Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Venison Stroganoff

On Sunday, I was greeted home by Dusty with this....

Oh Lordy, what the heck am I going to do with all of this???
I've never cooked with Venison before! I've never tried Venison before!
I'm scared!

I now am the proud owner of over 20 lbs of ground venison, sirloin, roasts, and venison loin!
Let's not forget the 100 venison pepperoni sticks I have as well!

I really hope I like venison....Lord, please let me like venison!!!

If you recall, this meat was provided to me by my boyfriend on our "hunting" trip during Halloween weekend. Read about my experience....HERE!

So needless to say, I have been doing some serious research to find good venison recipes!
I found this recipe on Food Network and changed it up a bit to fit what I had in my fridge.

This is what you are going to need for 2 people:

-7 oz of White Rice or 1 "Boil in Bag Rice"
-2 tbsp Olive Oil
-1 medium Yellow Onion-minced
-1 clove of Garlic-minced
-8 oz of Portabella Mushrooms-sliced
-Salt & Pepper
-1 tbsp Paprika
-About 1/2 to 3/4 lb of Venison Loin- cut into strips
-1/8 cup dried Parsley
-1 tbsp Butter
-1/2 tbsp Brandy or Blackberry Brandy
-Zest from 1 Lemon
-2/3 cup + 2 tbsp Creme Fraiche or Sour Cream

Let me tell you what.....when I unwrapped that venison meat, I was not a happy camper! It was a dark red/purple color, bloody and smelled of dead animal. Beef does not smell like this! I miss beef! Beef would never do this to me! Waaaah!

Anyways, moving on from my freak out moment....might I suggest rinsing the venison meat and then drying it with a paper towel. It will look more presentable. Besides, Julia Child always says to dry the meat before browning. So I highly recommend this step! Then season the venison with plenty of salt, pepper and the 1 tbsp of Paprika. Make sure the massage the season into the venison so the seasoning gets into every nook and cranny.

Prepare your rice however you need to. For me, boiling water and then adding the bag of rice. I need my mom to teach me how to make real rice. It is the one thing I am terrified of making! Therefore, I will use "boil in bag rice" until I can be a big girl and make real rice!

Heat your large saucepan over medium heat with 1 tbsp of Olive Oil. Once it is nice and hot add the minced Onion and garlic.

Cook the onions and garlic for about 10 minutes until they are softened and golden brown. Remove from the pan and into a bowl for now. You will need them soon, but not now.

Then add 1 more tbsp of Olive Oil and saute the mushrooms for a couple minutes until they start to brown.

Then add the seasoned Venison and fry for 1 to 2 minutes while constantly stirring.

Add the dried parsley and stir around.

Then add the onions/garlic, tbsp of Butter and 1/2 tbsp of Brandy to the pan. Stir until the butter has melted.

Stir in the lemon zest.

Add in the creme fraiche (or sour cream) and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Let the sauce and meat simmer in the pan for a couple of minutes, but not too long because you don't want the meat to be tough and chewy. I read that this is a common problem with cooking venison. I'd say simmering for 2 to 3 minutes would be good.

To serve this dish, place the rice on the bottom of the plate and then top it with the venison and mushroom sauce. Add a dollop of sour cream and sprinkle with dried parsley flakes.

The Conclusion:
Venison is good! I cooked it for the perfect amount of time and the meat was tender and not chewy. I also didn't sense the "gamey" taste that everyone talks about. I really enjoyed it!
Thank God!

Get excited....there is going to be more Venison recipes to come!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Roasted Asparagus

I made this side dish with my Creamy Mustard Salmon last week and completely forgot to post it! I've never been a big fan of asparagus, but I really enjoy them if they are roasted like this recipe.

Here is what you are going to need for your quick, easy side dish:
-1 bundle of Asaparagus
-1 tbsp Olive Oil
-1/2 tsp Salt
-1/4 tsp Pepper
-2 tsp of Lemon Juice

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and cut the stalky bottoms off the asparagus.
Place the asparagus into a shallow dish or baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Then sprinkle with salt and pepper and add the lemon juice. Toss the asparagus around so that they are evenly coated with oil, juice and seasoning.

