Showing posts with label Recipes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Recipes. Show all posts

Saturday, December 9, 2017

A New Robe and a Family Favorite Cookie Recipe

 The Robe

I did it! I rarely sew for myself, but I actually found the time to sew a new robe. Lovely, soft, warm flannel in beautiful turquoise blue. It's roomy and warm with enough length and  fullness to wrap around my ankles at night.

It's hard to see the details with the light behind me. 

A better photo in a shorter mirror.
 The Recipe

I only bake these little morsels of delicate yumminess for very special occasions.  They are far too rich for everyday nibbling. Crunchy nuts and sweet fruit preserves contrast beautifully with a melt-in-your-mouth, buttery cookie base. It's hard to eat only one.

Jelly Filled Swedish Butter Cookies

Half are filled with sour cherry preserves, half with fig preserves.

  • 1 c. butter
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1 egg, separated plus the white of a second egg
  • 1 T. cream
  • 1 t. vanilla 
  • 2 c. sifted flour
  • 1/2 t. baking powder
  • 1/2 c. chopped pecans or walnuts 

  1. Heat oven to 350º F. 
  2. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. 
  3. Add the egg yolk, cream, and vanilla. Mix well
  4. Sift the flour and baking powder together. Stir into the butter mixture until smooth.
  5. Beat both egg whites lightly with a fork.
  6. Form dough into small balls, about 1" in diameter.
  7. Dip dough in the egg white, then roll in the chopped nuts.
  8. Place the balls on an ungreased cookie sheet.  (I lined the cookie sheet with parchment paper.)
  9. Make a small indentation in the center of each ball. (A finger is about the right size, but I used the rounded end of a wooden spoon.)
  10. Fill the indentations with preserves. 
  11. Bake for about 20 minutes.
  12. Allow to cool slightly on the cookie sheet before moving to a cooling rack.
  13. Handle carefully as these are very fragile when warm.
In the oven and almost baked.


Only 16 days till Christmas! 

Still no tree, no decorations, no cards sent out and several batches of cookies yet to bake. 
I'd better get busy!

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Log Cabins and Bean Soup

The Log Cabins

I'm been sewing log cabin blocks while dressed in a warm winter sweater, thick socks, and my fleece lined winter slippers. Our record breaking warm weather has abruptly been replaced by bitter cold and a brisk north wind, so I couldn't have picked a better project for this week. A log cabin with a big fire in the fireplace sounds so warm and cozy right now.

So far, I've been following the original plan, but now that the log cabin blocks are finished, I'm not completely sure that I want to finish it like this.

I'm using 9" blocks, so I have lots of options and space for experimentation. It doesn't hurt that I'm not feeling pressured to have this finished by any particular date.
A Recipe for Ham and Bean Soup

Winter weather and hot soup are perfect companions, so my kitchen soup factory is back in business. This week, I cooked up a pot of old-fashioned ham and bean soup - perfect comfort food for a day that requires fuzzy slippers and warm socks.

Grandmother's Bean Soup With Ham

  • 1 medium onion, chopped 
  • 1 T vegetable oil
  • 1 15 oz can of chicken broth 
  • 4 or 5 oz ham cut into 1/2" cubes
  • 1/4 cup grated carrots
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 1/2 tsp dried dill weed
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 15 oz cans of cannellini beans
  • 1 T ketchup
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • salt, if needed (I found that the ham was sufficiently salty, so I added no additional salt.)

1. Heat the oil in a large, heavy saucepan. Saute the chopped onions in the vegetable oil until golden.
2. Add the chicken broth, ham, carrots, bay leaves, parsley, dill weed, and water.
3. Cover and cook on medium low for 30 minutes, or until the carrots are tender.
4. Add the cannellini beans, pepper, and ketchup. Continue cooking for another 30 minutes. Add additional water if needed.
5. Remove bay leaves to serve.

And keep warm!

Sunday, October 23, 2016

When Sewing Doesn't Go Well..

What do you do when you are frustrated because your latest project isn't turning out the way you'd expected? 

I bake. Sometimes I cook up some soup, but usually I bake.

The new quilting idea had looked wonderful on paper in black and white, but it didn't translate at all well into my chosen Christmas fabrics. Instead of agonizing over it, I took refuge in the kitchen. I baked zucchini bread one day and chocolate cake the next. 

The baking led to a discovery that made me wonder if my mom is still looking after me. 

