Exceptionally Enjoyable Use of Cabbage Part II:
You might have heard - the Northeast got clobbered with a snowstorm this past week, and according to the Governor my town got hit the hardest. Just for fun, this video was taken within 10 miles of where I live...



Being snowbound and all, we do the best with what we got, right? Actually, that's pretty much all the time, but I digress... With what I had on hand, I decided to make Halupki Soup! Halupki(?) I hear you ask. Stuffed Cabbage. Rolled Cabbage. REALLY YUMMY CABBAGE!

So I browned some ground beef with onion and garlic. Tossed about a half head of chopped cabbage into the mix and simmered, covered about 20 minutes...


Now, you can do this all in a Dutch oven on the stove top, but I had some shoveling to do, so I adapted this recipe so once I prepped, it could finish all on its own in the slow cooker.

Into the crockpot (set on "HI") went some beef stock, sugar, vinegar, rice, tomato sauce and diced tomatoes - and the cabbage/beef mixture. A couple hours later...


About five hours total, this was my reward for all that snow removal!

I never added the smaller can of beef broth. I waited to see if it was needed, and you know, I didn't think it was - it was just the thickness I wanted. And I rarely use boullion cubes or granules - as always, your choice!


I can't tell you just how satisfying this was for "the duration", lol! BTW, that bread peeking in? I made that, too.

But more on that another day Stay warm and dry, folks!

Posted by Linda :
Saturday 18 March 2017 - 15:52:52
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Ya gotta try this!
I recently found myself with a couple heads of cabbage - one was on purpose, but... In search for something other than coleslaw, I stumbled upon this really kewl recipe from Mr. Food - Aunt Nellie's Cabbage Fritters! If you like potato pancakes, you're gonna love this - faster, easier, and healthier. And guess what? It has bacon!!!

So for my new favorite, you start with a bunch (actually a fourth to a third of a head) of cabbage, a little onion, and a little bacon...


A little flour, a couple eggs... Season of course - I like salt, pepper, and a generous grating of nutmeg... Mix well.


Plop some into your frying pan. I used the pan I had just cooked the bacon in, drained of most of the fat with some Crisco added. My "plop" on the top is just a little small; the one on the left a little big; and the one on the right was just right


Brown...



Drain on paper towels (or my preference, cardboard) and serve.


And why not add a dollop of sour cream?

For real, not counting the sour cream, this entire batch of 9 or 10 fritters INCLUDING the oil for frying, is only 1000 calories! Lots of fiber and calcium, some protein and a whole bunch of other "good for you stuff".

Ya really do gotta try this!!

Posted by Linda :
Wednesday 08 March 2017 - 13:13:56
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Sooo Yummy! And made with leftovers?
I think I've mentioned before that my neighborhood is lucky enough to have a mini Farmer's Market come visit us on a regular basis. Last week, the produce truck had poblanos! Roasting on the stove is so quick and easy if you only have a couple: just wrap in foil (double layer for regular, single layer with heavy duty), and then place directly on a burner set at medium. Rotate every 4-5 minutes (total of about 20) until peppers are soft - USE TONGS and/or kitchen mitts for this!!! Let rest 15 minutes in the foil, and this is what you get.


Gently peel most of the charred skin, slit lengthwise and remove as many seeds as you can. Leave the stem and its inner core to help stabilize these now really soft peppers.

Now to make the filling. I had a leftover chicken breast, some chunky salsa, cheese... added a few spoonfuls of (cooked) brown rice to soak up any excess moisture... Very kewl way to clean out the fridge!! After tasting, I added some garlic powder, oregano, and believe it or not, a dash of cinnamon - very classic Mexican.


Scoop your filling into the peppers and shape them something like this. Lookin' purty, right


Ooops! Can't forget to top them off with more cheese


If my filling ingredients had been warm, I would have just popped this under the broiler - but since I was pulling pretty much all of my ingredients from the fridge, I baked at 350F for about 20 minutes...


