Monday, November 17, 2014

Venison Back Strap with Red Wine Sauce

Deer hunting season is upon us, in full swing. And it's AWESOME! I don't personally hunt, but J does and he's been going out every weekend since the season opened. They hadn't really been seeing anything the past few weekends, but that all changed this past Saturday. Not only did he get a deer, he got a buck with a HUGE body. You know what that means? Lots of deer meat!! Mmm, mmm!!

I did discover, however, that while I love venison I am not at all interested in seeing the process of getting it to my freezer. Ick, ick, ick!

We took most of the meat to be processed into my most favorite venison product - dried sausage!! OMGoodness I could eat that stuff all.day.long. I already told J I'll give him 1 ring, but the rest is MINE! I'm sure you can imagine how well that went over. Ha! We'll also have some chili meat and ground hamburger made up from the other half of it. I can't wait!!

Venison Backstrap with Red Wine Sauce

We kept the back strap - which was huge! - the tenderloins, and 1 rack of ribs. Usually the ribs are worthless because they don't really have any meat on them, but this buck was so big that there is plenty of meat on them! This deer was also an old boy, so we worried about the meat being tough. And it was a little tough. Not sure though if it was the meat itself, or if I cooked it too long. Be sure not to overcook it...because that will most definitely make it tough. The flavor was great, though. Not too game-y, and the sauce was awesome!

So, for dinner last night, I made use of some of that back strap. Pan-seared and then finished off in the oven, smothered in a red wine and balsamic sauce with shallots and garlic. Yeah. I did that. And you should too. 

Trust me! 

Venison Back Strap with Red Wine Sauce
As seen on Wild Game Wine

Ingredients
  • Venison back strap (1 1/2-2 lbs)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 Tbsp Italian herb seasoning
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 3 shallots, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • ½ cup of red wine
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter

Preparation
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. 
  2. Remove the silver skin from the back strap and season to taste with salt, pepper, and Italian herbs. 
  3. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large, oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat. Add the back strap and sear on all sides, about 2-3 minutes to get a nice "crust". 
  4. Transfer the skillet to the pre-heated oven and cook for 15 minutes, or until it reaches about 145-150 degrees, or to your desired doneness. This temp will get you close to medium doneness. If you don't like as much pink, cook it a little longer, but be careful not to overcook it or you will get tough meat. Also, it will continue to cook some after you remove it from the oven, so take that into consideration. 
  5. Remove from the oven to a cutting board or serving platter and tent with foil for about 5 minutes to rest and let the juices settle. 
  6. While the meat is cooking, prepare the sauce. In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the shallots and the garlic and saute until the shallots soften, about 5 minutes. Season with salt & pepper. 
  7. Add red wine and increase to medium-high heat. Cook until it starts to boil, then add the balsamic vinegar, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered, until slightly reduced, about 10 minutes. Add the butter and stir until melted and mixed in. 
  8. Slice the back strap into 1/2-inch medallions and serve with the red wine sauce and your favorite sides. 

Friday, November 14, 2014

Recipe Swap: Pumpkin White Chocolate Chip Cookies

Happy Friday! Are you staying warm? I've been reading on Facebook and such that the cold front has swept the nation. It's definitely hot cocoa  or hot apple cider weather. Which do you prefer? For me it just depends on my mood. I love them both! J doesn't get overly excited about either one, but he did get excited about these cookies! Which is rare and unusual for him. Let's just say that he more than his fair share of the 5 1/2 dozen that were cooling on the counter.

Pumpkin White Chocolate Chip Cookies

You may remember the recipe swaps that I used to participate in with some of the ladies from my cooking board. We haven't done them in awhile, and some of the group decided it was time to start them up again. Ashley from A Cheesecurd in Paradise will be hosting them now, and the round-up of all the goodies will be available on her page shortly after the posting date. The postings will alternate, every other month, with the What's Baking posts so I'll have something coming every month!