I had picked up a huge zucchini earlier in the week because it reminded me of my mother's garden. She grew zucchini every summer and she grew them big. She used much of it to bake zucchini bread. I went searching for the perfect recipe, but I really wanted my mother's bread. I found a recipe with a five-star rating on All Recipes titled, "Mom's Zucchini Bread".

It was worth a try.  I cut the sugar down to 2 cups and added 1/2 cup of raisins to the recipe because Mother's zucchini bread had always contained raisins. The result was wonderful. My new recipe tasted exactly like I remember my mother's tasting. Moist, perfectly spiced, and sweetened with raisins. Positively scrumptious!

The next day, I was still unable to focus on sewing, so I baked a chocolate cake from a well loved recipe in my go to cookbook for baking. I've used this cookbook over and over since I found it in a used book sale in 1980.  It was so well loved that the pages were falling out. My wonderful baking book would soon be destroyed if I didn't do something to save it. Since I had nothing else that needing doing, I removed all of the pages, punched holes in them, and placed them in a big purple binder.

That's when I found this stuck between two pages. It's my mother's zucchini bread recipe in her own handwriting. I must have placed it there years and years ago and totally forgotten that I had it.

Mother's zucchini bread recipe.
The main differences between my mother's recipe and the one I found in All Recipes are that my mother's contains only 2 cups of sugar and it has raisins. These are the exact two changes that I made!

Compare the two recipes by following this link to All Recipes:

Happiness is a slice of warm zucchini bread. 
With raisins. 

Thank you, Mommy. 

Saturday, April 2, 2016

The Splendid Sampler Gallery and Peanut Butter Cookies

I'm the only one sharing Splendid Sampler photos this week, so I've added the recipe for yummy peanut butter cookies to the end of this post

The Gallery

In spite of the new pattern and working on my second purse, I actually managed to keep up this week! Three new blocks have joined my collection. One of them was even a bonus block. 

Block 13, "Scrap Stars", is one of my very favorites so far. Once again I had to face those itty-bitty pieces that plague me. I did cheat a tiny bit and used paper foundation piecing for the flying geese to get my points precise. I managed the rest of it the old-fasioned way. the combined techniques worked well for me. 

I loved Pat Sloan's bonus block! It's simple and elegant. With no tiny triangles to make, the piecing was quick and  easy. The designers have thoughtfully balanced the tricky blocks with quick and easy ones.

"Flying High", block 14 appeared in my inbox Thursday morning. The birds are beautiful, but they almost did me in. I was determined to applique these three silhouettes by hand. I've never been successful with hand applique, but everyone says that it only takes practice. I ruined the first three birds with needle turn applique. I'm not a quitter, and I wasn't about to give up so easily. I got out the freezer paper. This is supposed to be surefire. 

Forty-five minutes later another three birds hit the trash. By now half the morning had gone by, six birds were headed for the landfill, and one 7" square of background fabric was beyond repair. I gave up. I got out the fusible web and whipped those babies onto a background in no time.  Thank you, my trusty machine blanket stitch.You never let me down.

After all of that I went upstairs and baked a batch of peanut butter cookies. I ate two cookies while they were still warm. They were delicious, and I'd earned them.

Old-Fashioned Peanut Butter Cookies


1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 egg
1 1/4 cup flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 Cream the butter for 2 minutes. Add the sugars, cream for 2 more minutes. Mix in the peanut butter and egg. Mix together the dry ingredients - flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Stir into the sugar butter mixture.
2 Wrap dough in plastic and refrigerate at least 3 hours.
peanut-butter-cookie-2.jpg peanut-butter-cookie-3.jpg
3 Preheat oven to 375°F. Shape dough into 1 1/4 inch balls. Place about 3 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Flatten in crisscross pattern with a fork. 
*4. Bake until light brown, 9 to 10 minutes. Cool on baking sheets for a minute; transfer to rack to cool completely.
Makes about 2 dozen cookies.
For chewier cookies, bake at 300°F for 15 minutes.

*Note: After 10 minutes my cookies were still slightly uncooked in the middle. I gave them the full 15 minutes, and they were perfect. 

Friday, February 19, 2016

Quilt Blocks and Banana Carrot Bread

 This week has been wonderful! Not only have I had enough energy to be able to play a bit in my sewing room and in my kitchen, but the weather has been nice enough to open windows and go for afternoon walks.

