Fennel Breakfast Sausage

Another recipe!  Yay!

We’ve taken the last two weeks off from work, and considering the fact we haven’t had a real vacation since we got married (6 years ago today – Happy Anniversary Jan and Beloved), we really, really needed it.  Having all this time off has given us plenty of time to do wildly fun things like clean the garage,  stack 2/3 of a cord of firewood we had delivered, clean out one of our freezers and pressure can massive amounts of chicken and beef bone broths.

We live on the wild side, we do.

At any rate, it’s also given me the time (and more importantly, the motivation) to do some actual cooking.

When we first began buying whole, humanely raised, antibiotic-free hogs (has it been nearly 4 years?  It has), we had a good portion of the ground pork made into fresh sausage.  While the sausage blends that Whitefeather Meats offers are just delicious (I’m especially fond of their chorizo and hot Italian sausages), it does cost extra on top of the normal processing fees and you’re limited as to what kind of sausage you have in your freezer.

It took me two hogs to decided to get all of the ground portions of our hogs as just plain ground pork.  That way, I have plenty of unseasoned meat for things like burgers and meatloaves, and when I’m in the mood for a certain kind of fresh sausage, all I have to do is mix it up.  Really, it’s hardly any more trouble than opening a package and you control the ingredients you use, as well as the proportions.

I made this as part of our brunch New Year’s morning and boy, oh, boy – it is some of the best breakfast sausage we’ve had lately.  It is just so good!  In fact, while we were scarfing it down, Beloved said, “You know…this would be really good on a pizza.”  Like most men, he loves pizza, but he’s right – if you’re inclined to eat a pizza with sausage on it, this would be a marvelous choice.  It would also make a pretty darn good base for a meatzza, as well.

If you don’t eat pork, this would work well with ground turkey or lamb.  Omit the maple syrup, which is optional, and it’s Whole30 compliant, too.

Fennel Breakfast Sausage. Making your own breakfast sausage at home couldn't be easier; this sweet and savory version is just delicious.

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Fennel Breakfast Sausage
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup (optional)
Instructions
  1. Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and gently mix. Using your hands, form the sausage into eight 2-inch patties.
  2. Heat a large skillet or griddle over medium heat. Lightly fry the sausage until browned and cooked through, about 4 to 5 minutes per side.
  3. Nutrition (per serving): 329 calories, 24.2g total fat, 81.7mg cholesterol, 770.6mg sodium, 371.1mg potassium, 7.7g carbohydrates, <1g fiber, 6.1g sugar, 19.4g protein

Chorizo-Stuffed Mushrooms

Sunday morning I got up in the mood to cook.

And cook I did.

I don’t know what possessed me to make stuffed mushrooms and bacon-wrapped asparagus spears to go with our over-easy pastured eggs and chocolate-laced coffee, other than the fact I had mushrooms and asparagus in the fridge (Beloved was bemused, as well – “My wife got up this morning and made appetizers for breakfast!”), but it was all really tasty, if a little odd.

I’m not a huge mushroom fan – they’re one of the few foods I have an “I can take it or leave it” attitude about – but I have to say that these were absolutely delicious.  We enjoyed them so much that I am going to make them for our annual employee holiday party this year.  It helps that they’re just drop-dead easy, too, and can be assembled ahead of time and baked later.  They also reheat beautifully.

Note:  The chorizo I use is really a chorizo-spiced ground pork; we get it from our friends at Whitefeather Meats.  A traditional Mexian chorizo is going to be pretty fatty and probably won’t hold together very well as a stuffing.  However, making it yourself is really quite easy – this recipe is a good one.

Chorizo-Stuffed Mushrooms. These tasty morsels can be assembled ahead of time, and then baked just before serving.

