Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Homemade Sauce and Venison Lasagna

This recipe was the inspiration:


Here is my version with some changes:

1 pound sweet Italian Sausage ground (or ground pork)
2 pounds ground venison
1 chopped onion
1 head of garlic, chopped
1 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes
1 8-ounce can of tomato sauce
1 can of tomato paste
1 cup red wine (I used Anakena Carmenere – it’s a Chilean wine)
1 teaspoon fennel seeds (not necessary if it is already in sausage)
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
2 tablespoons dried oregano

cheese filling

15 oz low fat cottage cheese
1 extra large egg beaten
1 cup grated Romano and Parmesan cheese mixture
2-3 teaspoons parsley
2-3 teaspoons basil
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 pound fresh mozzarella cheese, shredded

Cook lasagna noodles according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
1.Brown all the meat, add chopped onions and cook for a few minutes, then add garlic and cook for another few minutes.

2.Add seasonings and mix well.

3.Mix the wine and tomato paste and pour in the pot. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring often. Add the tomato sauce and can of crushed tomatoes and mix again. Bring to a simmer and cook slowly for 1-2 hours.

4.Make filling: Whisk egg and then blend into cheese and spices, stirring well to break up cottage cheese and egg into a smooth mixture.

5.To assemble, spread a good amount of the meat on the bottom of a standard 9-inch by 13-inch casserole pan. Remove the lasagna noodles and lay on the meat sauce. Spread half the cheese mixture on the noodles.

6.Add another layer of meat sauce then the rest of the noodles. Add the remaining cheese mix Spread the remaining meat sauce on this, then sprinkle with the last bit of parm/romano.

7.To cook, cover the lasagna with foil. You might want to spray the underside first with non-stick spray so the cheese doesn’t stick to it. Bake covered for 25 minutes.

8.Carefully take off the foil and bake for another 25 minutes.

9.Let the lasagna rest for 10-15 minutes before serving.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Venison Shepherd's Pie in a pinch...

Do you see the trend here?  Are you catching on?  Venison!  We have a freezer full of it, and baby I'm cooking it!  But here was my dilemma the other night.  A package of straight ground venison was defrosting.  Original plan had to be aborted due to lack of fresh ingredients at the store.  I took stock of what I had, what I didn't have and BAM!

Venison Shepherd's Pie in a pinch was born.  This came out really good, was semi-quick to make and since it is just the 2 of us, provided a good amount of leftovers.  I'm not a huge fan of shepherd's pie.  Some of you may not even know what it is.  I sure didn't.  Not until I went to college in VT anyhow.  Where at the beautiful Huden Dining Hall they served it up.  At the time I was a vegetarian and sadly missed out on it, but a few years later a friend made it with venison and I enjoyed it.  What's not to like?  Meat, potatoes and veggies all in one dish!  Oh and ketchup!  And you know, I love my ketchup.

Venison Shepherd's Pie in a Pinch...

1 pound ground Venison (we do not get ours mixed with anything)
1 onion
1 tablespoon flour
2-3 tablespoons ketchup
Frozen Peas, Carrots and Corn
1/2 cup water
1 tsp thyme

6 cups of boxed mashed potatoes prepared.  I add black pepper and parsley to mine.

Shredded Cheddar Cheese (or whatever blend you have.  We used Fiesta for this.)

Brown venison and onions.  Add flour and ketchup, mix and let thicken up a little.  Add thyme.  Then add water and veggies and cook until heated through.  In a prepared (sprayed with Pam) dish, place in meat/veggie mixture and top with prepare boxed mashed potatoes (I prefer homemade, but we didn't have any potatoes).  Then sprinkle with cheese.  Place dish in a preheated over to 425 degrees and bake for 20-25 minutes or until crisp and golden on top.

Served with homemade biscuits. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Pumpkin Pie Protein Shake

The inspiration for this was a recipe I found for a Pumpkin Pie Smoothie.  I had been craving it, and then finally decided to try it as a protein shake.  Uhm, YUM.

