Venison Medallions with Blueberry-Sage Sauce and Compote of Leek and Wild Mushrooms


You can definitely tell that deer season has started here. Our lives revolve around food plots, deer stands, and trail cameras. Right now it's bow season and my son hunts with a bow. My guys both eat what they kill, but they kill very few deer. They are members of a deer management club, and the rules are pretty strict.  I can usually count on at least one of two deer per season going into the freezer though. When I first married Greg, I hated the thought of cooking and eating deer. However, almost 29 years later things have changed a little. One contributing factor is the quality of the food we buy. Knowing that much of the meat in our stores has added hormones and antibiotics discourages me from purchasing it. For that reason, and the fact that I have figured out to cook more than venison chili, I have grown to enjoy venison. Today I'm sharing a fabulous recipe from The Mansion on Turtle Creek Cook Book. It looks fancy, and you would think it would be difficult. There are a few steps involved, but this recipe is very simple to prepare and delicious to eat.  
Blueberry-Sage Sauce
  • 2 c. zinfandel
  • 1½ pints blueberries, fresh or frozen, rinsed and well drained
  • 2 c. brown veal demi glace
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • Salt, to taste
  • Juice of ½ lemon or to taste
  • 2 sprigs fresh sage
  1. Place Zinfandel in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Cook until liquid is reduced to about ½ cup.
  2. Add the berries, and return liquid to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes or until berries are soft.
  3. Add demi-glace and bring the liquid to a boil. Lower heat and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes or to coat the back of a spoon.
  4. Strain sauce nd whisk in butter. Season with salt and lemon juice to taste. Place sage in sauce and steep for 10 to 20 minutes or until ready to use. Keep warm. Remove sage sprigs before serving.
You can find Classic French Demi-Glace in some grocery stores. The brand I used was More Than Gourmet.

Compote of Leek and Wild Mushrooms
  • 1 lg. leek, white part only
  • 1 c. chopped assorted wild mushrooms
  • ½ c. heavy cream
  • Salt to taste
  • Juice of ½ lemon or to taste
  1. Cut leek into 2-inch sections. Cut sections into fine julienne strips.
  2. Combine leek strips, wild mushrooms, and cream in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, lower heat, and cook for about 5 minutes or until the cream has thickened.
  3. Remove from heat and season to taste with salt and lemon juice. Keep warm.
  4. Compote may be prepared several hours ahead. Keep warm or reheat gently.
  5. Sauce may be prepared several hours ahead. Keep warm or reheat gently if necessary.

Venison Medallions with Blueberry-Sage Sauce and Compote of Leek and Wild Mushrooms
  • 8 (3-oz.) medallions from the backstrap of venison
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 3 tbsp. canola oil
  • Blueberry-Sage Sauce (recipe follows)
  • Compote of Leek and Wild Mushrooms (recipe follows)
  1. Season venison with salt and pepper, to taste. Heat oil in a large cast-iron skillet over high heat. Bring oil to smoking point.
  2. Place medallions carefully in the pan and saute for 3 minutes, being careful not to crowd the pan. Turn and cook for another 2 minutes for medium-rare. Repeat as needed to brown all fillets.
  3. Spoon Blueberry-Sage Sauce over the bottom of each dinner plate Place with 2 medallions in the center of each plate and nestle a small mound of Compote of Leek and Wild Mushrooms above the medallions. Serve immediately.


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Pumpkin Spice Cream Cheese Spread


Give me a day with temperatures under 80 and you will find me polishing up my boots, dragging out my scarves, and pulling out the fall recipes!

With fall just around the corner, my mind is on chili and soup, pumpkin and apples. Have you noticed how pumpkin spice products have taken over the nation? Because of “superfans,” Starbucks began offering their pumpkin spice lattes early this year. One fan, in particular, was delighted. That is Wesley’s girlfriend, Ashley. She is as crazy about pumpkin spice as I am about apples.

Just in time for fall, I want to share this fabulous cream cheese spread. Not only is this fantastic Pumpkin Spice Spread yummy on a warm toasted bagel, but it’s also delicious stuffed inside French toast.

I am also including the recipe for homemade Pumpkin Pie Spice. This combination of warm, fragrant spices is great to keep on hand this time of the year. It is simple to make, and any well-stocked spice cabinet will include all of the ingredients.


Pumpkin Spice Cream Cheese Spread
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • ¼ c. canned pumpkin puree
  • 2½ tbsp. brown sugar, packed
  • 1½ tsp. pumpkin pie spice blend, or more to taste
  • ¼ c. finely chopped pecans, lightly toasted
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  1. In a medium bowl combine the cream cheese, pumpkin, brown sugar, spice blend,pecans, and vanilla with an electric mixer. Mix until mixed well and smooth. Transfer to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator.



Pumpkin Pie Spice Blend
  • 1½ tbsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • ¾ tsp. allspice
  • ¾ tsp. tsp. ground cloves
  1. Mix all of the spices together in a small bowl. For convenient storage, pour into a small glass jar.

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Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars



Despite my plans to continue working after Wes was born, everything changed when he was early, and weighed a little over four pounds. Greg and I decided that I would quit work, at least for a while, to keep Wes at home. We would simply cut back on a few things to make it work. That was over twenty-three years ago! Thankfully, we were able to do it. I will never regret that decision, and occasionally, I would like to have a few of those years, when the kids were small, back again.

The kids kept me busy. I was always volunteering at the school, or chauffeuring kids around, and there was always a request for home-baked goods from someone. If only I had known about these PB & J bars then! Honestly, I’m not even a huge fan of peanut butter, but these bars are irresistible! They are perfect for that next occasion that calls for a sweet treat. Homemade is always better, and these bars are super simple.

