Sunday, March 31, 2013

A FOREVER FEAST, HE IS RISEN


For me, Good Friday is a quiet day of somber reflection
during the season of Easter. 
The depth of suffering the Lord Jesus endured before and during
the cruxifiction is painful to contemplate.


I want to quote from a book of 40 devotionals on the passion
of Christ that bless me each Lenten season.

'Jesus is rejected by God, is cut completely off from God.
is hung on a tree and thereby cursed,
divorced at all points from his Father.
AND YET: it is in this same Jesus,
at this same moment,
precisely because of his sacrifice and death,
that God is most present in the world!


God is not here with Jesus.
Yet God is indeed here,
in Christ,
reconciling the world unto himself!
The whole passion is of holy design!

Here is a window through which to gaze into heaven,
to know and believe in the nature of God.

Here is a door through which we by faith
may enter Heaven,
a doorway made of nails and wood,
a crossing, a cross.'

Walter Wangerin Jr.


I asked God for a picture that would draw my heart to the magnificent
power of the Resurrection..  It appeared this week in
a glorious setting of the sun.


I echo the words of Don Francisco ..

'Suddenly the air was filled
with a strange and sweet perfume
Light that came from everywhere
Drove the shadows from the room
And Jesus stood before me
With his arms held open wide
And I fell down on my knees
And I just clung to Him and cried.


Then he raised me to my feet
And as I looked into His eyes
The love was shining out from Him
Like sunlight from the skies .....
And every fear I'd ever had
Just melted into peace.

He's alive, yes, He's alive
Yes He's alive and I'm forgiven
Heaven's gates are open wide

Hallelujah He's alive!
I believe it He's alive.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

SPINACH AND EGG STRATA


This is an easy bake strata that just hit the spot for my
warm breakfast wish... a bit crisp on top and very tasty!


It calls for a generous amount of spinach which is a good thing
but next time I propose to steam the spinach for a few minutes.
I am not adverse to using a pre-packaged item now and then
which is what I did here in the form of stuffing mix.


Delicious with a helping of fresh grapes!

SPINACH AND EGG STRATA

1 tsp. olive or vegetable oil
1 small onion chopped
½ cup chopped red pepper
4 cups torn spinach

Heat oil in large skillet on medium heat; add onion and pepper.
Cook and stir until softened, about 5 minutes.
Stir in spinach; set aside.

1 pkg. stuffing mix for chicken
(Stove Top is good)
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley,
or 1 tsp. parsley flakes

Prepare stuffing mix as directed on package. Stir in onion mixture and parsley.

4 eggs
1/3 cup milk
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper

Beat eggs; stir in milk, ½ cup shredded cheese, salt and pepper.
Stir into stuffing mixture.  Turn into a butter-greased
8 x 8-inch baking pan or 2 quart casserole.
Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 35 to 40 minutes or until firm.
Cool 10 minutes, serve warm.
Yield: 4 servings

Saturday, March 23, 2013

VANILLA CUPCAKES




My daughter discovered this recipe for light and fluffy cupcakes
using cake flour.  They were the perfect cupcake
to turn into an Easter confection.


I'm including this picture to show how thin the batter is.
Even so, it baked up into solid rounds with no hint
of falling in the center.


I topped the icing with toasted coconut and chocolate eggs
in pastel colors.  Simple yet cute.


EASTER CUPCAKES

1¼ cups cake flour
1¼ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt

Blend dry ingredients together with a whisk; set aside.

2 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1½ tsp. vanilla
½ cup vegetable oil
½ cup buttermilk*

In a mixing bowl, beat eggs until frothy.  Add sugar and continue to beat
until mixed.  Add vanilla and oil and beat until smooth and creamy.
Add flour mixture to creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk,
beating just until combined.  Mixture will be thin.
Line 12 muffin cups; pour batter into cups filling 2/3 full.
Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 12 to 14 minutes.
Cool in pan for 2 minutes, then carefully remove to wire rack to
cool completely.

(* stir ½ tsp. white vinegar into ½ cup milk; set aside for 5 minutes.
Substitute for the buttermilk in recipe)

CREAMY BUTTER FROSTING

1/3 cup butter softened
1 tsp. vanilla
¼ tsp. salt
4 tablespoons cream or milk
2½ to 3 cups powdered sugar

Cream butter, vanilla and salt until light and fluffy.
Add cream and 2 cups powdered sugar, beating until smooth.
Stir in enough remaining powdered sugar until frosting is spreadable.
Less amount of powdered sugar is needed when the last amount is
stirred in instead of using beaters.  That also means it will
taste less sweet which is my preference.


