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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Not your usual lasagna: Chicken-mushroom lasagna

Three-layer chicken-mushroom lasagna

I love lasagna. I can’t tell you how much I love it. But sometimes, it gets a little ho-hum, repetitive. So I like to play with the fillings from time to time.

Instead of ground beef, why not use shredded or sliced-up chicken breast meat? That’s what I did  this time, as I had a couple of leftover baked chicken breasts kicking around from the day before (I had made a chicken-breast chili soup the day before in the crockpot but didn’t use all the chicken).

What goes well with chicken? Just about anything, really. I’ve made it with spinach but this time, I went with sliced mushrooms that needed to get used up.

I’m also not much of a ricotta fan, so this was done with a combination of shredded mozzarella, Monterrey Jack and light Parmesan cheeses.

The sauce  was also a blend of jarred sauce and homemade sauce, as I didn’t have enough of either one of them to make the lasagna, so I mixed the two together and voila! Lasagna. I’ve even used Alfredo sauce in the past!

Do you get bored with your same-old same-old dishes? Sometimes just changing a couple of ingredients goes a long way in sprucing up the old favourites. 🙂

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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REVIEW: Irresistibles Chicken Carbonara

A box of frozen food, specifically Chicken Carbonara in the Life Smart line from IrresistiblesI decided recently to buy a few of the “lighter choice” frozen meals to try, as I understand they’ve come a long way since I last tried them.

The first one I bought was Irresistibles Chicken Carbonara in their Life Smart line. They were on sale for $1.88 each if you bought three at a time, so I thought, “Why not?” Normally, I’m leery about these pre-made meals that have chicken in them. The reason: most of these pre-made meals seem to have pre-fab chicken-like meat substances in them. The texture is usually rather disagreeable to me, so I usually avoid these like the plague. But I thought that if the chicken was nasty, I could pick them out and just eat the rest and chalk it up as experience.

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Crockpot lasagna!

A triangular slice of lasagna rests on its side on a plate.Even with the air conditioning running 24/7, it has been a brutal summer. Brutal enough that I cringe at the thought of turning on the oven, as I’ve mentioned in earlier posts. I’ve been missing lasagna. So, I decided to experiment with my crockpot (slow-cooker) today. Here’s what I got.

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Things to do with pre-roasted chickens from the grocery – Day 1

A plastic container with a cardboard wrap-around handle on it holds a 1 pound pre-roasted chicken, purchased from the grocery store.Let’s face it: it’s too hot to use the oven when it’s the middle of a scorching summer season. Hell, I don’t even enjoy cooking on the stove-top or on the indoor grill in the summer. Anything that gives off heat makes me groan. But some things are necessities. I have a bunch of chicken in the freezer that just isn’t getting cooked because, well, it’s frozen and I don’t want to get the oven baking.

So on a whim, I purchased two of those pre-roasted chickens from the grocery store today.  I usually shop at Metro due to convenience, but most places sell these things. They’re about $10-15 per bird. These ones were $9.99 exactly, so I picked up two. (Also, I have no idea what “Mammoth Barbecue Chicken” means, unless a one-pound bird is super-huge. I have never bought a whole chicken before, so I have no point of reference.)

I decided to buy two, tear them up and see how many different meals we can get out of them (as well as how many dishes — to see how economical this was). Theoretically, these two birds should feed us all week if I play my cards right. Granted, I’m a white-meat gal. I have issues with the dark meat (largely texture-based), so the legs and wings will be going to hubby (and I’m sure he’ll be happy about that!). In other words, forgive me if this is breast meat-centric.

Today’s dinner? Take a peek:

A bowl of the finished product: Roasted chicken & sauteed mushrooms over pesto-slathered spinach & cheese ravioli..

Roasted chicken & sauteed mushrooms over pesto-slathered cheese & spinach ravioli.

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How I saved my overcooked chicken

A plate of egg noodles coated in chopped chicken, cheese and sauce, topped with green onions and shredded cheese.So last night, I knew I had several boneless, skinless chicken breasts which needed to be cooked up but I rapidly found myself running out of evening to cook them in. I thought I’d be clever and throw them into the crockpot with some honey-garlic sauce (VH), onions and a can of pineapple, let it on low and wake up in the morning to fantastic chicken.

Boy, was I wrong. Boneless, skinless chicken breasts are not good for the crockpot, because they dry out very easily, despite being drenched in liquid. I didn’t realize this.

Hubby said he’d eat it, but I told him to leave it alone, let me think about it and I’d see if I could salvage it and make it more palatable. I had a few ideas after searching through my cupboards. Here’s how I saved my chicken… Continue reading