Unwrapped Cabbage Roll Casserole

I love the taste of cabbage rolls but as good as they are, they’re not worth the work. This recipe eliminates the tedium but keeps all the taste and the goodness of cabbage intact.

Make ahead tip: Chopped cabbage will keep in fridge for about a week if it’s sealed in a Ziploc bag. Make the sauce ahead of time and assemble the casserole while the oven preheats. Add about 10 minutes to your cooking time if you’re starting with fridge temperature ingredients.

Unwrapped Cabbage Roll Casserole

Course: Main Course

Prep Time: 20 min

Cook Time: 35 min

Yield: Servings

Ingredients

  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 12 lb ground pork
  • 1 onion roughly chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 cans tomato sauce 14 oz
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 can diced tomatoes including liquid
  • 1 tsp dried dill
  • 3 Tbsp fresh parsley or 1 tsp dried
  • 1 tsp salt (or favourite no salt seasoning)
  • 14 cup rough chopped fresh basil or 1 tsp dried
  • 1 Tbsp dried Italian seasoning or oregano
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 12 cups Cooked brown rice 1 cup dried, cooked
  • 1 Tbsp oil
  • 2 lbs cabbage, chopped (approx. 8 cups)
  • salt & pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Oil a 9×13 pan.
  2. Brown ground beef, ground pork, onion, and garlic. Drain any fat.
  3. Add 1 can of the tomato sauce, canned tomatoes, tomato paste, brown sugar, Italian seasoning, (dried basil if using it), dill, parsley and bay leaf. Simmer covered 10 minutes. Remove bay leaf and stir in rice and fresh basil.
  4. While the sauce is simmering, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add cabbage and cook until tender-crisp. The aim here is to wilt it so it will fit into the casserole dish, as opposed to cooking it.
  5. Place half of the cabbage in the pan. Top with half of the beef/rice mixture. Repeat layers ending with beef/rice. Pour the second can of tomato sauce over the entire casserole and smooth the surface. Cover loosely with foil
  6. Bake covered for 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake uncovered for 10-15 minutes. When all is hot and bubbly, remove from oven and allow to rest 10 minutes before serving.



Cashew Chicken on a Pan

With a little prep time the night before, this can be a very quick to the table weeknight dinner. Chop the chicken up and store in one container in the fridge. Chop the vegetables into bite sized pieces and store in a separate container. Finally, make up the sauce and have it at hand when you’re ready to cook. Dinner will be done in about 30 minutes.

Sheet Pan Cashew Chicken Recipe

Ingredients

Cut everything into bite sized pieces

  • 1 pound Boneless Skinless Chicken (breasts or thighs both work)
  • Approximately 3 -4 cups of mixed raw vegetables. Good choices are cauliflower, bell peppers, red onion, green beans, broccoli florets, carrot slices. Use what’s in your fridge, according to what your family’s tastes.
  • 1 cup of raw cashews

Sauce ingredients

  • 2/3 cup Soy Sauce low sodium
  • 34 Tbsp. Cider Vinegar or Rice vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp. Honey
  • 1 Tsp. Sesame Oil
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp of Garlic Ginger Paste OR 2-3 cloves garlic and 1″ minced ginger
  • 12 tsp. Salt
  • 12 tsp. Pepper
  • pinch of Red Pepper Flakes
  • 2 Tbsp. Cornstarch
  • 12 Cup Water
  • Juice of 1 lime optional

Directions

  1. In a medium sauce pan, combine all of the sauce ingredients. Heat on medium-high to a boil. Lower heat to medium low and stir frequently until the sauce thickens. It will be quite thick and will thin out in the oven as the chicken and vegetables release their moisture. Take the sauce off the heat and set aside for step 5
  2. Preheat oven to 375 F
  3. Line a 9×13 baking dish or sheet pan with foil for easy cleanup.
  4. Spread chicken evenly over the baking sheet
  5. Pour approximately 1 cup of the sauce over the chicken. Toss with tongs to coat evenly with the sauce.
  6. Bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes
  7. Remove from oven and add your the mixed vegetables and cashews to the pan. Add the remaining sauce and toss to coat the ingredients with the sauce.
  8. Bake another 12-15 minutes until chicken is completely cooked and vegetables are tender.
  9. Serve with cooked rice.

Keep cooking and we’ll talk later.

Kate


Chicken Paprika and Peppers

This is not a “diet” dish. It’s feast food. But on a day when you’re looking to elevate your game and splurge a bit, this is a quick and delicious way to do it.

Cream-based pasta sauce. The recipe calls for chicken breast but if you prefer thighs, it will work with that. For vegetarians, substitute the cooked chicken with crispy fried tofu (add after plating to keep crisp). Sorry, Vegans, this one probably won’t work for you but if you come up with the appropriate substitutions, I would love to hear about it.

