Cabbage Rolls

While perusing the interwebs for a recipe to make for St. Patrick’s Day, I came across one for cabbage rolls. Now, I’m no food expert, but these cabbage rolls didn’t seem to fit into the Irish food category. I did some research (aka Googled “cabbage roll”) and found out that cabbage rolls, according to Wikipedia, are “common to the ethnic cuisines of the Balkans, Central, Northern, and Eastern Europe, as well as the Middle East.”  The Wikipedia page goes on to list and describe several variations of the dish.

Cabbage Rolls

Cabbage rolls 2

Ingredients

  • 1 medium head green cabbage
  • 1 1/2 cups onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cans (14.5 oz each) Italian stewed tomatoes
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp (packed) brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice
  • 1/4 cup tomato sauce
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 1 lb lean ground turkey
  • 1/4 lb Italian sausage (I used ready-to-eat Italian sausage links and simply peeled off the skin)

Instructions

  1. Place cabbage in freezer overnight. When ready to use remove from freezer and let sit for a few minutes to thaw. Peel off two outermost leaves and discard. Remove next eight leaves,  cutting through thick vein at base if needed. Set cabbage leaves aside.
  2. In a large saucepan, heat olive oil over low-medium heat. Add 1 cup onion and saute until it begins to soften. Add the tomatoes, garlic, brown sugar, and 1/2 tsp salt to the pan. Simmer for 15 minutes, stirring as needed.
  3. While sauce is cooking, combine rice, tomato sauce, Worcestershire sauce, pepper, remaining onion and salt in a large bowl. Add the ground turkey and sausage and mix well.
  4. Pour about half of the prepared sauce in a large skillet. Place 1/2 cup of the meat mixture in each cabbage leaf and roll like a burrito. Place each roll, seam side down, in the skillet pan. Once all of the rolls are  in the pan pour the rest of the sauce over them.
  5. Cover and cook for about 1 hour over low-medium heat. Stick a meat thermometer in the middle of rolls to check for doneness (temp will depend on what kind of meat you use), and cook a bit longer if needed.

As I’ve mentioned before, I have a very finicky stove that thinks low means medium and medium means burn everything. Most of the cabbage rolls and the sauce burned onto the bottom of my skillet. I was able to salvage a lot of it, but was left with a very big mess. One good thing to come out of my stove misadventures: I’ve become an expert on how to remove burned-on gunk from pans and stove tops.

Despite the mess and work required to clean the pan, these turned out really yummy. I may try making the next batch in a crockpot.

Source: Adapted from Taste of Home.

Healthy Super Bowl Snacks

I’m not a huge football fan, but I do enjoy watching the Super Bowl – the game’s usually a bit more exciting than the regular season, there are often one or two great commercials, and the half time show is entertaining. I also enjoy eating all the snacks that typically go along with Super Bowl parties, but they’re not usually very healthy. This year I decided to hunt down some healthier snack ideas for the Super Bowl, and found a few that were pretty easy to make (though a bit tough with one oven and three recipes that needed to be baked/broiled) and ended up being quite tasty.

Herb-Roasted Sweet Potato Skins

Herb Roasted Sweet Potato Skins

Ingredients

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, halved lengthwise
  • 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 1/2 tbsp dried parsley
  • 1/4 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp fresh rosemary, minced
  • 1/4 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/4 tsp dried sage
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Pierce potatoes with a fork and then place on greased,  foil-lined baking sheet, cut side down. Bake until tender. Remove from oven and let cool.
  2. Move oven rack so it’s about 6 inches from the heating unit and preheat the broiler.
  3. Scoop out the sweet potatoes, leaving about 1/2 inch of flesh around the edges. Cut each sweet potato half lengthwise into 1/2 inch strips, and place back onto the baking sheet.
  4. In a small bowl, combine the olive oil and spices and brush over the sweet potato strips. Broil in the oven for about 5 minutes.

My sweet potato skins were a little burnt, but they tasted like the burnt marshmallows that I like in my s’mores,  so I was okay with it. Watch ’em closely when they’re broiling if you don’t want them to burn.

You can change up the herb mixture and add other spices if you like.

Source: Slightly adapted from Whole Foods Market

Roasted Edamame with Sea Salt, Cracked Pepper, and Garlic

IMGP4514

Ingredients

  • 16 oz frozen shelled edamame
  • olive oil
  • sea salt
  •  freshly-cracked black pepper
  • garlic powder

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  2. Put edamame in a strainer and run under warm water for a few seconds. Spread on clean towel and pat dry.
  3. Pour the edamame onto a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt, black pepper, and garlic powder. Mix the edamame with the seasonings by stirring around a bit on the pan.
  4. Roast for 30-40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. Edamame will get nice and golden brown – that’s essentially when you know they’re done. (Don’t be alarmed if some of them jump out of the pan – a few did that while I was roasting them.)

