Deer Turned Dinner: Vegetable Venison Lasagna

Vegetable Venison Lasagna is a lean dish full of flavor.
Vegetable Venison Lasagna is a lean dish full of flavor.

My husband, Kurt, got his first deer this year: a 125-pound Middle Georgia doe, which yielded about 40 pounds of meat. Continue reading “Deer Turned Dinner: Vegetable Venison Lasagna”


What to Cook This Week: Italian Chicken in Red Wine

One of the skills I’m learning in culinary school is how to fabricate meats. What once was a very intimidating process, is now a proficient experience. I can honestly say I’m comfortable with butchering a whole chicken! Continue reading “What to Cook This Week: Italian Chicken in Red Wine”

Hearty Hamburger Soup for the Soul

Have you ever been in a ground beef rut? I found myself there recently when the ultimate question came up: What’s for dinner? In my mind, I thought through all my usual go-to recipes to possibly make my 1-pound package of ground beef shine – Penne casserole, spaghetti, stir-fry, hamburgers. None of those whet my whistle. I wanted something more. So, I took stock of my kitchen. Beef broth, check. Onion, garlic, check. Carrots, check. I knew where this was going. The true kicker? I had an unfinished can of tomato paste on the top shelf of my ‘fridge. Suddenly it was clear – Hamburger Soup!

All over the Southeast this winter, it’s been unusually warm. Soup made perfect sense on the first January day temperatures reached the 30’s. With a nice chill in the air, I set about chopping vegetables. I’ll be the first to tell you, I live to use my food processor – I do love a shortcut! But, there are times when nothing can replace the relaxing notion of knife-to-cutting-board. Exhibit A.

Exhibit A: Diced tri-color bell peppers and carrots wait patiently for their moment in the sun.

As easy as it is, this recipe requires a good deal of chopping. With red potatoes, carrots, bell peppers, celery, onions and garlic, it’s hearty and satisfying.

Step 1.

Brown the ground beef with celery, garlic and onion. I used lean ground beef, so there was very little fat to drain. If you’re using a ground chuck with more fat, such as 80/20, it’s very important to drain the meat before moving on. The very act of using a wooden spoon and a big stock pot together gets me excited.

Step 2.

Look how colorful and pretty this soup becomes! Toss in all your remaining chopped vegetables – the bell pepper and carrots, then add a can of whole tomatoes including the juice. Use the wooden spoon to crush everything up.

Step 3.

Next up: Herbs and seasonings! Fresh parsley and thyme add a fragrant and bright note. I also threw in some dried oregano and a few bay leaves. Season with sea salt, black pepper and a dash of cayenne pepper for extra kick! The house really begins to smell scrumptious at this point.

Step 4.

Add in the potatoes ( I almost forgot them!), then cover everything with beef stock. You’ll need about three cups to start, and more if you like it real soupy. You can also use water if you don’t have enough beef stock to go around. I used 2 cups beef stock and 1 cup of water. Add in the tomato paste to help the soup thicken up.

This is the moment I felt like Remy from my favorite Disney movie, Ratatouille. A little of this, a little of that…give it a good stir!

Step 5: Serve and EAT!

Bring the soup to a boil. Turn the heat down to low and let the soup simmer for about 25-30 minutes until the potatoes are tender and the flavors have married. The warm beef stock coupled with the soft vegetables and flavorful ground beef are the ultimate comfort.

Hearty Hamburger Soup for the Soul

Garnish with parsley and a little freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Serve with crusty bread, or in my case, leftover Red Lobster biscuits. Dig in!

Recipe Recap
I took a page out of The Pioneer Woman’s book for this recipe! I used mostly fresh herbs and less ground beef, because it’s what I had on hand. Thanks, Ree!

Hamburger Soup

  • 1 pound Lean Ground Beef
  • 1 whole Large Onion, Diced
  • 2 stalks Celery, Diced
  • 3 cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 1 can (14.5 Ounce) Can Whole Tomatoes
  • 3 cups Beef Stock, Plus More As Needed
  • 1 whole Yellow Bell Pepper, Seeded And Diced
  • 1 whole Red Bell Pepper, Seeded And Diced
  • 1 whole Orange Bell Pepper, Seeded And Diced
  • 2 whole Carrots, Peeled And Sliced On The Diagonal
  • 5 whole Red Potatoes, Cut Into Chunks
  • 3 Tablespoons Tomato Paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper
  • 2 teaspoons Fresh Parsley
  • 2 teaspoons Fresh Thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dried Oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper

In a large pot over medium-high heat, brown the meat with the onion, celery, and garlic. Remove the pot from the heat and drain off as much fat as you can. (Discard the fat once it cools.)

