Monday, January 31, 2011

Portuguese Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

My husband is Portuguese - pretty much 100%, with a dash of "Pollock" tossed in for good measure. Explains a lot, huh? :) I'm kidding - he is a great man, very hard-working, pretty smart and a good cook in his own right. They practically beg him to cook at the firehall! Anyway, because of his heritage, there are a few Portuguese recipes floating around in the family. One of them is for Cabbage Rolls. Then there is Kale Soup and Portuguese Sweet Bread. An old friend from my days in Tucson was looking for a recipe for cabbage rolls, and since my red pen needs a rest from its busy day of essay grading, I hopped on up to look for the recipe and type it up. So you get lucky today and get two awesome recipes. You can get the linguica in Kroger sometimes. It is a spicy portuguese sausage... kind of a cross between hard chorizo and pepperoni... hard to explain, but worth the find.


1 lg. head green cabbage
1 1/2 t. salt

1 3/4 lb. linguica, chopped
1/2 lb. ground beef
1 c. onion, chopped
1 c. celery, chopped
1 c. mushrooms
1/2 c. olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper
12 oz. can whole tomatoes, crushed and drained (reserve the liquid)

In a large pot, place cabbage in salted water. Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer for 2 minutes or until leaves are flexible. Drain and cool.

Heat oil in saute pan. Lightly saute onion for about 2-3 minutes. Add in sausage, beef, celery, mushrooms, tomatoes and garlic and saute on medium low for about an hour stirring occasionally.

Separate cabbage leaves while filling cooks. chop the smaller leaves and stems of larger leaves and add to filling mixture.

When filling is cooked, preheat oven to 350'. In each leave, place approximately 1/2 c. of cooked stuffing. Fold two sides over stuffing, then roll up from the end. Arrange the rolls, seam side down in a well-greased casserole dish. Pour the reserved tomato liquid over all. Cover tightly and bake for 30 minutes. Serve over rice.

That's all for today!! Until next time, stay warm and loved, my friends!

Mexican Chicken Stew

Yesterday was one of those fairly relaxing Sundays. Ali was home and her friend Jessica stayed the night. They went to the cheer competition with us and then they took Kami and Nate up to see Tangled. The movie didn't start until 9:45, which happens to be about my bedtime, so I decided I would stay home. After church we had a quiet afternoon. David and Nate painted the ramps to the newly refurbished trailer that David has been working on, Kami took a nap and Ali and Jessica looked online at apartments and Westmoorland terriers. Oy! I decided to get dinner going early since I had to take the two younger ones to youth choir at 4 and needed it pretty much done so David just had to add the finishing touches before we got home to eat.

This is one of those happy disasters. I had every intention of making the Chicken Stew recipe from Christy Jordan's Southern Plate cookbook. Even got the chicken going in the pot. Then I realized that my bag of potatoes only held 2 small red potatoes - that wasn't going to cut it. Oh, and Zippy has been enjoying the daily carrot treat, so my bag of carrots was down to two, too... (haha! not sure if I have ever done that before - used all three spellings of that word in succession) So, I had to switch gears and got out another starch, a box of Quick Barley that I had bought because I wanted to try something new... and had yet to try it out. So last night was the night. I remember cans of Campbell's Beef and Barley soup when I was a child. I liked it then, so why not now. Barley is kind of like rice - a starchy grain that gets a bit puffy when it is cooked. When I started adjusting the stew recipe, I decided I would go in the "Mexican" direction with the seasonings and added beans and ended up with a very delicious stew. When I use whole tomatoes I usually take the lid off of the can and then use a serrated steak knife and stab all of the tomatoes several times so they don't squirt their juices everywhere. Then run my knife through the inside of the can to try and cut up the tomatoes a bit while they are still in the can. If I am going to cook something for a couple of hours, they will continue to break down, this just gets them started. If I leave them whole, they will just stay that way. It is a keeper recipe, for sure. I hope you enjoy it!


