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Pfeffernuesse (Peppernuts)



Christmas is around the corner and it's time to be thinking of making Pfeffernuese. This is a great recipe to make with a friend.  It takes half the time and is twice the fun.



There's a bit of history to these tiny spiced cookies.
 I remember being told that Mennonite grandmothers used to keep a few peppernuts in their purses during church services. When the children would become a bit noisy or restless, they would pop one of these hard nuggets into their mouths and the necessity of sucking the hard cookie and the surprising spiciness would distract the child and silence was achieved.
There are many recipes for Peffernuesse but this is my favourite. My friend Delores gave me this recipe and over the years, I've adjusted the spices to my liking. I make them at the beginning of November so they have time to ripen.
They are always number one on the list of Christmas favourites at our house and are a bit addictive.
It's a big recipe and I have often only made half of it.  However if you make the whole recipe, you can pack the Pfeffernuesse in pretty Christmas tins to give as gifts.
    Here is the recipe I use - it is easily halved if the whole amount is intimidating.
      Be sure to read the recipe through before starting.

  • 4 cups Roger's Golden syrup (this is different than corn syrup)
  • 4 cups sugar
  • 2 cups margarine or butter
  • 2 cups milk
  1. Combine the above ingredients in a large saucepan and bring to a boil.
  2. Let mixture cool completely before continuing.
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 tsp. peppermint extract (use the clear extract not the green tinted one)
  1. Beat eggs in a small bowl and add extracts. Set aside.
  • 12- 14 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground star anise (not anise seed)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  1. Place 7 cups flour in a large mixer bowl.
  2. Add spices and baking powder and stir until completely blended with flour.
  3. Add syrup mixture to the flour, stirring well until blended.
  4. Add beaten egg mixture and continue to stir until blended.
  5. Continue to add flour until dough thickens but remains sticky. You will still be able to stir it with a wooden spoon however it will take a bit of strength.The amount of flour may vary depending on your flour and the amount of humidity. Please note that the dough will harden considerably once it has been refrigerated so be careful not to add too much flour.
  6. Refrigerate dough overnight or for several days.
  7. Prepare cookie sheets with parchment paper. These cookies will stick to the pan however if you use parchment paper, they will just slide right off and you can reuse the paper.
  8. Using a tablespoon (from your cutlery drawer), spoon out a good handful of the dough.
  9. Sprinkle a little flour on your counter and roll the dough into a long rope about the thickness of your ring finger.
  10. Using a bench scraper or pizza cutter, cut the rope into 1/2 inch pieces and place on your prepared pans. (I get 99 cookies on each large cookie sheet)
  11. Bake at 350 degrees F for about 15 minutes or until cookies just begin to brown. This is where having a convection oven comes in handy as you can bake 2 or 3 cookie sheets at a time.
  12. Remove from pan and cool. Store in ice cream pails in a cool place.
The Pfeffernuesse will keep for a long time - at least 6 months - but only if you hide them..

Molasses Kissed Pumpkin Pie



There is no need to buy pumpkin pies from a bakery when they are really so simple to make.
If you don't have time to make your own pastry, purchase a package with two frozen deep dish shells and use one of the shells to cut out little leaves with the thawed pastry for garnish.
If you prefer to make your own pastry...
I've included a link to my favourite pastry which I mix up and then freeze the discs I don't need.
This pumpkin pie filling is delicious, has a smooth texture, slices beautifully and leftovers keep well in refrigerator. 

  • 1 9 inch deep dish pie shell
  • 1 3/4 cups pure pumpkin puree (about 1 -  15 ounce /398 ml can)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups sweetened condensed milk  (can sizes vary between US and Canada)
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • dash nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  1. Preheat oven to 425 F. Adjust oven rack to second lowest level. Line a 9 inch deep pie plate with pastry. Decorate edge with leaf cutouts or crimp with your fingers or 
  2. Whisk together the pumpkin with the remaining ingredients until smooth. If you have a blender, put all the filling ingredients in there and process until smooth.
  3. Pour carefully into the pastry crust.  To prevent the crust edges from becoming too dark, use kitchen shears to cut out the inside of an aluminum pie plate and cover the pie as shown in the photo.  
  4. Bake at 425 F. for 15 minutes and then reduce heat to 350 F and bake an additional 35 minutes.  Test by putting a sharp knife an inch from the edge. It should be clean.
  5. Cool on rack. 