Thursday, March 21, 2013

BEEF ENCHILADAS


If you enjoy Mexican food, I think you will enjoy these beef
enchiladas using corn tortillas made from srcatch.
The tortillas are soft and pliable with a nice flavor of cornmeal.


Spread prepared tomato sauce over the tortilla and spoon
the meat filling down the center.


The spoon is there to anchor the ends, otherwise it would flip open
before I could get a picture. 


Place seam side down in baking dish.


I used Hunt's tomato sauce as the base to which I added the seasonings.


Today I melted mozzarella cheese on the enchildas after baking.
Other sugesstions for a topping would be sour cream, shredded cheddar
cheese and green onions.
Enjoy with corn and a green salad!

BEEF ENCHILADAS

1 lb. ground beef
½ cup chopped onion
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
½ cup sour cream
½ tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper

Cook and stir beef and onion in frying pan until meat is brown and onion
is tender.  Drain off fat.  Stir in cheese, sour cream and seasonings; set aside.

1 2/3 cups tomato sauce
1 garlic clove minced
1 tbsp. chili powder
½ tsp. oregano leaves
¼ tsp. ground cumin
10 six-inch corn tortillas

In medium saucepan, combine sauce, garlic and seasonings.  Cook over medium
heat until boiling, stirring occasionally.  Reduce heat and simmer for
several minutes.
Spread thin layer of sauce in 9 x 13-inch baking pan.
Spread 1 tablespoon tomato mixture over tortilla; spoon about ¼ cup
meat filling down center of tortilla.  Roll up and place seam side down in
prepared pan.  Repeat with remaining tortillas.
Spoon remaining sauce over enchiladas.
Cover and bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes or until bubbly.
Remove from oven.

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Spread cheese over enchiladas and return to oven until cheese is melted,
2 or 3 minutes.

OR garnish with sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese and sliced
green onions.



Wednesday, March 20, 2013

CORN TORTILLAS


I don't know what comes to your mind as you look at this
picture but I see a soft and pretty round with a rather fancy edge.
My friend Erma introduced me to corn tortillas years ago and I have
made ever so many since then.
  They can be used as the base in a variety of dishes.


I expected they would require special practise but found that
it is as easy as making a crepe or thin pancake.
My only warning is, 'don't grease the pan.'
I did once and the batter did all manner of funny things.


Pour about ¼ cup of batter into the pan and spread into
a 6 inch circle with the back of the scoop.


When the edges begin to look dry, flip to the other side.


Tomorrow I will post a recipe using these corn tortillas.

CORN TORTILLAS

1 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup cornmeal
1 egg
¼ tsp. salt
1½ cups cold water

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl; beat until smooth.
Pour about ¼ cup batter onto a medium hot ungreased, non-stick skillet.
Using the back of a spoon or ladle, spread batter into a 6-inch circle.
Turn tortilla when edges begin to look dry, but not brown.
Bake on other side; remove to platter.
Continue with remaining batter.
Yield: 10 tortillas

Sunday, March 17, 2013

A FOREVER FEAST, IN 90 DAYS


Fog and frost replaced our usual sunny days here in southern Alberta
this past week.  I will note '90 days' from now on my calendar.
Even though it's not written in stone, I like to keep track, just for fun.
Or maybe because I have a built-in longing for rain in June.


As I trudged through the yard with my camera, I was awed by
the pure white sprinkles...


... And the rare beauty in the cold crisp air.


Barbs on the wire and crystals formed into a Cross remind me
of Easter and the Sacrifice.


All around me are the shadowy clusters of trees ... standing .. waiting.


Watching me with intensity .. Alberta's formidable provincial bird ..
the great horned owl.
I like his stare!


The snowy owl seems more friendly!


This group of magpies found the fat I skimmed off the duck I roasted.
I poured it into the old pan and it turned into suet just for them.
When one bird makes the discovery, it calls and others join in the feasting.

In 90 days I will post again ... about rain .. ?? We'll see.
In the meantime, I'm waiting for Spring but enjoying the moment,
with thankfulness for all the wonders around me.