Bake for 15-20 minutes and serve with your Main Course. Sometimes I like to sprinkle some parmesan cheese on top of the asparagus right after it gets out of the oven.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Gingerbread Decorating Competition

About 3 years ago, my mom, sister and I were sitting around the dinner table decorating our Christmas cookies for Santa. My mom had decorated the cutest little snowman cookie and I wanted to step up my skills a little bit to try to out-do her on my own snowman cookie....which is always almost impossible, that woman has the skills of Martha Stewart!

So after talking some smack and going all out on my cookie, the competition was on! This competition happened again the following year with the cookies and then last year my mom brought our decorating competition to a whole new level....she bought us all Wilton Gingerbread Houses to decorate.

We sat around the table for hours decorating our houses, trying to do every technique to out-do each other. We even added Disney cake decorating figurines and made each house a different theme: Disney Princess, Mickey Mouse and Winnie the Pooh. They were absolutely adorable!

This year, since my aunt was visiting from Nevada for Thanksgiving and we just had to include her into the competition! Except this time, the rules were that we couldn't use figurines and we had to just use edible products on our houses.

We went to Walgreens yesterday and bought a TON of candy since what came in the box was not satisfying enough for such a stiff competition.

To start, we got all the pieces out and laid down the foundation. My poor aunts roof fell apart, but she used that royal icing as glue and fixed it. You couldn't even tell it was broken at the end! You have to have gentle but firm hands when building these houses. Otherwise the house will fall apart when you start decorating it. NOT GOOD!

Annie did a great job at decorating, she has gotten so talented within the past year!

Annie, Mom and Sissy in the middle of decorating. We were at it for 5 hours straight!

Annie's House
It is so adorable with the Christmas Lights on the roof. She would make Clark Griswold very proud!

My Aunt Sissy's House

I absolutely loved her Christmas Tree she made for the little marshmallow Santa!

My Mom's House
She calls this "Minnie's Black Friday"...notice how Minnie is holding her purse after a long morning of shopping. (Technically we weren't allowed figurines, but we let this one slide. It was too cute to not have on the house!) And I absolutely love her curtains!

I love the back of her house!

My House
I'm quite proud of the roof and my sleigh I built for Santa out of licorice :)

Then after finishing, we randomly arranged the houses and placed numbers around them. We then invited my grandparents over and had them and my dad judge the houses without knowing whose house was whose.

But they know us all too well and could tell which house belonged to who! We decided that it would be a tie because each house was special in its own way. We had such a great time!
Happy Holidays!

Deck the Halls

Usually it's family tradition to decorate the Christmas tree the night of Thanksgiving. Why wait to put the tree up in December when you only get such a short time to enjoy it all year anyways? The sooner, the better!

This year we were exhausted from the eating marathon, that we decided to pass on tradition this year and instead decorate the tree today! This allowed for more energy and also meant we wouldn't ditch our mom in the middle of decorating the tree to go slip into a coma. It was definitely a good thing we did it today.

Here is my sisters favorite ornament....
It's a naughty Mischievous Kitten...maybe a similarity to her personailty?

These are my moms favorite ornaments....
The Miss Piggy was given to my mom by my aunt. She has had it since she was a little girl.
She always hangs from the top of the tree.

And also the Snoopy ornament. She painted it herself when she was a little girl.

This ornament is my dads favorite....
My mom got this for my dad right after they got married, it is of his beloved Daisy Lou.
She was such a saint.

And this is my favorite ornament.....
It says, "Wake up Dad, It's Christmas!"
It was the first ornament I gave my dad in 1993 (I was 5)  and I remember picking it out because the Golden Retrievers reminded me of Daisy Lou. Too cute!

Then after decorating the tree, we put the tissue paper back into the box and we found....

What a weirdo. He always loves laying in boxes and tissue. Christmas is his favorite time of year due to this. What a nut.

Meanwhile, Oliver isn't too thrilled about the freezing cold weather and snow.
 It is getting in the way of his play-time outside!
He has a new appreciation for being inside the house now.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Food Coma!

Today has been such a wonderful Thanksgiving....probably one of the best Thanksgiving's yet!

My aunt flew all the way from Nevada to join us for -5 degree Montana winter weather and snow storms for a good ol' fashioned family Thanksgiving...and boy, am I greatful she did! All day has been non-stop cooking, baking, eating, laughing, game-playing, movie-watching and wishing for bigger pants!

I love that Thanksgiving is a holiday centered around food. It's the one time a year where you starve urself all day, eat at 4:00 in the afternoon and then want to die and go to bed by 6:00 pm. My mom went above and beyond to give our family a feast.

