Ale Braised Venison Pierogis

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Ohh, pierogis. Let me just get the disclaimer over up front – these take a long time. Like, you-want-to-dedicate-a-weekend-day-to-this-project type of long time. And it makes…a lot. When I originally tested this recipe, I had to make 4 batches of dough to use up all of the filling that I had made!

I don’t know what was making me feel inspired to make these, as I don’t think I had ever eaten a pierogi prior to making these. But I am so glad I had that itch, because I think they became my new favorite comfort food.

I can’t claim them to be authentic, but I can claim them to be SO good for the soul, as they taste like the perfect hearty, comforting stew, wrapped in a little dumpling. I was inspired by the turkey dressing I was also making at the same time for thanksgiving, so I used a spice blend reminiscent of what you will find in my family’s recipe.

Now, as I mentioned before, this makes a lot. But instead of cutting the filling recipe down, I decided to increase the amount of dough. This will take you a long time to make and fill. BUT, you will end up with enough to freeze and enjoy for the entire year, or give to friends and family.

To freeze, place the prepared pierogi on a sheet pan (with other prepped pierogis!), and place in the freezer for 30-60 minutes, and then move the batch together into a Ziploc bag or any other freezer safe container. You want to freeze them individually first so they don’t stick together (a pain in the butt when you go to get them out and cook them!).

When you’re ready, serve with a dollop of sour cream to dip.

Have you made these? Let me know what you think or any questions you have in the comments below!


RECIPE

INGREDIENTS:

For the filling:

  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • 2 red potatoes, diced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 lb venison round steaks
  • 3 tbsp. + 7 tbsp. butter
  • 2 sprigs rosemary
  • 2 tbsp. ground sage
  • 1 bottle ale beer
  • 1tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  • 3/4 cup broth (I recommend homemade venison broth or stock, or store bought beef broth)

For the dough:

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 egg
  • Pinch of salt

DIRECTIONS:

For the meat filling:

In a large stock pot, heat 3 tbsp butter on high heat. Sear/brown the venison chops. Remove and set aside. Add diced veggies. Cook until browning, about 10 minutes. Add 7 tbsp. butter, 2 sprigs rosemary, 2 tbsp. sage, 1 bottle of ale, about 1 tsp. salt and pepper. Stir until butter melts. Add 3/4 cup broth. Add browned steaks. If the broth isn’t already at least halfway up the side of the steaks, add more until it is. Cover on low heat and braise, cooking until tender, about 3 hours. When done, shred the meat. Mix the veggies and the remaining cooking liquid with about 1/2 the shredded meat and process in a blender. Mix the remaining meat with the meat and veggie mixture.

For the dough:

Heat butter and water over medium heat until melted. Add to the flour along with the salt and combine until a flakey dough forms. Add in egg. Knead the dough- it should be nice and soft. If it’s dry, add more water. Cut into two even pieces and place in a damp paper towel to rest for 30 minutes.

To make the pierogis:

When the dough is done resting, roll the two pieces then cut into pieces about the size of a silver dollar. Roll the piece into a ball, then press flat into a circle about the size of a grapefruit. I highly recommend a tortilla press if you have one.

Put about a spoonful of mixture on the flattened dough, then fold in half and seal the dough.

To cook, boil until the pierogis float plus 1 minute. Then, heat some butter on medium high-heat, and quickly fry for about 30s-1 min on each side. Enjoy with sour cream!


Kabocha Squash Casserole

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Sweet potato casserole is a classic Thanksgiving dish and one of my favorites. I grew up with always having sweet potato casserole at Thanksgiving – we made it with marshmallows on top, and honestly that was the best part. My husband loves it even more than I do – his aunt always makes it, and she even makes an extra batch just for him to take home as leftovers because he loves it so much.

So of course when I was thinking about what to do for some Thanksgiving inspired dishes this year, some sort of casserole HAD to happen. I also had a Kabocha squash sitting on the counter staring at me and I thought…could I? SHOULD I?? Why not?

