In the Advent Kitchen -- December 21
Lettuce and Sliced Tomatoes
Cabbage Ball Stew
Irish Brown Bread
Avoid a frantic dinner tonight and serve something simple, nourishing, and homey. Cabbage ball stew tastes like stuffed cabbage but is much simpler and uses easily available ingredients. Alongside the soup serve some lettuce topped with sliced tomatoes and drizzled with the dressing of your choice. If you’d like to serve bread with the stew, try Irish brown bread. It’s a not-to-sweet quick bread that has a crunchy crust and is studded with golden raisins. For dessert, a pear cobbler is uncomplicated; you don’t even have to peel the pears, if you don’t want. The cobbler can bake while you eat your stew. Pears, cinnamon, and ginger combine to provide comfort in a dish! Serve the cobbler warm, plain, or with low fat frozen yogurt or ice cream melting alongside.
Cabbage-Ball Stew – Serves 8 +
This has all the homey goodness of stuffed cabbage in soup form. It’s hot, satisfying, and nutritious. If you use the coleslaw mixture, which usually is inexpensive, you’ll save some time, but you can easily shred your own cabbage by hand or in the food processor to save money.
1 large onion, chopped
1 16-ounce bag of shredded coleslaw mix (or 16 ounces of shredded
1 28-ounce can of diced tomatoes
1 cup of water
1 8-ounce can of tomato sauce
¼ cup of cider vinegar
1/3 cup of raisins
1 cup of cooked rice (preferably brown)
1 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce
¼ teaspoon of pepper
¼ teaspoon of salt
¼ teaspoon of garlic powder
1 tablespoon of dried minced onion
1 teaspoon of dried parsley
16-20 ounces of lean ground beef (93 percent lean)
Combine the onion, coleslaw mix, tomatoes, water, tomato sauce, vinegar, and raisins in a large soup pot. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer the ingredients for 15 minutes. While the cabbage mixture is cooking, combine the remaining ingredients and mix them well. Form small, marble-sized meatballs and drop them into the simmering cabbage mixture. Return the stew to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer the stew for another 45 minutes or until the meatballs are done, the cabbage tender, and the sauce is thickened.
Irish Brown Bread – Makes 1 Loaf
This quick and easy brown soda bread is barely sweet—mostly from the raisins—and has a nice crunchy top. The bread gets extra flavor from the orange zest and moistness from the combination of oatmeal and yogurt. The bread is quite good with dinner—especially stews—or with breakfast.
½ cup of golden raisins
2 tablespoons of orange juice
1 cup of flour
2 cups of white whole-wheat flour
2 tablespoons of sugar
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of baking soda
½ teaspoon of salt
¼ cup of quick cooking oatmeal
1½ tablespoons of butter or canola oil
1½ cups of plain nonfat yogurt
1 teaspoon of orange zest
Combine the raisins and orange juice and heat them for 30-45 seconds in the microwave until they are very hot. Set them aside to cool. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and coat a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray. In a large bowl, combine the flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and oatmeal. Cut the butter or oil into the dry ingredients with a fork. Add the yogurt, orange zest, and raisins with their juice. Stir the mixture just until it holds together and then pat it into a ball. Place the ball on the prepared baking sheet. Cut an X into the top of the dough (about ¼ - ½ inch deep and 2-3 inches long). Bake the bread for about 45 minutes until it’s nicely browned.
Pear Cobbler – Serves 6-8
This is a simple, quick dessert that can bake alongside a main dish or while you eat dinner. A golden crust bakes up over the creamy pears, which are gently spiced with cinnamon and ginger. You can add the crystallized ginger if you’d like extra zing. If you don’t have pears on hand, the recipe works equally well with other fruit. Just remember that if you use frozen fruit, you may need to lengthen the cooking time. I like the cobbler with mango chunks, which I buy frozen and thaw before using them in the cobbler. Make sure you serve the cobbler warm, preferably with a little low-fat frozen yogurt or ice cream.
½ cup Smart or Earth Balance (or butter)
1 cup of flour
1¼ cups of sugar (divided)
1 teaspoon of baking powder
½ cup of milk
3-4 medium pears, cored, sliced, and, if you like, peeled (I don’t bother, but
the cobbler is better if you do)*
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
¼ teaspoon of ginger
2 tablespoons of chopped crystallized ginger (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Melt the Smart or Earth Balance in an 8 x 11-inch (2 quart) baking dish. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, 1 cup of the sugar, and the baking powder. Mix in the milk and spoon the mixture over the melted Smart or Earth Balance in the dish. Mix the pears with the remaining ¼ cup of sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and, if you’re using it, the crystallized ginger and distribute the pear mixture evenly over the batter. Bake the cobbler for about 30 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. Let the cobbler cool for 10 minutes and serve it warm.
*In a pinch you also can use canned pears (from a large can, drain them and save the juice for something else). The canned pears don’t taste as good, but they are easy and quick.