Category Archives: Made from Scratch

Sweet and Spicy Venison Jerky

Sweet and Spicy Venison Jerky

“The Men” went deer hunting a few weeks ago, and I told myself for months that when this day arrived, I would force myself to buy some new clothes.  I really do not enjoy clothes shopping, which is probably why all of my jeans have holes in them and my shirts are covered in stains from 5 years ago.  So while the manly men went to sit in their deer stands, I went shopping for probably the 3rd time in my life since I moved out of my parent’s house, and no, I’m not THAT young!

I was rewarded for my shopping efforts with a giant hunk of venison.  I knew immediately that I wanted to try my hand at jerky and it was worth it.  It’s time consuming but certainly not difficult.

The jerky has a sweet marinade but the spice blend lends a peppery heat. It’s pretty addicting. This was my first time ever making jerky so I really didn’t want to go out and by a dehydrator since I had no idea if this was something I would want to do again. After I made it, I have determined that I do want to do it again, although the oven worked really well for me so I’m not sure I need to buy the dehydrator anyway.


Spice Blend

  • 1 Tbsp. onion powder
  • 1 Tbsp. garlic powder
  • 2 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. curing salt


  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup teriyaki sauce
  • 1/4 cup extra-tenderizing Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/3 cup Balsamic vinegar
  • 4 Tbsp. hickory liquid smoke
  • 1/2 cup pineapple juice


  • 1 pound lean venison meat


  1. Mix together seasoning ingredients, set aside.
  2. Mix together marinade ingredients in a large bowl with an airtight container and set aside.
  3. Thinly cut venison into 1/8″ strips, cutting against the grain of the meat using a very sharp knife.  If this is proving difficult, put the meat in the freezer for about 10 minutes to make this part a bit easier.
  4. Toss the meat with the seasoning mixture to coat.  Submerge meat in marinade, cover, and let sit for at least 3 hours and a max of 6 hours.
  5. Drain meat in a colander.
  6. Lay strips out in a single layer on 2 cooling racks (the ones you use to cool cookies when they come out of the oven).
  7. Place oven racks to high and low positions then place cooling racks on oven racks.
  8. Place a thermometer in the oven, and prop the oven open with a small fan on high (I used a battery powered fan that we generally use for camping.  Get creative here, you want constant airflow to promote the drying process).
  9. Once an hour, preheat oven to lowest possible temperature (mine was 170F).  Once the thermometer reaches 100F, turn the oven off.  Rotate racks every hour to ensure even heat and drying.
  10. The amount of time it takes to dry will depend on the thickness of the strips.  Mine took about 8 hours total.
  11. Once meat is thoroughly dehydrated, place in an airtight container or glass jar (avoid ziploc bags as they tend to store moisture which will promote mold growth).
  12. Hoard and eat!

Posted by on December 14, 2013 in Fall, Made from Scratch, Uncategorized


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Turkey Stock

Turkey Stock

In my, not so, humble opinion a great Thanksgiving dinner starts with good stock.  So many recipes will call for chicken broth, but I have found that substituting it out with homemade turkey stock adds a much richer flavor than any canned chicken broth can offer.  For this recipe, I roast the ingredients over very high heat to get a darker color.  With color comes flavor.  You know you have nailed it, when the stock turns to gelatin upon cooling.  I treat this stuff like liquid gold and I think I could just drink it by the cupfuls.

Yield: 20 cups


  • 15 pounds turkey legs
  • 6 yellow onions, quartered with skin on
  • 6 celery stalks, leaves removed and very coarsely chopped
  • 6 carrots very coarsely chopped
  • 48 cups water (12 quarts)
  • 15 parsley stems, leaves removed
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 3 Tbsp. whole black peppercorns


  1. Place rack in lowest position in oven.  Preheat to 500F.
  2. In batches, roast turkey legs in a large roasting pan for an hour, turning halfway through.  Transfer turkey legs to a large stockpot (I had to use 2 stockpots to fit everything).
  3. Next roast onions, celery, and carrots for 30 minutes, stirring halfway through.  Transfer vegetables to stockpot.
  4. Deglaze roasting pan by heating on stove and adding 4 cups of water.  Add liquid to stockpot(s).
  5. Add remaining 44 cups of water to stockpot(s), parsley, bay leaves, and peppercorns.  Heat over low heat for about 12 hours tasting along the way.  When it’s ready, it should have a rich mouthfeel and deep flavor.
  6. Once you are happy with the flavor, strain the stock, refrigerate, and skim fat off of top.
  7. Reheat strained and skimmed stock over low heat.  Add salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Use refrigerated within a week or freeze for 6 months.
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Posted by on November 16, 2013 in Made from Scratch, Uncategorized


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Falafels with Tzatziki


Sometimes I get a hankering for falafels and although it’s sometimes easier to go to my local Mediterranean restaurant and pick them up, they are honestly so much better homemade.  Unlike a lot of take-out places, these falafels are crispy on the outside and smooth on the inside with a lot of flavor to carry them on their own without being dried out.  The tzatziki adds a creaminess to bring the whole thing together for a fresh and quick dinner.

