Venison Italian Sausage Stuffed Delicata Squash

Get your fall cooking started off right with this classic squash recipe.

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Stuffed squash is one of the first things I make every fall. I LOVE squash season, and seriously get giddy when I start seeing the seasonal squash in the produce section. I inevitably buy ALL the squash, and my husband wonders when he’ll ever eat a meal without squash again 😉

But even better, squash season also lines up pretty nicely with the timing of when we start to get meat back from the butcher from the year’s deer season harvest. I’m a SUCKER for venison grind, so I am always so excited to start using it, and a stuffed squash recipe is always in order.

Unfortunately, with the Napa fires this year, my husband wasn’t able to harvest any deer (he hunts in Napa county, and the fires started right after the season opener and ran through all of the land that they hunt on, pretty much wiping the season out), so our venison grind stash won’t get replenished. Luckily, we still have some from a good harvest last year, so I was able to whip up my favorite version of stuffed squash, using venison Italian sausage and delicata squash.

The real beauty of this recipe is that you can virtually substitute any ground meat and/or squash (although you may have to play around with the number of squash you buy to ensure you have enough filling. Use a ground sausage style meat, or use with plain ground meat. My favorite squash to stuff is delicata, but I also love kabocha and acorn (very seasonal if you are cooking for an occasion!).

One thing to note — if you decide to make this with plain ground meat (e.g., ground beef), but still want the Italian sausage style seasonings, consider adding some extra spices in like red chili flakes, onion powder, and oregano. One (1) teaspoon of each should do the trick!

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


RECIPE (Serves 4)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 lb. venison Italian sausage (regular Italian sausage works here, too!)⁠
  • 2 delicata squash⁠
  • 1/2 bunch kale (I like lacinato), chopped⁠
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced⁠
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced⁠
  • Salt & pepper⁠
  • Avocado oil⁠

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat your oven to 400. Slice your squash in half, and remove the pulp. Brush with avocado oil, and season with salt and pepper. Roast until fork tender, about 25 mins, and remove from oven.⁠

In a saucepan over medium heat, heat about 1 tbsp. avocado oil. Add in onions and garlic, quickly cook until fragrant (15-30 seconds), and then add in the venison sausage. Once almost browned, add in your choppe kale, Stir and cook until wilted and the venison sausage is fully browned.⁠

Spoon the desired amount of filling into each squash half, and serve!⁠


How to Make Basic Pulled Pork

The perfect base recipe to create meals for the whole week!

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Pulled pork is an amazing thing to make if you want to set yourself up with easy meals for a while. It is a bit of a labor of love, I will admit, but the results can seriously feed you for days upon days, so it is worth it in my mind.

Plus, in the grand scheme of things, it is easy! Sear your pork, cook your pork in the crock pot for 10-12 hours, shred your pork. BAM!

And while you can season for something specific, say barbecue seasoning for BBQ pulled pork, or more of a taco seasoning/Mexican seasoning for carnitas or enchiladas, I like to use very basic seasoning up front so I can use this pulled pork for ALL the things.

Pulled pork is best made using pork butt or pork shoulder. I typically use pork that we get from my in-laws (they raise pigs on their ranch), so the size is a bit unpredictable; they usually end up being somewhere around 5lbs I would bet. But, the beauty of this recipe is that the size of your butt/shoulder doesn’t affect it at all!

How we enjoy these? Here are a few of my favorite ways!

  • Mixed with BBQ sauce for BBQ Pulled Pork over Sweet Potatoes (recipe coming soon!)
  • Used in enchiladas for Pork Enchiladas Verdes (recipe coming soon!)
  • Crisped in a pan with taco seasoning for Pork Lettuce Carnitas Cups (recipe coming soon!)

One thing to note — Shredding the pork takes a while. I typically make a huge batch when we get a pork shoulder directly from my in-laws’ ranch, so perhaps the cuts I use have a bit more connective tissue and fat in them than a store bought cut would, but it usually ends up taking me an hour or so after it is done cooking to shred and remove all of the fat and connective tissue.