I opted to do a streusel topping instead of marshmallows as requested by the hubs, and I decided to swap the traditional pecans for hazelnuts since they are much more complimentary to the flavor of kabocha squash.

And you guys – it’s custard-y, it’s smooth, and it’s sweet, but not too sweet. My husband looked at me and said “it actually might be better than sweet potato??” All night he kept saying “I can’t believe that is squash!”

So it’s a winner, folks – and I’ve scaled it down for you, so this recipe makes the perfect amount for your small Thanksgiving gathering this year.

Enjoy!

ONE THING TO NOTE – Kabocha squash are hard to cut. When you are prepping the squash to roast for the filling, use a bread knife to break through the rind, and cut the squash in half. Also, an ice cream scoop is my favorite tool to use for scooping out the insides and seeds!

Have you made these? Let me know what you think or any questions you have in the comments below!


RECIPE (Serves 4-6)

INGREDIENTS:

For the filling:

  • 1 Kabocha squash
  • 1 tbsp. avocado oil, divided
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 egg
  • Milk
  • Sugar
  • Butter

For the topping:

  • 1/2 cup hazelnuts
  • brown sugar
  • melted butter
  • flour

DIRECTIONS:

Heat your oven to 400 degrees, and line a baking sheet with foil. Prep your Kabocha squash by cutting it in half, scooping out the insides, and coating each side with half of the avocado oil and a pinch of salt. Place on your baking sheet, and roast in the oven for about 45 minutes, until the flesh is very fork tender. Once roasted, remove the squash from the oven and let cool. Then scrape out the flesh with a spoon or a fork, essentially removing the squash rind. Turn your oven down to 350.

Place the squash in a pot along with the butter, sugar, milk, and egg and heat over medium-low heat until your butter melts and the ingredients are mostly mixed together. Using an immersion blender, blend the mixture together until smooth, then remove the mixture from heat. Alternatively, if you want to skip the stove top, pre-melt your butter then pour the ingredients in a blender or food processor to blend.

After the filling is blended, pour into a baking dish (I like to use a 3×9 dish) and spread evenly.

To make the topping, combine your hazelnuts, flour, and brown sugar in a small bowl until crumbly and mixed evenly. Then, melt your butter and pour it into the dish, mixing evenly to make a wet mixture. Pour the mixture over the filling and spread evenly to top.

Once ready, put your casserole in the oven on the bottom rack (so the topping doesn’t burn) at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. You should see the sides start to brown and crisp, but the topping should not burn. If this happens, cover the casserole with foil.

Remove from the oven, let cool, and ENJOY!

P.S. if you have leftovers of this, make sure you re-heat in the microwave before eating…it’s not great cold 🙂


Everything But The Leftovers Quail Nuggets

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We just got a bunch of wild bird in the freezer, and to say I’m excited to cook with it is a giant understatement. We’ve been out of poultry for a while, and I don’t buy protein from the store, so I’ve really been missing some bird in our diet!

One of the things I love about the smaller birds is that they take almost no time to cook, which has eased my mind a ton when cooking them. I hate cooking chicken because I just can never get the time right to make sure it is done enough!

But anyway, I’ve been in a Thanksgiving mode testing and creating Thanksgiving dishes, so had already decided that we were going to eat the sides that I had been making as dinner one evening, but I wanted to figure out how to incorporate a protein into dinner as well. I remembered that I had just picked up some Everything But The Leftovers seasoning from Trader Joes, and decided to use it to make some quail nuggets!

All I did was mix in a hefty amount of seasoning into some flour for the dredge, and they totally had that Thanksgiving taste that went so well with all of the sides we were having. I actually had to cut my 2 year old off after 2 helpings because we had to make sure to save some for Dada!

If you are a hunter, or find yourself in possession of some quail, make sure to give these a try – the whole family will love them!

