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Thanks to Madam Chretien, our then Prime Minister’s wife, and “Canadian Living” magazine tortiere became a family favorite over 20 years ago and remains so to this day.  We only serve it over Christmastime, starting with Christmas Eve.  If we have extra it graces our Boxing Day table or New Year’s Eve table.

As always, over the years I’ve made a few modifications.  I’ve use gluten free flour for the crust, but I still prefer the real unbleached flour crust.  I’ve replaced the lard based pastry with an oil based one.  I’ve increased the meat in the recipe. In the past I’ve replaced half the beef with TVP (Texturized Vegetable Protein) – a soy product.  I reverted back to full meat when someone in the family developed a soy intolerance.

This is in no way a low calorie or gluten free recipe, but for one or two nights of the year I figure that’s okay.  I basically assume I’m eating gluten, and calories, over Christmas.  They are in everything and everywhere.

This recipe is quite large.  It makes 2 8″ square cake pans of tortiere, or one very full 9″ round tortiere.  I usually bake one for Christmas Eve and freeze the other for New Year’s.  This year I’m just making one for Christmas Eve.

I serve tortiere with salad and a vegetable. This year it will be Kitchen Sink Salad and a mixture of vegetables. Depending on our guests we may or may not add perogies to the menu.  Dessert will be an new original recipe, Blueberry Custard Crepes.

Serving Size : 6

1 tablespoon olive oil
3/4 pound ground pork
3/4 pound ground beef, lean
1/2 large onion — finely chopped
1 medium potato — peeled and diced
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup soft bread crumbs
1 teaspoon sage
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
Pastry recipe for 2 double crust pies

Put oil in large pan over low heat. Add all ingredients but pastry. Mix well. Cook, stirring occasionally, for approximately 30 minutes. Cool. Line casserole (2 – 8x 8″) with pastry. Fill with meat filling. Cover. Seal edges and prick.

At this point you can either freeze them, bake one and freeze the other, or bake both.  Bake at 375 F for 30-35 minutes.

Venison Barley Soup

Vension Barley Soup

We had company arrive last night with a venison roast in their crock-pot for our later (much later) supper.  We plugged the crock-pot in and went to see the Holiday Train and hear the performance.  Had a lovely venison roast for supper afterwards.  But then we were left with a bit of roast and some stock.  What to do?  Why make soup for lunch today! So here’s the rundown on how to turn the remains of a venison roast (if there is any) into a yummy venison barley soup.

We only put one cup of vegetables in this soup.  I think it could have used more, at least another half cup.  Peas would be a good choice to add as well.  Spices can be adjusted to taste.  The venison pot roast had been cooked with just a couple bay leaves and 12 peppercorns for flavoring.

Venison Barley Soup

1/2 c. finely chopped onion
3/4 c. finely chopped celery
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 c. barley
4 c. venison stock
4 c. water
1 tsp. Better Than Beef bouillon, dissolved in 1 c. boiling water
1 c. mixed vegetables (we used beans and carrots)
1 c. diced leftover venison roast
1 Tbsp. fresh parsley or 1 tsp. dried
3/4 tsp. thyme leaves
1/2 tsp. marjoram leaves
1/2 tsp. savory or rosemary
1/2 tsp. sage
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. soy sauce

Soak barley in a cup of cold water 10-15 minutes.  While soaking the barley, saute onion and celery in olive oil.  Add 4 c. water and 4 c. venison stock.  Add strained barley and vegetables.  Bring to a boil.  Add venison and turn down to a simmer.  Simmer 15 minutes.

Add bouillon, spices, salt, and soy sauce.  Simmer another 45 minutes, or until barley is about the half the size of a pencil eraser and tender enough to eat.

Serve with fresh biscuits.


Pear Streusel Cake


Pear Struesel Cake

This recipe can be made a multitude of ways.  It originates, again, from one of Anne Lindsay’s cookbooks – “The Lighthearted Cookbook”.  I modify it, as always.  I’ve had it with plums, peaches, or apples on top.  This is my first time with pears.  It was pretty good.

There is a glaze that goes with it that I do not use – too sweet.  And I cut the sugar by about one quarter cup.  I also was out of cinnamon, so substituted pumpkin pie spice instead.  I prefer the cinnamon though.  I also subbed butter in for margarine.  And yogurt for milk.

This recipe works better if the eggs are at room temperature.  The whites whip up easier and fluffier.