If you have a food processor or blender these come together in a snap.  The main ingredient is garbanzo beans so they are very inexpensive to make, and I think are good reheated.  It makes for a much more interesting lunch than a peanut butter sandwich.

Servings: 8
Active Time: 45 minutes
Inactive Time: 4 hours

Ingredients for Tzatziki:

  • 1/2 cucumber, peeled and seeded (use other half of cucumber as garnish for falafel)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. coarse kosher salt, divided
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 3 tsp. olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced

Ingredients for Falafels:

  • 2 (15 oz) cans garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour + more for coating falafel
  • 2 tsp. cumin, fresh ground
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 3/4 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 large egg
  • Oil for frying (peanut, canola, corn)
  • 4 warm pita breads, cut in half
  • 1 cup feta cheese, crumbled
  • Diced tomatoes
  • Diced cucumbers
  • Hot Sauce
Directions for Tzatziki:
  1. Grate cucumber and sprinkle with 1 tsp. salt.  Transfer to a fine sieve set over a bowl to catch liquid.  Allow to drain for 2 hours.
  2. Transfer strained cucumber to a bowl.  Stir in Greek yogurt, sour cream, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, and remaining 1/2 tsp. salt.
  3. Refrigerate for 2 hours before using to allow flavors to meld.  Can be made up to 2 days in advance.

Directions for Falafels:

  1. In a food processor, combine garbanzo beans, 3 Tbsp. flour, cumin, minced garlic cloves, and 1/2 tsp. cayenne in processor until combined. Add 3/4 cup onion, egg, and pulse until ingredients are finely chopped.
  2. Transfer to a bowl.  Roll mixture into 1 inch balls, then roll in a bowl of flour.
  3. Pour oil into a heavy skillet and heat over medium-high heat.  Once oil is hot add four falafels at a time making sure to not overcrowd.  Turn after about 2 minutes to brown on all sides.
  4. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels.
  5. Serve falafels in pitas with tzatziki, diced tomatoes, diced cucumbers, and hot sauce.


Posted by on October 12, 2013 in Beans, Entrees, Made from Scratch, Uncategorized


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Italian Sausage Flatbread

Italian Sausage Flatbread
Yield: 2 Servings     Prep Time: 10 minutes     Total Time: 2 hours 50 minutes


  • 1 recipe Homemade Flatbread
  • 1/2-3/4 cup pizza sauce
  • 3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 pound mild Italian sausage


  1. Follow steps 1-5 for preparing homemade flatbread.
  2. Roll sausage into quarter-size meatballs and brown in a heavy skillet turning until thoroughly cooked.
  3. Wipe the inside of a heavy skillet with a paper towel moistened with olive oil. Preheat the pan over high heat for 5 minutes until smoking. Place the prepared dough in the skillet until the crust bubbles, about 1 minute.
  4. Turn the flatbread onto a working surface, grilled side up.  Brush the flatbread generously with pizza sauce.  Add shredded cheese and top with Italian sausage.
  5. Place the flatbread back in the skillet over medium heat until cheese is melted and bottom has formed a brown crust.

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Prosciutto and Arugula Flatbread

Prosciutto and Arugula Flatbread
Yield: 2 Servings     Prep Time: 10 minutes     Total Time: 2 hours 50 minutes

My husband and I had Spring fever today and decided that we had to get outside for fear of going stir crazy.  So we decided a long walk with Otis, our dog, was in high order.  The fact that it was only about 40 degrees didn’t deter us.  Instead we got out our long johns, gloves, and scarves and were on our way through the woods!

We came across a lost dog so she joined us for our walk until we were able to find her owner.  It’s a happy day when a little girl finds her lost puppy!  After Otis’ new girlfriend left us, he occupied his mind with all of the squirrels running through the park and he too was a happy boy.

On our walk back I was starving and all I wanted to do was fire up the grill to continue our “pretend Spring day.”  I’ve been wanting to make flatbread on the grill for awhile so I thought this would be a great opportunity, but by the time we got back from our walk it was raining so I had to change plans last-minute.

