Sunday, January 29, 2017

Halushki: Who knew?

     On swim meet nights, the swimmers stay at school, do their homework (supposedly) and have a team meal together before boarding the bus to whichever local high school is hosting the meet.  The meals are catered in by a wonderful local chef who makes some great tasting, healthy meals at an incredible price.  At last week's meet, the "Dad" in charge of the booster club was telling us about that evening's menu.  "He brought these great Chicken Caesar Wraps.  Most of the boys ate an entire one while the girls ate half.  Oh, and I had him bring a Caesar Salad for Cate as I know she doesn't like sandwiches."  Good grief!  After only a few months, a man I barely know...knows that my daughter does not eat sandwiches.

     It is true.  She also won't touch hotdogs, will only eat a hamburger without the bun, despises the thought of ham and cheese or a club sandwich but will dip a grilled cheese (the only sandwich that is worthy enough for her) in her tomato soup.  But then again, she loves duck confit, can make the best mushroom risotto and knows the difference between Prosciutto di Parma and Prosciutto San Danielle.  So, who really cares if she likes sandwiches.  She is hardly starving.

     For several weeks now, I have had a head of green cabbage in my refrigerator.  This is not something that I would go out and buy.  Rather, it came in my Winter CSA shipment.  I could not throw it away (like I did recently with the turnips...just couldn't bring myself to cook them...much less eat them).  I scoured the Internet for recipes.  What do you do with an entire head of green cabbage?  Then, somehow I stumbled upon Halushki.  It sounded vaguely familiar so I asked Jamie about it.  Of course, he had it numerous times while growing up in Western Pennsylvania.  A Eastern European dish, it is famous at festival and church potlucks. Finding a recipe, it looked super easy to make:  cabbage, onions, egg noodles, butter and bacon...hey, it can't be bad if it has bacon.  Some recipes called for kielbasa and some did not.

     So, I made it the other night for dinner.  It was super easy.  When Cate came downstairs to inquire what was for dinner (it is the one of the only times we see her), I was amazed at how excited she was that we were having Halushki for dinner.   I had been bracing for that downtrodden look when she hears that we are having something that is not quite her favorite.   "When have you ever had Halushki?" I asked.  Evidently, she had and she loved it.

     That night for dinner, she had three platefuls.  She asked that I put it in her lunch for school the next day.  She came home the next night from a swim meet and ate all of the leftovers.  She asked me to make more.  Today, after volunteering for her service hours, she helped me out in the kitchen just to make sure that I was actually making more.  While I asked her not to eat too much of it as it was already nearing 5pm, she assured me that she would be hungry for dinner.  In fact, she asked me why we were just not having Halushki for dinner.  Good point.

     So who knew...and now I have two massive containers of Halushki cooling on the counter.



1 head of green cabbage sliced thinly
1 yellow onion, diced
6 slices of bacon, sliced and cooked
1 stick of butter
1 package of egg noodles, cooked to directions.
salt and pepper
kielbasa, optional

1.  In a large skillet or dutch oven, cook the bacon over medium heat until the fat has rendered.
2.  Add the onions and cook for two to three minutes.
3.  Add 1/2 stick of butter.
4.  Add cabbage, stir to mix and cover.  Continue to cook for fifteen minutes, uncovering every few minutes to stir.
5.  Add the cooked noodles and a bit more butter.  Season with salt and pepper.  If using, add the kielbasa and cook until warmed.
6.  Serve.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Hasselback Chicken and Back to Life

          We have started a new family vacation tradition.  We tend to rent a small house/condo or apartment for the week as we have a bit more space and can dine in as opposed to eating out for every meal.  It helps stretch the travel fund and as we (ok, maybe just Jamie and I) love to walk through local grocery stores, we feel a bit more like locals as opposed to visitors or tourists.  Now that Cate is 15, on our week long trips, we assign each person a dinner to cook.  This last vacation, we drew the protein from a hat.  I picked pork, Jamie picked seafood and Cate picked chicken.  Cate's dish was the winner...simple, easy, healthy and you can modify it any way you choose.

          Have you heard of Hasselback Potatoes?  I have actually never made them, but from research, it is a russet potato that has been scored across the length of the potato, filled with goodness and baked.  Cate took the same idea and applied it to chicken with the help of a little Internet research.  What is great about this new tradition is that we have several new dishes to add to our repertoire!  It is a great family experience as we are all in the kitchen, watching or participating.

          But that was vacation...and we are now back into the swing of everyday life.  Cate has mid-term finals this week...for the first time in her life.  Do you remember the "Terrible 2's", where your child exerted his/her independence?  It seemed cute at the time and actually it forward 13 years to the "Terrible 15's" and it is far less cute but the exertion of independence is far more demanding.  Evidently, when you are 15, you know everything and your parents know ABSOLUTELY nothing.  Not to mention that Mom is too controlling (ok...that one may be spot on) but in my defense, "Have you ever taken a mid-term?  Do you have a plan?  Do you realize that you have 2 swim meets next week just before exams? Do you know that these grades count for getting into college?"

          Breathe, Breathe...remember that wonderful vacation tradition.  Close your eyes and go back to it.   Breathe...Breathe...and remember this view.

Hasselback Chicken

4 chicken breasts
3 cups fresh spinach
1/2 cup goat cheese
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes, optional
1/2 cup Mozzarella cheese
1/2 tsp paprika
Salt and Pepper

1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees,
2.  Cut slits into each chicken breast being careful not to cut all the way through the breast.   Make the cuts 1/2" apart.
3.  In a skillet, heat 1T olive oil.  Add the spinach and cook until just wilted.  Add the cheese and the red pepper and cook until the cheese has melted.
4.  Spoon the spinach mixture into each slit of the chicken.  Season with salt and pepper.
5.  Cover with shredded mozzarella cheese and sprinkle paprika over the top.
6.  Bake for 25 minutes.  If desired, broil for the last 3-5 minutes so the cheese is extra bubbly.