One thing to note — You don’t have to use quail for this recipe – I regularly make nuggets this way with chukar and pheasant, and chicken would work as well if you don’t eat/have access to wild birds. Just make sure to remember that larger birds like pheasant and chicken will likely take a little bit longer to cook!

Have you made these? Let me know what you think or any questions you have in the comments below!


RECIPE (Serves 2-4)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 lb. quail breasts, diced into 1 inch pieces
  • 4 tbsp. avocado oil (or any high-heat cooking oil, like vegetable oil)
  • 1/2 cup + 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp. milk (any kind works)
  • 2 tbsp. Trader Joe’s Everything But The Leftovers seasoning

DIRECTIONS:

Set up your dredge station by placing 1/2 cup flour in a plate or bowl, mix your egg in milk in a small bowl, and mix the remaining flour and EBTL seasoning on another small plate. Place them next to the stove in order of flour, egg and milk mixture, then flour and seasoning mixture. Heat a skillet or large frying pan over high heat. Add your avocado oil, and let heat until shimmering. In batches, dredge your diced quail by first coating them in plain flour, then coating in the egg and milk mixture, and then coating them in the flour and seasoning mixture. Place the nuggets in the frying pan, and fry on each side until golden brown, about 10-20 seconds each. Once fried, place the nuggets on a plate with a paper towel to soak up any excess oil. Work in batches until complete. Enjoy!


The Easiest Quick Broth

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I always save the bones from our meat and scraps from our veggies for making a quick broth, and with a lot of soup happening over here lately, it has been so handy.⁠

Could I just go buy broth for soup recipes? Sure could. ⁠
Can you use regular broth in your recipes if you don’t want to save your bones and make your own? Absolutely. ⁠

BUT, I like to make my own because it reduces food waste, and honestly, I think the flavor of fresh broth is just so much better than store-bought! Plus, if you typically whip up soup on a whim like me and not always prepared with store-bought broth on hand, it helps to be able to somewhat quickly make some.

So start saving your bones and veggie scraps and give this a try for your next batch of soup!⁠

One thing to note — feel free to use any other spices you want to season your broth. I like to use spices that are easily strained and won’t accidentally pass through (I’m looking at you, whole peppercorns). I just like it to be easy when it comes time to strain!

Have you made this? Let me know what you think or any questions you have in the comments below!


RECIPE (Makes approx. 16-20oz)

INGREDIENTS:

  • A handful of bones (I used beef and venison)⁠
  • 4 cups water⁠
  • Scraps of 1 medium onion⁠
  • Peelings of 1 large carrot⁠
  • pinch of salt and pepper⁠
  • 1 bay leaf⁠
  • 1/2 rosemary sprig

DIRECTIONS:

Put everything in a pot, cover with water, bring to a boil, then let simmer for about an hour. Remove from heat, strain, and store. ⁠


Greek Marinated Venison Loin Steak and Fries

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I made this on one of those days where I didn’t know what I was going to make for dinner, I didn’t have the right ingredients for what I first decided on, and then the pivot turned out way better than what I was wanting in the first place. Don’t you love it when that happens?

It’s honestly where I first got the inkling that I might be somewhat good at cooking, because being flexible and creative was something I enjoyed, and it usually always paid off. I’m proud of myself that I can now do this with wild game, because when I first started cooking it, I was SO intimidated because I never knew what to do with it!

And this time, I had some of those same nerves. I cook a lot of venison, sure, but I’m not familiar with cooking loin chops, so it was kind of a shot in the dark when I was having a hard time deciding what to make. I stuck with my tried and true course of marinating for 20-30 mins and cooking it hot and fast, and it serve me well.

Long story short, if you have some venison loin chops, you’ll want to make this. I’m so used to always eating backstraps, tenderloins, and random deer steaks, that I totally underestimated the loin chops, and I am newly hooked! I’ll for sure be requesting these cuts from the hubs’ harvest next year!

Have you made these? Let me know what you think or any questions you have in the comments below!


