November 06, 2014

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

In the summer of 2001 I was in Finland touring and staying with a dear friend. For 3 months my friend and I laughed, drank wine, sat out in her fabulous garden and COOKED! A lot!

I taught her many of my recipes and she showed me how to make many of her own creations but best of all she taught me many fabulous Finnish dishes. One of my absolute favorites was Stuffed Cabbage Rolls.

The Finnish way to make the rolls is to make the stuffing with cooked white rice, onions, cream, egg yolks, salt, pepper and uncooked ground beef and drizzled with melted butter and maple syrup. It is then served with a sweetened lingonberry jam. The Russian variation of the rolls is done by making a creamy tomato sauce that is poured over the rolls before baking them.

I have, over the years, made some changes to the way I prepare my rolls. No cream, no tomato sauce and no jam. I often use sour cream in place of the cream but I also use strained yogurt. Another major difference is, I cook the onions and ground beef to make the stuffing. I like the looser consistency to my stuffing that precooking the meat brings. I also usually use brown rice instead of white rice. This is a personal choice. You can, of course use white rice for your rolls.

Making these rolls are a labor of love because it is a time consuming process. But I have to tell ya, the look of happy-joy on Fuzzy's face (my husband) when I tell him I'm making them, it's totally worth the work.

What you'll need:

400g ground beef

2 cups brown rice, cooked

2 egg yolks

3 tbsps strained yogurt or sour cream

1 large white cabbage, cored

2 medium yellow onions, diced

1 small red onion, diced

1 small leek, finely sliced

2 green onions, finely sliced

1 large garlic clove, minced

1 tbsp dried oregano, separated

2 tbsps butter

1 tbsp vegetable oil

2 tsps, paprika powder, separated

Salt, to taste

White pepper, to taste

3 tbsps good maple syrup

1 teaspoon molasses syrup

1/2 cup strained yogurt or sour cream

Okay, here we go!

Using a very sharp knife, core your cabbage. Don't abuse your leaves too much, you what nice, big pieces to work with. You'll need a large pot, big enough to hold the cabbage with some wiggle room. Fill the pot half way with water and salt. Place the cabbage, cored side down, into the pot and put on medium heat a cook until the leaves begin to loosen. Watch this carefully, you do not want to ver cook the cabbage.  When the leaves are at a workable tenderness, drain off the water and sit the cabbage aside and let it cool. The time it takes all depends on the tightness of the cabbage.

Now it's time for the stuffing. In a large skillet, place your butter and vegetable oil on medium high heat. Add the onions, leeks, green onions, garlic and half of the oregano. Sautée until the onions become transparent. At this point, lower the heat and add the maple and molasses syrups and cook for 2-3 more minutes. Remove the onion mixture from the skillet and set aside. In the same skillet, brown the ground beef. When it is cooked, stir in onion mixture and half of the paprika powder, the remainder of the oregano, stir in the cooked rice and add salt and pepper to taste. Remove from the heat and set aside to let it cool, slightly.

In a bowl, wisk the egg yolks and then whisk in your strained yogurt or sour cream. Mix this into your cooled stuffing.

Prepare a very lightly oiled baking dish to place the rolls and set your oven at 175C

On a clean surface, gently peel a cabbage leaf, being careful to keep it whole. If you find that the middle stem is too thick, thin it slightly with a sharp knife so that it is flexible enough to roll.

Place a generous dollop of stuffing into the bottom center of the leaf and roll the leaf, while also folding in the sides to make a nice tight package. Place it into the baking dish, seam side down. Do this until you've used all of the stuffing. I like to reserve about a tablespoon of the stuffing to use as garnish.

Use the remainder of the paprika powder to sprinkle over the top of the rolls and if you reserved the tablespoon of stuffing, sprinkle that over the top as well. Cover and place in the oven for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven, uncover, tilt the pan slightly and with a spoon gently spoon the released juices over the rolls and place them back into the oven uncovered for another 15-20 minutes, until golden brown.

These are positively delicious! As I said, they are time consuming to make but oh, so worth it!

Go, eat!!

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November 03, 2014

Luscious Lip Scrub - Deliciousness ON Your Mouth...Not In It!

Usually I reserve this blog for great things to put into your mouth. This post is a recipe for something to go onto your mouth. All natural Luscious Lip Scrub!!