Sewing Room Play
I couldn't wait to start work on a new block design. I'd been toying with it on paper for a couple of weeks and it was ready for fabric. I was determined to use only fabrics that I had on hand. The pink and soft green fabrics felt fresh and spring-like, so that was my starting point. . The first attempt in fabric was okay, but boring. I felt like it really needed more color. I switched out only one fabric, but the difference is dramatic. Today, I'll begin trying to turn this into something - still not sure what, but definitely something. 

One photo taken in the morning, one taken in the afternoon. The colors change in the light.

I've joined a quilt-along group, "The Splendid Sampler", with Pat Sloan and a number of other designers. There will be 100 blocks altogether - two each week. This is the link:

I'm not at all pleased with my second block, so I may make it over later on. I didn't notice until I looked at the photograph, but some of my points got chopped off. I definitely need to work on perfecting a number of my skills and this is a pleasant and painless way to do so. I'll have 100 blocks at the end, too. A whole quilt!

Kitchen Play

Bananas were overripe, carrots were starting to get dry on the outside, and my golden raisins were almost finished. What do you do when you have food that needs to be used or tossed? This time I did toss it - all into one recipe, and believe me, this is a keeper! It's sweet and moist and simply chock-full of flavor and texture goodness. 

Banana-Carrot-Raisin Bread 

Makes 2 Loaves

2 ½ c sifted flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1 c. mashed ripe bananas
1 c. sugar
¾ c. softened butter
3 eggs
1 c. finely grated carrots
½ c. chopped walnuts
½ c. raisins
1 tsp. sugar + 1 tsp. cinnamon for baking pans

Preheat the oven to 350°.

Grease two 9”x 5”x 3” loaf pans.  Mix 2 tsp. sugar and 2 tsp. cinnamon. Sprinkle half of this mixture onto the bottom of each pan. Tip the pan to spread the sugar/cinnamon mixture so it coats the bottom and the sides of the pan.

Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

Combine bananas, sugar, butter, and eggs in a large mixing bowl. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes.

Stir in dry ingredients. Don’t overmix. Fold in carrots, raisins, and walnuts.

Spread mixture into loaf pans. The pans will be about ½ full. 

Bake at 350° for 50 – 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. 

Wishing you a lovely week with lots of playtime! 


Thursday, January 21, 2016

Sailboats, Beef Stew, and a Question

It's been a cold, typical January week, but while I sat at my desk bundled in fleece, I concentrated on summer, sailboats, and the deep blue sea.  The summer thoughts resulted in a mug rug, and the keeping warm resulted in comforting beef stew. 

The Sailboats

Blue skies, blue sea, and two sailboats ride the waves. I'm so looking forward to warmer weather. 


Old-Fashioned Beef Stew

I wouldn't exactly call this a recipe because I basically tossed some beef and veggies into a pot and let it simmer, but this is how I made it. I didn't start this until mid afternoon, so I cooked the stew beef in a pressure cooker while I was getting everything else together. If you have more time the stew beef can be cooked in a pot before adding the vegetables. I much prefer using fresh herbs, but I was limited to the ingredients in my pantry.

Yum! Beef stew with a crusty baguette on a cold winter's night.

The measurements are estimates because I tossed in what looked good to me. You will need to adjust the vegetable proportions and quantities to suit your own taste.
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 lb. stew beef
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 4 stalks of celery cut into 1" strips
  • About 1 1/2 cups of baby carrots
  • 3 or 4 small to medium potatoes, cut into 1 1/2" cubes
  • 1 T dried parsley flakes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • A pinch of dried thyme
  • A sprinkle of ground cloves
  • 3/4 c frozen green peas
  • Salt & pepper
  • Water 

    Almost done. This is gently simmering, but peas haven't yet been added. 
    1. In a pot or pressure cooker, saute onions in olive oil until translucent and lightly golden in color. 
    2. Add stew beef to the pot, brown on all sides. Add water to cover and cook until tender.
    3. Toss all the other ingredients except for the peas into the pot. Add water to cover the veggies. Some of this will evaporate during cooking, but if you like the stew to be more soup like, you can always add more water.
    4. Cover and simmer on medium low heat until the veggies are cooked through and the juice has thickened. (30 minutes to 1 hour
    5. Add the peas into the pot. Simmer for another 5 to 10 minutes to heat the peas through. Serve.
    The Question

    I'm working on an idea for a quilt about sewing/quilting. I want to place some words on it, and I'd like your input. Rather than the names of tools or items used in sewing, the words should be more descriptive of feelings or thoughts you might associate with it. What words come to mind when you think of sewing or quilting? 