Pear Streusel Cake

1/4 c. butter
1/2 c. white granulated sugar
2 eggs, separated
1/2 c. yogurt (plain natural) or milk substitute (almond milk would be good)
1 1/2 c. white flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 14 oz. can pear halves

1/2 c. packed brown sugar
1 tbsp. soft butter
1 tsp. cinnamon

Grease the bottom of a 9″ springform pan, or a 9″ square pan.

Cream together butter, sugar, egg yolks and beat till light colored and fluffy.

Mix dry ingredients together (flour and baking powder).  Alternate adding to egg mixture with yogurt.

Beat egg whites till stiff and fold into the batter.  Scoop into pan and even out top.  Drain and slice pears.  Arrange on top.

Make topping and sprinkle over the pears.

Bake at 350 F (180 C) for 35-45 minutes.  Or until top springs back when you touch it.

Banana Cake


Banana Cake

Here is my version of gluten free Banana Cake.  It’s an Anne Lindsay recipe modified from her cookbook “Lighthearted Everyday Cooking”. These cookbooks are excellent and have stood the test of time for our family.  They were originally published in the 1990s and we still cook recipes out of them today.

The original Banana Cake recipe is more low fat and calls for an orange flavored icing.  I do not like the icing because it makes the cake too sweet for my tastes. But if you like sweet, go ahead and add an icing on top.

I replaced my gluten free flour mix for the equivalent amount of wheat flour and it worked fine.  I also replaced buttermilk with sour cream.  I had some sour cream that needed to be used up.

I buy my bananas from the over ripe bananas at the grocery store for half price and put them directly in the freezer in their skins when I come home.  When I need them I thaw them in the microwave for 1 minute each, cut the end off with a pair of scissors, and squeeze the soft, thawed banana out into a bowl or measuring cup to mash.

Banana Cake

1/4 c. butter
3/4 c. white granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. mashed ripe bananas (about 3)
1 tsp. grated orange rind
2 c. gluten free flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 c. sour cream (light)

Cream butter and margarine.  Add eggs, vanilla, and ripe bananas.  Mix well.

In separate bowl mix orange rind, flour, baking powder, and baking soda.  Add alternately with sour cream, one third flour followed by one half sour cream, repeat, starting and ending with flour.

Line bottom of a 9″ round cake pan with wax paper cut to shape of the pan bottom.  Bake for 40 minutes in 350 F (180 C) oven.  Check center by pressing on it and seeing if it springs back.  Cool approximately 10 minutes before removing from the pan.  Let cool.


Tuna Alfredo


Tuna Alfredo

Tuna Alfredo is a nice gluten free and dairy free alternative to the real thing.  To make it the real thing simply use all purpose flour to replace arrowroot powder, regular pasta, and milk instead of almond milk.  I like to serve this on a cool spring or autumn day, when people are craving pasta.

Tuna Alfredo Recipe

3 cups uncooked rice macaroni
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 c. celery, chopped
1 cup sunflower seeds
2 cups almond milk
2 cans of tuna with liquid, mashed
2-3 cups finely chopped broccoli
2 tbsp. arrowroot powder
Salt and pepper (to taste)
Parmesan cheese, grated (optional)

Saute celery, onion and garlic in olive oil in a skillet. Add sunflower seeds. Cook till sunflower seeds are toasted. Mash tuna, and add with liquid and almond milk to the skillet and mix well. Sprinkle in arrowroot powder to thicken sauce.  Add chopped fresh broccoli and cook five minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve over pasta.


Dump Cookies


This recipe came from a lovely woman out near Herbert, SK who entertained myself and a couple friends one day.  She showed us around her farm and fed us lunch.  These cookies were dessert.  It was a fun time and the food was excellent.

This is a healthy cookie, if there is such a thing.  It actually makes a large batch.  I usually cut the recipe in half.  We don’t make these often.  But they’re good for when company comes.  These cookies have made an appearance in church bake sales and missions fundraising events as well.  I like them for a pick-me-up snack.

Makes 7 dozen 2″ cookies

6 eggs
2- cups organic raw sugar
1-1/2 tsp vanilla
1-1/2 tsp agave nectar
1 cup butter
2 cups peanut butter (crunchy natural pb)
2 tsps baking soda

Mix in large bowl with electric mixer.

In a separate bowl combine 6 c. quick oatmeal and 7c. of any combination of the following:

Flax seed
Sunflower seeds
Nuts (we used pecans)
Dried fruit (we used dates, apricots and cranberries)
Sesame seeds

Add to butter mixture and stir.  Add more stuff if you need a stiffer dough. You want it to be stiff enough to roll between your hands and squish with a fork.  But not so stiff it crumbles.

