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Category Archives: Fennel

Sausage and Sauerkraut with Dairy-Free Mashed Potatoes and Plenty of Vegetables

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I have some homemade sauerkraut at the the back of my fridge that needs to be used. It is very easy to make and tastes so much better when you make it yourself.  Little Man loves kraut and will eat it before the other vegetables on his plate.  He is particularly fond of purple kraut, and I agree with his assessment.  Besides serving it with sausage or pork chops, we like to sprinkle some over our stir fry meals as well.

Sausage and Kraut

Tonight’s dinner served as a chance to use up some stray vegetables at the back of the refrigerator.  I have to say, though I like fennel, I’m glad we used the last of it tonight.

Sausage and Kraut (with all the fixin’s)

2 lbs potatoes, large dice
1 package Gluten Free sausage of your choice
1 jar sauerkraut
1/2 lb fresh green beans, snapped into 2 inch sections
2 bunches green onions, chopped into 2 inch sections
1/4 lb radishes, optional
oil and salt, to taste
Pear-Fennel Salad (A friend suggested adding mustard and walnuts to the salad and dressing.  It was wonderful with these additions!)

How I Make Mashed Potatoes: First, start the potatoes, covered with water, boiling in a large pot.  Cook until fork tender.  Reserve the cooking water.  Mash in your electric mixer with 1/2 tsp salt, about 3 tbsp olive oil, and enough cooking water from the potato pot as you need to achieve a fluffy mash (about 1/2-3/4 cup potato water. Really it’s enough to make you happy, so use more if you need it).

Prepare the pear-fennel salad or any other salad you prefer.

Then brown the sausage on medium heat in a cast iron skillet, and use the kraut and its juices to deglaze the pan.  Put the lid on the pan to poach the sausages until they finished cooking in the middle.  Empty the skillet to free it for the next step.

Next add a little oil and salt to the pan with the green beans.  Saute them for about five minutes.  Then add green onions and saute them until everything is tender crisp.  This way all of the last bits of sausage flavor will incorporate into the green beans.

Finally toss some diced radishes into the again empty skillet with a tiny bit of salt.  These saute for just a few minutes until they are browning on the sides.

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Fennel-Cranberry Bean Soup

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I actually made this Tuesday night so that John would have lunch to take to work on Wednesday.  I got a lot of fennel at Bountiful Baskets last weekend.  I still have more to use.  Whenever there are tomatoes, peppers, or eggplant in the basket, I go around trading them to anyone who will oblige.  Some weeks, are harder to do that than others (especially eggplant week).  Whenever there all-American favorites in the basket people tend to be content with what they have.  Those are weeks when I toss raw vegetables in the blender, make salsa, put fajitas or burritos on the menu, and buy John a big bag of tortilla chips.  John is the only one in the house who can eat salsa. He has to eat all that salsa himself.  That is a tall order some weeks, so often he takes some to church or work to share.   However, last week a lot of people were happy to take tomatoes and peppers and hand over their fennel.  I got two gigantic pomegranates in trade as well.  If any of you have been wary of trying Bountiful Baskets because you cannot control what is coming, know that a little proactive effort can get you a great deal on a lot of great produce.

Back to the large quantity of fennel.  Fennel always makes me think of Italian food.  I really don’t know if that is accurate, but it seems to work in my soup pot.  Since fennel seed is a common ingredient in Italian sausage, I guess I just made the connection from there.  What is your favorite use for fennel?

I chose cranberry beans for this soup.  They are an Italian bean that looks similar to a pinto bean, but has cranberry red stripes and flecks instead of brown stripes.  Once they are cooked the stripes disappear.  They also taste quite different than pinto beans.  I quite like the flavor with the fennel.  This the flavors in simple soup melded well and taste even better as leftovers.  I find my cranberry beans at Kroger near all the other dried beans.  If you can’t find cranberry beans, you could choose a white or red bean instead.

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Fennel-Cranberry Bean Soup

1 lb cranberry beans, soaked
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, diced
3 carrots, sliced
3 stalks celery, sliced
1 bulb fennel, divided (bulb and stalks thinly sliced,  fronds minced)
2 tsp salt, to taste

Soak the beans all day (at least 8 hours).  Rinse and place in soup pot.  Cover until the beans are submerged by at least an inch of water.  Bring to a boil.

