Pepperoni Stuffed Parmesan Elk Meatballs

Last night I got home rather late and debated whether I wanted to put the effort and time into making a “real” dinner for myself, as right now I am still cooking for one each night due to Joe’s work schedule during the winter season, but, I had a quick snack (almond butter and carrots are a new current fave!) and got to work, still managing to put dinner on the table at 7 pm on the dot. Inspired by this recipe from the Nevada Foodies,  http://www.nevadafoodies.com/pesto-mozzarella-stuffed-venison-meatballs/, I picked up some pepperoni on my way home from work and got stuffin’! This recipe would easily serve 4, especially with a salad on the side to go with. For us, we will have some tasty leftovers.

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 Pepperoni Stuffed Parmesan Elk Meatballs Yield- 21 meatballs, 1 inch diameter

  • 3/4 lbs ground elk burger
  • 3/4 lbs ground venison breakfast sausage
  • 1 tablespoon dry pesto
  • 1/2 cup wheat breadcrumbs
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/2 Tbsp. Worcestershire
  • 1/4 cup+ 2 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese, divided into (3) 2-Tbsp. portions
  • ~1/8 lb thick sliced pepperoni (approx. (5) 2-inch diameter slices)
  • 1/2 tsp. Garlic salt
  • 2 cups dry rotini pasta
  • 1 tsp. butter (optional)

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If making your own breadcrumbs, process in food processor until you have about 1/2 cup. I keep a few frozen bread heels and bread slices that were going stale in the freezer in a ziplock bag and them process them in chunks as needed for breadcrumbs.

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In a mixing bowl using a wooden spoon or your clean hands, combine ground burger and ground breakfast sausage with egg white, breadcrumbs, and Worcestershire.

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  Sprinkle in pesto and 2 Tbsp. of Parmesan cheese and mix into meat.

DSC01605 Cut pepperoni into bite-size pieces.

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Stuff each meatball with a piece of pepperoni.

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 Spray a baking dish (8×8 inch) with cooking spray & form meatballs. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

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Meanwhile, boil water and cook pasta.

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Drain water and sprinkle pasta with garlic salt and the last 2 Tbsp. of Parmesan cheese and stir. Add in a tsp. of butter, if desired.

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Set aside and keep warm.
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 Pull meatballs from oven and sprinkle with another 2 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese.

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 Serve meatballs on top of pasta immediately.

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Jade, while eagerly helping me cook dinner in the kitchen, became very distracted by a barking dog on t.v. and ran over to check it out!

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Yup, there it is!

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Although the smell of the meatballs eventually brought her back to reality. Anyone else have a dog that checks out the t.v. dogs like this? I will say that while Jade will occasionally cock her head to the side at the t.v. when dogs bark or coyotes yip on the hunting channel,  this is the first time she has ever run to the t.v., and she is 11 years old!

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Slow Cooker Mountain Man Beans with Fluffy Cornbread

I made this dish basically using this recipe for “Cowboy Beans with Beef” from the Thrifty Recipes website. However, I scaled down the recipe to make enough for dinner for two with one serving of leftovers, and subbed in ground elk for the beef. Therefore, Joe came up with the idea that they are Mountain Man Beans (elk) rather than Cowboy Beans (beef). Makes perfect sense when you think about it!

I REALLY liked this meal, and it makes a good substitute for chili. I plan to make it again in the next few weeks. Plus it uses stuff one would mostly have on hand, and is filling, inexpensive, and nutritious. I came to the realization that healthy is a subjective term, so I am going to stick with the term nutritious : ) The cornbread recipe is my go-to, it is from the back on the Quaker cornmeal can and I simply substitute plain Greek yogurt for the vegetable oil, which results in a soft and fluffy cornbread. Nutrition stats for my cornbread recipe can be found on Livestrong.

Slow Cooker Mountain Man Beans with Fluffy Cornbread

Servings- 3

Mountain Man Beans

  • 2 slices bacon, cooked & torn into pieces
  • 1/2 pound ground elk or ground elk infused with bacon
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp garlic salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 -15-oz cans of baked beans (I used Bush’s onion baked beans)
  • 1/2 cup whole kernel corn, drained

Cook the bacon and chop or tear into pieces. Brown the ground elk with the onion, garlic, and spices.  Cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes, or until meat is no longer pink.

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Dump meat mixture into slow cooker. Add in the bacon, beans and corn. Give the mixture a stir and cook on LOW for six hours.