1 Frozen Sliced Banana
1/3 cup Pumpkin Puree (NOT Pumpkin Pie Filling)
1/3 cup Fat Free Plain Greek Yogurt
6 oz Vanilla Almond Milk
1tsp of Vanilla
dash of cloves
dash of pumpkin pie spice
1 scoop of Vanilla Protein powder

Blend and serve!

I am a pumpkin fanatic... and this was amazing.  I haven't tried it with my usual spinach added yet, but I plan too.  In the meantime, definitely yummy.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Venison Steak... for breakfast!

I've never eaten steak for breakfast.  In the 32 years I've been alive, it's just not my idea of a breakfast meat.  But we had a small among of leftover venison steak from dinner the night before, so I figured I would try it.  I just quickly sauteed the sliced venison in a pan on the stove and served with the following:

I used the Smashed Red Potatoes from the night before to make some really killer home fries.  Just a little EVOO in the frying pan, dump the leftover potatoes in and saute until desired crispness! 

A 2 egg omelet with onions and tomato with a dash of parsley, black pepper and milk.  And a toasted everything bagel thin. 

And... ketchup.  Yes, I am one of those people who eats their eggs with ketchup.  Deal with it. 

All in all, it was a fabulous brunch.  I don't know that I would purposely cook a steak in the morning to have with breakfast, but I enjoyed it. 

Monday, November 7, 2011

Grilled Venison Steak with Smashed Red Potatoes!

I realize it has been awhile since I've blogged, and I'd love to say I'll be better, but who knows!  Recently I have been cooking and baking more, thanks to cooler weather and lots of venison in our freezer.  We are almost exclusively a venison household at the moment, which has been a lot of fun to experiment with.  Part of the reason I wanted to start blogging again was because there seems to be a lack of healthier recipes for venison. 

Grilled Applewood Rubbed Venison Steak

Venison Steak (these were bone-in)
McCormick's Grill Mates Applewood Rub

Pre-heat grill, rub the rub on both sides of the steak, put steaks on grill (4-5) minutes on each side. 

Smashed Red Potatoess
6 Medium Sized Red Potatoes
2 tablespoons Olive Oil
1 tablespoon Butter
1 packet of Potato Topping (usually found in the produce section)

Place potatoes in a pot, cover with water, bring to a boil and cook until tender, but not mush with a fork.  Remove potatoes from water, cool.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In the meantime, mix olive oil, butter and Potato Topping in a small bowl.  Place a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet.  Place potatoes on parchment paper and smash with a fork.  Top each smashed potato with olive oil, butter and topping mix.  Cook in oven approximately 20 minutes.

Served with corn and some low-fat blue cheese dressing.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Healthier Shrimp Fried Rice

This was really born out of a need to find a meal that I could eat on Meatless Friday's, that had a decent amount of protein, was still "light" and tasty. There was no clear plan when I set out to make this dish, but it turned out great and I didn't really get sick of eating for the 2-3 days that I did. And it was perfect for a lunch or light dinner.


Steamed Brown Rice
Cooked & Peeled Shrimp
Broccoli (chopped)
Carrots (diced)
Orange Bell Pepper (diced)
Egg Whites
Low Sodium Soy Sauce

Steam the rice, sauteed the shrimp (in a pan with some PAM), whipped up some egg white scrambles, cut the shrimp up, and then mixed everything together.

Between the Shrimp and the Egg Whites there is a good dose of protein. This mean worked really well for me pre-workout!

Aside from trying to make "lighter" more protein filled meals, I'm looking to make things that will stretch to more than 1 meal, even if only a lunch. While I'm trying to avoid carbs (the rice) after 5pm, I try to gauge what I've eaten for the day crossed with what my workout for the night will be and make my decision based on that.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Spinach and Chocolate and WHAT?!?!