Source: Slightly adapted from The Kitchn

Turkey Meatballs*

Pumpkin Turkey Meatballs

* With a tasty yet unexpected ingredient

Ingredients

  • 1  pound of ground turkey
  • 2.5 to 3 oz bread crumbs (2 to 2 1/2 slices of bread; can add more if desired)
  • 1/4 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder
  • 1 large clove of garlic, minced

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and spray rimmed baking sheet with non-stick spray.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients and knead until everything is mixed well.
  3. Form into meatballs of whatever size you desire. Place the meatballs at least one inch apart on the baking sheet, flattening them a bit so they don’t roll around. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the tops of the meatballs start to brown. Flip meatballs over and bake for an additional 10 minutes or so.

These are lighter and softer than other meatballs I’ve had, but they’re super tasty.

Source: Adapted from  Kath Eats Real Food

Curried Chicken Soup with Roasted Peanuts

I’ve had my eye on a new cookbook at a local boutique for a while, and finally got around to buying it for my birthday last month. It’s a great resource for people who are new to cooking, with lots of information about buying and storing food, as well as basic preparation techniques and recipes. Sticking with my fall inspired theme (it’s not winter yet!!), I decided to try a recipe for a soup that used both sweet potato and squash.

The author of the cookbook provides what she call “riffs” at the end of most recipes, which are different/easier ways of making the recipe. I used her riff of this recipe, subbing store-bought chicken broth and shredded chicken form a rotisserie chicken (could also use chicken breast) for the homemade chicken stock. The result: so good I burned my tongue because I wanted to eat it up so quickly.

Curried Chicken Soup with Roasted Peanuts

Curried Chicken 2

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp peanut oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 lb sweet potato, cut into large dice
  • 1 lb butternut squash, peeled (quite a process) and cut into large dice
  • 2 Tbsp curry powder
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 Tbsp fresh thyme (just the leaves)
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 4 cups reduced sodium chicken broth
  • shredded chicken from one rotisserie chicken
  • 1 14-oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 14-oz can light coconut milk
  • 1/3 cup natural peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro
  • 6 medium green onions, thinly sliced
  • a bit of coarsely chopped roasted peanuts for garnish

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot. Add the onion, season with salt, and cook until translucent, stirring as needed.
  2. Add the sweet potato and squash, season with pepper, and cook over medium heat until the chunks start to soften a bit.
  3. Stir in the curry powder (it seems like a lot, but the flavor mixes in well with all of the other ingredients), tomato paste, ginger, garlic, thyme, and Worcestershire sauce and cook for about 1 minute.
  4. Stir in the chicken broth, tomatoes, and coconut milk and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, stir in the peanut butter and the shredded chicken, and simmer for about 20 minutes.
  5. Add chopped cilantro and green onions, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Top each bowl of soup with a bit of crushed peanuts.

Her recipe calls for red wine vinegar, but I did not notice that she adds that ingredient at any time during the cooking process.*Shrug* It turned out delicious anyway – I’ve already had two bowls of the stuff since I made it last night.

Source: Adapted from Keys to the Kitchen by Aida Mollenkamp

Chicken Marsala

This is one of my favorite recipes, though using chicken as the protein is new to me, as I usually use pork.

Chicken Marsala

Chicken Marsala

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp garlic salt
  • 3/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1 pound chicken breasts, pounded thin
  • 3 Tbsp Earth Balance
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 cups sliced mushrooms
  • 1 tsp minced gralic
  • 1 cup Marsala wine

Instructions

  1. Mix flour, salt, garlic salt, garlic powder, and oregano in a medium bowl.
  2. Add chicken breasts and toss until coated.
  3. Heat Earth Balance and olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
  4. Place chicken breasts in skillet, and cook until brown on both sides.
  5. Add the mushrooms and garlic and cook briefly.
  6. Stir in the wine, making sure to scrape all the good bits off the bottom of the pan. Cover and simmer for about 15 minutes.

I like to top this with a bit of fresh herbs – parsley, thyme – whatever you prefer. I found that I had less sauce than I’d like at the end of cooking, so next time I will likely up the Earth Balance and olive oil, or adjust the cooking temp. I personally like this better with pork as I think it has more flavor and better texture, but this worked well, too.

Source: Adapted from All Recipes.

Mexican Spiced Chicken Wrap with Eda-mole

Happy Cinco de Mayo! For those not familiar with the historical significance of the day, this brief description from History.com:

Cinco de Mayo—or the fifth of May—commemorates the Mexican army’s 1862 victory over France at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War (1861-1867). A relatively minor holiday in Mexico, in the United States Cinco de Mayo has evolved into a celebration of Mexican culture and heritage, particularly in areas with large Mexican-American populations. Cinco de Mayo traditions include parades, mariachi music performances and street festivals in cities and towns across Mexico and the United States.


