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Beef & Vegetable Cabbage Cups


“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.” 
― J.R.R. Tolkien

I know exactly how Pippin feels!


Cabbage was served quite often, when I was growing up. It was inexpensive and easy to prepare so it was perfect for our big family. The problem was, it was only ever prepared one of two ways…boiled or as coleslaw. The slaw was a favorite of mine but I wasn’t too impressed with the boiled stuff. Unless you followed my mom’s suggestion and drowned it in Texas Pete Pepper Sauce, it had absolutely no flavor. This didn’t work for me since I didn’t start eating anything spicy until I was well into my 30s. So, I stuck to coleslaw drowned in mayonnaise, vinegar, and sugar.

Recently, I’ve discovered some interesting ways to enjoy this leafy relative to the broccoli and cauliflower family that doesn’t require the enhancement of pepper sauce or mayonnaise. Recipes much friendlier to my #WW journey.

One of those recipes arrived on my doorstep via Blue Apron. Of course, it was another one that I had all to myself since my husband and daughter are such avid vegetable haters. This didn’t bother me in the least. More for me!

An interesting part of this recipe is the use of Sambal Oelek. Click here to learn more about this blend of spices and seasonings which originated in Malaysia and Indonesia.

As usual, the box came with everything needed to create a delicious meal for two (which turned into two meals for one).

Beef & Vegetable Cabbage Cups with Sweet & Spicy Soy Sauce

  • 10 oz Thinly Sliced Beef (season with salt and pepper)
  • 1/2 lb Green Cabbage (cut out and discard the core; carefully separate the leaves)
  • Zucchini (halved lengthwise, then thinly sliced crosswise)
  • 1 Tbsp Honey
  • 1 Tbsp Rice Vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp Vegetable Demi-Glace
  • 3 oz Radishes (halved lengthwise, then thinly sliced crosswise)
  • 6 oz Carrots (peeled; grated on the large side of a box grater)
  • 1 Tbsp Sesame Oil
  • 1 Tbsp Sambal Oelek
  • 1 Tbsp Soy Sauce

DIRECTIONS:

In a medium bowl, combine the vinegar and half the honey; add the sliced radishes and grated carrots; stir to combine.

Set aside to marinate, stirring occasionally, at least 10 minutes. Taste, then season with salt and pepper, if desired.

In a bowl, combine soy sauce, demi-glace, remaining honey, and as much of the sambal oelek as you would like, depending on how spicy you’d like the dish to be. Taste, then season with salt and pepper, if desired.

In a large, non-stick pan, heat the sesame oil on medium-high until hot.

Add the sliced zucchini in an even layer; season with salt and pepper. Cook, without stirring, 2 to 3 minutes, until lightly browned. Move the zucchini to one side of the pan.

Add the seasoned beef in an even layer to the other side of the pan. Cook, without stirring, 2 to 3 minutes, or until lightly browned.

Add half the sauce. Cook, stirring frequently, 1 to 2 minutes, or until combined and the beef is just cooked through. Turn off the heat.

Assemble the cabbage cups using the cabbage leaves (you may have extra left over), cooked beef and zucchini, and marinated vegetables (including any liquid).


Serve the cabbage cups with the remaining sauce on the side. Enjoy!

Much like young Peregrin Took, I may have gone a bit overboard consuming these delicacies but they were well worth it.

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A little help from my friends…


Good food and a warm kitchen are what makes a house a home. I always tried to make my home like my mother’s, because Mom was magnificent at stretching a buck when it came to decorating and food. Like a true Italian, she valued beautification in every area of her life, and I try to do the same.

Rachael Ray

We all have those days when it seems like there just aren’t enough hours in the day. We are running full speed from the time our alarm goes off in the morning until we turn the alarm on again that evening. After a long day of the same old grind, the last thing anyone wants to do is stand in the grocery store meat department, trying to decide what to cook for dinner. Even worse, is standing there, trying to make a decision, and ending up with frozen pizza…again.

That’s why I love my friends at Blue Apron! With a few simple clicks of the mouse, I can have 2 or 3 amazing recipes delivered to my front door every week. Don’t want them that often? No problem. You can skip as many weeks as you like and only receive deliveries when you really want them.

