Archive for Sides

Quinoa – Learning to Love It

    Quinoa (kee-nwa) was an ancient food of the Incas – it was considered sacred and referred to as ‘mother of all grains’. Although no longer widely known or used it is gaining in popularity due to its nutritional qualities and versatility.

    Unlike most other grains and seeds quinoa contains all of the amino acids needed for humans to assimilate as a high-value protein. In addition to being gluten-free and easy to digest it is a good source of dietary fiber, protein, phosphorus, magnesium and iron.

    The quinoa seeds, as harvested, have a somewhat soapy and slightly bitter coating of saponins that discourage birds from consuming the seeds. Most quinoa available at your local grocers has been pre-soaked and rinsed to remove this coating. I always soak and rinse my quinoa whether it is presented in bulk or packaged and labeled as pre-rinsed. This insures that the seeds are clean, tender, and ready to accept the seasonings in your recipes be they sweet or savory.  Evidently a short-lived experiment in raising quinoa without the saponins coating resulted in birds consuming most of the harvest. And so I soak  . . . .

1) Measure out the quinoa and add enough water so that the mixture is slushy when stirred.

Quinoa Seeds Soaking

Quinoa Seeds Soaking

2) Pour the slush into a mesh strainer and thoroughly rinse. If the soaking water is only slightly hazy when stirring then 15-20 minutes is probably enough. These pictures are of bulk quinoa that needed about an hour of soaking and a change of water to clear.

Draining the Soaked Quinoa

Draining the Soaked Quinoa

3) Dump the soaked quinoa into your pan and cover with water. Turn the heat on medium until the mixture starts to bubble. Then turn the heat down low and put on the lid. Watch it very carefully until it settles down to a steady simmer because like oatmeal or pasta it will make fierce bubbles that climb the pot walls and boil over onto the stove.

Turning Up the Heat

Turning Up the Heat

4) The quinoa is done when it looks something like a sand dune on top with minor dips and valleys that are no longer moving. There should be no liquid visible when you take a spoon and check the bottom of the pot.

This Batch Is Fully Cooked

This Batch Is Fully Cooked

    Cooking quinoa is similar to cooking pasta in that you may prefer it very tender or ‘al dente’. You may pre-cook it for a recipe or add it directly to liquids in the recipe. It has the capacity to absorb an amazing amount of flavor from added ingredients. I pre-cook it over low heat for 15-45 minutes; then turn off the heat and let it cool slowly on the burner. The longer it was soaked the shorter the cooking time. Also, if there is still water and it is cooked as long as you like then just drain of the excess water. If you cook it without salt or seasoning then you can use a portion of it in a sweet recipe and the remainder in a savory dish like this one.

    This basic recipe was served at a potluck lunch meeting and received very favorable comments. It was prepared with a large, sweet onion and two fresh tomatoes. I included some ground turkey breast to make it a main dish meal.

    When I make it for Rita, who is currently avoiding nightshade plants I use washed and chopped zucchini in place of the tomatoes. The resulting texture is very similar. I also add a small carrot cut in bits to provide some color,

Savory Quinoa Casserole
Ingredients:
1 cup of dry quinoa cooked with 2 total cups of liquid = 2-2.5 cups cooked quinoa
(If a can of organic diced tomatoes is used for part of the liquid then omit the fresh, sliced tomatoes.)

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon ground yellow mustard (French’s yellow mustard works – it is gluten-free)
3 bay leaves
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
2 small tomatoes, thinly sliced (optional, see above, or zucchini))
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro

Directions:
    Heat the oil on medium or medium high  in a large skillet that has a lid.  Add your mustard and bay leaf to the oil and let it sizzle. Stir while adding your cumin and wait a few seconds before adding the onion.
    Sauté the onion until it starts to soften and turn brown. Add ginger, tomatoes (or zucchini/carrot), and turmeric. Let soften and then add your quinoa, stirring it in gently and sprinkling with salt. Reduce heat and cover, cooking for 8-10 minutes. Remove from heat, stir once, sprinkle with cilantro, cover, and let sit for 5 minutes. Fluff and serve.
    If you add meat, tofu, or beans then include it already prepared along with the quinoa. This is a good recipe to extend leftovers from another meal. And any local vegetables in season are excellent options.