I really like these Cuisinart Meat Shredders to help get a lot of the meat separated, but there is really no substitute for just getting in there and using your hands.

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


RECIPE

INGREDIENTS:

  • Pork butt or pork shoulder
  • 2-3 cups of chicken broth
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, cut into large chunks
  • Salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

Season your cut of pork on all sides with salt and pepper. Heat a pan on high (a cast iron pan is perfect if you have one), and sear the pork on all sides until crispy golden (about 2-3 mins per side, depending on the size of the cut). Once seared, place your pork in a crock pot, along with the broth and the onion chunks. Cook on low for about 10-12 hours.

Once done cooking, shred the pork, discarding the excess fat, connective tissue, and any bones.

Use immediately for a meal, or store in the fridge for future meals. The pork will store well for at least 7 days!


Lemony Garlic Parsnip Fries

A lighter version of the classic favorite, perfect for fall.

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If you haven’t tried parsnip fries yet, I gotta tell you…YOU MUST. They are a lot like carrots — naturally sweet when roasted — but they have more of a warm-spiced flavor that is to die for.

I feel like I always forget about parsnips and then re-discover them when I’m trying to get out of a veggie rut, and I’m always so happy about it. Plus, that spiced flavor heading into fall…they are the perfect veggie to try out to switch up your game!

For all intents and purposes, you can prepare them and use them the same as you would carrots. Just don’t expect the same carrot taste!

Since it is the end of summer and the beginning of fall, I used these to make some garlic fries because WE MISS SPORTS here in this house. But, these would also go great with a burger or grilled salmon, or cut them into rounds and serve with roasted lamb or beef.

One thing to note – if you don’t want to cook these in the oven, I bet they’d be awesome cooked in an air fryer. I haven’t tried it, so can’t recommend any settings/times, so let me know if you do!

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


RECIPE (Serves 4)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4-5 large parsnips
  • 1 tbsp. avocado oil
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1tsp. + 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. + 1 tsp. pepper
  • Juice of 1 small lemon (about 1 tbsp.)
  • 1 tbsp. parsley, finely chopped
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, minced

DIRECTIONS:

Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees. Peel your parsnips, and cut into fries. Coat with avocado oil, and season with half of your salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Bake for about 25 minuttes.

While the fries are baking, mix the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and remaining salt and pepper in a small bowl.

When the fries are done, pour the lemon garlic mixture over the fries. Toss to coat evenly. Sprinkle the chopped parsley on top of the fries, and serve!


Dairy-Free Fall Kabocha Potato Soup

It’s fall, which officially means one thing – it’s squash season!

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The transition from Summer into Fall this year is a little crazy because of all of the smoke in the Bay Area from the California fires. While it LOOKS like it is cloudy and fall-like outside, it is just the smoke and it is really 90+ degrees! I want it to be Fall so bad that I just crank up the air and turn on the fireplace to give me all the fall vibes and just pretend. And this soup is the perfect meal to top off a Fall day, even if it is a wannabe Fall day.

I chose to use Kabocha squash because it is one of my all-time favorites. It is sweet, yet warm, and everyone in the family likes it. While Butternut is oh-so-popular, my husband isn’t a big fan of it because he says it reminds him of the smell of skinning a deer (aka, gross), so I don’t use it often. Bruce is also a huge fan of Kabocha – it was one of his first foods, since he started eating solids in the Fall!

The one bummer about Kabocha is that it IS a little more difficult to dice if you are using a whole squash. The rind is tough to cut through, but once you get through it and get the ‘guts’ scraped out, it’s not too bad to skin, slice, and dice. That being said, if any of you have any hacks for dicing a Kabocha squash, help a sister out and send them my way!

You’ll notice that in addition to the squash, there are also two yellow potatoes in this soup. Now this is because I like my soups creamy and hearty y’all. I wanted the soup to have a creamy texture, but without the actual cream. And with no coconut cream or dairy-free creamer on hand, I decided to throw in a couple potatoes instead and they completely did the trick. The soup still has great texture and taste, seems light, but it fills you up for sure. Who needs creamer when you have potatoes?

