Saturday, October 24, 2015

Fall Tossing, Peanut Butter Frosting, & Zucchini Soup

First truth: I love my sewing room. Second truth: Although it was the largest available room in my house, it's way too small for all my stuff!

Cramped space isn't all bad, I suppose. There is an upside to squeezing everything into a small room. Since it doesn't take much clutter to turn the space into a maze, there's no choice but to keep things organized. That's not a bad thing.

On the other hand, controlling chaos also forces the occasional sort and toss, and parting with things can be downright painful. The overstuffed boxes, drawers, baskets, and surfaces have reached the point where something has to go. Make that plural. Lots of somethings have to go. I'll be saying good-bye to a few projects, both finished and unfinished, extra fabrics and supplies, and some other accumulated "stuff". Where to start? Where to stop? Most important of all, who to dump it on?

Taking the first step in the grand clean out wasn't hard at all. My daughter rather likes one of the numerous UFOs in my boxes, so it's going to her house. I've been working on it this week. The less than perfect quilting is completed, and the binding goes on later today. That's one item gone.  More to come.

My daughter's choice: a disappearing four patch lap quilt in Kaffe Fassett prints.

There are only two places you need to look for me in my house. If I'm not in the sewing room, check the kitchen. This week my kitchen time was limited so the recipes were quick and easy.

The soup of the week was extra yummy "Cream of Zucchini Soup" from This is my new favorite soup for fall. Terri Lyn shared the link with me, and I'm sharing it with all of you. Thank you, Terri! If anyone else has a super recipe for any favorite food, please let me know and I'll post it here. 

I served the soup with melon and a chunk of whole wheat baguette. It made such a tasty, healthy lunch. 

Creamy Zucchini Soup

I also baked a cake this week. Thursday was the day for my monthly fifth grade book talks, and I had lunch in the teacher's lounge with my buddies. I aways try to take a treat for them, and this cake was it.

I should have taken my photo before the cake was discovered. These two little pieces are all that remain.
The cake was a basic sour cream chocolate dump cake that was just okay. My peanut butter frosting, though, was a real hit, and everyone wanted the recipe.  I hardly dare to call it a recipe. It's just a buttercream frosting made with equal amounts of butter and peanut butter.

This is the way I made it for an 8" square cake. Pair it with your favorite baked chocolate something,  and get ready for rave reviews.

  1. In a medium bowl, cream 1/4 cup of room temperature butter and and 1/4 cup of peanut butter together until fluffy. 
  2. Add a teaspoon of vanilla, three or four tablespoons of milk, and a couple of cups of powdered sugar. Blend thoroughly.
  3. Add more milk and/or powdered sugar until the frosting is a nice spreadable consistency.
  4. Frost cooled cake, cupcakes, or cookies and grate a little chocolate on top. 
... or just eat it with a spoon.

Wishing you a lovely last week in October.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls - a recipe

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls - a recipe

I've put patterns aside for a week or two so I can work on other things. This week I've washed windows and begun filling my freezer with pre-cooked soups and casseroles. The farmer's market will be closed for the winter very soon, so I've been gathering and preparing as many local veggies as I can manage.

As the season comes to a close, the farmer's market is overflowing with delicious veggies.  I brought home pumpkins, fresh canning tomatoes, zucchini, green and red peppers, and two beautiful pale green cabbages. I had big plans for all of them, especially for the cabbages.

Cabbage rolls stuffed with rice, ground beef, and herbs are a favorite at our house. This is old-fashioned comfort food at it's best. The recipe takes quite a bit of time, but it is so worth the effort.

Once cooked, these freeze beautifully. Wrap them individually in plastic wrap and place them in a freezer bag in the freezer. They will keep for up to two months.