Return the pot to the heat and add the rest of the ingredients. Stir to combine, then bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, then cover the pot and simmer the soup for 20-30 more minutes, until potatoes are tender.
Taste and adjust seasonings, adding more salt if needed. Enjoy!

A Holiday Menu Featuring Pastured Pork Tenderloin

wpid-20131030_222638.jpgIt’s officially holiday season. Let the menu and party planning begin! I’ve put together a holiday inspired meal including a classic combination of flavors, along with some of my family’s traditional recipes that are impressive on the table but simple to execute. These dishes are special enough for Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, but delicious year ’round. Here’s what’s cookin’: Herb-Roasted Pork Tenderloin, Sautéed Cinnamon Apples, Mama’s Sweet Potato Casserole, Farm-Raised Green Beans and Grandma’s Made-from-Scratch Buttermilk Biscuits. We couldn’t celebrate the holidays without incorporating pumpkin, so for dessert, the Pumpkin Spice Trifle will make its debut appearance.
wpid-20131030_222643.jpgThe star of this show is the Herb-Roasted Pork Tenderloin. This time of year, I think folks get ham and turkey’d out. So, now is a great time to allow pork to step into the limelight. To accomplish that gorgeous golden brown exterior and moist meat, I use a combination of dried and fresh herbs and Georgia olive oil. Season the meat liberally with kosher salt and black pepper. Drizzle it with olive oil, then massage in a healthy amount of fresh basil, fresh rosemary and about a two teaspoons of dried oregano. Here’s a tip: Cook the tenderloin in a 9 x 13 dish, and just before putting it in the oven, add about an inch of water to the pan. Roast the meat at 425 degrees for 25 minutes per pound. Another reason this tenderloin tastes amazing, is because it’s pasture-raised. This little piggie wasn’t given any antibiotics or steroids, and was free to roam and eat Georgia grass. The result is a much more nutritious animal that’s healthier to eat and healthier for our environment. Thanks to my friends at Hunter Cattle Company for raising it.

wpid-20131030_222647.jpgNothing compliments pork like a side of delicious cinnamon apples sautéed in butter. This is as simple as it gets. Slice 5 to 6 medium apples about a 1/4 inch thick and saute in four tablespoons of unsalted butter. Allow them to cook down, then season with cinnamon and keep them warm. You don’t even have to peel them!

wpid-20131030_222657.jpgGreen beans may be a popular side item, but served this way you can’t go wrong. My Farm-raised Green Beans also feature Hunter Cattle’s smoked bacon and sweet Vidalia onions and homegrown tomatoes from the Statesboro Mainstreet Farmers’ Market. Cook the bacon and set aside to drain on paper towels. Saute diced onion and tomato in the remaining bacon fat, season with salt & pepper and add to cooked green beans with a pat or two of butter. Top with crumbled bacon. On the left above, Mama’s Sweet Potato Casserole is a regular at every family function. It adds a wonderful pop of color to the plate. The topping, made of chopped pecans, brown sugar, flour and butter–is like candy.

wpid-20131030_222650.jpgFinally, no meal would be complete without Southern, made-from-scratch Buttermilk Biscuits. With a dollop of blackberry jam, bread never tasted so good.

wpid-IMG_20131101_110403.jpgAfter a mouth-watering meal, a 14-layer cake or heavy pie is overwhelming. My Pumpkin Spice Trifle hits the spot. Complimented by soft spice cake and crunchy gingersnap cookies, it’s like a pillow-y cloud of light fresh whipped cream and vanilla pudding bursting with fall flavors. Plus, it makes a stunning presentation.

For the complete recipes to these dishes and to watch me cook them in action, tune in to my next episode of Statesboro Cooks, premiering in mid-November on local cable Channel 99. Be sure to watch the show to discover my secret to the best buttermilk biscuits you ever tasted! For those outside of the area, I’ll be sure to post the episode right here on Some Kinda Good, so you can watch too. Wishing you and your family a very happy holiday season. Eat well!