RECIPE (Serves 2-4)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 lb venison loin chops (about 3-4 chops)⁠
  • 2-3 yellow potatoes, cut into fries⁠
  • 1 cup + 1/3 cup olive oil⁠
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced⁠
  • 1 tbsp. + 2 tsp. oregano⁠
  • 1 tsp. + 1 tsp. salt⁠
  • 1 tsp. + 1 tsp. pepper⁠
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix 1 c olive oil, garlic, 1 tbsp. oregano, 1 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. pepper, and 1 tbsp. lemon juice in a bowl, and use it as a marinade for your chops. Once covered with the mixture, let your chops marinate for about 20-30 mins. While the chops are marinating, mix the remaining olive oil, salt and pepper, and oregano. Cover a sheet pan with parchment paper, spread out your fries on the pan, and drizzle the olive oil mixture over the fries. Toss to coat. Cook for 20 mins flipping halfway, and then remove from the oven (don’t turn off the oven!) After the chops are finished marinating, heat n oven-safe pan on high heat (preferably a cast iron – get it hot!). Sear the chops for about 1 minute on each side, and then place the pan in the oven for about 5-7 mins. Once done, remove from the oven, and serve with the fries!⁠


Personal Butternut Squash Soup

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Some days, you just need a personal bowl of soup, amirite? And yes, it is a little labor-intensive just to make one bowl of soup, but maybe that’s what we need today to get our election jitters out?⁠

So by now y’all know that I get a produce box delivered each week, and I absolutely love it, but sometimes things come very much NOT as expected. The other week I ordered some butternut squash, and instead of getting one 1-lb squash like I would have picked up from the store, I got these two teeny tiny squash.

Admittedly, they sat there for a while before I did anything with them because I didn’t want to deal with the whole peeling/skinning process with two squash. And then one day I was inspired to make some soup for lunch, and I thought these would be perfect! No peeling involved since I just sliced them and roasted them before turning into a soup.

Again, is it a little labor intensive for just one serving of soup? Sure. But sometimes that’s just what we need, and man did this cozy, comforting bowl of soup absolutely hit the spot.

Anyhow, if you have a toddler-sized butternut squash and are wondering what the heck to do with it, I got you covered with this easy personal butternut squash soup!

Have you made this? Let me know what you think or any questions you have in the comments below!


RECIPE (Serves 1)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 small butternut squash⁠
  • 1/4 yellow onion, diced⁠
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil⁠
  • 12oz. broth (can use any kind based on preference)⁠
  • 1 tbsp. oregano⁠
  • 1 tsp. salt⁠
  • 1 tsp. pepper⁠
  • 1 tsp. red pepper flakes (optional)⁠

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix 1 tbsp. olive oil with oregano, salt and pepper, and red pepper flakes (if using). Cut your butternut squash in half, scoop out the seeds, and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or foil. Brush your mixture evenly over both sides of the squash. Roast the squash halves for about 30 minutes, or until fork-tender. Once done, remove from oven and let cool. Once cooled, scoop the squash flesh (aka remove the skin), and place in a medium-sized pot on the stove. In the same pot, add the diced onion and broth, and stir to combine. Heat the mixture over medium-high heat, bringing to a boil. Once boiling, lower the heat and simmer for about 30 minutes, making sure the onion is tender. When ready, blend your soup by transferring to a blender or using an immersion blender. Serve, and take your time to enjoy!


Asian Duck Stir Fry

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This stir fry was my first creation with this season’s duck harvest, and let’s just say it went VERY well. I’m a little nervous that I created too big of shoes for myself fill for the rest of the season, but this is for sure going to be a regular part of the rotation. ⁠Plus, it took me less than 30 minutes from start to finish. Talk about a mom win!⁠

I love a good stir fry, and it is seriously one of the easiest and best things you can do with duck. It’s a great dish to make if you are new to cooking it, but it is also such a great tried and true if you are a veteran. If your duck is gamey, or you are still getting used to the taste of duck, these flavors compliment it in such a lovely way that will leave you wanting more.