My husband loves pizza with classic red sauce, but I’m more of a fan of white pizza.  I especially love salty prosciutto and peppery arugula with a garlic crust.  The Fontina adds a creaminess to the pizza that really takes it to the next level.

Someday, if it ever warms up in MN, I will add grill instructions to this recipe.  For now, a cast iron skillet and oven inside makes one perfectly tasty flatbread!


  • 1 recipe Homemade Flatbread
  • 1 head garlic
  • 5 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 cups shredded Fontina cheese
  • 4 thin slices prosciutto
  • 1/2 cup baby arugula
  • coarse ground pepper


  1. Follow steps 1-5 for preparing homemade flatbread.
  2. Preheat oven to 400F.  Roast a head of garlic by cutting off 1/4 inch off top of cloves.  Drizzle garlic with olive oil then sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Wrap in tin foil.  Roast for 40 minutes.  Remove garlic cloves from bulb and mix with extra-virgin olive oil until a thin paste forms.
  3. Wipe the inside of a heavy skillet with a paper towel moistened with olive oil. Preheat the pan over high heat for 5 minutes until smoking. Place the prepared dough in the skillet until the crust bubbles, about 1 minute.
  4. Turn the flatbread onto a working surface, grilled side up.  Brush the flatbread generously with roasted garlic/olive oil mixture.  Add shredded cheese and top with prosciutto.
  5. Place the flatbread back in the skillet over medium until cheese is melted and bottom has formed a brown crust.
  6. Remove from heat, sprinkle with fresh ground pepper, and top with arugula.

Prosciutto and Arugula Flatbread 2


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Homemade Flatbread

Homemade Flatbread

Yield: 2 Servings     Prep Time: 10 minutes     Total Time: 2 hours 10 minutes

Make ahead: Dough can be refrigerated 2-3 days


  • 3/4 cup warm water (110-115F)
  • 1 (1/4oz) packet active dry yeast
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil

Activated Yeast

  1. Pour warm water (110-115F) into a small bowl and stir in the yeast and sugar until dissolved.  Allow the mixture to stand for 5 minutes until a layer of foam develops on the surface like this:

    If this doesn’t happen, it’s best to start over as the yeast has not been activated.  This can happen for a number of reasons.  The temperature of the water could be too cold which will not activate the yeast.  If it’s too hot, the yeast will be killed, and sometimes the yeast can be old.  It’s best to store yeast in the refrigerator for this reason.

  2. Mix the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add the yeast water and 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil. Mix well.
  3. Lightly flour a clean working surface and form the dough into a ball. Turn the dough out onto the working surface and knead until it becomes smooth and elastic.  Only add more flour if needed to keep the dough from sticking to the working surface.
  4. Place the dough back into the mixing bowl. Rub remaining teaspoon of extra-virgin olive oil over the dough to keep it moist while rising. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set in a warm place, about 75˚F for 2 hours, or until it doubles in size.
  5. If you would like to make individual flatbreads, cut the dough in half.  Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface working it into a circular crust about 5 inches in diameter for 2 flatbreads, or 10 inches in diameter for one flatbread.
  6. Wipe the inside of a heavy skillet with a paper towel moistened with olive oil. Preheat the pan over high heat for 5 minutes until smoking. Place the rolled out dough in the skillet. The crust will bubble within 1 minute.  Reduce heat to medium.
  7. Turn the flatbread onto a working surface, grilled side up, add toppings, and return to skillet.  Flatbread is done when cheese is melted and bottom has formed a brown crust.



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Red Curry Paste (Freezer-Friendly)

Red Curry Paste

I have yet to find a pre-made curry paste that I like as much as this recipe.   It makes a large batch and can be frozen, so putting in the 10 extra minutes to put this together is worth it in the end.  I use this in panang curry, spicy peanut noodles, Thai coconut curry soup, and basically anything that I want to have a kick of spice with a nice complexity of flavors.

Yield: 2 cups                                       Prep Time: 10 minutes


  • 30 dried chiles
  • 1/4 cup coriander seeds
  • 2 tsp. black peppercorns
  • 4 tsp. cumin seeds
  • 1 Tbsp. paprika
  • 3 Tbsp. fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 15 garlic cloves
  • 2/3 cup white onion, chopped
  • 3 stalks lemongrass (bottom 2 inches only)
  • 1 Tbsp. coarse kosher salt
  • 3 Tbsp. fish sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup peanut oil, divided
  • 2 bunches cilantro, stems only finely chopped


  1. Toast dried chiles, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, and peppercorns for 2 minutes over medium heat until fragrant.  Grind in batches in a spice grinder to make a fine powder.  Stir in paprika.
  2. Place the ginger, garlic, onion, lemongrass, and 1/4 cup of peanut oil in food processor to make a paste.
  3. Add the spice powder, salt, fish sauce, and lemon juice and blend until combined.
  4. Stir in remaining peanut oil and cilantro stems.

