Saturday, December 31, 2016

I'm over my fear of venison!

Its the end of 31 days of I will leave you with this. Happy New Year!
For years I was afraid of venison - I always found it had a gamey taste and would bravely try it in different ways - pepperoni, jerky, roasts - they were all awful! But with things being tight these past few years, when a family friend offered us some venison to try (he likes to hunt, but his wife hates venison!), I said sure. That first delivery sat in the freezer for quite a while as I tried to get up the courage to cook it! Truthfully, for the first year of making venison, I always hesitated before trying it, even though I knew it was good - and I wouldn't try the leftovers either - that's how queasy I was.  I looked online for recipes and all I saw were recipes that were tomato based. hubby likes fresh tomatoes fine, but cooked tomatoes make his lips burn, so unless its chili, he avoids them. Even when I make spaghetti I usually have to make a plate of plain so he can butter it and I keep some sausages aside as well. I did notice, however, that a common thread in the recipes was the use of vinegar in the marinade. I thought about that for a while and decided to try marinating the steaks in balsamic vinaigrette. Why? I haven't a clue!!!! I just like balsamic vinaigrette and wondered if it would work - it did!! The venison didn't taste gamey at all! So I came up with my first recipe for venison-

Venison Pepper Steak

 Balsamic Vinaigrette for marinating
1 lb venison steaks
1 red pepper
1 yellow pepper
1 red pepper
1 onion
1/3 cup balsamic vinaigrette
 1-2 tbsp. olive oil

1. Marinate steaks in Balsamic vinaigrette for several hours - making sure to turn it at least once. I marinate it all day - the longer the better. It caneven be frozen when you add the marinade. They are so small, they thaw quickly.

2. Put the olive oil in a deep frying pan and start to heat the pan
3. Cut all the peppers lengthwise and cut up the onion into slices as well.

 Add them to the pan and stir fry until the onions and peppers are soft. Remove from pan and put int a large bowl
4. While the vegetables are frying, rinse the marinade off the steaks and slice them length wise.

5. After vegetables have been removed from pan, add venison and stir fry quickly - venison has no fat and can get tough if overcooked. When they turn pink, add 1/3 cup balsamic vinaigrette and cook a minute or two longer.

Remove steaks and marinade from pan and add to the pepper mix.
6. Serve over rice

Nutritional Widget Image
 So there you have it - non gamey venison. I asked our friend Vern who is an amazing hunter and regularly eats venison what he thought of my idea - he laughed and went to his pantry and pulled out....wait for it.....balsamic vinaigrette!!! He gave me some other ideas for cooking it and I have made another recipe that works really well - I take a roast and put it in my crockpot with a ton of barbecue sauce. I cook it all day and then take it out and rinse it and the crockpot. Then I pull it apart with forks to make a pulled venison, put it back into the crockpot , add a little more barbecue sauce, cook it another hour and serve it on buns - the kids never even noticed it was venison - score!!
Our friend who now gives us about 1/3 of the deer he gets every year, found that if he added bacon to the hamburger mix, it made amazing burgers - he gave us some and he was right! Reported it to our friend Vern and yep, he does that too! The big thing with the burgers is they fall apart easily because there is no fat, so we use our George Foreman grill - cooking both sides at once works great and only take a few minutes. My son now hunts and made an amazing jerky - now I need to get his recipe before next year!!!

Moral of the story - If a friend offers you some venison, put aside your fears and give it a whirl - you may be very pleasantly surprised.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Banana-Nut Pound Cake

At my house, Wednesday is the day my husband gets up early to go to a meeting with other pastors to pray for the needs of their friends and congregations, missionaries, our state and our nation. They have been meeting for many years now and although that doesn't seem like a big thing, in reality, it is. These pastors are not all from one denomination. They are Baptist, Congregational, Methodist, Pentecostal, Charismatic, Catholic and Lutheran among others. It is rare to see something like this as many times pastors prefer to stay within their own denomination, or perhaps be part of an ecumenical group that meets once a month to plan larger events. This is simply a group of men, coming together in prayer. In the Northeast, where I live, churches are generally pretty small - nothing like you see in the mid-west of southern states. Our average congregations run about 40-80 people with only 3 churches in this county that have over 150 regular attendees. I remember going to a church in Nashville several years ago when we brought our daughter down there for college and being blown away by the sheer numbers of people. They were looking for 200 Sunday School teachers and we laughed because we didn't even have 200 people!