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Fluffy Cornbread

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup 2% milk + 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 egg

Spray an 8 x 8 inch pan with cooking spray. Combine dry ingredients and then add in wet ingredients. Do not over mix. Spread into prepared pan and bake for 18-20 minutes at 400 until top just begins to brown. 

Cut cornbread into nine slices. Scoop up a bowl of beans and sit down to a delicious meal.

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Making Your Own: Bacon Infused Ground Elk + Camp

This fall Joe and I went (bull) elk hunting for a couple nights in the wilderness, where we set up camp and could day ride to scout and hunt for elk. While the weather patterns, and therefore the elk’s migration schedule, did not cooperate with our timing for the hunt this year, it was still so refreshing to get out into the backcountry on horses, see some elk, and spend time in camp. Joe did later fill his cow elk tag though, which was just in the nick of time, as we were down to our last two packages of burger from last year. These pictures tell the story:???????????????????????????????

Riding Slim out the first evening to go scout.

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The stove was a great deal from an estate sale!

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Kitchen

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View of steep, rocky bowl over Taz’s neck where a small herd of elk were, waaaay up at the top. Getting an elk packed out on the horses would not have been possible so we passed.

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Sunset from our evening spot.

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Morning of our final day. Last year at this time there was about a foot of snow in this spot.

After one week of hanging, it was time to butcher Joe’s cow. There are many reasons why I like processing our own meat, and I am thankful we have the space and supplies to do so at the family shop.

One thing I like about processing our own meat, in addition to the price, (manual labor is good for us all) is that it enables one to fully experience the hunting process. Once the fun adrenaline from the mountain has worn off, and before the meat is prepared and consumed, there is that important middle step of processing. Bone, trim, cut, repeat.  The rewarding, although at times monotonous job, is such an important part of making a meal from the mountain. I don’t feel like the experience of hunting is complete until one takes part in the meat processing.

It would be great for our society if more Americans could experience the processing of their meat and food, in order to really understand the sacrifice of an animal, see exactly where their food is coming from, and understand just how that piece of meat on their plate got there. When I eat the elk Joe shot this year, my mind is like a film reel, remembering the location where it was harvested, what the weather was like while gutting and loading it (awful), and my arm cranking of the meat stuffer as we packaged the burger.

Finally, processing our own meat allows for a little creativity in trying new things. When we make our ground elk burger, we usually mix in a little beef fat that we get from the local butcher with the elk meat, which makes for great tasting and still very healthy meat.

This year, Joe decided to make about 15 lbs. of “specialty” elk burger with his cow elk. While at Smith’s last week, I bought a 3 lb. package of bacon end and pieces at his request. Instead of using beef fat, the bacon its place.With a 5:1 ratio of elk meat to bacon, and after grinding the meat twice, the texture of the burgers turned out really good, and the bacon bits throughout the meat are tasty. Joe feels that a second packge of bacon could be added for those bacon-lovers out there.

Bacon Infused Ground Elk Burger:

If doing the processing yourself, you will need:

  • 15 lbs of elk meat
  • 3 lbs bacon ends and pieces (could go up to 6 lbs.)
  • Game processing bags for ground meat– 1lb. capacity
  • Clean plastic tub or gallon ziplock bags
  • Mixer & Grinder, plus a stuffer with burger attachment (LEM brand is what we use)

1. Grind 15 lbs of elk meat into burger and place into plastic tub to hold.

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2. Grind up the 3 lbs. of bacon ends and pieces.

3. Combine ground elk and ground bacon in mixer grind a second time together. Now, you can either continue on and bag your burger, or place it in the plastic container or ziplock bags and refrigerate/freeze until you are ready to bag the meat.

4. Pull out the game processing bags and tape or ties to seal them.

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5. Place meat into stuffer with burger attachment and and stuff meat into bags, tape closed, label, and freeze.

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6. Thoroughly clean all meat processing attachments and counter top.

And remember, everything tastes better with bacon ; )

Spinach Artichoke and Venison Sausage Alfredo

Wishing You a Happy Easter

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This wreath is the perfect blank canvas, an all-seasons wreath. It is perched outside my front door, and I change the decorations on it with the seasons and holidays. Both the wreath and this vintage egg-flower Easter basket (with 1968 handwritten in marker on the bottom!)  came from the Opportunity Shop, the local thrift store that uses the money it makes to provide grants to local non-profits. Pretty neat, truly passing the buck and creating opportunities for many people in many different ways.