Bake at 325-350 F for 10-14 minutes.  The original recipe said 350 for 12-14 min., but we found that overcooked them.  We found 325 for 10 minutes ideal.  Test one in your oven first, to see what settings are better for you.

Let cool on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a rack to complete cooling.  When completely cool pack with wax paper between layers.  We found these went soft when stored on top of each other in plastic containers.  We suspect it’s the dried fruit in them.


Raspberry Ribbons


Raspberry Ribbons, before glazing and cutting.

Haven’t made these lately, but they are on my radar for Christmas!  They are a version of Danish Butter Cookies that came from “Scandinavian Cooking” by Beatrice Ojakangas.  This year they will be gluten free.  But here’s the real recipe, complete with gluten…

Raspberry Ribbons
Makes about 48 cookies

1 c. butter, room temperature
1/2 c. sugar
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. salt
1-2 tsp. water, if needed (if dough is dry)
2 1/2 c. flour

Put the above in a food processor with a metal blade and process until it’s smooth and pliable.  Gather dough into a ball and knead.  Can be refrigerated up to one week.

Now…to make the Raspberry Ribbons…

1 recipe Butter Cookie dough
1/2 c. raspberry jam
1/2 c. icing sugar
2 Tbsp. milk

Preheat oven to 375 F.  Divide dough into fourths.  Roll into ropes about 1/2″ thick between your hands and a floured surface.  Place on ungreased cookie sheets about 2″ apart.  Using the side of your little finger, press a long groove the length of each strand.  Bake 10 minutes.  Spoon jam into the groove.  Bake another 5-10 minutes or until edges lightly browned.

Make a glaze with the milk and icing sugar.  Brush or drizzle over hot cookies.  Cut into logs diagonally about 1″ wide.  Let cool.




Noodles and Tea


Hi everyone.  I’m feeling a bit under the weather today.  But I have to go out in an hour or so for a lunch meeting.  So I’m sitting down with my Wellness Tea from Epicure, generously laced with echinacea and honey.  I admit I slept in quite a bit this morning.


I’m soaking some rice noodles to cook for my lunch (my meeting requires I bring my own lunch).  I use doctored up store bought Classico spaghetti sauce to put over it.  Sorry, no photos of the sauce.  As I’m watching my sugar intake as well as being gluten free I just buy a very simple basil and tomato sauce, add ground beef, onion, garlic, and sometimes part of a chopped green pepper and grated carrot. The grated carrot gives more of a meat taste to the sauce.  If I use a lot of meat I omit the grated carrot.  I usually like to add 1/2-1 lb. of cooked ground beef to a jar of Classico sauce.

Today’s goal is to package up some more “Star Rug” greeting cards to mail to the SCC Boutique in Saskatoon.

Hope everyone has a great day! 🙂


Cornbread or "Johnnycake"



A good old-fashioned recipe we like to serve with Jambalaya.  This is a gluten free, sugar free, dairy free version.  You can use 1 c. regular white flour to replace the quinoa flour and tapioca starch.  If you use regular wheat flour, omit the guar gum.


1 1/4 cups fine cornmeal
1/2 cup quinoa flour
1/2 cup tapioca starch
2 1/4 tsp guar gum
1/2 tsp. NOW white stevia extract powder OR 1/4 c. granulated sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup canola oil
1 c. rice milk OR regular milk

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Put cornmeal, flour, tapioca starch, guar gum, stevia, baking powder, and salt in medium sized mixing bowl. Combine slightly beaten eggs, canola oil, and rice milk in a small bowl. Add to the dry ingredients and stir till just mixed. Pour into a greased 9” square baking dish and bake at 350 F for 25-30 minutes or till lightly browned and firm to touch. Top with sugar free apricot jam or other topping.

Spinach Salad


Spinach Salad

Spinach Salad

1 lb. spinach
1/3 c. sliced almonds, toasted
2 c. firm strawberries, sliced

1 Tbsp. sesame seeds, toasted
1/4 c. cider vinegar
3 tbsp. olive oil
3 tbsp. water
1 small scoop (1/32nd tsp.) stevia extract powder (a pinch) OR 1 tbsp. granulated sugar
1 tsp. poppy seeds
1/4 tsp. paprika
1 green onion, minced

Clean spinach and snap off stems and save for soup. Tear leaves in smaller pieces for salad. Toss first three ingredients. Shake dressing ingredients in a jar and pour over salad.