Saturday, November 7, 2009

Mincemeat, Christmas (Fruit) Cake, Hamburger Soup, Lasagna

Today was quite a day. Jolaine (JD) is visiting from Canada and it is wonderful to have her here for a few days. We decided to stick around home today - I had some cooking/baking plans and all my kids were home with assorted friends coming and going - a wonderful day. Also...Tia - a friend of JD's from "blogworld" drove from Michigan to come and officially "meet" JD. Such neat things today - an absolutely beautiful day.

Light Orange Almond Fruitcake
I grew up with my mom making fruitcake or Christmas cake every year. I never cared for it - candied fruit was too sweet....just not my thing...Until I found this recipe that is. I purchased The Canadian Living Christmas Book in 1993 and saw the picture for this fruitcake and knew I needed to give it a try. I have made it every year since - and it is something our family looks forward to at Christmas. (Canadian Living is a Canadian magazine)
One cute story about this cake. When we lived in Canada I would make this cake in mid October and store it in Tupperware in our storage shed. It kept it cold, dry and away from the "critters". One year we had an extra loaf left and Tim went out in the spring only to find the lid off and the wrappers empty with some crumbs left. At supper that night we were talking about it over supper when I noticed our middle child - Nelson - with a sheepish look. We asked him about it - come to find out - he had discovered the treat and had eaten a little at a time til it was all gone.

3 cups mixed candied fruit
2 cups golden raisins
1 1/2 cups halved candied cherries
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped candied pineapple
1 1/2 cups whole blanched almonds
1 cup candied citron peel
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 tbsp coarsely grated orange rind
1 tsp almond extract
1/2 cup orange juice

In large bowl, combine mixed candied fruit, raisins, cherries, pineapple, almonds and citron peel; toss with 1/2 cup of the flour and set aside.

Stir together remaining flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.

In large bowl, beat butter with sugar until fluffy;
Beat in eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.

Add orange rind and almond extract, beating well. Add flour mixture alternately with orange juice, making three additions of dry and two of juice and mixing just until the flour is incorporated. Fold in fruit mixture. Harley was willing to lend a strong arm to get the fruit good and coated with the cake batter.

Courtesy of guest photographer Jolaine (JD)

Scrape cake into pans lined with parchment paper.

Courtesy of guest photographer Jolaine (JD)
The recipe suggests 2 full size loaf pans. I used 2 mini pans and 3 medium size pans. I prefer the smaller sizes - that can be given as gifts.

Bake cakes on center rack in 250 degree oven for 2 1/2 hours or til cake tester inserted into center comes out clean. Let cakes cool completely in pans on racks. Once cooled I wrap them in plastic wrap then foil and store either in cold storage or the freezer til Christmas.


Another Christmas tradition - and unfortunately another taste/flavor I just didn't enjoy. My husband, Tim, loves this year I decided to spoil him a little. I did a search online for a recipe - many - but I came across one that intrigued me - a recipe that dates back to 1910. I liked the idea of a recipe with a long history.

3 cups golden raisins
3 cups dark raisins
3 cups currants
2 1/2 lbs apples
1 lb ground beef, cooked
3/4 cup citron
1 1/2 tbsp grated cinnamon
1/2 tbsp grated cloves
2 tsp grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp allspice
3 cups brown sugar, packed
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 quart apple cider
1/2 lb beef suet, minced
3 lemons, juice and *zest
3 oranges, juice and *zest

Peel, core and chop apples into half inch dice.

Put all ingredients into a large pot. Mix well, and bring to a simmer.

Cook, uncovered, until apples are soft, stirring frequently. When softened, cook for 30 minutes, partially covered. Pack into sterilized jars and **process for 30 minutes.

*To zest is to remove the outer skin of the fruit - not the whole rind - just that light outer layer. I have a tool that helps to do this...called a zester.

**To process put lids on jars, do not tighten, and place in pot of boiling water for 30 minutes. Remove from pot and tighten lids.

I have to say...I think I have grown up or at least my taste buds have :) because the smell of the mincemeat cooking was wonderful and I found myself looking forward to making pies/tarts with this mixture. This recipe made 5 quart jars.

