Category Archives: Ground Meat

Our Family’s Secret Cabbage Roll Recipe

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Every family, especially here in Winnipeg – a diverse multicultural city, seems to have a different way of creating their family’s favourite cabbage roll recipe, especially for the holidays. The secret of ours is the Sour Cabbage. OK, well it’s not really ‘so’ secret.

I grew up in Regina, and just outside the city is the beautiful Lumsden Valley full of great market gardens. Kissel’s Cabbage is based there, and they are known for their sour cabbage product. They supply the majority of that bagged greeny-grey cabbage (and sauerkraut) that you see in the produce section of grocery stores across Western Canada. I see that they even ship to Minnesota.

So for my niece’s who always wanted to know how to make Grandma’s Cabbage Rolls, here’s the recipe… it’s super easy and fast. You don’t have to wait until Christmas to make them, as they are great on any cold, winter day!

Cabbage Roll Collage

This is really a very simple recipe, and it’s a million times better if you make them fresh and eat the whole batch. I’m not a fan of freezing these, but my Mom used to always make an extra big pot full of them and place the pot and everything into the freezer. She’d pull them out when my Dad’s friend Vic came to town unexpectedly, as these were his favourite.

The Not-So-Secret Coleshaw Cabbage Rolls

1 lb. Ground Pork

1 lb. Ground Beef

1 cup Long Grain Rice, uncooked

1 can Diced Tomatoes (796mL)

1 tsp. Sea Salt

1 tsp. Black Pepper, ground

1 head Sour Cabbage

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1. Mix all the ingredients together, except the cabbage.

2. Core the sour cabbage, and carefully remove the individual leaves.

Remember the outside leaves make the bigger cabbage rolls – those are my favourite.

3. Place a heaping tablespoon of filling on the cabbage leaf in the middle
but closer to the end of the leaf with the thick vein.

There is a tricky balance between creating a nice, full cabbage roll and overfilling the leaf, so be generous with caution.

4. Fold the edge with the thick vein over the filling and roll once.

5. Fold in each of the side of the cabbage leaf and continue to roll the filling up tightly.

Sometimes you may need to poke the corners of the roll into the filling.

6. Place the finished roll in the bottom of a large soup pot with the open edge
facing down, this will help to ‘seal’ the seam.

7. Continue to fill your pot with rolls, laying them tightly side-by-side, and then
layering them to the top edge of the pot.

8. Once your pot is filled to capacity, top the rolls with tap water until
they are all covered with liquid.

9. Place the pot on your stove, and bring the water to a boil on High.

10. Reduce the heat after the water comes to a boil, and continue to cook
for an hour or more on a Medium-Low setting.

11. Remove rolls carefully with a slotted spoon and serve.

This is how I "roll", I don't really eat the cabbage leaves, but I like the flavour that they impart.

This is how I “roll”, I don’t really eat the cabbage leaves, but I like the flavour that they impart.

My mama never said that I “had to” eat the cabbage. Usually I’ll eat a leaf or two, but I really just like the filling with a nice, soft white dinner bun.

TIP: The smaller clumps of leftover cabbage leaves that are hard to roll can be shredded for sauerkraut and used on Reuben Sandwiches or over Bratwurst.

Can you make this in the oven – Yes!
Can you make it in a crock pot – Sure!
My Mom actually used to make these in a Pressure Cooker.

But if you make it this way on the stove-top, you will have homemade cabbage rolls in about 90 minutes. If you make them in the morning, you can have them for lunch, and probably dinner too! The other cooking methods are fine, they just take longer, and I’m impatient.

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How do you make your cabbage rolls?
Do you only make them at Christmas too?
What’s your secret ingredient?
Please share in the Comments section below.

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Super Easy and Quite Healthy Crock Pot Lasagna

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The last time I was trying to lose weight, the one dinner that I missed the most was Lasagna. I was lucky to find, and adapt, this incredibly, tasty AND healthy version that is quick to put together. You can simply leave the lasagna to cook in your crock pot while you do other things around the house. It makes a great dinner, and as with all Lasagna recipes… it makes an even better lunch!