She made....
-Stuffing (with homemade bread!)
-Sauteed Green Beans
-Mashed Potatoes
-Fruit Punch
-Pink Thing (Strawberry Jello and Ice cream dessert....it's tradition)
-Deviled Eggs (I ate about 5-10 of those, I can't remember, I must have blacked out during dinner!)
-My Dad's FAMOUS Kentucky Styled Gravy (it's to die for!)

And oh yeah! Let's not forget about the TURKEY!
It was a dinner fit for kings!
I'm so thankful for my family, Dusty, my pets and friends. It's so great to feel loved by so many people and I am truly thankful! I'm also thankful that this year I will be done with my first college degree and that I got accepted into nursing school. I'm also thankful for discovering a love for cooking and being able to express myself and my love for food through this blog! It has been a very eventful year!

Well....after a full day of festivities, let's just say I'm going to go into a Food Coma now.....

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Broiled Red Potatoes

These Roasted Red Potatoes are a simple, quick and yummy side dish.

It can go great with tons of meals, like:

This is what you are going to need for 2 people:
-5 baby Red Potatoes
-1 tbsp Olive Oil
-French Fry Seasoning (or any Seasoning Spice)

First set your oven to "Broil"
Then slice all the baby Red Potatoes in half. If they are a bit larger, you can quarter them.

Drizzle with olive oil and toss the potatoes on the baking sheet.

Sprinkle the French Fry Seasoning on the potatoes and toss to coat again.

I LOVE this seasoning spice! I highly recommend getting some from Crate and Barrel. I use this all the time on potatoes!

Place the baking sheet on the top rack and broil for 10-15 minutes. Watch the potatoes closely so they don't burn! You want them to be golden brown.


Creamy Mustard Roasted Salmon

Tonights dinner was DELICIOUS!

The best part about dinner was that it took less than 30 minutes to put together and super easy to make! This recipe is my absolute favorite way to eat Salmon. The "fishiness" of the Salmon with the tangy creamy mustard sauce makes a perfect marriage of flavors. You will really enjoy this recipe....I promise!

This is what you are going to need:
-2 Salmon filets
-4 oz Creme Fraiche
-1 tbsp minced Shallots
-1 tsp chopped Capers
-1-1/4 tbsp Dijon Mustard
-3/4 tbsp Whole Grain Mustard
-1/2 tsp Salt
-1/4 tsp Pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Line a baking pan with aluminum foil and arange the 4 salmon fillets skin side down. Sprinkle the tops of the fillets with salt and pepper.

In a bowl, combine creme fraiche, dijon mustard, whole grain mustard, shallots, capers, salt and pepper.

Mix together until combined.
This sauce would also make a really great veggie dip! I might have dipped a baby carrot into this and  really enjoyed it!

Spoon the sauce over the fish and make sure to completely cover the fish with the sauce.

Bake for 10-15 mintes and serve with delicious sides of Roasted Aparagus and Broiled Potatoes.

Oatmeal Cookies

Last night I made these Oatmeal Cookies and they were yummy! I love these cookies when they are fresh out of the oven. They were the perfect dessert for the snowy freezing weather last night!

Here is what you need:
-1 stick of Butter-softened
-1/2 cup Brown Sugar
-1/4 cup Sugar
-1 Egg
-1/2 tsp Vanilla
-3/4 cup Flour
-1/2 tsp Baking Soda
-1/2 tsp Cinnamon
-1/4 tsp Salt
-1-1/2 cup Oats

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a medium sized bowl, cream together the butter and both sugars.
Add the egg and vanilla to the bowl and mix until creamy.

In a seperate small bowl, combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Stir to combine.
Then add the bowl of dry ingredients to the other bowl and mix well.

Add the oats to the dough and combine gently with a spatuala or wooden spoon. Stir until the oats are combined with the dough. Using a tablespoon or cookie scoop, drop them onto an ungreased baking sheet. I like my cookies flat and round, so I flattened then cookie dough slightly on the pan with my fingers.

Bake for 8 minutes until the bottoms are golden brown.
Remove from the oven and let them sit on the hot pan for a couple of minutes until slightly firm and then place them on a cooling rack.
Serve warm!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Throwdown: Chicken Marsala

In the spirit of last nights awesome Throwdown of Bobby Flay vs. Pioneer Woman, I'm going to do a throwdown of my own!