Pumpkin White Choc Cookies

For this swap, the theme was Blogger's Choice, and I received the blog Cookies on Friday. Um hi! I love cookies! And since it's fall, I decided that I would bake up these little pumpkin delights. Remember how I said earlier that J loved them? Well, you guys...J isn't a sweets eater. He kind of despises sugar. I know, I know...but I still love him anyway! But really, he kind of devoured them. 

It made it that much better though, ya know? If he, hater of sweets, loved them and couldn't stop eating them, that's how you know they are goooooood! He can afford to do such things now and then...shouldn't we all be so lucky??

Pump White Choc Cookies

Luck or not, 'tis the season for baking and delicious treats and no one - yes, I said no one - should go through an entire holiday season without indulging a little bit. We all deserve a little sugary (or carby, if that's your vice) treat now and then,and what better time than when celebrating the holidays with family or friends? So, for your next dinner, party, or get-together you can be the savior and the talk of the party for bringing these amazing cookies!

Warning though...make sure you have a place or an event to take them to. You don't want them sitting around your house for too long or a little indulgence will turn into gorging and tummy aches. 

I took these - the ones J didn't eat - to work for my lovely ladies to enjoy. I also sent a small baggie to work with J to share. The girls loved them. I think I even got an email saying this was "my best work yet". Well, I wish I could take all the credit, but I have to thank Nicole for sharing this recipe!! It will definitely be making a re-appearance throughout the holidays!



Pumpkin White Chocolate Chip Cookies
As seen on Cookies on Friday

Yields approximately 5 1/2 dozen

Ingredients
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 3/4 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 12 ozs white chocolate chips

Preparation
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with foil or silicone baking mats.
  2. In a large mixer bowl, on low speed cream the butter. Add the brown sugar, egg, and vanilla, and mix until combined. Then add the pumpkin and mix in. 
  3. In a separate medium bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and spices. With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture in 2-3 batches to the butter mixture and stir until just combined. Stir in the white chocolate chips.
  4. Using a medium cookie scoop or tablespoon, drop the dough in 1-inchs balls onto the prepared baking sheets. Bake for 10-12 minutes until just browned on the edges, but still soft to the touch. Allow to cool for 10 minutes on the baking sheet before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Chili Pork Tenderloin with Poblano-Tomatillo-Lime Sauce

So, I have a confession. I have had these pictures sitting neglected on my Flickr page for months. Like, early summer kind of months. I remember how excited I was when I made this, because I used a lot of our garden veggies (bell peppers) in the sauce and for the sides (okra and zucchini).  But now, alas, summer is gone, the garden is also gone. In fact, J just mowed it down this weekend. It was a bit sad, and the jalapenos were actually still producing, but the rest of it has long since passed the point of producing and it was just time to say good-bye. I guess sharing this post with you now is a good way to re-live those fruitful days of our first garden, as the weather is getting colder by the day and summer will soon be a distant memory.

Sigh. 

Chili Pork Tenderloin with Poblano-Tomatillo-Lime Sauce (18)

Now, usually I don't put step-by-step pictures, but I wanted you all to see the beauty of all those veggies before they became a delicious sauce. 

Starting the sauce

Onions, poblanos, bell pepper, and garlic...sauteing away. 

Adding Tomatillos and Tomatoes

Add some tomatoes and tomatillos to the mix...

Cooking it down

Then some lime juice and cilantro. Throw the pork back on top, cover and simmer for...awhile. 

The sauce

Remove the pork and puree all the veggies, pour the puree back into the skillet and simmer down and it's ready to go!!

I'm a big fan of tomatillo sauces as it is, but this one had some extra zing to it, with all the extra veggies. There was plenty left-over, so if you wanted to you could cut the sauce ingredients in half, but I froze the remaining sauce so I could use it for another dish later on. J said it was delicious and that the sauce would go great with lots of different things. Smart man, that one :)

I wish I could remember what we did wind up using the sauce for...but as I said earlier...this was awhile ago. Oops. 

But, regardless of my blatant faux-paux of not sharing this with you much sooner, it's a super tasty dish that you need in your life. Promise. 