1 3-4lb whole chicken
2 med. onions
2 T. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 28oz can whole tomatoes
1 14 oz. can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
1 can small red beans (or black if you like)
1 1/2 c. frozen corn kernels
1 c. quick barley
1 T. cumin
1 T. chili powder
2 t. salt
1/2 t. black pepper

In a large pot place the chicken and enough water to cover it on high heat. Bring the water to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium, cover the pan and allow to cook on a low boil for 45 minutes until the chicken is cooked through. You know it is cooked all the way when you grab the leg and it basically falls off the chicken (grab it with tongs...boiling water is a bit rough on the hands). Remove the chicken from the pot and set aside until it is cool enough to handle and then remove the chicken from the bones (I like big pieces, as you see from the picture) and set meat aside for later. Skim as much of the fat off the top of the broth and reserve 6 cups of the broth (I put the remainder into a plastic container and freeze for future use in soups, rice, potatoes... lots of things). In the same pot heat the oil and saute the onion until translucent. Add the garlic and saute just another minute - be careful not to burn the garlic or it will be bitter and ruin the entire dish. Add in the broth, tomatoes and seasonings. Test the broth at this point to be sure it tastes good. You may need to adjust the salt and may have to add more later especially after the beans cook later. Bring this all to a simmer and cover. Allow this to simmer for about an hour then stir in the corn, beans, chicken and barley. Check the seasonings. This will need to simmer for another 30-45 minutes until the barley is soft.

I put some garlic bread under the broiler and we had a tasty stew for dinner. Plus I have some broth for something else later this week or month. With the exception of the barley, it is all ingredients that you either have or probably normally buy. I would encourage you to give it a try.

Today is an essay-grading kinda day. The couch and my red pen are both calling me. Until next time, stay warm and loved, my friends!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Banana Oatmeal Muffins

I have a couple of recipe cards written in my mother's handwritting. One is for Dorito Casserole and the other is her Banana Oatmeal Muffins. I love those muffins. I remember her making them for dinner many times. It is a good way to use up bananas that are past their prime, and for me that happens pretty early because I like my bananas with a bit of green still on them. Once they start turning brown they are too mushy and sweet. These result in a very light and fluffy muffin.

My mom loved to bake. She baked all kinds of desserts and breads. She made an incredible pie - a talent that I did not inherit, but my sisters all did. Guess I was kind of a black sheep :) I remember that she had a rolling pin that she kept in a fabric sleeve, like a sock, and heavy fabric pastry sheets that she rolled out her pie crusts on that were imbedded with flour and shortening (or most likely lard). My favorite pie was and always will be rhubarb...sometimes with strawberries, sometimes without.

 I thought I would share the muffin recipe with you today. I have made spaghetti sauce and vegetable soup this week, recipes I have already shared, so the blog has been a bit quiet. New and exciting things to come this week - and hopefully no snow for a while!

(In memory of the greatest mom that ever lived, Sandra Ann Heal Roberts)

1/2 c. soft shortening
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. honey
2 eggs, beaten
3 bananas, ripe
1 c. quick oats
1 1/2 c. flour
1 t. baking soda
1 t. baking powder
3/4 t. salt

Preheat oven to 350'. Cream shortening and sugar. Add honey. Mash bananas and add to mixture, then add in the eggs. Sift together dry ingredients, add to creamed mixture and then add in oatmeal. Divide mixture evenly into greased muffin cups. Bake 20 minutes. Makes 18 muffins.

Enjoy these and let me know what you think. I love the comments. You can share recipes you like on your own facebook page or email them to friends. I'd love to hear what unbiased (non-friends of mine) think!

Until next time, stay warm and loved, my friends!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Oven Fried Chicken and Bizarre Weather Conditions

I am starting to think that the weather patterns have somehow developed Alzheimer's or some other form of dementia and they have lost their way. This is Tennessee. We are not supposed to get snow every week in the winter. We get one or two "dustings" and the occasional 4-inch snowfall. This winter has been ridiculous - crazy and ridiculous! I am not complaining about my first White Christmas in more than twenty years. I am glad the kiddos get to slide and build snowmen and drop their melty-snowy-drippy boots and coats all over the kitchen floor.The tea kettle always seems to be on the back burner on low. The sound of 4-wheelers pulling sleds can be heard more often than I remember in the backyard. What I am not crazy about is having to cancel classes, and then potentially messing up my "Spring Break" in order to make them up! But, for today, we will enjoy yet another snowy, writing class-free day at Casa Brasells. Might be a good day to do some cooking (chili?) or baking. My menu plan calls for no dinner to be made on Wednesday night because we have "family supper" at church. I am not sure, but I think they might cancel if it is going to get below freezing and what has melted will re-freeze... roads will be parking lots and parking lots will be skating rinks... and if you aren't wearing skates, skating rinks are not much fun! In that case, I will be forced to cook tonight. What torture :) It's a challenge to make something NOT on the menu without using up the items in the fridge/freezer that you need for other meals.