Course: Main Course

Cuisine: European

Main Ingredient: Chicken

Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • 4 boneless chicken breasts
  • 14 cup all purpose flour or gluten free flour
  • 18 cup Cornstarch 2 Tbsp
  • 2 tsp Paprika divided (1 tsp + 1 tsp)
  • 12 tsp Smoked Paprika
  • 12 tsp dried oregano or 1.5 tsp fresh
  • 12 tsp salt
  • 12 tsp pepper
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 onion sliced
  • 4 cremini mushrooms thinly sliced
  • 1 stalk Celery sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic thinly sliced or minced
  • 1 red pepper sliced thinly
  • 1 yellow pepper sliced thinly
  • 14 oz can diced tomatoes or 4 tomatoes chopped
  • 1.5 cups Heavy Cream I used 18% coffee cream
  • splash vegetable stock or chicken stock
  • 2 green onions sliced for garnish

Directions

  1. Slice the chicken breast in half to make two thinner cutlets. Pound cutlets to ensure they are an even thickness.
  2. In a small bowl, stir together flour, cornstarch, paprika, smoked paprika, oregano, salt & pepper. Dip the chicken cutlets into the flour mixture, coating all sides. A thick coating is not required. Set flour aside for later use.
  3. Heat a large (12 in) skillet on high heat and when hot, add oil and butter. Reduce heat immediately to medium-high.
  4. When butter/oil has melted and is shimmering, add chicken cutlets. Do not crowd. If the pan is too small, cook in two batches. Cook on one side for 3-5 minutes and then flip. Cook until the internal temperature is 160F. It will finish cooking later. Removed cutlets to a plate and cover with foil. Set aside.
  5. Add additional oil/butter to skillet if required. Add sliced onions, mushrooms, celery and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add garlic slices and stir for another minute or until it is aromatic.
  6. Sprinkle a couple of Tablespoons of the leftover flour mix over the vegetables, Stir in along with the remaining 1 tsp of paprika.
  7. Stir in the canned (or chopped) tomatoes. Stir well. Reduce heat to medium and allow to cook for until the juice has thickened somewhat. Stir cream into the skillet until it is an even rosy colour. If the sauce becomes too thick, thin with the vegetable/chicken stock or just plain water.
  8. Stir in the sliced sweet peppers. Add the reserved plated chicken cutlets and any juice that accumulated on the plate. Stir to combine. Cover skillet and allow it to simmer on medium-low heat for 5 minutes. The idea is to let the peppers soften but not lose all their crunch and for the cutlets to return to cooking temperature. Sprinkle chopped green onion (or fresh parsley) on top to garnish.
  9. Check seasoning and adjust according to taste. It will probably want a little salt.
  10. I’ve served this on a bed of rice, on pasta or over zucchini noodles (zoodles). All were delicious.


Label reading — It’s just self-defense these days

I read an interesting article on AlterNet the other day on advertising buzzwords in the food biz. Over the past couple of years, I’ve become a vigilant label reader. My husband has developed a non-celiac gluten allergy and so I’m very careful about avoiding anything with wheat and the other gluten containing grains. What I’ve also come to appreciate is that when I flip over the package and read the contents BEFORE I buy, it’s made me a lot more aware of the added ingredients. Just how much salt and sugar is hidden in my every day food purchases? It turns out to be a lot and in a lot of cases, I’ve read this lengthy list of ingredients and thought “No, I don’t think so….” and back on the shelf it goes.

I think it’s easy to get fooled into thinking that foods in the “organic” or “health food” section are not as processed as the “commercially processed foods”. Wrong — the word “natural” has no legally enforceable definition. Simple foods, like yogurt, get loaded down with additives over additives over additives — for preservation, taste, colour, you name it.

It’s been said before but it bears saying again — your food is supposed to be able to rot. Yogurt does not need sugar in it — it’s supposed to be tangy.

One of the big problems I’ve found over the past few years is how the commercial food processing/manufacturing industry has trained our tastebuds to be entirely responsive to two tastes and two alone: sugar and salt. And why not? These are cheap ingredients which help preserve food. This is fabulous if you’re a food manufacturer and your aim going into the kitchen is to develop a product that is shelf stable for 18-24 months, salt and sugar are your friend.

On the other hand, when I go into the kitchen to feed my family, I have somewhat different aims. I want tasty food that nourishes people and that is going to be eaten inside the next few hours. It doesn’t need to be rot-proof for the next decade.

The point I’m trying to make is don’t pay any attention to the slogans on the FRONT of the package … LOCAL!! ORGANIC!! NATURAL!! WHOLE GRAINS!! Flip the package over and read the ingredient list … for your own health and pocketbook, keep the ingredient lists short and pronounceable. Food you can pronounce costs less than stuff you need to look up on Wikipedia.

Keep cooking, and we’ll talk later.

Reference: http://www.alternet.org/food/watch-out-these-buzzwords-food-companies-use-hype-their-products-are-healthy-they-dont-mean

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