Deconstructed Cabbage Rolls

So my lovely Karol really loves cabbage.  I mean she REALLY loves cabbage.  Me not so much. But I am a considerate person, so on occasion I make something with cabbage just to put a smile on her beautiful face.

Some time ago my friend Jackie had posted a recipe on her Facebook wall for a deconstructed cabbage roll.  This intrigued Karol so much she shared it with me and asked me to make it for her.  So yesterday I indulged her.  After all the boys are visiting their dad for the holidays and there was no one here to complain about what I cooked for dinner or  “OMG, that smells like death”, which is what The Genius likes to say about food he doesn’t like……sigh……

So I am one of those people who posts pictures of food on Facebook.  Yes, I am, sorry. I like food.  This is why I have to spend so much time at the gym, but that is a story for another day.  Interestingly after I posted my picture of the cabbage medley on the stove at least 4 people asked me to post the recipe.  I have been looking for a reason to start blogging again.  I want to, but I spent so much time writing last semester (which shall forever be known as “the semester that kicked my ass”) that to sit down and start typing was not appealing… all……  But posting this recipe seemed like the perfect platform to spring off to get back into blogging, so here I am….

Anyway, I looked and looked for a recipe, but none of them had exactly what I wanted, so I did what most seasoned cooks do.  I picked something, and then adapted and changed it to be what I wanted.  The biggest things I wanted to change was giving it a “Hungarian” flavor, as well as adding in brown rice.  It is sometimes difficult to cook with rice because of knowing exactly how much liquid to add so you don’t end up with crunchy rice.  So I just cooked the rice separately and then added it in at the end.

So this is my version of Deconstructed Cabbage Rolls


1 1/2 tbsp olive oil, divided (more or less, depending on your pan)
1 lb. lean ground beef
1/2 large onion, chopped small
2 tsp finely minced garlic
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp paprika
salt and black pepper to taste
1  heads green cabbage, coarsely chopped
1 can petite diced tomatoes with juice
1 can tomato sauce
2 cups cooked brown rice


Heat 1-2 tsp. olive oil in a large frying pan; cook onion until it is translucent, then add in ground beef, garlic, thyme and paprika.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Cook it  until beef is done and nicely browned, breaking apart as it cooks.
 Then add the diced tomatoes with juice, and tomato sauce.  Let mixture simmer until it’s hot and slightly thickened, about 10-15 minutes.
While the meat mixture simmers, cut cabbage in half, cut out the core, remove any wilted outer leaves, and then chop the cabbage coarsely into pieces.  (They don’t have to be all the same size, this is a coarse chop after all.)  Heat about 2 tsp. olive oil in a large frying pan or dutch oven with high sides, add the cabbage and cook over medium-high heat until the cabbage is wilted and about half cooked, turning it over several times so it all wilts and cooks.  Season cabbage with salt and fresh-ground black pepper.When the meat and tomato sauce mixture has cooked 10-15 minutes and thickened a bit, stir in the 2 cups of cooked rice and cabbage and gently combine. Let this simmer together for about 5-10 minutes until the flavors have combined, some, then serve.
I did not originally plan on posting this, so I apologize for no pictures other than the final one which looks like this (don’t judge my dirty stove please, I had just finished cooking)….
deconstructed cabbage rolls

To be honest, it was pretty yummy.  I bet it will be even better for leftovers when the flavors have had a better chance to “shake hands”, as my mother always says.


Getting back in the saddle of blogging.

So, last semester, school kicked my ass.  Literally.  I was so tired of writing after the semester was finished I just couldn’t bring myself to even look at the blog.  However, I have now been out of school for two weeks.  I spent the first week cleaning my house.  The n last week was spent getting ready for the holidays because that had not even been on the radar yet.  I am now done with baking, buying, and getting the foodstuffs for the Christmas dinner.

I am now ready to hit the keyboard.  So YAY!  Blogging shall commence tomorrow!

Chocolate Babka

This year I have been really trying to delve deeper into my Jewishness and teach my kids more about their Jewish heritage.  I think that may be me approaching 50, or maybe because my kids are in their late teens, and I am worried they do not know enough about it.  For whatever the reason, I have been doing my best to teach them about the holidays and therefore I made a traditional Rosh Hashanah dinner, including the apple dipped in honey and a nice roast.  But I wanted to make a special dessert, and scoured the internet for something I had never made before and that was a “traditional” food.  Also, since our Jewish ancestors emigrated to the United States from Poland and Romania I wanted to pay homage to that ancestry as well.