Gretchen (Mom) and Rita

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Zatter Dip, Spread, or Sauce for a Casserole

    It’s time for another SOS Challenge recipe hosted by Ricki at Diet, Dessert, and Dogs  and Kim at Affairs of Living.  This recipe is submitted to the SOS Kitchen Challenge for October. Sesame seeds are a fantastic choice for this month’s SOS Challenge ingredient. Sesame seeds are a powerhouse of nutrients and rightfully deserve to be an SOS featured ingredient!
    My sweet-tooth had a nifty recipe planned out before seasonal allergies hit and left me dizzy, headachy, and spending most of my time in bed with my eyes covered. A savory recipe came to mind while I was dozing in a Benadryl induced semi-coma. It would not only taste good but it would be very helpful to my queasy stomach. All the requisite ingredients were in the pantry and so began the experiment – in ve-ry slow stages.
    First, I soaked the dried beans that would be the base of the sauce. Our mothers prepared dried beans by soaking them overnight or longer. Then one day someone started doing a ‘quick-soak’ and beans have not been the same since then. Soak and rinse several times over the course of 24 hours to remove a number of unpleasant compounds and your beans will cook more evenly, be cleaner, save energy and taste better. For a complete explanation -> bean prep.
    Then I thought about the zatter spice mixture. My zatter was not especially fresh but the ingredients are so simple that I decided to make it up on the fly. Zatter is an ancient mixture that in its simplest form is toasted sesame seeds, thyme, and salt. It is often mixed with olive oil, spread on pita bread and served with hot tea. So I pulled out the olive oil, sesame seeds (bought in bulk), thyme, and sea salt.
    I toasted the sesame seeds in olive oil over low heat after the beans were cooked and cooling. The beans went into the old faithful blender followed by the cooled sesame/oil mixture, sea salt, and thyme. The fragrance of the warm sesame seeds was validation enough for choosing to put it together this way. The resulting mixture was thick and rich with flavor.

Toasting the Sesame Seeds

Toasting the Sesame Seeds

    Part of my ‘delirious dream’ recipe was pasta! I had cooked up some Tinkyada brown rice shells while the bean/zatter mixture was in process. It was resting in an ovenproof dish and ready for the sauce. I had to add some water to thin the bean/zatter paste to sauce which had me thinking down the road to other uses for this tasty bean mixture – like a dip for veggies or as a sandwich spread.

Zatter Casserole
Zatter Casserole

The result is tasty, nourishing, soothing and a very different spin on rice and beans!

Zatter Casserole
2 cups of cooked white beans
1 cup dry Tinkyada brown rice sea shells pasta
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup raw sesame seeds
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon thyme

    The beans should be well soaked and cooked until tender. Cook the pasta according to package directions until ‘al dente’ or softer if you prefer. Transfer the cooked, drained pasta to a baking dish. Measure the beans into the blender jar.
    Pour the olive oil into a small skillet and add the sesame seeds. Cook over low heat stirring occasionally until the seeds look toasty and you can smell their savory goodness. Remove from the burner and allow it to cool for a bit so as to avoid a splattering hot oil incident. Then add the cooled sesame mixture to the blender jar. Measure the salt and thyme into the jar and process until smooth. You may need to add a bit of liquid if the mixture is too dry to process smoothly.
    Once the sauce is processed it can be stirred directly into the pasta. The pasta may have cooled somewhat by this time. The casserole can be stored in the fridge until needed or used immediately. It can be reheated in a microwave or conventional oven. This recipe makes about two grown-up servings.

Gretchen (Mom)

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Spinach Mushroom Pie Goes Vegan

   
SOS Kitchen Challenge
SOS Kitchen Challenge

 This month’s SOS Kitchen Challenge ingredient is spinach.  The choice of spinach as the challenge’s ingredient really kick started my efforts to makeover my long time favorite recipe for Spinach Mushroom Pie. There is nothing like a challenge for motivation – thank you Ricki and Kim! Be sure to check out their sites for lots of other healthy recipe submissions by other bloggers.

   There was such wonderful feedback from my taste-testers on the texture of the Sweet Potato Pie ‘Cheesecake’ at the end of March that I printed out both of my recipes and started splicing. It always helps to have a plan of attack even if you eventually deviate from that plan.

    The blender and I had another ‘go-round’. And the red spatula lost a few more bits. The red shows up and is easy to pick out of the blended mixture so from now on all of my spatulas are going to be red!

   The cashews were soaked for well over twenty-four hours. The spinach was leftover from a batch of sautéed fresh spinach with garlic. The mushrooms were fresh. There was cooked quinoa on hand to use somehow in place of ricotta but I wasn’t too sure about how that would work out. And hazelnut meal was ready to stand in for grated Parmesan to provide taste and texture. Whew! That’s a lot of ingredients to bring together.