    Keep Warm!!

    Saturday, December 26, 2015

    Fuzzy Comforts and Christmas Spaghetti with a Secret Ingredient

    It's the day after Christmas and all is quiet in our house, exactly the opposite from yesterday's wonderful hustle and bustle, laughter and cookie snitching. The family began arriving around 9:30 in the morning and stayed for the entire day. We started with breakfast and ended with our famous Christmas spaghetti dinner. (The recipe is below.) We were too full of cookies and good food to have any interest in dessert. I am truly blessed.

    We are in no danger of being cold this winter. My son dressed us all in matching fleece jackets, and I handed out five warm fleecy robes. Yes, they were finished, and with time to spare!

    There is nothing that needs doing today. Such a luxury! I've spent the whole day lounging in my chair reading the latest Inspector Gamache novel by Louise Penny, and I have no intention of doing anything more energetic than that.

    Christmas Spaghetti Sauce With Meatballs 
    (and a secret ingredient)

    I was so busy enjoying my family that I forgot to take photos of our dinner table. The spaghetti was served with fettuccini and accompanied by lots of fresh veggies and warm garlic bread.

    This is a large recipe. There were seven of us, and I made a full crockpot of sauce so that there would be plenty left to send home with everyone.

    Once again, the measurements for ingredients are close estimates, but not exact. I don't usually measure at all, but I let my taste guide the proportions. I made the sauce the day before Christmas, then reheated it and added the secret ingredient on Christmas day.

    I don't add herbs or spices to the meatballs because they absorb their flavor from the sauce as it simmers.
    • 3 pounds ground beef
    • 2 medium onions
    • salt and pepper to taste

    1. Chop the onions in a food processor or grate them.
    2. Thoroughly mix all ingredients together. 
    3. Shape into balls. I made the meatballs about 2 inches in diameter, but smaller is fine.
    4. Brown the meatballs. 
    5. Refrigerate until needed.
    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    • 2 medium onions, chopped
    • 6 - 8 cloves garlic, finely diced
    • 1 bunch (about 1 cup)  of fresh parsley, chopped fine, or 2 tablespoons dried
    • 1/2 cup fresh chopped basil leaves or 2 teaspoons dried
    • 3 bay leaves
    • 3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
    • 1/2 sweet green pepper, diced
    • 1/2 sweet red pepper, diced
    • 3 or 4 baby carrots, grated
    • 4 cups cooked, chopped tomatoes (I used tomatoes that I had prepared and frozen during the summer, but canned is fine.)
    • 2 small cans of tomato sauce (8 oz)
    • salt and pepper
    • 1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup (This will add flavor and thicken the sauce at the same time.)
    • 3 or 4 cups of water 
    • salt and pepper to taste
    The Secret Ingredient
    • 1 - 3 oz. Bristol Cream Sherry (Another high quality cream sherry would do, but don't use cooking sherry or dry sherry.)  
    1. In a heavy skillet, fry the onions in the olive oil until they are golden brown.
    2. Add the garlic, parsley, and basil to the pan. Continue frying on medium low heat until the herbs are wilted.

     3. Add the peppers grated carrots. Fry for another minute or two. 

    4. Pour the contents of the pan into a crockpot. Add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, mushroom soup, salt and pepper. Stir until blended.

    5. Add enough water to give the sauce a nice consistency - not too thick, but not watery.
    6. Place the meatballs in the pot. Cover and cook on low for 6 hours or more. This can simmer all day if you like.
    7. About ten minutes before serving pour an ounce or two of the cream sherry into the sauce. Stir and taste. More sherry can be added if you like, but be careful not to overwhelm the the other flavors with the sherry. The sherry should sweeten the sauce a bit with a unique, but subtle fragrance and flavor.


    Now, to get back to my book. I love this series!!

    Friday, November 27, 2015

    A Thanksgiving Day Birthday Cake

    If you love chocolate and if you love cake, I have the link to a perfect recipe for you.

    Every Thanksgiving Day, after turkey and all the fixings have had time to settle, I bring out dessert. I don't serve pumpkin pie or any other kind of pie. For us it's a chocolate birthday cake and a celebration of the three family birthdays that fall within a few days of Thanksgiving.

