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Category Archives: Side Dishes

Elegant Pumpkin Soup… It’s Time!

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Halloween is over and Thanksgiving is almost here.  I know I’m not the only person around who still has several decorative pumpkins artistically placed around my home and, yes, even at the hunting ranch.  I do this every year.  They represent my favorite time of year, autumn.  And they seem to last FOREVER!

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This is the one that adds an air of autumnal elegance to the ranch house.

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You can see how it spruces up the space!

After they have served their aesthetic purpose, I roast the flesh, package it up, and freeze it to use in my best loved pumpkin recipes.  This gorgeous soup is one of my favorites.  It is elegant, rich and hearty without being heavy, and EASY .  I have made up batches, poured them into mason jars for transport, and  taken them to the hunting camp.  It would also just as easily be an elegant first course for any Thanksgiving dinner.

Elegant Pumpkin Soup

1/2 onion, chopped                                                1/8 tsp. ground ginger
2 carrots, chopped                                                 2 tsp. brown sugar
2 stalks celery, chopped                                        1 1/2 tsp. salt
olive oil                                                                  1/4 tsp. black pepper
32 oz. chicken stock                                              1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 cups cooked pumpkin                                         1/2 cup whipping cream (optional)
1/2 tsp. cinnamon                                                  dollop of sour cream or greek yogurt                                                                                                                         salted roasted pepitas*

*pepitas are shelled pumpkin seeds

In a large soup pot, saute onion, carrots, celery in olive oil until tender. Add chicken stock and bring to a boil. Simmer for about 15 minutes until veggies are tender. Add pumpkin and spices. Puree with immersion blender. Continue to simmer for a few minutes. Add whipping cream if you want extra richness. Stir in. Complement with stirred sour cream or greek yogurt thinned with a bit of milk so that it can be drizzled artistically (and stirred in more smoothly).  Sprinkle with salted pepitas.
Serves 6-8

 

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Dove Breast Crostini

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I take pride in having more whitewing recipes than the average Doveslayer’s wife.  Every dove hunter loves dove breast with a slice of jalapeño and wrapped in bacon and tossed on the grill.  It’s the pretty much the gold standard.  Everybody loves it. When I talk to people about dove recipes, many of them will look around sneakily and almost whisper,”Have you ever tried slipping a jalapeno in the breast, wrapping it with bacon, and grilling it?”

“Yep, I’ve tried it. Yes, it’s a great way to eat doves.  But there just have to be more ways to enjoy these tasty morsels,”I would say to myself.  That’s why I started experimenting with whitewing recipes.

We end up with lots of doves in our freezer every year.  When Deerslayer/Doveslayer goes out for a hunt, he usually comes home with doves that other hunters have given him, probably because most people only have one “go-to” recipe.  I needed more recipes.  So I started with Special Occasion Whitewing Doves with Gravy, which I received from the matriarch of the Deerslayer Clan,  Roasted Corn and Poblano Chowder with Whitewing Breast,and  Chilaquiles Verdes with Dove Breast, both are variations of recipes we’ve enjoyed from favorite restaurants, and  Dove Ravioli in Browned Butter, a concoction of my own design.

As I worked on the ravioli recipe, my daughters were my taste-testers… to the point that I almost ran out of filling for the ravioli!  It was suggested that the ravioli filling would make a fantastic appetizer on crackers or toast… so I tried it.  Huge hit! Try it and let me know how you like it.  There are few recipes out there for dove appetizers.  I think you’ll like this one.

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  • a big splash of olive oil
  • ½ medium onion, coarsely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves,coarsely chopped
  • ¼ cup chopped red bell pepper (optional)
  •  dove breasts (from 10 doves)
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • ¼ to ½ cup dry white wine ( a glug)
  • ½ cup parmesan, plus more for sprinkling
  • small toasts or crackers
  • chopped parsley for sprinkling

In a hot skillet, sauté onion in olive oil until almost caramelized. Reduce heat.

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Add in garlic,  dove breasts, chopped red bell pepper (or not), dried thyme, red pepper flakes, and a ¼ cup of white wine. You may need to add some more  wine during the food processing to get a good, spreadable consistency.

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20 breast fillets from 10 doves

 

Toss about until combined and dove breasts are cooked through, about 7-10 minutes.

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The dove breasts are not quite done yet.

You can cut into the dove breast to test for doneness. Remove from heat.

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The breasts are done!

Allow the ingredients to cool before you add the parmesan or it will melt and create a large glob.  You don’t want that.