Of course, if you don’t have duck, you can use any red meat to substitute! If you use beef, start cooking it before adding in your veggies (instead of after) as it takes longer to cook than wild game. ⁠

To make this recipe #whole30approved and #paleofriendly, swap your soy sauce for equal parts coconut aminos.⁠

Have you made these? Let me know what you think or any questions you have in the comments below!


RECIPE (Serves 2)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 lb duck breasts, sliced into pieces 1/4-1/2 inch thick⁠
  • 1 orange bell pepper, sliced⁠
  • 1 medium yellow squash, cut into matchsticks⁠
  • 3 Thai chiles, sliced⁠ and de-seeded⁠
  • 1/3 + 1/4 cup soy sauce⁠
  • 1 tbsp. sesame seed oil⁠
  • 1/2 tbsp. fish sauce⁠
  • 1 tbsp. garlic powder⁠
  • 1 tsp salt & pepper (each)⁠
  • Arrowroot slurry (1 tbsp. arrowroot starch mixed with 1 tbsp. water.⁠
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar or rice vinegar⁠

DIRECTIONS:

Heat a large pan over medium-high heat, and add your sesame seed oil. Once heated, add the sliced veggies, the fish sauce, and the 1/3 cup soy sauce. Cook until just starting to soften, about 5-7 mins. Move your veggies to one side of the pan so it only takes up half the pan, and add your duck to the other half of the pan. Stir constantly until the duck is just browned. Add the chiles, the additional 1/4 cup soy sauce, and the arrowroot slurry and stir to mix evenly. Turn off the heat, add the vinegar, and scrape up the brown bits from the pan to mix into the stir fry. Serve over rice (or your base of choice!) and CHOW DOWN! ⁠


Pumpkin Mac and Cheese

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Okay, here it is, my non-beverage contribution to all things pumpkin before October is officially over – PUMPKIN MAC AND CHEESE! It seems like most recipes I’ve been seeing with pumpkin are sweet, and I’m just not a baker by any means, so I wanted to create something savory to use all that pumpkin puree. ⁠

Plus, Bruce and I are both mac and cheese fiends, so I thought, why not use it that way? It’s creamy and delicious, and gives you all the comfort of mac and cheese with out feeling like you’re eating a kid’s food. Mac and cheese for the modern day basic mom!

The beauty of this recipe is that it is so versatile, and can be adjusted for any diet preference. I used basic, full-fat products because I’m feeing it to a toddler, but if you want to tweak for your sensitivities or preferences you can.

Want to use alternative milk? It works. Want to use alternative noodles? It works. Want to use alternative flour? It works.

Seriously so easy, and it’s kid AND adult-friendly. I made a giant pot earlier this week, and Bruce and I have eaten it for lunch every day – put this on your menu!

One thing to note — if you have leftovers, the best way to reheat the pasta is on the stove. Just put the desired amount of mac and cheese in the pot, add a splash or so of milk (depending on how much is in the pot), and head on medium low until it is absorbed and warm through. This will prevent it from being dried out!

Have you made these? Let me know what you think or any questions you have in the comments below!


RECIPE (Serves XX)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 box pasta (I used rigatoni)
  • 1 tbsp. butter (@kerrygold is my go-to)
  • 3/4 cup milk (I used whole milk)
  • 1 tbsp. flour (I used all-purpose)
  • 1 cup white cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated/shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 tbsp. sage
  • 1 tbsp. thyme
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. pepper

DIRECTIONS:

Cook your pasta according to box instructions, rinse, and set aside. In a sauce pan, heat butter over medium heat. Once melted, add flour and whisk until combined. Add milk, cheese, and pumpkin purée, and stir until combined and melted. Mix in your spices, and then pour your noodles back in. Stir to coat noodles evenly. Top with any extra cheese if desired, and serve!