One of the things that was recommended to me was to start drinking protein shakes. I had some chocolate protein powder mix still at home, so I figured might as well try it. Only problem is, there was not way I could JUST mix it with water or milk. YUCK.

I began to look at other options and at saw that a lot of people were recommending a “Green Monster.” At first, I swear, I thought it was an energy drink or something similar. Turns out I was wrong (take note, I admitted I was wrong, this never happens).

So I did some more research, headed to this website (http://greenmonstermovement.com/) and read up on the idea, the recipes etc. Why do they call it the green monster? Well, that would be because you put Spinach in your smoothie. Yep, that is correct, I said you put Spinach in your smoothie.

I found a recipe that would appeal to me, and put my chocolate protein powder to use. Here is the recipe for what I have come up with for myself:

Ice (4-6 cubes)
1.5-2 cups of Organic Spinach (not steamed)
1 cup of Dark Chocolate Almond Milk
1 tablespoon of Natural Peanut Butter (no salt)
1 Banana
1 teaspoon of Walden Farms Chocolate Sauce (fat/calorie/sugar free)

Throw in blender and pray for the best.

Literally I prayed it wouldn’t suck. It was by no means pretty to say the least. Everything I put in should have been good, except for the Spinach, which did leave it with an ominous green tint. I tentatively took my first sip and then my second and I was sold.
Below is a picture of one perched happily in my drink cup holder on my way to work. Sorry the picture is poor quality, blame Steve Jobs and his iPhone.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

3 Months down...

During the last few months I have been on a journey. Where to, you ask? To a lot of places, I say! First and foremost was to get healthy, and be more active. Second was to continue to work towards getting my hunting license. Neither were as simple as a short sentence, but I’m happy to report that since the journey began sometime in November, I have made a lot of positive changes and am steps closer to where I want and need to be.

In November I cut out watching TV. I still do turn it on occasionally for the news, traffic and weather in the morning, and also at night while getting ready for bed, but I no longer watch all the primetime television that used to watch. And while I was never a big time TV watcher, cutting out that 1-2 hours a night has given me the time to get back on the treadmill, to start running (yes, you read that right, I said running) and get in some solid workout time. That has all prompted me to change the way I eat, when I eat and how I eat. Thanks in no small part to a wonderful friend/trainer/attorney who has given me some amazing advice and other friends who have passed on techniques, exercises, food options etc. I have officially lost 21 pounds.

Aside from the running, walking, and stretching I have also incorporated weights, lots of upper body and core strengthening exercises and I make sure that I get out and hike the property whenever I am home during daylight hours. In a million years I’ve never thought I would run. I’ve always wanted to try, but I just never did and now, I love it. To be fair, I hate it about as much as I love it. I’ve also added push ups, planks and some other crazy moves that I was never a fan of and the difference I can see is amazing. My clothes fit better, I feel better and I have more energy. How can this not be a good thing? And the motivation that it continues to give me is priceless.

Being unhappy and not feeling good about myself was just part of the reason I started it all. The second part of my journey was to work towards getting my hunting license. More so than passing the safety course (which I take in mid-April) and more so than studying and learning things, I realized I needed to be in better shape. For one most hunting requires you to sit on your butt in the woods somewhere for hours at a time in varying temperatures. While that sounds easy to do, I’m here to tell you that if you are not in good shape, it’s not as easy as it is for someone who is in great shape. On top of that, I NEEDED to get my upper body and core in better shape in order to be able to support my bow and/or gun. So I set out on a course of different training methods that would hopefully help in that. And again, am happy to say that all the upper body training has really helped with my bow hunting. My bow is currently set at just about 40 #’s and I can easily fire 12 arrows at the target before my arm gets tired.

Passing my test in April, and getting my license are of course just some of the major stepping stones to hopefully getting my first deer come fall. At the end of the day, I’ve worked hard to get where I am today, but I have a lot more work ahead of me. “The best way to get something done is to begin.” And so I’ve begun.

And I’m here to share it all with you.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Bison Burgers Baby!