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Chorizo-Stuffed Mushrooms
Serves: 8 to 10
Ingredients
  • 1 pound [url href=”http://honestcooking.com/authentic-homemade-mexican-chorizo/” target=”_blank”]homemade Mexican-style chorizo[/url]
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 1 pound large white button mushrooms
  • 3 tablespoons ghee, divided
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Lightly grease the pan with olive oil.
  2. Gently but thoroughly clean the mushrooms with a damp towel. Remove and finely chop the stems; set aside.
  3. Heat 2 tablespoons of the ghee in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Cook the chopped mushrooms stems until they have given off all their liquid and it begins to evaporate.
  4. Add the remaining tablespoon of ghee to the pan and reduce the heat to medium-low. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions have softened and begun to turn golden, about 7 to10 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool enough to handle.
  5. In a large bowl, gently mix the chorizo and mushroom/onion mixture until well combined. Stuff each mushroom cap with the chorizo mixture, mounding it attractively, until all of the sausage has been used.
  6. Place the stuffed mushrooms on the oiled pan and bake for 20 minutes, turning once halfway through, or until the mushrooms have softened and the chorizo stuffing is cooked through.
  7. Serve warm.
  8. Nutrition (per serving): 250 calories, 21g total fat, 49.1mg cholesterol, 563.2mg sodium, 336mg potassium, 3g carbohydrates, <1g fiber, 1.2g sugar, 12.5g protein

Apple-Bacon-Cheddar Burgers

I’m really beginning to wonder if one of the symptoms of Empty Nest Syndrome is a lack of interest in cooking, and a lack of interest in photographing the results when you do feel like cooking.

Because that seems to be my life ever since The Young One left for college.

Seriously – Beloved and I are living off of eggs, simply cooked meats and vegetables, fruits and ferments…lots and lots of ferments.  (Ferments = easy, nutritious and delicious.)  It suits our lives right now, and I’m a bit ashamed to admit that I’m rather enjoying it all.  No kids.  No pets.  Just me, Beloved, and episodes of Orange is the New Black and 24 on Netflix.  Life is good.

At any rate, I’m sure my interest in cooking and food photography will return eventually, but in the meantime I’m going to post twice a week on Tuesday and Thursday.  And it will most likely be simple, easy dishes unless the mood strikes and I make something along the lines of the Apple Fritter recipe on a Sunday morning.

This is one of those simple recipes.  It is also incredibly delicious – Beloved said it was the best burger he’s eaten in a very long time, and I have to concur with him.  They are just marvelous.

The trick is not to overcook them; low and slow is the way to go.  Check the temperature of the burgers and don’t let it go over 145 F, then cover them and put them in a warm oven for 10 minutes.  The result is an incredibly juicy, flavorful burger.

I served this with Dilly Beans, Jalapenos en Escabeche (both of which are almost completely gone now) and roasted sweet potato wedges; it was a great dinner.  Anyone interested in a recipe for the wedges?  They were pretty darn good, too.

Apple-Bacon-Cheddar Burgers. Apple and cheddar cheese really pump up the flavor of these burgers, while bacon helps keep them moist and juicy.

Click the image to enlarge

Apple-Bacon-Cheddar Burgers
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • 2 pounds ground pork
  • 4 ounces bacon, finely chopped
  • 1 large apple, peeled and grated
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. Gently combine all of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Form 8 patties from the mixture.
  2. Heat a griddle or large frying pan over medium-low heat; cook the burgers until the internal temperature reaches 145 F.
  3. Place the burgers on a large plate or platter; cover with aluminum foil and place in a warm oven. Allow them to rest for 10 minutes before serving.
  4. Nutrition (per serving): 434 calories, 35.1g total fat, 106.1mg cholesterol, 621.8mg sodium, 395.7mg potassium, 3.9g carbohydrates, <1g fiber, 2.8g sugar, 24.4g protein

Ham and Cheese Quiche

You know, I could get used to this empty nest thing.  It was kind of nice this weekend; we picked up our eggs as well as a double share of our CSA Saturday morning (we are flying to Vegas to visit Darling Daughter Thursday afternoon and won’t be able to get the last share of the season) and spent most of Saturday afternoon and early evening processing what will freeze/can/keep well.

Sunday we did a whole lot of nothing, if you can count watching movies and television (we started Orange is the New Black on Netflix) and crocheting “nothing.”  I did make us a late brunch, which consisted of the last watermelon of the season (“G always tells me, ‘No seeds in my watermelon, Meema!'” “That’s because Papa hasn’t taught him how to spit them yet”), zucchini fritters with homemade ketchup, and this recipe.

Not the most innovative meal I’ve ever made, but the quiche?  She is delicious.  And pretty darn easy to boot – what more could you ask for?

