 inch X 6 inch diameter and took just over an hour to bake. 
  7.  Remove from oven, remove from pan, allow to cool for half an hour and then carefully remove brown paper.  Brush with additional apricot brandy before storing. Leave cakes in the disposable bakeware pans for easy gift giving.   Seal well in plastic bags and store in the refrigerator for several months or freeze.

Pfeffernuesse ~ Flashback Friday



Years later, so many things have changed.  When I looked at my last post in 2009, I realized that I made this with my sister. It's obvious that it's Flashback Friday again. Now I'm starting all over and introducing this wonderful recipe to my dear little grandaughters who visit regularly.  And today, you get to see them in action.  It brings so much laughter and joy into our lives to watch these young ones pronounce PFEFFERNUSSE!

Step One:
  • 1 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves
  • 1 teaspoon cardamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons /15 grams Neunerlei Lebkuchen Gewurz (this is a gingerbread spice purchased at a Delicatessen) I ordered them from the Edelweiss Delicatessen in Calgary this year, as no one else carried them in our town. 
  1. Warm honey in microwave or stovetop and add sugar and spices.
  2. Cool mixture to room temperature.
Step Two:
  • 1 cup margarine
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  1. Melt margarine and add sour cream.
  2. Now add to cooled honey mixture.
Step Three:
  • 6 cups flour (add up to 1/2 cup more if needed to make a heavy dough )
  • 3 teaspoons baking soda
  1. Sift together flour and baking soda and add the above honey mixture and mix well.
  2. I blend flour and soda into an electric mixing bowl.
  3. I usually use my kneading hook, as this dough is heavy. One time I broke my cookie beaters.
  4. Place in fridge overnight to cool. 
Step Four:
  1. To bake, grease cookie sheets
  2. Roll dough into rolls (snakes) and slice.(thickness of your index finger)
  3. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Bake for 9 minutes. Just slightly browned.
  4. When baked, leave cookies on sheet 2 minutes, then remove from pan.
While Ivy, who will be four in February knows that first, we grease our hands, then follows my instructions to a tee, Joy on the other hand who will be two,  totally seizes every moment to enjoy laughter.  We've had lots of fun and I know we will be making several batches to give to the big cousins. I've enjoyed handing down some traditional recipes to the grandchildren.

Apple Fritter Rings




It's autumn and we are enjoying apples every-which-way these days.  Once a year we have apple fritters...this year they became apple ring fritters.  I used a mandolin slicer to get thin (1/3 inch) slices and a dollar store apple corer to remove the core.

Apple Ring Fritters
  • 1 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 large tart apples
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup sugar 
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  1. Blend flour, baking powder and salt in a mixing bowl.
  2. Beat eggs and add milk; pour into flour mixture, stirring until smooth. 
  3. Peel, core and cut apples into thin slices.
  4. In an electric skillet or a heavy frying pan, heat oil to 375°. 
  5. Dip apple rings into batter to coat and place into hot oil.
  6. Fry several at a time until golden...turning over to cook on both sides. 
  7. Drain on paper towels. 
  8. Combine sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over hot fritters.  Or, serve warm with syrup.
Yield: about 18 - 24 fritters

And just for the fun of it...I tried apple ring pancakes using the very same method.

  • Peel the apples. 
  • Remove core. *If you do not have a corer, slice first and then use a biscuit cutter to cut out center circle.
  • Slice thinly.
  • Dip each apple slice into your favorite pancake batter. (I added 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon to the batter).
  • Transfer the apple slices to greased and pre-heated skillet. 
  • Cook on medium heat for 1 to 2 minutes, and then flip. 
  • Cook until golden brown.
  • Drizzle with syrup and enjoy!
 Both the fritters and the pancakes were great.  My pick?  The fritters, of course!

Apple Sweet Rolls



I'm using my favourite sweet roll dough for this apple filled sweet roll recipe. 
I find that the sweetened condensed milk in this dough helps to stabilize the dough and keep it from shrinking down after it has been baked.  