On to the meal. With Spring Break upon us, it has been nice having some time in the evening to cook when I get home and not relying on the crockpot or piecing together meals with random leftover–not that random leftovers are bad, but regularly grazing on leftovers is not really a good habit to get into. With a large bag of fresh spinach and venison breakfast sausage that needed to be cooked or else, I came up with Spinach Artichoke and Venison Sausage Alfredo. The venison sausage is breakfast sausage, made from ground deer, ground pork butts, and this Breakfast Sausage Seasoning Kit. For more information on making your own breakfast sausage, check out this post.

Serves 2

  • 4 oz. dry spaghetti
  • 1 cup cooked, crumbled vension breakfast sausage
  • 2 Tbsp. diced green onion
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup half and half (I use fat free)
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  • 6 oz. quartered marinated artichoke hearts
  • 2 tsp. margarine or butter
  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 3 cups baby spinach, packed
  • salt and pepper

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1. Melt butter and olive oil in frying pan. Add in green onion, spinach, artichoke hearts, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Saute on medium heat until vegetables are tender, about 2 minutes.

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???????????????????????????????The green onions are from the garden last summer. After harvesting them, I cleaned and roughly diced them, and then put them in the freezer in an empty pop bottle. Throughout the year when I need to use them, I just shake them out frozen. Thank you, Pinterest!

2. Meanwhile, cook spaghetti according to package directions. Drain water and rinse. Then add 1/4 cup of the parmesan cheese to the pasta, saving the remaining 1/4 cup for later. ???????????????????????????????

3. Add chicken broth and half and half to the frying pan with the vegetables and cook on medium-low for another 2-3 minutes to make a sauce.

4. To the skillet, add crumbled breakfast sausage. I had cooked my sausage the day before because I was worried that it was going bad. If you need to, cook and crumble the sausage in a small frying pan at this point.

5. Now add the pasta into the skillet with the vegetables. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup parmesan over top and stir gently to combine???????????????????????????????

Scoop up a bowl and enjoy!  ???????????????????????????????

I like to know how what I am eating stacks up, so here are theNutrition Stats according to Livestrong. This recipe makes 3.5 cups.

Per 7 oz. (almost 1 cup) serving: http://www.livestrong.com/recipes/spinach-artichoke-elk-sausage-alfredo/

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Skillet Tortellini with Wild Game Pasta Sauce

Since I am really only cooking for one most of the time during the winter due to Joe’s work hours, I often find myself with leftovers to eat. This recipe is perfect for a quick weeknight meal that takes only about 15 minutes to prepare and makes fantastic leftovers that you won’t mind having around the house. Please note that this recipe can be doubled easily for a family of four. I made this recipe with the thawed ground elk meat that had been sitting in the fridge for a while and needed to be used up. This is a basic sauce because tomato puree was all I had on hand, and it turned out good for this recipe. As an alternative, this spaghetti sauce recipe is a favorite of mine if I have a little time to spare and the ingredients it requires.

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Skillet Tortellini with Wild Game Pasta Sauce

Yield: (3) 1- cup servings

  • 2 cups frozen cheese tortellini (I used Great Value brand)
  • 1/2 lb. ground wild game
  • 1 1/2 c (12 oz.) tomato puree
  • 1/4 cup yellow onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup Italian Blend or mozzerella cheese
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, divided

Seasoning:

  • Italian seasoning
  • Basil
  • Garlic salt
  • Season salt
  • Black pepper
  • Onion Powder
  • Oregano

1. Spray a frying pan with cooking spray and brown ground meat with diced onion. Meanwhile, start water boiling in a medium pot for the tortellini.

2. Liberally season meat mixture by shaking in Italian seasoning (about 1 T.), and basil, garlic salt, season salt, black pepper, onion powder, and oregano in smaller batches (about 1/2 tsp.) until you achieve your desired taste.

3. As meat browns, crumble with a wooden spoon and add in tomato puree and half of the parmesan cheese (1/4 cup).

4. Simmer meat and sauce on LOW heat until meat is cooked through, about 5 minutes.   Taste and add more spices if desired.

5. Measure out 2 cups frozen cheese tortellini and boil for 3 minues until pasta in tender.

6. Drain pasta, rinse, and pour into frying pan with meat and sauce mixture.

7. Stir gently to combine. Top pasta with Italian blend shredded cheese (or mozzerella) and remaining 1/4 c parmesan cheese.

8. Serve immediately.

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Elk Enchiladas with Homemade Enchilada Sauce

I made these enchiladas with a use-up-what-we-have mentality and they turned out pretty good. I think they tasted better the second day, actually. They would be good using chicken and cream of chicken in the sauce recipe, too.

