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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Comfort food (not soup!): leek and turkey bacon bow-ties

Leek and turkey bacon bow-ties in alfredo sauce in a white bowl.

As I mentioned in my earlier post about potato leek soup, I’ve been ill since the beginning of the new year and I haven’t done a lot of cooking as a result. I’m just starting to feel like I’m on the mend, so I was able to stand in the kitchen for a little longer today than yesterday to make something with a little more substance than soup.

Don’t get me wrong: soup is great and very comforting, but  sometimes you want something with a bit more chew. Pasta is something I don’t have on a regular basis but I usually have some boxes of whole wheat noodles or pasta in the pantry at all times, just in case. Considering I’m low on proteins in the fridge right now, I had to work with what I had. There is some ground chicken and some pork schnitzels in the freezer, but both need thawing before they can be used. What protein do I have in abundance in the fridge? Low-sodium turkey bacon! Yum!

Considering I still had three leeks to use up, as well, I rummaged around in the pantry a bit more and found that I had a single bottle of store-bought Alfredo sauce. Now, I could start to see a meal forming in my head, so I went to work. Here’s what I did:

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Curried tomato pepper soup

Curried tomato pepper soupDespite the summer heat, I’ve been craving tomato soup lately. So I picked up some ‘no salt added’ canned tomatoes and thought, “Why the heck not?” Who says you can’t have soup in the summer? I’ve been hiding in air conditioned spaces, anyway, so it’s not so strange.

I didn’t have a recipe. I didn’t even look. I just went into the fridge and cupboard and started pulling ingredients out that I thought might taste good together. Here’s what I did…

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Satisfying Sides: Roasted garlic herb potatoes

Roasted garlic herb potatoes as a side dishAlthough I’ve cut right back on how many potatoes I eat these days, I still allow myself to have them from time to time — just in smaller portions. I’ve also been craving fries. So what a great way to get my potatoes and my fries craving taken care of than to roast some mini potatoes up in the  oven and have them as a side dish?

Here’s what I did:

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Chicken parmesan meatloaf muffins

Two 'muffin'-sized meatloaves made of ground chicken and seasonings are topped with homemade marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese. Served with cauliflower risotto.I love chicken parmesan when I go out to eat, but I’ve been avoiding it due to the elevated sodium levels I know the sauce will undoubtedly have, the breading on the chicken, etc. I’ve been learning that some of my favourites from restaurants over the years are not the healthiest of choices and tend to have a million calories, two million grams of fat and an ungodly amount of sodium. Chicken parmesan is no exception, sadly.

But does this mean I have to swear off of it? No! Why not make my own and adjust things to fit my dietary needs? I’ll save my waistline from expanding (or my feet!) and save my pocketbook too!

I had a craving for it one night but didn’t have any chicken breasts to make it myself. What did I have? Ground chicken. What could I do with that? Well, I make beef meatloaf ‘muffins’ all the time, so why not do the same with the chicken? They’d have bread crumbs worked into them, using a similar theme to chicken parmesan. And heck, I have light parmesan in the fridge at all times! If I made up my own sauce, I could control the sodium considerably. So I went to work on it and here’s what I did:

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Low-carb adventures: ground chicken meatloaf!

A plate with chicken meatloaf, corn and coleslaw (vinegar-based).In my low-carb adventures, I’ve been introduced to some new foods and new ways of cooking, but after two solid weeks of really watching what I ate, I was craving comfort foods. One such comfort food from my childhood was meatloaf dinner! I wanted meatloaf, potatoes, corn on the cob, lots of butter, gravy, etc. Well, I came up with a compromise for  some of that heaviness by messing around with some of the components of  that dish. Instead of a whole corn on the cob, I snapped the cobs in half and steamed them, then cut the corn off one of the half-cobs and omitted the butter. Instead of potatoes, I whipped up a homemade vinegar-based coleslaw (no carrots, as I’m not a fan). And for the meatloaf, I used ground chicken instead of ground beef. Here’s what I did:

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