Wednesday, November 30, 2011

PEANUT BUTTER BALLS


Today I am posting a lovely confection made by my niece Raylee.
I got to drop in, share in the fun,  ... learn something new ... and best of all,
sample the yummy treat.


Raylee mixed the dough by hand ... a large amount ..
that took some capable power and effort.  I would have
taken the easy road with my Bosch and cookie paddles.


After chilling, pinch off pieces of dough, the size you like, and roll
into balls.  Place on parchment lined cookie sheets and pop into the
fridge ...if you have room ... or into the freezer.


Prepare the chocolate ... dip the balls and shake off the excess.
Place back onto the parchment paper to set.
After dipping a host of balls, it gets a little messy .. but not to worry.
It happens to everybody.
Raylee used chocolate melting wafers which melt perfectly in the
microwave and do not need shortening or paraffin wax.


Raylee experimented using milk chocolate wafers and milk chocolate
chips melted together.  That combination worked well but
she preferred the shine and quick-set of the chocolate
melting wafers alone.


After all that dipping and tasting ... you don't want to see another
one for a long time.  Tuck them away in a cool place because in
just a day or so, you'll be looking for them again.

PEANUT BUTTER BALLS

4 cups peanut butter
1 kilo bag powdered sugar (2.5 pounds)
1 lb. margarine, softened

Combine peanut butter, powdered sugar and margarine in a large bowl.
Mix with your hands until smooth; chill for 30 minutes.
Pinch off pieces of dough and roll into balls; chill.

6 cup milk chocolate melting wafers, approximately

Melt chocolate wafers in glass bowl in microwave on low power.
Stir until smooth.  Dip balls into melted chocolate using a fork.
Shake off excess on side of bowl, transfer to parchment.
Allow to set and dry; store in refrigerator.

Monday, November 28, 2011

CHICKEN VEGETABLE STEW


I will be baking a lot of sweets during the month of December
but I also need hearty food to offset the calories.
This chunky stew is a perfect dish for those days when the
tins of fanciful treats are lining up. 


Except for the celery, this medley of vegetables are all local produce.


Add chicken to the vegetables and enjoy a great full-course meal.


CHICKEN VEGETABLE STEW

1 small onion, chopped
½ red bell pepper, chopped
2 tbsp. butter or margarine

Saute onion and pepper in butter until tender.  Set aside.

2 cups cubed potatoes
2 cups fresh or frozen corn
1½ cups chopped carrots
½ cup diced celery
1 cup water
1 cup chicken broth
1 bay leaf
½ tsp. salt

In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, combine vegetables, water, broth
and seasonings.  Cook together until vegetables are tender, about
20 minutes.  Do not drain.  Discard bay leaf.

¼ cup butter
¼ cup flour
1 tsp. salt
¼ tsp. thyme
¼ tsp. pepper
1 ½ cups milk
1 cup chicken broth

Melt butter in saucepan over low heat.  Whisk in flour and seasonings.
Gradually add milk and broth, stirring until mixture is smooth and bubbly.
Heat to boiling, stirring constantly.

3 cups cooked chicken, diced

Combine onion mixture, vegetables and chicken in Dutch oven.
Stir in milk and heat through.  Adjust seasonings.
Garnish servings with parsley flakes.
Yield: 6 servings

Sunday, November 27, 2011

A FOREVER FEAST, CHINOOK ARCH


The word 'Wind' has taken on new proportions this last while in southern
Alberta. It has been gusting in excess of 100 kilometers, has blown cars
off the road, flipped semi trailers and peeled back a new school roof
in Nanton.


I slipped outside early one morning to get some pictures of
the famous Chinook Arch on the western horizon.


It was a beautiful sight ... the air was calm and crisp.


The arch looked so strong and powerful, yet for the moment it
was just hanging there.


As much as I marvelled at the scene, I knew that it was an
harbinger of things to come.


The rocky mountains were glowing with their first coating of snow.



It was too beautiful for words.


Then came the winds ....


November 27, 2011 ... Sunday afternoon ... dark billowing smoke
clouds churned across the landscape.  Plumes of fire snaked up into the sky.
At first it appeared that the destruction was directly to the west and even a
slight change in wind direction could bring it toward our yard.
We drove out to evaluate the situation and to get an idea of how close it was.
The winds were driving it north and east on the Blood Indian reservation.
Flames skimmed along the dry grassy hills and down the coulees into
the river valley, spurred along by the fierce gales.
 The smell of smoke hung over west Lethbridge.
To the south a huge grass fire burned along the Milk River ridge,
beginning at the McIntyre ranch and racing toward the town of
Warner.  My heart goes out to those who have suffered
great loss.  I pray the wind stops.