Golden Mashed Potatoes

I got a variation of this recipe for make-ahead mashed potatoes from my friend Jean some years ago and have made it many times over the years. It's nice to have the potatoes mashed ahead of time and ready for the table piping hot at dinner time.



Ingredients:
  • 10 Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup herbed cream cheese (we like herb and garlic)
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • crumbled bacon bits and chopped green onions for topping
Method:
  1. Cook potatoes in a large saucepan of boiling salted water until tender. Drain.
  2. Mash potatoes...adding cream cheese, sour cream, butter, milk, chives and salt & pepper.
  3. Mash until creamy.
  4. Spoon into lightly greased casserole...and allow to cool for 30 minutes.
  5. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to two days...discard plastic wrap before baking.
  6. Bake at 350°F for one hour or until heated through.
  7. Sprinkle with bacon bits and green onions.

    Optional topping ~ Sprinkle with 1/2 cup grated cheese before baking and omit bacon bits.

Harvest Loaf - Flash Back


For this flashback I'd like to re-share a spiced pumpkin/chocolate loaf posted in 2008.  I can't believe that's nine years ago! I switched up the photo on the original one as well and clarified the sizes of pans to use, so that it is easier to decide on the size of the recipe you wish to make. You can easily cut it in half to make only one loaf. This loaf is still as good as ever! 

 Ingredients:
  • 3/4 cup butter (soft/room temp)
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar 
  • 4 eggs 
  • 2 cups cooked pureed pumpkin 
  • 3 cups flour 
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder 
  • 1/2 teaspoon soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon ginger
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • ¾ cup chopped nuts (optional)
  1. Prepare two 9 x 4 inch loaf pans by greasing with shortening or cooking spray, and dusting with flour.
  2. Beat butter and sugar well. Beat in eggs until light and fluffy. Add pumpkin. 
  3. Mix dry ingredients with spices and chocolate chips. Stir into wet mixture until combined.
  4. Bake for 50 minutes at 350 F, until toothpick tests done. 
  5. Cool 10 minutes in pans and then remove to cooling rack.


Before baking, I sprinkled some chocolate chips in a row on top. You can combine nuts and chocolate chips if you like. Once cooled, a drizzle of about 1/4 - 1/2 cup icing sugar with maybe a teaspoon of water and a drop of maple flavoring is optional. Plain is great too.

Grilled Corn Salad

The flavours of summer combine to make this salad a great side dish for a BBQ.  With sweet local corn and cherry tomatoes fresh from the garden...it's simple and delicious!


  • 6 cobs of corn, grilled*
  • 1/2 cup diced red onion
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped basil
  1. Preheat the grill to medium.  Remove the outer layers of the corn husks and then soak the whole cob in water for about 30 minutes.  Peel back remaining husks and remove hair.  Brush the kernels with olive oil; then pull husks back over the ear.   Place the cobs on the grill and cook for about 15 minutes.  
  2. Once the cobs have cooled, cut kernels off the cob.
  3. Add tomatoes, onion and basil to corn.
  4. Combine oil, vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper; mix well.  
  5. Stir the dressing into the corn salad and enjoy!
 *The grilled corn gives the salad a nice smoky flavour, but you can also use cobs cooked on the stove top.



Chocolate Zucchini Muffins



Chocolate Zucchini Muffins will always remind me of my mom who seemingly has baked these non-stop for her grandchildren for many years. It occurred to me recently that maybe I should get the recipe from her. These muffins freeze well and are easy to put into a lunch for a treat.