The dough is tender and soft. 


Don't let apple season pass without making up a batch of these delicious rolls to share with family and friends. 

Sweet Roll Yeast Dough:
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 2 tablespoons active dry yeast
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup very soft butter
  • 1 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 6 1/2 - 7 cups flour
Apple Filling
  • 6 cups peeled, quartered and sliced apples (be sure to use apples that keep their shape after being cooked)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar (taste after the apples have cooked and decide then if you want to add more sugar)
  • 2 teaspoons  minute tapioca
  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon  
  1. In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of your kitchen machine, place warm water and yeast and allow to proof about 10 minutes.
  2. Add the eggs,  soft butter, sweetened condensed milk, and salt.  Stir in the flour until stirring becomes too difficult and then turn out onto a floured surface and add the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time  until it is smooth and elastic.  Alternately, use the dough hook according to your dough machine instructions.
  3. Turn into a large greased bowl, turning to moisten with fat and cover with  plastic wrap and a tea towel.  Allow to rise until double in bulk, about an hour.  While the dough rises, prepare the apple filling. 
  4. Melt butter in a large saucepan and add apples. 
  5. Add sugar and tapioca and stir to combine.  Cook over medium-high heat until the apples are just tender and the sauce has thickened.
  6. Remove from heat and bring to room temperature.  
  7. Roll dough into a 12 X 36 inch wide rectangle, transfer apple filling to the dough, spreading fairly evenly.
  8. Roll up jelly roll style and divide into 36 rolls in three 9 X 13 parchment paper lined pans.
  9. Cover with tea towels and allow to rise another hour.
  10. Bake at 350 about 20 minutes, until the tops are golden brown.  Cool 10 minutes while making glaze. Drizzle with glaze and serve.  



Apple Roses Cheesecake - Gluten Free


These roses are popular on Pinterest, and I found them intriguing and beautiful - so I decided to try them myself.
 I made the above dessert twice this Valentine's week-end - once for a potluck and once for my kids.
I don't think these roses need be limited to Valentine's Day. Any special occasion would welcome them - Mother's Day, bridal showers, birthdays.
Though the roses are not difficult to make, they are a bit time consuming -  however, the comments I got more than compensated me for my effort.

Since there are numerous sites giving step by step instructions, I'll just offer some tips that may be helpful if you haven't done these before.

1. Cut the apple in half, cutting away the core and ends, then with cut side down , slice the half-apple as thin as possible -- That first slice that is all peel is great to roll up as a deep color center for the rose, or bud,  after the pulp is easily scraped away (after microwaving)

2. Slices are microwaved in liquid (1 cup water, 1/2 cup sugar, juice of 1/2 lemon)  until they are just at the soft  stage - doesn't take long - I did one apple at a time, in my microwave took 2 1/2 minutes) You just want to 'limp' the slices, not cook completely.  Drain them on toweling after they are microwaved, and allow to cool slightly before forming your rose petals.

3. When creating your roses, roll up the center, then add petals , placing the middle of each apple slice to cover the ends of the previous slice, wrap and then finger roll the red top edge of the slice over to resemble a rose petal. Make the roses different sizes and make some buds.

4. I formed all the roses and set them up on doubled toweling to drain off the excess moisture. Because of the sugar in the water they were microwaved in,  the petals stick together nicely.

5. I used a green apple in an attempt to add leaves - but I wish the color stayed more vibrant - I'm wondering if green food color in the cooking water would intensify the green peel.

6. I made a fruit glaze to drizzle over the apples once placed on the dessert to make them shiny.

7. Use the reddest apples you can find  - I used Red Prince apples, they worked wonderfully well.

8.  I placed the roses randomly over the top - but then found that cutting the dessert was not easily done without ruining the roses -- so I think next time I might arrange the roses in such a way that when the dessert is cut into pieces there would be a rose arrangement on each piece.

9. These roses keep amazingly well ... I thought they would have to be done the same day served - but after a few days in the fridge they are still perfectly fine!