Begin preparing the vegetables.

Once the beans are boiling, skim the foam from the surface and discard.  Reduce to a simmer.  Cook for about 45 minutes or until almost tender.

Add in everything except the fennel fronds and return to a boil.  Reduce to simmer.  Cook for about 30 minutes until the vegetables are tender.

Stir in the fennel fronds and adjust salt to taste.  Simmer five more minutes, then remove from heat and serve.

Enjoy!

Honey-Mustard Chicken Tenders with Pear-Fennel Salad

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Today has been a day full of roasting and pureeing pumpkins for the freezer.  I freeze the puree into two cup portions, chill them in the fridge, then freeze them for the next year.  I make soups, muffins, pies, smoothies, sauces, and now pancakes with the spoils of cooking all our fall decorations.  Between now and the Nativity fast, I will be processing the rest of the squashes that have been decorating my house for the last month.   I even got a great deal on some hail damaged butternut squash from a nearby chemical free farmer.  Buster has requested that we try butternut pancakes, and I think it’s a great idea.

I am also on the lookout these next few weeks for a couple of well priced turkeys for the freezer.  I cook one and shred it for quick meals after Christmas.  The other goes straight into the freezer and waits until the first round is cooked.  “Why so much turkey”” you ask.  I like variety and this time of the year is the best time to get well priced turkey.  My mom and sister are also both allergic to chicken and beef.  This method of stocking up allows me to cost effectively cook for them.  Other cuts of turkey any other time of they year are out of my price range.

Tonight’s dinner is a favorite around here.  It is fast and easy, but and is made with things around the house instead of a bottled marinade.  It is based off a meal we were served once at a friend’s house.  My very talented friend Anita, is also a wonderful cook.  Anita grilled these on skewers, but I’ve modified the recipe for the oven.  I change up the sides based on what is in the house, but oven roasted potatoes are always on the side.  It’s the green stuff that varies.  Normally I don’t make quite so many sides, but I had a little of a lot of different things and hungry tummies to fill.

Today I served the chicken over sauteed purple and white cabbage.  That cabbage was left over from last week’s spring rolls and the borscht I made yesterday.  I’m still working on the borscht post, so you haven’t missed anything.  Then I sauteed up the long beans from last week’s CSA with a little onion in the same hot pan.

This week from Bountiful Baskets, we got lots of fennel and some pears, so I tried a fennel salad for the first time.  That fennel salad outshone the chicken!  Every kid ate it quickly, and the pickiest of them said, “It was mostly good.”

Honey Mustard Chicken
Tomorrow I promise to post what we always prepare with the rest of the package bacon.  This dinner is always prepared when the next morning is not a fast day.  The kids are always excited when we have this meal, because they know what is coming for breakfast.

Honey-Mustard Chicken Tenders

1.25-1.5 lbs chicken tenders
1/3 pkg of bacon strips cut in half, 1/2 slice per chicken tender (optional)
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp dried tarragon
1/2 cup dijon mustard
1/2 cup honey

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.  Mine is usually already cooking the oven fries at this temperature, so it’s ready to go.

In a large (9X13) glass baking pan or casserole dish, whisk the dijon and honey with the spices and spread evenly over the bottom of the pan.

Place the chicken tenders in a single layer in the pan.  Evenly coat both sides in the honey mustard.

Put a half strip of bacon on each chicken tender if desired.  Bake for 20-25 minutes until the chicken is cooked throughout and still juicy.  Serve with a generous slathering of the honey-mustard drippings.  Sometimes when I’ve only got lettuce for a salad I drizzle the cooled drippings as dressing.

Pear-Fennel Salad

1 bulb of fennel, thinly sliced (everything, bulb, stalks, and fronds)
3 stalks celery with leaves, thinly sliced
3 pears, diced
3 Tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp golden balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp honey
1/4-1/2 tsp salt, to taste

Toss everything together in a large bowl.  Enjoy!