Transfer mixture to your food processor, in batches if you have a food processorette like I do, and process until everything is finely chopped and holds together. This is when you can add more white wine if the mixture is too dry to be spreadable.

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Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.  Serve at room temperature with small toasts.

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Cool and Spicy Coleslaw

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Recently, during our annual camping trip to Wyoming, I offered to make a side dish for one of the dinners for the 44 campers in our group.  I brought all the ingredients to make a coleslaw recipe that’s pretty popular in the Deerslayer household.  The feedback from the camping crew was positive.  All the coleslaw was gobbled up and I was asked if the recipe was on my blog.  So I was happy to oblige.

There are soooo many varieties of coleslaw.  Some are quite sweet and others lean heavily on a mayo base.  Still others have an almost sauerkraut vibe.  My recipe is creamy, without relying on too much mayo.  There are layers of flavor that come from rice vinegar, greek yogurt, a tiny bit of sugar and some cayenne pepper.

This has become my go-to side dish for BBQ sandwiches and pulled pork, too.  It’s actually pretty good plopped right on the sandwiches  I always have to prepare more than I think I’ll need because it really disappears.  The cool, creamy sauce plays well with the main course. The rice vinegar adds a pleasing tartness and the cayenne brings a subtle, yet surprising, heat.

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½ cup Greek Yogurt

2 tbs. Ranch or Caesar dressing

1/4 cup rice vinegar

1 tbsp. milk

1 tbs. sugar

3/4 tsp. ground  black pepper

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

16 oz. shredded cabbage (Add carrot, slivered fresh jalepeño, radish, jicama, or something else crunchy and delicious if you like.)

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Combine all ingredients (except cabbage) in a bowl.

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Whisk ingredients together.

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Notice the delicious spices!  That’s what makes this coleslaw special.

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Add cabbage and toss together. Set in the fridge or in a cooler (if you’re camping) to allow the flavors to combine.

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Done! Enjoy!

Feel free to add fresh, sliced jalapeño, jicama, or radish to change things up.  Make it your own.

The dressing could be prepared in advance, poured into a jar, and taken on a camping trip.  I wouldn’t advise tossing the coleslaw up ahead of time, though, unless it’s gonna be eaten within a few hours.  You  want the cabbage to stay nice and crisp.  Camp on!

 

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Hash Browns for Camping! Genius!

I have to admit that my level of excitement over these hash browns that I just discovered bordered on embarrassing. One morning during our recent Deerslayer Clan camping trip, I walked down to the camp kitchen to the following sight.  A gorgeous mound of hash browns, sizzling away on my Camp Chef griddle, enough for our crowd of 44 (many of them teenagers). It brought a tear to the eye!  What angel fluttered down from heaven to prepare this delicious camp breakfast?  As it turned out, a dear friend of the Deerslayer Clan had rustled up this mess of hash browns.  How did she do it?  This was a mess of potatoes.

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She shared her secret.  She told me that she used dehydrated potatoes that come in pint cartons, like milk cartons.  Because their dehydrated, the hash browns weight practically nothing.  The small, sealed containers are easy to store in a camper or storage container. They are available in 8-packs at Sam’s Club and Costco.  DSC_0203

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It doesn’t get any easier than that!

Our friend, Lisa, used my Camp Chef griddle (best investment ever), hot and liberally oiled for the potatoes.  The hash browns sizzled happily until browned and crispy.  They were flipped and sizzled some more.  This was an amazingly simple and camp-friendly breakfast side.  Thank you, Lisa, for sharing.  You are the most extraordinary camper I have ever known.  You have everything a camper ever needs, you know every camping secret.  Our annual trip wouldn’t be the same without you.

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Here’s a picture of my Camp Chef griddle on my two burner Browning cook stove. Perfect for pancakes, tortillas, bacon, and, of course, hash browns!

 

Jalapeno/Wild Pork/Bacon Snacks

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It’s time to gear up for the annual Deerslayer Camping Trip.  Every year the entire clan (three generations) converges upon southern Wyoming for two weeks. We’ve been doing it for years. In its heyday, there would be sixty-plus people coming and going during the two-week stretch.  Now, all the kids are growing up. Many are going away to college.   I have a feeling that the group will continue to gather, with the younger ones bringing their own families.  My generation will become the one that all the kids roll their eyes at, the group that everybody brings drinks and food to.  Sounds like fun! Can’t wait!