Chili Pork Tenderloin with Poblano-Tomatillo-Lime Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp dried red chili flakes
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp dried oregano 
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 pork tenderloins (about 2 lbs)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped white onions
  • 2 poblano peppers, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp chopped garlic
  • 3 plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and roughly chopped
  • 10 oz tomatillos, peeled and roughly chopped (this was 6 small tomatillos)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 fresh lime juice 
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro


Preparation

  1. In a bowl, mix together the chili flakes, salt, oregano, thyme, and pepper. Rub the spice mixture evenly on all sides of the tenderloins, cover, and refrigerate at least 2 hours.  
  2. Remove from the refrigerator and let meat come to room temperature.
  3. Heat the oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the pork and sear until browned on all sides. Remove to a plate and cover to keep warm while you prepare the sauce.
  4. Add the onions, poblano and bell peppers, and garlic, and cook, stirring, until soft, about 3 minutes.
  5. Add the tomatoes, tomatillos, and bay leaf, and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
  6. Add the lime juice and cilantro, stir well, and bring to a boil.
  7. Return the tenderloins to the pan. Lower the heat, cover, and simmer until the meat is tender and cooked through, about 30-45 minutes, depending on size/thickness of the tenderloins. 
  8. Remove from the heat. Transfer the pork to a large cutting board and tent to keep warm.
  9. Transfer the contents of the pan to a blender or food processor, in batches if necessary, and puree on high speed. Return to the cooking pan and cook a few more minutes, until slightly thickened. Add salt and pepper, to taste. 
  10. Slice the pork into 1/2" medallions and serve with the sauce. Ah-may-zing!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Pork & Chorizo Meatballs

It's hump daaaaaay!!! I love knowing that we are just 2 days away from it being the weekend again. I love weekends. But, who doesn't?? I don't even have specific plans for this weekend, but I'm excited anyway! J will go hunting at some point, and hopefully come home with a tasty deer to stock our freezer with! And I have a baking venture planned, most likely while he is gone hunting. Let's just say it'll be something pumpkin-y. You know, because I can't go through the fall season without jumping on the bandwagon at least a leetle bit. For now, however, I bring to you some mighty tasty little balls of pork and chorizo. J and I looooove chorizo. Not the healthiest thing in the world, and we don't eat it often, but we thoroughly enjoy it when we do!

Sausage & Chorizo Meatballs

I love various types of meatballs, as you can find in my recipe index, in part because they are bite-size and delicious, but also because they are so easy to prepare!! Mix all the ingredients in a big bowl, form them into balls, then cook! And when they are oven-baked, it's even easier! No watching them to flip them in the skillet. Just toss them on a baking sheet, throw them in the oven, and 25 minutes later...dinner!

Did I mention that these also have my most very favorite cheese in them? That's right...smoooooked Gouda. YumyumyumyumyumyumYUM!

Just as a little foodie tidbit for any new friends reading...a few things that I love: all things lemon, anything with balsamic vinegar, and Gouda. All.the.things. Gimmegimmegimme! 

Pork & Chorizo Meatballs

Ingredients
  • 1 lb of Ground Pork
  • 1/2 lb Chorizo, fresh (raw), castings removed
  • 1 1/4 cup of Smoked Gouda Cheese, shredded
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup of Panko Bread Crumbs
  • 1 minced Chipotle Chile 
  • 1 Tbsp of Adobo Sauce from a can of chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
  • 1/2 tsp of Kosher Salt

Preparation
  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees, line a baking sheet with foil, and spray with cooking spray.
  2. Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl. Use your hands to gently combine all of the ingredients together. Use a meadim cookie scoop or tablespoon to form the meatballs into 1-inch size balls and place onto the prepared pan.
  3. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until cooked through. 

Monday, November 3, 2014

Honey Glazed Salmon

You guys. Daylight savings time ended this weekend. And I'll  be honest...it kinda sucks. It's dark here now by 6. SIX. The cooler weather has made it's way to Texas as well, much to my dismay. J is enjoying it a little more, but he is also not a fan of it being dark earlier. I mean, really, who thought it was a good idea to take away our sunshine earlier when it's colder?? Like, could we keep the warmth a little bit longer, please??