Like I told you earlier this week, Sunday dinner was Oven Fried Chicken. It is easier than regular fried chicken, requires less oil and is equally crispy and yummy. I served it with "crispy red potatoes" but that doesn't even require a recipe. All I did was to put the red potatoes (whole) into a pot of water and cooked them until they were just barely tender... it took about 30 minutes once the water came to a low boil. Then I drained them and let them cool a bit before I cut them in half. I placed them cut-side down in the heated iron skillet that had about 2 T of butter and 2 T. olive oil and sprinkled them with garlic salt and let them cook until the cut side was browned and crisp - about 20 minutes. Alternatively you could take the bottom of a heavy pan and "smash" or squash the potatoes and then fry them the same way, but you will need to do it in batches. Don't overcrowd the pan or you will steam them and they will never get crispy! This is perfect for breakfast hashbrowns. Cook extra potatoes when you make them for dinner and then just put in the fridge for a yummy weekend breakfast!

So, here is the chicken recipe the way I did it. You can lessen the amounts of chicken. I like leftovers :) Enjoy your winter day!


5 chicken thighs (bone in, skin on)
4 chicken breasts (bone in, skin on)
2 c. all-purpose flour
1 T. garlic powder
2 T. paprika
1 t thyme leaves (or 1/2 t. ground thyme)
1 1/2 t. salt
1 t. black pepper
4 c. buttermilk
1 c. shortening

In large zip-loc bags (or shallow pan) cover chicken with buttermilk and allow to soak for 1-4 hours. Drain buttermilk from chicken and discard. In large bowl or bag combine flour and seasonings until well-blended. Toss chicken in flour mixture and place on wire rack on baking sheet. Allow to sit for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 425'. Place 1/2 c. shortening in each of 2 9x13 baking dishes. Place in hot oven and allow to melt completely. Re-toss in flour. Place chicken skin side down in baking dishes and bake for 30 minutes. Carefully turn chicken, trying not to disturb the coating. Bake for an additional 30 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.

I am off to enjoy a lovely snow day. Knitting needles and essays are calling my name!
Until next time, stay warm and loved, my friends!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Creamed Cabbage with Bacon and Knitting with Ronda

It was a nice weekend, this past weekend. Ali was home all weekend, even came home early because of the snow. On Thursday afternoon it really started coming down hard and it just kept on coming. In an hour our deck was covered and we had almost an inch. The biggest problem was the temperature. It was so cold that it was not just sticking, but it was then freezing. Ali drives the old red 1992 GMC diesel pick-up truck that David bought when we moved here in 1999. She called me from school before she left for work and said she was packing to come home for the weekend because she was pretty certain they would cancel classes on Friday (they did). By the time she got to work, she let me know she would really appreciate it if I would come and get her after work because even with an inch (and more still coming) she was having difficulty driving because it was so icy. Fortunately they closed Starbucks early at about 8:30, so I drove up on very icy roads and brought her home. I am glad I could not really see how bad the roads really were or I would have been terrified to drive on them.

Friday classes were cancelled and we hung out at the house pretty much all day. I took Emily and Ella home at 1 and dropped by Starbucks so Ali could get her truck and then we drove home on the same icy roads, which were a bit better, although still patchy... they don't believe in snowplows in Tennessee, they just spray salt on it and pray. Saturday we went to lunch at Demo's (yum) and got a scoop (or 2) of icecream from Marble Slab (yummier) to celebrate David and Ali's birthdays. Nate went to Savannah's to "do geometry" and I went home and made two pans of macaroni and cheese (one with jalapenos) for David to take to a pot luck with some fellow firefighters.Since I had to pick up Nate later, Kami and I just stayed home.