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup butter, room temp
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups shredded zucchini
  • 1 cup milk or semi-sweet chocolate chips (she uses mini size)
Method:
  1. Beat butter and sugar, adding in the eggs.
  2. Stir in oil, buttermilk and vanilla.
  3. Add combined dry ingredients. If cocoa does not incorporate nicely into flour, sift dry ingredients before adding to wet.
  4. Stir in zucchini and chocolate chips.
  5. Scoop into prepared muffin tins and bake at 350° F, 20 minutes for medium size. Makes about 24 medium size or 18 large size. These are also great done as mini muffins, bake less time, until toothpick test comes clean.

Double Chocolate Zucchini Bundt Cake

I was given a HUGE zucchini yesterday and everything in me called out for chocolate that compliments zucchini in this rich moist bundt cake. Take advantage of zucchini while it's in season. Don't forget to grate and freeze some zucchini in one or two cup freezer bags to use during the winter months in loaves, muffins and cakes.

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp espresso powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 3 cups grated zucchini (sometimes zucchini has a lot of moisture in it and then I squeeze out any extra moister before adding to batter using a salad spinner or just squeeze it with your hands, but not till dry...just if it's overly wet feeling. If you don't know....just add it all)
  • 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips, (you can cut back on this amount if you don't want it quite so chocolaty)
  1. Sift together first 5 ingredients and set aside.
  2. To a large mixing bowl add sugar, eggs, oil and vanilla. Beat well.
  3. Add sour cream and mix well.
  4. Add dry ingredients and mix until just incorporated.
  5. Add grated zucchini and chocolate chips and mix again until just incorporated.
  6. Prepare bundt pan by spraying with non stick cooking spray and then lightly dust with sifted cocoa powder, making sure it sticks to all creases of the pan. (cocoa powder is nicer than using white flour when baking with chocolate as you don't get any white markings from the white flour)
  7. Add batter to prepared pan and bake in 350ยบ oven for 50 minutes.
  8. Serve warm as is or with whipped cream or ice cream. Wrapped well this cake freezes well. 

Orange Peach Jam


Combine this jam, slightly runny and rich in citrus flavor, with cream cheese on a bagel OR with a barbecue sauce to use as a glaze on baked meatballs. I have given quite exact numbers when it comes to the fruit, but it does depend on size of fruit.

Ingredients for one batch:
(the goal is approximately 7 cups raw fruit blended before adding sugar, equaling 8 cups cooked, for one batch. I recommend doubling the amounts and cooking two batches)
  • 9 ripe peaches
  • 3 seedless oranges
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 4 1/2 cups sugar, divided
  • 3 tablespoons Certo Light or 1 pkg regular pectin

 Method:
  1. Wash jars and lids. Place clean jars in 225° F oven to keep hot. Place lids in small pot with water to cover. Bring to a boil and turn off element, covering pot to keep lids hot.
  2. Peel peaches, quartering them to remove pit. In blender, blend only for a few seconds until barely smooth. Can have a few tiny chunks. Pour into large bowl. Stir in lemon juice.
  3. Peel oranges with potato peeler. Remove pith (white part) and discard. Blend orange segments with the orange rind until thick and smooth, for about 1 minute.
  4. Combine blended oranges and peaches. Measure out 7 cups (or at least 6) to pour into large stainless steel pot.
  5. Measure 1/4 cup of the sugar, blend with pectin and stir into fruit. Stirring constantly with wooden spoon, bring to boil on high heat.
  6. Add 4 1/4 cups sugar all at once and continue stirring until it comes to a full boil once more.
  7. The whole top layer should be bubbling before setting the timer. Boil for three minutes, while stirring and making sure it cooks hard the whole time. If it splatters quite a bit, turn down the heat just a tad.
  8. Using a canning funnel, ladle hot jam into jars and cover with lids to seal. Repeat process if cooking more batches.
  9. Cool sealed jars at room temp before storing. Jam thickens as it cools.
I prefer storing jam in the fridge or freezer, so that it keeps fresh tasting, but you do not have to if it is sealed. You can tell if it's sealed if the center of the lid is slightly inverted rather than rounded. Do not push it in by hand.

