At our house, we have a saying..."Don't yuk my yum!". We are trying to raise kids that aren't picky eaters by exposing them to many different kinds of food. It wasn't that long ago that one of my kids asked "Why can't you cook food like everyone else? Like tater tot hotdish?" The reason? It's not very healthy or creative and I think it's kind of gross. I don't cook like that. I like to use fresh, healthy ingredients to make great tasting good for you dishes. I've created this blog to share my favorite recipes with you.

Follow my kitchen adventures from using up vegetables from our weekly CSA box to baking and creative cooking.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Sausage, Pepper and Fennel Pasta

This week started so beautifully.  We had unseasonably warm fall weather, with the high temperatures hitting the mid-70's.  Then the snow came.  I had the worst drive to work ever on Thursday, with a ton of slushy snow and wind.  I was happy when school was released at noon and I got to spend the afternoon at home with my girls.  After we watched "The Goonies", we took a little time to make a double batch of my Rosemary Focaccia Sandwich Bread, which I cut into meal-size portions and stashed in the freezer for later.  I could get used to working half-days.  Think of everything I could accomplish!

Focaccia bread--for sandwiches or dipping in olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

For supper on Thursday, I used a bunch of items we got in our produce box from Red Goose Gardens. We had red, green and purple peppers, a bunch of tiny fennel bulbs, onions and tomatoes.  I sliced and sautéed the peppers, fennel and onions, then added about a dozen two-inch tomatoes that I chopped and a little rosemary-garlic seasoning I picked up at Sams Club.  I love how tomatoes melt down into a delicious sauce and make everything taste so much better.  I tossed the resulting sauce with hot pasta (the end of two boxes) and some chicken italian sausage (which we got in the meat clearance bin at the grocery store) I sliced up and sautéed.  Seriously delicious.  As I told the girls, they are so lucky their mama can cook! See my recipe below.

Sausage, pepper and fennel pasta.

Then Thursday night I still had the cooking bug, so I whipped up some Salted Caramel Pretzel Bark.  You should make it.  Seriously.  I'm not sharing my batch.  Pretzels coated in butter and brown sugar boiled into caramel sauce and topped with melted chocolate chips.  Cool, break apart and eat.  Enough said.  
Salted Caramel Pretzel Bark

Figure skating started this week.  Yep, October 3 was our first evening at the arena.  The girls really enjoy their time on the ice learning new moves and visiting with their friends while Phil and I walk many laps around the quarter-mile track.  With the start of figure skating, our Wednesday nights became very cramped for time.  We had a couple of avocados aging on the windowsill and I had a bunch of cilantro in the fridge and some limes leftover from last time I made mojitos, so I searched online for recipes that incorporated all of those ingredients.  I came up with Creamy Avocado Pasta, a recipe in which I threw the avocados, cilantro, lime juice and garlic into the food processor and tossed the pesto-like sauce with hot pasta.  I decided the meal needed some protein, so I dug a couple of chicken breasts out of the freezer and baked them topped with chopped cilantro, minced garlic and a squeeze of lime juice.  I'm not sure I would make the pasta again, but the chicken was sure yummy.  

Creamy Avocado Pasta topped with a chicken breast.
I also made my favorite breakfast foods for supper this week--Eggs Benedict and Hash Browns.   As I have discussed in the past, our chickens are good little producers.  Right now we have ten chickens, but only five of them are of laying age.  The other five are still maturing.  Nonetheless, the three or four eggs we get each day are enough for our needs.  I used six of them to make Eggs Benedict.  I had ham and english muffins in the freezer and bought a packet of  Hollandaise sauce mix and poached the eggs.  Almost as good as Perkins, though they probably make their own Hollandaise.  Along with the Eggs Benedict, I served hash browns (shredded baked potatoes) that I cooked on the waffle iron to get them nice and crispy (thanks Pinterest!) and an acorn squash I quartered, baked and sprinkled with cinnamon and brown sugar.

Eggs Benedict with waffle iron hash browns and brown sugar squash.

This weekend, we got together with my family to celebrate a couple of birthdays.  We grilled steaks and shrimp skewers and served them with sautéed green beans and Pioneer Woman's Crash Hot Potatoes.  Have you tried these potatoes yet?  They have been circulating around Pinterest for quite awhile now and I saw them in the Grand Forks Herald a couple months ago.  If you haven't had them yet, give them a try.  They are totally worth the effort of the two step recipe:  First you boil the potatoes, then you crush them, sprinkle them with with seasonings (I used rosemary and cracked pepper) and bake them until they are crispy.  Every time I make these, my girls beg for more!  My brother suggested that they would be really good with cheese on them...why not add bacon, too?

Pioneer Woman's Crash Hot Potatoes
For dessert, I made Apple Crisp with vanilla ice cream.  I always use the recipe from the Betty Crocker cookbook we got for a wedding gift.  An old standby that is always delicious...especially with apples from my Grandpa's trees.

Apple Crisp

Tonight for supper, it's chicken cooked in the crock pot.  I jammed two frozen chickens in my large crock pot at lunch time today, sprinkled them with seasoning and turned the cooker on high.  By 6:00 tonight, supper will be done and I will have leftovers for at least two meals this week and the makings of home made chicken broth that I will stash in the freezer for another day.  Check out this link for the recipe!

Two whole chickens roasting in the crock pot.
Sausage and Pepper Pasta
1 package chicken Italian Sausage
3 sliced peppers (one red, one green, one purple)--about 2 cups total
1 sliced red onion--about 1 cup
5 small fennel bulbs, sliced--about 1 cup
12 small (2-inch) tomatoes, cored and chopped
seasoning to taste
cooked pasta

1.  Slice and sauté the sausage over medium heat until mostly cooked.  Move to a plate.
2.  In same skillet, drizzle a little olive oil, then add in peppers, onion and fennel.  Cook for about 10 minutes, until the vegetables begin to soften.  Add the tomatoes and seasonings (I used a garlic rosemary seasoning mix and some salt and pepper).  Simmer for about 20 minutes, until the sauce comes together.  Add in sausage for the last ten minutes to blend all flavors.
3.  Serve over or mixed with hot pasta.

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