Friday, February 25, 2011

Casseroles #2 Wild Rice and Venison Casserole

Finding and getting good recipes for game meat can be a challenge, let's face it, it's not as if Martha Stewart or Rachael Ray are using venison and elk on their shows. What I have found in cooking with these meats over the years is that most recipes that call for beef can be substituted with deer and elk with just a few minor changes. If the recipe you are using calls for ground beef just trade straight across the same amount of ground venison or elk and continue on with the recipe. For using elk or venison roasts in a crock pot it will cook best if the roast is not completely thawed all the way through and is marinated for a few hours before put in the crock to cook. Doing these two steps helps to keep the meat tender and moist. If you are wanting venison or elk steaks it is key to marinate them overnight or at the very least that day. As for cooking the steak that is done just like a beef steak, but they taste the best when they are cooked only to a medium doneness at the most as past that it tends to dry out the meat. So there is my advice and knowledge of cooking with venison and elk, now on to the recipe.

I use a cast iron dutch oven in this recipe so that everything is cooked in one pot from stove top to oven. If you do not have cast iron just use a skillet on the stove top and a casserole dish in the oven.

Wild Rice and Venison Casserole

1 lb ground venison or elk
1 1/2 cups cooked wild rice (or long grain and wild rice blend)
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 cup sliced celery
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 cup water
1 chopped onion
3 tablespoons soy sauce

1) Brown venison in a dutch oven. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well.
2) Bake covered at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, uncover and cook another 30 minutes.

Serve with your families favorite veggies, some bread and you are ready to go.

Casseroles #1 Tuna Noodle

Okay so I asked readers this week what were some recipes or ideas they would like to see in the next few posts. I got a request from Jency for casseroles and cheese rolls. The cheese rolls I'm working on but here are two casserole recipes. Another reader, Susan, asked for ideas for elk and deer and I have not forgotten you I as one of the casserole recipes is for venison. If anyone else has any questions or requests for recipes let me know in the comments section of the blog or on my Facebook page Tales of a Ranchers Wife.

This first recipe is one that I grew up with my mom cooking and it was always one of my favorites. It has now become one of the favorites at my house, so much so that if I'm feeding our hired help Weston along with the family I have to make a double batch just to feed everyone.

Tuna Noodle Casserole (single batch)

3 cups egg noodles
1 7 oz can of tuna in water drained
3/4 cup chopped celery
1/3 cup chopped onion
1/3 cup chopped bell pepper
1 can condensed cream of celery soup
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup mayonnaise or Miracle Whip
4 oz shredded cheddar cheese

1) Cook the noodles using the package directions and drain when done.
2)  Combine soup and milk and heat through.
3) While that heats combine the noodles, tuna, mayonnaise, celery, onion, bell peppers.
4) When soup and milk are heated add shredded cheese and stir until melted then pour over the noodle mixture and stir and put in a 2 quart casserole dish and bake uncovered at 425 for 20 minutes.

I top ours with more shredded cheese before putting it in the oven, but that is up to you. You can also add other veggies such as peas or chopped cooked broccoli as this is great way to "sneak" some veggies past the kids. Serve with some bread and you have a meal ready to go. Hope you enjoy.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Wee Bit of Me Wednesday #2

Good Wednesday afternoon to everyone. Got to go out with the hubby and girls this morning and ride and check cows, a treat for us as we are normally doing school stuff. Loved the questions this week, the answers to some will tell you just what kind of personality I have (some would say I'm a little crazy, but I just say that I'm never boring!)
{one} do you always wear your seatbelt in the car?
on the ranch...never   on the road...always

{two} do you crack your knuckles?
yeah, in fact just being asked this question make me want to crack them!

{three} what is your favorite flavor of gum?

{four} what is your favorite piece of jewelry that you own?
my wedding ring and my watch... the only pieces of jewelry that I'm never seen without

{five} who is your best friend?
That goes to a four way tie: Sara, Hillarie, Sage and Shannon. If not for all of them I would not be the person (or married to my hubby) I am today. I love you all and miss you!
{six} what is your favorite smell?
Okay, this is going to sound funny but I love the smell of gunpowder and the smoke from a branding. I know two really weird smells, but there it is ;)

{seven} what is your favorite lunch meat?
anything that doesn't run away from me

{eight} do you still have your tonsils?

{nine} do you untie your shoes before you take them off?
As I do not currently wear or own a pair of shoes with laces that would be a no.
{ten} what color is your car?
It says white on the title, but right now it is the exact color of the mud on the roads around the ranch.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Help with tough beef and recipe for Spanish Rice Casserole

The other day on a fellow ranch wife's blog there was a discussion of what to do with tough cuts of beef. It got me thinking that she is not the only one out there with that problem. There have been plenty of times that I have planned and cooked a meal only to discover that you needed a chain saw to cut the meat and eat it when it hit the table. So is there a solution that works and does not take all day to the problem of tough meat? Yes, at least for me there is. One is to slow cook the meat; this is a tried and true way to help tenderize meat that is less than cooperative. This can be done in the slow cooker for roasts, london broil and brisket (my favorite way to cook BBQ brisket, but that is another post all together!), but what about recipes that call for meat cooked in a skillet quickly. That is when tough beef can be even more difficult to deal with, unless you take one extra step in the cooking process. Cut the meat as described in the recipe and brown it in the skillet just like normal, but before you add any more ingredients add enough water to cover the beef, bring to a boil and then turn down the heat and simmer for about 20-25 minutes or until the beef is tender. Watch the water level during that time and add more water if needed. When the meat is tender, drain off any excess water and continue on with the recipe as normal. I have used this trick on everything from Chinese stir-fry to Indian curry; beef stew; chunky beef chili; beef stroganoff and a wide variety of beef dishes of which I will share with everyone over the next few blogs. The following recipe is one of those that were a childhood favorite and I have made some changes to over the years. Again just like the other recipes here I hope you enjoy and hope that this tip helps you the next time you are worried about an overly tough piece of beef.