I have to admit that, for me, the preparation is part of the fun. I love the list-making, the planning, the menu-planning, and the cooking for the whole group. This year we’ve decided to prepare:

  • Steak tacos with fresh flour tortillas, pico de gallo, beans with smoked wild pork shank, and Mexican rice
  • A whole roasted pig, roasted corn, and coleslaw
  • Venison and nilgai enchiladas with creamy poblano sauce, beans, and  Mexican rice.
  • Pulled pork on toasted buns, potato salad, coleslaw.

In addition, we decided to try our own version of jalapeno poppers that would include some of our ground wild pork. Sadly, due to my busy camping  prep days, my post is coming out after my dear friends, Patrons of the Pit, who beat me to the punch with their own version of a stuffed jalapeno recipe. Theirs is absolute perfection with a glorious glaze of maple syrup.  You go, guys!

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I used about 18 jalapenos to make 36 delicious, bacon wrapped portions.

18 jalapenos

1 lb. ground wild pork

4 tsp. LEM sausage seasoning

1/8 cup water

36 strips of cheese (I used a strong cheddar)

18 strips of very thin, inexpensive bacon, cut in half

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Mix 4 tsp. of seasoning mix with water and blend with ground pork.

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Cut the ends off the jalapenos.

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Call me a wimp, but I’ve learned over the years that wearing rubber gloves results in a lot less pain and discomfort.

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Using a spoon, scrape out the seeds and white membrane.

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Slice cheese into strips the length of the peppers.

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Add a slice of cheese and some pork sausage to each pepper.

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Wrap each pepper with a half slice of bacon.  This is why the bacon should be the cheapest you can get.  The thinner, the better.

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Once the peppers are ready to go on the grill, it doesn’t hurt to be prepared for every possible scenario!  I filled two 9 x 13 pans with the jalapenos.  One batch went on the grill, the other went into the freezer for the camping trip.  I wanted to make a test batch first, in addition to seeing how they would freeze for later use.  The frozen ones will be transported in a Yeti cooler with dry ice.  They will stay frozen for up to a week if we’re careful not to open the cooler too much and store it in the shade once we’ve arrived at our destination.

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The peppers were cooked for about 45 minutes on a sheet of foil on the grill over indirect heat.

A nine, tasty morsel for a camping trip!

 

 

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Venison Pierogi

pierogi 034Delicious little pasta pillows filled with spiced meaty goodness.  It’s the best description I can think of for the Polish dish called pierogi.  Little Polish ravioli!  There are several traditional recipes that include fillings like saurkraut or potato/garlic.  Both are out of this world.  However, the magic comes from the pasta that is made perfect with the addition of sour cream, rolled incredibly thin, enveloping a flavorful filling.  For the sake of my readers, I’ve used some traditional Polish spices with some ground venison to create my own version of this traditional favorite.

Venison Filling

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I neglected to include the ground venison in the photo. You’ll have to use your imagination.

  • 2 tsp. toasted caraway seeds
  • 3 tbsp. butter
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1½ tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1½ tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. white pepper
  • 1 lb. ground venison/nilgai
  • 1-2 tbsp. flour

Toast caraway seeds in a cast iron skillet.

Melt butter in the skillet.  Saute onion. Add caraway seeds and remaining seasonings and spices, except venison and flour.

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Stir until onions are transluscent. Add meat and cook until meat is browned and flavors are incorporated. Because venison (or nilgai) is being used, there will be no rendered fat to pour off, just lots of water.

Turn down heat and allow most of the liquid to evaporate.  (Pouring off the extra liquid will waste a lot of the flavor.)

Sprinkle flour over the meat and mix in.

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Dough

  • 3 egg
  • 8 oz. sour cream
  • 3 cups flour (plus more to add if too sticky)
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 1 tbsp. baking powder

Combine all ingredients in bowl of mixer.

Mix until dough forms.

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Flatten dough into a large disk. Cut into strips that can be rolled by hand or run through the pasta maker. To roll the dough out thin enough, I used my pasta maker.  It produced a uniform thickness that worked really well with the round cutter.

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The sour cream makes the dough very sticky. Keep it well floured as you work.

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There are lovely, expensive cutters available on the market. This canning lid works really well, though.

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Use a scant tbsp. of filling in each circle.

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Brush water around the edges of the circle so that the pasta will adhere to itself. You may notice that the filling in this photo is potato rather than meat. Ooops.

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Fold the edges over and press together.

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Use a fork to seal the edges (and make the pierogi pretty)!

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Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Be sure to add at least 2 tbsp. of salt.

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Add pierogi, a few at a time, to the boiling water with a spider or slotted spoon. Once they begin to float for a couple of minutes, they are ready to take out and enjoy.