Fresh Tomato and Mozza Salad


The first time I had an Italian Caprese Salad, I wanted to make it at home.
At that time I was unfamiliar with the fresh mozzarella used in the original
so I came up with this version.
It's quick to make and is a popular salad at our house especially with
summer's fresh lettuce, tomatoes and basil.

For the Dressing:
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 - 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil (use 1/4 cup fresh if you have it - chopped fine)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
For the Salad:
  • green leaf lettuce
  • a handful of fresh basil leaves (optional)
  • 1 or 2 fresh vine ripened tomatoes (Romas are also nice)
  • coarsely grated good quality mozzarella
  • Chopped fresh chives or green onions
    1. Mix dressing ingredients together, blending well. Set aside.
    2. Tear washed and dried lettuce into bite sized pieces and arrange on a large platter.
    3. Slice tomatoes, pat dry and arrange in a circular pattern over the lettuce.
    4. Cut basil leaves into a chiffonade (thin slices) and sprinkle over tomatoes. (you can leave this step out if you can't get any fresh basil)
    5. Sprinkle with grated cheese.
    6. Sprinkle with chopped chives.
    7. Pour dressing over salad and serve.

    Rollkuchen


     
    Rollkuchen are a tasty, deep fried pastry that are a wonderful accompaniment to cold watermelon on a hot summer day.  How well I recall childhood picnics with big tubs of fresh Rollkuchen.  Let's just say that eating them is rather like eating peanuts...you can't stop at just one! Sometime over the years, Rollkuchen became paired with Roger's Golden Syrup (definitely a Canadian thing) on my table; they make a great team!

    My mother-in-law made the best flaky, crispy Rollkuchen. Mine never quite measured up, so I have always made the thicker, softer variety and they have become a family favorite. Hers were all uniform in shape; mine are rather 'free-form'. Each recipe seems to differ slightly but I've never met a Rollkuchen I didn't like!

    Rollkuchen

    • 5 - 6 cups / 1150 - 1350 ml flour
    • 3 teaspoons / 15 ml  baking powder
    • 1 teaspoon / 5 ml salt
    • 4 eggs
    • 1 cup / 250 ml sour cream
    • 1 cup / 250 ml milk
     
    1. Combine 5 cups / 1150 ml  flour, baking powder and salt.
    2. Beat eggs, sour cream and milk together and add to dry ingredients
    3. Continue to add flour to form a soft dough ... usually about 1/2 cup more.
    4. Allow the dough to chill for an hour or two before rolling, for easier handling.
    5. Divide the dough in half and roll out quite thin on a floured board ... if you prefer them soft, then not quite so thin.
    6. Cut strips of dough about 2x4 inches / 5x10 cm ... with two slits cut in center of each.
    7. Stretch the pieces somewhat before dropping into the hot oil.
    8. Fry in deep hot oil over medium heat until golden on one side. Turn and brown the other side.
       

    The rollkuchen puff up beautifully while cooking and are really mostly air pockets by the time they are ready to eat. A totally a healthy choice!  Who am I fooling?


    Serve with cold watermelon and Roger's golden syrup.  Grilled farmer sausage is also a nice touch!

    Dill Pickles

    Homemade dill pickles just like the ones my mother used to make are on my 'to do' list every summer. There's just something about homemade dills that can't be found on the store shelf! This is my mom's recipe...the same pickles I grew up with.