With colder climates approaching, many of us suffer with dry skin. Our mouths, being one of most exposed features to the elements, often suffers with drying, chapping and peeling. This can get sore and cracked and for ladies, our lipstick looks like crap on top of cracked, peeling lips.

There are lots of high priced lip scrubs on the market and most contain a great deal of very suspect ingredients. You probably have everything you need for this scrub right in your pantry.

I use a lip scrub year round, as I wear makeup on a regular basis for stage and I wear lipstick with a sealer on top to hold the color throughout a performance and keep it off of my teeth. The sealers work magic but dry out my lips. I use the scrub at least once a week.

What you'll need:

small glass jar
2 rounded teaspoons extra fine granulated sugar
1 rounded teaspoon light brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons almond oil (or any oil you prefer)
optional - 1 drop vanilla extract, if you're one of those folks who need flavor

I have a small glass jar that had sample preserves in it. I washed it thoroughly and boiled it and it's lid to be sure it was totally sterilized. Using a clean, stainless steel spoon, mix together your sugars and oil.

To use this mixture, moisten a wash cloth with warm water and hold it on your lips for a few moments to soften the skin. Use the end of a stainless steel spoon to get a small amount of the mixture for use. NEVER put your fingers into the mixture, you can contaminate it and bacteria will grow. NOT GOOD. Gently massage the mixture into and around your lips for a few minutes. Don't press too hard or too long so as not to irritate your skin. Rinse thoroughly with warm water and then apply your favorite lip balm.

You'll enjoy smooth, kissable lips all season long!!!

June 18, 2014

Sweet Potato, Corn, & Spicy Greens Chowder (Friendly Foods)

This tasty recipe was contributed by my fabulous friend, Vatican Lokey. He has given recipes before to Friendly Foods and this new one is a real treat because it's vegan friendly!! Check it out!

Sweet Potato, Corn, & Spicy Greens Chowder
All vegan and you won't care in the slightest, its so good!
2 medium sweet potatoes, cut into 1/4″ cubes 1 large yellow onion, diced 1/3 cup fresh chives & green onions, loosely packed 1 cup finely chopped blend of fresh kale, turnip, and mustard greens 2 cups fresh corn, cut off the cob, preserving juices. 3 cloves of garlic, minced 4 cups of low sodium vegetable broth 2 cups of water (more to preference) 1/2 teaspoon sea salt (more to taste) 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 1 tablespoon coconut oil METHOD: - In large, heavy bottomed soup pan sauté diced shallots and coconut oil over medium/low heat until softened. - Add garlic, sweet potatoes, sea salt, pepper, cinnamon and sauté an additional minute. - Add vegetable broth and water, cook until potatoes are easily pierced with a fork.
- Use an immersion blender (or transfer to a standing blender) to rough puree the soup. - Add kale, corn and cook until kale is softened. Add additional salt and pepper to taste. - Serve hot! Enjoy!

May 28, 2014

Slow Cooker Sweet & Savory Pork Roast with 'Gumes & Roots!

My fabulous husband got me a super-duper fantastic slow cooker!! Now, the reason for my excitement is that until last year, no one in Norway even knew what the Hell I was talking about when I asked about slow cookers or crock pots. This is something very new to Norway.

As an American, crock pots have been a part of our lives for decades. They were the "go to" way of cooking for working folk or if you wanted to slowly cook meats, beans, chickens, hens and such. Now that I have one here in Langevåg, life will never be the same. In a good way.

Cheaper cuts of meat or fattier meats will tend to benefit the most from slow cooking. The long low cooking process tenderizes the meat and the more fat content, the juicier the meat.

I had this lovely center cut pork roast just waiting to find a home in my cooker. Last night I seasoned it up:

Pork Roast Prep

1kg center cut pork roast
6 cloves garlic
2 tbsps molasses syrup
crushed red pepper
2 tsps cumin powder
Creole Seasoning, to taste (optional)
1 tbsp dried marjoram
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 tbsp balsamic creme
1 tbsp olive oil

1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, large slices
2 large carrots, large slices
1 small leek, sliced, washed

Cut pockets into your roast so that the garlic tucks deeply inside without peeking out. You don't want it burning or slipping out while you're searing it.

Cover it with all of the spices, herbs, molasses syrup, balsamic creme and oil. Let it rest for 1 hour.

After the roast rests for an hour, cover it with the sliced veggies, cover it well and put into the refrigerator over night or for at least 8 hours.

