Saturday, August 16, 2014

Maw's Maw's Cabbage Casserole
(Simple Savory Southern)


I walked into my mom's kitchen and HAD to ask about the mouth-watering aroma that filled the house. "Cabbage Casserole; your Maw Maw used to make it." I took a bowl. It was surprisingly delicious, for just being cabbage, onions, ground meat, butter, and breadcrumbs. "The key is letting it all cook down" my mom said. It's amazing how a dish based off of cheap, bitter cabbage can turn into delicious and filling meal with just occasional stirring and a good bit of time.

The following recipe calls for one cabbage. You can use any ground meat you like (beef, turkey, pork).

For those who live in New Orleans, if you've got cabbage leftover from any St. Patty's parades, this is a great recipe to use it up! Just make two pots at once, or double the recipe in one really big pot. I do believe my mom also does the smothering process in a slow cooker when there's extra time. Experiment and enjoy!

 Maw Maw's Cabbage Casserole
Prep: 8 minutes  Cook: 20 minutes stove + 45 minutes oven  Total: 1hour 13 minutes  Makes: 6 servings

Equipment:
Large pot (chili pot), tongs or wooden spoons (for tossing/smothering cabbage), small bowl (for beaten egg), 9x9 or similar size baking dish, stove, oven 


 Ingredients:
1 lb ground meat
1 small onion, chopped
1 cabbage (about 2.5 lb)
1 egg, lightly beaten
½ stick* butter
½ cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
 * ½ stick= ½ cup






Method:
1. Brown ground meat and onions until meat is mostly cooked. If desired, drain most or all of the grease. (It may be fattier, but leaving the grease really helps with the cabbage smothering process, and adds flavor.)


2. Add cabbage. Smother the cabbage until most of it is translucent, about 10-20 mins. While smothering, preheat oven to 300F.


3. Take the pot off the heat source. Add beaten egg and butter. When butter is melted, add the breadcrumbs.

4. Transfer the cabbage mixture to a baking dish. Sprinkle with desired amount of breadcrumbs. Bake at 300F for 45 mins, or until desired tenderness is reached.






Tips:
1. In step 1, "mostly cooked" means yes, there can be some pink left, but mostly brown.
2. For step 2, I find tongs to be the easiest, cleanest way to toss and smother the cabbage.
3. This recipe makes 6 servings as a main course. As a side dish, it could easily be 8-10 servings.





















Saturday, July 12, 2014

Spinach Manicotti
(A No Ricotta Request)


Mark hates lumpy cheeses. "It ruins a dish", he says. The mouth-feel of little curds rolling around the tongue is an unappealing experience to him. And as for the flavor, "What flavor?"

Mozzarella is one of the only cheeses he'll tolerate. "I don't want any stinky foot cheese," he'll warn me. It's not too hard to find a happy medium, though.

Spinach Manicotti 
with Cream Cheese and Mozzarella 
Prep: 20 minutes  Cook: 15 minutes   Total: 35 minutes, plus cooling time 
Makes: about 2 cups of filling/fills about 4-6* manicotti

Equipment: 
Large bowl, small casserole dish (8x8), medium heavy duty zip bag (e.g. Ziploc freezer bag)  

Ingredients: 

1 8oz block
cream cheese or Neufchatel, cubed
2 cups
shredded mozzarella, separated
3 toes
garlic, minced (optional)
1 ½ cups
chopped fresh or frozen spinach
2 cups
pasta sauce 
4-6
manicotti*








*quantity depends on how much is filled into noodles.

Method:
1. Preheat oven to 300 F. Cook manicotti according to package instructions until al dente (as in, slightly chewy).
2. Place spinach, garlic (if using), 1 1/4 cup of mozzarella, and cubed cream cheese into a large bowl. Using hands, blend ingredients together until well combined. (Or just use a spoon to stir together.)
I like gettin' messy...


3. Place mixture into a medium heavy duty plastic storage bag. Cut the tip of the bag so where the filling mixture can easily be piped out. Squeeze mixture into cooked manicotti shells, a little more than halfway full from bottom to top (for only 4 shells, fill even more).


4. Spread a thin layer of pasta sauce on the bottom of a small casserole dish, and arrange filled manicotti on top. Pour remaining sauce over manicotti, and sprinkle with remaining mozzarella.

5. Bake pasta for about 10-15 minutes, or until the mozzarella has light golden spots. Place dish on heat-proof surface, and let cool about 5 minutes before serving.

 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Black Bean Enchiladas
(Cheesy, Gooey, Meat-Free Goodness)

I can honestly say I have a giant, ever-expanding scrapbook of recipes from various cooking magazines. One of my favorite food-related magazines used to be "Every Day Food", a Martha Stewart magazine. Unfortunately, it's been out of print for quite a while now (only tiny pocket issues are available inside Living magazine now). This recipe is based off of their Bean and Cheese Enchiladas, except I tweaked a few things to suit my own personal tastes and methods.

So, if you're looking to cut calories, just use about 2 cups ricotta or cottage cheese instead of the cream cheese/pepper jack mixture. Or, if you simply don't care for my version and method, you could always go with the original version of the recipe in the link given above.

Black Bean Enchiladas
Prep Time:15 minutes Cook Time: 15 minutes Total Time: 30 minutes Makes:6-8 Enchiladas

Ingredients:
For the Enchiladas:
6-8 whole wheat soft tortillas
1 can black beans, drained
8oz cream cheese, softened to room temperature
½ lb pepper jack cheese, shredded
cilantro, for garnish (optional)
For the Sauce:
½
medium onion, chopped or diced (plus some reserved for garnish, if desired)
1 Tbsp vegetable or olive oil
1 8oz can tomato paste
2 cups beef broth (or vegetable or chicken broth)
1 Tbsp chilli powder
1 Tbsp garlic powder (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350F. In a small saucepan, heat oil until hot, about a minute. Swirl pan to coat. Cook onions until translucent, then stir in tomato paste and broth until well combined. Spray a baking dish with oil, then spoon a small amount of enchilada sauce on the bottom of a baking dish; just enough to create an even, thin coat. Set remaining sauce aside.



