Pared-down Polish haluski: Cabbage and Noodles

Tri-coloured noodles with turkey bacon and cabbage in a white ceramic ramakin

I am not Polish. My family’s background is primarily English and Irish. But as I had a step-great-grandfather who was Hungarian and thoroughly enjoyed Polish foods, I learned to love perogies. I still remember standing on a kitchen chair at my great-grandfather’s home with Nanny, my great-grandmother, helping her make perogies. My job was to cut the dough using an upturned glass to cut perfect circles.

I loved her perogies. And although I hadn’t really had much in the way of Polish or Hungarian food since, I think I simply “got a taste for it” when I was a small child  thanks to my great-grandfather’s love of these potato and cheese dumplings.

Is this posting about perogies? Nah. But it’s about another Polish dish: haluski. From what I understand, this is a dish that is typically made with egg noodles, bacon of some description or another, onions and shredded cabbage and it’s all sauteed up together. I first saw it on Diners, Drive-Ins and  Dives and have seen Guy Fieri’s version of haluski online. But  when I first saw it on Triple D, I thought that I just had to try it.

Unfortunately, again, I cannot eat anything with onion in it right now. So I thought that maybe I could make my own rendition of this, without the onion. I know that it wouldn’t be authentic at that point and that it probably couldn’t even be called haluski at that point, but I don’t cook for others’ tastes — I cook for my own. Here’s what I did…

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Summer Solstice Warming Vegetable Soup

"Summer Solstice" vegetable soup with garlic cheese bread

I’ve recently found out that onions are generally a bad idea for me.  If I don’t want to end up having certain health issues that I won’t discuss here, I need to generally avoid them like the plague.

To say the least, this has really put a cramp in my cooking-style.

Almost every recipe out there involves onions of some description or another. Sliced, diced, chopped, minced, pureed… somehow, it’s present in everything from soups and stews to burgers and meatloaf. What’s an onion-avoiding girl to do??

With the recent rainstorms and cooler summer weather, I’ve found myself craving a good, hearty, warming soup. Yes, soup in the summer — I’m not crazy, I promise! But again: soup = onions. Right? Well, not exactly. I’ve found  that I have no adverse effects from onion powder. There’s hope yet! Based on this and wanting to get something equally tasty and nutritious into me, I went out to buy some veggies I haven’t had in recent days: cabbage  and sweet potatoes.

Sure, I’ve got potatoes in my pantry but the  sweet potatoes are generally so much better for you and they just have a different taste. So, today, after I had gotten up from a short afternoon nap, I started chopping and slicing and  whipped up this yummy little number. I’ve dubbed it Summer Solstice Warming Vegetable Soup because I created it on the Summer Solstice and the flavours are warming without being “spicy”. Feel free to play with the seasonings to make it more to your taste, but  I have to say that this turned out better than I originally imaged!

This also makes a huuuuuuuuuge pot of soup/stew, so feel free  to cut these measurements in half to make a dutch oven’s worth of soup. This one took my large stewing pot, just as a warning.  (See the end of this posting to see the “leftovers” after hubby and I both had two full bowlfuls!) Also, this was an instant hit with my hubby, though there was no meat in the soup. Woo! Here’s what I did…

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Mom’s “Hamburger Hash (stew)”, made my way

hamburger-hash-stew

This one’s an old family favourite for me. It’s one that we had very frequently as kids and I always looked forward to it. It wasn’t until recently that I said my mom, “Remember when you used to make hamburger hash for us? I used to love that and haven’t had it in years!” My mom told me she had, ironically, just made it a few days prior. So I asked her, “How do you make it??” I said, “Do you first brown the meat–?” She cut me off and said, “Oh, god no! That’s too much work!” or something very similar. She told me how she did it all those years ago and now I’m going to share with you how I made it recently for my hubby and myself.

Oh, but wait. What is hamburger hash, you ask? Oh! It’s not like a breakfast hash made with potatoes. It’s more like a ground beef stew that’s poured over mashed potatoes. When I was a kid, it was made with onion and ground beef and was in a really thick gravy. I imagine it was a favoured dish because it was relatively cheap and easy to make — which of course made it really easy to feed a family of four on a budget and without having to spend hours in the kitchen. Here’s what I did…

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The comfort burger: a Meatloaf Burger

Meatloaf Burger on a whole wheat bun with some Monterrey Jack cheese and lettuce

Sometimes, you just want a burger. Last week, I was craving burgers so much that I almost caved and went to McDonald’s. *shudders* No. No. I’ve sworn off of that place, honest! I think in the last year, I’ve been there only once. Maybe twice. I’m trying to divorce myself from certain places that I know are just  bad news for me.

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Jamie Oliver-inspired cooking: slow-cooked beef stew

Jamie Oliver-inspired Slow Cooked Beef Stew in a bowlI have always made stew the same way: saute onions in some oil, then brown some flour-covered beef in batches, deglaze, add the rest of the veggies and liquid and bake for an hour or two, then try to thicken it up on the stove-top with a flour-slurry, because it just  never seemed to thicken in the oven.

I’ve never been happy with this so I’ve been poking around, looking for a better technique.

Then I stumbled across Jamie Oliver’s recipe for Jools’s favourite beef stew. In it, he talks about how it’s really not necessary to brown the meat in batches, as so many chefs would have you do and that he actually prefers the taste and texture of  the stew when he doesn’t pre-brown. He simply sautes his onions, then throws in the floured, seasoned meat, the liquids, vegetables and then brings it to a boil on the stove before throwing a lid on it and forgetting about it in the oven for 3-4 hours. Let me tell you, when I followed these instructions, I preferred the outcome. The taste and texture was indeed better than any stew  I’ve made in the past and the meat was perfectly tender (it’s been tough in the past).

So here’s what I did this time around for my best ever slow-cooked beef stew…

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Something old into something new: leftover butter chicken pizza!

Butter chicken pizza on naan bread on a cutting board

I’m not a fan of really hot, spicy foods, but I do like the flavour of curry. Hubby and I like to order butter chicken and rice from a nearby Indian restaurant because they make it on the milder side. We always order lots and there’s always leftover. But sometimes after the first few days, it’s easy to get bored with it, like anything else. Sometimes, you just need to find a new presentation to make even the most favourite of take-out more interesting a few days later — especially when the naan bread really isn’t too fresh by the third day and needs a little life put back into it.

So, today for lunch, I got a brainstorm. Pizza only needs a base, a sauce and toppings, right? So naan is similar to pizza crust, butter chicken sauce is like tomato sauce, the chicken is like any meat topping — all that’s needed is some veggie component (my preference) and some cheese. Here’s what I did…

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A hearty breakfast favourite, done a little differently: Curried Potato & Turkey Bacon Breakfast Hash

curried-breakfast-hash

I know I’ve posted a lot of dishes today. I’m trying to make up for some lost time, in truth. I’m off work this week and so Family Day seemed to be a good day to just get a little caught up. All of the posts put up today are dishes I’ve made since the beginning of the new year. I’m sorry if you’ve all been disappointed by the lack of activity as of late! Also, none of these have any nutritional data right now. I might be able to add them later. Keep checking back.

Some of these are better for you than others. Many are comfort foods. Keep in mind that my cooking is usually a balance between comfort and healthy — sometimes a recipe is more comfort-food than anything and sometimes, it’s made with healthy-eating in mind. But due to a seven-week illness, I haven’t been focusing upon low fat, low-carb, low calories or anything of the kind.

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