The Food Guy, Steven Keith Eating his way through the state, plate by plate

Oh, Deer! What To Do With All That Venison?

With another deer-hunting season wrapping up, many of you may find your freezers full of rich venison meat waiting to be put to good use.

Well look no further!

Today’s Charleston Daily Mail offers a variety of suggestions to inspire you, including ideas from some from the area’s finest restaurants. (You can check them out here: And here’s another idea from my own experience …

My mother-in-law has served venison for big family dinners twice in the past week – and the results have been phenomenal. Born and raised in Austria, Louise Wiseman knows her way around the kitchen, and is especially skilled at baking world-class desserts and preparing flavorful, fork-tender meat.

This week’s venison was no exception.

Although she’s hesitant to reveal her precise recipe, I can tell you she braised it in a flavorful broth seasoned with mushrooms and onions until a fork pierced it as if it were soft butter. (You can make your own braising liquid, or use any combination of prepared broths/soups to create the taste you want.)

Pair this awesome venison with some roasted potatoes, Brussels sprouts and a hearty red wine for one heckuva meal!

The Last Supper … For Turkey Leftovers

We’re now entering Day 4 of turkey leftovers. Or as I like to call it …  


After today, I’ll be breaking down what’s left of that big bird to make a giant pot of homemade stock to freeze in smaller containers that can be pulled out to flavor soups, stews, rice and more over the coming weeks. 

But if you have any meat left, you can still get one more meal out of the thing. Today’s recipe calls for angel hair “nests” (available in some specialty food stores) but you can also just serve this over any ol’ pasta for similar results. 


Angel Hair Nests with Turkey and Leek


1–2 packages of angel hair nests

5 Tbsp. olive oil, divided

1-1.5 cups cooked, skinless turkey breast

5 medium leeks, white and light green parts only, washed and thinly sliced

1 cup water

3/4 cup finely chopped green onions, divided

1/3 cup dry white wine, such as Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc

3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Cut cooked, skinless turkey into bite-size pieces or shreds; set aside.
  2. Add 1 tablespoon oil to skillet. Reduce heat to medium, and add leeks. Cook 7 minutes or until tender-crisp, stirring frequently. Add water, 1/2 cup green onions and wine; cook, covered, 10 minutes or until leeks are soft.
  3. Transfer mixture to a blender. Cover and process until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in remaining 3 tablespoons of oil. Cover and keep warm.
  4. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Working in 3 batches, gently lower pasta into boiling water. Cook 6 minutes or until al dente. Carefully remove pasta with a large slotted spoon, gently shaking to remove excess liquid. Repeat procedure with remaining pasta.
  5. Arrange cooked pasta nests on a large rimmed platter. Spoon sauce evenly over each nest. Sprinkle evenly with Parmesan cheese, and top with turkey. Garnish with remaining 1/4 cup green onions.


    Recipe courtesy

Beef Stroganoff – Beef + Turkey = Tasty Results

I adore Beef Stroganoff, with its chunks of meat and fat egg noodles bathed in a creamy sauce made with sour cream, Dijon mustard, onions and parsley. 

So why not replicate the dish with a few leftovers from the Thanksgiving table? 

Today’s recipe takes advantage of some of that turkey (you can use white or dark meat), plus adds mushrooms and cranberries for a super-quick satisfying meal. 

And if the addition of cranberries doesn’t tempt your taste buds, you can easily omit them – no harm done.  


Turkey Stroganoff with Mushrooms & Cranberries

9 oz. wide egg noodles

2 tsp. vegetable oil

1 ½ cups/8 oz. finely chopped onion

1 ½ cups/4 oz. sliced cremini mushrooms

6 Tbsp./3 oz. dry white wine

6 Tbsp./2 oz. dried cranberries, preferably unsweetened

3 cups/12 oz. shredded cooked white and dark meat turkey

1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard

12 oz. reduced fat sour cream

2 Tbsp. chopped parsley


  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Cook the egg noodles according to package directions. Drain and reserve.
  2. Place a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the vegetable oil and sauté the onions and mushrooms until softened and starting to brown, about 8 minutes.
  3. Deglaze the pan with the white wine, and add the cranberries. Simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 2 minutes. Stir in the turkey, Dijon mustard and sour cream. Remove from heat. Adjust seasoning to taste.
  4. Divide the noodles between 6 bowls. Top with stroganoff mixture and sprinkle with parsley.
    Recipe courtesy

Guys Redeem Themselves with Feast Fit for a King

 I just spent a long weekend away with “the guys” as part of an annual getaway we look forward to each July. 