The wind blows wherever it pleases. 
You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where
it comes from or where it is going.
So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.
John 3: 8 NIV

Friday, November 25, 2011

APPLE CAKE with BUTTER SAUCE


'An apple a day keeps the doctor away'.  I've read that this is really true.
Great ... because I love a firm juicy apple!  Some friends gave me a
new kind to try .. 'Honey Crisp' ... it had the ultimate flavor and crunch.
This spicy apple cake topped with a sweet caramel flavored sauce,
captures apples at their peak. 
Thanks to my friend Joann for this recipe which I have changed a tiny bit.


The batter is quite stiff and you need a wooden spoon to incorporate
the apples.  A Hutterite gentleman gifted me with this hand-made
wooden spatula which proved to be the perfect tool for this step.


Spread batter into a greased baking dish or baking pan.


It bakes into a lovely golden color and is marvellous served warm with the sauce.

APPLE CAKE with BUTTER SAUCE

½ cup butter, softened
1½ cups sugar
2 eggs
2 tbsp. heavy cream or half-and-half
2¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg

Cream butter and sugar; add eggs and cream and beat until fluffy.
Blend together dry ingredients; stir into creamed mixture.
Batter will be stiff.

3½ cups diced, peeled apples

Fold apples into batter with a wooden spoon.  Spread into a greased 9 x 13-inch
baking pan.  Bake in preheated 350° oven for 40 to 45 minutes or until a
wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.
Remove to wire rack to cool.  To serve, cut into squares
and top with butter sauce.

BUTTER SAUCE

½ cup butter
½ cup sugar
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup cream or half-and-half
½ tsp. vanilla

Melt butter over low heat in small saucepan; stir in sugars.
  Add cream and cook until smooth.  Stir in vanilla.


Monday, November 21, 2011

PEPPERNUTS or PFEFFERNEUSSE


A German friend introduced me to these traditional crisp treats that pack a
powerful flavor in a small size.  They became my tradition as well and once a
year I happily share this love offering with my family and friends.


The dough is simple to make especially with a good mixer.


It takes on a variety of textures and beautiful designs as the
wet and dry ingredients are mixed together.


After all the flour is incorporated, the dough still appears too soft to
handle but is amazingly pliable.  Scoop out a handful of dough and begin to
roll it into a rope.  Gently roll back and forth on a piece of waxed paper.


Before rolling, cut lengths of waxed paper to extend beyond your baking
sheet.  Cut those sheets into thirds, lengthwise.
After the dough- rope is just less than the length of your baking sheet, lay a
strip of the prepared waxed paper alongside the rope and wrap it up.


Fourteen rolls ready for the freezer.  This step firms up
 the dough so the peppernuts will keep their shape as the dough is sliced.


To speed things up, I cut the long roll in half, laid them side by side and
cut two lengths at once.


It is not necessary to dip the little wafers into sugar but I adopted this
method from a German lady I watched bake peppernuts for an MCC
 relief sale.  I liked the taste and copied her idea.
After I toss the 'penny cookies' in the sugar, I shake off the excess using
a coarse sieve.


The cookies don't spread so they can be placed close together on the
greased baking sheet.  This is a time consuming process but
when the first cookies come off the sheet, and the kitchen is aromatic with
the smell of Christmas spices, I am content.


PEPPERNUTS OR PFEFFERNEUSSE

1 cup butter or margarine, softened
½ cup sugar
1 cup golden corn syrup
½ cup molasses
½ cup hot water
1 ½ tsp. baking soda

Cream butter, sugar, syrup and molasses.  Dissolve baking soda
in hot water; gradually add to creamed mixture, beating well.

6 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp. ground ginger
½ tsp. ground cloves
½ tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. ground anise
  (or 3 drops oil of anise)
¼ tsp. salt

Blend flour and spices; add to creamed mixture and mix thoroughly.
Shape about ½ cup of dough at at time into rope the diameter of a penny,
rolling back and forth on a sheet of waxed paper.  Roll each rope onto a
4-inch strip waxed paper, wrap and place on a baking sheet; freeze.

