Facts about Fennel – the new go-to vegetable

Fennel also sometimes called anise tastes like a cross between celery, leeks and licorice .  Most people really don’t think about using it or are afraid to because of the licorice flavor.

When choosing fresh fennel, look for ones that have clean, firm and solid bulbs. Avoid any bulbs that have signs of splitting or bruising.
Bulbs should be a pale green color, while the stalks and leaves should be a brighter green. The leaves should be fresh looking and not wilted.
Be sure to choose fennel that doesn’t have flowers on the leaves. The flowers or buds means the vegetable is past maturity.

Here are a few different ways to use fennel:

  • Add thinly sliced raw fennel to a salad.
  • Slice and use as a hamburger topping
  • Add chopped fennel stalks to soups or stews.
  • Sauté garlic, onions and fennel for a delicious topping for sandwiches.
  • 1/2 cup of raw fennel  has 0 fat and is only 14 calories.

I sliced it and mixed it with broccoli, olive oil and salt and pepper than roasted it in the oven at 400 degrees for about 15-20 minutes.  To my surprise the combination was a perfect blend.  It compliments well with chicken or salmon as a side dish.  Make a lot because you will want seconds!


Cabbage Roll Casserole

I love cabbage rolls, but don’t always have the time to roll as many as I can eat.  So why not make a layered casserole like lasagna.  This was my first attempt and the flavor and texture was perfect.  The only change I would make is I would have liked more cabbage.  Next time I make this I will shred the cabbage giving each layer a little more cabbage and making it easier to eat after it’s cooked.

Meat filling:

  • 1 1/2  lb. ground beef
  • 4 minced garlic cloves
  • 1/4 onion grated
  • 1/2 cup uncooked white rice
  • 8 oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons all spice
  • cayenne pepper
  • salt and pepper

In a saute pan brown your ground beef.  Add the rest of the ingredients.  Bring to a boil and than cover and simmer on low for about 30 minutes


In a pot heat 1 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes and 1 14.5 can of tomato sauce with 2 large whole garlic cloves. Simmer while your meat filling is cooking.

In a large casserole dish begin layering.  Start with your sauce.  Then a layer of cabbage.  Be sure to cut the core out of the middle. (as I said earlier I would have shredded the cabbage at this point.  Use about 1/3 of it.  The next layer is meat, then cabbage then sauce.

End with cabbage and top with remaining sauce.  The 2 large garlic cloves that was in the sauce I took out, sliced and placed on top while cooking.

Cover with foil and cook at 400 degrees for 40 minutes.  Let sit for about 10 minutes before serving.


Zucchini Boats

This is an easy easy side dish that goes great with almost anything.  What doesn’t taste good with bacon!!!  I only wish I would have made more.

  • 2 zucchini’s
  • 2 strips of bacon
  • 1/2 small onion diced
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • 1/2 Roma tomato, seeded and diced
  • parmesan cheese

Cut your zucchini’s in half lengthwise.  Using a spoon, scrape out the insides.  Reserve about half.

Cut up bacon in small pieces and fry in a saute pan.  When bacon is done add onion and saute until tender.  Add garlic and some crushed pepper flakes.  Transfer to a mixing bowl and add tomato, the reserved zucchini insides and some grated parmesan cheese.  Season with salt and pepper. Mix well.

Place your zucchini in a greased oven proof dish.  Spoon in stuffing and top with more grated parmesan cheese.

Bake in a 400 degree oven for about 30 minutes. Enjoy!

Apple Pie

For those of you that just want a good old-fashioned pie recipe!

Pie crust for 2 layers:

  • 2 1/2 cups of flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup shortening
  • 1/2 cup cold water

Combine flour and salt in a large bowl.  Cut the shortening in until it resembles coarse crumbs.  (using your fingers work the best).  Stir in water with a fork 1 tablespoon at a time until dough forms a ball.  Wrap in plastic and refrigerate.  You can make this a day ahead.  The colder it is the flakier your crust will be.

Apple filling:

  • 9″ pie plate
  • 8 cups of sliced peeled granny smith apples
  • 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 egg yolk and 1 tablespoon milk beat together.

In a large bowl combine the apples and lemon juice. Add the rest of the ingredients except the butter and egg mixture. Toss well until coated.

Divide your chilled dough in half.   Roll one half out on a floured surface for the bottom of the pie.  Fill with your apple filling and dot the top with the butter.

Roll your 2nd half of dough for the top.  I cut mine in strips with a pizza cutter to make a lattice top.  If you roll out a solid circle, make sure you cut a few slits on the top.  Seal your edges all the way around the pie. Brush the top with the egg mixture.

Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes.  Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake another 40-45 minutes until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbly.

Serve warm with french vanilla ice cream.  Enjoy!

Smothered Pork Chops

Quoted by my 5-year-old granddaughter, “This will send your taste buds on a journey!”  Even though she stole that line from Sponge Bob she knew exactly when to use it!  These pork chops are loaded with flavor, and if you feel like really indulging use bacon grease instead of oil to fry them in!

  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 tablespoons onion powder
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 boneless or bone-in pork chops
  • 1/4 cup olive oil or bacon fat
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk (mix 1/2 tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar to 1/2 cup of milk for a substitute)

Mix together the flour, onion and garlic powder, cayenne and salt and pepper in a shallow dish.  Pat pork chops dry and dredge in the flour, shaking off excess.  In a saute pan or cast iron skillet heat oil or bacon grease until hot and fry the pork chops until brown.  About 3 minutes on each side. Remove them and add a few sprinkles of your seasoned flour.  Mix well and then pour in your chicken broth.  Cook until slightly thickened.  Add your buttermilk and you’ll end up with a creamy gravy.  Return your pork chops covering them with the sauce and simmer for about 5 minutes until the pork is cooked thru.  Season with salt and pepper and garnish with parsley.

I made roasted cauliflower as a side dish that made a perfect combination.  Just toss your cauliflower florets with olive oil, salt and pepper and crushed pepper flakes and roast in a 400 degree oven for about 15 minutes.  I fried up some bacon (used the bacon grease for my pork chops) and crumbled it on top of the cauliflower along with shredded parmesan cheese for even more flavor.


Meatloaf Patties

In a hurry and you’re looking at a pound of ground beef and have no idea what to make?

Hamburgers are a good idea but you have no buns…You just had spaghetti the night before.  Meat loaf sounds great but not enough time…correction…but you do!!!

This happened to me, it was 5 o’clock and my husband asked me what is for dinner.  I stared at the thawed out ground beef and said I’m not sure!!  I really was in the mood for meatloaf.  As I started mixing all the ingredients I thought what if I make it into hamburger patties, the cooking time was 10 minutes instead of 1 1/2 to 2 hours.  It was a perfect solution and turned out great.  I threw a few potatoes in the microwave, roasted some veggies and dinner was done!  Here’s my quick meatloaf recipe:

  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1/2 diced onion sautéed in oil with a bay leaf until translucent
  • ketchup
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • about a cup of bread crumbs
  • about 1/4 cup of milk
  • 1 egg
  • salt and pepper

Mix all ingredients well and form into patties.  Bake in the oven at 350 degrees until brown and cooked thru.  About 5 to 10 minutes on each side.  For added flavor I brushed masterpiece steak marinade on each side will baking.