In this throwdown, I'm challenging....Rachael Ray!

In her cookbook, Book of 10, Rachael Ray says she has raised the bar and taken Chicken Marsala to brand new heights with her recipe: Chicken Marvalasala and Pappardelle with Rosemary Gravy.

Oooh! The title sounds all intimidating and fancy, but can it really out-do the classic Chicken Marsala?

I'm here to challenge this.

This is what you need to make Rachael Ray's over-the-top Chicken Marsala:
-3/4 lb Fettuccine (or Pappardelle)
-4 large Chicken Breasts
-Salt & Pepper
-4 tbsp EVOO
-2 large cloves Garlic-crushed
-2 portobello mushroom caps-sliced
-12 shiitake mushrooms-stemmed and sliced
-4 tbsp Butter
-2 tbsp Tomato Paste
-2 tbsp minced Fresh Rosemary
-2 tbsp Flour
-1-1/2 cup Chicken Stock
-1 tbsp Worcestershire
-2 tbsp Capers-drained
-1/2 cup Marsala Wine
-Grated Pecorino Romano Cheese

Kind of an excessive list of ingredients if you ask me, but I'm just talkin' smack. Cuz this is a challenge, you gotta talk smack! 

To Make Rachael Ray's Chicken Marsala:
Put a large covered pot of water on to boil for the pasta. When it comes up to a boil, salt the water, drop in the pasta and cook to al dente.

While the pasta is working, season the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat a large nonstick skillet with 2 tbsp of EVOO, 2 times around the pan, over medium to medium-high heat. Add the chicken to the pan and brown it lightly on both sides, then remove it to a platter and cover it with foil to hold in the heat. To the same skillet, add the remaining 2 tbsp of EVOO and 2 clove of the garlic. Cook the garlic for a minute or so, then remove it and add the mushrooms. Cook until the mushrooms brown evenly and become tender, 8-10 minutes.

While the mushrooms work, start the gravy for the pasta. In a deep medium skillet, melt 2 tbsp of the butter into the tomato paste over medium heat. Add the remaining garlic clove and cook it for a couple of minutes, then remove. Add the rosemary, cook for 1 minute, then add the flour and whisk it into the garlic infused tomato butter. Cook the flour for a minute, then whisk in the stock and Worcestershire sauce. Simmer to thicken, 5 minutes. Season the sauce with salt and pepper to your taste.

To the cooked mushrooms, add the capers and Marsala and reduce for a minutes or so. Add the remaining 2 tbsp of butter in small bits to finish the sauce, and shake the pan to incorporate it. Slide the chicken back into the sauce and warm it through.

Drain the pasta and toss it with the rosemary gravy and a handful of cheese. Serve the pasta alongside the Chicken Marvalasala.
So, this is Rachael Ray's version of Chicken Marsala.
Is having a more complex recipe really worth it?
Lets find out!

This is what you are going to need for Haley's Simple Chicken Marsala:
-4 Chicken Breasts
-1 cup Flour
-2 tbsp Olive Oil
-8 oz Mushrooms-sliced
-3/4 cup Marsala Wine
-3/4 cup Chicken Broth
-1 tsp Salt
-1 tsp Pepper
-1/4 cup Parsley

To make Haley's Simple Chicken Marsala:
Pound the chicken breasts down to 1/4 inch thickness and season with salt and pepper.

Place flour in a shallow bowl and coat the chicken evenly, shaking off excess flour.

Heat olive oil in a large pan and add chicken.

Cook for 3 to 4 minutes on each side until golden brown.

Remove the chicken from the pan and keep warm.

Add more oil to the pan and saute the mushrooms until golden brown.

Stir in Marsala wine and chicken broth. Cook the liquid until it has reduced to about 1/2 cup.

Season with salt, pepper and parsley.

Pour the sauce/mushrooms over the chicken and serve with Buttered Peas.

After much deliberation from the judge (Dusty), he concluded that he enjoyed the Simple Chicken Marsala over Rachael Ray's Chicken Marsala.
"The pasta was unneeded and had a bland flavor to it. The Simple Chicken Marsala had excellent flavor and taste. Since it has less ingredients, it has less calories and healthier. Taste + Healthier equals a better Chicken Marsala!"

YAY! I won! Sometimes, more extravagant isn't always better....keep it simple people!

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