January 09, 2022

HERITAGE RECIPE : Meat and Cabbage Casserole (plus some humor about aging)

I've been making my grandma's version of cabbage casserole ever since Jerry and I got married. I LOVE cabbage casserole. You can find that recipe here. (I also call it "Unstuffed Cabbage", because it tastes like stuffed cabbage, only in casserole form.)

When I saw in the heritage cookbook this recipe for Meat and Cabbage Casserole that was submitted by Jeanette Laura, I saw that it was quite different from my grandma's recipe and I wanted to try it. Jeanette is SO sweet. I made her recipe for sloppy joes while working on the heritage series, and when I'd started "researching" for the recipe back then, I learned that her husband actually built the house that I grew up in (from the time I was born until I was 15 years old)! She and her husband and their children lived there.

I just thought that was so cool. Anyway, her daughter saw the recipe on my blog and showed it to Jeanette. Jeanette actually sent me the nicest thank you card in the mail. And then she sent me a family cookbook (recipes of hers and her daughters). She is 97(?) years old and still in good health. I would love to spend a few hours chatting with her one day to learn more about my old house, her large family growing up there, and just life in general from back then.

For today, though, I am sharing my attempt at her Meat and Cabbage Casserole. I LOVE cabbage, so I was excited to make this.

As always, I am copying this exactly as-written by Jeanette; I did not make any substitutions or modifications to the recipe. See my notes after the recipe for any clarifications. The "printer-friendly" version is rewritten by me with my notes included.

Here is a printer-friendly version!

Meat and Cabbage Casserole

1 medium onion, chopped
1 lb. ground beef
1-1/2 cups cooked rice
1 small head of cabbage
2 tbsp. brown sugar
1 egg
3/4 cup milk
1 cup beef bouillon
oleo or butter
salt and pepper
1 cup grated cheese
bread crumbs

Sauté onions and beef, brown slightly and add a little salt and pepper to taste. Mix with rice and set aside. Cut cabbage into cubes, brown in oleo about 5 minutes. Sprinkle brown sugar over the cabbage while it is browning. Butter a casserole dish. Layer 1/2 of the cabbage, the meat mixture, and the rest of the cabbage. In a separate bowl, beat together the egg, milk and bouillon, then pour onto the top of the casserole. Spread the cheese then the bread crumbs on top. Bake @ 350 F for 45 minutes.

Comment from Jeanette: "This is good for a cool day when you want to heat the kitchen."

(That was partly what drew me to this recipe. My heating pad just wasn't doing the job and I was freezing!)

My Notes:

It didn't specify the fat content of the beef, so I just used what I had--90/10 ground sirloin.

A "small" head of cabbage is really just relative to the cook. Since I love cabbage, I was tempted to use the large head that I had in the fridge, but after a google search, I saw that a small head of cabbage is about 28 ounces. So, I just cut mine up and used 28 ounces. (I was surprised at just how much 28 ounces is, though. Here it is next to the beef and rice.)

I used 2 Tbsp. *packed* brown sugar; whenever brown sugar isn't specified packed or unpacked, I go with packed.

I chose to use oleo instead of butter, since that is what she mentioned in the directions.

I wasn't sure what kind of cheese to use. I ultimately decided on mozzarella because it's stringy and holds together well. It was the perfect choice!

Since I wasn't sure of the measurement of bread crumbs, I estimated 3/4 of a cup. Once I started sprinkling, however, I thought it was going to be way too much. I guessed 1/2 cup. STILL too much--so in the end, I used 1/3 cup.

I was a little nervous about browning the cabbage--I didn't know if I should just cook until soft or if I should actually caramelize it. I went with the directions that said "about 5 minutes" and that's how long I cooked it for. After tasting the recipe, I definitely wouldn't want it to be softer; next time, I might do just 4 minutes. Here is before and after cooking the cabbage down:

And here is before and after I put it in the oven...

Overall, it was a very simple recipe to make! Definitely a different flavor from my grandma's cabbage casserole, but that's what I was looking for--something different. It was delicious! Despite how much I love cabbage, I think that it was a good ratio to the other ingredients and I don't think I'd add more next time.

Tucked inside the recipe book from Jeanette was a note from 1996 at her 94th birthday party:

"To all of my family and friends,

Thank you for sharing the celebration of my 94th birthday. It is a joy and blessing to share my life with each and every one of you. You are all very much loved! God bless you!"

Also included with the note was the following. I'm not sure who it was written by, but it's pretty funny!

One thing I know is that every stage of life has its own unique set of challenges. Along with those challenges, each stage of life has its own set of benefits. May I share with you some of the benefits of "growing older?"

  • In a hostage situation you are likely to be released first.
  • No one expects you to run into a burning building.
  • People call at 9 p.m. and ask, "Did I wake you?"
  • There's nothing else left to learn "the hard way."
  • Things you buy now won't wear out.
  • You can eat dinner at 4:00 p.m.
  • You can't remember the last time you laid on the floor to watch television.
  • You can live without sex, but not without your glasses.
  • You consider coffee one of the most important things in life.
  • You enjoy hearing about other people's operations.
  • You get into heated arguments about pension plans.
  • You have a party and the neighbors don't even realize it.
  • You no longer think of speed limits as a challenge.
  • You quit trying to hold in your stomach no matter who walks into the room.
  • You send money to PBS.
  • You sing along with the elevator music.
  • Your arms are almost too short to read the newspaper.
  • Your back goes out more than you do.
  • Your eyes won't get much worse.
  • Your investment in health insurance is finally beginning to pay off.
  • Your secrets are safe with your friends because they can't remember them either.
  • Your supply of brain cells is finally down to a manageable size.

Hahaha! So much fun, and I can already identify with several of those.

Another great recipe from Jeanette; and definitely not the last!


  1. Oh Wow. Great recipe and those one liners had me laughing out loud. Too funny. Someone in her circle has the best sense of humor. Makes sense that's she's your relative 😆.

  2. I don't think the link for the printer friendly version is working. Can you relink? I'd love to make this!

    1. You are absolutely right--I totally forgot to upload it! It should be working now. It's nice to know that someone actually downloads these, hahah ;)


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