Chillin' in Canaan Valley
Chillin’ in Canaan Valley

We meet at cool spot in Canaan Valley for several days of golf, frosty beverages and general shenanigans – all set to a backdrop of gorgeous mountain views. 

And as guys tend to do on such occasions, we threw nutrition to the wind every chance we got.

Brownies for breakfast, chips and dip for lunch and loaded pizzas and/or stuffed burritos for dinner were pretty much the norm, although we did shake things up a bit. One guy actually had his burrito for breakfast and a few others managed to find real meals for lunch. (If a tower of hot honey habanera wings count?)

I myself sunk to new levels – or reached new heights, depending on your outlook – when I inhaled a large burger topped with bacon AND mac ‘n’ cheese.

But rest assured, we redeemed ourselves on the final night.

Bacon Burger with Mac 'n' Cheese
Bacon Burger with Mac ‘n’ Cheese

With beverages flowing and music blaring, we grilled out fat French-cut pork chops, roasted asparagus with sesame oil, baked potatoes with white cheddar and rosemary, cooked baked beans with peppers, simmered mushrooms with wine – and whipped up a wicked five-cheese mac ‘n’ cheese flecked with thick-cut bacon and a butter-crunch panko crust. (We are guys, after all.)

It was a feast fit for kings, which is pretty much how we lived the weekend. And I’m already counting the days to next year’s nosh.

“Do Something With Snow Peas,” She Says

It was my turn to cook dinner last night, so all day yesterday I had visions of new cool dishes dancing in my head.

Then I get this text from my better half: “Can you do something with snow peas? I don’t want them to go bad.”

LOVE a good cooking challenge!

But this one got even trickier when I realized I wouldn’t have time to run to the story for my pick of necessary ingredients. I’d just have to make do with what we had on hand.

Lucked out there.

I ran home to find a few bacon-wrapped filets in the freezer from a recent “buy one, get one free” sale (BOGO, people!) at Kroger. While still slightly frozen, I easily cut them into thin slices and seared them in a hot skillet with a little olive oil, garlic and ginger.

Then I removed the cooked beef and, in the same pan, added beef broth to the pan juices and cranked up the heat. When this started bubbling, I added a splash of soy sauce and chopped carrots, cooking them a few minutes until they started to soften.

Next, I added the snow peas, chopped scallions and about a half-cup of prepared Asian orange-garlic sauce that, thank GOD, we had leftover from a previous experiment. I added the beef slices back to the pan and let the whole mixture simmer until the sauce thickened a bit and the flavors started to meld.

After spooning my fantastic (I must say) impromptu beef stir-fry over rice and serving it to salivating family members, I sat back and basked in another cooking challenge conquered.

Even better, I’ll enjoy the last bit of leftovers for lunch here in a bit.

A Spicy Take on This Year’s Holiday Ham

It’s hard to beat a good honey-glazed ham – at Christmas or any time – and I’m not saying you should even try.

But if you ARE looking for ways to spice up your traditional holiday feast, how about a ham glazed with a hot-sweet-sour combination of sorghum, chipotle and Grand Marnier? Sounds pretty good to me.

Courtesy of the folks at Texas Pete Hot Sauce, this recipe promises to drop a “flavor bomb” …

Chipotle, Brown Sugar & Sorghum Glaze

1 cup chipotle hot sauce
2 cups brown sugar
3/4 cup sorghum
2 Tbsp. Grand Marnier
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup thyme, dried
2 Tbsp. black pepper, fresh ground

  1. Combine all ingredients and whisk together thoroughly.
  2. Use as a marinade, basting sauce, glaze or finishing sauce.

When it Comes to Nutrition, Every Little Step Counts

As the weather starts to turn colder, my thoughts (and cravings) definitely veer off the old healthy-eating path, trying to pull me to the Land of Comfort Food.

But as much as I love me some good chicken ‘n’ dumplins’ and velvety (not Velveeta) mac ‘n’ cheese, I don’t like care for the doughy deposits they leave around my mid-section.

So is there a way to indulge without all of the caloric consequences?