2. In a large bowl, using either a spoon or your hands, combine cream cheese and pepper jack cheese. Gently fold in the black beans.





3. Working with one tortilla at a time, spoon cheese mixture into middle of tortilla, and gently but firmly roll each tortilla, placing them seam-down into prepared baking dish. Pour enchilada sauce evenly over the tortillas. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until warm and gooey in the center. Serve immediately. If desired, serve garnished with onions and cilantro.



Tip:
If you don't have any broth on hand, or don't feel like buying broth just for a sauce recipe, just use water instead. It won't be as rich in flavor, but the seasonings and tomato flavor will do well enough.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

French Toasties
(The Freezable Breakfast Heroes)


I'm not going to lie here. This recipe was adapted from one of my new favorite cookbooks, Muffin Tin Chef by Matt Kadey. Well...more like "copied" from minus a few very minor details. What I love about the book is that the author was nice enough to label his recipes with "V" for vegetarian, "G" for gluten-free, and "F" for my favorite...freezable. Nearly perfect, per-portioned, freezable meals I can pop into the microwave? Yes, please!

These mini french toasts taste even better dipped in syrup, or baked with chocolate chips or berries.

French Toasties
Adapted from Muffin Tin Chef by Matt Kadey
Prep: 15 minutes  Cook: 20 minutes  Total: 35 minutes + 10 minutes to cool  Makes: 9-12 "toasties"
 

Equipment:
medium sized muffin pan (greased with butter, or sprayed with oil), serrated 
knife (bread knife), large bowl, whisk (or fork), spoon      

Ingredients:
6 slices bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
3 large eggs
1/3 cups plus 2 Tbsp milk
1 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon




1. Preheat oven to 350 F. In a large bowl, beat eggs lightly, then gently beat in milk, sugar, and cinnamon.

2. Add cubed bread to the egg mixture. Stir gently until bread cubes are nearly all moistened. Let sit for about 5 minutes.


3. Pour bread mixture into buttered muffin pan, and pour any remaining egg mixture on top. (Alternately, pour mixture into individual silicone muffin cups.) Bake until slightly golden and eggs are set, about  20 minutes. Serve with maple syrup, or let cool then freeze in freezer-safe ziptop bags or containers. To re-heat frozen muffins, microwave about 20-30 seconds, or let thaw and microwave about 10-20 seconds.


Finished French Toasties; some baked in silicone cups with blueberries

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Pesto Cream Sauce
(Fresh Ravioli's New BFF)


I know I usually start many of my posts explaining how simple a recipe is. Well...guess what? This is another ridiculously easy recipe. In fact, I've written this recipe with two different methods: The first is my favorite; straight up heating all the ingredients until thick. The second is the bechamel method. It's a little more advanced, but this method is lower in fat, and is very handy for those times you don't have heavy cream on hand. Heck....there's technically a third method of heating half and half until thickened, but I personally prefer cutting heavy cream myself. (...Call it a minor control issue....)

Huge suggestion: Find yourself some sundried tomato pesto. It's awesome. Or just add sundried tomatoes or whatever other add-in you want to the sauce. And if you're using fresh ravioli with this sauce,  you can go ahead and heat the ravioli in the sauce as it thickens; just be sure to stir occasionally so that the pasta doesn't stick to the bottom of the skillet.

As a side note, I did not add "Prep Time" or "Total Time" indications, since prep time would basically be about a minute or two for mise en place (putting things in place). 

Backstory: This is one of those recipes that came in the form of a cartoon-y light bulb above my head while browsing a menu at a local pizza restaurant; "a four cheese tortellini in a creamy pesto sauce". I thought of the refrigerated ravioli in the fridge and the unopened bottle of sundried tomato pesto in the cupboard just begging to be used. I knew instantly I would try making a "creamy pesto sauce" for dinner; alas, I had a harder time figuring out what to order for lunch!


Pesto Cream Sauce
Cook: 5-8 minutes Makes: about 2 1/2 cups

Equipment:
large skillet

Ingredients:


2 cups
heavy cream
½ cup
milk, plus more as needed
3 Tbsp
pesto





Method:
1. Pour ingredients into a large skillet. On medium heat, cook heavy cream, milk, and pesto in a large skillet, stirring occasionally until sauce is thickened. If needed, add more milk to thin sauce, or more heavy cream to thicken sauce. Serve with pasta or other desired dish.
Pesto Cream Sauce made with Sundried Tomato Pesto


Creamy Pesto Sauce  
Cook: 5 minutes Makes: About 1 1/2 cups

Equipment:
small pot or skillet, whisk
 

Ingredients:

2 Tbsp
butter
2 Tbsp
flour
1 ½  cups
milk
3 Tbsp
pesto

Method:
1. Melt butter in a small pot or skillet on medium heat.
2. Once butter is completely melted, whisk in flour until well combined. (As in, flour has absorbed all the butter, in a matter of 5-10 seconds.)
3. Pour in milk all at once. Briskly whisk mixture until smooth. Keeping the heat level at medium, allow mixture to cook until thickened. Once thickened, turn off heat and stir in pesto until well combined. If sauce is too thick, stir in more milk. If sauce is too thin, allow sauce to simmer a few minutes or as needed. Serve finished sauce immediately with pasta or other desired dish.