Quick and easy slow cooker lasagna that can be good to go in just a few minutes

Quick and easy slow cooker lasagna that can be good to go in just a few minutes

Crock Pot Lasagna
(6 servings)

1 Onion, chopped

1 Garlic Clove, minced

1 pound Lean Ground Beef

1 tsp Sea Salt

1 1/2 tsp.  Italian Seasoning, dried

1/4 tsp Crushed Red Pepper Flakes

28 oz Crushed Tomatoes , canned

15 oz  Tomato Sauce, canned

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1 cup Part-Skim Ricotta Cheese

1 package Frozen Spinach, chopped

1 1/2 cups Part-Skim Mozzarella, shredded

6 Lasagna Noodles, no-cook variety

1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese, shredded

OPTIONAL: 1 cup Zucchini, shredded & 1 cup Fresh Mushrooms, diced

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1. Brown ground beef, onions and garlic with seasonings on stove in pot large enough to accommodate all the sauce ingredients.
To save time on this step I just use 3-4 cups of my usual spaghetti sauce from the freezer.

2. Once the meat is cooked, add the crushed tomatoes and tomato sauce (and optional vegetables). Simmer for 5 minutes.

3. Mix the thoroughly drained spinach with ricotta and 1 cup of the shredded mozzarella in a bowl.

4. Snap your lasagna noodles in half (depending on the size of your crock pot) using the edge of your counter, as shown.

5. Place 1/3 of the meat mixture in the bottom of your crock pot. Then layer 1/2 of the cheese mixture on top. Lay 4 lasagna noodles on the cheese mixture, and repeat all layers one more time.

6. Place the crock pot cover on top, and turn your crock pot on low for 4 to 6 hours.

7. Just prior to serving, turn off your crock pot. Mix 1/2 cup parmesan with 1/2 cup mozzarella, and add to your Lasagna as topping, and let melt for 10 minutes.

What is the secret ingredient in favourite Lasagna recipe?
Please feel free to share your tips in the Comments section below.

Easy Beef Tacos

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One of the meals that we look forward to on a regular basis are Tacos. Here’s how I easily make them up for just the two of us as an easy weekend lunch. If you make this for dinner, this style of ‘burrito taco’ also makes a great carry-forward for tomorrow’s lunch if you don’t add any fresh vegetables. This whole meal usually takes less than 15 minutes to make.

These tacos are quick to eat and not as messy as usual due to a couple simple tricks

These tacos are quick to make, and not as messy as usual due to a couple simple tricks

Easy Beef Tacos
(makes 10 tacos)

1lb Lean Ground Beef

Taco Seasoning

Sharp Cheddar Cheese, grated

Taco Sauce

Guacamole

Soft Taco Shells

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1. Brown ground beef until almost cooked. Add taco seasoning to meat but do not add any additional water. Stir until meat is fully cooked. Drain in colander.
I like to use my potato masher to break the meat up.

The better you drain the meat, the less drippy mess your taco will make down your favourite shirt!

2. Lay soft taco shells side-by-side on your cookie sheet.

3. Grate cheese over taco shells. Place the cookie sheet into a pre-heated oven (350*F) for 3-5 minutes until cheese is melted and shells are softened.
Watch your oven closely so that you do not burn your taco shells.

4. Cut off the corner of your taco sauce and guacamole, and drizzle the sauces up the centre of each taco shell.

5. Add the cooked, seasoned beef to the top of each taco. Grate a bit more cheese over top the meat, and allow it time to melt.

6. You could then top with sliced iceberg lettuce and diced fresh tomatoes, but we rarely have those on-hand in the Winter.

I usually smear re-fried beans on the bottom of each taco shell before adding the first layer of cheese and baking… but I forgot to defrost the 1/2 can in time for making these.

You can double or triple the meat and freeze in ready-to-go packages for next time if you want to speed this process up.

How do you like your tacos?
What is your go-to topping for your favourite tacos?

Hubby’s Home Sick Today Soup

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So my dear husband, who never ever calls in sick… is home sick today with a bad head cold. Our pups, who wanted to be featured today are so accommodating and work great as “nurses”! We just have to call “nap time” and they are right there to cuddle.

Jeff in bed with his Dog Nurses - Toby & Mitzie

Jeff in bed with his Dog Nurses – Toby & Mitzie

I was feeling bad for my hubby last night when he went to bed at 830pm, so I prepped some homemade soup and tucked it away – just in case.