Oh YEAH!!!! We'll be doing this again soon!

Posted by Linda :
Tuesday 28 February 2017 - 14:41:04
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Back to Reality...
I had a really wonderful Valentine's Day weekend <3! Incredible food, a magnificent concert... and those couldn't hold a candle to the exquisite company Thank you so much, love.

But then I drove through a snowstorm to a slushy mess and neurotic dog – so comfort food was once again on the menu. I hate repeating myself, but the ingredients were on hand and I really just felt like basking in the glow that remained...

SO – as I said – back to reality. That night 6 or 7 large white onions (softball size), sliced, went into my crockpot with a stick of butter and a sprinkling of kosher salt. Set the temp to “lo”, and let that do it's thing until morning.

The top photo is about 5 hours in - yes, I woke up enough to give them a stir...

And the bottom is the beauty found about 12 hours in! As the recipe for French Onion soup (didn't I tell you? Yeah, that's what we're making!) only needed about half that, I scooped out two bags of about a cup each and popped those in the freezer – caramelized onions at your fingertips?!?! Just THINK of the possibilities!!!!

So now you just add some stock (I've used both beef and chicken – it's really up to you), worcestershire, thyme, a bay leaf or two... and some sherry or dry white wine. Let it go another 6 hours or so...

And now you start your French Bread. Honest, it's easy. A ton of starts and stops (I'll grant you that) but with only flour, yeast, and salt, TIME is a necessary element to develop that great flavor. It's worth it!!!


I'd made this kale and apple salad for Christmas Day, and it wasn't that popular at the time. Playing with the left overs I realized I hadn't added nearly enough salt and pepper (or any?)?!? Sweet and sour poppy seed dressing over kale and tart apple... Guess I was a little hectic that morning... A little adjustment and I thoroughly enjoyed the rest of it. I used the food processor to puree the onion and whisk the dressing – and this time I TASTED!!!


Soup's done, bread's done, salad's ready... The first time I made this soup I used Gruyere and Emmental cheeses – small blocks of each – and while delightful, the cheese alone cost almost $4 per serving?!? This time I used pre-grated Swiss and Moz – just as stringy, almost as flavorful... Your choice of course.


Dinner is served!


Posted by Linda :
Wednesday 15 February 2017 - 08:20:26
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Super Duper SuperBowl Sunday!
Still not sure what to make for SuperBowl Sunday? Go gather these ingredients as well as some good bread...


You got this part, right? Don't use the entire head of lettuce - half to 3/4?


You're gonna need a bigger bowl


Now, this is the important part!! My BFF shared a recipe that he found online for one of the ultimate tastes of our youth - Jrecks! That's one heckuva lot of oregano, but oh my, it tastes SO VERY GOOD!!! Here's the link if y'all want some of this goodness


Couldn't wait until the game Every bite a little different, each better than the last!


Posted by Linda :
Sunday 05 February 2017 - 13:32:05
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Sweet AND Savory
I made this one for Christmas Day and thought it might be nice for Valentine's day, but for the life of me I can't find the link!!! After way too many searches in the last few days, I'm going to offer my apologies to whatever source it was and just tell you about it. Fortunately for all of us, I remember it well! Well, it IS kinda simple... but GOOD.


We are going to stuff filo cups with a sweet and sour sauce and top with brie and pecans – sound good? You really can't get much simpler. Filo cups are readily available in your freezer section (usually by the pie crusts and such), but since I had filo sheets in my freezer, I opted to make my own.

Filo is an incredibly thin and delicate dough, and when layered with melted butter produces an extremely flaky result. Five layers felt about right – and as you can see, I had some difficulty being gentle enough to separate full sheets intact...



No worries! Just keep overlapping and brush liberally with butter to hold it all together. I used my ravioli cutter to create 2” squares, which were eased into a (sprayed) mini muffin tin.