While I used coriander and thyme to spice, you can switch these out with your favorite fall spices if you would like to make the soup more savory or sweet. I went savory, but if you want sweeter, you can consider cloves and cinnamon.

So, if you are looking to celebrate the beginning of Fall with a cozy squash soup like me, give this one a try!

A couple things to note – to save your hand from some serious cramping, you can also use pre-cubed kabocha squash if you can find it; I can find it sometimes at Whole Foods! Using frozen kabocha squash isn’t the best idea, as it will add moisture from being frozen that will thin out your soup.

Also, when blending your soup, I 1000% recommend an immersion blender, as it is SO much easier than transferring to a blender. A cheap one works just fine – I have this one and love it.

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


RECIPE (Serves 4)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 medium kabocha squash, peeled and cubed
  • 2 large yellow potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1/4 yellow onion, cut into slivers
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. coriander
  • 1 tsp. thyme
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper

DIRECTIONS:

Heat a pot over medium-high heat, and add olive oil. Once the oil is heated, add onion slices and saute until the onions are translucent (about 3-5 mins). Add the cubed squash, potatoes, broth, and salt and pepper. Bring the contents of the pot to a boil. Once there, cover, and turn your heat down to low to simmer. Simmer for about 20 minutes, until both the squash and potato cubes are fork-tender. Add your coriander and thyme. Now, you will blend the soup either in batches using a blender, or in the pot using an immersion blender. Blend until smooth. Let cool, and enjoy!


Healthified Fried Green Tomatoes

Use this Whole30 version to clean up your favorite southern indulgences.

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I really have a thing for fried green tomatoes, and I can’t explain it. I just love them? My mom’s family is from Texas, so maybe it’s the Southern roots in my genes.

I love them on their own, on a slider, or my personal favorite—on a southern-style eggs benedict (cue the drool).

When I saw green tomatoes at the store, I knew I wanted to try my hand at my own version of fried green tomatoes, but I hesitated because I wasn’t sure I wanted to indulge in something so…fried and indulgent. I recently found out that I’m anemic and have been trying to make changes in my diet to cut out foods that inhibit iron uptake, so the traditional way of making these wasn’t going to cut it.

So when I had the idea to clean them up a bit and create this Whole30 compliant and paleo friendly version, I was like YES PLEASE. Also, I may never fry things in anything except cassava flour ever again because it seriously gives your food the perfect light-yet-seriously-satisfying coat.

A couple things to note — When you are buying tomatoes, the firmer the better! Ripe tomatoes that are squishy will be HARD to grasp with tongs when you are trying to flip and remove them from the pan.

Also, you’ll want to prep 3 or 4 tomatoes to put in the pan and cook at a time (aka you want to batch cook these if you can). This helps the pan and the oil not to get too hot but still allows the tomatoes to cook quickly.

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


RECIPE (Serves 2 adults)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4-6 green tomatoes, sliced 1/4” thick
  • 3/4 cup cassava flour + 1/3 cup cassava flour
  • 2 tsp. Paprika
  • 1 tsp. Black pepper
  • 1 tsp. Cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp. Garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. Salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup almond milk
  • 2-4 tbsp. Avocado oil

DIRECTIONS:

Set up a station for your tomatoes. On one plate, put the 1/3 cup cassava flour. In a small glass bowl, combine your egg and almond milk, and whisk to mix. On a second plate, add the 3/4 cup of cassava flour with the remaining spices and mix together.

Next, heat up your avocado oil in a pan over high heat. Use as much as it takes to cover the bottom of the pan, about 2-4 tbsp.

You’ll take your green tomato slices and dip them in each station in the following order: coat both sides in plain cassava flour, dip in the egg wash, then coat in both sides of the cassava flour spice mix.

