Archive for November, 2011

November 4, 2011

Beef and Cabbage Casserole

Let me preface this by saying, I’m typically not a fan of casseroles. But this one is actually good—and worth sharing. It doesn’t call for canned cream of mushroom or canned cream of chicken. And it’s neither overly salty nor low on flavor. It’s super simple and tasty, a lazy woman’s version of cabbage rolls.

I happened upon this recipe when we were on a grain-free diet last year. The kids liked it so much that they asked me to bring it back after our diet was over. Now, that tells you something. I also made it for my friend, R, and her kids. She tells me it has made its way into their weekday dinner rotation.

The recipe is adaptable, so you can include rice if you’d like, which is more like true cabbage rolls. Or, if you’re on a grain-free diet, like GAPS, Nourishing Traditions, or Paleo, just stick with the beef (I like to use ground bison) and cabbage. In either case, don’t leave out the cloves and cinnamon—it’s what makes the dish stand out. Serve with a salad or on its own. After all, your kids are getting plenty of vegetables from the cabbage.

This morning, as S was watching me pack leftovers in her lunch, she asked me, “Can I have a bigger piece of casserole?”

Happiness is your child asking for more cabbage.

Beef and Cabbage Casserole


1 lb. ground beef

1 medium onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 – 3/4 tsp salt

15 oz. tomato sauce (I like the organic strained tomatoes that come in a tall glass jar from Bionaturae)

1/8 tsp. cinnamon

1/8 tsp. ground cloves

1/4 tsp. thyme

1/4 tsp. basil

4 to 5 cups cabbage, shredded


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Brown the ground beef in a large skillet with the onions and the garlic. Drain off the fat. Add the remaining ingredients except cabbage to the meat mixture and simmer for 10 minutes.

Put half of the cabbage into a 2-quart casserole dish, top with half the meat mixture, top with the remaining cabbage, and finally top the cabbage with the remaining meat mixture. (The casserole dish will be rather full, but that’s okay because it’ll all cook down.)

Cover the casserole with foil and bake for 45 minutes.

*** Note: If you want to include rice in the casserole, I suggest 1/2 cup of uncooked rice and 1 cup of water. Add it at the same time you’re adding the spices and tomato sauce. Then, cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Continue with the recipe as follows.

November 3, 2011

Chicken with Cashews

I’ve been making this cashew chicken stir-fry for almost 10 years, and it is always a crowd-pleaser. The kids fight over the cashews and baby corn, and my husband usually eats three servings of it. For two consecutive years, S asked for it for her birthday dinner. Which is saying a lot, since S is not a child who likes stir-fries, for the most part.

Although the recipe is pretty straightforward, there are a number of components to it. And truth be told, I often wish I had a sous chef by the time I’m done prepping this meal. But part of it is my fault, because I like to include a lot of different vegetables. You can pretty much use whatever is in season, from asparagus to zucchini to broccoli and red bell peppers and sugar snap peas. Some of my favorites include shitake mushrooms, water chestnuts and baby corn. You could also substitute shrimp, pork or tofu for the chicken.

I send leftovers to school over some steamed rice and packed in a Thermos.

Chicken with Cashews (adapted from A Spoonful of Ginger)

1 1/2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breast (cut into 1/2-inch cubes)


2 TB soy sauce or tamari

1 1/2 TB rice wine or sake

1 tsp sesame oil

1 TB minced fresh ginger

1 tsp cornstarch


4 TB canola oil


Seasonings and Vegetables

1 1/2 TB minced scallions, white part only (optional)

2 TB minced garlic

1 8-oz. can sliced water chestnuts

1 7-oz. can chopped baby corn

1/2 c. chopped red bell pepper

1/2 c. sliced carrots

1/2 lb. sugar snap peas


Sauce (mixed together)

1 1/2 c. low-sodium chicken broth

5 TB soy sauce or tamari

4 1/2 TB rice wine or sake

2 1/2 TB sugar

2 tsp sesame oil

3 tsp Chinese black vinegar or Worcestershire sauce

3 TB cornstarch


1 1/4 c. dry-roasted cashews


1. Mix together the marinade ingredients, and toss the chicken cubes to coat them. Cover with plastic wrap, and let the chicken marinate for 30 minutes.

2. Heat a wok or skillet, add 2 TB of oil, heat until very hot, and add the chicken. Cook over high heat until the chicken becomes opaque and are cooked, about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to a plate. Wipe out the pan.

3. Reheat the pan, add the remaining 2 TB oil, heat, and add the seasonings. Stir-fry for 15 seconds, then add the vegetables and stir-fry over high heat for three minutes. Add the premixed sauce and cook, storing continuously, to prevent lumps, until thickened. Return the cooked chicken to the wok and add the cashews. Toss lightly to coat and heat through. Serve with steamed rice.

November 1, 2011

Lunch in Portugal – Part 3

You know those Portugese bakeries/coffeehouses I was talking about? The ones with all the delectable sweet and savory pastries? Well, they’re also home to a huge variety of hot and cold sandwiches.

At one place we stopped at, which was a bit like a Portugese version of an organic, environmentally responsible Subway, sandwiches were served in one of three ways, at your choosing: cold sandwich, warm panini or a wrap.

S chose a cold wrap with smoked salmon, cream cheese and mixed greens. My husband, K, picked the prosciutto and Brie in a warm, toasty wrap, and C and I share a mozzarella and tomato sandwich on a crusty baguette. All were winners, but if I had to pick one it would have been the prosciutto and Brie. Let’s be honest: can you ever go wrong with Brie? I must have eaten at least 50 Brie and tomato sandwiches the semester I spent in England. I never grew tired of it.

A few days later, we had a delicious prosciutto sandwich, with some slices of boiled egg and a few greens tucked inside. We also had one with chorizo and slices of boiled egg. There was no spread on either, and, really, you didn’t miss it.


When I get back, I’ll re-create some of these sandwiches for S and C, with a few modifications. S loved the salmon and cream cheese, but wasn’t a fan of the arugula. And C found it easier to get his little mouth over a small wrap instead of a French baguette.

What are your favorite sandwich combinations?


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