Category Archives: Recipes and Food

Nothing Says Love Like Cabbage

I come from an area with a centuries-old mash-up of different cultures. With so many different nationalities in one location for so many years, it’s not entirely surprising that foods from all of those cultures become part of the normal repertoire. For me, that’s the case with Polish food.

Pierogis and kielbasa (better known in that region as keilbasi) are a common treat. But a favorite and easy dish that my family has been making for years is golumpkis.

There are plenty of recipes out there for how to make them, but here’s my family’s multigenerational go-to version fit for a crockpot.

 

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Golumpkis with cheese pierogis

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb (or more) ground beef
  • 1 onion, diced
  • kosher salt
  • pepper
  • garlic
  • head of cabbage with large leaves
  • crushed tomatoes (large can)
  • cooked rice or quinoa

First is an option. If you feel like messing with it and want your golumpkis to be beautifully rolled, boil the cabbage for a few minutes until the leaves are tender. Otherwise, no one’s going to notice how beautifully rolled they are because they’ll fall apart anyways.

In either case, next brown the meat with the onions, garlic, kosher salt, and pepper to taste. Make sure it’s fully browned before removing from heat.

Next, if you want to add cooked rice or (the newly discovered option) quinoa, mix it in with the meat in a separate bowl so that the ingredients will be even in each golumpki. You can also just stuff it with meat and eat rice or quinoa (or pierogis) as a side. It’s good both ways.

Now it’s time to roll a golumpki. Lay out a (cooked or uncooked) cabbage leaf. If the leaves are uncooked, peel them off of the head as gently as you can, attempting to avoid tears. If it does tear, no biggie. It can still be easily wrapped. Spoon the meat mixture into the leaf. Two or three tablespoons is usually a good amount. Then fold the leaves towards the base (where the leaf met the cabbage head). Lay in the crockpot, fold side down.

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If the leaves tear or become too small, they can be sandwiched together and tucked between other golumpkis.

Once all of the golumpkis are rolled, cover with the crushed tomatoes and add a little more kosher salt for more flavor.

Cook on low in the crockpot for 5+ hours and enjoy!

Do you have any multigenerational family recipes that you love or use often?

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Hurricane Season (and the Cookies That Make It Better)

Living on the East Coast means that hurricanes are an expected part of life. While the number of landfalls here have been low in the past few years, that doesn’t equate to complacency whenever hurricane season starts. There’s always extra water in the pantry, extra batteries in the junk drawer, extra propane for the grill, mozzarella for a quick homemade pizza, and dried cherries for Hurricane Cookies.

Okay, so the National Hurricane Center doesn’t recommend the homemade pizza and Hurricane Cookies, but both of them have become part of the storm preparedness traditions.

Why homemade pizza? Originally, it just so happened to be what my mom was making when our first intense storm showed up unexpectedly years ago. And it has its perks. It might need refrigerated (which gets hard if the power goes out for more than a day), but it can survive in a cool fridge and is filling. And it’s pizza. Good for morale. You know.

Hurricane Cookies are a staple for the same reason: my mom just so happened to be making them as that same large storm was barreling towards the coast. It was a new recipe for white chocolate chip cookies with cherries in them, and they have since been dubbed Hurricane Cookies. They are made exclusively for storms, so if even a tropical depression sprinkles some rain on us, they’re mixed up and in the oven.

Want to prepare for Hurricane Season (even if you don’t live anywhere near the coast)? Here’s the recipe:

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Preheat the oven to 375.

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup shortening
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 ounces of white chocolate chips
  • 2-3 ounces of dried cherries (they work much easier than the chopped up Maraschino cherries we used to use!)

Mix all ingredients in order. Put on a greased cookie sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes. Makes 3 1/2 dozen (which is plenty to survive a storm).

If you’d rather make it into a bar cookie, just bake for 15-20 minutes instead.

And enjoy!


A Christmas Favorite: Silvertops

In my family, food is a huge part of holidays, especially Christmas. Christmas Eve is filled with traditional southern Italian seafood dishes (seven different types, to be specific), Christmas Day usually involves baked brie, and everyone has their own set of Christmas cookies and fudges to offer to the mix.

One type of cookie that I look forward to the most is the silvertop: a peanut butter cookie with a Hershey kiss nestled on top.

The recipe is old and makes literally dozens. (I’ve never bothered to count the finished number, but let’s just say that one typical-sized bag of Hershey kisses isn’t enough for all of the cookies.) And, unfortunately, since they’re my favorite, I often eat the majority of them. Yeah, not good. At least I’ve been keeping up with jogging this year or I’d probably have a solid extra five pounds right now.

Want to them out for yourself? The recipe is below. Warning: They are addictive.

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A (Belated) Thanksgiving Favorite: Butternut Squash and Lentil Soup

Ever have that awkward moment when you forget to schedule something? Yeah, I just realized that I had that. My 20 day hiatus could have been 18 instead. Oh well. That’s okay. Whether it’s Thanksgiving or not, this soup is still worth sharing.

Happy Thanksgiving! This is one of my favorite holidays, as I remember all of the things I’m grateful for personally and as an American, and as I enjoy time with friends and family.