Gathering the Ingredients

Gathering the Ingredients

   So the first order of business was to prep the mushrooms. Clean, slice, sauté and put them in the mixing bowl with the spinach. Add 1/2 of the quinoa, hazelnut meal, and seasonings.

Saute the Mushrooms

Saute the Mushrooms

   Drain and rinse the cashews, warm in the microwave briefly (so they don’t solidify the coconut oil) and place them in the blender jar. Pulse the blender gently to begin the breakdown process. Add the warm coconut oil and the remainder of the quinoa also slightly warmed – and work the blender pulse control. This is where I had to improvise. The mixture became too thick sort of like super library paste so I warmed a couple of tablespoons of coconut milk (I was out of almond milk) and added it to the mixture. This was better but still way too thick. So in went another two tablespoons of warm coconut milk (how did we ever function without a microwave?). This was still incredibly thick but at least it was manageable. This is where I considered adding more liquid but the spinach and mushroom mixture had its own liquid going so I just dumped and scraped the nut mixture into the spinach mixture and stirred it all together.

   The pie plate was previously prepped with a coating of hazelnut meal stuck on with coconut oil (far left in the ingredients picture). Next all of the filling was carefully spooned into the ‘crust’, smoothed over, and moved into the 350*F oven where it baked for 45 minutes. I had no clue as to ‘how long’ to bake it – the ‘cheesecake’ had taken an hour. The pie was tested at 30 minutes with a thin knife and returned to the oven for another 15 minutes. After that test I returned the pie to the oven with the heat turned off so that the remainder cooked on residual heat. So it took a full hour like that ‘cheesecake’. Did I mention that the kitchen now smelled deliciously of all the herbs?
  
   After removing from the oven (total oven time was 60 minutes) the pie sat on a cooling rack while my guilty conscious drove me out into the yard to pull weeds and cut back the stems on the bloomed-out irises. Plus I was afraid of burning my tongue if I tasted this experiment too soon and all of you know what that is like! Finally it was cool enough to put in the fridge so I could ignore it for a while longer and allow the seasonings to mellow. And it was so worth the wait . . .

Looks Good, Smells Savory, Tastes Yummy!

Looks Good, Smells Savory, Tastes Yummy!

Spinach Mushroom Pie Goes Vegan
3 tablespoons hazelnut meal
Cooking oil or spray to coat a 9” diameter pie pan

1 cup raw cashews, soaked for 24 hours (1 1/3 cup expanded)(138 g)
2 Tbsp (15 ml) coconut butter, slightly warm
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup cooked quinoa, warm
1/4-1/2 cup coconut milk, warm

2 cups chopped, steamed fresh spinach
or 1 package (10-16 ounces) chopped, frozen spinach, thawed and well drained
or 1 can spinach, well drained
1 8-ounce package sliced fresh mushrooms, sautéed
or 1 8-ounce can sliced mushroom, well drained
1/2 cup cooked quinoa
1/2 cup hazelnut meal
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon ground dried savory

Plan ahead: At least one day before put the cashews to soak and cook enough quinoa so that you will have 1 cup for the pie filling. Store the quinoa in the fridge and the cashews as well if they soak for more than the 24 hours (and that’s OK).

Begin:
Prepare a 9” pie pan by coating it with oil or spray. Sprinkle the 3 tablespoons of hazelnut meal into the pan and then tilt and rotate it to distribute the meal to create a very thin ‘crust’. Do this maneuver over the bowl for mixing the filling so that any spills are saved – set the pan aside. Turn the oven to 350*F.

Put the spinach and mushrooms in your mixing bowl. Add 1/2 cup of quinoa, hazelnut meal, and dried herbs. Stir well to distribute the seasonings.

Drain the water from the cashews. If they have been refrigerated then warm them in the microwave for about 30 seconds. Dump them into the blender jar. Add the coconut butter, sea salt, the 1/2 cup warmed quinoa, and 1/4 cup coconut milk. Start the blender and begin to break down the cashews, pulsing and pausing to scrape down the sides as needed. Dial up the blender speed and begin to puree the mixture; again pulsing and pausing to scrape down the sides as needed.

Add the remainder of the coconut milk only if you really need it but do not hesitate if you do need it. The worst that can happen is that it takes a few minutes longer to bake. When the blender mixture is perfectly smooth like nut butter then add all of it to the vegetable/herb mixture and stir so that all of the ingredients are evenly distributed. Carefully spoon the mixture into the prepared pie plate and smooth down the top. Transfer the pan to the oven and set the timer for the first test (about 30 minutes). It will not be ready unless you have a really hot oven. Testing is similar to any other baked item – the knife should come out relatively clean. Add another 15 minutes and test again. If it is still not ready then put it back, turn off the heat, and go away for 15-30 minutes.