Expanding my food horizons has always been somewhat fun for me. For instance, the first time I ever had venison, it was ground venison that came from a road kill deer AND we had it in tacos on Christmas night. See? A fun story.

And so when guests were coming up to visit on a very cold, February winter day, I figured grilling burgers would be the best cure for the winter blah's. And not just any burgers, bison burgers.
I had passed the package so much in the store that I was really dying to try them. Ground Bison is better for you than ground beef and personally, I think it tastes better. Thinking perhaps our guests would not be as adventurous as us, I also got some ground beef.

Below are the patties I made up.

And here is the finished product....

Ground Bison (or Ground Beef - I did both)
Worcestershire Sauce
Montreal Steak Seasoning
Shredded Cheese
Kaiser Bun
Balsamic Onions (see recipe below)
I mixed the steak seasoning and Worcestershire sauce in with the package of bison (or beef) and then made a couple patties. I added cheese to the last few patties I made just for some variety.
Grilled those puppies up and WAA LAA!

Balsamic Onions
Balsamic Vinegar
Vidalia Onion
Slice onions, drizzle balsamic vinegar over and grill.

I did a little research prior, making sure I cooked the meat to the suggested temperature. Ground Bison will defiantly make it on my menu again!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Veggie Cottage Cheese

The last thing I ever thought I would eat is cottage cheese. I can’t say I had ever had it, but I knew I didn’t want it. Really is there anything remotely appetizing about it? The name? No. The look? No. However, in an effort to eat healthier I was advised to try it, by several people. So I did. And you know what? It wasn’t half bad. My first foray into the world of cottage cheese, was a prepackaged 100 calorie pack of cottage cheese with an apple cinnamon topping to which I added some almonds. I survived!

As word got out about my cottage cheese adventure, I got a lot of suggestions on how to eat it and what to mix it with. One in particular caught my attention, and so I tried a little variation on it.
Veggie Cottage Cheese

1 cup Cottage Cheese
1 carrot – diced
1 orange bell pepper – diced
1 scallion stalk chopped
Black pepper

Mix everything together.

It’s THAT easy and its beyond tasty! I had some on a slice of whole grain toast. Hello? I just met the healthy version of veggie cream cheese. WOOHOOO!!!!

A BIG thank you to my favorite Shorty as she was the one that shared the original recipe idea with me. I can’t say I’ve jumped feet first into the world of cottage cheese, but so far so good. I guess 2011 will be the year of things I didn’t ever think I would do.

2011 – Things I never thought I would do
-Eat Cottage Cheese

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Spring Fever

The temps have gone above 40, to almost 60 today and that has me dreaming of spring and summer. Don't get me wrong, I like cold weather more than hot, but what I am looking forward to the most....

farm fresh vegetables!

and all the mouth watering dishes that come with farm fresh vegetables...
Or even better, taking a bite out of a fresh picked tomato that is still warmed from the sun. YUM!

And best of all... grilled eggplant parm :).

Friday, February 11, 2011

I wish....

That when I got home tonight, this I would be throwing on my lobster bib, breaking out the crackers...
And cooking up this guy...

A girl can dream and remember how fabulous that gift from the sea tasted. Sigh.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Cupcakes: Palm Beach Style!

While shopping on my Christmas trip to Florida, post-Christmas I stumbled upon this little gem of a cupcake bakery. Sugar Chef is located at City Place in West Palm Beach, FL.
I only got a half dozen as we were flying out the next morning, and sadly only was able to taste one flavor, but it was something chocolately and heavenly.
The packaging was cute and tempting. The cupcake itself was DELICIOUS! Definitely one of the better bakery cupcakes I have had.

I'm sure my family enjoyed finding these in the fridge as my plan was halfway back to the frozen tundra of NJ.

If you happen to be in the area, or maybe not even in the area, you should fit this place into your schedule. I plan to go back next time I am in town! (and I will make sure I get more than 1/2 of a cupcake).