    Ingredients:
    • 10 pounds of pickling cukes (yield about 8 jars)
    • 5 cups white vinegar used for pickling
    • 13 cups water
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 1 cup pickling salt…coarse
    • garlic pieces (peeled and cut in half)…two pieces per jar
    • fresh dill
    • small dried red chili peppers…one or two pieces for each jar

    Method:
    1. Wash cucumbers well and leave in tub of cold water while packing jars.
    2. Mix vinegar, water, sugar and the salt in a large pot. Stir the mixture well. Heat to a rapid boil on medium-high, then keep simmering while filling jars.
    3. Prepare wide-mouth 1-quart jars. In each jar, put 1 piece of garlic, one head of dill, two small chili peppers and then enough cucumbers to fill the jar. Then add one more garlic piece and another sprig of dill.
    4. Fill jars slowly with the hot brine and seal (being sure to clean all residue from the top of the rim of the jar first).
    5. Place the lidded jars in boiling water bath for about 15 minutes…water in canner should cover the tops of the jars.
    6. The pickles should be stored in a cool place for two months before serving. (So they say...I’m not sure we ever waited that long!)

      *If your water is hard, high in mineral content or has chlorine added, use bottled water.
      ** Pack the cukes into the jars really tight. They shrink as they are processed.
    If you like a little zip to your pickles...be generous with the red chili peppers!


    Enjoy!

    Two Bite Brownies


    These irresistible fudgy little bites come inspired by Martha Stewart's Chewy (pan) brownies.  I made a few adjustments to make the recipe fit 36 mini muffins and they turned out to be the perfect tiny treat to add to a lunch kit or gift box.

    Ingredients:
    • 1/2 cup butter
    • 1 1/2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips
    • 2 tablespoons oil (in 1/8 cup measure *)
    • 1 cup flour
    • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 3/4 cups white sugar
    • 3/4 cups packed brown sugar
    • 3 eggs
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla
    Method:
    1. Preheat oven to 350° F and generously grease 36-count mini cupcake/muffin cups with cooking spray, or line with parchment paper cups. (parchment paper does not stick to the brownie and can be removed as soon as brownies are cooled off)
    2. In top of double boiler, (or heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water) melt butter with chocolate chips and oil. 
    3. In small bowl, mix flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
    4. Once chocolate is melted, remove from heat. Stir in both sugars, stirring vigorously (use wooden spoon or whisk) until well blended. 
    5. Add eggs, one at a time, stirring well for about a minute, after each addition.
    6. Stir in vanilla and then the flour mix.
    7. Using unwashed *1/8 cup measure that was used to measure the oil, scoop a measure full of batter into each prepared muffin holder. 
    8. Bake for 18 minutes, or until toothpick comes out moist with no dough. Do not over bake.
    9. Cool in pans on wire rack. Twist to rotate cooled brownie bites before removing or flipping pans. These can be kept in a sealed container for several days (room or fridge) or frozen.


    If you want to make them in a pan, use a 9-inch square pan. Bake 35 - 40 minutes, until toothpick comes out moist with no dough. Cut into 25 - 36 pieces. 

    Canada Day Strawberry Filled Doughnuts


    Happy Canada Day!

    All over Canada families and friends will be gathering to celebrate Canada's birthday.


    If you live in Canada you already know that a Canadian favorite place to meet for coffee is the local doughnut shop.  
    We stopped in ourselves for coffee and picked up some Tim Horton  Honey Crullers  for our Canada Day dessert.


     As far as I can tell, a glazed honey cruller is basically deep fried cream puff dough.


    I thought it might make a great way to make cream puffs without heating up the oven on a hot day and a great way to make a quick dessert.


     I used an electric knife to slice them in half.
    If you don't have an electric knife, use a sharp serrated knife.
    I then gently removed the soft part inside which is much like we do with cream puffs.
    I then filled them and served them "open faced".
    Six doughnuts makes enough for 12 servings.



    For smaller appetites,
    I used some of the little honey cruller tim bits and stuffed them with whipped cream and strawberries.