Cool the dish on a rack before cutting into serving portions. This recipe provides 4-8 servings depending on the rest of the meal. I cut it into 8ths so that it lasts more days for breakfasts and snacks!

Mom

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Tarragon Pickled Beets

   This month’s Diet, Dessert and Dogs SOS Kitchen Challenge ingredient is beets. My entry is really a two-fer; my adapted recipe plus the original one that inspired it. I never make the inspiration recipe anymore but I just wanted to share it as a hot vegetable option.
  
   The Tarragon Pickled Beets recipe is so simple it hardly qualifies as a recipe. It was adapted from a Harvard-style beet recipe to make one of my ‘Mason jar specials’ that were brown-bag lunch staples while I was working in the corporate world. There were 4-5 different ones that I made up for lunch treats. You don’t have to have a genuine Mason-type jar but you do need a jar with a tightly sealing lid. Fresh cooked beets, tender and sweet, are ideal if you have them. A 16-ounce can of sliced, diced or cut beets from your pantry will get you there also.

Tarragon Pickled Beets
Sweetener of choice, equivalent to 2 tablespoons sugar or more to taste (I use stevia)
2 T. apple cider vinegar (lemon juice for Candida diet)
1/2 t. dried tarragon
1 3/4 – 2 cups beets
Reserved beet juice

Put an ounce or two of beet juice in the jar. Stir in the sweetener, vinegar, and tarragon and then carefully spoon in the beets (so that red juice doesn’t splash and stain). Add enough reserved beet juice to cover your beets. Screw on the lid to make sure it is sealed and won’t leak. Shake to distribute the juice and seasonings evenly. Keep them in the fridge until you are ready to use them.

Filling the Jar
Filling the Jar

Harvard Beets
(even then I was choosing gluten-free)
2 T sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp paprika
1 1/2 tsp cornstarch
2 T lemon juice
1/3 cup juice from beets
1 16-oz can sliced beets, drained
Mix the sugar, salt, paprika, cornstarch, lemon juice and beet juice in a small saucepan. Stir over low heat until the mixture bubbles and thickens. Add the beets and continue until beets are heated through.

Even though officially retired I still make the Tarragon Pickled Beets to jazz up lunch or garnish a salad every now and again.

Mom

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Roasted Chickpea and Artichoke Salad for a Potluck

   I do not, really, do not know what led me to try Ricki’s Warm Chickpea and Artichoke Salad. The idea of a warm salad didn’t grab me immediately – maybe because our Central Texas weather is warming and the birds are singing, building nests, flowers are blooming, weeds popping up, etc. I like chickpeas okay and the same with artichokes. Maybe it was Ricki’s picture with all the herbs. But it kept hanging around in the back of my thoughts until I finally felt compelled to try it. I bought a can of artichokes and with the can of chickpeas on hand put it together. It was good – some things are better than the sum of their parts and this was unexpectedly one of those. A few days later I decided to repeat the recipe with home-cooked chickpeas. That was even better. Plus I added chopped romaine and had it as a cold salad. Then I shared it with Ann and then Andrea who both loved it. Then our neighborhood had the spring potluck earlier this week and I made a TRIPLE batch of this salad. I have been craving this salad like it was cookies and wonder just what is going on with my taste buds.
   Starting with dry beans adds greatly to the overall taste and experience. I soaked the dry beans for over 24 hours until they swelled to double the original size and looked like they were going to sprout (drained and the water replaced after about 12 hours). Then they were drained again and cooked in fresh water with a lid on the pot. The liquid needs skimming occasionally as the white foam bubbles up. Then they simmer quietly on the stove for 90 minutes. Quickly drain them and return the hot chickpeas to the pot. Put the lid back on and set aside to continue cooking in the residual heat and to finally cool down. You can continue the salad from this point but I prefer to do this prep the day before I start the second phase. They are stored in the refrigerator until needed.
   The second preparation phase involves pan-roasting the chickpeas and artichokes, separately. While Ricki’s warm salad came together very quickly this one takes me a couple of days staging for everything to marinate before adding the fresh greens. (Sighhh, the extra time is so worth it)
   The third and final preparation step is to chop a head of fresh romaine and mix with the marinated chickpeas and artichokes – no other embellishments required. I had leftovers only because 1) I made a huge punch bowlful and 2) there were 5-6 other bowls of fresh homemade salads.