Sunday - church and then home to pick up a bit and then got ready to make dinner. I made oven-fried chicken, crispy red potatoes and creamed cabbage with bacon. I will get you the chicken and potato recipes later, but for today, it will be the cabbage recipe.

Ronda came over and we talked and knitted and talked and knitted and talked and I came up with an amazing idea. Ali says I am an idea person - I come up with great ones... I just need someone with money to make it happen. Ronda and I one day are going to open a little shop with craft books, yarn, coffee and tea and lots of homemade knitted/crocheted items. I have an awesome name... (and if anyone else out there takes it, I will know where they got it!) "Two Chicks and Some Sticks" (cause we knit.... get it??) Anyway... one day it may happen :) She is making some great scarves, including an infinity scarf and some cowels which look really warm. I have been making socks, little baby "buddy blankets" and washcloths. I try to keep a variety of projects going. All the while I was making dinnner, stopping occasionally to get something going or check on the progress of what was sizzling in the oven. It was smelling so good in the house!! On to dinner...


1 large head green cabbage, shredded
1 med. onion, diced
1/2 package bacon, diced
1/2 c. cream
salt and pepper to taste

I cut up the bacon with my kitchen shears. It is much quicker and less frustration than a knife. In a large pot cook the bacon just until crispy. Throw in the diced onion and cook until onion is translucent. Top with salt and pepper and 1/2 c. cream, cover and cook on medium low for 30-45 minutes until the cabbage is tender. Give it a good stir about halfway through the cooking time, but try to avoid lifting the cover and letting out the steam.

Watch out fo rthe chicken recipe. It was very yummy!! Until then, stay warm and loved, my friends.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Grocery Shopping...The List

I told you all about my menu planning strategies the other day. It is pretty straight forward. There are a few things that I make without even thinking about it, things like spaghetti sauce, grilled or baked chicken, lasagna, shepherd's pie, beef stroganoff, pot roast, vegetable soup, hamburgers... but I am always looking for new recipes to add some variety to our weekly (or bi-weekly) menus. I try different casseroles, some are good, some I will eat but never make again, some...well, let's just say the leftovers don't make it to the fridge. 

I have two shelves worth of cookbooks, several of them are "church" type cookbooks that are filled with tried and true family recipes. Among others, I have The Joy of Cooking, The Better Homes & Gardens, Betty Crocker, Fanny Farmer, and several Southern Living books that are my "go-to" books. Like I said earlier, I will often pull one cookbook and find a couple recipes to try for the next couple of weeks. This next two weeks is no exception. This next two weeks I am going to use my new favorite... The Southern Plate Cookbook. I have been following Christy's blog for a little while and bought the book when she released it this summer and then met her at the Southern Festival of Books. She is real and her food is real... real good!! If you want an honest-to-goodness southern cookbook chock full of southern recipes, this is the one to get! I have made several things in it and these next two weeks I have put the following onto my menu planner: chicken stew, corn chowder, slow cooked pork roast and squash casserole. When I do this, I put the page number in parentheses so I can find it when I make my shopping list and when I go to actually fix the meal. I also limit myself to using no more than two cookbooks and try to stick with one so I don't get confused!

So my list has been adjusted from last time to accommodate these recipes (I changed 1/24 to chicken stew, 1/30 to the pork roast, 1/31 to corn chowder and altered 2/3 to remove the potatoes and green beans and added the squash casserole)

So now it is time to make my list. I go day by day and put the ingredients necessary to complete my menu, keeping in mind what I have in my pantry. I also add in items for breakfast and lunch meals as well as snacks and check my stock of baking supplies as well... this is where I will remember to put down Confectioner's Sugar since I keep forgetting!! I star things that I need a lot of (like carrots and potatoes in the winter). Check it out - give me some feedback. What do you do?


Beef roast
Corn (x2)
Green pepper
Italian sausage

Red potatoes
Ground beef (2)

Potatoes **
Pork roast

Onions *
Cream cheese
4# chicken (2)

Sour cream
Lunch meat

Carrots **

Yellow squash


Green onions


Lunch bread
Chicken broth
Flour tortillas
Beef broth
Pita bread
Crushed tomatoes 3
Taco shells

Fire-roasted tom.

