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Cabbage and Sausage Casserole 005

I don’t even know what to say about this recipe. Deb made me do it? It’s all Deb’s fault?

Let me just start with: I’m not a fan of anything (okay, I do love butter and bread, but they don’t count) in this recipe, so who’s the dope for trying it in the first place? But we all know I lack good judgment, so why wouldn’t I make something out of ingredients I don’t really like just because someone I do like suggested it? And in my defense, she’s never steered me wrong. Not one single time.

It all started with my regular perusal of Smitten Kitchen, Deb’s blog, which I love. Her recipes always come out perfectly and we seem to have a similar taste profile – I like what she likes. There are some chef/food writers I love, love, love, but a lot of their recipes involve tons of fish sauce, offal (organ meats), or white chocolate, and I have to just walk away. We all have to draw a line in the sand somewhere. But Deb’s recipes are always fantastic. Savory or sweet, she seems to hit the mark every time.

And then, she presented this. Cabbage and Sausage Casserole. Really, Deb?

I shut my browser and went to do something else important (eat a cupcake over the sink), but I couldn’t stop thinking about that casserole. I felt like I was being challenged, called out for being a culinary wimp. I hadn’t even tried it and I was already dismissing it as blech.

But I had a pound of sausage in my freezer left over from the Sausage and Egg Casserole I’m required to make every Christmas for my family that I wanted to get rid of somehow (the sausage, not the family). I also had a head and a half of cabbage hanging out in my crisper drawer with no future plans. I had the ingredients, but not the chutzpah.

I ate another cupcake.

I would like to tell you that my culinary bravery won out and I made this casserole because I’m a kitchen badass, but really, I was just too lazy to go to the store. This recipe calls for four ingredients that I already had. I was persuaded.

And thank God, I was. This. Is. So. Good. It is comfort food meets bazinga, you know what I mean? With so few ingredients (and totally boring ones, at that), I expected something ho hum. But this is not. It is savory and a little bit spicy. It’s multidimensional, but easy. Did I mention that before? Easy! Like, I can make this in 10 minutes, stick it in the oven, and go do something really important, kind of easy. And yes, binge watching Homeland is important.

Deb’s recipe calls for Savoy cabbage, but I just used regular green and purple cabbage and it worked great. Deb also instructed us to wilt the cabbage first in boiling water, but I was even too lazy to do that (two cupcakes make you a little sluggish). I just used a bigger pan and it wilted perfectly fine in the oven. The last modification I made (because we all know I can’t follow a recipe even if my hair was going to be set on fire) was to let it cook for almost an hour without the foil covering it because I wanted a crisper texture on the top. Deb only tells you to leave the foil off for 30 minutes. Your call.

Lastly, because I was still un-trusting, I made a pot of rice to go with it. I couldn’t see how slathering this casserole on a piece of bread with some Dijon mustard was really going to work, but of course, it totally did. The rice ended up being completely unnecessary, but we ate it all anyway because it worked well together and we love to eat some carbs with our carbs. I think rice can be a nice substitute for the bread, if you want to change it up once in awhile.

P.S. Tim enjoyed this so much, he wants to start a Wacky Wednesday where I make an “odd” dish for us to try every Wednesday night. Thanks, Deb. See what you started? Next week, I’m going to have to make White Chocolate Covered Kidneys in Fish Sauce.


Cabbage and Sausage Casserole

adapted from Smitten Kitchen (who adapted it from Jane Grigson)


4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for buttering the pan

1 and 1/2 heads of cabbage (Deb used Savoy) coarsely shredded

1 pound bulk sausage or links with casings removed

1 1/2 cups bread crumbs (optional)



loaf of good bread (I used a baguette, but a heartier type would be excellent)

good quality coarse mustard for serving


Heat oven to 300 degrees. Butter a large (at least 9 x 13 x 2) baking dish.

Put down one layer of the shredded cabbage. Dot with butter. Cover with half the uncooked crumbled sausage. Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Repeat another layer (cabbage, butter, crumbled sausage), ending with a layer of cabbage dotted with butter. Don’t skimp on the salt and pepper in this recipe. You are using so few ingredients, you need to make sure you are generous with those you do use.