So with all of that in mind I looked and looked, and came across Chocolate Babka.  A sweet bread with chocolate mixed in the dough.  Well, they had me at chocolate.  So I dove in!  I found this recipe on one of my favorite cooking sites:  Smitten Kitchen!  She has wonderful recipes and great instructions on there, you should definitely check her out!!

Chocolate Babka

Makes 3 loaves

1 1/2 cups warm milk, 110 degrees
2 (1/4 ounce each) packages active dry yeast
1 3/4 cups plus a pinch of sugar
3 whole large eggs, room temperature
2 large egg yolks, room temperature
6 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
1 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups (3 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces, room temperature, plus more for bowl and loaf pans
2 1/4 pounds semisweet chocolate, very finely chopped*
2 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon heavy cream
Streusel topping (below)

1. Pour warm milk into a small bowl. Sprinkle yeast and pinch of sugar over milk; let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.

2. In a bowl, whisk together 3/4 cup sugar, 2 eggs, and egg yolks. Add egg mixture to yeast mixture, and whisk to combine.

3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine flour and salt. Add egg mixture, and beat on low speed until almost all the flour is incorporated, about 30 seconds. Change to the dough hook. Add 2 sticks butter, and beat until flour mixture and butter are completely incorporated, and a smooth, soft dough that’s slightly sticky when squeezed is formed, about 10 minutes.

4. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead a few turns until smooth. Butter a large bowl. Place dough in bowl, and turn to coat. Cover tightly with plastic wrap. Set aside in a warm place to rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

5. Place chocolate, remaining cup sugar, and cinnamon in a large bowl, and stir to combine. Using two knives or a pastry cutter, cut in remaining 1 1/2 sticks butter until well combined; set filling aside.

6. Generously butter three 9-by-5-by-2 3/4-inch loaf pans; line them with parchment paper. Beat remaining egg with 1 tablespoon cream; set egg wash aside. Punch back the dough, and transfer to a clean surface. Let rest 5 minutes. Cut into 3 equal pieces. Keep 2 pieces covered with plastic wrap while working with the remaining piece. On a generously floured surface, roll dough out into a 16-inch square; it should be 1/8 inch thick.

7. Brush edges with reserved egg wash. Crumble 1/3 of the reserved chocolate filling evenly over dough, leaving a 1/4-inch border. Refresh egg wash if needed. Roll dough up tightly like a jelly roll. Pinch ends together to seal. Twist 5 or 6 turns. Brush top of roll with egg wash. Carefully crumble 2 tablespoons filling over the left half of the roll, being careful not to let mixture slide off. Fold right half of the roll over onto the coated left half. Fold ends under, and pinch to seal. Twist roll 2 turns, and fit into prepared pan. Repeat with the remaining 2 pieces of dough and remaining filling.

8. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Brush the top of each loaf with egg wash. Crumble 1/3 of streusel topping over each loaf. Loosely cover each pan with plastic wrap, and let stand in a warm place 20 to 30 minutes.

9. Bake loaves, rotating halfway through, until golden, about 55 minutes. Lower oven temperature to 325 degrees and bake until babkas are deep golden, 15 to 20 minutes more. Remove from oven, and transfer to wire racks until cool. Remove from pans; serve. Babkas freeze well for up to 1 month.

Streusel Topping

Makes 3 3/4 cups.

1 2/3 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

In a large bowl, combine sugar, flour, and butter. Using a fork, stir until fully combined with clumps ranging in size from crumbs to 1 inch.

Now for the pictures:

Yeast #1
Yeast #1
Yeast after activating
Yeast after activating
batter before flour added
batter before flour added
mixing in flour mixture
mixing in flour mixture
all mixed up, switching to hook
all mixed up, switching to hook
mixed up. :-)
mixed up. 🙂
in bowl, getting ready to cover and set to rise.
in bowl, getting ready to cover and set to rise.
chocolate mixture ready to go
chocolate mixture ready to go
rolling out dough.  Please excuse the blur, Karol took the photo while my hands were moving...
rolling out dough. Please excuse the blur, Karol took the photo while my hands were moving…
all rolled out
all rolled out
putting chocolate on dough
putting chocolate on dough
rolling it all up.  again, sorry for the blur
rolling it all up. again, sorry for the blur
getting ready to twist it up.
getting ready to twist it up.
all twisted and ready to put streusal on and fold over in pan
all twisted and ready to put streusel on and fold over in pan
ready for the oven
ready for the oven
Done baking!
Done baking!
So Good!!!!
So Good!!!!



** I did not use all of the chocolate in the recipe, it just seemed like too much!

** I made two large loaves and three mini loaves.

**  This bread was amazingly rich.  But AMAZINGLY yummy also!!!