I received my first order last month and was shocked at the amount of food they fit into the box! Included in the box was a recipe card for each dish chosen along with everything needed for each recipe…right down to the one egg needed for the Crispy Baked Chicken. Everything was pre-measured and ready to be added to the recipe.

This was January’s delivery! I was so excited, I didn’t bother to practice what I was going to say…LOL! Don’t worry. I’ve learned the proper way to say ‘farro’ since then!

My meal choices for February* are:

  • Seared Chicken & Kale Salad with Apple & Creamy Mustard Dressing (4 SP)
  • Beef & Vegetable Cabbage Cups with Sweet & Spicy Soy Sauce (7 SP)
  • Provencal-Style Baked Fish with Saffron Potatoes & Tomato-Olive Topping (7 SP)

Each of these meals are from the WW Freestyle menu.

*I have so many other WW recipes I’m working on, I’m only doing one Blue Apron delivery per month right now.

Another great thing about #BlueApron is their convenient app (available on iOS and Android). It makes keeping track of your orders fast and simple.

Be sure to keep an eye on my blog. I’ll be sharing more information about these recipes as I prepare them.

*I am in no way affiliated with, compensated by, or sponsored by Blue Apron.

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Stir-fried Chicken with Grapes

“A writing cook and a cooking writer must be bold at the desk as well as the stove.”

― M.F.K. Fisher

There are days when I can genuinely appreciate the efforts Mrs. Doubtfire puts into making sure her family is fed well.

Bold…

Yes. That’s what I was with this recipe. Very bold.

I knew it was something that only I would be consuming since my husband and daughter are, what I call, ‘basic eaters’. They only eat the basics…meat, cheese, and potatoes (usually in the form of chips or tater tots). No worries. I hoped for the best. Perhaps, they would be willing to at least give it a taste. If nothing else, I could try freezing it in small portions for meals later in the week.

Lesson learned…

Momma always told me to read the recipe in advance to make sure I had everything I needed. What she didn’t tell me was that sometimes there are components of a recipe that need to be prepared in advance (something I didn’t notice about this recipe until I was ready to begin my creation). Okay, maybe she did tell me and it was just something I chose to ignore…or forget. Either way, Wednesday evening’s dinner turned into Thursday evening’s dinner due to my lack of attention to detail.

I’m speaking of the pomegranate molasses. A project that takes about 2 hours, a little bit of patience, and a lot of soap and water (because it’s really sticky)! I wanted to get photos of the hilarious predicament I found myself in but I was afraid my fingers would stick to the camera and I’d never be able to put it down! Alton Brown made it look so easy.

Pomegranate Molasses…

Stir-fried Chicken with Grapes…

Ingredients

IMG_20190127_153727

Instructons

Happily surprised…

Served with white rice and red cabbage salad.

I’ll admit, I was a bit surprised that, after the initial shock of seeing something other than meat and potatoes on the table, my family was willing to at least taste my hard work. They were not big fans but they did compliment the chef and admit it wasn’t half bad. Hey! I’ll take whatever I can get from these two!

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Feeding other people…


“The fact is, I love to feed other people. I love their pleasure, their comfort, their delight in being cared for. Cooking gives me the means to make other people feel better, which in a very simple equation makes me feel better. I believe that food can be a profound means of communication, allowing me to express myself in a way that seems much deeper and more sincere than words. My Gruyere cheese puffs straight from the oven say ‘I’m glad you’re here. Sit down, relax. I’ll look after everything.’
– Ann Patchett, “Dinner For One, Please, James” 
― Jenni Ferrari-Adler, Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant : Confessions of Cooking for One and Dining Alone

I love to cook for family and friends! It’s something I was raised to do. My Momma said, “Nothing says ‘I love you’ like a home-cooked meal’.”

It doesn’t really have anything to do with the recipes but it’s all I could think about after writing that last sentence…LOL!

