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.


Roasted Smashed Potatoes

 Do you all ever get in a dinner rut?  I do!  It seems like we eat the same thing over and over.  I try to look for new things to make, and when I do sometimes the family loves it:  Potato soup, and sometimes they don’t: yellow tomato pasta. To be honest I ended up tossing part of the pasta after everyone refused to eat it for leftovers.
So I was really excited when I saw this recipe on my friend Pam’s Facebook wall.  I saw it during one of those times I was browsing Facebook, aka “the time sucking website”, and this popped up!  It looked intriguing, and I decided to give it a try.  I wasn’t sure when I would make them, but the other day when Karol suggested she make her famous ribs for dinner, I thought, this would be a perfect side dish!
To be honest I adore potatoes.  Nothing soothes my soul quite like mashed potatoes, with or without gravy.  However, potatoes really aren’t very good for me, so I limit my intake of them.  So when I find a recipe that uses just three ingredients and I can soothe my soul without the added calories of butter and milk, I am in!  Now just to be perfectly honest, I did make some of these “loaded” and added shredded cheese, a dollop of sour cream, crumbled bacon and scallions, but they are just as good plain!


8-10 small red bliss potatoes
olive oil
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Adjust the oven racks to the top position.

Boil the potatoes in water for 10-15 minutes or until fork tender. Place on a prepared baking sheet. Some recipes tell you to smash them with a potato peeler, or between two kitchen towels.  I used the bottom of a drinking glass.  Worked great!!

Place the smashed potatoes on the baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast the potatoes on the top rack for about 20-30 minutes, turning them over gently with a spatula 1/2 way through the cooking time, so about 10-15 minutes.

Top with cheese, or any baked potato item you love.  Or just eat them plain.  My favorite part were the crunchy bits, and my kids devoured them!  They are even good reheated, although not so crunchy.

smashed and ready to go in the oven
smashed and ready to go in the oven


Out of the oven.  Cheese on some, sour cream on two.
Out of the oven. Cheese on some, sour cream on two.


ready to go in my mouth!!!
ready to go in my mouth!!!


Just cheese.
Just cheese.


Super easy and delicious side dish that can be made in about 45 minutes, but require very little time in the way of “making” them.  Most of the time is spent boiling and baking, so you can get other things done at the same time!


Moroccan Chicken with Tomato, Potatoes and Peppers

My garden as been growing like crazy this summer.  I am not sure if my thumb got greener over the winter, or I have just learned enough about gardening to be more successful, or it is just magic. I did do some things differently this year: I made the garden bigger, I paid more attention to the last frost and planted 4 weeks after the last one, I used organic compost, and Karol built me a garden “box” complete with chicken wire to keep out critters.

And by critters I mean my dog Bailey. He had this bad habit of running through the garden and breaking plants and herbs, so this year Karol was innovative and the plants are Bailey proofed.


So the garden has been flourishing and I have been up to my ears in tomatoes and peppers in particular.  I wanted to find a way to use these veggies in a different and new recipe and I also had some potatoes in the pantry on the verge of getting soft that I wanted to incorporate into the dish, so I went and talked to my friend Google to see what I could find.

And I scored!  Google always has great ideas.  We have become very good friends over the years. I found a very interesting recipe using potatoes, peppers and tomatoes.  Sold!  It was called Moroccan chicken with peppers and tomatoes.  A usual, I looked it over, and modified it some to make it my own, and this is the result:

moroccan chicken

Moroccan Chicken with potatoes, peppers and tomatoes

4 boneless chicken breasts
3-4 baking (russet) potatoes, peeled and cubed
2-3 large fresh tomatoes, diced (or 1 15 oz can of diced tomatoes)
3-5 carrots, sliced
1 large onion, diced
1-2 cloves garlic, diced
1/2-1 bell pepper, diced (use whatever color you choose)
1/4 cup olive oil
parsley (1/4 cup fresh or 2 tbs. dried)
1 1/2 tsp. paprika
1 tsp cumin
a few pinches of saffron, if you’ve got it
salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot, heat oil and saute onion and garlic. Add chicken, tomatoes, bell pepper, parsley, paprika, saffron, and 1/2 cup water. Cover and cook about 20-25 minutes (until chicken is thoroughly cooked and just beginning to shred when handled much), stirring occasionally.

Add water as necessary to keep mixture wet and saucy (this really depends on your idea of “saucy”.  Add enough to keep it as saucy as you want it.) Add potatoes, and carrots cook for another 20-30 minutes, or until potatoes and carrots are completely cooked. (I like my carrots a little crunchy, so I added them a bit after the potatoes).

If you want to eat in authentic Moroccan style, dish onto a large plate and serve with lots of bread (something crusty like French works well). The bread is a great way to sop up the sauce, and it is delicious so you want every drop.

**The original recipe also called for peas, which would have added a nice burst of color and flavor, but I felt there was enough starch with the potatoes, so I omitted them.

** You could serve this over rice or pasta to soak up some of the sauce, but I did not as I didn’t want to add more carbs.

So there you have it,  Moroccan Chicken with Tomato, Potatoes and Peppers. It was a hearty and delicious meal.  Even the kids liked it and have asked for me to make it again.  That my friends is high praise!!!