Roasted Chickpea and Artichoke Salad – 4-6 servings
1-1/2 cups cooked chickpeas, well drained (1 cup dry chickpeas before cooking)
6-8 artichoke hearts (about one large can), well drained and quartered
1/3 cup natural almonds, coarsely chopped or sesame seeds or pepitas, totally optional

Extra-virgin olive oil, as needed
2 cloves garlic, pressed
2 teaspoons dried basil
1 teaspoons dried oregano
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped (I used celery leaves :-))
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon fine sea salt, or more, to taste
Pepper
Romaine or other seasonal salad greens

Prepare the chickpeas and set aside.
Open the artichokes and drain them well. Cut into quarters and set aside.

Pour 1-2 tablespoons olive oil into a skillet. When the oil is hot add the chickpeas. Cook over medium heat until they are a light golden color (10-15 minutes, longer if you double/triple the batch). Remove the chickpeas to a salad bowl large enough to contain your completed salad.

Add another tablespoon of olive oil to the skillet. Add the quartered artichokes and roast them over medium heat turning them very gently occasionally so as to not break them (they are already very tender). Add the garlic and dry herbs along the way. When the artichokes are roasted and the herbs are fragrant add them to the chickpeas in the salad bowl. Add the balsamic vinegar, parsley, salt, and pepper.

Mix the ingredients together so that the herbs and dressing are distributed throughout. Cover the bowl and put the salad into the refrigerator to marinate and mellow. It is really good if you have a full day for this – although it is not critical as there is plenty of flavor going on.

To complete the salad you will add chopped greens of your choosing. I like to use romaine. You can add more or less to your liking. If you add more greens you may want to add a bit more dressing as the chickpeas seem to absorb quite a bit during the marinade process.

The first time I made this I used Newman’s Own Balsamic Vinaigrette. An oil and vinegar dressing of any type is good once you have the basic seasonings in place. The very nutritious main ingredients are rather bland on their own – it is the seasoning and dressing that makes it great!

BTW – Ellen DeGeneres has gone vegan and sugar-free and Ricki wants to be the expert that is invited to appear on The Ellen Show and cook for Ellen. Ricki needs support for her ‘Quest for Ellen’. Please read about it and then link to Ellen’s page and compose a request citing Ricki as just the expert she needs!
Click right here ->EL-LENd Me A Hand! Thanks!

Mom

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Monday in the Kitchen

Carrots
   Who remembers anymore what carrots look like fresh out of the garden? It came as somewhat of a startle when a large sack of carrots- roots, frost bit tops, mud, gnats and all showed up in the food pantry last Friday afternoon. The carrots themselves were fat and beautiful but I knew we would have to work fast to get them distributed. We divided out two pound bags and started giving them out with food orders. There was not the usual flood of clients that day (a rare occurrence) so we gave them out to all comers who stopped by the window. At the end of the shift Ann and Megan had already left and I didn’t have time to write up a note and put that one last lonely bag in the fridge. So I brought it home to reacquaint myself with basic veggie preparation.

   Into the sink with all of them, spray hard to soften and rinse off most of the mud, and untangle the tops (they were a large, green&brown, unruly fright wig mass) – they filled up the sink. Then I cut off the roots and carefully picked out the good green tops and threw away the brown ones. The roots were scrubbed with a brush to remove the last bits of mud from the crevasses, the greens were rinsed again and all of it set aside to drain. The top part of the carrot where the greens join the root was too hard to clean so that bit was trashed as well.

Tops to the Trash

Tops to the Trash

   Why bother with saving the greens? As I learned after my previous post on Carrots the green tops are not only edible but they are fabulously nutritious and all of that is usually thrown away by the time carrots arrive in the produce section of your grocery store as I was notified by the World Carrot Museum.

All Cleaned Up and Ready to Cook

All Cleaned Up and Ready to Cook

Quinoa Mushroom Pilaf
I hadn’t cooked quinoa in quite a while – too busy with baking experiments and other activities. But when I came across this recipe at Karina’s Gluten-Free Goddess blog for Quinoa Mushroom Pilaf something clicked into place. Mushrooms and green peppers in the fridge?, check, garlic?, check, parsley?, no but I have used carrot tops as a substitute before – so I really, really had to make this dish!

Time Out for Lunch!

Time Out for Lunch!

