Eureka! I have found a recipe that is brimming with health benefits for mere pocket change. Cabbage casserole, how did I never come across such a delicious AND nutritious casserole?? In one of my late night Pinterest “How to Install a Natural Water Feature” moments I made one more click to a recipe off on the sidelines. I saw a beautiful, colorful, 7 ingredient recipe of pure healthy genius; an I-have-all-the-ingredients-in-the-fridge-and-pantry meal serving up to six. Click! and my life changed.
I don’t remember the pin. I had to go to bed because the recipes can easily turn me into a wee-hour Pinterest zombie. This is what I remember and it worked out fine…so fine:
- 2 Tbsp olive oil in a deep heavy pot
- 1 onion diced
- 1 lb. lean ground beef
- 1/2 head of large red cabbage sliced in thin strips (you will want to make it again with the other half at the end of the week)
- 1/2 bunch collard greens (about 5 leaves stemmed and sliced chiffonade style
- 1 Tsp Steak seasoning plus a couple of pinches
- 6 oz hand shredded pepper jack cheese
- Preheat oven to 375°. Dice your onion, slice the cabbage and chiffonade the greens and keep them in separate piles. Heat the oil until it shimmers on the bottom of the pot. Add your onion and cook on high heat until they are clear and beginning to brown. Brown the ground beef with a teaspoon of the steak seasoning. Add the piles of cabbage and greens and simmer until the mixture softens down to about a third its volume. Give it a good stir.
Empty the pot into a 9″x 9″ casserole dish and spread it evenly. Top with your pepper cheese and sprinkle a pinch or two of the steak seasoning around on top sprinkle a little Parmesan to brown the top nicely, then bake for 20 minutes.
It’s fast, it’s delicious, it’s easy, it’s delicious it’s healthy, it’s delicious, it’s affordable, it’s delicious!
All you need is a microwave oven, a Mason jar and a thermometer that goes to 200°F (93.3C), a quart of whole milk (better if it is antibiotic, hormone and GMO free), and about 1/4 cup Greek yogurt or the same size sample from a batch of previously home made yogurt. Using the microwave saves you the extra step and clean-up of a pan on the stove. This method is so easy you may never need to purchase the expensive stuff from the store ever again!
Step one: Have your 1/4 cup sample of yogurt ready to “seed” the quart of milk in your pre-sanitized Mason jar (boil half a quart of water in it prior, then cool it by slowly add the milk). The milk in the mason jar goes into the microwave for approximately 5 minutes or until the thermometer reaches 180° (82.2C). Stir occasionally to ensure even temperature top to bottom and skim light skin when it appears.
Just needs another minute…
Step two: Cool the scalded milk back to a temperature you would be comfortable bathing in; about 110°F (43.3C). Add the culture; about a quarter cup of plain yogurt from an earlier batch, or you could use a sample of store-bought plain Greek yogurt; the more organic the better. Not all commercial yogurts are created equal but FAGE is a brand highly recommended for taste and quality ingredients if you need to go that route for your culture. About half of a single serving tub is sufficient. Stir it in, mix well and screw on the lid. As long as you make the next quart of yogurt from your own stock you will never have to purchase yogurt from the store again! The taste and quality of home made is superior to anything mass produced.
The Cool-down and the Culture
Step three: Set the jar somewhere it won’t be disturbed but will stay warm the whole day; about 10 to 12 hours. Because it’s summer the temperature outside is perfect for culturing yogurt; about 90°F (32.2C) average. As long as the temperature stays between 80° and 100° it will be fine. This temperature range is the perfect temperature for the lactic acid producing bacteria to thrive and multiply causing the milk to thicken but not curdle. Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus are the common strains of bacteria which produce a creamy, thick, gut-health boosting yogurt. If you start this process at 7:00 a.m., by 7:00 p.m. the bacteria will have done its job. Watch the temperature outside carefully that it stays within the range I mentioned earlier. In this case the temperature outside was 80°F by 8:00 a.m. when the cooking and cooling was done and that was perfect. It got to the mid 90°s and by 7:00 p.m. it was 85°; again, perfect.
Set it out in the Hot Summer Breeze
Step four: Now put the jar in the refrigerator overnight and by 5:00 a.m. or so the next day you will have a delicious creamy, tangy, treat to eat for breakfast. If your end product is too thin you can strain the whole jar of its whey in a strainer with cheesecloth or a large coffee filter until it is the consistency you desire.
Bonus: Don’t throw out the whey! It can be used in soups, mashed potatoes, smoothies, etc…anything you usually add milk and water to will get a boost of protein and added flavor, plus the probiotic benefit.
