It’s MYSTERY BOX CHALLENGE week again with I Heart Cooking Clubs. I love a good challenge. Especially when I can meet the challenge.

This weeks mystery box contents:

    Salmon (fresh, smoked, canned),
    Green Peas (dried, fresh or frozen),
    Parmesan Cheese,

    Apples (Any color/kind),
    Blue Cheese,
    Bread Rolls/Buns, and

I managed to complete the challenge with three of the ingredients, weak, yes, but still…


Gratin of Ziti and Vegetables

I love making dishes with the fruits of our garden and this one had it all – squash, tomatoes, eggplant, corn. I cannot think of a better way to use these all up.

    2 quarts water
    4 ounces ziti or penne
    3 tablespoons virgin olive oil
    1 onion (about 8 ounces), peeled and coarsely chopped
    4 ounces string beans, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (1 cup)
    1 small eggplant (about 8 ounces), cut into 1/2-inch pieces (2 1/22 cups)
    1 teaspoon herbes de Provence
    1 pattypan (or other type) squash (8 ounces), cut into 1/2-inch pieces (2 cups){ I used zucchini.}
    1 1/2 teaspoons salt
    1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    2 ripe tomatoes (about 10 ounces),cut into 12-inch pieces (2 cups)
    2 ears sweet corn (about 1 pound), husked and kernels cut off (1 1/2 cups)
    1/2 cup black olive shavings, preferably from Nyons olives { I used kalamata.} (about 2 dozen olives)


    l slice fine-textured white bread, processed into crumbs in a food processor (2/3 cup)
    1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
    1 tablespoon virgin olive oil
    1/2 cup minced chives

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Cook the sizi in boiling water with salt until al dente. Drain and briefly run ziti under cold water. Cover, and set aside.
Heat the oil in a large skillet then add the onion and beans.
Cover and cook over medium heat for about 2 minutes.
Add the eggplant and herbes de Provence. Cover and cook, over medium heat for another 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Then add the squash, salt, and pepper. Cover and cook 2 more minutes.
Remove the skillet from the heat. Mix in the tomatoes, corn, and olive.
Mix in the cooked pasta and pour the mixture into an 8-cup casserole dish.
In a small bowl mix the bread crumbs, Parmesan, OO and chives. Pour the mix over the pasta and veggies.
(Note: The dish can be prepared to this point, covered, and
refrigerated for up to 8 hours.)
Bake the gratin at 400 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes {mine took about 22 minutes} until nice and brown. Serve immediately


This was very very good. But it was also very very very dry. I went back to the recipe to see if I had left something out, but I followed it correctly. The crumbs on top did not stay well on the dish, but were good mixed in. I will make this again, but it really needs some ‘juice’ of some kind. {Original recipe is on page 102 of Jacques Pepin’s Table.

The other Mystery Box dishes are probably delish. Check them out at I Heart Cooking Clubs.

Well, he might be. But not the kind you are thinking. The food kind. Sauces!! This week’s IHCC theme!

There are five MOTHER sauces we could chose from:


I have made all of these at some point over the last 10 years or so and they are delicious – the creaminess of the Hollandaise and the Béchamel. The heartiness of the Espagnole and the Velouté. But I wanted something simple and light. AND I still have tons of tomatoes coming in so a nice tomato sauce seemed the best idea. Coupled with meatballs and served over pasta it was a delicious dinner.



    1/4 cup vegetable oil
    3 garlic cloves, minced
    1/2 cup minced onion
    1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
    1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
    One 28-ounce can diced tomatoes with their liquid
    1/3 cup pitted green olives, coarsely chopped
    Salt and freshly ground pepper

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan. Add the garlic, onion, thyme, and oregano and cook over moderate heat until softened.
Add the tomatoes, cover and cook over moderate heat for 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Puree the sauce until slightly chunky using an immersion blender. You can also use a blender or processor for this.
While the sauce is simmering chop the olives and place in a small saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil over high heat, remove from heat, and drain well. Add the olives to the tomato sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste and bring the sauce to a simmer. Add the meatballs and cook until meatballs are heated through.

Pepin also had a meatball recipe with the sauce which called for left over meat shredded and mixed with eggs, herbs, milk, etc. I followed his recipe for the meatballs but used some fresh ground pork and sirloin. You can find HIS meatball recipe HERE.

Which sauce did the other cooks use? Check them out at IHCC – Sauces and see.