    • Tim Horton Honey Cruller doughnuts and doughnut holes
    • fresh berries
    • 2 cups whipping cream (for one dozen doughnuts and 20 timbits
    • 2 packages Dr. Oetker Whip It cream stabilizer or 2 tablespoons vanilla instant pudding
    • 1/4 cup powdered / icing sugar
    1. Slice doughnuts in half using a electric knife or serrated knife.
    2. Remove the soft part of in the inside of the doughnut.
    3. Wash and dry strawberries and slice and dice into small pieces.
    4. Whip cream with stabilizer or instant pudding and powdered sugar until stiff.
    5. Place whipped cream into a piping bag with a star tip, fill the doughnut and top with strawberry pieces and then garnish with a few more stars of whipped cream.
    6. Refrigerate until serving time.  These filled doughnuts are best when doughnuts are purchased and and put together on the same day.

    Donuts




    I started a tradition that wasn't really meant to be a tradition, but when you are Mennonite and do something once that went over well and everyone liked it HAS to become tradition......."awe come on mom, we did it last year". So hence a new tradition had begun. Each child is allowed to invite their friends, cousins, second, third cousins, whom ever they wish. The first year that we did it my sister in-love and I didn't know how many the recipe would make so to be on the safe side the Mennonite in us came out and quadrupled the recipe. After all we wanted to make sure there was plenty. CAUTION..........unless you want to feed the masses of 500 or more DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT quadruple the recipe. We made hundreds, fried for hours, we were covered in a thin layer of grease ourselves. We invited another family, then more families, then people from church, neighbours. They ALL got eaten. Donuts need to be eaten fresh. Set an afternoon aside, set up a Coleman stove outside so your house doesn't smell like a deep fryer, invite the people you love and just enjoy. I must say that fun was had by all. Oh by the way I only doubled the recipe this time, I am sure the teenagers ate a dozen each. The boys for sure did. It made about 200.


    Raised Donuts or (Donuts originally from the Mennonite Treasury Cookbook)
    • 1 tablespoon quick rise yeast
    • 1 cup water
    • 2 cups scalded milk
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 cup sugar
    • 1/2 cup shortening ( I used oil)
    • About 6 cups flour
    1. Add dry yeast to 3 cups flour, salt and sugar. 
    2. Scald milk, add 1 cup water, oil and beaten eggs. 
    3. Mix in enough flour to make a soft dough. Knead for about 5 minutes. 
    4. Let rise approximately 1/2 hour. 
    5. Roll into 1/4-1/2" thick and cut into desired shape with either a donut cutter or cookie cutter.
    6. Deep fry until golden brown. 
    7. Careful that the oil doesn't get too hot, usually cooking on medium heat to medium high is enough. 
    8. Glaze while warm in following glaze.
    Glaze:
    • 1 cup white sugar
    • 1/2 cup butter
    • 1/2 milk
    Bring to boil, take off heat and add
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1 cup icing sugar
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla
    1. Whisk ingredients together, keep on a low element.
    2. Dip the warm donuts into the glaze and place on parchment lined cookie sheets to dry.
    3. Enjoy.

    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. Mom would say to cook until done, some advised not to use pectin, others used 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. Bring rubber lids, covered in water, to boil in a small pot.
    Turn off heat but keep lid on to keep them 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 in between 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 separately:
    • 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,  using a wooden spoon, stir almost constantly, 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 3 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 minute or two until clear and shiny. Ladle hot jam into jars (using funnel) to 1/2 inch from rim. Cover with lids and screw rings until just barely tight. Cool completely at room temperature. (24 hours)

    Tips:
    * The jam will be a pourable thick liquid while hot, but just barely move when you tilt the cooled jar. of jam.  If you find it too runny ( different stoves, pots, pectin, can all have an influence) you can salvage it by pouring it into a large pot, bring to boil and cook two minutes. Next time use an extra tablespoon of pectin or cook 1 minute longer. 
    * 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 half pint jars) To cook this proportion it is best to use an extra large pot.

    Mango Cucumber Salad with Mango Citrus Vinaigrette


    The mangoes have been exceptionally sweet and juicy lately, and we have enjoyed this salad many times.  The dressing is not only great on salads but is also fantastic drizzled on grilled salmon or chicken. 