For the U.S., I’d add eating Mexican food and drinking anything with tequila in it. Staying true to that tradition, I whipped up a healthy Mexican-inspired wrap for dinner.

Mexican Spiced Chicken Wrap with Eda-mole

Spice Rubbed Chicken 004



 
Ingredients

  • 1 tsp chile powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 pound chicken tenders
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • 5 ounces baby spinach
  • 1/4 cup tomatoes, chopped
  • whole wheat tortillas

Eda-mole 

  • 3/4 cup shelled edamame 
  • 2 large, ripe avocados 
  • 1/3 cup fresh cilantro 
  • juice of two limes 
  • 2 tbsp water 
  • salt, to taste

Instructions

  1. Combine  the chile powder, cumin, salt and pepper and rub on chicken.
  2. Cook chicken on grill pan over medium heat for 7 to 10 minutes or until cooked through, flipping once.
  3. While chicken is cooking, heat 1 tsp olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add garlic and saute until light brown, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add spinach and let wilt. Season with salt and pepper, if desired.
  5. Make the eda-mole: Put edamame, flesh of one avocado, cilantro, lime juice and water in food processor or blender. Pulse until well mixed. Transfer mixture to a bowl and add the other avocado, mashing slightly. Season with salt to taste.
  6. Heat tortilla in microwave for a few seconds. Slice chicken diagonally and place on tortilla. Top with spinach, tomatoes, and eda-mole. Fold up and enjoy!

Optional: If you want a crispier tortilla you can fry it in a little oil for a few minutes, flipping halfway through.

Source: Recipe adapted from Parade Magazine

I Love Ginger

Ginger is a wonderful thing. Google “benefits of ginger” and you’ll find that it has many supposed health benefits, from fighting nausea to preventing colds. I’ve found that a tablespoon or so of fresh, grated ginger steeped in hot water for about ten minutes makes a potent tea that helps relieve indigestion and other stomach issues.

On my way back from Washington, DC earlier this year I stayed with a college friend who lives in southeastern Minnesota. While I was there I had some delicious candied ginger, and decided that I would make some of my own in the near future. I recently bought 2 pounds or so of ginger, and decided to use half for the candied ginger and the rest for something else. So, today you’re getting two recipes, one for candied ginger and one for chicken with noodles and vegetables in ginger broth. 

Candied Ginger and Syrup

Ingredients

  • 1 cup fresh ginger
  • 6 cups water
  • 6 cups sugar

Instructions

  1. Peel the ginger and cut into 1/2 to 3/4 inch chunks.
  2. Mix sugar and water in large saucepan and bring to a boil.
  3. When sugar is dissolved, add ginger and boil gently for about an hour and a half or until ginger is sweet and tender.
  4. Drain ginger and reserve liquid.
  5. Let ginger cool on drying rack for at least 30 minutes.
  6. Coat ginger with sugar and let dry on wax paper. Feel free to coat with additional sugar if, after time, the ginger has absorbed some of it. Store in airtight container.
  7. Boil reserved liquid until reduced to a syrup with consistency between maple syrup and honey. Sugar may begin to crystallize; add a little water and bring to a boil if it does. Let cool and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Syrup can be used as a substitute for lots of other syrups and sweeteners.

Note: You can use less water and sugar and cut the cooking time in half by thinly slicing the ginger. I used sliced ginger the first time I tried this recipe and was not satisfied with the results. If you do decide to go that route, boil the ginger gently and keep an eye on it.

Source: Adapted from Food.com

Chicken with Noodles and Vegetables in Ginger Broth 

Ingredients

  • 4 oz rice noodles (super easy to make – can make more depending on taste)
  • 3 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 3 tbsp reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 5 quarter-size slices of peeled fresh ginger
  • 4 star anise pods
  • 4 skinless boneless chicken breasts, thinly sliced
  • 2 medium yellow squash, halved lengthwise and sliced
  • 6 oz snow peas, trimmed and halved
  • 4 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro (optional)

Instructions

  1. Cook the rice noodles according to package directions; drain and set aside.
  2. Combine the chicken broth, soy sauce, honey, ginger, and star anise in a large skillet; bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the chicken and return the mixture to a simmer. Simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.
  4. Add vegetables and cook for about 5 more minutes.
  5. Remove and discard the ginger and star anise
  6. Grab the rice noodles you set aside earlier and divide them among however many bowls you’ll be serving. Top with chicken/vegetable/broth mixture and sprinkle with cilantro, if desired.

I’m a huge fan of the ginger broth in this recipe, and will definitely be making and using it again.

Source: Slightly adapted from  Healthy Cooking Basics