My interpretation of Italian Wedding Soup

My interpretation of Italian Wedding Soup

1/2 Spicy Italian Sausage, raw

12 Baby Carrots, chopped

1 Celery Stalk, chopped

3 cups Broth (any kind)

2 tablespoons Pasta Stars

1 tablespoon Minced Onion, dried

3 cloves Fresh Garlic, minced

2 tablespoons Lime Juice

1 teaspoon Veggie Spice Blend

Salt & Pepper to taste

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1. Bring the broth to a boil.

2. Add vegetables, and cook for 5-10 minutes.

3. Remove the sausage’s casing and pinch off 1/2 inch ‘meatballs’, adding them to the boiling broth as you go. Cook for another 5-10 minutes.

Aim for a very small, bite-size meatball

Aim for a very small, bite-size meatball as it will cook better and faster for you

4. Add pasta stars and cook another 5-10 minutes. Squeeze in some lime juice at the end to finish.
NOTE: This time I didn’t cook them separately, and the stars got very large and plump overnight. Thankfully, I didn’t lose too much broth liquid.

5. Cool to room temperature, and place in fridge overnight to amaze someone the next day with a quick to reheat lunch.

6. Serve with a great slice of artisan bread. This one I slathered with my tummy-tempting, homemade chevre cheese and sun-dried tomatoes.

Italian Wedding Soup with Flax Artisan Bread spread with Sun-dried Tomato Chevre Cheese

Italian Wedding Soup with Flax Artisan Bread spread with Sun-dried Tomato Chevre Cheese

And for dessert… Deb’s Whipped Shortbread cookies. I had one, and Mr. Sicko had THREE! But more about all our cookie options following yesterday’s Cookie Monster Christmas Cookie Exchange on another LunchFor1 Post.

Our #1 favourite Christmas Cookie - Whipped Shortbread

Our #1 favourite Christmas Cookie – Whipped Shortbread

Jeff was VERY patient in waiting for me to photograph his LunchFor1 today! Thanks honey – feel better soon.

What do you like to eat when you’re feeling under the weather?
Please feel free to share your ideal comfort food in the Comments section.

Quick Italian Sausage Sloppy Joes

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Thank you Johnsonville for bringing out loose-form Italian Sausage meat! I don’t know about you… but I always detested having to take the sausage meat out of the casings. Here’s a quickie 5-minute meal, and my quickly written blog post.

5-Minute Italian Sausage Sloppy Joes with Feta and Dill Pickles

5-Minute Italian Sausage Sloppy Joes with Feta Cheese and Dill Pickles on the side

I had defrosted this spicy sausage meat last night, and used about half of it on our homemade pizza. It added just the right zing!

However, I was left with about half a package to cook up today along with some thinly sliced onions. Now… what to make for lunch?

I was inspired to create a twist on one of my favourite, childhood  lunches – Sloppy Joes. Typically, I use ground beef and Heinz’s Chili Sauce to make mine on toasted buns. But today… I tried something different.

In a nutshell, here’s what I did…
1. Place meat in fry pan, and use your potato masher to break it up.

2. Add the sliced onions, and fry together with a squeeze of Sriracha and Worcestershire Sauce.

3. Slather Toasted Garlic and Horseradish Dip on the buns.

A new find while traveling last summer from Robert Rothschild Farm.

A new find while traveling last summer from Robert Rothschild Farm.

4. Top the buns with the cooked meat and onion mixture, and feta (mine was homemade – salty-goodness).

5. Serve with a side of dill pickles. I like to crinkle-cut mine!

Best thing I ever bought at Ikea - a veggie crinkle cutter.

Best thing I ever bought at Ikea – a veggie crinkle cutter.

Hope you love it as much as I do!

How do you make your Sloppy Joes?
Please feel free to share in the comments section below.

Learn how to make your own cheese from scratch,
check out my instructor’s easy-to-follow RECIPES.

Hamburger Soup & Roasted Garlic Buns

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For lunch a couple of days ago, I pulled this soup out of my freezer for a quickie meal with a girlfriend who was dropping by, just in case she needed some sustenance on her Errand-Running Day. But it ended up being LunchFor1, and I had a blessed bowl of comfort after a busy, and somewhat stressful, morning. This recipe makes a nice, hearty soup that is perfect for enjoying with a big group, or to make ahead and freeze for future use. This was my #1 Choice as the go-to soup that my husband and I made a couple months ago in the days following my surgery. And it froze so wonderfully!