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Elk Enchiladas with Homemade Enchilada Sauce

  • 2/3 lb ground elk/venison/meat
  • 5 medium flour tortillas ( I use Mission Carb Balance)
  • 1 c. shredded cheese ( cheddar / cheddar jack)
  • season salt
  • Green onions, optional

Homemade Enchilada Sauce:

  • 3/4 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 2 c. tomato puree
  • 3/4 c Mild Rotel
  • cumin
  • chili powder
  • garlic salt
  • black pepper
  • cilantro

Preheat oven to 350.

1. First prepare the sauce. On medium heat combine mushroom soup with tomato puree, 1/2 c Rotel, and spices in a frying pan. I did not measure the spices, so add a little at a time until you get the level of desired heat.

2. Transfer enchilada sauce to a small bowl. Spray the pan with cooking spray and cook meat until no longer pink. Season with season salt.

3. Add half the sauce into meat and stir to combine.

4. Begin assembly: Scoop meat into each tortilla and top with a big pinch of shredded cheese. Roll and place into a greased 8×8 baking dish. Repeat five times or until all enchiladas are assembled.

5. Pour remaining enchilada sauce over top and sprinkle the remaining cheese.

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5. Cover with tin foil and bake for 20 minutes. Garnish with green onions, if desired.

Gardening Tip-  These green onions are from the garden. After harvesting them, I washed and finely chopped the onions put them into a clean, empty pop bottle that I keep in the freezer. That way I can shake out however many onions I need throughout the year.

Elk Sausage & Spinach Quiche with Savory Crust

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What can I say, it’s hard to stop eating this quiche! The crust is buttery, savory and melts into the mildly spicy breakfast sausage, spinach, onion, and cheedar cheese. Simple, filling, and good for any meal of the day.

Elk Sausage & Spinach Quiche with Savory Crust 

Servings: 4 large slices

  • Savory Pie Crust: recipe follows

-1.5  c Butter or Crisco shortening

-3 c. AP Flour

-1 egg

-1 T. White  Vinegar

-1 tsp. salt

-5 T.cold water

Using a pastry knife, work flour and butter/crisco together until mixture forms into coarse crumbs, then add egg, vinegar, salt, water and combine. I prefer using Crisco, but real unsalted butter works fine too. Form crust into ball and place in freezer for 10 minutes in a ziplock bag if you are using it immediately, this makes the dough much easier to work with. This recipe yields a top and bottom crust; I use one right away and freeze the other for later use for quiche or fruit pies.

  • 1/2 lb elk or venison breakfast sausage
  • 1/3 c frozen spinach, or more if it’s fresh
  • 1/4 c diced yellow onion
  • 1/3 c shredded cheddar cheese
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 c Half and Half ( I use fat-free)
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1 T olive oil

1. Make pie crust as directed above. Divide dough in half, use one half now & freeze one half in a ziplock bag for later use.

2. Layer pie crust in a pie tin WITHOUT greasing the pan first.

3. Pour olive oil into medium frying pan. Add in diced onion and spinach. I threw my spinach in frozen because I didn’t have much left. Sautee on medium heat for 2 minutes

4. Add in breakfast sausage and cook until it crumbles and is no longer pink.

5. In a small bowl, beat three eggs with 1/2 c. half and half. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

6. Pour meat mixture into pie crust and spread evenly on bottom.

7. Pour egg mixture over top.

8. Sprinkle with cheddar cheese.

9. Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 350 for approximately 35 minutes. If eggs are still runny, uncover and bake another 10-15 minutes until eggs poof up and are firm when you cut into the quiche.

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Nutrition Information: 1/4 slice = Note: For dinner if I am really hungry I will eat an entire 1/4 of the quiche, but it is a lot. For breakfast or lunch, I often cut smaller slices, like 1/6 or 1/8 size. Information below is for 1/4 slice. The nice thing though, is that I never feel overly stuffed like after eating a large portion of some foods. This is a wholesome recipe with a good dose of protein that will keep you full and energized.

Nutrition Facts

Serving Size: 1/4 slice

Amount per Serving

Calories 674

Calories from Fat 395.5

% Daily Value *

Total Fat 43.94g

67%

Saturated Fat 26.06g

130%

Cholesterol 302.86mg

100%

Sodium 895.96mg

37%

Total Carbohydrate 37.16g

12%

Dietary Fiber 1.86g

7%

Sugars 3.32g

Protein 28.56g

57%

Est. Percent of Calories from:

Fat

59%

Carbs

22%

Protein

16%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calories needs.