The Greek yogurt business is in the 1.7 billion range today. I really get a kick out of taking away at least one customer. At the store at nearly $2.00 per serving you get 7 oz of a product in a plastic tub with an aluminum lid glued to it and who knows what else added. Give this pure and simple method a try! You too will keep that money in your own pockets and be so much more satisfied with the taste, and the knowledge of exactly what you are eating from a sterilized glass jar. Take charge! I’m having mine with chunks of home-grown tomatoes. YUMMO!
These wintry days call for warm soothing meals at home. Soup with savory leeks and mushrooms in a creamy broth is the ticket. Leeks are of the mildest among the onion family. They cook up to be so tender and tasty and paired with the mild taste of mushrooms, this soup will melt away those chilly winds and give you plenty of energy to shovel the sidewalk yet again. It’s so easy to make too. All you need are:
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 leeks cleaned and chopped in 1/4 inch slices
- 5 mushrooms (any kind) thinly sliced
- 1 clove of garlic, finely minced
- 1 quart low sodium chicken broth
- 3 cups milk
- 3/4 cup cream (I used heavy)
- 3/4 cup instant mashed potato flakes
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
- a pinch of red pepper flakes
- Salt and pepper to taste
First saute the leeks and mushrooms in the olive oil until tender. Add the garlic and stir it in to bloom the flavor Add the broth, milk and cream and stir in the potato flakes. Stir in the remaining seasonings and let it simmer about 3 minutes.
Now at least six of you can have a nice hearty bowl of soup to warm you up all over. For extra hardiness you could add some left over chicken cut into cubes or add more pepper flakes to clear the sinuses during a nasty cold. This soup will provide relief and give you energy to muddle on through all that snow.
It used to be when someone told me they bake their own bread I’d picture them covered in flour, kneading dough and slaving over a hot oven. All that work makes a great end product and fills the house with that heady perfume of freshly baked bread but there is a way to have that without all the toil.
On Craig’s list any given day one might find at least 12 bread machines looking for a new home. I found one for a song a few years ago and though it takes up some space, it is the key to baking artisan quality bread without all the work. I don’t care for the 6″x 6″x 6″ cube of bread the bread machine produces. It’s hard to make a sandwich with such a huge slice and the bottom always has this gash where the paddle cuts into the bottom…Awkward! Instead I let the machine do all the kneading and the first rise then I put the dough in a loaf pan or I’ll make make buns by rolling up little pieces of dough and putting them on a cookie sheet for a couple of hours until the second rise is complete then bake either a loaf or buns, the way bread should be made, in a 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes.
- 1 cup water
- 2 and 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons dry yeast
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 tablespoon steak sauce (optional but decrease salt by 1/2 tsp.)
- 1 tablespoon chopped basil (optional)
- 1 tablespoon chopped dried tomatoes (optional)
- 1 teaspoon salt
Pour in the water flour, yeast and honey first. Turn on the machine and let it mix. When the flour is nearly incorporated add the steak sauce and/or other optional additions. You can make many variations…cinnamon and raisins for instance. Steak sauce is an odd ingredient but it makes a bread with a savory depth of flavor. The steak sauce contains salt so I use less table salt than usual. Since salt inhibits the action of the yeast, let the first rise happen in the confines of the machine but just before the second rise and go ahead and add the salt so the yeast has the best chance of doing its thing. You’ll know when the second rise is happening because there will be a long pause and suddenly you will hear the machine engage again. This is when you add the salt The machine will mix it in for you. It will pause again which means the second rise has begun. About 15 minutes into the second rise this is the time to transfer the dough to a loaf pan or cut it up in pieces and place on a cookie sheet if you are making buns.
Using flour dusted fingertips pull the dough out of the pan of the machine. It will be sticky but the flour on your hands will help. Try not to deflate the dough too much but dust a board lightly to prevent sticking while shaping the dough into a loaf gently pulling the ends and rolling it with light pressure in the middle with your palms. Place it in the loaf pan, brush it with olive on top and cover it with plastic film. You could also cut the dough into small pieces the size of a plum and put them on a baking sheet for the remainder of the second rise. What ever form of bread you choose to make, just set it in a place that’s warm but not drafty. Buns also will need to be brushed with oil and covered in film. When the dough rises up and over the edges of the pan, or has doubled in size, and this could take up to two hours, it is then ready to pop into a 400° oven for 20 minutes or until the internal temperature is 200°. Just before you put it in the oven it helps to score the top of the loaf or each bun with a very sharp knife. This gives the bread room to expand in the oven.
Remove the loaf from the pan and allow it to cool completely before you slice it. Same with the buns. They need to be completely cool or all the steam will escape and make the bread dry and tough. The aroma is so tempting but the results will be worth the wait. Patience will insure a crunchy crust and a tender crumb in the end. Using a bread machine to do the kneading and rising helps you reserve some of that patience. So dust off the machine you’ve never used since your wedding, or check out Craig’s List for a cheap one barely used and start making your own delicious bread without all the mess and hassle. You’ll save money too!