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Category Archives: Season

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.

Ingredients:

Spice Blend

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

Marinade:

  • 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

Meat

  • 1 pound lean venison meat

Directions:

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

 

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Pan-Seared Brussel Sprouts with Pancetta and Parmesan

Pan-Seared Brussel Sprouts with Pancetta & Parmesan

Now that it’s November all I can think about is Thanksgiving.  It is my favorite holiday.  Obviously the emphasis on food doesn’t hurt, but it is just a no-stress enjoyable time with the family.

I love brussel sprouts and have decided to add them to our Thanksgiving dinner this year.  We have a couple of gluten-free eaters and this will just be another option for them and me to load up on!

I have made this twice now, both on weeknights and it has been devoured before we can even get to the rest of the food.  It’s quick, easy, healthy, and delicious!

Yield: 4 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp. coarse kosher salt
  • 1 pound brussel sprouts
  • 1 oz pancetta*
  • 1 tsp. bacon fat, olive oil, or duck fat**
  • 1/2 oz Parmiggiano-Reggiano, finely shredded
  • 1/4 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar

Directions:

  1. Remove stray, ratty looking, or loose leaves from brussel sprouts.
  2. Fill a large bowl with some ice cubes.  Set aside.
  3. Fill a heavy pot with 6 cups of water and 1 tsp. coarse kosher salt.  Bring to a rolling boil.  Add brussels sprouts to water and blanch for 3 minutes.  While sprouts are blanching, fill bowl of ice with cold water.  Remove sprouts from heat and plunge into ice water immediately to stop cooking.
  4. Once cooled, transfer brussels sprouts to a cookie sheet lined with paper towels.  Dry brussels sprouts completely.  Cut brussels sprouts in half, lengthwise.
  5. Cut pancetta in strips, and crisp in a heavy skillet over medium-low heat.
  6. Melt 1 tsp. bacon fat** in a cast-iron skillet over high heat.  Add brussel sprouts.  Using tongs to turn brussel sprouts until all are turned on their flat side.  Allow to sear for 2 minutes.
  7. Add balsamic vinegar and pepper to skillet and stir to coat brussel sprouts.  Remove from heat.
  8. Sprinkle brussel sprouts with pancetta strips and parmesan.  Serve immediately.

* Pancetta doesn’t have as much fat to it as bacon so will burn if the heat is too high.  Remember we’re talking pancetta here, prosciutto doesn’t deal with heat too well so get your P’s right people!!!

**I used bacon fat because I always have it in my fridge.  That’s how I roll!  You can certainly use olive oil.  I would steer clear of extra-virgin for this recipe because you are going to pan-sear these babies over high heat and you wouldn’t want to ruin their amazing flavor with oxidized oil.  If you want to be super luxurious use duck fat.  I wasn’t going to do this for a Tuesday dinner at home, but I will seriously consider it for Thanksgiving.  It really would bring this dish to a whole new level.

 
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Posted by on November 2, 2013 in Fall, Sides, Uncategorized

 

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Roasted Squash with Wilted Spinach and Bacon-Shallot Vinaigrette

Roasted Squash and Wilted Spinach Salad with Bacon-Shallot Vinaigrette

I don’t think I have ever eaten what would be considered a “healthy” salad in my life.  My thought process goes more like this, “Well I’m not eating a cheeseburger so therefore I am allowed to put whatever I want on my salad and not feel guilty about it!”  This recipe is no different.  This salad was created for enjoyment of all the fall colors and flavors.  The health factor takes a very distant third in terms of what I cared about when creating this recipe.

This is not a difficult recipe but it is a bit more time-consuming that what I would typically do for a weeknight.  If you roast the squash beforehand however, this recipe will come together in a flash.  There will probably be leftover squash but it makes a great side dish for the rest of the week.