At any rate, the pastors here rotate their meetings monthly so no one church (or wife!!) has to be responsible for coffee or a meeting place. This month, it is here at our house, so it was the perfect excuse for me to try a new recipe. I found this in Better Homes and Gardens December issue. It was the Grand Prize Winner in their contest and was made by Brenda Orbell. I want to give credit where credit is due, but I also like to bake something first before posting it! I made this with the low fat milk instead of the bourbon because it is not something i either like or keep in the house. The pastors just left and they all raved about it!  Enjoy!


Serves 12

3 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 8oz. package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
3 cups granulated sugar
4 eggs
2 medium bananas
1/4 cup bourbon OR low fat milk
1 TBSP vanilla
1 cup chopped toasted pecans
Powdered Sugar

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease and flour and 10 inch fluted tube pan; set aside
2. Combine flour, baking powder and salt, ; set aside
3. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and butter with an electric mixer on medium speed until combined
Gradually add sugar, beating about 7 minutes or until light. Add eggs, one at a time, beating 1 minute after each egg; scraping bowl continually.
4. In a small bowl, combine bananas, vanilla and bourbon (or milk), mash until mixed thoroughly. Alternately add flour mixture and banana mixture to butter mixture; beat on low to medium speed until just combined. Stir in pecans. Spread  evenly in pan.
5. Bake for 80 minutes (mine took closer to 95) until toothpick inserted near the middle comes out clean.
Cool cake in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and continue cooling on rack. Sprinkle with Powdered Sugar when cool. Serve with berries or ice cream, if desired.

This is delicious right out of the oven and freezes like a dream. I can also see adding a cup chocolate chips to this!

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Navy Bean Soup

It's been really cold here - lots of snow today so its time for warm and hearty meals.
My husband's friend Spencer used to make the most incredible Navy Bean soup - it was just beans and broth, but I have never been able to duplicate it, and sadly he has passed on, so I needed to find a better one than I had. Enter good old Better Homes and Gardens. This soup was wonderful! I did change a few things and made it in my crockpot. My husband has been eating it for several days now and was sad when I gave some to our neighbor and put the rest in the freezer!
Navy Bean Soup
1 bag dried navy Beans
1-1 1/2 lbs meaty ham bone
1/2 cup ham (left over from ham dinner)
1 1/2 cups sliced celery
2 cups sliced carrots
1/4 tsp onion powder (or 1 onion chopped -I hate onion, so I rarely use it)
3/4 tsp crushed dried thyme
1/4-1/2 tsp salt
1 bay leaf

Put beans and ham bone in crockpot, cover with water
Add the rest of the ingredients except 1/2 cup of ham and cook on slow 6-8 hours.
Remove bone from crockpot and cut up any bits of ham left on bone. Add 1/2 cup cooked ham and serve

That's it! So simple, but so tasty!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Tasty Chicken Piccata

I can't remember which magazine had this recipe, but i do know it is adapted from one in a book called Eat This! Italian. I decided to try it last night after remembering to buy some capers at the dollar store - who buys capers anyway? And what the heck are they? I did taste one and they are tart, so they obviously help the lemon taste. Here's the recipe.  I did change it a bit.

Chicken Piccata
Serves 4

Cooking Spray
8 boneless, skinless chicken cutlets (2 lbs)
1 can chicken broth
4 tsp cornstarch dissolved in 2 tsp water
1/2 rsp rosemary (or 1 tsp fresh rosemary)
4 lemon slices
3 tbsp drained capers
1 tbsp butter

1. Coat your iron frying pan with cooking spray
2. Season chicken with salt and pepper and cook over high heat till almost cooked through. If you need room, cook 4 at a time and keep them warm while you do the nest 4 - It should take about 2 minutes per side
3. Remove all from pan and add broth to pan over high heat. Stir in dissolved corn starch, and stir till thickened
4. Turn heat down to medium and return cutlets to pan, adding rosemary, capers and lemon slices and cook a few more minutes until done.


5. Once again remove cutlets from pan to serving dish. Then add butter to mixture in the pan and cook once again over high heat until slightly thickened - about a minute or two.
6. Serve cutlets with gravy spooned over them - this makes a really nice presentation.

I served this with asparagus and potato - rice would be nicer still.