'As long as the earth endures,
seedtime and harvest,
cold and heat,
summer and winter, day and night
will never cease.'
Gen 8: 22 NIV

Saturday, March 16, 2013

FLUFFY BUTTERCREAM FROSTING


With all the beautiful cupcakes on Pintrest and other sites,
I decided it was time to try creating the rose effect  for myself.
The video I watched made it look so easy
If you have not done so, I would recommend watching
a 'how to ice cupcakes', video.
It was easy and so much fun!


The possibilities using a decorating tip are endless and
I will never revert to my old method of spreading frosting.


Not all turned out perfect but not all roses are perfect either.



FLUFFY BUTTERCREAM FROSTING

1 cup butter, softened
(no substitute)

Beat butter until light and fluffy, set aside.

1 cup sugar
4 tablespoons cornstarch
1¼ cups milk
2 tsp. vanilla

In a medium saucepan, blend sugar and cornstarch; stir in milk.
Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until mixture thickens and boils.
Boil 30 seconds to eliminate the taste of uncooked starch.
Remove from heat an stir in vanilla.
To cool quickly, stir over ice water until completely cooled.

Beat custard with an electric mixer until smooth, a few seconds.
Beat in butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating after each addition.
Frosting can be prepared up to a week in advance and refrigerated or frozen.
Bring to room temperature and whip before using.
Yield: 3 cups, enough to frost 24 cupcakes or 3-layer cake.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

VEGGIE WONTON APPETIZERS


Wonton wrappers left over from the soup I made last week
were turned into a weight friendly appetizer.
Instead of frying, they are baked into a tasty morsel and
served with a dipping sauce.
I happened to have some Chinese plum sauce on hand!


The filling is all veggies, mainly cabbage, carrots and celery ...
 and delicious on its own.


I put as much filling into the wrap as it will hold ....
just because I want the ratio of veggie to exceed that of the
pocket ...  more healthy, right?


Folded over into triangles, they go together easily and quickly.


The surface is coated with cooking spray before baking.


They turn a lovely golden brown ...
and pair wonderfully with a dipping sauce.

VEGGIE WONTON APPETIZERS

2 tsp. olive oil
2 cups shredded cabbage
(I used nappa cabbage)
½ cup shredded carrots
½ cup thinly sliced celery, in 1-inch lengths
2 green onions, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp. soy sauce
¼ tsp. salt
24 wonton wrappers

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.  Add cabbage, carrots,
celery, onion and garlic. Saute` until cabbage wilts and veggies are tender-crisp.
Remove from heat and stir in soy sauce and salt.
Place wonton wrappers on a plate; moisten edges of wrapper with wet
fingers.  Drop veggie mixture by teaspoonfuls onto center of each square.
Fold over one corner to make a triangle and press sides together to seal.
Transfer filled wrappers onto a large baking sheet coated with cooking spray.
Coat surface or wraps with additional cooking spray.
Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 15 to 16 minutes or until golden brown.
Serve immediately with a dipping sauce.
Yield:  24 wontons

DIPPING SAUCE:  combine ¼ cup soy sauce, 1 minced green onion and
1 tsp. sesame oil.  Mix well and serve with wontons.


Sunday, March 10, 2013

A FOREVER FEAST, CANDLE OF THE LORD



Shrouded in a canopy of fog that dimmed the morning light,
the earth was pure and white.
A bitter cold morning fastened ice crystals to
post and tree and grass. 
The view was close and the distance mysterious. 
This was the week my aunt Sue slipped beyond the mystery to the other side.

Now we see through a glass, darkly;
but then  face to face:
now I know in part;
but then I know even as also I am known.
I Cor. 13:12 KJV

Blessed are those who wash their robes,
 that they may have the right to the tree of life
and may go through the gates into the city.
Rev. 22: 14 NIV


The spirit of man is the candle of the Lord ...
Proverbs 20:27  KJV

I am taking some liberty with this verse in Proverbs and likening
the spirit of life within as the 'candle of the Lord'.
When we are born into this world, the candle is strong and vibrant.
Some day for all of us, the candle will dim and the life spirit within our
bodies will leave.



Blessed are those who are invited to
the wedding supper of the lamb!
Rev. 19:9 NIV



On this side of eternity my aunt loved flowers and gardening.
A fierce thunder and lightening storm was exciting to see.
Northern lights and starry heavens were sights to behold.
We shared a love of birds and spent an evening marvelling the wonders of
 mountain bluebirds that were a first for both of us in this area.
When I was just a little girl she sent me a valentine card that
I still have tucked away. She had taken the time to personalize
and paint a dainty picture of a little girl holding a heart.
 I treasured the memento that was not only beautiful but
signified to me that she cared about little me.
Her last words to me as she held out her hands, were
'see you in heaven'.