I love fresh green beans. I mean, the canned ones are okay, but the fresh are just too good to pass up when they are available. When I used the cans they are usually cooked with onions, bacon, and small potatoes. Sometimes I throw in some tomatoes. But, while good, they just aren’t the best. When I saw some fresh at the store I remembered we had Gaye’s pick coming up this week and picked up a big bag. Good thing, as we have had them more than once over the last couple of weeks.


Fresh beans simmered with fresh garlic, onions, basil, oregano, and tomatoes. How can you beat that? Lots of flavor here.

This was Gaye’s pick this week. Nice choice!

The recipe is on page 245 of Ellie Krieger’s Weeknight Wonders (the book we are all cooking from for now) but you can also find it HERE.

How did the other’s like it. Check our Website and see.

Want to join us? The recipes for several weeks are listed on the right. Just cook, blog, and leave a comment. We’d love to have you. Lots of good healthy recipes.

What do you get when you mix together bell peppers, onions, spices and tomatoes? A rich savory sauce. What do you get when you crack an egg in the middle and let it cook to a nice runny yolk> SHAKSHUKA! Ellie says it’s the Middle Eastern version of ‘eggs in purgatory’. David Lebovitz says it has North African origins. It is spicy and can be quite hot if you use enough crushed red pepper. It will definitely wake you up if you eat if for breakfast. Which is what I did.


The spices include cumin, coriander, crushed red pepper and paprika whichcombine to provide a rich, flavorful dish. And as if that wasn’t enough – goat cheese {I used an herb-y one} is sprinkled on top.

This week’s pick was from Chaya and it was definitely a breakfast I could get used to.

What did the other’s think? Check out the Eating with Ellie Webpage and see.

The recipe is on page 277 of Ellie’s Weeknight Wonders. And if you would like to join us just cook, blog, and leave your link. We’d love to have you.

I do like a good plate of pasta. Especially when it is simple and quick. And this was, as are all of Ellie’s recipes in Weeknight Wonders.


The penne is added to some garlic that is toasted and then mixed in the skillet with halved grape tomatoes and baby spinach. Just throw it all together with some grated Parm and you are set with a quick supper or side.

I would suggest saving some of the pasta water and adding it to the skillet when you add in the penne. It seemed to be a little dry. But it was delicious. It just hit the spot.

This was Peggy’s choice this week and it was a good one
You can see the other’s pasta by clicking on over to the Eating With Ellie webpage.

Sweet potatoes. I do love sweet potatoes. While many people just eat them around thanksgiving and/or Christmas I think they are a great veggie all year round. Baked usually, with some butter and sugar and cinnamon. Or maybe cut into fries and baked (or fried). Even Sweet potato pie or bread is good. That was the extent of my sweet potato fixings. But, thanks to Chaya and her pick this week I have added another sweet potato dish to the list.


Speghetti (or linguini) tossed with roasted tomatoes, roasted sweet potatoes, spinach, Parmesan, and Feta cheese. The tang of the Feta mixed with the sweetness of the diced sweet potatoes (and even the sweetness of the roasted tomatoes {and you know how I feel about those….}) made for a welcome simple lunch. It was very good.

Check with Chaya,and Gaye for their pasta dishes.

If you want to try it you can find the recipe on Donna’s site.

And if you want to join us just leave a comment below. We are using Donna’s Modern Clssics: Book 1, off the shelf: cooking from the pantry, and recipes from her web site. No pressure. Just let us know.

Once a month the members of My Kitchen My World visit the cuisine of a different country. This month we are tasting the dishes of {The} Ukraine. Long influenced by the countries that either occupied it or bordered it one finds that the foods of Ukraine are very similar to Russia, Austria, Poland among others. For that reason there are several dishes found in all those countries. So if you have ancestry from those you have dishes from Ukraine. Like my MIL’s Holubtsi or Stuffed Cabbage whose recipe came from her Russian Grandmother. But just the stuffed cabbage was not enough so we added


Pyrohy or Boiled Dumplings, Kielbasa, and Mlyntsi z Kapustoyu aka Cabbage Blintzes

The Holubtsi recipe makes a whole lot of cabbage rolls so I cut the recipe down quite a bit for just the two of us.