Every Sunday, Momma prepared the most amazing dinner, complete with a savory meat, some kind of starch, and lots of vegetables. She was a true artist in the kitchen. She believed a meal should not only be tasty, it should be delightful to look at. Once our plates were filled, they looked like painter’s pallets covered in a beautiful array of vibrant colors.

My favorite was her pot roast. Sometimes, it was a tender chuck roast or Eye of Round with mashed potatoes and all the trimmings. Other times, she delighted us with a pork loin that would melt in your mouth. She would put them on to cook before leaving for church (which made it really hard to concentrate on the sermon since all I could think of was getting home to that meal!). You could smell it cooking before you even walked inside the house!

This week, I cooked a meal that reminded me of one of Momma’s Sunday dinners and, as I looked around the table, I truly understood the pride Momma felt as she watched and listened to her satisfied family.

Garlic-herb Roasted Pork Loin with Pears

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spray medium roasting pan with nonstick spray. Lay pears across bottom of pan, overlapping if they won’t fit in a single layer.

2. With a small knife, cut about 24 shallow slits in pork; insert garlic slivers into slits.

3. Mix together rosemary, thyme, oil, salt, and pepper in small bowl. Rub all over pork, pushing herb mixture into slits. Place pork in pan on top of pears and roast until instant-read thermometer inserted into center of roast registers 145 degrees F, about 1 hours.

4. Transfer pork to cutting board and let stand 10 minutes. Arrange pears on platter. Cut pork into 24 slices and place on platters. Spoon any pan drippings over pork and serve.

*Serving size: 2 slices of pork and 1 pear half.

By the time I had finished cooking and we sat down to eat, it was nearly 10PM. Perfect plating was not my concern by then…LOL!

Check out these yummy side recipes:

Red Cabbage & Apple Salad (My own concoction)

Yellow Corn Bread with Buttermilk & Thyme from the WW Healthy Kitchen Cook Up Comfort cookbook.

My family explained it like this…

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Curry Chicken & Grape Salad

I love playing with my food! Making breakfast and lunch for myself is like a surprise party for one. I just start putting flavors together and see what happens. Believe me, there have been times when I was quick to hit the garbage with the concoction I had whipped up but, for the most part, I’ve been well-pleased with my flavor combinations.

This morning, I knew I was going to have to stop for lunch between work locations and buying lunch was not in the budget. I stood at the refrigerator door and stared at the possibilities…nothing interested me. Then, I remembered the canned chicken I had picked up at Publix last week during their BOGO sale. I quickly grabbed it from the pantry and went to work.

“Let’s see, I have these eggs I boiled last night,” I said to myself. “I’ll just throw those in with some mayo and make a sandwich.”

Digging through the fridge, I discovered I left the mayonnaise at my daughter’s house earlier this week (more on that in the next blog entry). So, I grabbed the fat free Greek yogurt. As I mixed the three ingredients together, I noticed how boring it looked and thought about Momma’s colorful dinner tables (see my blog, Just Like Momma Used to Make). I could almost feel the cogs in my brain turning!

“Bell peppers!” I thought. I quickly moved to the refrigerator to retrieve the small, sweet peppers. “Oooh! Red onion! That will work, too!”

As I started to close the refrigerator door, I noticed the piece de resistance…Red Grapes! Grabbing the bag, I made my way back to what had started as a simple chicken salad and began my creation.

After mixing all the ingredients and a quick taste test, I felt there was still something missing. It needed to be sweet but not too sweet. Staring at the rack of seasonings, I tried to imagine what each one would taste like with my mixture. Then I saw it, one of my favorites to eat (that I don’t get to work with very often)…Curry. I’m pretty sure this seasoning was created by the gods themselves.

“That’s it! It’s perfect! I can’t wait to share this with my readers!” was exactly what went through my mind the second the salad hit my tongue. Absolutely amazing!

So, without further ado, I give you…

Curry Chicken & Grape Salad

ZERO SMARTPOINTS!!!!

Since I knew I would be eating my lunch in the car, I chose to pair mine with some Chili-Lime rice cakes for only 4 SP!