All About Stevia
   Ricki’s blog, Diet, Dessert, and Dogs is one of my favorite reads. Today she had a very interesting discussion going, All About Stevia. This product is something I have been playing with since Rita bought me a bottle of Sprout’s brand of liquid stevia over the holidays. So far I really like it as a sweetener in my lattes, both café latte and chai latte. The recent recipe for Banana Coconut Muffins has been well received by my taste test crew – with no added sugar, the sweetness all comes from a banana and that liquid stevia. And finally I have really gotten into Ricki’s super healthy creation Chia “Tapioca” Pudding. I’ve been having it most mornings for a couple of weeks.

Chia Seeds
   Chia has a fascinating nutritional profile and is now starring as one of the newest ‘super foods’. Soaked chia seeds are gelatinous in texture and a spoonful of chia seed mixed into liquid will set up as a soft pudding. I use 1/2 cup of warm almond milk adding one tablespoon of chia, eight drops of stevia, and four drops of vanilla. When set aside for several hours it becomes very much like a tapioca pudding because of the swollen seeds. They are seeds and may not be suitable for consumption by anyone that has texture issues! Chia is available pre-ground and if you plan to use ground chia I say buy it that way – I keep both on hand. My attempt to grind them with a mortar and pestle would make a good you-tube comedy – not one of the seeds were ground; instead they popped out all over the counter like a flea circus. The whole dry seeds are extremely hard and also have a static charge – not easy to chase and gather them back up.
   Ground chia is one of several substitution possibilities for replacing egg in baked goods for vegans or for those folks with egg allergy. Sprouted chia seeds can be used in salads and for sandwiches as well as on your Chia Pet.

Neglected Bananas
    Four weeks ago I bought bananas to ripen for banana muffins and possibly banana bread. Two batches of those Coconut Banana Muffins later and there were still four v-e-r-y ripe bananas hanging out in the guest room. So this afternoon I conjured up a new recipe that I had been thinking about, put it together, and I’ll post about it tomorrow. It’s been quite a long day in the kitchen.

Mom

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Cabbage Casserole

   When Don used to travel for work and I was at home at the house in the woods with only the cats for company, cooking everyday for myself was not a priority. There were too many other projects going on around the place. This was my home-crafted bookcase period (eventually seven of them), learning to crochet afghans and throw rugs, and attempting to landscape in caliche soil with alkaline well water compounded by the persistent Central Texas wildlife and blistering heat.
   Cooking this hearty casserole that lasted several days freed up more time for those other endeavors. This was (and still is) one of my favorite combinations. It is easy to adjust the seasonings to your own preferences or seasonal vegetables. This can be cooked in a crockpot, in the oven, or on the stovetop and for me that usually depends on the weather. If it is winter the oven or stovetop adds more warmth to the house. In summer the crockpot helps to avoid that.
   This week’s batch omitted the rice (the post-holiday low-carb version) and with no rice to be cooked the casserole only needs reheating to serve.

Cabbage Casserole

Cabbage Casserole

Cabbage Layer –
2 tablespoons cooking oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 1/2 pounds cabbage, thinly sliced (at least 6 cups)
(Sometimes I add grated carrots or other veggies languishing in the fridge)
Sea salt and pepper
1 teaspoon thyme (from a jar)

Meat Layer –
1 pound extra lean ground meat – we used turkey
Sea salt and pepper
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon ground sage
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder

Sauce –
1 can diced tomatoes
3 ounce can tomato paste
1 teaspoon basil
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 packet or cube of instant bouillon (whatever flavor you prefer)
8 ounces water (if you use rice)

Rice (optional) –
1/2 cup converted rice, dry

Cabbage Prep:
Place all ingredients in a very large skillet or pot and sauté until the cabbage is bright green and onions are transparent.
Meat Layer Prep:
Cook all ingredients until all traces of pink are gone and set aside. Grocery stores now carry pre-seasoned ground meat and sometimes I just cook up a package of the lean ground turkey with Italian seasoning (ever lazier – that’s me).
Sauce Prep:
Puree the tomatoes in a blender. Add the other ingredients and blend.

Assembly and cooking:
Layer these ingredients into a casserole starting with 1/3 of the cabbage, followed by 1/2 of the meat, 1/2 of the rice, cabbage, meat, rice, and finishing with the cabbage. Pour the sauce over all and work it into the casserole layers with a spoon. Bake it at 350*F for 45 – 60 minutes – checking to be sure the rice is done.

This batch provided enough for two hearty dinners for both Don and me – we don’t call it leftovers we call it planning ahead!

Mom

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