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Cabbage Rolls have been a traditional New Year’s Day meal in our family, for as long as I can remember…can I say – a long time!!! My mother learned to make these delicious little bundles from my grandmother (her mother-in-law) in the 1960’s and they have been a family tradition ever since! At some point in time, I sat by my mother and made her measure everything so that we would not lose this great treasure….The recipe comes out perfect every time – Just as it was written!!!

So what happens when my husband and I decide (for the first time ever!) to go out-of-town for the whole New Year holiday? Meaning that I won’t be home to make the “Annual Cabbage Roll Feast”… (This always consists of cabbage rolls, black-eyed peas, potato salad and a Honey Ham.)

Well, after my children all decide that I need to either stay home or make the cabbage rolls ahead of time (which I didn’t have the time to do)….. My oldest daughter, Kimberly, painfully pulls out the recipe that I had given to her years ago and decides that maybe it is time for her to give it a try… Many phone calls later, I am thrilled to report that she was successful with her very first attempt! She just didn’t know what to do with all of the rolls….the recipe makes about 100! She ran out of cabbage and saved the leftover meat mixture for me…I was sooo happy, because I just had to make – even the smallest of batches for my year to get off to the right start! Not just ready to pass the torch on making the “family cabbage rolls”, just yet….but it sure feels good to have a “back up”!


4 lbs. ground beef
4 large onions chopped finely
1 1/2 cans whole tomatoes – cut up with juice
2 cans tomato soup
3 cups raw rice
1 can Rotel tomatoes
1 tbsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp chili powder
2 cups shredded par-boiled cabbage (use the center portions of the whole head of cabbage after removing the leaves that you will use for the rolls)
5 heads of cabbage

In a large pot, fill with water and bring to a boil;
Have a large cookie sheet or some other shallow pan near the stove to put the leaves of cabbage on;

Remove a few of the tough outer leaves off of each head of cabbage and lin the bottom and sides of a large pot that you will be cooking the rolls in;

Remove center core of cabbage, and drop the whole head into boiling water;

After a few minutes start to remove the outer leaves with tongs and place leaves on pan;

Continue removing until the leaves begin to get too small to use;
Remove the par-boiled center and use for shredding into meat mixture;

Mix all ingredients in a very large bowl;

Place an ice cream scoop full on each leaf and roll ends in, then roll from the sides;
Start  layering your Dutch oven or large pan with cabbage rolls until it is full or you run out of the mixture or cabbage leaves;

Once the pot is full of rolls, add water to cover about 1/2 way up to the top of the rolls;

Place in 350 degree oven for about 1 1/2 hours. Take one out to test for doneness (rice should be done). If rice is still a little crunchy, let cook for another 30 minutes.

Remove pot from oven, take lid off so that they will stop cooking and drain any of the liquid remaining in pot. Or, once they have cooled enough to be handled, you could carefully remove cabbage rolls from pot and place in another large container or in containers to be given to a few close friends and family….I can assure you they will be thrilled!

The last time I made cabbage rolls with my grandmother, she was 95…Still living in her home, doing quite well for herself – but wanted “her” cabbage rolls – and it is quite an undertaking, needless to say!  She knew that I made them just like she did, so she called me and asked me to come over to help her….I prepared all of the cabbage and mixture – as she looked on,  telling me..”yea, that’s how you do it”!  Then, finally came her favorite part…the rolling.  Now, she was a tiny woman and wanted to do this part of the process at her kitchen bar area…To get up, I had to give her a little “boost” up so that she could sit on one of her bar stools to roll with me.  We sat at that counter in her kitchen, laughing and telling stories as we rolled 96 of these precious cabbage rolls (and yes, she counted!).  When they were done, she ate a few, put some in the refrigerator for later, let me take home about a dozen…then carefully wrapped the rest separately in saran wrap, to put in zip locks, in her freezer for God only knows how long!  All I know, is that she wasn’t sharing with anyone…she was stashing them away for when she had that “envie” for one of “her” cabbage rolls.

I cherish the memories of that particular day with her – always will…

Cabbage Rolls have been working in my family for a long time – New Year’s Day or any old day!!!