Remember those with food allergies. Do your homework to make sure that you are not baking these for anyone with a nut allergy.


Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1½ c. sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 lg. eggs, room temperature
  • 2 c. creamy peanut butter
  • 3 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1½ tsp. kosher salt
  • 1½ c. raspberry jam (or other jam)
  • ⅔ c. salted peanuts, coarsely chopped
  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F.
  2. Grease a 9 x 13-inch cake pan. Line with parchment paper, then grease and flour the pan.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until light yellow, about 2 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, add the vanilla, eggs, and peanut butter and mix until all ingredients are combined.
  4. In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the flour mixture to the peanut butter mixture. Mix just until combined.
  5. Spread ⅔ of the dough into the prepared cake pan and spread over the bottom with a knife or offset spatula. Spread the jam evenly over the dough. Drop small globs of the remaining dough evenly over the jam. Don't worry if all of the jam isn't covered. It will spread in the oven. Sprinkle with chopped peanuts and bake for 45 minutes, until golden brown. Cool and cut into squares.


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Meatballs with Marinara Sauce

meatballs with marinara sauce

Judging from the rain we had over the weekend from Hermine, I should have written about the hot, dry weather months ago. Other than a few limbs to pick up now, we faired well here on the farm, as I also hope that you did also.

With Labor Day behind me, I am truly getting into the “autumn” mind frame. As I mentioned last week, I am tired of the hot, the dry, the mowing, and the bugs. I thought I would take us into fall a little early with recipes for these wonderful meatballs with marinara sauce.

These recipes are simple and delicious, and great served on zoodles or pasta. My cousin, Robin, recently shared this scrumptious meatball recipe with me. I doubled the recipe, thinking I would have plenty of leftovers but my crowd ate every last one of them. The marinara sauce is a Giada De Laurentiis recipe from one of her older cookbooks, Everyday Italian, and I’ve been making it for years. It is literally so good I could eat it like soup.

Complete your meal with a tossed salad and garlic bread for a fabulous meal to serve any day of the week.


  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • ½ lb. ground pork
  • ¾ c. bread crumbs
  • ½ c. grated Romano cheese
  • 2 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
  • 1½ tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. chopped fresh basil
  • 1½ tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 egg
  1. In a large bowl, mix ground beef, egg, and bread crumbs. Add cheese, parsley, oregano, basil, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper. Adjust seasonings to your taste if desired.
  2. Roll into balls and place on a large rimmed baking sheet. Bake at 350° F for about 25 minutes or until no longer pink.
  3. Serve over pasta with marinara sauce.

Marinara Sauce
Makes 2 quarts
  • ½ c. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 small onions, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
  • ½ tsp. salt, or more to taste
  • ½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper, or more to taste
  • 2 (32-oz.) cans crushed tomatoes
  • 1 dried bay leaves
  1. In a large pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions, and garlic, and saute until the onions are translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the celery, carrots, and ½ tsp. each of salt and pepper. Saute until all the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and bay leaves, and simmer uncovered over low heat until the sauce thickens, about 1 hour. Remove and discard the bay leaves. Season the sauce with more salt and pepper to taste.


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Grilled-Bacon-Wrapped Dove, Quail, or Pheasant



Almost 29 years ago I married a hunter. He enjoys hunting almost anything, and he likes to fish too. When Wes was born a little over 23 years ago, Greg knew he had a life-long hunting partner. Hunting and fishing are sports that the men in this family have enjoyed for generations. When we were young married, with no kids, I would spend the weekend at deer camp with Greg, my father-in-law, and my brother-in-law.

I even went hunting by myself one time. Yes, you read that correctly…one time. After convincing my best friend, Loretta, to take a Hunter’s Safety class with me, I sat in a stand, with a gun, by myself. I enjoyed being in the woods. Every sound I heard I imagined a huge deer, bigger than anything Greg had ever seen, walking straight to me. I ended up shooting at a deer and missing and crying all evening. I’m not sure how I would have handled it had I killed the deer.

That was my last time hunting with a gun. Since then I have taken my camera. I still enjoy the peacefulness of the woods, but for some reason, Greg won’t take me because he says I’m not quite enough. We are passed those young married days when he wanted to spend every moment with me so now I’m left at the house. (I’m actually okay with that, though!)

I have had to cook my share of fish and game over the years. Dove season opened here last Saturday so I thought I would share this easy Emeril recipe that Greg and Wes love. This recipe works well with dove, quail, or pheasant, and probably any other bird you wanted to try. Simply adjust the cooking times to accommodate the size of your bird.

Grilled Bacon-Wrapped Quail, Dove or Pheasant with Bourbon Pepper Glaze
  • 8 quail, dove, or pheasant, dressed
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 strips thick-cut bacon
  • ½ c. pepper jelly
  • 3 tbsp. bourbon
  • ½ tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  1. Season each bird with salt and pepper. Wrap a slice of bacon around the bird and secure with a toothpick.
  2. Preheat grill to medium-low.
  3. In a bowl, whisk the pepper jelly, bourbon, and Worcestershire sauce until smooth.
  4. Place the bacon-wrapped quail on the grill and cook, turning frequently, for 12 minutes or so, or until the bacon is beginning to caramelize in places and the birds have grill marks on all sides.
  5. Brush the birds with the glaze and continue turning, glazing, and cooking until the birds are nicely glazed and grilled on all sides and the flesh is cooked through, about 12 minutes longer. (Internal temperature of 165°F).
  6. Remove from grill and rest briefly before serving.


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