Once your tomato is coated, place in your heated pan and cook until golden, about 2-3 mins each side.

After cooking, let cool on a plate lined with a paper towel to soak up any excess oil.

Enjoy as a side with your favorite southern meal, or by themselves with a tasty dip (I love a spicy mayo or chipotle sauce with these).


Whole 30 Thai Venison Satay Salad

So I thought I did a good thing with some venison satay (I adapted Hank Shaw’s recipe from his “Buck, Buck, Moose” cookbook, my bible and go-to inspiration for cooking big game, to be W30 compliant), but it turns out I did an even better thing by turning it into a salad. ⁠

For those who may be new to venison, this is a great way to get introduced and enjoy, as the marinade packs it with flavor and ensures it won’t blast you with a gamey taste.⁠ ⁠

We always have a plethora of venison in our freezer because #huntingwife, but if you do not, NOT TO WORRY – you can enjoy with some skirt steak, chicken, or salmon instead.⁠ ⁠

BONUS: I ate this 3 hours ago for lunch and I’m still not hungry (and I’m #26weekspregnant so that’s saying a lot), so you KNOW it’s both delicious and filling.⁠ ⁠

IMG_8254.small.jpg

One thing to note — If you are using chicken for this recipe, you can still slice into strips if you are using a large enough chicken breast, or you can cube it. You will also need to adjust the cook time on the grill (likely a little longer) to ensure that the chicken cooks all the way through. If you can, use a meat thermometer to ensure that the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.

If you choose to use salmon, I definitely recommend that you cube it. Depending on the size of your cubes (I recommend that you try to go on the thin side), you may need to adjust the cook times to ensure the salmon is cooked through.


RECIPE

Serves 4 adults

INGREDIENTS:

  • For the meat and marinade:
    • 1lb venison tenderloin or beef skirt steak cut into strips about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick
    • 1 cup full fat coconut milk
    • 2 tablespoons minced ginger (or 2 tsp ground ginger)
    • 2 large garlic cloves, minced (or 1 tsp garlic powder)
    • 3 tablespoons yellow curry powder (or Thai yellow curry paste) **note: if you don’t have either of these, I used this recipe from the Minimalist Baker to make my own curry powder
    • 1 to 3 thai hot chiles, stems removed (or 1 tsp cayenne)
    • Avocado oil (for coating the venison before it goes on the grill)
  • For the cashew sauce:
    • 1/4 cup full fat coconut milk
    • 1 tablespoons cashew butter (or any nut butter of choice, avoiding peanut to be Whole 30 compliant)
    • 1 tablespoon coconut aminos
    • 1 tablespoon lime juice
    • 2 teaspoons fish sauce
    • 1 tsp crushed red pepper (or red curry paste)
    • 1 garlic clove, minced (or 1 tsp garlic powder)
  • To serve:
    • Cauliflower rice
    • Mini sweet peppers, sliced
    • Arugula (if serving as a salad)

DIRECTIONS:

  • For the meat:
    • Put all marinade ingredients in a food processor or blender and blend
    • Coat and cover the venison strips in the marinade, and let it marinate in the fridge for 4-8 hours
    • Meanwhile, mix all ingredients for the cashew sauce in a bowl or food processor and set aside, at room temperature, while the venison marinates
    • When your venison is about ready, remove it from the fridge and thread each strip onto a skewer
    • Heat your grill (get it HOT) and scrape it down with a grill brush to make sure it is clean
    • Using a brush, coat your venison lightly with avocado oil and place on the grill
    • Grill on high heat for about 2-4 minutes per side, depending on how hot your grill is
  • To serve as dinner:
    • Serve over cauliflower rice with sliced sweet peppers and/or shredded carrots, and drizzle with sauce
  • To serve as a salad:
    • Place a bed of arugula (or greens of choice) in a bowl
    • Add 2 large spoonfuls of sauteed cauliflower rice and sliced sweet peppers
    • Chop the venison strips into 1-2 inch pieces, and top on the salad
    • Drizzle with sauce