My grandmother's stuffed cabbage went by the title, "Pigs in Blankets", and it was made with ground pork.  My recipe takes some elements from my grandmother's stuffed cabbage rolls and others from my mother-in-law's recipe. The vinegar comes from my grandmother, the beef from my mother-in-law, and the abundant herbs from both of them. The brown sugar that adds sweetness to the sour is all mine. Grandma's cabbage rolls were baked in the oven, my mother-in-law's were cooked on the stovetop, and mine are slowly simmered in a crockpot.

The Ingredients:

  • 1 medium cabbage
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 cup uncooked long grained rice (I used basmati.)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 T vegetable oil or olive oil
  • 1/3 cup fresh, chopped parsley (1 /2 T dried)
  • 1/4 cup fresh, chopped dill (1 T dried)
  •  Chopped tomatoes, 15 oz. can 
  • 1 small can of tomato sauce, 8 oz
  • 1-2 T apple cider vinegar
  • 1-2 T brown sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste

Steam the cabbage to soften it for stuffing. 

This can take half an hour or more, so I often do it a day in advance. A large vegetable steamer is the best utensil to use, but I don't have one. I substituted a large pot with a tight fitting lid and a metal colander that fits inside.

the core removed                                      the first layer of leaves draining                the cabbage inverted in the pot.

  1. Place water in the pot. It should reach almost to the bottom of the insert, but it shouldn't actually touch the cabbage. Bring the water to a boil. Turn the temperature down so the water just bubbles gently. 
  2. Use a small paring knife to cut out the heart of the cabbage, then invert the cabbage and place it upside down in the container in the pot. Put the lid on the pot.
  3. The leaves need to be steamed just enough to shape easily around the stuffing without breaking.  
  4. After 10 minutes or so, gently peel off the softened outer leaves. Place them in a colander to cool. 
  5. Return the cabbage to the pot, put the lid on, and wait for the next layer of two or three leaves to soften. As the cabbage heats through less time will be needed to soften the leaves. 
  6. Repeat this process till all of the leaves of usable size have been removed. The small leaves wrapped tightly in the center of the cabbage can be saved for another use or discarded. 
Prepare the Stuffing 

  1. In a medium saucepan, bring a quart of water to a boil. Turn the temperature down to medium. Add a teaspoon of salt, one tablespoon of the oil, and the rice. Stir. Allow the rice to cook for ten to fifteen minutes. When the grains of rice are firm in the center, but not crunchy, remove the pot from the stove and pour the rice in a mesh strainer to drain off the water. Set the rice aside.
  2. Pour the remaining tablespoon of oil into a large skillet with the onions. Saute the onions until just golden in color. Remove the onions and set aside. 
  3. Brown the ground beef in the same skillet. Drain off any excess oil and return the onions to the skillet with the ground beef. Add the parsley, dill, and tomato sauce plus salt and pepper. Simmer on medium low heat for about ten minutes. 
  4. Add the drained rice to the skillet and mix stir.
Stuff the Cabbage Leaves

  1. Make a layer of two or three of the larger leaves on the bottom of the crockpot. This will prevent the bottom cabbage rolls from scorching. 
  2. Hold a cabbage leaf in one hand. The leaf will naturally curl to form a pocket near the base. 
  3. Add enough stuffing to fit comfortably in the pocket. The amount will vary from one tablespoon to as many as three tablespoons depending on the size of the leaf. 
  4. Fold the sides of the leaf in snuggly so they overlap a bit at the center.
  5. Fold the top of the leaf down.
  6. The cabbage roll should be quite compact, but not so tight as to tear the cabbage leaf. Continue making the rolls will all of the usable leaves. 
(Extra stuffing can be heated and cooked through for a side dish.)

6. Place each roll in the crockpot, folded side down.
7. When the bottom of the crockpot is filled, layer the rolls on top of each other.
8. Pour the cooked, diced tomatoes over all.
9. Cook on low heat for 4-6 hours, or until the cabbage is cooked through and tender.

To serve, remove the cabbage rolls to a serving dish, and spoon the juice in the bottom of the crockpot over them.