Sigh. At least I can still cook things that remind me of summertime and warmth. I'm not quite to the soups and stews phase yet. This salmon is a great example of that warm weather food. Pretty much anything with lime = refreshing flavor. Which of course means summer, right? Yeah, let's just go with that way of thinking.


Honey Glazed Salmon

And I know that as I type these words, I should really be thanking my lucky stars that I live in Texas. I say this because, despite my aversion to cold weather, I don't live in the northern states where the snow has already begun to fall. In fact, snow is something that I would have to travel to see. It does snow in areas of Texas, but not where I am. So, while I sit here and whine that it's been getting down to 45 degrees the last few nights, I am aware that there are some of you who would like to smack me back to your reality of below freezing temps and snow. I don't blame you. 

Honey Glazed Salmon 2

I promise I will *try* not to spend the next 4 months whining about the cold weather. If it helps any, I am looking forward to cute sweaters! 

This salmon, however, is so easy and so yummy! I mean...salmon, honey, butter and lime...15ish minutes and dinner can be on the table. WHAT? Yeah. Good stuff. Especially if it's dark by 6 pm (or even earlier for some of you!!)

Honey Glazed Salmon
As seen on Damn Delicious

Ingredients
  • 4 salmon fillets
  • salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 4 Tbsp flour (I use white whole wheat)
  • 4 Tbsp honey
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • Zest of 1 lime
  • 6 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • salt and black pepper, to taste

Preparation
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. 
  2. Season salmon with salt and pepper, to taste. Dredge each salmon filet with 1 tablespoon flour and drizzle with 1 tablespoon honey.
  3. Heat olive oil in a large oven-proof skillet over medium high heat. Add the salmon to the skillet, in batches if necessary, and sear both sides until golden brown, about 1-2 minutes per side. (If using skin-on salmon, cook skin side first, flip and remove the skin while the other side cooks. Flip again before placing in the oven.)
  4. Place into oven and bake about 8-10 minutes, or until cooked through.
  5. While the salmon is cooking, melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook, whisking constantly, until the foam subsides and the butter begins to turn a golden brown, about 3 minutes. Stir in garlic, honey and lime juice, salt and pepper, to taste and set aside.
  6. When the salmon is done cooking, serve with the browned butter lime sauce and your favorite sides. 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Paprika Chicken with Avocado Salsa

You guys...I finally have things hung on the walls of our house. I mean, we've only lived here since last November. So, right on track wouldn't ya say? ::rolls eyes:: But seriously...I spent yesterday morning getting some art and pictures up on the wall and I must say...something as simple as that really does make it feel more homey in here. I have a few more items awaiting their hanging and then I'll be done. For awhile. I still have bedrooms to decorate, but those can wait a little while. Perhaps.

Did I mention that I'm on staycation this week? I'm trying to be household productive while I have the time to do it. Today will be spent in our office. I'm scared...hold me. This is the room in the house that became the catch-all early on. In reality, it probably won't be all that bad once I get in there and start organizing things, but just opening the door and looking in there is overwhelming. Anyone want to come do it for me??

No? Okay, okay...I'll do it. But afterward there better be a cookie waiting for me. A big, ol' cookie. Just kidding J...I wouldn't dream of eating a cookie. Ice cream, however...lives in my dreams. Mmm, ice cream.

Oh...hi. You're all still here. Please excuse my momentary daydream into Candyland.  How's about we talk about this delicious, healthy chicken instead?

Paprika Chicken with Avocado Salsa

This is how we eat 95% of the time, I swear. I won't lie and say that we never ever eat "bad", but we try really hard to eat mostly healthy. It's harder for me than it is for J, no doubt about that. There are just some foods that I love and I crave from time-to-time, no matter how much I know that they are bad for me. Corn dogs, I'm talkin' about you

And again, I digress. Datgummit!