Bake at 375F for about 10 minutes until lightly browned. Gently loosen from the tin, set aside. Of course if you used the frozen version, follow the package instructions.


Meanwhile, make your “spread”. Now the original recipe (again, thank you, whoever you are) when doubled called for a cup of cherry preserves, 4 Tbsp Balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Two days before Christmas I did NOT feel like fighting the crowds just to get cherry preserves, so I did some research and ended up using (wait for it) - cherry pie filling. Yes, the stuff that comes in a can - which I could get at the corner deli, for Pete's sake! Surprisingly, pie filling is much lower in sugar than preserves, so I used 1 cup of the filling and reduced the Balsamic to 2 Tbsp (tasting, of course). A little chopping from an immersion blender and I had a somewhat chunky texture that I liked.


This shows the process – the upper left is a generous teaspoon of the cherry “sauce”. Next row shows the addition of a cube of brie (an 8oz wheel, trimmed of rind was perfect for my 2 dozen cups), and finally a sprinkling of coarsely chopped pecans. As I was transporting to my parents' home I stopped prep there and popped into their oven for maybe 5 minutes, just to melt the brie.


Now, here's the verdict - Sis-in-Law enjoyed them so much that she made a brie round that she topped with a purchased balsamic cherry spread just a week later for another get-together! Easy peasy

NOTE: it turned out that my version of the sauce was more tart than the store bought – both were good, so use your own taste buds to adjust. It's your kitchen!

Posted by Linda :
Tuesday 24 January 2017 - 12:03:07
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This one made me HAPPY!
For the first time in several years I was able to attend the family gathering on Christmas Eve! If you haven't read my whole story, I've worked retail for a while... This year I was "fortunate" enough to have the store CLOSE two weeks before Christmas!!! Yeah, ok – not exactly celebratory, but I DID get to spend time with my family?!?

I'd been wanting to try this recipe for Dill Pickle Pasta Salad, and this was a good time to do it. It was at one of these gatherings years ago when I first had Aunt Pat's Salad, and well, that's one heckuva keeper!! So I slipped my pasta salad onto the buffet table and waited.

First, let me show you the competition:




Oh – and yeah, there were desserts galore (as usual).

So I'd doubled the recipe and brought about three quarters to the party – heck, I wanted some for myself! A pound of shells and a 16oz jar of “stackables” worked quite well for this – stackables were easy to dice, and provided just the right amount of pickle “juice”, which is essential!!!


I used shallots instead of onions because a couple family members have an adverse reactions to onion, but can tolerate shallots (which are in the garlic family). I measured out the ingredients for the “dressing” and whipped them all together in the food processor.


Here's the best part! My eldest younger brother (who is a “pretty good” cook in his own right ) had THREE helpings before he knew I had made it! In fact, he encouraged his son to try “the best pasta salad he's ever had”!!?!

Like I said – that makes me happy!


NOTES: I've made this a couple times since... 1) No need to blend the dressing mechanically unless you want ultra fine onion/shallot; 2) I'm not a huge fan of rinsing pasta, so I now drain, return to the pot and add the pickle juice. Stir for a couple minutes and almost all will absorb! Move to a large bowl to cool to room temp; 3) for a recent potluck I did all my chopping and made the dressing Wednesday night (stored separately), boiled the pasta and assembled Thursday night and served Friday lunch! Worked like a charm

Posted by Linda :
Thursday 12 January 2017 - 17:18:21
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Windy afternoon Warm Up
Too much to do, too cold to go out... A pot of soup and some fresh bread sounded just about perfect. Checking the fridge and pantry there was no doubt that minestrone would be the soup du jour, and why not some breadsticks a la Olive Garden? Yeah, I thought so.