    Salad:
    • 4 cups mixed salad greens 
    • 1 mango, peeled, seeded and thinly sliced
    • 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
    • 1 or 2 mini cucumbers, sliced
    • 1/3 cup cashew pieces or sliced almonds, toasted
    • 1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese 
    1. In a salad bowl, combine greens, mango slices, red onion, cucumber and cashews or almonds.
    2. Pour dressing over salad and gently toss it all together.
    3. Serve.
    *If plating the salads individually, place a few of the mango slices on top.

    Serves 4.

    Mango Citrus Vinaigrette:
    •  1 ripe mango
    • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
    • 1/4 cup olive oil
    • 2 tablespoons honey
    • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar 
    • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
    1. Peel one mango, and remove pit. 
    2. Chop and  place in blender with remaining ingredients; puree until smooth. 
    3. Store in a small jar in refrigerator (for up to a week) and shake to blend before use.

    Variation:
    Line salad bowl or platter with mixed greens. Top with fresh fruits and berries of your choice, including cubed mango. Serve with mango citrus vinaigrette and candied walnuts or pecans as optional topping.


     

    Hamburger Patties for the BBQ

    During the summer I like to have things ready that I can throw onto the BBQ without too much fuss. You can never go wrong with hamburgers. I double the recipe, form patties and stack them with parchment between, which makes it easy to take out take as many as you need.
    While the patties are on the BBQ set out the condiments, slice up tomatoes, cheese, lettuce, pickles and buns. Open your family's favorite bag of chips or serve with fresh corn on the cob or watermelon.


    Ingredients: (yields 8-10 patties)
    • 2 pounds lean ground beef
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1/2 tsp pepper
    • 1/4 cup barbecue sauce
    • 1/3 cup grated onion
    • 1 egg
    • 1 tbsp milk
    • 1/2 cup dry bread crumb
    Method:
    1. Place all ingredients in a large bowl and using your hands mix together well.
    2. Cut squares of parchment paper.
    3. Form patties by taking an apple sized piece of meat, roll it into a ball and flatten it.
    4. Continue until all the meat is used. You can BBQ now or go to next step.
    5. Place stacks of patties in a zip lock freezer bag, seal and freeze.

    Chocolate Raspberry Torte


    This cake is so simple and easy to put together. A delicious cake to serve for Mother's Day or for a birthday. Doesn't it look elegant and delicious?
    You can simplify this even more by using a cake mix but if you must use your favorite chocolate cake recipe, just make sure you have 2 round 8 inch pans of cake.
    It is our daughter's birthday today. Happy Birthday Alison!
    • 1 box chocolate cake mix, baked in two 8 " round pans
    • 1  250 gram / 8 ounce package cream cheese, room temperature
    • 1/2 cup icing sugar
    • 1/4 cup raspberry jam
    • Extra icing sugar for dusting
    • 1- 2 cups fresh raspberries (more or less, exact amount not necessary)
    • Mint leaves, optional but they do add a pretty look
    1. Bake cake as directed on cake mix box. Allow to cool.
    2. Split each cake in half horizontally.
    3. Mix together cream cheese, icing sugar, and raspberry jam until well blended and creamy.
    4. Divide mixture into 3 equal amounts.
    5. Place one layer of cake on bottom of plate and spread 1/3 of cream cheese mixture over top. Repeat layering and finish off with a cake layer.
    6. Dust with icing sugar and pile on raspberries. Garnish with mint leaves.
    7. Yield: 16 servings

    Mom's Rhubarb Pie

    It's rhubarb season and there is nothing quite like 'fresh from the garden' rhubarb pie at this time of the year. Here it is...my mom's rhubarb pie recipe.