Sautéed Dessert Apples

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If you’re looking for an easy dessert idea, don’t skip out on your apples! They’re sometimes so easily forgotten about, but when they are cooked they get a nice sweet taste that can absolutely satisfy that dessert craving.

We get them in our produce box as Bruce is a big fan of them for breakfast and snacks, but when his Dad and I are scrounging the kitchen for a late night snack to satisfy the sweet tooth, these come in clutch and make us feel a little better about having an apple or two instead of going for the cereal or chocolate 🙂

These are super easy as you just slice and sauté, but they can be “dressed up” to be more decadent as well. If you’re feeling a little more extra, whip some coconut cream (the solid part of a can of full-fat coconut milk, NOT a can of coconut cream – it’s too runny) and drizzle on top. ⁠

Enjoy!

Have you made these? Let me know what you think or any questions you have in the comments below!


RECIPE (Serves 2)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 apple (go for a sweet red one!)⁠, sliced⁠
  • 1 tbsp. coconut oil⁠
  • 1 tsp cinnamon⁠
  • Fat from a can of coconut milk⁠

DIRECTIONS:

Heat a skillet over medium-high heat and add in coconut oil. Once the oil is shimmering, add apple slices. Cook until apples are soft, about 3-5 mins. Remove from pan and top with cinnamon. Put your coconut fat in a bowl, and whip with a fork or spoon until combined and soft. Top your apples with it, and serve!⁠


Lightened up Ham and Potato soup

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It’s soup season, y’all! Ham and potato soup is a total comfort food for me, I remember my mom making it ALL the time growing up! But I’m sure there was a ton of cream in her version, so I decided to create my own lightened up, veggie-packed version, and dare I say I like it even more than what I remember eating growing up?!

My in-laws raise pigs on their ranch, and we regularly get some meat from them when they butcher one. And sometimes in those batches we get some random cuts that I’m like what the HECK do I do with this?? In this case, we got a pork leg steak. A pork leg steak from a 500+lb pig is…large. So, I knew I needed to incorporate it into a dish where we could have it for dinner and it would make enough leftovers to keep for a while.

Since I’m quite pregnant – 3rd trimester! – and have been prepping a lot of freezer meals, soup seemed like the perfect vehicle! And I keep hoping I can will this 80 degree California weather into turning into Fall, so I decided to recreate the Ham and Potato soup I remember eating growing up.

Potatoes act as the base in this soup, giving you no need for any cream, and the carrots and celery give it a super satisfying crunch. While you can absolutely incorporate some dairy into this if you want the extra creaminess, we tend to stay away from it as much as we can because it causes a lot of “depressurizing”, shall I say, in this house.

If you don’t have any ranch ham or wild boar on hand, absolutely buy pre-diced ham from the store. It will still be just as delicious!!

One thing to note — I have had friends try this without adding ham, and have reported that it is good, but ham definitely makes the meal. So, if you make this, be sure to add some protein because that is what ties it all together!

Have you made these? Let me know what you think or any questions you have in the comments below!


RECIPE (Serves 4-6)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 lbs Yukon gold potatoes, diced into 1 inch cubes⁠
  • 2 cups cubed ham⁠
  • 4 cups water⁠
  • 2 large carrots, diced into 1/4 inch cubes ⁠
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped ⁠
  • 1 small white onion⁠
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil⁠
  • 2 tsp thyme⁠
  • Salt and pepper⁠

DIRECTIONS:

Heat a large pot on the stove on medium-high heat. Add your olive oil, and onion, and cook your onion until it starts to brown, about 3-5 mins. Add in your potatoes and your water, and let it heat to a boil. Once boiling, turn the heat down to a simmer, and let simmer for about 20 mins, or until potatoes are fork-tender. Blend in the pot using an immersion blender (if you don’t have one, you can transfer to a blender then add back into the pot). Stir in your thyme, salt and pepper, ham, and veggies, and let the soup cook another 5 mins so the mix-ins heat through. ENJOY!⁠