I used this recipe for minestrone as a guideline, but as I had a few projects underway, altered it for the crock pot. Basically, I added the ingredients in the same order, just let them “simmer” on high for an hour or so instead of the minutes of constant stirring if I had sauteed. I wish I had taken a picture of just the onions – they were starting to caramelize beautifully! Then in go the garlic, celery, a little while later carrots, green beans... Finally tomatoes, beans (from the freezer), beef stock and pasta... BIG TIP: I boiled the pasta in the broth but only added the stock to the pot. That way I could add the pasta to each bowl without it getting mushy!

I started the breadsticks once the onions were ready - they're really quite easy. I didn't have bread flour, so I used AP – it needed about a half cup more than stated, but that's an expected difference (but use bread flour if you have it - even better final result). Blend/knead, rise. Shape, rise. Bake, brush, sprinkle. Yeah, a little TOO easy, if you know what I mean – just might make these too often!


That wind is still whipping around, but I made a nice comfy cozy dinner and still got my tasks done. Now for a good book...

Posted by Linda :
Friday 30 December 2016 - 19:38:58
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Yeah, it's been a while...
Seems the company I work for decided to close our store – you can NOT imagine the chaos, frustration, emotions, exhaustion (and so much more) unless you've lived through it! I hope you never have to.

So since early September when they made the announcement, life has been not much more than work and sleep. But occasionally I found the energy to create some comfort food.


Chinese Chili sounded like a great change on a classic, and truly was quite enjoyable. You start with the basics – beef, onions, sweet and hot peppers – but then the seasonings take a decidedly eastern turn. Soy sauce and hoisin instead of chili powder, ginger and 5 spice replace cumin and coriander...

I started with a chuck roast, as the briskets were HUGE! Ended up delectably tender, so no issue there.


Doubling the tomato and adding a couple cans of black beans assured me more than a couple meals, so that was a plus. While the recipe said it should be fairly liquid, I enjoyed the texture the starch from the beans added and felt no need for additional liquid.

This one I'm giving mixed reviews. Thanks to my ”chinese pantry”, I didn't have to buy anything special, which made the experiment worthwhile. The fried chinese noodles made a great topper!


I'd omit the habenaro (and not because of the heat) and cut the 5 spice in half – those were definitely the dominant flavors, and I would have enjoyed being able to note the others, especially the ginger.

Here's the thing – it was different, and good, but not so much so to warrant the investment in all the ingredients unless you want to start your own collection. But then again, that's not a bad choice

Posted by Linda :
Monday 26 December 2016 - 15:37:15
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Happy Anniversary, Taz!
My beloved rescue and I have been together for five years now. While we’ve had some “getting to know you” issues and sometimes feed off of each other’s mood, I feel blessed to have Taz in my life. He is SUCH a smart dog as well as an excellent judge of character!


And that face – who wouldn’t love that face <3

I recently baked him some “cookies” to celebrate, and he is quite happy with Mommy’s results. Don’t tell him, but I shared a few with the St Bernard "LaLa" down the street, and her Daddy asked me for the recipe.

I’d found several recipes, but this one suited my pantry the best. The cookie cutters I had purchased a while back for just such an occasion Remembering my research on kibble I added a palmful of dried parsley and some powdered egg shell for nominal health benefits.


This dough gets extremely stiff – while it is possible to stir by hand, I used the dough hook on my stand mixer. It worked fine as long as I kept scraping down the sides. If you want a smoother appearance, you should knead the dough for a bit - but Taz was already nagging, so I just rolled it "as is".

SERIOUS WARING!!! Read your peanut butter label carefully!!! The popular sugar substitute Xylitol is used in so many products AND IS LETHAL TO DOGS.!!! Make sure it is not in your brand, at least for this application.


Taz is one very happy little boy! And as these can be done in no time at all (mix, cut, bake), he’ll be getting them fairly regularly. Gotta give some of that love back, ya know.

P.S. Practice make perfect! Lala's dad recently told me "they look like REAL dog biscuits!!" Uh, yeah


Posted by Linda :
Tuesday 04 October 2016 - 11:27:55
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