    Ingredients:
    • Pastry for a 2 crust 9-10 inch pie (use your favorite recipe or purchase ready-made pastry.)
    • 4 cups rhubarb...cut in 1/2 inch pieces
    • 2 eggs, beaten
    • 1 1/4 cups sugar
    • 1/4 cup flour
    • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
    • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon sugar
    Method:
    1. Roll pastry to line 9-10 inch pie plate. Roll out top crust and set aside.
    2. In large bowl...combine eggs, sugar, flour and nutmeg until well blended.
    3. Add chopped rhubarb and stir to mix.
    4. Pour into prepared pie shell.
    5. Dampen edges.
    6. Top with second crust.
    7. Trim and crimp edge to seal.
    8. Pierce top crust with fork to vent.
    9. Sprinkle with remaining sugar.
    10. Bake at 400°F for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350°F and continue to bake for another 40 minutes, or until filling is bubbling and rhubarb is tender.

    A winning combination of nutmeg and rhubarb...so perfect together!



    Lemon Bundt Cake


    This is the kind of cake that you just can't resist taking a slice of - pure, heavenly homemade goodness!

    Ingredients:
    • 1 1/2 cups sugar
    • 1 cup butter, soft / room temp
    • 3 eggs (divided - if folding in egg white separately)
    • 3/4 cups sour cream (or plain or vanilla yogurt)
    • 2 tsp vanilla extract
    • rind from one lemon
    • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
    • 3 cups flour
    • 3 tsp baking powder
    • 1 tsp soda
    • 3/4 tsp salt
    Lemon Glaze:
    • 1 cup icing sugar
    • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
    • 1 Tbsp melted butter
    Method:
    1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease Bundt pan.
    2. In mixing bowl beat sugar and butter well then add in the eggs. (If you wish, you can add in just the yolks, beat egg whites separately and fold them into the batter at the very end)
    3. Add sour cream or yogurt and flavorings.
    4. Stir in combined dry ingredients. 
    5. Scrape batter into prepared pan. Bake for 50 - 55 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes before tuning onto wire rack to cool.
    6. Blend glaze ingredients until smooth. Add a tad more lemon juice if needed to make a thick, runny consistency. Drizzle over cooled cake. Allow to set. 
    Variation with Zucchini:
    Add 1 1/2 - 2 cups finely shredded peeled green zucchini or unpeeled yellow zucchini, loosely measured (not pressed down).  This makes a very nice moist cake.

    Easter Menu Idea

    In many ways I enjoy Easter more than Christmas. There are less or no gifts to buy and wrap, less expected baking and hectic activities to go to. All and all I find it less stressful and a very meaningful to me personally when I think of Gods great gift and sacrifice he made for us.
    It is one of the most anticipated Christian Holidays that most of the world honors in one way or the other.
    With Easter weekend coming up I am sure there will be plenty of gatherings to bring dishes too or preparing Easter dinner in your own home. Our family traditionally has a cold meal for Easter consisting of ham, potato salad, plumi mooss, coleslaw and of course paska with a cottage cheese spread.  May I also suggest a few alternative ideas.


    How about starting with a platter of veggies and dip served in this cute Bunny Bread using either homemade French Bread or frozen bread dough as suggested by someone in the comments.  Good idea if you don't make your own bread. Enjoy this as your guests arrive in anticipation for Dinner.



    You can never go wrong serving salads at your dinner. Try this lovely spinach salad by Judy  using colored Easter Eggs or this light and refreshing Grapes and greens salad by Marg.



















     
    Or a serve buffet style including a lovely Glazed Ham by Anneliese with two sauces served on the side by Bev. 


    A popular second meat that could be offered is Cabbage Rolls by Lovella.



    No Ham dinner is complete without Scalloped Potatoes from Kathy or Baked Fanned Potatoes by Betty. 




    A couple side dish ideas could be Asparagus with Seasame by  Marg served along side the scalloped potatoes, or if you are serving the baked potatoes how about Cheesy Scalopped Carrots.




    We can't forget the Paska  regular and gluten free accompanied by this wonderful spread, or Betty's tradition of Spicy Peppernut Buns.  Who needs dessert when you have Paska.




    That should give you a few ideas to make your Easter Celebrations Tasty.
    Happy Easter!