Hamburger Soup

1 1/2 lbs ground beef
2 cups diced onions
1 cup diced carrots
1 cup diced celery
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 cans (14.5 oz each) chicken broth
1 can (15 oz) crushed tomatoes
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp hot pepper sauce
1/3 cup barley

In a large pot, combine the beef, onions, carrots, celery and garlic.

Cook over medium heat until meat is no longer pink and vegetables are tender. Stir in broth, tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce, hot pepper sauce and barley. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until the barley is cooked.

I think this has become my new favorite soup. Simple and easy to make...such nice flavors on a cold winter day. Although today was in the 60's here - lol. I like the combination of the ground beef and chicken broth - the veggies are good - the Worcestershire sauce always gives a nice touch too. mmmm soup...


I haven't made lasagna for quite awhile - but Tim, my husband asked me last week if I would make it sometime. I decided today was a good day since there were lots of people around. I combined two recipes and liked the results. One recipe is from Paula Deen's restaurant, Lady & Sons and the other was from the lasagna noodle pkg by Barilla.

1 1/2 lb ground beef
no-bake lasagna noodles
12 oz cottage cheese
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
2 cups grated Swiss cheese
2 cups grated sharp cheddar
1-8 oz. pkg cream cheese, cubed
1 1/2 cup grated mozzarella
2 jars of spaghetti sauce (I used 2 quarts of homemade)

Mix cottage cheese, egg and Parmesan cheese - set aside.

Mix Swiss and cheddar together, set aside.

Crumble ground beef and cook til no pink is left. Set aside.

To put together the lasagna here are the steps.

1. Spread 1 cup of sauce in bottom of baking dish.

2. Layer as follows: lasagna noodles, 1/3 of cottage cheese mixture, 1/3 of cubed cream cheese, 1/3 of browned beef, 1/3 of cheeses, 1 cup of sauce.

3. Repeat layers 2 more times.

4. One more layer of lasagna noodles, finish with remaining sauce.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese and bake another 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let set for 15 minutes before serving.

This was a wonderful recipe...there were so many things I like about this. The egg in the cottage cheese mixture gave nice texture. I had never tried cooking lasagna without the cheese from the beginning of cooking. I preferred this to using foil and having the cheese stick to it. This gave opportunity for everything to cook - add the mozzarella and let it melt and brown. One thing I would change the next time is to leave out the cream cheese. I did not find it added anything to the lasagna either in flavor or texture. I believe I have found my new go-to lasagna recipe...thanks Paula and Barilla

Today was a blessing. Our goal is to have our home a haven for family and friends. A place they can come for rest, food, laughter, tears, long chats, or quiet times and always a warm hug. God has blessed us and we pray we use it to bless others. That is my prayer.


  1. Would this be a good time for me to say that I'm really glad that I didn't know what was in the lasagna until I had it? **giggles** I don't do dairy very well, I avoid it as much as I can... but cottage cheese? Are you kidding me? Then why did the lasagna taste so good? How'd you do that? Only you, Elizabeth... only you could whip all this up together and have it taste like a God-send. You're amazing. And sneaky... like the cream of mushroom soup in the green bean casserole today. Clever. Sneaky. FUNNY!

    Today was a blessing indeed. Your home is a precious gift, a place like no other. Every time I visit, and all over again throughout this weekend, I thanked God for blessing you, and blessing us through you. I've been a recipient of this beautiful refuge that I also call home, I've been here for rest, food, laughter, tears, long chats, quiet times, and many warm hugs... awesome hugs... God... and YOU.

    I hope I bless others in the same way you've blessed me.

  2. Wow! You had quite the busy Saturday! This all looks so good!!!!!! Thanks for sharing it. I am sure you have blessed so many by opening your house and being an example of Jesus. You are the best!

  3. Thank you for your hospitality and generosity. And the delicious food. I think it ruined my tastebuds... on Sunday nothing looked or sounded good ;) Blessings.

  4. I'm going through EBWS -- Elizabeth Blogging Withdrawal Symptoms. I hope your laptop gets fixed soon :)

  5. I am having EBWS. Elizabeth Blog Withdrawal Symptoms.

    Got a post simmering that will cure that?