After a day cooking stuffed cabbage rolls, I had everything left over: cooked rice, tomato juice, mirepoix vegetables (carrots, onions and celery), and some ground beef. Immediately I reached for the soup pot and began tossing in the odds and ends. With a tweak in proportions, and the addition of lemon and brown sugar, the stuffed cabbage ingredients rematerialized as a hearty sweet and sour beef cabbage soup. My husband Ted instantly proclaimed it "Blogworthy!", which is how we categorize recipes good enough to share with you. This is a forgiving soup; if you don't have tomato juice, use beef broth. If you're out of green cabbage, try red, or Savoy, or bok choy. Swap in ground turkey or chicken for the beef, or chop up some leftover rotisserie chicken. Add barley instead of rice. The soup freezes well, which makes it perfect for Soup Swap.
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Being of Polish heritage, I have golabki in my soul. Pronounced gaw-WUMP-key, the name means little pigeons, though what that has to do with stuffed cabbage is a mystery to me, especially since the cabbage rolls are so substantial they'd sooner sink than fly. I'm trying to eat more cooked cabbage dishes this year, because cabbage is full of the fiber that helps lower cholesterol and has other health benefits. Stuffed cabbage rolls -- filled with meat (beef or turkey) and rice (or barley) -- are a healthy main dish to make ahead and freeze. You can tweak the filling with herbs and spices, and change up the braising liquid; I like to use V-8 juice, which adds a bit of extra zing to the sauce.
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A couple of weeks ago, I dreamt about a good old-fashioned pot roast with brown gravy, roast potatoes and carrots, the kind of dish we got in the school cafeteria when I was a kid. To satisfy my adult craving, the taste had to be rich, meaty, and traditional. No hot sauce, no random Asian ingredients thrown in for fun: I wanted the pot roast I remembered from childhood. I can't explain why; as cravings go, this one was quite specific. Of course, nothing prevented me from using really good ingredients, and improving on my taste memory with a terrific rendition of pot roast. I loved it all the more because I made it in the slow cooker, which perfumed the house with lovely aromas while I went about the other work I'd planned for the day. Except for a nice piece of beef chuck, everything for this recipe came directly from my well-stocked pantry.
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To my husband Ted, beef stew, maple syrup, and nectar of the gods all tie for first place on his culinary love list. We buy maple syrup at the local farm, and I've yet to come up with a good recipe for nectar of the gods, but I do love to make stew. Most often it's chock full of root vegetables like turnips and potatoes and rutabaga, of which I'm not a big fan, so I tend to leave the stew for Ted. However, this honey Sriracha beef stew includes only carrots and onions, with nothing else to distract from the sweet-hot gravy, and I absolutely love it. Although I make this in the slow cooker, you could adapt the recipe easily for stovetop cooking. This lick-your-lips beef stew (I think it would be delicious made with lamb, too) is a great dish to make ahead and have on hand for weeknight dinners. Adjust the amount of heat and sweet at the very end of the cooking time.
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My husband Ted loves to shop for the holidays at the very last minute, plunging headlong into the crowds and the traffic, relishing the long lines in every store. I don't understand it, but I accept that he approaches with glee that which, to me, is pure agony. Last-minute shopping -- on top of holiday parties, concerts, The Nutcracker and other seasonal delights -- does make these final few days of the month a wee bit crazy, so one of my strategies is to keep it simple, and flexible, in the kitchen. All of the components of this old-fashioned steak salad with Green Goddess dressing (which I made for the world's very best BLT sandwich) can be prepped way ahead. So, no matter how long the lines or how slow the traffic, I can have this beautiful main dish salad on the table in just a few minutes.
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