"No eye has seen,
no ear has heard,
no mind has conceived
what God has prepared for those who
love him"
I Cor. 2:9 NIV








Tuesday, March 5, 2013

ROAST CHICKEN BREASTS with PEPPERS


A quick-to-fix meal was on the menu for supper tonight.
While chicken was roasting in the oven, I prepared a stir fry
with peppers, green onions and mushrooms.
On the side was a serving of quinoa.


Some of the best things I make are centered around
fresh vegetables.


A stir fry can be reflective of your favorites or
whatever you happen to have on hand in the fridge.
It's fun to experiment.


ROAST CHICKEN BREASTS with PEPPERS

4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
2 tsp. olive oil
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. dried oregano
¼ tsp. pepper

Place chicken breasts in baking pan; drizzle with olive oil and
sprinkle with seasonings.  Bake uncovered at 425 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes
or until a thermometer reads 170 degrees.

2 tsp. olive oil
1 large sweet red pepper, thinly sliced
1 medium sweet yellow pepper, thinly sliced
1½ cups sliced mushrooms
5 green onions, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tbsp. cooking sherry

Heat oil in skillet; add peppers, mushrooms, onions and garlic.
Cook and stir over medium heat until crisp-tender.
Stir in sherry and continue cooking for 1 minute.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Serve with chicken breasts and quinoa or rice on the side.

Monday, March 4, 2013

CHICKEN WONTON SOUP


The name won ton means swallowing a cloud and this wonton
floating in chicken broth does look light as a cloud.
I have had wonton soup on occasion at a local Chinese restaurant
and decided to try making it at home with one change.


Most wonton soup recipes call for ground pork but
substituted ground chicken because that is my preference.
The chicken comes in packages that are almost 1 pound and
rather than take out ¼ pound I used the whole amount in wontons.
It made about 30!


After the ground chicken is mixed with the seasonings, round it up
into a ball, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.


Place a small amount of meat in the center of a wonton wrapper;
moisten the edges with beaten egg.


Wonton wraps come in this type of packaging.


After they are folded in half, the outside corners are brought
together and sealed.


These wontons were thought to look like a nurse's cap
and that is indeed what the caps looked like when I was young.
At this point the wontons can be frozen in single layers on a
cookie sheet.  After they are frozen, pack into plastic bags.


As the wontons simmer in water they take on some interesting
cloud-like shapes.


Some recipes simply serve wontons in chicken broth with green onions for
garnish.  I chose to add carrots and bok choy for a colorful and tasty
version of chicken wonton soup.  My son-in-law loved the soup!  
My daughter would substitute spinach for the bok choy which
sounds like a good idea! Either way, the soup is delicious.

CHICKEN WONTON SOUP

3/4 lb. ground chicken
1 tbsp. green onion
1 tbsp. rice wine
1 tsp. brown sugar
2 tsp. soy sauce
½ tsp. cornstarch
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp. chopped fresh ginger root
(or ¼ tsp. ground ginger)

In a large bowl, combine ground chicken with remaining ingredients; mix well.
Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 30 minutes for flavors to blend.

25 to 30 wonton wrappers
1 egg, lightly beaten

Place about 1 teaspoon filling at the center of wonton wrapper.
Moisten all 4 edges with beaten egg, fold one corner over to the opposite corner
to make a triangle.  Press edges firmly together to seal.
Bring left and right corners together so they overlap; moisten with egg
and press together.  Continue until all chicken filling is used.
At this point, uncooked wontons can be frozen in single layers on
cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.  After wontons are frozen,
pack into plastic bags.  When ready to use, do not thaw but simply drop
them into boiling water to cook as follows.

Boiling the wontons:
Bring large pot of water to boil; add wontons making sure they have enough
room to move around freely.  Allow to boil for about 8 minutes, until the filling
 is cooked through.  Remove from pot with slotted spoon.

Chicken stock, preferably homemade
carrots
baby bok choy
chopped green onion

For 4 servings of wonton soup, bring 3 cups chicken stock to boil.
Add 1 cup sliced steamed carrots  and 3 heads steamed bok choy to soup.
Ladle into soup bowls, allowing 4 to 5 won tons per person.
Garnish with green onion.