Most people think when you slow cook it's all about throwing everything into a pot, setting it and not having to think about it until it's time to eat. Some slow cooker recipes are like that, this is not one of those. It's going to be some work involved here.

Remove the roast from it's little nest under the veggies. It's going to smell like heaven!

To ensure a lovely, juicy roast I like to sear the meat. I heat a skillet with a touch of oil on high heat. When it's nice and hot, sear the meat on all side for a couple of minutes to get a nice brown crust.

My slow cooker has a stainless steel rack, if your's doesn't, it's okay you can make a little riser for the roast with your veggies. I place half the veggies on and under the rack, the roast on top and then the rest of the veggies on top of the roast.

Set the cooker to medium and set a timer for 5 1/2 hours. Now onto my side dishes!!

You may be wondering what 'Gumes & Roots is all about. 'Gumes is my short word for Legumes or beans and their relatives. Roots are root vegetables of which there are many. The legumes I'm using are white beans and dark red kidney beans. I soaked them over night so they were ready to cook today.

My roots are sweet potato, new potatoes and carrots.

'Gumes & Roots

1/2 cup dried white beans, soaked overnight
1 cup dried dark red beans, soaked overnight
1 small sweet potato, cubed
2 new potatoes, cubed
2 small carrots, cubed
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 stalk celery, diced
2 tsps oregano
2 tsps basil
2 tsps thyme
salt & pepper to taste
1 tsp Spanish paprika powder
1/2 tbsp olive oil

In a saucepan, heat your oil and sautee onions, garlic, bell pepper and celery until your onion are slightly transparent. Add herbs, beans a cover with water, about 2-3 inches over the beans. Add spices and stir. Cover and simmer over medium low heat. I like them to cook for 4-4 1/2 hours, adding more water as needed. In the last 30 minutes of cooking add diced root veggies and cook until those are tender. They will also help to thicken the liquid in the beans. Adjust salt & pepper as needed.

Fuzzy is in charge of sharpening the knife and slicing this pretty roast. After it comes out of the cooker, I let it rest for 5 minutes before slicing.

I serve with steamed brown rice.


Go, eat!!

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May 21, 2014

Tortellini with Pork and Green Sauce

Hiya Folks!

I have a quick delicious meal for dinner that I made last night and my good friend and fabulous cook, Jennifer Rooney (featured along with her husband, David in Friendly Foods) asked me for the recipe. So, here ya have it!!

When you've been running about all day or just coming in from work and need to make a dish that's quick, easy and fantastic in your mouth, pasta is always a great choice.  I chose tortellini because my husband loves it and I can always find an interesting variety in the food boutiques here in our tiny town. I only use the kinds that I find in the refrigerated section of the store, I am not a fan of the dry packaged kinds. That's my personal preference. My 2 favorites are the mixed mushroom filled or 3 cheese filled. For this dish I used the 3 cheese filled.


500g package (serves 4-6)
prepare to package instructions
Tortellini will break up and become total chaos if over cooked.

Once it's cooked, I drain the pasta and drizzle with a tiny bit of olive oil so that is does not get sticky. Don't drown it in oil or you'll have an oily, sloppy mess when you add your sauce.

Pork and Green Sauce

400g pork, thinly sliced
3 sprigs green onion, finely sliced
2 cups spinach, finely chopped
1 tbsp basil pesto (prepared or homemade, it's up to you!)
1 1/2 cups frozen peas, don't use canned peas. They get squishy.
1 small red bell pepper, chopped
6 shitake mushrooms, finely sliced
salt & pepper to taste
2 tbsps freshly grated Parmesan
1 tbsp olive oil

Heat a large, deep skillet over medium high heat and add olive oil. When the oil is nice and hot, add pork strips and sautee until most of the "pink" is gone but not completely cooked. Thin pork strips cook quickly and over cooking will make it tough and no fun to eat.

Reduce the heat to medium, add spices, chopped veggies, mushrooms and frozen peas. Sautee until the peas are warmed through. Add pesto and Parmesan cheese. once the pesto and cheese have come together with your other ingredients, turn off the heat. Add your cooked tortellini and gently mix together. Don't mix it roughly or you'll break up the pasta. It will still taste good, of course, but will look like a gelatinous mess!

This is a great meal, even for a dinner party with friends. The lovely shades of green with specks of red from the bell pepper make for a beautiful presentation.


Go, eat!!

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