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9 Comments

Posted by on March 21, 2015 in Nilgai, Recipes, Side Dishes, Venison

 

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Last year, I didn’t get my Thanksgiving post finished in time for the holiday…which was a shame ‘cuz it was a real corker.  As I reread it, I still agree that I am blessed beyond measure, and my writing was inspired!  My apricot, pecan, and cornbread dressing is still pretty darn good, too.  This year, I’ll be adding fresh wild pork maple sausage with a touch of sage.

I’m reminded of a Thanksgiving many years ago, my first spent at a hunting camp.  I didn’t cook much of anything back in those days, nor did I enjoy “nature” in any way, shape, or form. However, I was in a position where it was necessary for me to establish myself as having some worth in the Deerslayer hierarchy. I hang my head in shame as I remember those days.

It was only by the grace of God that I was not responsible for preparing the turkey.  It’s funny that, now, I can’t remember what my contribution to the Thanksgiving feast was.  I’m guessing that no one else remembers either because I’m pretty sure that it was rather lackluster at best.

We had an old Airstream camper, back in those days.  It wasn’t the cool, retro kind.  It was really old and it leaked, when it rained,  right over the spot in front of the stove.  Did I mention that it rained cats and dogs that Thanksgiving?  And it was really cold?  And it dripped on my head and down my back as I prepared the lackluster side dishes that were all I had to offer in those days?  They were seasoned liberally, though, with angst, pouting, and misery.  Kinda bitter.

I believe the feast was good.  The turkey and the family were wonderful.  The desserts were delicious, as were the stories around the fire that evening.

I think it might’ve been that Thanksgiving many years ago that inspired me to become a Deerslayer’s wife, happier, rolling with the punches, able to see the humor in situations that can cause crankiness or a chuckle.  Remember those moments.  Use them to become what you want to be.  Use them for a chuckle.

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

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Stupidly Easy Venison and Veggie Soup (with Noodles)

DSC_0048Back when I was a young deerslayer’s wife, I honestly didn’t have a lot going for me from a culinary point of view. I hadn’t cooked much and had no experience at all with wild game. Luckily, I was younger, less affected by gravity, if you catch my drift.  Deerslayer (bless his heart!) was willing to overlook the minor chinks in the armor.  Actually, the chinks were pretty substantial. Looking back on it, the way I treated God’s bounty, proudly brought to the table by my faithful deerslayer, was criminal.  I had no knowledge of how to prepare wild game.  Thank God I looked decent in a pair of jeans.

Recently, one of the junior deerslayers asked why I hadn’t made Venison Soup for such a long time.  I stammered.  I hadn’t prepared Venison Soup since I looked good in jeans.  It was one of my first attempts at a wild game recipe.  Granted, it was prepared to mask a botched Venison Roast attempt.  It was kind of like hiding the evidence from a murder.  Cut up the pieces really small and disguise them as something else…in this case, a tomato-based soup with veggies and shell noodles.  It was actually pretty damned tasty.  Why HADN’T I made it for so long? I guess that, as I started to stretch my culinary wings (is that a thing?), I kind of blotted out a couple of flukes that really were pretty good.  I think the junior deerslayers remember a few of these recipes with a nostalgic warm spot in their hearts.  Others, not so much.

Remember not to judge and remember my entry level of expertise.  Use what’s in your pantry, fridge and freezer.  This has, on occasion, included squash, okra, cabbage.  You get the picture.  It’s pretty forgiving.

Stupidly Easy Venison and Veggie Soup (with Noodles)

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I forgot to include the peas. So, here they are.

a splash of olive oil

one onion, chopped

two cloves of garlic, finely chopped

two carrots, sliced

two stalks of celery, chopped (greens included)

32 oz. beef stock

1 can of any cheap variety of spaghetti sauce (not chunky)

1 bay leaf

1/2 can (from the spaghetti sauce) of water

about a cup of frozen peas

1/2 can of corn

1/2 lb. of medium shell noodles

about 1/2 pound leftover venison*  cut up into chunks

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salt and pepper to taste

a splash of worcestershire sauce

In a large soup pot, heat a splash of olive oil.

Saute onions until translucent.  Add garlic, carrots, and celery.  Stir around a bit.

Add beef stock and bring to a boil.  Add bay leaf.

 Boil until veggies are just softened.

Add canned sauce and water.

Add peas and corn (or not).

Return to a boil.  Add noodles and cook until noodles are done (according to package directions).

*Add leftover venison.  This can be from a roast, seared backstrap or tenderloin or even ground meat.

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Heat through.  Don’t overcook at this point.  The meat will get rubbery.

Season with salt, pepper and a splash of worcestershire to taste.