10. For an 8" x 10" pan I needed 4 medium apples for the roses. (the photo shown above was made in a larger pan for our pot luck , 9" x 12" and for that I needed 6 apples and made 1 1/2 times the recipe for the base and the filling)

Note- I haven't tried it but I see no reason the apple slices could not be 'softened' in simmering water/sugar solution on the stove top, if you prefer not to use the microwave. It may even work better since the temperature would be uniform.

While you could put these roses on your own choice of a variety of desserts,  the following is the dessert shown in the photo.

Apple Roses Cheesecake 

The base is a hazelnut crumb base
  • 1/3 cup hazelnut flour 
  • 1/2 cup gluten free  flour - I used Julie's Mix 
  • 1/4 cup sugar 
  • 1/4 tsp xanthan gum 
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  1. Mix together dry ingredients then work in the butter until well mixed. Press evenly into a baking pan -  8"x10"
  2. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. 
The filling is the easiest baked cream cheese filling I have ever made and seems fool-proof - no cracks , sets well and is delicious. 
  • 1 pkg. cream cheese (8 oz) 
  • 2/3 cup sugar 
  • 2 cups sour cream 
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  1. Beat cream cheese with sugar until smooth 
  2. Add sour cream and flavorings. Blend well. 
  3. Pour over pre-baked base. 
  4. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes 
  5. Cool 
Fruit Glaze 
  • 1/3 cup fruit juice (I used the juice from a can of peaches)  
  • 2 rounded tablespoons of sugar 
  • juice of 1/2 lemon 
  • 1 tsp cornstarch 
  1. Cook juice, sugar and cornstarch until it thickens - if too thick add a little water
  2. Add lemon juice
When cheesecake is cool, arrange the roses over the top, pressing only slightly into the filling. Drizzle glaze sparingly over the top of the roses. Chill for at least two hours before serving.
Can be made a day ahead. 



Salsa

Since there's an abundance of tomatoes and peppers out there right now, I thought I would share my salsa recipe. It's a recipe I got from my sister Kathy about twenty years ago and is a staple at our home. I cook up a large batch in fall and we enjoy it year-round.  This is a zippy salsa; if you prefer yours on the mild side, remove all the seeds and ribs from inside the jalapeno peppers.

 

Salsa
  • 10 cups tomatoes (peeled, chopped and drained)
  • 8 small jalapeno peppers chopped (remove seeds for less heat) 
  • 3 cups chopped onions
  • 1 cup chopped green peppers 
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 1/3 cups vinegar 
  • 1 can 12 oz. can tomato paste 
  • 1 tsp. cumin 
  • 1 Tablespoon red pepper flakes 
  • 3 Tablespoons pickling salt 
  • 3 Tablespoons brown sugar
  1. Combine all ingredients and simmer for 1 hour.
  2. Ladle into jars; tighten lids and process for 20 minutes in hot water bath.
*Optional : Stir in 1/3 cup cornstarch diluted in cold water and simmer for several minutes to thicken salsa before filling jars.



*This also makes a wonderful, tasty fresh salsa.  Place chopped veggies in a large bowl.  Mix vinegar, tomato paste, herbs and seasonings and add to chopped vegetables. Stir to combine.  Keeps well in the refrigerator for a week.


Cabbage Rolls (Holubtsi)



This recipe takes me back to my Mom's kitchen and early years of marriage when I wanted to make something fancy. We called them Galopse ( a variation of the Polish name for them, while others call them by the Ukranian, Holuptsi). Although we don't have these that often any more, (mainly because we have so much to choose from today) I still do enjoy that "comfort food" flavor. It's a good make-ahead meal because they are always good re-heated. Cabbage rolls are great for pot-lucks and very economical. This recipe makes 12-18 rolls. Sometimes I form a few meatballs for those who don't care for the cabbage.

