Parmesan Broccoli Quinoa with Wild Game Sausage

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It has been remarkably cold the past three days, with lows at night down to -18 and daytime temps not getting above the 4-10 degree range. The nice part has been that the wind has stopped blowing though, so it’s not a bad tradeoff! I am having to chop ice out of the creek every other day now for the horses.

Before our snowstorm came in last Friday, I made a shopping trip down below on Thursday to the “big city” and stocked up for the month. The big city of 10,000 residents consists of Wal-Mart, Smiths, and Safeway, as well as feed stores and the like. We were out of several non-grocery items (dog food, paper goods, toiletries, etc) which would have made my 160-mile roundtrip worthwhile anyway, so I stocked up on groceries for the next four weeks while I was there. My plan is to save a little money in the budget to buy milk and the frozen yogurt that I like in town, and buy everything else I need for the month down below.

While I am all for supporting small town businesses, I have made the decision this month to once again make monthly trips down-country for groceries and supplies. Several ongoing factors over the course of the past year have led me to this decision, and at this time I feel like is the right thing to do financially and otherwise due to the price and quality of products offered locally (I am sick of buying expensive, expired and/or damaged food!). In mentioning my decision to others, I have realized that several others in the community are doing the same. I always take a list when I go, and I stuck to it pretty much completely with the exception of purchasing quinoa. I had planned on buying wild rice, and when I got to the isle I saw several types of quinoa blends nearby and decided to give it a try since I have been reading a lot about it over the past year.

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The box describes the Roasted Red Pepper and Basil blend of quinoa and brown rice as “a unique, versatile whole grain with a slighly crunchy texture and a light nutty flavor that is used around the world.” It is also Fair Trade Certified, and I feel good about buying products that benefit the producer and agriculture as well as the consumer. Fair Trade is a global movement that aims to give farmers competitive prices, improved trade terms and incentives to invest in their communities and help protect the environment.

Tonight I got done with work and did not have to go to my other job, and found myself with time to cook. This is what I came up with: Parmesan Broccoli Quinoa with Wild Game Sausage.

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Ingredients

  • 2 c fresh broccoli
  • 1/4 c parmesan cheese
  • 6 oz. (about 1/3 lb.) wild game breakfast sausage
  • Roasted Red Pepper & Basil Quinoa, 1 box prepared
  • Kraft Salad Dressing & Marinade: Roasted Red Pepper with Parmesan (optional)

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1. Cook quinoa according to package directions until water is absorbed (typically you just have to add water, olive oil is optional and I did not add it). You can cook the broccoli right in with the quinoa if your pot is large enough, otherwise steam or boil the broccoli separately.

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2. Crumble wild game breakfast sausage in frying pan and cook until no longer pink. This is venison breakfast sausage we made this year with a kit from Hi Mountain Seasonings.

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3. Combine quinoa, broccoli and sausage together in pot and stir gently to combine.

4. Transfer to 8×8 baking dish and sprinkle evenly with parmesan cheese.

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5. Serve immediately while hot. Top with a drizzle of Kraft Roasted Red Pepper & Parmesan Salad dressing if desired.

ON BUYING LOCAL:
Something to Digest….
According to Susan Witt, Executive Director of the E.F. Schumacher Society, “buy  local” campaigns serve another function: alerting a community about gaps in the local market. For instance, if consumers keep turning to on-line or big-box stores for a particular product—say, socks—this signals an opportunity for someone local to make and sell socks. This is the way product innovations get made, says Witt.
Read more: http://www.time.com/time/business/article/0,8599,1903632,00.html#ixzz2I0mFBTAL
Something to Think About…
“We as a society and as an economy need to start optimizing for a large number of small things, not just relying on a small number of large things.”
Woody Tasch, founder of the Slow Money Alliance, a new nonprofit that is raising money to support local food ventures.

How much do outside factors play into the decisions you make regarding the food you choose to buy and the food you choose to produce yourself? How important is it to shop local?

