Spiced Venison Steak-Ums

My Healthy Lifestyle Change Efforts have been paying off recently (nope, still not calling it a diet), in the form of both lower scale readings and, this morning, a very sore knee. I’ve cut my mile time down quite a bit in the past two weeks, and in return the legs mutinied and demanded a day off. Without the gym time to factor into my day, I wanted something exceptionally lean for dinner.

Which led me to reach for venison again, but I was craving something other than a burger. We usually have multiple forms of venison in our fridge, so tonight I grabbed a bag of it in Steak-Um form. For those of you not familiar with Steak-Ums (I have absolutely no idea if that is a universally understood term, or if its something colloquial. Like Speedies, which are HUGE in the area of New York state where I grew up – but then I transplanted one state over and people looked at me like I had three heads when I asked where I could get Speedies), it is essentially a loin sliced extremely thin. Think of the slices of beef you’d find on a Philly Cheesesteak. And although I like the taste of venison au naturel, I was in the mood to jazz things up.

As well as attempting to keep my diet a little cleaner these days, I was desperate to get something into J that wasn’t ice cream, which has become his staple for the past week. He’s still very sore and can’t eat anything other than soft foods after getting all four wisdom teeth yanked last Monday, so ice cream is his best friend. I feel like an evil witch if I give him the side eye at his frequent trips to the freezer, because he looks at me with this innocent, pained face and cries “but my TEETH HURT!”

Ok, so, soft, healthy veggies. Whaddowegot? “Power Greens” mix! Which is a pre-bagged mix of spinach, kale, bok choy, arugula, and a few other dark green leafies that you can find pretty much anywhere. The spinach is the predominate flavor, so J eats it willingly. Cook that down and throw in a can of butter beans for more substance, and you’ve got a healthy, filling side dish. Good stuff!

Spiced Steak-Ums

Servings: 4

Prep and cook time: ~15 minutes

What you’ll need:

1/2 pound of venison or beef, thinly sliced

1 egg

4 tablespoons garlic powder

4 tablespoons chili powder

4 teaspoons dried dill

2 tablespoons olive oil

Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. When working with meat that is this thinly sliced, you don’t want your heat too high, or the meat will burn quickly. If you’re using an electric stove like I am, don’t get your heat above 6, at most.

Whisk an egg in a bowl. On a plate, thoroughly mix together 2 tablespoons garlic powder, 2 tablespoons chili powder, and 2 teaspoons dill. Working with one piece of meat at a time, dip the steak-um in the egg to coat, then roll each side of the steak-um in the spice mixture. I reserved half of the spices initially, because as you continue to put the egg-coated steak-ums in the spice mixture, the remaining mixture on the plate will become gummy consistency. You’ll want to add the rest of the spices about halfway through the process so that all of the meat gets an even layer. Same concept applies to that second tablespoon of olive oil – as the meat is cooking, some of the spice will end up coming off and gumming up the bottom of your pan. Add the second tablespoon of olive oil halfway through the cooking process, and even more if you think it is needed. If you don’t keep enough oil in the pan to coat the bottom, your spices will burn almost immediately.

Because they are very thin, the steak-ums will cook very quickly, so you’ll want to keep a sharp eye on them. Especially if you’re working with venison instead of beef – venison is much leaner, so it will dry out and burn much quicker than beef.

Sauteed Greens with Butter Beans

Servings: 2-3

Prep and cook time: ~10 minutes

What you’ll need

2 cups of dark leafy green of your choice (I used a pre-bagged mix, but straight spinach or kale would work great)

1 can of butter beans, aka great northern beans, aka cannellini beans (I don’t know either why they can’t just pick a name), drained and rinsed

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

Super easy side dish here – put about 1 teaspoon of water in the bottom of a pot or a pan, doesn’t really matter, as long as you can put a lid on it. I used a wok. Put your greens in, put the lid on top, set the heat to the low side of medium (4 on my stove) and let the water steam the veggies until they’re wilted, stirring every couple of minutes. Once the veggies are wilted, throw in the butter beans. Leave the lid off to let the remaining moisture in the bottom of the pan cook off so you don’t have soggy beans – about 3 or 4 minutes. Mix in the black pepper, garlic powder, and salt. Let the spices warm up and cook in the mixture for another 2 or 3 minutes, and you’re ready to serve!

Garlic-Bomb Salmon

I love salmon. Hands down my favorite fish. I enjoy fish that has a real ‘fish’ flavor to it, and generally I’m not a huge fan of the blander fishes like flounder because it seems like the ONLY thing I taste is the topping/marinade. J was never a huge seafood eater before him and I got together because his parents aren’t that big into seafood. I, however, grew up in a household with a pescetarian – my dad has always eaten seafood, but not meat. Or as he put it, the “swimming, but no running or flying” diet. So, in an effort to diversify our diet in a healthy way, I’ve been leaning heavily on fish as of late. I actually had quite the flounder disaster last week (we’re not going to talk about it), and so I wanted to redeem myself with a nice salmon dish.

In deciding how to prepare my salmon, I leaned on J’s input again. Lately, he’s been on an intense garlic kick. Now, I love me some garlic as well. I’m of strong Italian descent, and garlic is one of our main food groups. Garlic was something that he always liked, but was never madly in love with. Then suddenly, about two weeks ago, EVERYTHING I put in front of him was met with “more garlic!”

Ok then! You want some garlic? You’re gonna get some GAAAAALICK!!!!

Servings: 4

Prep and cook: ~25 minutes

What you need:

4 salmon fillets (approximately 4 oz each)

1 tablespoon lemon-infused olive oil (or just regular olive oil with a dash of lemon juice would work)

1 teaspoon dried dill

1 teaspoon black pepper

~8 cloves of garlic (about two cloves per fillet, depending on how big your garlic cloves are)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Put just a smidge of olive oil in the bottom of a glass baking dish (or, if you’re like me and don’t have a large square glass dish, put two fillets each in two round dishes). Place the fillets in the baking dish, making sure that none of them are touching each other. Brush the remainder of the olive oil over the fillets. I use D’Avolio lemon-infused olive oil (best Christmas present ever!). Sprinkle the dill and black pepper evenly over the fillets.

Then the fun part. Peel and slice up your yummy raw garlic and just lay those slices right on top of the fish in rows, getting two or three rows on each piece of fish. Just load right up on the garlic. Don’t be shy, now. Make sure that your top oven rack is at the halfway point of your oven – if you put this fish on a rack too close to the top of your oven, the garlic will just burn instead of cooking evenly and releasing all that good flavor. Put the fish in the oven, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Salmon is done when it flakes evenly with a fork, and is a light pink color.

I didn’t get a chance to snap a picture of my finished product because J swooped in on it too quickly. He was happy to finally get his major garlic fix! I hope you all enjoy this garlic-bomb recipe as much as we did!