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Just Like Momma Used to Make


“I don’t know what it is about food your mother makes for you, especially when it’s something that anyone can make – pancakes, meat loaf, tuna salad – but it carries a certain taste of memory.” 
― Mitch Albom

Growing up, there were three meals Momma made that I truly looked forward to. Now, don’t get me wrong, I loved EVERYTHING Momma cooked (How could I not? Her maiden name was Cook for a very good reason), but these three meals were something I bragged to my friends about. They were the kind of meals that brought me in for dinner without her even having to call for me.

One was her iron skillet filled with fried chicken and homemade gravy, served with homemade mashed potatoes, green beans, and homemade biscuits (everything Momma made was homemade).

The second was her beef stew served with homemade cornbread and a ton of butter!

While both of those were absolutely to die for, NOTHING touched her chicken and dumplings or, as she called them, DUMPLINS. She always served them with a side of green pea salad (I’ll share that in a later chapter) and homemade…yes…HOMEMADE sweet pickles! The soft, fluffy dumplings looked like little clouds of perfection as they floated at the top of the pot.

The fluffy dumplings were only the beginning. As she dipped her ladle into the pot, she would spoon out huge pieces of white meat chicken with the most wonderful broth I had ever smelled or put in my mouth.

Momma has since taken her leave of this world but she left behind a large library of amazing recipes. A lot of which were scribbled on pieces of paper in my childhood handwriting as I watched her work her magic in the kitchen.

This recipe is just as she instructed me to make it, with the exception of the chicken broth. Momma used chicken with the skin and bones which made a wonderful broth. However, I’m trying to make up for a few SmartPoints . Feel free to put your own twist on it by adding fresh herbs, seasonings, vegetables, or even other meats. Be sure to share your ideas in the comments. I’d love to hear how you made this recipe your own.

Chicken & Dumplins

Instructions

  1. Place water, chicken broth, and chicken breast in a large pot. Bring to a boil. Lower temperature to MEDIUM heat and cook until chicken is almost done (about 12-15 minutes). Skim any fat or residue off the surface and throw it away (that stuff is yucky!).
  2. Lower temperature to LOW; remove chicken from broth. Shred chicken into large, bite-size pieces or cut it into cubes, whatever suits your fancy. Add chicken back to the broth. (At this point, you can add salt and pepper, if you would like).
I prefer to shred the chicken…

3. Once chicken is back in the pot, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Make a trench, hole, pocket, whatever you want to call it, in the center of the flour mixture. Stir in milk and oil. Stir, just to moisten. Drop from teaspoon directly into the pot. DO NOT STIR!!!!!!

4. Cover tightly; return to boiling then reduce heat. DO NOT LIFT LID!!!!! You will be tempted. Oh, yes! The temptation will be great. It’s at this point, I find reciting the Lord’s Prayer is a great help…especially the part about temptation.

5. Simmer 12-15 minutes or until done.

Listen to that sizzle…mm-mm, good

Ta-Da! They’re not all that pretty but they taste ‘pretty’ amazing 😛

Final words…

I hope you enjoy this dish as much as I do! Just writing this has me drooling. It’s time to finish my first bowl…I MEAN! Well, just wait until you taste it!

The Journey Begins

“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.” 
― Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own

My little WW library.

As a Southern girl, I spent many hours in the kitchen with my mother learning to cook all sorts of amazing dishes. I learned the main ingredients to any good recipe were butter, salt, and an iron skillet (measuring utensils were not necessary).

Years later, I’ve found that good Southern cooking can be done without all the fat and calories. It’s just a matter of playing around with the ingredients and measuring…EVERYTHING!

As a WW (formerly known as Weight Watchers) member, I’ve come to realize how important it is to eat healthy. By using what I’ve learned from WW and paying attention to some of my favorite cooks and chefs, I’ve discovered there’s a whole world of fantastic flavors that can be incorporated into Southern cuisine. Flavors that light up my taste buds and make me ask, “Where have you been all my life?”

I hope you will follow along with me on my journey as I attempt to create dishes from the WW cookbook, “Cook Up Comfort – 160 cozy WW Freestyle recipes, with love from Chef Eric Greenspan” and the WW Weekly. Who knows? I may even throw in a few recipes of my own as we go along.