Ingredients:

Rolls / Filling:
  • 1 head Savoy cabbage
  • 1- 1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • pepper
  • 1/2 grated onion
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 – 1 1/2 cups cooked rice
Sauce:
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • ½ chopped onion
  • ½ chopped pepper, any color
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 4 cups water (approx)
  • 1 chicken bouillon cube (or 2 teaspoons better than bouillon)
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste (according to taste)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 can tomato soup (optional) 
  • 1 bay leaf
Method:
  1. Place cabbage in a large pot of boiling water and peel off leaves as they become soft. Set aside. If you are using regular cabbage, cut around the core before placing it in the water.
  2. In a large frying pan, cook onion and pepper in a small amount of oil until tender. 
  3. Mix flour and half of the water in a sealed container until well blended and add to onion/peppers. While cooking, add the rest of the water and stir until smooth and bubbly. Add bouillon and tomato paste. For more sauce, mix more flour and water and add another bouillon cube for flavor. Adjust amounts according to desired consistency and add salt and pepper according to taste.
  4. Mix raw meat, salt, pepper, onion, sour cream and cooked rice. Place a few tablespoons of meat mixtureonto each leaf, fold ends and roll up. Place close together in roaster.
  5. Pour sauce over cabbage rolls, tuck in bay leaf and bake at 350° F for 1 1/2 hours. 
  6. Once cooked, remove rolls to serving plate. If there is not enough gravy, add a can of tomato soup to the liquids in the roaster and bring to boil. With the soup you can also adjust flavors by adding some milk or cream.

Harvest Brown Bread

Tucked into the bread section of my Mennonite Treasury Cookbook is a stained and worn piece of paper with the recipe for our family favorite brown bread. I got it from a friend in the late seventies and is simply known as Ruth P's brown bread. I often wonder what happened to Ruth, one of those people who was part of my life for a time and who I haven't heard from in twenty years. But I think of her whenever I bake her bread and hope things have gone well for her and her family.


  • 2 Tablespoons fast rising yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 Tablespoon salt
  • 1 large tablespoon honey
  • 4 cups warm water
  • 2 cups rye flour
  • 3 cups whole wheat flour
  • 3 cups white flour (plus 1-2 additional cups in step 5).
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1 cup sunflower seeds
  1. Prepare yeast mixture by dissolving sugar in lukewarm water...add yeast and let stand ten minutes.
  2. In large bowl, dissolve salt and honey in warm water...add yeast mixture.
  3. Mix together the three types of flour. Add flour slowly to mixture in bowl and beat well.
  4. Add oil and sunflower seeds.
  5. Knead in enough white flour to make dough smooth and elastic.
  6. Cover and allow to rise in a warm place until light. 
  7. Punch down and form loaves. Let rise until doubled in bulk.
  8. Bake at 375°F for 30 minutes.
  9. Yield 4 medium loaves

    *When using instant yeast, add to flour in step three and omit step 1, proofing yeast in sugar water.)


I gave you the recipe as it is written, but since I always use my Bosch machine to mix bread, my methods and amounts differ slightly. I usually do one-and-a-half times the recipe, and make a few little loaves for the grandkids.

Summer Fruit Pies



Although several great recipes for pies have been posted already, I will add some more pictures and ideas so that we have more to glean from. Below I have the general pie pastry recipe for 1 double crust pie. This will fit a regular or a deep dish pie plate.

BASIC PASTRY ( for double crust pie)
  • 1 2/3 cups flour
  • 3/4 teaspoons salt
  • 2/3 cup shortening or lard
  • 4 tablespoons cold water
Method:
  1. Combine flour, salt and shortening in medium sized mixing bowl.
  2.  Cut shortening into flour with pastry blender until pieces are the size of large peas. 
  3. Sprinkle with water and stir with fork, in circular motion, until there are no more lose crumbs.
  4. Press together with hands and shape into a ball. Divide in half. 
  5. Turn out on floured surface, pat and shape with hands into circular shape then roll out a little larger than your pie plate. Roll onto rolling pin and unroll into pie plate. Bottom crust should come up higher than edge of pan