    1 large head of cabbage
    1 lb ground pork
    2 cups cooked rice
    dry parsley
    salt and pepper to taste
    2 cans chopped tomatoes
    1 cup finely chopped onions

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and submerge cabbage head in the water until the leaves become soft. Remove cabbage and drain.
Remove leaves needed for the cabbage rolls. Brown beef and pork in about 2 Tbl oil. Before the meat is completely done add the onions and continue to cook until onions are soft. Let the mixture cool and then mix with cooked rice, salt and pepper. I added a little pureed diced tomatoes to the mix for moisture.
Place about 1/3 cup of rice and meat filling near the base of large cabbage leaf. Roll up the leaf and place in a large deep skillet {While many recipes call for these to be baked my MIL made hers on the stove top}. Repeat rolling with remainder of leaves and filling.
After rolls are in the skillet pour the diced tomatoes over the rolls. {I think next time I will puree some of the tomatoes for a smoother topping.}
Cook on medium for about 1 hour.
Most Ukrainian recipes do not include any kind of meat as they were often the food of the poorer people who often could not afford meat. So these can also be made meatless. MIL said they often ate them meatless when times were tough.

Boiled Dumplings

    3 large potatoes
    2 Tbl veggie oil
    1/2 (or more) shredded cheddar cheese
    1/4 cup sour cream
    1/2 tsp salt
    1/2 tsp pepper

Peel potatoes and cut each into 8 pieces. Bring water and potatoes to a boil, reduce heat to medium and cook until fork tender, about 15/20 minutes. Drain well.
IN a large skillet, heat 2 Tbl veggie oil. Add onions and cook until lightly browned and softened stirring occasionally.
In a large bowl, mash potatoes with onion. Allow to cool. Add sour cream, cheddar cheese, salt and pepper and mix well. Refrigerate until ready to use.

I used a basic pie dough recipe for the dumplings. You can use your own pie crust recipe.
Roll out dough to 1/8″ thickness and cut into 2 1/2 inch rounds. Spoon 1 Tbl of filling onto each round. Fold in half, dampen edges of dough and pinch tightly shut.
Reroll dough and make rounds until you run out of dough.


Fill a large saucepan with water. Heat to boiling. Add 8 – 10 dumplings, return to boiling and cook 9 – 10 minutes until dough is tender. Remove with a slotted spoon, toss with a little oil to prevent sticking and keep warm. Repeat until all dumplings are cooked.
In a large skillet melt 2 Tbl butter. Add dumplings, a few at a time and brown dumplings on both sides. Repeat until all dumplings are done. Serve IMMEDIATELY!


    Cabbage Filling (recipe follows)
    2 cups milk
    6 large eggs
    1/4 cup vegetable oil
    1 3/4 cups unsifted all-purpose flour
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    2 tablespoons water
    1/2 cup packaged unseasoned bread crumbs


1. Prepare Cabbage Filling. In large bowl, beat milk, 4 eggs, and 2 tablespoons oil until well combined. Beat in flour and salt just until combined.
2. In large skillet, heat some of remaining oil. Spoon scant 1/3 cup batter into pan and swirl pan to form 6Y2- to 7-inch round of batter. Cook one side until lightly browned-about 1 minute; flip round
over and lightly brown other side; place on piece of waxed paper. Repeat with remaining batter, layering each round between sheets of parchment paper.
3. To fill blintzes, spoon l/4 cup Cabbage Filling onto center of each round. Roll up jelly-roll fashion over filling, tucking in sides as you go to form blintzes.
4. In pie plate or wide bowl, beat remaining 2 eggs with the water. In same skillet, heat some of remaining oil. Quickly dip blintzes in egg mixture then coat with
bread crumbs. Cook blintzes, several at a time, turning to brown all sides; add oil as
needed. Serve immediately.
Cabbage Filling

    12 cups shredded cabbage
    3 Tbl veggie oil
    2 1/2 cps finely chopped onions
    1 tsp salt
    1/2 tsp pepper

Boil or steam 12 cups shredded green cabbage until very tender-about 1 hour; drain very well.
In large skillet, vegetable oil. Add onions and cook until lightly browned and softened. In me-
dium-size bowl, combine cabbage, onions, salt, and pepper. Refrigerate until ready to use.

All in all it was a wonderful meal and definitely one to be repeated. I have made the cabbage rolls or stuffed cabbage several times and I always use the same recipe. Now I can share the recipe.

The blintzes can be savory or sweet. French Crepes if they are sweet? would be very similar. I guess every country has their own version of these ‘roll-ups’.

The round up of Ukrainian recipes will be on the My Kitchen My World blog after the first of the month so please visit and see what the other members made. And if you made a dish for the roundup just leave a comment on THAT page. Wish you would!!

The recipes for the Cabbage Blintzes and Dumplings are adapted from the January 1992 “Country Living” magazine.

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