To Freeze: Place tablespoon amounts on a cookie sheet covered in wax paper and place in freezer until solid.  Transfer to a freezer bag.  Use as needed.  Paste can be frozen for 6 months.


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White and Green Bean Casserole

White and Green Bean Casserole

Here is a new twist to the classic holiday green bean casserole.  You can eat this any time of the year as I have added white beans in place of all the holiday guilt!

Servings: 9

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes (topping); 15 minutes



  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbsp. Panko bread crumbs
  • 1 tsp. coarse kosher salt


  • 1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. coarse kosher salt, divided
  • 12 oz fresh green beans, rinsed, trimmed, and halved
  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • 1 (15oz) can S&W white beans, drained and rinsed


  1. Preheat oven to 475F.
  2. Combine topping ingredients in a large mixing bowl and toss to fully coat onions.
  3. Spread onions evenly on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.
  4. Cook until golden brown for ~30 minutes, turning every 10 minutes.
  5. Remove from heat and set aside.


  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil with 1 Tbsp. salt.  Add green beans and blanch for 5 minutes.  Strain beans through a colander and plunge into an ice bath to quickly stop cooking.  Once green beans are cooled, strain and set aside.
  3. Melt butter in a heavy skillet over medium heat.  Add flour and stir constantly for 2-3 minutes.  Slowly whisk in chicken broth.
  4. Add pepper, garlic, and nutmeg.  Continue heating over medium heat until sauce is smooth and has thickened.
  5. Reduce heat to low and stir in half-and-half.
  6. Add white beans and green beans to sauce mixture until heated through.
  7. Pour sauce mixture into a casserole dish and top with onions.
  8. Bake until bubbly, ~15 minutes.

White and Green Bean Casserole Label


Posted by on January 28, 2013 in Beans, Entrees, Holiday, Made from Scratch


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No-Waste Chicken Stock


I love homemade stocks.  They add much more flavor than any store-bought stock could ever offer and although they are time-consuming to make, they are not hard.  I consider homemade stock to be my “secret ingredient” at holiday time.  It’s freezer-friendly and one batch of stock can last a long time.  If you are laying around on a Sunday, make some stock.  You won’t regret it.

One thing that’s always bothered me about making chicken stock is that after the chicken has been simmering for several hours it really can’t be used in anything as it is very rubbery.  But guess what?  Your cat or dog won’t care.  In fact, they will love you for it and you can save yourself about a week’s worth of pet food!

The last great thing about chicken stock is that you can use whatever chicken parts are on sale and it will still turn out great.  This week chicken drummies were on sale, but I could have easily substituted wings or legs.  You really need to use something that’s very bony as this is where most of the flavor of your stock will be derived.  So enjoy my recipe for liquid gold!


  • 5 pounds chicken parts (wings, drummies, legs)
  • 2 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
  • 2 carrots, coarsely chopped
  • 1 small onion, quartered
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 10 black peppercorns, whole
  • 10 parsley stems
  • 10 cups water
  • 1 tsp. salt

Directions for stock:

  1. Roast chicken at 475F for 1 hour, turning once.
  2. Remove chicken from roasting pan and place in stockpot.
  3. Add onions, carrots, and celery to roasting pan and cook for ~30 minutes, turning once.
  4. Add vegetables to stockpot.  Deglaze pan with 2 cups water.  Add to stockpot with 8 more cups water.
  5. Add 1 tsp. salt, parsley stems, peppercorns, and bay leaf.
  6. Simmer slowly for 3 hours.
  7. Remove from heat and strain.  Pour strained mixture into large shallow container and cool uncovered in refrigerator.  Skim fat before using.

Stock will freeze for 6 months.

Directions for pet food:

  1. Allow chicken and vegetables to cool before handling.
  2. Remove all chicken bones from mixture.
  3. Place in a plastic bag and refrigerate for a purr-fect treat!DSCN2184

Posted by on January 27, 2013 in How-to's, Made from Scratch, Uncategorized


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Corn Bread Croutons


  • 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 3 cups corn bread, cubed


  1. Preheat oven to 375F.
  2. Melt butter with garlic and toss in cubed corn bread.  Toast until lightly browned and crisp, ~15 minutes.



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