Yield: 4-1st course servings or 2-dinner servings
Active Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 pound bacon, chopped
  • 1 (2 pound) butternut squash
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 (6oz) bag baby spinach
  • 1/4 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 Tbsp. shallot, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups apple cider
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 oz. soft goat cheese

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. Fry bacon in a heavy skillet over medium heat until crisp.  Transfer bacon to paper towels and strain bacon grease.  Reserve bacon fat.
  3. Cut ends off of squash and cut in half.  Remove seeds.  Using a vegetable peeler, peel butternut squash to remove outer layer.  Cut squash into 1 inch cubes.
  4. Toss squash with 1 Tbsp. reserved bacon fat.  Spread squash on a cookie sheet in a single layer and season with salt and pepper.  Roast for 30-45 minutes until you can just pierce through with a fork.  Remove from oven, and sprinkle with brown sugar.  Return to oven on a low broil until caramelized.  Remove squash from cookie sheet to a plate*.  Set aside.
  5. Return oven to 400F, and roast onion with 1 tsp. bacon grease for 15 minutes.
  6. To make the dressing, heat 2 Tbsp. bacon fat in a heavy skillet over medium heat.  Add shallots and saute until softened.  Add the apple cider vinegar and apple cider to skillet and allow to reduce for 10-12 minutes until the mixture becomes thickened.  Once the dressing has thickened, whisk in the Dijon mustard and olive oil.  Season the dressing with salt and pepper to taste.  Immediately toss warm vinaigrette with spinach to wilt.
  7. Arrange spinach on plates and top with roasted squash, roasted red onions, and crumbled goat cheese.  Use a grind of fresh pepper to finish.

* Remove the squash from cookie sheet while still warm.  If you wait until it cools, like I did, the squash will stick to the cookie sheet and it will be hard to remove.  If this does happen, just place the cookie sheet back in the oven until warms and it should again become easy to remove.

 
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Posted by on October 27, 2013 in Entrees, Fall, Salad, Uncategorized

 

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Creamy Chicken Wild Rice Soup

Creamy Chicken Wild Rice Soup

It’s here..it’s here…it’s really really here.  SOUP SEASON!!!  I despise winter and am so sad to see summer go, but I do love me some Fall.  Comfy sweaters, cool sleeping weather, lazy Sunday Football Fundays, and SOUP!

Someone asked my mom once what my favorite color was and she replied, “Well for Erin that all depends on the day!”  That is exactly how I feel about soup.  It can fit so many different moods, eating habits, and cravings.  From a comforting chicken soup when you’re under the weather to a silky lobster bisque on date night, soup has many sides and serves many purposes.  It’s great for using up leftover ingredients in the fridge along with being easy on the pocketbook.  Oh soup, I love you!

Today I decided on a chicken wild rice soup.  I happened to have some homemade chicken stock in the refrigerator so I wanted that to shine.  I added a bit of cream but not so much to mask the poor chicken stock that spent so many hours on the stove last Saturday doing it’s thing!

This is one of those recipes that tastes best the next day so feel free to make it ahead of time and eat it throughout the week.  It will get better with some age.  Most things do!

Creamy Chicken Wild Rice Soup Recipe
Yield: 8 Servings
Active Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup wild rice
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 6 slices bacon
  • 8oz portabella mushrooms
  • 2 medium carrots or 10 baby carrots, diced
  • 2 Tbsp. butter + 1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick)
  • 1 shallot, about 1/2 cup
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 7.5 cups chicken stock
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken, cooked and shredded (rotisserie or poached chicken works great here)
  • 1/2 tsp. fresh thyme
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. Rinse wild rice and drain.  Heat water with 1/4 tsp. salt and rice until boiling.  Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour.  Rice is done when it pops open and is chewy not hard.
  2. Fry bacon in a heavy skillet over medium heat until crisp.  Transfer bacon to paper towel, let cool, then coarsely chop.
  3. Add mushrooms to skillet and saute for 3 minutes.  Add carrots and continue to saute for another 5 minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat and set aside.
  4. In a large stockpot melt 1/2 stick butter over medium heat.  Add shallot until soft, about 2 minutes.  Add flour and stir constantly 1 minute.  Slowly whisk in chicken stock.
  5. Increase heat to a boil.  Add rice, mushroom/carrot mix, bacon, chicken, and thyme.  Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes to allow flavors to meld and reduce slightly.
  6. Stir in cream and heat for an additional 5 minutes.  Add salt and pepper to taste.
 