Spanish Rice Casserole

1 lb round, flank or sirloin steak; cut into 1 inches pieces
1/2 onion chopped
4 oz can of chopped green chilies
1/2 bell pepper chopped
2- 8oz cans of tomato sauce
1 1/2 cups instant rice and correct amount of water according to the rice package
salt, pepper and chili powder to taste

1) Brown the meat and if needed to make more tender add enough water to cover and simmer until tender. Drain off the extra water. Add bell peppers and onion and cook until soft.
2) Add the tomato sauce, water, chilies and seasoning. Bring to a boil and add rice stir well and turn off the heat and let sit 5 minutes.
3) You can top this with cheese, sour cream, lettuce and tomatoes or you favorite Mexican food toppings.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Wee Bit of Me Wednesday

Found this idea on a fellow ranch wives blog and it seemed like a fun thing to share so here goes, a little insight into me.
{one} what is your favorite breakfast food?
Is there really a bad one? As long as there are eggs on the plate I'm happy

{two} how many pairs of shoes do you currently own?
Too many to count. Most of them are work dress shoes that I don't wear right now. I do however also have about 5 pairs of boots that get a workout regularly.

{three} city or country?
country... did the city thing and don't ever want to go back

{four} what is your favorite part of your job?
getting spend the day working with the hubby and the kids.

{five} what is your favorite junk food to snack on?
nuts, love them all

{six} have you ever been mentioned in the newspaper?
not that I can think of.

{seven} do you use post-it notes?
YES, not sure what I would do without them

{eight} do you have freckles?
Yeah, really get them in the summer.

{nine} is it okay for men to wear pink?
Hey if George Strait can do it, then why not

{ten} when was the last time you wrote a letter to someone on paper?
Um, do correction notes for the girls school work count?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Something Sweet

Well the snow is back again. Woke up to a few inches already on the ground this morning and more coming down just as fast as it could manage. The sun has been out some this afternoon so some of the snow has started to melt, but there is still plenty on the ground. So with the colder temp outside came the desire for one of my favorite winter dinners: Pinto Beans and Ham hocks. This is a dish that my mom would spend all day cooking in the winter and the house would smell so good by the end that you just could not wait to eat. While my mom would take the long road to the end dish, I'm all about making good food: quick food. So in that case I use canned pinto beans, normally what I have canned in the fall but if not store bought ones work also. I have also traded out the ham hocks for ham steak, so that the whole thing can be cooked in about an hour from start to finish instead of having to start the night before soaking the beans and cooking all the next day.

So once the ham and beans were on and doing their thing I got to thinking what else to fix for dinner: dessert. And for dessert tonight Cream Puffs. I love these little golden gems of goodness and the fact that they take almost no work is even better. They may look all fancy and hard to make but with a few ingredients that most all of us keep on hand you can whip up a great dessert in about 40 minutes (this includes the 30 minutes they cook).

Cream Puffs   makes 12 puffs

1 cup water
1/2 cup butter
1 cup flour
4 eggs
1 box instant vanilla pudding (8 servings size)

1) In a sauce pan add the water and butter and heat until the butter is melted and the water is boiling. As soon as the water is boiling add all the flour and stir until it is mixed well and forms into a ball. Turn off the heat and remove pan and let the dough cool for 10 minutes.

2) Add eggs, 1 at a time making sure to mix in the egg completely before adding the next egg. Don't worry about over mixing this dough as it is important to make sure the eggs are stirred in before adding the next.
Spray a cookie sheet and drop 12 large tablespoons of dough on it and bake at 400 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes until the tops are just golden brown.

3) Once the puffs are cooked, cool them on a wire rack. If you are making these ahead of time you can store them in a plastic bag in the fridge for a few days at this stage.  When you are ready to serve them cut the top off the puff and remove the soft dough from inside (this forms the hollow shell to fill). Make the pudding according to box directions for pudding and fill each puff with the pudding, place top back on the puff. You can then top each with melted chocolate, shifted powder sugar, warmed chocolate frosting or your favorite topping.

So while the end result may look hard to achieve, no one needs to know that it really is not all that hard!

Hope you enjoy!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Yummy Beef Ribs

This is what will be cooking in my oven in about another 3 hours. So since I'm working on them I thought I would share with everyone along the way.

2 racks of beef ribs trimmed and cut into individual ribs
Salt, pepper and garlic to season
Your favorite BBQ sauce

Trim the ribs and cut into individual ribs, season with salt, pepper and garlic. Put in a plastic bag and toss with just enough BBQ sauce to lightly coat the ribs and then let them sit in the fridge for at least 4 hours or overnight.
Ribs tossed in BBQ sauce in a plastic bag. Let them sit for at least 4 hours like this.

Here are the ribs in the pan ready to go in the oven.

These ribs cook in the oven, covered at 250 degrees for 3 hours or until tender. Uncover and brush with BBQ sauce and cook uncovered for 30 more minutes. You can switch the oven over to broil the last 10 minutes or so to give the ribs that wonderful caramelized crust if you like.
Here are the ribs all done, barely got a picture taken as the family descended upon them when done!

I serve these ribs with a salad and corn on the cob for a simple meal. To me the ribs are the star of this meal and they take center stage with simple sides and some bread.