12 oz. Paste
Yellow rice

Dish soap

Roasted peppers
Ritz crackers
Laundry Det.

Refried beans
Toilet paper
Cr. Mush soup
Paper towels
Confec. Sugar
28 oz whole tom 2


Baking soda

Maple syrup

Bread flour


Choc. chips

Brown sugar

That's it for today :) Once again, stay warm and loved, my friends!!

fantastically famished: Dave's Birthday Breakfast - Baked Apple Pancakes a...

fantastically famished: Dave's Birthday Breakfast - Baked Apple Pancakes a...: "First of all, what did you all think about the menu planner? If you want to comment, go to the comment section, type your comments and then ..."

Dave's Birthday Breakfast - Baked Apple Pancakes and Bacon

First of all, what did you all think about the menu planner? If you want to comment, go to the comment section, type your comments and then where it says "comment as" with the drop-down box, choose anonymous (unless you have a google, livejournal, wordpress, typepad, AIM, or OpenID name and can sign in that way). I would love some feedback on what you think. I will work up the shopping list post and send that along, maybe later today since I am snowbound! Here is Zippy enjoying the snow... can you find him? :)

Now... yesterday was the big 47 for David. He worked at the firehall all day, so we didn't get to celebrate with breakfast, lunch and/or dinner. We are going to Demo's tomorrow for lunch for his and Ali's birthdays, so I get out of a big celebration meal - think I will still make him his favorite pie, though... Coconut Cream. That post will come later. This morning I decided on a baked apple pancake - inspired by the ones from my childhood from Bickford's Pancake House. I looked up their recipe, but it is too small and made in an iron skillet. My skillet won't make enough for 7 hungry "brunchers", so I adjusted the quantity and am trying it in a 9x13 baking dish. Let's see how it comes out! I also cooked some thick-cut bacon to go along with it. It's smelling good, so I hope it tastes as good as it looks!


3 med. apples, peeled and sliced thin
1/4 c. butter, melted
1/3 c. sugar
2 T. cinnamon
6 eggs
1 t. vanilla
1 1/2 c. milk
1 1/2 c. flour
1/2 t. salt

Preheat oven to 400'. Layer the apples in a well-greased 9x13 baking dish. Mix cinnamon into the sugar and sprinkle over the apples. Drizzle the butter over the seasoned apples. In a bowl, whisk the eggs until frothy. Whisk in the vanilla and milk. Whisk in the flour and salt until thoroughly combined. Pour over apples and bake for 30 minutes until cooked through. Serve with maple syrup.

That's it. It was yummy and perfect for a cold winter morning!!

Until next time, stay warm and loved, my friends!!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

fantastically famished: Parmesan Chicken and Menu Planning

fantastically famished: Parmesan Chicken and Menu Planning: "The dog decided he wanted to wake me up this morning rather early, like before 6am. Not nice! But when he puts his paws up on the side of th..."

Parmesan Chicken and Menu Planning

The dog decided he wanted to wake me up this morning rather early, like before 6am. Not nice! But when he puts his paws up on the side of the bed and starts poking me with his nose, I figure he really wants something, because normally he stays curled up in his bed until I decide I want to roll out and get going. I am pretty sure he was hungry because he was begging for extra food last night. He is on a diet. We fed him too much for years and now he has quite the belly - which as an aging adult is not easy to lose :) So I decided to spend a little extra time on the blog this morning and tell you about my method of menu planning as well as a recipe for Parmesan Chicken, which is really quick!


For at least 15 years and maybe closer to 20 I have been planning meals for the family for 2 weeks at a time. I have developed a method that works well for our family and really helps to save on the grocery bill and cuts down trips to the grocery store. When the kids were younger I would plan breakfast, lunch and dinner. Now breakfast and lunch are usually every man for himself. Occasionally I get a bug to make breakfast on a Saturday, or some special day, or I just feel like making pancakes or waffles. I try to keep bacon and sausage in the freezer for those "just in case" days, and my pantry is almost always stocked with any baking item that would be needed for bread, muffins, pancakes/waffles, cookies, brownies, etc.... which reminds me, I am out of confectioner's sugar!! Better go put that on the list before I forget!

