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Gift Ideas and Braised Chicken with Fennel and Apple

(post, Annie Witkamp)


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Sore is how I would describe me today. As I said Friday, I am going back to a hardcore workout schedule. I am getting back on that saddle. Feeling good as I knew I would. That sounds corny. I’m enjoying the break-up of the dull, monotonous days and I think writing in the afternoon allows me to get personal finance, errands and chores out of the way so that I get back to enjoying the things I choose to do.

I am choosing to think about holidays. It’s an understatement to say that I am looking forward to this time. Greg and I will be home for one and a half weeks for Christmas and New Years. (Heads up: I will not be posting those days.) We already have a slew of activities and people to see and do. We can’t wait! I hope that we don’t drive through two ice storms again this year. (A 12 hour trip took 17 or so.) We would fly if we had the money. Also, the Fort Wayne airport no longer has a direct flight from Minneapolis so we’d have to go to Indy which is a few hours away and either rent a car or be picked up in weather that is probably not ideal for travel. I refuse to jeopardize anyone. It’s way over our budget to rent a vehicle this year and to pay for parking at MSP.

So, thinking about the holidays, specifically gift giving. I have a suggestion for those who are seeking advice. I’m not an elf or anything but I think I’m pretty good at picking out gifts. One year for Christmas, I donated in each of my family member’s names to a number of various organizations including some that help abused women/children, help families in Africa grow and sustain food for their region and those that assist animal shelters and abused animals. There are so many options for donations and any amount is welcome.

If you are thinking of holiday gifts, I would suggest donating in a friend or family member’s name to an organization that that person would enjoy seeing have a little help. You can also ask that your gifts be in donation form at redefinechristmas.org for those of you not sure what to tell people. Don’t forget that donating your used belongingness will also help. Here are some sites to check out for all of these ideas:

- globalgiving.org
- firstgiving.com
- redefinechristmas.org
- actionaidusa.org
- unitus.com
- modestneeds.org
- goodsearch.com
- culinarycorps.org
- peopleunited.org

There are so many options and in a rough time for many people, holiday donations may just be the perfect gift. I think the holidays are about being together anyway and not about receiving a gift, how about you? What if your gift was a donation? Which organization would you want to donate to?

Here’s my donation to your recipe collection.

Braised Chicken with Fennel and Apple- Whole Foods Market (adjusted to feed 2-4)
Serves 2 or 4 if placed over rice or with pasta

Ingredients:
1 tbsp olive oil
2 skin-less chicken breasts
salt/pepper
½ large onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 fennel bulb, trimmed, cored and sliced
½ cup dry white wine
½-3/4 cup apple cider
1 large granny smith apple, cored and sliced (I used a Fireside apple)
4 sprigs of thyme
3 bay leaves
pinch of saffron (optional)

Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat and rub salt/pepper on each side of the chicken. Add the chicken to the pan and cook on each side until golden brown. Place on a plate. Then, add onion, fennel and garlic to the skillet and cook until golden brown, around 7-8 minutes. Add the wine and bring to a boil, then add cider and bring to a boil again. Add chicken back to skillet with apples, thyme, bay leaf and saffron (optional). Bring to a boil again, then cover and simmer, 10-15 minutes. I would remove the cover half-way through and allow sauce to thicken. Season with salt and pepper if you wish. Simple, nutritious and delicious!