    The cake is always our favorite chocolate truffle cake - the downright decadent, drown yourself in chocolate heaven, once a year only cake that we share on Thanksgiving. It's become our own family tradition.

    The recipe is from "Good Housekeeping Illustrated Book of Desserts". I bought it years ago, but now the entire book is now available online. This is the link:

    I always bake the cake well ahead of time.
    It will keep for a two or three days in the fridge, and it freezes well. 

    I need to get back to my fleece! 
    There's work to do!!

    Only 28 days till Christmas!

    Wishing you a beautiful week as December comes marching in!!

    Friday, November 6, 2015

    A Week of Lessons and Bean Soup

    Lesson # 1: Never make a wool purse! 

    It did turn out to be just fine in the end, but oh, my goodness, what a headache! I knew the thickness of the seams would be a problem. Understatement of the year! After breaking three needles in a row, I switched over to a heavy duty denim needle and, when sewing the thickest seams, I resorted to turning the wheel on the sewing machine by hand.

    I love the leather handles, but I needed three hands to sew them on. One hand was needed just to hold the leather in position so I could sew it. The other two hands were needed for the sewing. Since I was born with only two hands, I cheated. With a little squeeze from the glue gun my handles held quite nicely in place while I sewed them on. That worked out so well that I got the glue gun out again to simplify holding the plastic canvas in place on the base of the bag.

    Lesson # 2: Some ideas are just a waste of time.
    Three finished blocks are going into the "I'll find a place for these later." pile. I will find a place because I do like the blocks. For now, though, they can keep the other UFOs company.

    I spent three days working on this table runner. It wasn't so much the design as it was one of the fabrics I was trying to use. I did look for a different fabric for those large triangles, but I couldn't find anything, so I worked entirely from my stash.  I wanted to use up some of my collection of reproduction fabrics, and I succeeded - just not quite the way I had intended.  The blocks are great, but some of my fabric stash is going straight into the giveaway box. If I can't use it, I'd better let it go to someone who can. I'd rather have space for new fabrics than hang onto fabrics that I know I'll never get around to using.

    Lesson #3: Check the food labels!
    I had a sudden hankering for bean soup the other day. Normally, I would buy dried beans, soak them overnight, and cook them up the next day. Normally, I would use homemade chicken broth and a an old fashioned ham bone to make my soup. On the morning the hankering hit me, though, I was at the grocery store, and I really wanted this soup for lunch the same day. I had a long list and I was in a hurry, so I started grabbing ingredients as I chased through the aisles. One can of chicken broth, two cans of great northern beans. They don't carry ham bones? What has the world come to? I haven't bought a ham bone in at least two decades, but I was stunned that they don't carry them any more. So, then, a chunk of ham from the refrigerated area. I was in that section for eggs and yogurt anyway.

    As soon as the groceries were put away at home, I got my soup started using the recipe I had learned from my grandmother. Before long, the kitchen was filled with the lovely aroma of an old-fashioned comfort food. When I tasted my soup to see how it was coming I almost gagged. Oh my goodness, but it was salty! I'd been in such a hurry at the store that I'd forgotten to check labels for salt. Nothing was salt free or low sodium, and the ham must have been the saltiest ham ever made.

    The only remedy for excess salt that I know is to use potatoes to soak up some of it. So, I peeled several potatoes, quartered them, and dropped them into the pot with more water. Half an hour later I tasted again. Fortunately, the potatoes absorbed enough of the salt that the soup was quite edible. And, surprise! Potatoes in bean soup are yummy! I have a new recipe!

    Not a great photo, but definitely great soup.

    Quick and Easy Ham and Great Northern Bean Soup (with Potatoes).
    Low sodium ingredients are recommended.


    • 1 small onion, chopped
    • 1 T oil
    • 2 cloves crushed garlic
    • 1 16 oz. can of chicken broth 
    • 2 16 oz. cans of great northern beans
    • 4 small potatoes cut into quarters
    • 1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
    • 1/2 teaspoon dried dill
    • 2 bay leaves
    • 4 - 6  cups water
    • salt and pepper to taste


    1. In a large pot, saute the chopped onion in oil until just lightly golden.
    2. Add 4 cups of the water and all of the other ingredients to the pot. 
    3. Cook on medium, stirring occasionally, for 30 to 40 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. 
    4. Add more water as needed. 

    What's up for next week? 
    I have no idea, but I can't wait to find out!

    Wishing you a week of wonderful surprises!

    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.