Read more: http://www.livestrong.com/recipes/elk-sausage-spinach-quiche/#ixzz2HLWwgijd

The Perfect Elk Burger + 2012 Recap

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Happy New Year! I will be the first to say that I am not one to make New Year’s resolutions, but do like to make lists! While walking Jade a few days ago, I started thinking about the highlights of 2012, those things that stand out above all else if someone were to ask me what I did this year that mattered, and this is what I came up with:

2012 Recap

~Pink Ribbon Ride– I rode in my first Pink Ribbon Ride Snow Run in March in support of breast cancer research. While I have participated in the ride for two past years by helping cook and serve lunch for the 150 riders, I was glad to be able to get out and ride this year, and even got to be in Joe’s group that he guided for the day. The comraderie and cause is what it is all about, and if you are interested in fantastic snowmobiling for an even greater purpose, here’s a link to the Pink Ribbon Riders. I am already registered for this year!

~Hawaii- Joe and I took a wonderful but whirlwind trip to the Big Island of Hawaii this April. Camping on the beach in a VW Camper Van and night snorkeling with the Manta Rays were unforgettable.

~Fly Fishing– This was the first summer we were not working literally every day of the summer, and therefore had time to go and fish ourselves. I can recall at least six different weekend trips, and while I was not always “successful” in that I caught anything, they were all fun and memorable trips in the mountains. I even got to see some new (local) country. And of course, a bad day fishing beats a good day at work!

~PR @ Old Bill’s– Jackson Hole hosts Old Bill’s Fun Run for Charities every September, and it is the one 5k race I look forward to each year.  The anonymous “Mr. and Mrs. Old Bill” match the donations made for the event to raise money for several local non-profits. Another great event for a great cause. For your entry fee, you get to choose the amount of your donation and what charity you wish to donate it to from the list provided. Last year I was unable to race because I was still not fully recovered from a herniated disc in my lower back that I had endured for 9 months of hell. But this year I was ready- I followed a 7-week training plan, customized for me on Runner’s World, and ended up beating my prior race time that I had pre-injury! My goal was just to finish within a minute of my old time, and I ended up beating it by 20 seconds for a PR of 26:19. I’ll take it.

OFFICAL RESULTS: 26 of 75 Bib 635 Megan O’Brien 5K Women 26:19

~Mealsfromthemountains– I have been reading five blogs on a regular, daily basis for years, and this summer I began tossing around the idea of starting my own. I appreciate having a healthy outlet that highlights what I care about and that can potentially be useful to others! I began this blog in September and am looking forward to growing with it in the next year.

~Elk Camp– After three years of adventures on foot, horseback, and by truck, I shot my first elk this Fall during a fabulous four-day packtrip with Joe and our horses deep in the backcountry. It has been a lifetime goal of mine to shoot an elk in the backcountry with horses, and although he was no monster, I am proud and thankful for my first bull. I am slowly learning to embrace the emotional roller-coaster that is hunting!

2013 And We’re Off…

The year is off to a good start, as I was able to enjoy a “play day” today with a 3.6 mile morning run and 4 mile afternoon x-country ski. Now that my workplace has recently undergone an organizational transition, I get five paid vacation days per year and today was one of them- yay!

Today is also a special day as it is Jade’s 10th Birthday! I cannot believe how fast the time has gone, but in another way, it seems I also can’t remember a time when I didn’t have her. She has come a long way since her early days as a pound puppy, she is a best friend, and I can honestly say I don’t think I will ever have another dog as good as her. Happy Birthday Jade!

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For this first dinner of the New Year, Joe was unexpectedly home from work early (unforunately he came home sick) and here to eat dinner. I decided to make one of his favorite meals….. burgers! Well bacon-cheeseburgers with tater tots to be exact. This year’s elk burger is exceptionally tasty-juicy but not too fatty with no game taste. We made the elk burger by grinding a few pounds of beef suet in with the ground elk meat. You can get beef suet at your local grocery store or butcher, just ask. Our burger is packaged in 1 lb bags and frozen for use throughout the year. I typically make two meals for two with one package of burger, over the course of the week. Anything beyond that gets cooked and frozen for later use in chili or spaghetti sauce.

My elk burgers are simple, but juicy and delicious, and take only about 15 minutes to prepare. During the warmer months, I grill our burgers outside, but in the winter I just make them on a stove-top griddle over medium heat.