Cabbage and Sausage Casserole 001

Cover with parchment paper (keeps the cabbage from turning gray) and then a layer of foil.

Cook for 2 hours and then remove parchment paper and foil.

Spread on the bread crumbs and return to the oven for 30 minutes to an hour, or until top is desired crispiness.

Serve on bread with mustard and/or rice.





Lemon Cupcakes 002

My mom has a green thumb like nobody’s business. So, growing up, even though we were city dwellers who essentially lived on bedrock, we were never short on fresh peaches, apricots, and other more sporadic bounties (a year of watermelons, a couple of seasons of strawberries, and maybe some cantaloupe). And we, the kids – also known as free labor – had to pick them all. We had a love/hate relationship with fruit, my siblings and I.

After we had all left for college, my folks downsized into a house with a more appropriate size yard. While beautifully landscaped, not a peach or apricot were to be found. It was a childless, and fruitless, house.

And then my mom decided to grow lemons.

And then the deer decided to eat said lemons.

But my mom, the tough cookie she is, didn’t give up. No, siree. She enlisted the help of my engineer father and they rigged a “personal” greenhouse for their Meyer lemon tree. So we named it Fred. Fred the Lemon Tree. You see, we figured that any lemon tree that had it’s own individual, mobile greenhouse (so that the tree could be wheeled around the house to take advantage of the best sun/shade ratio) surely deserved a name. Plus, it made my parents sound a little nutty, which is always a bonus for us kids.

And Fred did not disappoint. He produced a bumper crop of extra large, extra sweet Meyer lemons. He was the honor roll kid of lemon trees and my parents made sure we took a gander at him every time we went up to their house. I hate to admit it, but I got a little jealous of Fred. He was replacing me as Favorite Child (yes, my siblings read my blog).

And then my mom gave me a lemon. It was big and smooth, almost DayGlo in color. I had somehow become the proud owner of one of the prized lemons. It was a lot of pressure. I put it on my window sill above my kitchen sink and stared at it for a few days. What could I make with my Fred lemon? What would be worthy of it?

There was only one answer: Lemon Cupcakes. You see, if you are given a grand lemon, you can’t hide it in something complex where the other layers of the dish keep it from shining like the star it is. But you also can’t keep it too simple, like sucking on it with sugar (not that I’ve ever done that) because it will ruin your teeth and I don’t want to be responsible for that. You have to do something gloriously lemony, but tooth friendly.

Cupcakes. Because we all know the answer to most of life’s questions is, in fact, Cupcakes.

These Lemon Cupcakes are very light and not too sweet. If you like your cupcakes on the sweet side, feel free to dose up your sugar. Just remember, if you get the batter too sweet, you won’t really taste the lemon WHICH IS THE WHOLE POINT when you have a Fred lemon, right?


Lemon Cupcakes

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup sugar (more if you like your cupcakes sweeter)

2 large eggs, room temperature

2 teaspoons good vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups AP flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup whole milk

juice plus zest from two medium lemons (add more after tasting batter if lemon is too subtle)


Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line cupcake tin (12) with liners.

Whisk flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl and set aside.

Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.

Add vanilla, and then eggs one at a time, until incorporated.

Slowly add the flour mixture, one third at a time until just blended, scraping down the sides a few times to make sure it is all incorporated.

Add the lemon juice and zest and mix until blended. Do not overmix.

Pour into liners and bake for 18 minutes, or until cupcakes spring back when touched with your finger.


Lemon Buttercream

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

3 1/2 cups powdered (confectioners’) sugar (plus more if frosting is too runny)

1/4 cup heavy cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

juice plus zest from one medium lemon

1/4 teaspoon salt


Cream butter until fluffy.

Add powdered sugar, one cup at a time, until fluffy.

Add the heavy cream and vanilla extract and mix until well smooth.

Add the lemon juice, zest and salt until smooth. Check consistency and add more powdered sugar, if needed.




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