real food. real life.
Yes. You read that right. Cabbage roll casserole. Lasagna style. And I couldn't get a decent pic of this while it was hot. Sorry. The pictures here don't do it justice. It was much better than it looks. Seriously. Lee loved it and he doesn't put up things that don't look appetizing. I should've taken a pic of the leftovers while they were cold because it held together better and was soooooo good the next day. You'll just have to trust me on this one.
Here's a pic of it seconds before I ate it. All plated up.
Not sold on it yet? I know what you mean. I had my hesitations even at this point, before I tasted it. It looked like it was just going to taste like soggy vegetables. Not at all appetizing and not a good way to get someone to eat their veggies.
I thought for sure this one was a dud. But oh my goodness was I wrong!!! This was amazing. Seriously!! I am not lying - I would not post it unless it tasted good. Lee and I both were pleasantly surprised, and went back for seconds before I packaged the rest up for meals the next day. Which, of course, we had seconds again the next night because there was so much of it and it was so good!
This was by far a great tasting meal, easy to prepare, full of healthy ingredients, and super, super cheap. Like really cheap. Main ingredient in cabbage. Cabbage is always cheap.
It is much easier to make than cabbage rolls. If you've ever attempted this. It takes a while but is somewhat tedious. This is easier, but sorry folks... it took just as long to cook in the oven. It's best made on a day that you're home doing housework and you have a couple hours to let something cook away in the oven. The prep work for it is super easy - I did it with a baby attached to me in the carrier. If I can do that, you can do it!
Reason I made this: I am devoted to using up every last ingredient in my kitchen before going grocery shopping in an attempt to save money (which I must note here is totally working - I picked up 2 things from the grocery store on the weekend. 2 things! That's a record for me) The day I made this casserole my fridge consisted of 2 small green cabbages and 1 bunch of swiss chard. Yes, that is all. No other fruits or veggies. Not even a lemon. I always have lemons. I had no dry pasta in cupboard, my go-to for using up veggies. So, I had to think outside of the box. I still had some canned tomatoes in the cupboard, so here it is - Cabbage Roll Casserole - Lasagna Style. Try it!!
Total Time: sorry about this one...
prep: 15 minutes
cook:90 minutes... yikes, I know that's long.
2 small green cabbages
1 bunch of swiss chard (optional) or use another green/veg if you'd like to - I only used this to use it up!
lean ground meat (optional) I used a small bit of lean ground pork I found in the freezer - our last bit from the massive amount I bought from Costco
1 cup uncooked long grain rice
2 cans diced tomatoes
1 cup water or stock
Seasoning: a few shakes of paprika, sea salt, pepper, hot pepper flakes, basil, drizzle of honey, 6 cloves garlic - minced, 2 green onion - diced *divide your seasoning if half*
What to do:
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
2) If using meat, brown and chop meat in a pan with a bit of oil.
3) Add one half of the garlic and green onion to the pan. Sauté a few minutes then add 1 can of diced tomatoes. Add half of all other spices. Add 1 cup water or stock, and rice. Stir a bit then simmer for 20 minutes, covered, until rice is cooked. This will be your filling and it is so yummy - combines 2 of my favourite things: rice and tomatoes. Yum.
4) While your filling is cooking, thinly slice your cabbage and any other veggies, like swiss chard. Place your first layer in your lasagna pan - cabbage. Lay it in until you've covered the bottom of the pan. It will look kind of messy but it doesn't matter. Don't worry.
5) When your filling is ready, you are ready to assemble your casserole/lasagna - whatever you want to call it. This is the layering that I chose and it worked well, from bottom to top: cabbage, half of rice mixture, swiss chard, rest of rice mixture, cabbage.
6) For the top, I mixed up the other can of diced tomatoes with the other half of seasoning. Pour it over the top, smooth over, cover and cook for 90 minutes!
7) Be sure to save the leftovers for the next day. It is even better the next day.
I have been wanting to try this for so long!! And finally, having an abundance of zucchinis in the fridge forced me to get to it!
We had some zucchini's from the farm and some from Lee's garden. I've been using them in pretty much every dish I've made this week. Stir Fries, pastas, omelettes, soups, bbq, etc. Normally, I would use the rest in muffins. But I remembered something about zucchini pasta, so I looked up a bunch of ways to prepare it online for some inspiration. And here it is! My own version of zucchini pasta. Yum.
I needed a bit of guidance, as I didn't really know if there was 'special' way to cook them, or just as you would any slice of zucchini. So, after some searching around, It turns out - yay! - you just cook it as you would zucchini for anything else. I usually sauté zucchini, and it doesn't take long, so I did this with the pasta noodles as well. I knew if I was going to make Lee eat this, it had to taste good the first time. Vegetables as a pasta - not a hot sale around here! Best to add some meat and his favourite spices - oregano and basil. I also had a bunch of grape tomatoes from his garden - perfect for light sautéing in pasta.