The Perfect Elk Burger

Serves 2

  • 1/2 lb ground elk
  • Season Salt
  • Garlic Salt
  • Black Pepper
  • 2 slices bacon
  • 2 slices of 2% American cheese
  • 2 hamburger buns OR 4 slices Whole Grain White Bread
  • Cooking spray
  1. Cook bacon on griddle or in frying pan. Meanwhile, while bacon cooks, form two hamburger patties., roughly 1/4-pounders.DSC01011
  2. Spray pan with cooking spray. Place burger patties on griddle or in frying pan over medium heat along with bacon. Season with a dash of season salt, garlic salt, and black pepper. Cook on one side for about 2-3 minutes. Flip. Season opposite side and cook another 2-3 minutes for medium to medium rare.???????????????????????????????
  3. Remove bacon from frying pan and place onto a paper towel to absorb some grease. Break each piece in half.
  4. Top with a slice of cheese and lay bacon slices over top to make an “X”.???????????????????????????????
  5. Turn off heat but leave pan on burner for 1-2 minutes to let cheese melt.
  6. Top with your favorites & enjoy!

1-egg Sausage and Spinach Scramble

Yesterday I enjoyed a beautiful Sunday afternoon with my first x-country ski of the season, a 5-mile trip to my old stomping grounds on the mountain. While I had debated going at all, due to the 11 degree weather, there was zero wind and sunny skies so I layered up, put on my balaclava and went for it. The hour and forty-five minute ski in the crisp air left me quite hungry for dinner last night, and also for breakfast this morning. For breakfast, I decided to make a quick, light scramble using our elk breakfast summer sausage.

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1-egg Sausage and Spinach Scramble

  • 1 egg (local if possible!)
  • 1 T. medium salsa
  • 1 T. +/- raw breakfast sausage
  • 1 T. shredded cheddar
  • 2 T. spinach (I used frozen, fresh would be fine, too)
  • sprinkle of black pepper
  1. Spray a frying pan with cooking spray and cook breakfast sausage until no longer pink.
  2. Re-spray the pan with cooking spray, crack egg into pan and scramble with fork.
  3. Add in spinach (still frozen is fine) and salsa.
  4. Cook on medium heat until eggs set up and top with a large pinch of shredded cheddar.
  5. Sprinkle with black pepper. Breakfast is served!

Making Your Own: Elk Summer Sausage + Antler Christmas Tree

I had never eaten summer sausage until five years ago while cooking for a packtrip, when my boss had thrown in some of his venison sausage for our guests to try. Since then I have really grown to like it, and it has become a staple snack in our house. A slice of sausage, chunk of hard cheddar cheese, or even better–salami cheese from Wisconsin thanks to friends Dave & Clare–and ritz cracker makes a great snack between meals or while out in the field.

Jalapeno Elk Summer Sausage

This year, Joe and his Dad made 55 lbs of jalapeno summer sausage with about 38 lbs of my elk using a Jalapeno Summer Sausage Seasoning kit from LEM, which is a meat processing equipment company. The kit, along with other cured seasoning, can be found on this page: http://www.lemproducts.com/product/4655/cured_seasonings.

The summer sausage was made by mixing approximately 70% elk to 30% pork. We use pork butts that we buy, trim, and grind ourselves. For 55 lbs. of sausage, we used roughly 38 lbs ground elk (70%) combined with 16 lbs of ground pork (30%). To the meat we added in the Japapeno Summer Sausage Seasoning kit, mustard seed, and an additional 2 cups of diced fresh jalapeno. The sausage is then smoked for 6 hrs. in a smoker until it reaches a temperature of 160 degrees Farenheit (test the temperature using a meat thermometer, and test more than one stick). We then vacuum-sealed the sausage in 3 lb. sticks and froze them to enjoy throughout the year. Once you open one stick, refrigerate and it will stay good for about 2-3 weeks or longer. FYI- When it starts to go south, it will lose its normal smell and possibly mold. If it does not do either of these, it is probably still ok to eat, even after 2 weeks.

DSC00969-1As I write this post, I am sitting next to our Christmas tree, which I am quite proud of if I must say so myself. While we do not have room in our house for an actual pine tree, we do have room for a huge pile of shed antlers that have been collected over the years. I have no idea how many deer and elk sheds are in the pile, but it makes quite a stack in our living room corner, and when re-arranged right, they make a beautiful Christmas tree! After surviving the Jenga-like experience of re-stacking them into tree shape, I decked the tines and lit it up! Merry Christmas!