On my menu plan I make three columns. The first is the day of the week, then the date, then the meals are lists. Under the day of the week I write any special events or activities for that day. It helps me in the planning to know who is going to be home and where may potentially be at dinner time and how much prep time I will or will not have. I also put an asterisk (*) next to the days that David is on shift at the firehall so I know when he will be home for dinner. Then I plan my meals. Wednesdays are always dinner at church, so I don't have to cook (yay!), and Tuesdays I am gone for 10 hours, so I usually try to put something in the crock pot. Then I plan to make spaghetti sauce, if the freezer supply is depleted, and then spread the meals so I plan for a few chicken meals, a few "Italian" type meals, ground beef, a roast or two (beef or pork), a soup or stew... in other words, variety! Sometimes I will pull out a cookbook that I haven't used in a while and search through it for new things to try and work one or two into the menu. Sometimes I ask the crew what they haven't had in awhile that they want me to make, and I always work in 2 leftover meals. In 14 days, with 2 church meals and 2 leftover meals, that only leaves 10 meals to plan, which works out great.

Normally I do it by hand, but I do have a type-written format, which you are welcome to copy and paste into a Word document and adjust with dates, meals etc., but this is what my next two weeks will look like:

Day      Date                 Meal
M         1/24                 B
WHHE                         L
dentist                          D – chicken noodle soup, slaw, bread

T          1/25                 B
CHET                          L
Cheer                           D – Roast in crock pot w/ potatoes, carrots, onions, celery

*W      1/26                 B
Joelton                         L
Church                         D - CHURCH

Th        1/27                 B
Cheer                           L
                                    D – spaghetti (make sauce in am), salad, bread in machine

F          1/28                 B
C’ville class                  L
Tumble/Cheer 5p        D – tacos/burritos, yellow rice

*Sa      1/29                 B
Competition                  L
                                    D – (leftovers)

Su        1/30                 B
4:12 @ 4p                    L
                                    D – pork roast with sauerkraut, carrots, mashed potatoes

M         1/31                 B
                                    D – pasta, olives & cheese, salad, bread

*T        2/1                   B
CHET                          L
Cheer                           D – Chicken in crock pot w/ veg., cook rice

W        2/2                   B
Joelton                         L
Church                         D - CHURCH

Th        2/3                   B
Cheer                           L
                                    D – hamburger steaks w/ mushrooms, potatoes, green beans

*F        2/4                   B
C’ville                          L
Tumble 5p                    D – French bread pizza (pepperoni, sausage, mush, peppers…)

Sa        2/5                   B
                                    D – vegetable soup, grilled cheese

Su        2/6                   B
4:12                             L
                                    D – (leftovers)

Tomorrow I will share with you my grocery shopping strategies and share my "list" with you. It is what works for me because I have been doing it so long. You may already have a plan in place that works well. If not, give this a try and see if it helps you to save a little bit of money on your grocery bill.

Now for dinner last night. I had pulled some chicken breasts out of the freezer the day before thinking I would forgo the normal crock pot recipe... I won't make that mistake again because I barely got food into the girls (Kami, Emily and Ella) before we had to leave for the gym. But, dinner was tasty and it was easy to put together and 3 chicken breasts actually fed 6 people! I buy rather plump boneless breast pieces and while they are still slightly frozen in the center, I slice them in half horizontally with a serrated knife, making chicken "cutlets". It really is the perfect size of a meat portion and no one ever complains :) I served this with basmati rice and steamed broccoli. Here's the recipe


3 plump boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced in half horizontally
1 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 t. garlic salt
1/2 c. butter, melted
1-2 T. olive oil

Preheat the oven to 375'. Oil a baking sheet or pan with olive oil. In a bowl combine the crumbs, cheese and salt. Place melted butter in another bowl. Dip each breast piece in the melted butter and then into the crumb mixture, patting the crumbs into the mixture. I usually turn and pat the breasts a few times to be sure they are thoroughly coated with the crumbs and then lay them on the baking sheet. Bake at 375' for 20-30 minutes until cooked through. Simple, easy and really only 5 ingredients, if you don't count the olive oil! It's a great stand-by and works for bone-in chicken, chicken tenders and pork chops!

Until next time, stay warm and loved, my friends!