FRUIT FILLING – (deep) double crust
  • Brush unbaked bottom crust with slightly beaten egg whites, to keep from getting soggy. Fill with fresh or frozen fruit. (approx 6 cups) Sprinkle with mixture of sugar and flour that is WELL MIXED. (Amounts will vary depending on tartness of fruit and taste preference) I just shake or tap the pan so sugar disperses a bit.
  • Cover with second crust. Fold top crust over and under bottom crust, so that you can pinch the two layers together as you flute them.
  • Brush with beaten egg white and cut small slits. Bake at 400 F for 15 min. Turn down to 350 F and bake for another 50 min. or until juice bubbles out through slits.


Filling Suggestions:
  • blueberries - sprinkle with some lemon rind, mix ½ cup sugar and 4 Tbsp flour
  •  peaches and nectarines – mix  ½ cup sugar, 3 Tbsp flour and 3 Tbsp tapioca
  • blackberries – sprinkle with lemon rind, mix ¾ cup sugar, 4 Tbsp flour and 4 Tbsp tapioca
  •  apples – mix ½ cup brown sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon, 2 tbsp flour
FREEZING PIES:

If you want to make up some fruit pies in the summer while the fruit is handy and get the work over and done with, I would suggest multiplying the recipe:
  • 1 pound (1 pkg) of shortening or lard, 
  • 5 ½ cups flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons salt 
  • 1 egg, 3/4 cup water, 1 Tbsp vinegar 
Divide the pastry into three or four balls and divide each ball again, so that you can make 3 large double crust pies or 4 small double crust pies to fit 9-inch foil pie plates.

Don’t forget to brush the bottom crust with an egg wash and then again the top.
Because the foil pie plates are smaller, use a little less fruit (4 – 5 cups) and a little less sugar mix if you want them slightly on the tart side.

Freeze pies first to freeze the egg wash on top, then transfer into plastic bags, or do the top egg wash just before baking. Note: a frozen foil plated pie will easily transfer into a glass pie plate later.

Extra Tips:
* Don’t knead pastry, rather handle as little as possible.
* If the pastry tears as you transfer it, don’t re-roll, rather patch and seal with egg wash later.
* Don’t add more liquids because it will give a tougher crust.
* Baked pie keeps up to 5 days in the fridge and can be re-heated. Pie can also be frozen raw and baked later.

Schaubel Zup (Green Bean Soup)

My mom made a soup like this when I was growing up, but it wasn't one of my favorites. Recently I decided to revisit this green bean soup and found that it’s actually better than I remember. The broth, with a little sweet cream in it, reminds me of the Zuppa Toscana soup at Olive Garden. How much better can it get? Here is the recipe – a combination of ideas of how my Mom made it and a recipe in the Mennonite Treasury.

Ingredients:
  • 1 lb smoked ham hock
  • ½ dried red hot pepper
  • 10 black pepper kernels
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 - 3 carrots, chopped
  • 2 medium potatoes
  • 6 cups chopped (frozen or fresh) green beans
  • summer savory
  • 1 bouillon cube (chicken or beef) if needed, for extra flavor


  1. Cover ham bone with about 8 cups water in large pot. Tie spices into cheesecloth and add to pot. 
  2. Bring to boil, take off scum, and simmer about 1 hour. 
  3. Take out ham bone. Add vegetables and cook another hour. 
  4.  While vegetables are cooking and after ham has cooled somewhat, remove ham from bone, chop into bite size pieces and return to pot. 
  5. About ½ hour before it’s done, add a handful of summer savory, tied together for easy removal. If you can’t get summer savory, use a tiny sprinkle of thyme. Adjust flavors with bouillon if needed.
  6.  Add ½ cup sweet cream or sour cream, before serving. Enjoy a trip down memory lane.
To make this soup with farmer sausage, simply cook  peeled and chopped sausage along with vegetables for an hour. You can also pre-cook the onion, then add water, sausage and vegetables. Use bouillon cube and summer savory for flavor.