So, this chicken. So simple, but so so delicious. I mean, paprika...is one purdy amazing, and probably underused, spice. I'll admit that for a long time I thought that it was mostly used for color. I know, I know...how very wrong I was. Simple grilled chicken with a tasty avocado salsa makes for a healthy and delicious dinner that will leave your taste-buds singing with joy. Oh, and your waistline (or hips, if that's your area) will thank you, too. ::wink::

Paprika Chicken with Avocado Salsa

Ingredients
  • 4 thinly sliced chicken breasts
  • ½ teaspoon Hot Hungarian Paprika
  • ½ teaspoon Smoked Paprika
  • ½ teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • Kosher salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 ripe avocado, diced
  • 1/2 cup tomatoes, diced
  • 3 green onions, sliced

Preparation
  1. Combine the paprika, garlic powder, salt & pepper. Season the chicken on both sides of the mixture.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large skillet or grill pan over medium high heat. Once hot, add the chicken, in batches if necessary, and cook for 3 minutes on each side or until golden brown (or grill marks) cooked through. 
  3. Remove from the skillet, squeeze a bit of of lemon juice on top and set aside. Repeat the process with the remaining chicken.
  4. While the chicken is cooking, combine the lemon juice, avocado, tomatoes, and green onions in a small bowl. Toss to coat and season with salt and pepper, to taste. 
  5. Serve chicken with avocado salsa.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Sammich Saturday: Slow Cooker Chicken Parmesan Sandwich

Eeee! It's Saturday! Finally!!! Granted, I'm always excited for the weekend, but I'm especially excited for this weekend. Perhaps because I'm off work next week so this is the beginning of a looooong weekend?!?! And, to top it off, I have a Sammich Saturday post to share with you all!

Last night I took my Little to a Fall Festival held at a water park here in town (no water activities involved, though). I can't say that I've ever been to a fall festival before, so I was just as excited as she was! I always have a great time with her, she's such a vibrant little girl!


Chicken Parm Sammich

And this morning I will (finally) be going to see my godson play T-ball. I can't believe he's going to be four in March...time has really flown by! He's such a big boy now!! And then, later on today, J and I will be going to a birthday bash for the boot  camp we go to...obstacle course, BBQ dinner, bonfire, and live music. Should be a good time!! 

But, you  know what still has to be done despite all that running around? Cooking! It's hard to get lunch done when you're running around all morning, but with these little sammiches, all you have to do is throw everything in the crock-pot, go run your errands, and come home to a hot, delicious meal!! J loves marinara sauce, so I knew these would be a big hit with him. I added some avocado as a last minute idea because - well, just because I love avocado! And it was delish!! 

So, before you run out of the house to go run your errands, throw this dish together in your crock-pot and that's one less thing you'll have to deal with when you come home hungry (especially if you have a hungry clan of kids/spouse/etc. with you!)

Slow Cooker Chicken Parmesan Sandwich

Ingredients
  • 29 oz canned tomato sauce
  • 14.5 oz canned petite diced tomatoes
  • 12 oz canned tomato paste
  • 1 Tbsp garlic, finely chopped
  • ½ tsp dried parsley leaves
  • ½ tsp dried oregano leaves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 Tbsp fresh basil, finely chopped (about 6 leaves)
  • 3-4 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts (thawed)
  • sliced or shredded mozzarella cheese
  • grated parmesan cheese
  • 4-6 hard rolls
  • 1 avocado, sliced

Preparation
  1. Start the slow cooker on low heat.
  2. Add tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, garlic, and herbs. Stir until well-combined.
  3. Set chicken breasts on top of the sauce, sprinkle generously with salt and pepper, cover and cook on low for 6 hours (or on high for 3-4).
  4. When done, use two forks to shred the chicken, or throw the breasts into the bowl of your stand mixer and use the paddle attachment to shred (I love this way so, so much!)
  5. Slice the rolls in half and toast on a hot skillet.
  6. Use tongs or a slotted spoon, tapping excess sauce into the pot, and place a generous helping of the chicken mixture into each of the sliced rolls. 
  7. Top with a generous sprinkling of grated Parmesan, mozzarella, and avocado slices and serve.
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