My parents and I don’t get to visit with each other very often. They’re retired out in Nevada and I’m here on east coast. And although they came out to Hawaii for my wedding this summer, we didn’t have a lot of time spent together between preparing for the wedding and entertaining others that had come to celebrate with us. Before that, the last time we visited was during the holidays a couple years ago. Fast forward to last week – They happened to be setting off on a cruise from NY, so they took some time beforehand to stop by and see me and Jake.
I decided I wanted to prepare a couple of dishes for them so they could eat at their leisure. I made a cabbage casserole with ground turkey and a simple slow cooker chicken/black beans/corn/salsa dish to go along some Jasmine rice.
I had made this cabbage casserole once before for my friend Lindsay, but I forgot some of the things I didn’t particularly like about the dish. I ended up making and baking the whole thing as specified in the recipe. But believe it or not, I ended up taking everything out of the casserole dish, rinsed it off, added new seasonings, and re-baked it. (Here’s the link to the recipe.)
First, the recipe calls for cooking the chopped cabbage a bit in water to soften it up. I think this was unnecessary. I think it could have just been cooked down a bit when added to the ground turkey mix.
Separately, I cooked the ground turkey and then added in the onion, diced tomato, and first part of the tomato paste.
Once the onions were translucent, I added the semi-cooked cabbage, salt, pepper, cayenne, lemon juice, packet of minute Basmati rice, and chopped parsley. I let that cook for about 15 minutes. (I didn’t use dried mint as specified in the recipe because I didn’t have any.)
The recipe then calls for the rest of the tomato paste stirred in and everything transferred to a baking dish to bake at 350 degrees Farenheit for 40 minutes.
The image below is what it looked like the first time I baked it.
I taste tested it and wasn’t thrilled with it. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t what I was hoping for. I thought there was way too much tomato paste and there was a little too much spice for this particular dish.
I put it in the fridge overnight and re-evaluated the next day. I still wasn’t happy, so I ended up dumping everything back into a pot and rinsing it with water to try and get rid of some of the excess tomato paste and cayenne pepper. I tried to drain most of the water out and put it back on the stove to evaporate some of the water. I added in garlic powder and onion powder. I put everything back into a clean baking dish, sprinkled some cheese on top, and put it back in the oven to bake. The result the second time around was much better in terms of flavor. I should have let the water cook out a little more, though. It fell apart a little bit when serving. Also, I froze the leftovers and had some a couple of days later. It was a bit mushy because of the little bit of extra water.
Overall, I learned my lesson for the next time I make this and will make it right the first time!
The second dish I made was the slow cooker chicken. This is a recipe I’ve made several times in the past, both in the crock pot and in the pressure cooker. Since I was making this ahead of time, I went with the crock pot since I had some time. This is one of the easiest recipes that takes almost no effort at all. I used one large chicken breast torn into a few smaller pieces, one can of black beans (not drained), one jar of medium heat Tostidos salsa, and about 3/4 cup of frozen corn. That’s it. Set it on low for about four – six hours. You can choose to use chicken tenders and leave them whole or do what I did and take the chicken out, shred it with a fork, and put it back into the mix.
We ate this over some Jasmine rice. Very simple, but very good. I imagine you could eat this as an appetizer with chips, too!
I had also ended up making a quiche with some frozen store-bought pie crust and they really loved that, as well. I think they liked having the variety and ability to choose what and how much they wanted to eat.
It was nice to see them and I’m glad the food turned out well 🙂 I hope this inspires you the next time you need to prepare foods ahead of time or feed a small crowd!