Quick Blueberry Streusel (Platz)

It's blueberry season, or soon will be, for those of us living in this part of the country. As a child I reluctantly used to go picking in the summer to make some spending money, but now I find it very relaxing to get out there among the rows and rows of berries. Especially with some good company, to eat, enjoy the sun and anticipate the desserts that will come.
This delicious crumb cake is the easiest and quickest you will ever make, with the base and crumb topping made of the same mix.

Ingredients:
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup butter (room temperature)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 egg beaten with fork in meas. cup, then filled to 1 cup with buttermilk
  • 2 cups blueberries
Method:
  1. Mix butter into flour and sugar with pastry blender until well blended and crumbly. 
  2. Set 1 1/4 cups aside for topping. 
  3. To the first, bigger part of the mix, add baking powder and soda, then stir in combined egg and buttermilk 
  4. Spread into greased or parchment paper lined 9 x 13 pan. Sprinkle with 2 cups blueberries and reserved crumb mixture. Squeeze to make crumb clusters as you drop them by handfuls.
  5. Bake in upper part of oven (important)  at 375F for 35 - 45 min. Cool or serve warm with ice cream.

Blueberry Oat Bars



It's summer time and today I'm happy to share with you a blueberry bar that can't be resisted.  I tasted this last year at Berry Bounty Farms which is a family owned and operated berry stand, just a few kilometers down the road on Chilliwack Central.  They also love to use our MGCC recipes.
This is one stop you can't miss.  Check it out and you will be greeted by a friendly smile, a fresh glass of raspberry juice and a sample of baked goodies.

Blueberry Oat Bars
  • 4 cups fresh blueberries
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 5 teaspoons corn starch
  • 1 cup butter or margarine, softened
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tsp almond flavor
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Grease a 9x13 inch pan.
  3. Bring blueberries and orange juice to a boil in a sauce pan.
  4. Reduce heat and simmer about 10 minutes.  
  5. Whisk in cornstarch and boil, stirring until thickened, about 1 minute.
  6. Cover with saran wrap and refrigerate or cool up to 30 minutes.
  7. Beat butter and sugar in a medium bowl until smooth and fluffy. 
  8. Add almond extract.
  9. Mix in flour, baking powder and oats until mixture is crumbly.  
  10. Reserve 1 cup crumb mixture for topping.
  11. Pat remaining crumb mixture into cake pan.
  12. Spread cooled blueberry topping evenly over crust.
  13. Sprinkle with remaining crumb mixture.
  14. Bake 30-40 minutes until lightly browned.  

Light & Runny Strawberry Jam

When I first started making jam many years ago, I was confused with the many suggested ways to cook (or not cook) jam. Some said to cook until done, some said not to use pectin, others called for too much sugar . . . you get the idea.
Being a bit of a perfectionist, I couldn’t just wing it and have the jam turn out a little different every year. I wanted it to be exactly right … not too sweet, not too hard, not too runny. . . so I've worked on it over the years and got it to where our family likes it, runny enough to use a spoon to spread a scone or fill that little hole on a Zwieback for Sunday Faspa.

Tools/Accessories:
  • blender or immersion blender
  • good quality, large stainless steel pot
  • wooden spoon
  • canning funnel
  • clean jars and new lids
Suggested amounts of ingredients needed for 24 - 30 cups of jam (12 - 15 pints):
  • 1 - 15 pound flat of strawberries
  • 4 kg sugar (10 pounds)
  • packages Certo light brand pectin OR 4 packages (other) regular pectin crystals
  • 4 teaspoons soft margarine

Ahead of time:  Wash jars and rings. While  jam is cooking, sterilize jars by heating in a 225° F oven for 10 minutes and keep warm until needed. Heat rubber lids in a small pot of boiling water and keep hot.

