Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Cabbage Roll Casserole, why roll when you can stir, bake and eat? My all in one bowl, all in one pot meal that satisfies, fills, feeds an army for pennies and is absolutely delicious!

I love cabbage rolls.  I love them but I find them exhausting to even think about making.  I have gotten together with friends to make cabbage rolls, perogies or lasagna.  They just aren't something I make on a Wednesday for dinner.

Years ago, in a fit of brilliant laziness, I came up with this version of cabbage rolls.  My roll casserole.  Delicious, all the flavors and textures hit right and easy easy easy.  Sure there's the 2 hour bake time but it's not time where I have to DO anything and that's my kind of cooking time. 

Here we go, 

Tracy's Cabbage Roll Casserole

1 large cabbage
2 lbs ground beef
1 28 oz can whole, peeled, tomatoes
1 (scant) cup long grain rice
carrot, celery, onion
salt, pepper, worchestershire sauce
apple cider vinegar

Chop the veggies and put aside.  Brown the ground beef until it sizzles, you want to cook of the liquid and leave just the little bit of fat in the pan. When the meat is brown, add the veggies and cook for a few minutes.
Add the chopped garlic when the veggies are soft. Add a little water and some worchestershire.  Add a little apple cider vinegar, about 2 Tblspoons.  Simmer until the veggies are cooked through and the meat is tender.
Add the liquid from a can of whole tomatoes with the same amount of water and simmer.  Set aside until you're ready to cook, about 2 hours before you want to eat.


Chop the cabbage into quarters, remove the core and slice into squares.
In an ENORMOUS bowl, put the cabbage, the meat mixture, the tomatoes (squashed) in a 4 cup glass measure with enough water to bring it to full and 1 cup of uncooked, long grain rice.
Mix it well, I use my hands.
Divide into two casserole dishes and add enough water to come 3/4 up the side of the dish.
Cover, tightly with parchment paper and then tin foil.
Toss into a 350 degree oven and leave for 2 hours.
After about 15 minutes on the counter to rest and DIVE IN!
Generously dish it up into fabulous pale sage green bowls that I just got from Ikea
I made "cheater" garlic cheese biscuits to go along
So, an easy dinner on a Wednesday.  Sure, it takes 2 hours to cook but it's not hours that require any attention or involvement from you, that's free cooking in my books.

The meat is flavorful, the rice is perfectly cooked, the cabbage has texture and is separate yet involved in the dish.  It's not mushy food at all, it's perfect food.  You can make extra tomato sauce to pour over but I really don't think it needs it.  This is moist and scrumtious and worth making for the pennies it costs.

This is a delicious casserole and it feeds an army.  It freezes beautifully, reheats just fine and is even one of the meals I don't mind if they use the microwave to reheat.

go on, go make some cabbage roll casserole,


Friday, January 10, 2014

QUICK hacked Ramen Tom Kha soup lunch, crazy fast, crazy easy, crazy cheap and absolutely super delicious.


OK, welcome back.  Hello 2014! 

I had to start the year with a ridiculous, quick, kitchen alchemy moment I had this week.  I am not a fan of prepared food of any kind.  I don't like Ramen noodles (the fake ones that my husband buys by the case and adores!)  

I DO, however, like a quick, easy, hack of something I'm not a fan of.  THIS recipe fits the bill! 

Do not blink, this goes FAST.  It's not a recipe, it's an idea, use it to leap off!  I'd love to hear how you like it and what you did with your version. 

IN a saucepan, put 2-3 cups of water and one (large) garlic clove sliced thin.  Bring it to a boil

While it's coming to a boil, assemble the pantry ingredients, the Ramen and the coconut milk, sriracha and chili garlic sauce. 
Slice up a green onion and grab a handful of parsley or cilantro.  Chop and slice while you wait for the water to boil so you feel as though you're actually cooking something.  
Cook the noodles in the boiling garlic water for 3 minutes and drain them. 
Pour half the can of coconut milk into the saucepan and bring to a hard boil.  Add half the flavor packet, for the sodium and some additional background flavor. Add a squirt of sriracha and a little of the chili garlic sauce.  Stir it in and add the green onion.  Add the noodles back to the pan and stir it around so the noodles absorb some of the liquid and the flavor.  This whole process took 3 minutes.
Pour into a bowl (or two) add the parsley/cilantro, a few drops of sesame oil and a squirt of lime. 

EAT!  We ate the noodles with a fork (or chop sticks) and slurped the "soup" from the side of the bowl. 

It's absolutely ridiculously good.  It's 5 minutes and it's worth the .33 investment in those fake ramen noodles.  I am absolutely DELIGHTED with how it turned out and there's not much I'd change.  

We made another packet immediately to split.  Connor is thrilled he can make it himself and any of his buddies who come to hang out ... yet another recipe for my son in high school.

Go make it, it's a quickie, it's easy and it's yummy!  Add cooked chicken or add some fish while the coconut milk boils, there are a million variations, this is my base version.  I will be absolutely playing with this for a while and I'll let you know what I add! 


BY THE WAY, you can ABSOLUTELY make this in the NESCO pressure cooker!!  The only change is you break up the noodles and put them in the cooker, cover them with water to 1/2 inch and add the garlic, lock and load for 4 minutes, open and continue the rest of the instructions.  ELIMINATING the need to drain the noodles.

/enjoy again!!