Braised Cabbage: A Super Side

If there is one thing that’s a certainty when it comes to side dishes, it’s that they’re also very good on their own.

4412024027_64d64799ddI could go on and on about sides that have have provided me with a leftover meal. Usually, those dishes are associated with a holiday. For example, leftover stuffing from the Thanksgiving turkey is great on its own. The baked oysters that I make at Christmas also fall into that category.

Here’s a side dish recipe that would go well with a lot of main courses. Ham, for one, comes to mind. But it’s also great all on its own.

I made this the other night, and it was my supper, sans any meat or potatoes. It was especially good with a dash of Tabasco sauce.


Sauteed Cabbage and Onions with Bacon
3 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
½ sweet yellow onion, sliced
½ head of green cabbage, sliced thinly
2 tablespoons red wine or apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons sugar (white or brown)
2 cloves garlic, minced
Sea salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste
1 cayenne pepper, cut into small pieces
Cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crispy and cooked through. Remove the bacon and place it on paper towels to drain. Chop into crumbles.
Place the onion into the skillet with the bacon grease and cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes, or until tender. (If your bacon is lean, add a bit of olive oil.)
Add the cabbage and cayenne to the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 to 20 minutes, or until softened. Add the bacon crumbles, sugar and vinegar then season with sea salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste; stir to combine and cook for another minute until the liquid evaporates. Taste and add more seasoning if needed. Serve immediately.
Yield: Serves 4.

Spanish Rice and Chicken Skillet

Convenience, time-savings and affordability: Those are three things that always have  been important to home cooks. That’s especially true now in times when both parents often are working outside the home, and it’s getting harder and harder to live from paycheck to paycheck.

spanish-rice-and-chicken-skilletSo, here’s a question: What chicken recipe would you choose to prepare for your family? One that can be found on the back of a ketchup bottle that can be made in a skillet, contains common ingredients that can be found in your pantry and can be ready in a jiffy or one that’s in the local paper that requires going to the a liquor store for some rum, the supermarket for fresh herbs and has fowl that needs to be marinated for hours and then cooked on a grill.

I know what my answer would.

And that’s why it was a no-brainer when I found the following recipe on a Heinz ketchup bottle and decided to give it a try. The result was scrumptious. In fact, Therese couldn’t stop raving about the dish when she was eating leftovers the next day.

I substituted pheasant for the chicken, olive oil for cooking spray and my own broth that was made from the scraps from the breast of colorful game bird, which probably cut down the calories and the already-low fat content of the original recipe.

Spanish Rice and Chicken Skillet
Olive oil
4 chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 15-ounce can stewed tomatoes
1½ cups chicken broth
1 cup uncooked rice
½ cup tomato ketchup
½ cup green bell pepper, chopped
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
Spray a large nonstick skillet with olive oil. Brown chicken 2 to 3 minutes; add remaining ingredients. Stir to combine. Bring to boil, cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until chicken and rice are cooked, stirring once.
Yield: Serve 4.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 340 calories, 2 grams fat (no saturated), 70 milligrams cholesterol, 1,050 milligrams sodium, 50 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams fiber, 31 grams protein, 10 grams sugar.

Skillet Pork Chops with Green Beans and Red Potatoes

One-dish dinners are great for the busy cook. In fact, they’re often the only way to go for those households where both parents work. But you don’t have to fall into that category to enjoy the simplicity of such a meal.

b3c1cc2c-7175-442a-a02a-b317b93e046bThe following is a great option for everyone: stay-at-home moms; single moms or dads who work but also double as chauffeur for their on-the-go kids; retirees such as myself who keep busy with gardening, coaching and the like; and yes, those families where both parents work.

And as with other one-pot meals, cleanup is minimal.

Skillet Pork Chops with Green Beans and Red Potatoes
4 pork chops
1 10¾-ounce can cream of mushroom soup
1 small onion, diced
4 red potatoes, sliced
1 14½-ounce can green beans, liquid reserved
½ cup fat-free sour cream
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil
Dash of Worcestershire sauce
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Saute chops with onion in cast-iron skillet in olive oil until browned. Arrange chops (with sauteed onions) in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Layer potatoes and beans on top of chops. Season with salt and pepper to taste. In a medium bowl combine soup, sour creams, Worcestershire sauce and half of reserved liquid. Pour mixture over chops and potatoes. Cover dish with aluminum foil and bake in the preheated oven for 1 hour. Uncover and add remaining reserved liquid. Bake 30 minutes and serve.
Yield: Serves 4.
Note: Chop can be cut into smaller pieces before baking.

Garlic and Lemon Chicken with Green Beans and Red Potatoes

People who planted their gardens between rains in mid-May, probably have begun to see things popping out of the ground. That’s especially true in the case of beans and potatoes.

ed20b617f23931924c9ab358f03439c1While it will be a month or two before those two veggies will be ripe for harvest in area gardens, it’s not too early to think about some recipes that contain that dynamic duo.