Berry Prep: Wash berries before stemming. Crush about 3 cups of berries at a time. With a good blender, pulse for 5 seconds, stopping to shake fruit to the bottom so as not to over-blend OR  fill an ice cream pail - a third full - and use an immersion blender to crush. If berries are very ripe you can use a potato masher. Pureed berries should still be of a thick and slightly chunky consistency. Collect crushed berries in a large bowl or ice cream pails until done. I usually do this in the evening and refrigerate the berries to cook the next day.  (15 lbs of berries will make 4 batches - or about 30 cups jam)

Measure and set aside seperately:
  • 6 cups mashed berries 
  • 4 1/4 cups sugar, separated
  • 3 tablespoons Certo light (or 1 package regular pectin crystals) mixed with ¼ cup sugar
To cook:
  1. Place fruit and pectin crystals mixed with 1/4 c sugar into a large pot. (Pot should only be about 1/3 full.) 
  2. Place over high heat on an element that keeps the most consistent heat,  and stir constantly with wooden spoon, until it comes to a bubbling boil.
  3. Stir in remaining 4 cups sugar. Continuing to stir, add 1 teaspoon margarine to keep the foam down and cook until mixture comes to a full, rolling boil again. (you can hear it) Set timer for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Turn heat down slightly if it splatters too much, but keep the boil. 
  4. Remove from heat and continue to stir for a few minutes until clear and shiny. Crush any large floating berry pieces with a fork against the side of the pot if needed. Ladle hot jam into jars until 1/2 inch from rim. Cover with lids and screw rings to seal.

* The jam will be runny until it's completely cooled.
* Important note: Freezing the jam (once it's cooled) keeps it fresher tasting and it’s not necessary to seal the jars. Even keeping sealed jars refrigerated keeps the flavor fresher tasting than just having it sit in the pantry.
* You can freeze blended berries in 6 cup proportions, ready to cook in the winter, but you will need a bit more certo. (I freeze in 9 cup proportions, add 6 cups sugar and 1 package pectin with thawed mixture. This makes about 12 small jars)

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes

 This is one of my favorite pancakes. If you like lemon, ricotta cheese and blueberries..you will love these fluffy pancakes. It doesn't take long to whip them up and if you have a griddle you can cook them all at once.

Batter: 
  • 3/4 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup white flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 eggs, divided
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  1. Beat egg whites until stiff. Set aside.
  2. In a small bowl whisk together the dry ingredients.
  3. In a medium size bowl combine the ricotta, egg yolks, milk, and vanilla. The ricotta I used was quite dry but if your brand happens to be on the runny side, just make sure to drain the liquid.
  4. Add dry ingredients to the ricotta mixture, mixing gently just until combined.
  5. Whisk in approx a cup of the egg whites to fluff up the dough, then fold in the rest of the egg whites just until combined.
  6. Heat griddle to medium high, brushing surface with a little butter. Using a ladle scoop the batter on the griddle. Using the back of the ladle push the dough outwards a bit on each pancake, so you don't end up with too thick a pancake.
  7. Cook pancakes approx 4 minutes, then flip over and cook until golden brown, approx another 3 to 4 minutes, depending on the size of your pancakes.
  8. Serve with lemon sauce, blueberries, a dollop of ricotta cheese and dust with icing sugar and a little lemon zest. Decorate your pancakes as you wish:) I couldn't resist having a little fun with them.
  9. Yields 8 to 10 pancakes. 
Lemon Sauce: you can make this ahead of time and reheat just before serving.
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 5 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups boiling water
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice, preferably freshly squeezed
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  1. Whisk together sugar, cornstarch and salt in a saucepan.
  2. Stir in boiling water and cook, stirring constantly until the mixture has thickened.
  3. Stir in lemon juice, zest and butter.
  4. Serve warm.
  5. Yields: 2 cups