It’s been such a chilly week here in the middle of Canada, but it’s supposed to warm up for the weekend – YEAH!

A Spoonful of Comfort – Hearty Hamburger Soup

I REMEMBER…

I first had this soup about 30 years ago, and you’d think because I can remember exactly who made, when, and why, that I would have been making it every Winter for the past 30 years – NOPE. I only recently tracked it down again thanks to an old friend of mine (Thanks Shelley). And now that I’ve adapted it, I would like to share it with you, because it’s also inspiring my newly created blog – LunchFor1.com. Follow me on Twitter @LunchFor1 for easy meals that are good eats any time of the day!

But, back to the story…

There I was a 10-year old figure skater on test day, both nervous and hungry, and in need of a little, quick comfort. The nice lady at the rink’s canteen, Eleanor, had made a batch of Homemade Hamburger Soup for all of the hungry, little tikes to eat while we waited our turn before the judges.

All these years later, I still remember the heartiness and the smoothness of this soup, as well as the yummy chewiness of the barley. The key to this soup is spending the time to cut the veggies up into a fairly small pieces – 1/4″ to 1/2″ dice. The soup was a like a hug, and it’s stuck with my taste buds for these past three decades!

And for a great side-dish to this meal…

It’s a smart idea, at this or any time of the year, to keep a few Roasted Garlic heads in your fridge for these “lunch emergencies”. It was super easy for me to pull out the pre-roasted garlic head from the fridge, pop the cloves out, and quickly mash them up in order to dress up my lunch selection with an upscale spread.

Better than butter is this Roasted Garlic Spread made from mashed roasted garlic cloves - much healthier too!

This Roasted Garlic Spread is better than butter, and much healthier too!

From time-to-time, when you’ve got the oven roasting something, simply take a whole head of garlic, chop off the top portion, and place it on a piece of tin foil. Then I pour 1 teaspoon of Olive Oil on the garlic, add a pinch of sea salt, and grind some fresh pepper over it. Then I wrap it up in the tin-foil, and set it in the oven to roast for about 45 minutes. Then let it cool and slide it (tin foil and all) into a storage baggie, and place it at the back of your fridge for future use.

Or, for creating a big-batch of Roasted Garlic check out my Stove-Top Roasted Garlic post from March 2012.

But back to the star of this post – the soup… here’s the recipe…

Anna’s Hearty Hamburger Soup

1 1/2 pounds Extra Lean Ground Beef
(or 700g of any ground meat of your choice)
1 Yellow Onion, minced
3 cloves Garlic, minced
1  can Diced Tomatoes (28 oz./840mL)
2 cups Hot Water
3 cans Beef Consomme or Broth (30 oz./ 900mL)
1 can Tomato Soup (10 oz./ 300mL)
4 Carrots, 1/4″ dice
1 Bay Leaf
3 stalks Celery, diced
2 tbsp. Dried Italian Seasoning
1 tsp Black Pepper
1/2 cup Pot Barley

1. Boil water in a small pot. Add 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/2 cup Pot Barley. Cook for 30 minutes. Drain and add to soup.

TIP: I prefer to cook my barley separate from my soups so that my soups
do not get overly thick from the barley’s starch.

2. Dice all the vegetables.

TIP: However, I like to mince my onions and garlic in my food processor so that
it becomes very fine – it’s much faster and easier that way.

3. Brown the beef, onions and garlic in large stock pot.

4. Add the liquids and tomatoes, and bring it all to boil.

5. Add all of the vegetables, and spices.

6. Cook for another 1/2 hour (or more), and serve with Mashed Roasted Garlic Spread and fresh buns.

It’s SOOOO good that you should probably plan to make a double batch,
and freeze some for an easy lunch on another chilly day!

What is your favourite soup to use for comfort on a cold day? Please feel free to share your comments below.

Taking an old favourite 'upscale' with a fancied-up dinner roll.

Taking an old favourite ‘upscale’ with a fancied-up dinner roll.

This soup isn’t your ‘cup of tea’?
Check out the other soup ideas that I’ve Pinned on Pinterest.

Watch for my next post on Homemade Chevre Cheese!

It takes SO little to make your own Chevre cheese at home.
An expensive indulgence for much less than you would think!
STAY TUNED THIS WEEKEND!