This has a ton of dairy in it – I used vat-pasteurized, non-homogenized whole milk with a great deal of the cream in it (which is why the recipe calls for half and half) and some beautiful aged, raw milk cheddar.  My sinuses weren’t happy about it later, but it was well worth it.  You can, of course, leave out the cheese and substitute full-fat coconut milk and it will still be quite good, as well as Whole30 compliant if your ham has no added sugars or nitrates.

Ham and Cheese Quiche. Ham and cheese are a perfect combination, especially paired with onions, leeks, peppers and made into a delicious, crustless quiche!

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Ham and Cheese Quiche
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 large leek, white and pale green parts only, thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons ghee or butter
  • 1 small red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 cup cubed cooked ham
  • 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups half and half
  • 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Generously butter a 10″ deep dish pie plate.
  2. Melt the ghee or butter in a large sauté pan over medium low heat and cook the onion and leek until soft and fragrant; stir in the bell pepper and ham. Remove from heat and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, half and half, salt and pepper until well blended. Set aside.
  4. Spread the onion and ham mixture over the bottom of the buttered pie plate and scatter the cheese evenly over the top. Slowly pour the egg mixture into the pie plate and carefully transfer to the oven (the dish will be very full).
  5. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until nicely browned on top and a knife inserted in the center of the quiche comes out clean. Allow to cool for at least 20 minutes before serving.
  6. Nutrition (per serving): 348 calories, 26.6g total fat, 251.6mg cholesterol, 1039.4mg sodium, 336mg potassium, 9.1g carbohydrates, 1.5g fiber, 2.6g sugar, 18.2g protein

Hot German Potato Salad

Happy Friday, y’all!  Our weekend will be busy – the beginning of apple season is upon us and the apple sauce and apple butter we canned last year was such a great thing to have all year long that we’re going to do it again this year.

The orchard we get our apples from also makes the best apple cider I’ve ever tasted in my life, and since it’s clear (they do something to keep it from being cloudy like a lot of commercial cider) I’m going to make some of it into apple cider jelly to can.  If that turns out well, I’m also going to make hot pepper jelly with it too.

We’ll also be driving out to Kent this evening after work – The Young One has requested to come home for the weekend.  He must be out of clean clothes and dorm snacks.

There are also only 3 or 4 weeks left for our CSA, which makes me a bit sad, but the stuff we’re getting is just wonderful (I love late summer/early autumn).  Over the last few weeks we received yukon gold and baby red potatoes; this week we’re getting fingerlings.  We don’t eat a whole lot of white potatoes these days, and rarely buy them, but when we get them in our CSA share I have absolutely no problem cooking and eating them.

So when I decided to make my very un-authentic Jaeger Schnitzel, I thought that Hot German Potato Salad might go quite nicely with it.  It turned out to be a great idea, and it wasn’t hard to modify it to fit our diet, especially since most recipes call for small amounts of white flour and sugar.  And, like with the Jaeger Scnitzel, we both absolutely loved it.

It’s a little more involved than your garden-variety picnic potato salad but is completely worth it, and it’s got that great sweet-and-sour thing going on.

Hot German Potato Salad. A delightfully different potato salad, served hot with bacon and a tangy vinegar dressing.

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Hot German Potato Salad
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 2 pounds small red potatoes, halved
  • 4 ounces thick-sliced bacon, diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon tapioca flour
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon celery seed
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
Instructions
  1. Place the potatoes in 3-quart saucepan with a tablespoon of salt; add enough water just to cover. Bring to a boil and cook until the potatoes are just fork tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  2. In a 12-inch skillet, cook bacon over medium-low until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon; drain on paper towels. Set aside.
  3. Add the onion to the skillet and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the tapioca flour, honey, salt, celery seed and pepper. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture is bubbly; remove from heat.
  4. Whisk the water and vinegar into onion mixture. Return to the heat and bring to a boil, stirring constantly, until thickened.
  5. Reduce the heat to medium-low and stir in potatoes and bacon. Continue cooking, stirring gently to coat potatoes, until they are heated through. Serve warm.
  6. Nutrition (per serving): 232 calories, 8.7g total fat, 12.9mg cholesterol, 325.4mg sodium, 900.7mg potassium, 33.4g carbohydrates, 2.8g fiber, 3.8g sugar, 5.6g protein