Serve with fabulous homemade bread.  Thank you, Junior Deerslayer!

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Put on a nice pair of jeans.  Relish the moment!

 

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All Cooked Up and Nowhere to Go?

eggs, graduation, quail, nilgai ribs 096Last week, during an unexpected (and appreciated) cool spell,  I took advantage of the opportunity to cook up fifteen pounds of Nilgai rib meat, using my “Cook-All-Day” recipe.  From meat that many hunters would toss out, I produced five delicious meals, right off the bat, and packaged up and froze several 1 ½ pound bags of succulent, cooked meat that will be used in quick meals  during the hot months of summer.

I love cool days that allow me to prepare “cook-all-day” meats.  There’s such a sense of satisfaction that comes from creating delicious meals from cuts of meat that would otherwise be considered unusable.  First of all, the whole house smells wonderful!  The Deerslayer clan has taken to just grazing from the pan of freshly cooked, fall-apart meat on that first night, with a side of rice and perhaps some peas.  The “au jus” can be drizzled over the rice as is or thickened in a cast iron skillet with a slurry of butter and flour.  That was Day One.

Day Two brought  warmed, shredded meat served with homemade flour tortillas with lettuce, vine-ripened tomatoes, and avocado slices.  I provided a side of beans & smoked wild pork shank that had been prepared previously and frozen.

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Day Three.  I adapted my venison marsala recipe. Since the meat was already cooked, I cut it into bite-sized pieces and added it to the sauteed mushrooms and sauce, and served it over fettuccini with a side of steamed broccoli.  Done!

Day Four allowed me to pull up a family favorite from the recipe archives; Enchiladas with Creamy Poblano Sauce. Deerslayer absolutely loves these.  I served them up with the leftover beans and a side of Mexican rice.  It doesn’t get any better!

2013-02-21 094By Day Five, I feared that I was treading on thin ice by continuing to concoct recipes with the nilgai rib meat of which I was so proud, so I shredded it, tossed in some commercial BBQ sauce and served up some fabulous BBQ sandwiches with coleslaw.

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That evening, feeling content that I had once again fulfilled my role as the Deerslayer’s/Nilgai slayer’s wife, patting myself on the back, if you will, I donned a stunning pair of red pumps and pearls. I had successfully provided the clan with wild gamey goodness for an entire week with meat that might have been left for the coyotes. Then I packaged up the remainder of the cooked meat and knew that all was right with the world because the Deerslayer/Nilgaislayer household would make it through the hot months of summer without having to sacrifice any delicious wild game meals!

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Timely, no. Tasty, yes.

Roasting Fresh Pumpkin

Uncle richard's 2014 party, pumpkin 007I’ll bet you didn’t know that pumpkins purchased in October to be used for autumn decor will last until past the end of February!  Don’t ask me how I know that. I’m a little embarrassed to admit that my family has been enjoying a beautiful assortment of Thanksgiving pumpkins, Christmas pumpkins, New Year’s pumpkins, and Valentine’s Day pumpkins.  Enough was finally enough.

I was ready to take my pumpkin to the next level.  Roasted pumpkin is part of my recipe repertoire with pumpkin empanadas, elegant creamy pumpkin soup with pepitas, pumpkin creme brulee, pumpkin waffles, pumpkin biscuits.  Did you guess that I’m a fan?

 Just for the record, pumpkins, when kept relatively cool and dry last a long damned time.  The flesh can then be roasted, packaged, and frozen in zip-locked bags with relatively little work.  Depending on the size of the pumpkin, take a large butcher knife or extra long, serrated bread knife to cut through.  Use a spoon to scrape out seeds and stringy bits.  Cut again to fit onto a cookie sheet. Arrange, skin side up on the cookie sheet.  Place in a 400° oven until the skin begins to wrinkle and a fork inserts easily  into the flesh.

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After roasting, these pumpkin bits have been flipped over to cool before scraping the flesh from the skin.

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Additional stringy bits can be removed easily once it has been roasted.

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The roasted flesh can easily be scooped out of the skin.

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I always transfer the roasted pumpkin into a 2-cup measure before transferring it to a zip-lock bag and labeling it.

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Labeling the package with the contents, amount, and date is helpful when pulling from the freezer for a recipe. Flattening out the contents before freezing allows for easy storage. Freeze flat on a cookie sheet then stack after contents are frozen. That prevents bags from sticking together during freezing.

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I set aside a little to make this wonderful batch of empanadas.

 
2 Comments

Posted by on February 26, 2014 in Recipes, Side Dishes, Sweet Things

 

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