You'll notice that I added an optional step of 'sweating' the zucchini noodles to help dry them out a bit. I'm not sure if this made any difference or not. One recipe online called for it, but others did not. I don't think I would do it next time. Just seemed to take extra time and they weren't a whole lot dryer after using the oven technique.
You don't really need any fancy tools, either. You could just slice it with a knife, although that would take longer. You could also use a basic box grater. I used a fancy julienne peeler than Lee's mother bought me for a gift last year. I don't get a chance to use it often and it was perfect for this! So happy I had one! If you have a mandolin, that would work, too, or a spiralizer, whatever that is!
Alright, here it is. Try it! It's not hard and turned out really good. I was definitely impressed that I liked it so much. I am a huge pasta lover, so this was a welcomed healthier version!
Total Time: 20-30 minutes
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 Chicken Breast, chopped into pieces
Handful or two of Grape Tomatoes
Few shakes of dried oregano and basil. Would taste better with fresh herbs!
Red pepper and green onion would be good, too. I didn't have any..
What to do:
1) Hold zucchini laying flat against cutting board. Hold at zucchini's stump. Slide julienne peeler along the zucchini to peel off one layer of noodles. Push aside and continue peeling/pushing aside until you see the seeds. Roll zucchini and repeat around all sides. You don't want to use the seedy-middle for noodles as they are too watery.
2) This next step is optional, but does give you a more 'pasta-like' noodle.
Place all of your noodles in a colander, separating as you place them. Put some paper towel underneath and a heavy bowl on top to squeeze out any water in the zucchini noodles. You can let it sit like this for 15 minutes or so. To speed up the process, you can place the noodles in the oven, on a low temperature, 200 degrees fahrenheit, laying flat on cookie sheets for 10 minutes. This will make the noodles harder and more 'pasta-like'.
3) Saute chicken with oil until no longer pink. Add garlic and tomatoes and stir until fragrant. Then add your zucchini noodles and spices, and more oil if needed. Cook, stirring around, for only a couple minutes until the noodles start to go limp, like normal spaghetti noodles. Be careful not to let them cook too long or they will turn to mush!
4) Plate and enjoy! You can add some parmesan cheese or nutritional yeast for some added flavour.
Lee made rice the other night to go with dinner and he made a ton! This happens a lot around here. We don't tend to measure our rice... Just boil water then add rice until it hits the surface. This is how Dad taught me to make rice. I didn't realize other people measured out the water and rice until I was on my own. I tried the measuring out technique and always messed it up! Weird! But pretty much goes to show why I don't like to follow recipes too much... I blame my father. :)
Anyway, cooking rice without measuring tends to end up with extra rice. Which is never a bad thing, in my mind! I love rice! And I think Lee has just been conditioned to love rice just as much since he's known me, and since I always make sure there's rice in the cupboard, just in case. Rice is always my fall back. I could eat just plain rice for a meal. In fact, I did for most of my university days. It was the only thing I left home knowing how to make from scratch! Not very nutritious, mind you, but tasty... at least I thought so.
Normally, that extra rice gets used as fried rice, mixed with some veg, meat, egg, etc. Today's recipe offers up another use for that leftover rice. As a rice crust! I saw this the other day on Simple Balance's blog and loved the idea! I took her idea and made my own version. It was easier than making pastry crust... or I assume it would be. I've never actually made a pastry crust. Maybe someday!
Here's the recipe! Try it out and make your own combo for a quiche! Very simple supper idea.
Total Time: 45 minutes
Approx. 3 cups cooked long grain rice - warmed (would suggest brown rice for a healthier version)
5 eggs + 1 egg white
A Few Sprinkles of cheese or nutritional yeast
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
Any veggies/meats you want to add (In this one, we had broccoli, tomato, zucchini, basil leaves, onion)
What to do:
1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit.
2) Mix rice, egg white, and a drizzle of olive oil. Press into bottom of oven-safe casserole or pie dish until it coats the whole bottom and sides. Place in oven, uncovered, for about 15 minutes. Should be firm and crispy when done. Change oven temperature to 375 when done cooking crust.
3) Mix 5 eggs, chopped veggies, cooked meats (if any), spices.
4) Pour egg and veggie mixture onto rice crust. Place in oven, covered, for about 20 minutes. Then remove cover and cook for about 10-15 minutes, until egg is set.
We really cooked these things. From scratch. On weeknights. And we even had time to do the dishes.
They have real, simple ingredients that you'll find in your cupboards. They're healthy and delicious. No lies.
Thanks for reading. Leave a comment below!
Here's a pic of me and my babies. Just because.
A Bit About Me...