Sure there is. Just think of small changes you can make to some of your favorite comfort foods. Substitutions like …

  • Pizza: Instead of having 3-4 pieces of pizza, enjoy a slice (maybe 2) and a side salad instead. Or go veggie, substituting healthier toppings for grease-laden meats and multiple cheeses. Better still, make it on a whole wheat crust.
  • Spaghetti: Enjoy a reasonable portion (not the plate tipping mound you crave) but top it with plenty of tomato-based sauce. I also occasionally slip veggies in the sauce for extra nutrition. The response is usually favorable, if they even notice the veggies at all. Bonus!
  • Hamburgers: Lessen the nutritional ramifications of America’s favorite sandwich by using a higher-quality lean beef, or substituting lean chicken, turkey or even a veggie patty. Stack with veggies, too, and go easy on the bacon and cheese. Instead of fries, add a veggie side.
  • Macaroni & Cheese: Mix in vegetables like tomatoes, spinach, peas or carrots and try a lighter cheese sauce (made with milk, not cream) and don’t drown the noodles in so much of it. Also try to serve mac ‘n’ cheese as a side dish, not the main dish, to keep portion size under control.

I know I’ve said it before, but little things make a difference.

I used to make fun of someone for drinking diet soda as they inhaled a sugary dessert.

“Hey, it’s better than having dessert with a regular soda.”

True that.

Water instead of soda, skim instead of whole, baked instead of fried, whole grain instead of bleached white flour …

Every little thing helps.

Home-Canned Tomatoes Star is Savory Chicken Dish

If you caught today’s column ( in the Daily Mail, you know I be lovin’ me some homegrown tomatoes.

In addition to the bounty recently shared by a neighbor (thanks Carla!) we also received several jars of  home-canned tomatoes from one of my wife’s clients. My head is spinning with ideas, but here’s how the first two jars made their debut …

I seasoned some boneless chicken thighs with a little salt, pepper and garlic and placed them in a Dutch oven. I covered them with the soupy tomatoes, stirred in a little fresh basil and simmered on low all day.

By the time dinner was served, that chicken was infused with great flavor, was juicy as heck and was so tender a fork slid through it like a knife through hot butter.

Fantastic — and about as easy as you can get.

I know I’m not breaking any new culinary ground here, but today’s delicious new take on a traditional lunch is definitely worth sharing.

There are few things kids (or adults, for that matter) like better than a bowl of tomato soup with a melty, toasty grilled cheese sandwich. But the “gourmand” in me has a difficult time serving something so simple when there are all KINDS of interesting things you could add!

Shrimp or crab, maybe another vegetable or two in the soup. A slice of salami or fresh herbs in the sandwich.

Not wanting to rock the boat too much, I made today’s soup with a little fresh chopped basil stirred in and a sprinking of Romano cheese on top.

As the commercial goes, “Mmm, mmm, good!”

Sometimes “Bad” Means Oh, So Good!

The boys and I have this fun game we play at dinnertime.

Whenever I make a dish I’m particularly proud of, I deliver it to the table — head down in shame, all sullen-like — apologizing in advance for how bad it’s going to taste.

“I tried so hard to make you something nice, but this just didn’t turn out at all.”

Their faces light up like fireworks, because they know I’m pulling their legs.

They dig in and immediately burst into a chorus of “yums,” lapping up every last bite. Then they play their own trick on me.

“You’re right, Daddy, we didn’t like it,” they say, with frowns that quickly turn upside down. “We LOVED it!”

The latest installment of these shenanigans happened just a few days ago with a dish that garnered immediate entry into The Food Guy Hall of Fame.

I sauteed some Italian sausages and then set them aside to rest. In the same skillet, I cooked down a bunch of red and yellow bell peppers (cut into strips) in the scant sausage fat that remained, adding a little water at times until they softened a bit.

I ordinarily would have used beer, but I was feeding the kids. You know, Child Protective Services and all.

As the peppers cooked, I mixed up a pan of grits made with homemade chicken stock. When all was said and done, I had gorgeous bowls of creamy grits topped with sauteed peppers and sliced Italian sausages, with a little drizzle of pan drippings around the edges.

It took fewer than 30 minutes — which included frequent breaks to referee fights — and it was restaurant-quality good.

When my wife walked in the door and saw all of our empty plates, the boys hung their heads and apologized that the dinner was so bad we had to feed everything to the dog.

She looked bummed but sat down, took a bite and then fake-gagged.

“You’re right boys, I don’t like it.”

They squealed.

“I love it!”

Five satisfied bellies and one puffy chest. That’s a good night.