4 Comments

Posted by on September 22, 2013 in Fall, Soup, Uncategorized, Winter

 

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Pesto Tomatoes

Pesto Tomatoes

These little bite-size appetizers pack a big flavor punch.  It’s a good thing to make when you have endless amounts of summer basil that you just aren’t sure what to do with.

Ingredients:
For Pesto:

  • 2/3 cups pine nuts, toasted
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 4 cups basil leaves, packed
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1/2 tsp. coarse sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp. fresh ground pepper
  • 2/3 cup good quality extra-virgin olive oil

For Tomatoes:

  • 24 cocktail tomatoes
  • 1 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1/4 cup Panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 Tbsp. butter, melted

Directions:
For Pesto:

  1. Toast pine nuts in a dry heavy skillet over medium heat, about 4 minutes.
  2. Put garlic through a press and add to food processor. Add basil, Parmigiano-Reggiano, toasted pine nuts, salt, pepper, and basil leaves. Turn food processor on low until everything is finely ground.
  3. Slowly drizzle in extra-virgin olive oil.

For Tomatoes:

  1. Mix together panko breadcrumbs with butter to moisten then add 1 cup of Parmesan to breadcrumbs.
  2. With a sharp pairing knife.  Cut a circle around the top of each tomato being careful not to slice through the bottom of the tomato.
  3. Using your finger, carefully hollow out each tomato.
  4. Place 1 tsp. of pesto in each tomato then stuff Parmesan/breadcrumb mixture into tomatoes until they are overflowing.
  5. Place stuffed tomatoes in mini muffin tins.
  6. Bake at 350F for 10 minutes or until browned.
 
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Posted by on September 21, 2013 in Appetizers, Summer, Uncategorized

 

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Zucchini Fritters with Lemony Mayo

 

Zucchini Fritters with Lemony Mayo

3 years ago I planted my first garden.  I learned very quickly that two people do NOT need 5 flourishing zucchini plants!  We had so much zucchini that I bet I made these fritters 50 times.  Needless to say, I was “frittered-out” by the end of that summer.

It took me until yesterday to have a craving for them.  I forgot how light, fluffy, and full of flavor they are.  The lemony mayo adds just the right amount of creaminess and zing to make all the flavors pop.  So go crazy, make some fritters, and see if you can have more restraint than I did!

Yield: 30 bite-sized fritters
Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 large zucchini, diced
  • 1/2 jalapeno, minced with seeds
  • 6 slices bacon, cooked crisp and chopped fine, reserve bacon fat for frying
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/8 tsp. cayenne
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 cup mayo
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon

Directions:

  1. Toss zucchini, jalapeno, and bacon in a large bowl to combine.
  2. In a small bowl, lightly beat egg. Stir in milk, cayenne, salt, and pepper.  Pour over zucchini mixture and toss to coat.
  3. Add flour and baking powder to zucchini mixture and stir to combine.
  4. Heat bacon fat over medium heat.  Drop spoonfuls of zucchini mixture into bacon fat making sure to not overcrowd.  Cook for 2 minutes or until golden brown.  Flip fritters and flatten with the back of a spatula.  Cook another 2 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through.
  5. Whisk together mayo and lemon juice and serve with warm fritters.
 
2 Comments

Posted by on September 2, 2013 in Appetizers, Summer, Uncategorized

 

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Burrata and Basil Gremolata with Garlic Toast

Burrata and Basil Gremolata with Roasted Garlic Toast

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch of basil
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • Burrata
  • French Baguette
  • 1 head garlic
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • arugula (garnish)

Directions:

  1. Cut top of garlic off.  Drizzle with olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper.  Roast for 25 minutes at 425F.  Drizzle tomatoes with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Roast for 10 minutes.
  2. Remove roasted garlic and mix with olive oil.  Slice baguette and brush with roasted garlic mixture.  Broil until crisp and golden.
  3. In a food processor, mix basil and 1/4 cup e.v.o.o.
  4. Serve all ingredients on a platter to assemble.  Garnish with fresh arugula.
 
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Posted by on April 1, 2012 in Appetizers, Summer, Uncategorized

 

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