Lemon Basil Carrot Bundles


Here's a veggie plate suggestion fresh from the garden.  The carrots can easily be prepared in advance and reheated at the last minute.  They taste as good as they look!
  • 8 large carrots (about 2 pounds)
  • 8 stems of green onion
  • 3 Tablespoons butter, melted
  • 3 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  1. Pare or scrape carrots. Then cut into strips about 3 inches in length.
  2. Cook carrots over medium heat until tender crisp.
  3. Remove from heat.  Drain and rinse with cold water.
  4. Place onion greens in a covered dish in the microwave.  Cook on high for 30 seconds.  Cool and use limp onion greens as ropes to tie the carrot bundles.
  5. Gather carrot strips into eight bundles.
  6. Tie each with a green onion stem. Trim off ends of carrot bundles to even out lengths, if desired.
  7. Place bundles in a shallow bowl and drizzle with lemon basil mixture.
  8. Cover and chill until serving time. 
  9. Reheat in the microwave oven for about 3 minutes or until piping hot.
  10. Serve on a bed of steamed fresh green peas, if desired!
Serves 8


Enjoy!

Homemade Flour Tortillas


I had been told that tortillas were easy to make..and now I know that they are! Fresh flour tortillas really taste better than store-bought. These can be made in a cast iron or a non-stick frying pan. I used my trusty old cast iron frying pan and the tortillas turned out great.

Ingredients:
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup vegetable shortening
  • 2/3 cup hot water
Method:
  1. Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.
  2. Cut in shortening until crumbly.
  3. Pour in hot water, a little at a time, mixing with a fork until dough comes together.
  4. Place dough on a lightly floured surface and knead a few minutes until smooth.
  5. Cover and let rest 45 minutes.
  6. Divide dough into 8 pieces and roll each piece into a ball, cover balls with plastic wrap. 
  7. With a rolling pin, roll each ball into a 6-7 inch circle, don't worry they don't have to be perfect circles. Cook one tortilla while you roll out the next one. 
  8. Preheat your pan on medium heat. Do not add oil.
  9. Place tortilla in hot pan and cook until small bubbles appear before flipping to the other side, cook approx one minute on each side.   
  10. Stack cooked tortillas and cover with a tea towel till all are cooked.
  11. Now they are ready for your favorite recipe.  Can be frozen for future use.



Ginger Chicken Wonton Tacos

These little bundles make a nice appetizer or light lunch over a bed of cole slaw.
Tender pulled chicken in a spicy sweet ginger sauce wrapped in Wonton Wrappers. 
Shredded poached chicken

  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts (this is enough for approximately 25) 
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp coarse black pepper
  • 1 package Wonton Wrappers (Found in the fresh food isle of the grocery store. They come in a stack and are about a 3"x3" squares)
  • 1/2 cup of your favourite thick bottled spicy ginger sauce, plus more for drizzling over slaw
  • 1/3 cup finely grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro 
  • 1 tbsp butter, melted
  •  slaw mix, chopped very fine
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped red pepper
  • avocado, sliced
  1. Poach chicken by placing both chicken breasts in a pot and covering with water. Add bay leaf, salt and pepper. 
  2. Bring to a boil, turn down and allow to slow boil for 10 minutes. 
  3. Remove from heat, cover and let chicken sit in water for another 10 minutes.
  4. Remove chicken from water to a cutting board and immediately shred chicken, using two forks. ***see photo above***
  5. Add ginger sauce, cheese, and cilantro to the shredded chicken. This can be made ahead of time.
  6. When ready to bake, assemble Wonton Tacos by taking one Wanton Wrapper in the palm of your hand and laying a strip of meat filling from one point to the next. (about 2 tbsp per wrapper) 
  7. Pull up other two points as shown in photo below and pinch together. 
  8. Melt butter and using a pastry brush, and lightly brush the outsides of each bundle.
  9. Place on parchment lined baking sheet and bake in 400º oven for 19 minutes.
  10. Finely chop slaw and red pepper. 
  11. Place baked Wonton Tacos on top of bed of slaw that has been lightly drizzled with more ginger sauce. Garnish with avocado slices and serve immediately.

Filled and pinched Wantons

Brushed with butter, ready to go into oven.