Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Beef and Cabbage Pie with Civil War Macaroni and Cheese

This evening, when Brad came home, he found total chaos in the kitchen. The kids and I were in process of making… pretty much everything…

Our main dish was a simple beef and cabbage pie.

1 frozen pie shell

1/2 kg ground beef

olive oil for cooking

onion – medium, diced

garlic – 3-4 cloves minced

carrots  - a good handful of then slices

3-4 cups chopped cabbage

salt, pepper, parsley, italian spice mix (oregano, thyme, basil, etc), chili powder

1-2 tbsp dijon mustard

1-2 tbsp bbq sauce

1 cup water

I preheated the frozen pie crust for the base, for about 8 minutes @350F. In a large skillet, I browned the ground beef in the olive oil. As that finished cooking, I tossed in the onions and garlic. Next I added the carrots, and all of the spices. I don’t like most beef and cabbage pie recipes I’ve read because they tend to be boring… most recipes call for salt and pepper! I like spice … go with what you like. Next, I stirred the dijon mustard and bbq into the meat mix and piled as much cabbage as I could fit in the pan and still get the lid on. 3-4 cups is a guess. I cooked it for about 20-30 minutes, until the cabbage reduced quite a bit… removing the lid towards the end so that the water could evaporate.

At some point during the cooking process, I realized that I had a LOT more meat filling than was going to fit in the pie crust, so I quickly made up a batch of simple pizza dough. Some I cut into strips to use as a cover on the pie, and the rest I rolled fast, spread the remainder of the meat down the center, and rolled it up into a loaf.

I cooked the pie for about 10-15 minutes until the top crust looked good. The loaf took longer, and again, I went by the color of the bread (nicely golden) and sound (it had a good thump when tapped). Sorry I can’t be more precise, but I have two excuses. One was I was just making it up as I went, and two, I was busy helping the kids with about three other recipes.

Brian started making some vanilla ice cream, we have a nice Cuisanart 2qt ice cream maker and it does a wonderful job freezing our ice cream recipes. At the same time, he started mixing up the ingredients for his favorite treat in the whole world, Guinness Molasses Bread. Getting the kids to dig through the cabinets, find ingredients, measuring utensils, etc. is part of the whole process of learning to cook, so when Brian looked for the beer, he found that there were only two left in the box. Rather than leave one in there all alone, he decided we should just have two loaves of bread and he took it upon himself to double the recipe. Even better for learning to cook!

In the meantime, Honor, who has started to help me with the dough for the pie, caught sight of this recipe I had pulled out for a side dish: Civil War Macaroni and Cheese I hadn’t even had a chance to check and see if we had the ingredients for it and she decided that this was HER dish! We were missing half the cheddar cheese, so we substituted mozzarella, and we didn’t have bread crumbs, so we crumpled up Ritz crackers. We cheated with step two. Rather than use a separate sauce pan (by this time we were in a hurry) after the mac and milk mixture was ready, we just stirred the cheese and spices into the same pan. We also stirred the chili pepper into the bread crumbs before spreading the crumbs on top (to make sure it was well scattered) and Honor decided that we also needed a sprinkling of parmesan… why not? Parmesan and mozarella go well together. We had the oven at 350F for the pie, so we just put the macaroni in at the same temp and it worked out just fine. It cooked a little longer than the pie, and browned nicely on top.

With all these recipes going on at once, our kitchen table and counter tops were very full! Because I had to hop here and there to help Brian and/or Honor at different times, we had to hand off spoons and stirring implements all over the place… meaning that although each kid picked their own projects, they both helped with everything to make this meal happen.

We managed to get everything done before and for dinner except the bread. I even got most of the dishes done and the kids helped clean up the kitchen too. The beef and cabbage pie was amazingly yummy, and so was the macaroni. The bread is now done, the ice cream is in the freezer… and we are too full to sample either one! There’s always tomorrow for dessert (unless we fill up on leftover pie and mac!)

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