When ready to bake, remove one rope at a time from freezer and slice
into pennies.  Toss 'penny cookies' in sugar until coated, shake off excess
sugar using a sieve.  Place ½ inch apart on a lightly greased baking sheet.
Bake in preheated 350° oven for 11 to 13 minutes or until golden brown.
(Cookies should be crisp throughout when cool)
Remove and spread on paper towels or heavy brown paper to cool
and crisp up.  When completely cool, store in airtight container or freeze.

Yield: about 16 cups Peppernuts

A FOREVER FEAST, FROST


By the breath of God frost is given ....
Job 37:10


The master painter left His fingerprint on my front window ...
this may not be the most spectacular but beautiful nonetheless.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

PECAN CLUSTERS


I was in my glory today, albeit a little stressed.  This was the first time I
have tried this recipe from my friend Ruthann.  She is a field editor for
Taste of Home and raves about these pecan delights which she has been
making for years.  I consulted her constantly via telephone.


Real butter, brown sugar and corn syrup is the first step.


I think it is imperative to use a candy thermometer although
I had a cup of ice water on the side to double check the firm-ball stage.


Once the caramel is cooked to the perfect degree, the pecans are
added and mixed in.  I prefer more nuts than caramel so I
was very generous.


I used two spoons to make the mounds; one spoon to scoop up and
the other to scrape off.  My small cookie dipper also worked well.
They came in all sizes when all was dipped and done.


After the candy is cool and set, I flip them over to coat the bottom
with chocolate.  Dipping wafers are my choice for chocolate coating.


When the chocolate layer on the bottom is set and dry, I use a spoon
to swirl a thin coating of chocolate on the tops.


These will arrive in a box to the grandchildren in NY and IN.
I may have to put them into seclusion so there will be enough left to share.

PECAN DELIGHTS

2 ½ cups brown sugar, packed
1 cup butter, cubed
1 cup light corn syrup
1/8 tsp. salt

In a large saucepan, combine the sugar, butter, syrup and salt.  Cook
over medium heat until all sugar is dissolved.

1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk

Gradually add milk; mix well.  Continue cooking, stirring constantly, until
a candy thermometer reads 248° (firm-ball stage)

1 tsp. vanilla
1½ lbs. pecan halves ( about 5 cups)

Remove from heat; stir in vanilla until blended.  Fold in the pecans.
Drop by tablespoonfuls onto greased or parchment-lined baking sheets.
Chill until firm. 

2½ cups chocolate dipping wafers

Melt wafers in microwave-safe bowl on low power.
Using a spoon, spread cluster bottoms with chocolate; allow to firm up
and dry.  Swirl chocolate over tops of clusters; let set until dry.
Store in air tight container in a cool place.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

WHOLESOME HARVEST BREAD


The unique blend of grains and seeds in this gourmet bread is equally
delicious as a plain slice or toasted.  Savoring can be
sheer enjoyment without guilt.


... the beginning of something good ....


... the dough is ready to rise ...


... risen and ready to form ...


... divided and resting ....


... rolled out ... rolled up ...


... rising ...


.... baked ... cooling before slicing ...


Do I see a sad little face? ...  I'm smiling because it's so cute.

WHOLESOME HARVEST BREAD

2 cups water
½ cup cornmeal
½ cup honey
1/3 cup butter or margarine
1 tbsp. salt

In a medium saucepan, bring water to a boil.  Gradually add cornmeal,
stirring constantly.  Add honey, butter and salt; stir to blend.
Cool to lukewarm.

2 pkgs. dry yeast (2 tbsp.)
2/3 cup warm water
1 tsp. sugar

In a small bowl, dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water.

1 cup sunflower seeds
3 tbsp. poppy seeds
2 cups whole wheat flour
3 ½ to 4 cups all-purpose flour

In a large mixing bowl, combine cornmeal and yeast mixtures.  Add seeds
and whole wheat flour; beat until smooth.  Mix in enough remaining
flour to make dough easy to handle.
Turn dough onto lightly floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic,
5 to 8 minutes.  Place into a lightly oiled bowl, turning once to oil
surface. Cover and let rise in warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.

Punch dough down; divide in thirds.  Cover and let rest for 10 minutes.
Roll each third into rectangle.
Roll up, beginning at short side; pinch edges to seal.  Place seam
down in greased 9 x 5 - inch loaf pan.  Brush loaves lightly with oil.
Let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
Bake in preheated 350° oven for 25 to 30 minutes or
until loaves sound hollow when tapped.
Yield: 3 loaves or 2 loaves plus 2 mini loaves.