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

Spicy Venison Sausage Pasta

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I have been wanting to make this recipe for the past few weeks since I came across it on Pinterest, and tonight was the night. This dish is a winner and I will definately be  making it again. The original recipe uses turkey sausage, and can be found over at Kevin and Amanda’s blog. I made a couple tweaks and  followed the recipe using venison bratwurst made with my deer last year. The brats were made with a sausage kit and have hash browns and onion mixed in with the venison to add flavor. This pasta was delicious but it does pack some heat, but nothing overwhelming as long as you stick with the mild Rotel. I was skeptical about using the entire can, but am glad I did. If you don’t like some spice, this is not for you : )

Spicy Venison Sausage Pasta

  • (2) venison bratwurst
  • 1  1/3 c uncooked rotini pasta
  • 1 can Rotel, mild (10 oz.)
  • 1 can chicken broth (14.5 oz)
  • 1/2 c Half and Half ( I use fat-free)
  • 1 c. Three Pepper Cheese= colby jack
  • 1 c. diced yellow onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely diced
  • 1/2 c water
  • 2 T. diced Green onion
  • 1 T. olive oil

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1. Pour 1 T. olive oil in medium saucepan and saute diced onion and garlic with brats. I kept my brats whole at this point, as in the past when I have sliced them into round pieces first, they have gotten burnt and chewy.

2. Once onions/garlic are tender (3-4 minutes), remove from pan and set aside. At this point, the brats should be expanding and beginning to brown.

3. Now it is safe to slice brats into 1/4-inch round pieces and return to frying pan. Add about 1/3 c water to pan so that brats continue to cook for 7-10 more minutes without burning.

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4. Add onions/garlic back into pan, along with the can of Rotel, can of chicken broth, half and half, and pasta, salt and pepper, and allow to rise to a low boil. Your half and half will curdle slightly and then combine into the mixture–I was worried at first adding the cream here, but it turned out fine.

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5. Keep at a low boil until pasta is tender, about 8 minutes.

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6. Remove from heat, sprinkle with 1 c. cheese, and cover with lid to melt the cheese. Sprinkle with green onion* and enjoy!

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*Garden Tip!! Green Onions can be diced and the extra can be frozen in an empty plastic water bottle so that when you need just a sprinkle, you can pour the onions out frozen and be on your way with zero waste! I used green onion left from our garden this summer in this dish.

Making Your Own: Venison Breakfast Sausage

What can I say, nothing beats homemade breakfast sausage that tastes as good or better than the storebought variety. While I know it is not always possible to do for a variety of reasons ranging from cost to time to lack of space, I also really appreciate being able to be a part of the entire hunting process, from the harvest to the processing to putting the meal on the table. Yesterday Joe and I made 18 lbs. of venison breakfast sausage with his late whitetail buck. He is a very nice older deer who will eventually have a place on our wall, and as such, we decided not to just cut steaks or make burger (which we have enough of from my elk to get us through the year), but to make sausage.

Using this kit, the Mountain Man Original Breakfast Sausage kit from Hi Mountain Seasonings, we used 12 lbs of venison that we had already previously grinded, and added in 6 lbs of grinded pork. For the best flavor at a cost-effective rate, we typically buy pork butt roasts (“Boston butts”) to add in with the venison when making summer sausage and breakfast sausage.  We bought 4 pork butt roasts from Smith’s during our trip to the big city last weekend using my Smith’s card, and after trimming them of excess skin, ground them up for a total of 22 pounds of pork for right around $50.

We added in both of the included pouches of seasonings into the vension/pork meat mixture and combined them together in the electric mixer for about 5 minutes. Last year when we followed the instructions pound-for-pound using a different flavor, we found our sausage to be very bland, and this year it is perfect, so I would recommend adding in a little more seasoning than is called for to get the best results.

Let the photo above be a reminder of how important it is to label what you process because even though you think you will remember the difference between the white bags and white with black bags six months from now, there is a good chance you won’t. Same with steaks and such– I opened an unlabelled vacuum-sealed package a few months back to find that it wasn’t leftover ground bratwurst as I had planned, but unknown-species steaks!

Typcially the game processing for us goes something like this: let meat hang in shop, butcher, wrap steaks using vacuum sealer, process immediately or freeze remaining meat to grind and then process later (1 week- 1 month later) into one of the following: burger, breakfast sausage, summer sausage, snack stick, trail bologna, and this year even pepperoni,which I cannot wait to try! Homemade pizza recipes to come!

If you have the resources available or can team with someone else who does, I highly recommend making some of this breakfast sausage. Also, slowly adding to your meat processing equipment year by year is a good way to gradually build up, without breaking the bank. A vacuum-sealer one year, grinder the next, etc. will go a long way toward enabling you to process your meat yourself. We are fortunate to be able to team with both sets of parents in sharing equipment, so that everyone benefits in the end. If your family lives close, meat processing equipment makes great gifts, just a thought for those holiday shoppers out there!