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Friday, January 27, 2012

Cabbage Craze

One of my favorite veggies is by far the cheapest 
          and can be added to just about any meal…Almost.   
Behold the under appreciated super veggie: cabbage! By now, your nose must be wrinkling and you might possibly be thinking ‘but that smell’! Like artichokes, cabbage has a less than desirable rap. It’s bitter raw, smelly cooked, and leaves traces of its malodorous journey through both the kitchen and the digestive tract. My hope is that by the end of this post your feelings towards this mean green cancer- fighting machine will forever be altered.
Cabbage is an interesting little guy. It is perhaps one of the cheapest veggies in the super market (a small head cost me less than 30 cents) and usually lasts me around 2-3 weeks if properly stored. Work your weekly meal plans around this guy and watch your wallets bulge and waistband sag! Nutritionally, cabbage contains an assortment of vitamins and minerals: vitamins A, C, K, Folate, Choline, Calcium, Magnesium, Phosphorous, and fiber; all the while only containing an astonishing 19 calories per cup! Rumor has it, cabbage also takes more calories to digest then it is worth (meaning it actually causes you to burn calories). Cabbage is a great substitute for a regular, boring salad and leaves you feeling full rather than wanting more. Certain properties in cabbage are known to assist in fighting cancers (such as breast and lung). To store it properly wash head of cabbage thoroughly after purchase, dry with a paper towel, and wrap in a clean dry paper towel before placing it back into its original plastic produce aisle bag. Store it in the refrigerator preferably in the veggie drawer.
My wonderful mother was puttering in the kitchen one afternoon and decided to throw a few healthy ingredients together for a quick pico de gallo (a Mexican salad if you will). The outcome was a delicious, nutritious blend of tomatoes, green chilies, and chopped cabbage that can be added to chicken, ground beef, or any taco filling you desire, in less than 5 minutes.
·         Taco filling of your choice (chicken, beef, sausage, fish)
·         1 can Rotel with green chilies
·         1-2 cups chopped shredded cabbage
·         1 medium jalapeno
·         Fresh chopped cilantro
·         Dash of cracked black pepper
·         Dash of lemon juice/zest
·         Chop and shred 1-2 cups of cabbage as well as 1half of the jalapeno. Place both in a reusable container.
·         Drain 1 can Rotel keeping about 1/3 of the liquid. Pour both tomatoes and liquid into container with cabbage.
·         Place lid on container and shake. Refrigerate up to 1 week.
My favorite things to add to this are black beans, meat, and a pinch of cheese.

Another great way to enjoy cabbage is cut into wedges over the grill. This is a summer time favorite at La Casa de Nance and is served nicely alongside other vegetables like zucchini or even a good steak. Last summer my mother and I visited her parents in Phoenix. One night before leaving we had a summer time feast of fresh artichokes, raw zucchini slices, grilled cabbage, tomato salad, and fresh squeezed lemonade. It was the best vegetarian buffet I’ve ever had!
What you’ll need:
·         1 head cabbage
·         Olive oil
·         Cracked black pepper
·         Garlic powder
   ·         Aluminum foil
·         Chop cabbage into wedges
·         Drizzle with olive oil
·         Add a dash of cracked pepper and garlic
·         Fold in aluminum foil and grill for roughly 10 minutes.
Enjoy with any BBQ plunder!
Virginia Belle 

P.S. What is your favorite way to eat cabbage?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Gardening Update

Head over to the gardening page 
to check out my most recent updates!