Because both my husband’s family and mine live nearby, so this means that we often end up with two Thanksgivings in one day. Since we always bring something to both meals, it’s always an adventure to figure out what to bring. At both houses, desserts are already covered because of tradition, so that easy route doesn’t work. So a couple of years ago, I made a soup that started as a recipe I found online (that I can’t even find anymore) and that I slowly twisted into something unrecognizable from the original recipe. (I rarely follow recipes that closely anyways… :) ) It was such a big hit that everyone asks for it every year, and since it just stays in the crockpot, it lasts well from one Thanksgiving to the next.

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Simple Joys (Like Frothed Milk)

Another Christmas has come and gone. This one has been a little different. We almost always leave the tree and decorations up until Epiphany (just because we can), but usually there’s not a shred of wrapping paper to be seen after we finish opening gifts. Even now it’s still strewn across the floor. It’s impossible to clean it all up when the kitten immediately begins playing with all of the paper as soon as we start gathering it up again. (I’m going to be a pushover of a parent, aren’t I?)

How can I resist that cute face?

How can I resist that cute face?

Remind me again why we didn’t have a pet before? I can’t wait to experience Christmas with kids.

Anyways, ever since we visited Quebec over the summer, I’ve had a new appreciation for my French heritage. Okay, so besides practicing the language more, it mostly translates into the addition of Quebecois food. But there was one major favorite missing from my at-home repertoire: cafe au lait.

Drinking it from a traditional bowl is a must!

Drinking it from a traditional bowl is a must!

The problem: I didn’t have a milk frother. It’s essential to a proper bowl of cafe au lait. My mom has one because it’s attached to a fancy espresso machine, which means that I’ve only been able to get my fix at her house. And while I enjoy coffee, I just don’t drink it enough to justify an espresso machine.

So this Christmas, my husband set to work on researching milk frothers. About two hours of undercover reading later, he found what seems (at least, so far) to be just the right one: a $15-ish manual one from Amazon. Unlike an appliance, it’s hard to break, and it froths milk at any temperature (even cold!) in about a minute.

Just a metal pitcher with a thin screen that slides up and down the rod connected to the lid.

The frother: just a metal pitcher with a thin screen that slides up and down the rod connected to the lid.

Pour in some milk (even if it's cold).

Pour in some milk (even if it’s cold).

Move the handle on the lid up and down about twenty times, and the milk froths up like nobody's business.

Move the handle on the lid up and down about twenty-five times, and the milk froths up like nobody’s business.

Pour over coffee with some sugar, and voilà! Cafe au lait!

Pour in with coffee, leave some foam on top, and voilà! Cafe au lait!

I’m still perfecting how many times to pump the handle and I still need proper bowls to drink it French style. (For now, does a Belle cup count? She’s from a French fairytale…) But it’s the little things that keep life fun.

What’s your favorite coffee? Have you tried cafe au lait before?


Photo of the Week: Fun with Food

Great recipes are often discovered by accident, and this one just so happened to be a fun accident.

Do you know why Irish stews typically use green cabbage? Because this is what happens when you use red/purple cabbage instead. It turns everything purple.

Even the beef turned purple!

Even the beef turned purple! The only thing that remained unchanged were the carrots.

So, if ever you want to add some special color to your food, apparently a red cabbage is all you need.

Have you made any odd food discoveries lately?

 


For Boring Days…

Food has always been an adventure.

Most of the people that I know have gone through that picky eater stage. I probably did when I was very young, but if I did, it was very short. I guess it’s hard to stay picky for long when your mom is willing to try anything at least once (buffalo or snake, anyone?) and your grandmother is a first generation Italian immigrant. (I never realized that calamari was exotic because we always had it fried or in spaghetti sauce on Christmas Eve.)

But food sometimes gets boring when you make it pretty much every night at home. That’s the problem that I had earlier this week. The pork chops defrosting in the sink couldn’t make it to the grill because, 1. it was too humid to stand outside with 400 degrees of radiating heat, and 2. I haven’t spent enough time learning how to use the grill and therefore don’t unless my husband (aka, the grill master) is home.

So, I stood with the fridge open and stared at the random things there. Like the cooked corn from a party at our house… four leftover ears of it that I knew I had to cook into something but didn’t know what. And then inspiration struck.

Allow me to introduce you to what we’ve named southwest pork chops.

This week's culinary creation

This week’s culinary creation

And here’s the easiest way to whip it up.

All you need:

  • Pork chops
  • Canned tomatoes with green chilies (or canned tomatoes and canned green chilies, or fresh tomatoes and fresh green chilies…)
  • Corn, already off the cob (or out of the can or the freezer)
  • Fresh parsley (if you have any), chopped up
  • Garlic
  • A dash of chili powder
  • A dash of cayenne pepper
  • A dash of cumin

First, cook the pork chops in the pan on medium-high heat. Give it about 15 minutes, flipping it every 5 or so minutes.

Once the pork is cooked, add spices, garlic, and parsley. Pour the tomatoes and chilies over top so that the spices end up everywhere. Throw in the corn. (It adds a great sweetness!) You may also want to put in a cup of water, so that you have some juices in the end.

Let it simmer until the tomatoes, corn, and juices are warm, and you’re done.

It’s great with rice and black beans. If you give it a shot, let me know how it goes.

Happy weekend!