I was contemplating that today after seeing a recipe on the social media site of one of my friends, Debra Vein of Grand Forks. The recipe was for lemon chicken with  — you guessed it — beans and potatoes, which I decided to give a try.

I made this choice after Therese had brought home a bag of nice green beans that were on sale at our neighborhood supermarket. Also featured at Hugo’s were some nice red potatoes.

Here the recipe, in which I substituted pheasant breasts for chicken.

Garlic and Lemon Chicken with Green Beans and Red Potatoes
6 tablespoons olive oil
2 lemons, 1 thinly sliced, 1 juiced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¾ pound trimmed green beans
8 small red potatoes, quartered
4 chicken or pheasant breasts (about 3¼ pounds)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Coat a large baking dish or cast-iron skillet with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Arrange the lemon slices in a single layer in the bottom of the dish or skillet.
In a large bowl, combine the remaining oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt, and pepper; add the green beans and toss to coat. Using a slotted spoon or tongs, remove the green beans and arrange them on top of the lemon slices. Add the potatoes to the same olive-oil mixture and toss to coat. Using a slotted spoon or tongs, arrange the potatoes along the inside edge of the dish or skillet on top of the green beans. Place the chicken in the same bowl with the olive-oil mixture and coat thoroughly.
Place the chicken, skin-side up, in the dish or skillet. Pour any of the remaining olive-oil mixture over the chicken. Roast for 50 minutes. Remove the chicken from the dish or skillet. Place the beans and potatoes back in oven for 10 minutes more or until the potatoes are tender.
Place a chicken breast on each of 4 serving plates; divide the green beans and potatoes equally. Serve warm.
Yield: Serves 4.

Mom’s Rhubarb Crunch

Spring was late in coming to the Midwest this year. And now, its lingering effrhubarbcrunchcts are still being felt in early June. But a few warm days here and there have greened things up quite a bit.

One of the perennially early favorites that’s been affected by our cool and wet weather is rhubarb, which is now just coming into its own.

Rhubarb has a variety of uses. Jam, cake and pies are among the most popular. But perhaps the one that takes center stage is a crunch.

Here’s a rhubarb crunch recipe that my mom used to make when I was growing up. It’s a little different from the one I’ve been making the past couple of years. But it is quite similar to the apple crisp recipe that’s been a hit in our house, so I’m talking going to give it a try with the first picking of rhubarb.

Rhubarb Crunch
1 cup sifted flour
¾ cup oatmeal
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
½ cup melted butter
1 teaspoon cinnamon
4 cups diced rhubarb
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons corn starch
1 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla
Mix all ingredients for the bottom except rhubarb until crumbly. Press half of the mixture into a greased 9-inch-square baking dish. Pour rhubarb over crumbly mixture.
Combine and cook the ingredients for topping in a saucepan until thick and clear. Pour over rhubarb and then top this with remaining crumbly mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

Meatball Sandwiches

Meatball subs have been a popular choice at sandwich shops for quite a few years. You can find them at Subways, Quiznos and the like. They usually are served on a nice bun, smothered with mozzarella cheese and a tasty marinara sauce.

rec_r1_52903v0ecThis past weekend, some friends and I were treated to some delicious meatballs that had been simmering in a slow cooker while on a baseball junket to Minneapolis.

The meatballs were prepared by Nancy Carriere, the sister-in-law of a good buddy, Ron Amiot. I had joined Hoover — that’s Ron’s nickname — on his annual trip to see our beloved Minnesota Twins play.

I’ve always been a big meatball fan. I especially like them with spaghetti. I find it’s much healthier to have meatballs on the side with marinara instead of a meat-laden sauce. And that way, you can have the leftovers for sandwiches later.

Here’s my favorite meatball and marinara recipe, which always is a hit with my family. 

2 pounds ground chuck
½ pound ground pork
2 cups Italian bread crumbs
4 eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup fresh parsley, chopped
½ cup cheese, grated
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 onion, minced
½ cup pine nuts (optional)
Place all ingredients in a large bowl and mix thoroughly. Let stand ½ hour. Shape into medium-sized meatballs. Fry gently in olive oil until lightly browned, or place on foil cookie sheet and bake for ½ hour at 350 degrees. Gently place in marinara sauce (recipe follows) and cook on medium for 1 hour.
Yield: 25 to 30 meatballs.
Approximate nutritional information per serving (2 meatballs): 487 calories, 28 grams protein, 21grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fiber, 163 milligrams cholesterol, 750 milligrams sodium.
Note: Quadruple the recipe (makes about 100) and freeze so they’ll be ready any time.

Marinara Sauce
1 large onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 sweet bell pepper, diced
6 ounces mushrooms, chopped
8 Roma tomatoes, with skins removed
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
1 6-ounce can tomato sauce
1 cup cooking sherry
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
4 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon fresh dill
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons basil
2 tablespoons oregano
1 teaspoon thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
Saute onions, garlic, celery, and mushrooms in olive oil. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer covered for 2 ours.