Quick and Easy Candy Cookies

What comes to mind for most at the thought of Christmas cookies might be the tangy sweetness of sugar cookies; decorated in bright reds and greens and cut into seasonal shapes. Or the nutty indulgence of peanut butter cookies neatly crisscrossed and kissed by a milk chocolate Hershey. Our kitchen is usually filled with a vast array of cookies; snicker doodle, peanut butter, sugar, M&M, chocolate chip, and any other cookie one might venture to produce.
The men in my life: my father, my brother, and my wonderful boyfriend very much enjoy the chocolate inspired treats. Thus, M&M, chocolate chip, and peanut butter were first on my list of goodies this year. M&M and chocolate chip cookies are fairly simple to whip up, the recipe being the same for both. My family has no secret here: we use the classic back of the bag M&M recipe or the Toll House recipe for both sets of cookies. This year I did mix it up a bit however, by request of my boyfriend who is a chocolate fiend. Inspired by our trip to the grocery store to shop for baking supplies he asked that I add both milk chocolate and white chocolate chips to the cookies.
Now, the back of the bag Toll House recipe calls for semi-sweet chocolate chips, so you can imagine how inspired I felt when the idea to use milk chocolate chips instead hit me.  Of course, my loving boyfriend, who would not know what to do with a stick of butter if it hit him upside the head, would suggest such a marvelous feat. Thus, abashed I picked up both the milk chocolate and the white chocolate chips.
The result was a creamy sweet cookie that held its own against my Grandma’s classics. Though her cookies will forever hold a special place in my heart, I have to admit that my boyfriend’s idea was a genius one. Pictures will be forthcoming.

This time I used the Hershey Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe:
Prep time: 25 Minutes
Skill level: Beginner

  • 2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract *(Note: I always use a little more vanilla about 2-3 teaspoons)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) HERSHEY'S SPECIAL DARK Chocolate Chips or HERSHEY'S Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
  • 1 cup chopped nuts (optional)
·         Heat oven to 350
·         Stir together flour, baking soda, salt. Beat together butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla until creamy.
·         Add eggs and beat well.
·         Stir in both types of chocolate chips, or M&Ms
·         Using a spoon drop a bit in rows onto greased cookie sheets
·         Bake 8-10 minutes until cookies begin to get golden brown on the edges


Tuesday, January 10, 2012


I have updated my events page. Take a peak at some of what fall in Virginia has to offer and let me know what you think!
Virginia Belle

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Simply Artichokes

Artichokes have a naturally intimidating factor: most people regard them as ugly. Others claim they stink when cooked. And then there are those awful stickers at the end of the leaves. What most people don't realize is that this vegetable is super nutritious! It has the highest amount of fiber out of any vegetable, out weighing broccoli with a stupendous 10.3 grams of fiber per serving! Besides being chalk full of fiber these wicked little guys are also packed with vitamins and minerals including:Potassium (about 400mg), Magnesium, Vitamin C, and Protein!
If the smell doesn't scare you off then you will soon realize that there is an artichoke lover in us all, it's just a matter of preparation and what you decide to pair it with. For some, depending on your palate, an artichoke is an acquired taste. But don't worry, I have preparation and pairing tips for both the daring and the hesitant!
Wash your artichokes thoroughly allowing the water to reach in between the leaves. After drying you can start by pulling off the outer-most leaves until you reach about one-third a way up the vegetable. Next, place the artichoke on a cutting board and cut off 3/4 of the stem. Both the leaves and stem can be thrown away. Placing your hand on the bottom of the artichoke to keep it steady cut off the top portion of the veggie- only 1/4 of the actual artichoke! This prevents you from being poked by a sticker during your meal. Now place it in a steamer for about 45 minutes. * Note: an artichoke can be steams, boiled, or baked depending on what you enjoy best. Cooking times may vary.
Artichokes pair beautifully with several ingredients:
Before placing your artichoke in the steamer slather it with garlic seasoning, salt, lemon juice, and butter- don't be scared to be generous: the more there is the better the taste! Next place some butter (about a half stick) in a sauce pan and add a little of each of the the latter ingredients. Butter makes for a great dipping sauce for the leaves of the artichoke.
A perfect pair with your veggie dinner would be garlic, oregano, thyme buttered and baked bread topped with yummy Parmesan cheese.
Another great sauce with your dish would be a light marinara sauce. This sauce is wonderful for the less seasoned artichoke veteran. It allows for the magnificent texture of the artichoke to come through all the while balancing harmoniously with the rich and buttery flavor that is natural to this vegetable.
And remember, the extravagance of this dish is even more tempting when you consider the abundance of nutritious value included.