What to do with Leftover Elk Steak | Elk Steak Quesadilla

I grew up with a respect for everything I received, and that meant that we didn’t waste anything. Over the years it’s been a challenge to get the family to eat leftovers. Not wanting anything to spoil, I learned to improvise.

In college I worked at a grocery store in San Diego. I worked in a lot of departments, and I learned about health codes. I’ll have you know, health codes are not respected everywhere. Today I still live by many of the rules, and that means that food items in the refrigerator have an expiration.

Something else I learned, way before college and San Diego, is that the best tasting game meat is dependent on how you place your shot and how you take care of the animal after it’s down. Watch the YouTube video below to learn more about those details.

Hunting is hard work, and the real work happens after an animal is down and the hunting license is notched. There is an amazing sense of accomplishment when we work hard for something. More people should learn about this concept these days. We hand too much to our children (and others).

After preparing, working out, camping, hiking, spotting, stalking, making the shot, field dressing, cooling down the meat, packing it out, packing camp out, getting the meat into the walk in cooler, cleaning our selves up, unpacking gear, cleaning gear, tending to horses, cutting meat, sealing meat, labeling meat, freezing meat… The list goes on.

Hunting for your own food is a lot of work. I don’t want an ounce of it to go to waste.

Back to the left overs.

When the daughter headed off to college, the number of mouths to feed obviously became smaller. That meant learning how to cook like a single mom again. It also meant that some of the meat we’d packaged, planning on more mouths, would be too much for two people.

You can’t unthaw only half of a package. I had to defrost the sealed bags as we’d prepared them. I also had to plan meals around them but without left overs.

You’d think with an empty nest, we’d have a lot of time on our hands. That isn’t the case. We became busier than ever. At times I had one meal cooked and another planned for the next day, but we wouldn’t make it home before dark. We’d eat on the run, and the plan would change, and food would spoil.

I became better!

Here’s the deal. Yes, the next animal I tagged I packaged differently, but I also cooked differently. I made the regular size batches of pazole, tortilla soup, carnitas, steaks, and so on. I learned to freeze the left overs and use them when we were in a pinch for a dinner idea when it’s too hot out or when we didn’t feel like cooking.

Cook up your meal, serve enough for your family members, and after it’s cool freeze the remainder in applicable sized portions.


You’ve created your own TV dinners. I’ve done this with all sorts of meals and with the fixings for them. If you’re making fajitas, cut up all of the bell peppers and onions. Use only what you need for who’s there. Freeze the rest in a zippered freezer bag (peppers all in one bag, onions in another). If you have leftover steak, do the same thing. Slice it, dice it, or chop it, and put it in a freezer bag. The next time you’re thinking, “We don’t have anything to eat” you’ll be able to grab, dump, season and go.

I know that sometimes the meat isn’t the “proper cut” for the meal, but HEY! We spend too much time working on perfection. (This coming from a perfectionist! Oh my — Perfectly imperfect, I am!) If you don’t have the strips you’re “supposed to have” for fajitas, it’s okay.

If that’s not okay with you, here’s another quick and easy recipe, whick may have been the first thing I learned how to cook.

ELK STEAK QUESADILLA (Using leftovers)

Start to finish: 5 minutes
Serves: 2


2 – 12″ Flour tortillas
2 – 1/2 Cup shredded Mexican cheese
1 – 8 oz. elk steak, cooked and diced (Thawed)
1 – Small avocado
2 – Tablespoons salsa
1 – Pat of butter
Dash of salt


Add half of a pat of butter to and preheat a comal (flat cast iron skillet) on medium heat. After the pan is hot and the butter is melted, lay one tortilla on the pan. sprinkle half of your cheese on that tortilla making sure to get as close to the edges without spilling over the side. Spread your diced steak on top of the cheese. Leave this to heat and go peal and dice your avocado. Sprinkle the avocado on top of the cheese and meat. Use a spoon to sprinkle the salsa around on top of the other ingredients, then sprinkle the remainder of the cheese. Again, take care to get the ingredients evenly distributed and as close to the edge as you can. Place the second tortilla on top of your stack of ingredients. Press it down and then spread the remaining portion of butter on top of that tortilla. Sprinkle it with salt. Check the bottom tortilla. When it’s turning golden-brown, flip your entire quesadilla over. Sprinkle the top with salt. Allow it to cook until the now bottom tortilla turns golden brown. Use a a chef’s knife to cut the quesadilla into pizza-shaped slices. Serve the slices while they’re hot.

Note: I always encourage people to make recipes their own and one of the good things about a quesadilla is just about anything goes. Some ideas of things you can add are beans, lettuce, sour cream, shrimp, mushrooms… Hey! You can throw you fajitas in there. Add what you love.

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Savory Elk Stew – Instant Pot Recipe

Wintertime in Colorado calls for a savory elk stew dinner. One of the best things about a successful hunt is enjoying delicious meals for several months. Each time I thaw a package of elk meat I’m reminded of the hunt itself, the work it took to get to place my tag on an animal, the work of dressing it and packing it out, then packaging it for the freezer.

All of the work that goes into the hunt makes it that much more delicious when I cook it up and put it on the table. Any good hunter knows that the best tasting elk meat begins with a well-placed shot, which starts with training months before the hunt. Once the shot’s landed and the animal is down the care of the meat in the field makes all the difference.

I’m proud to say that the rutting-bugling bull that I arrowed last September is tasty in many recipes. Here’s a yummy one I whipped up today.

Savory Elk Stew

Start to finish 1 hour, 15 minutes
Serves 12


1 tablespoon butter
1 pound elk meat, cubed (Substitute venison, beef, or other red meat.)
5 potatoes, peeled and cubed (If you like peels, leave them on.)
2 carrots, chopped
1 small butternut squash, peeled, cleaned, and chopped
1 small white onion, sliced
4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
2 cups beef broth
2 cups water
1 tablespoon tomatoe paste
1 tablespoon Worcestershire
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon Rosemary spice
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper (optional)
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper


Turn your Instant Pot, or other multipurpose electric pressure cooker, to the Sauté or brown function. Add the butter and let it melt, then add the cubbed elk meat. Stir the elk meat until all sides are browned. Add the remaining ingredients to the pot. Place the lid on and turn it to the locking position. Make sure the vent/valve is closed. Turn the pot’s setting to the stew function and cook for 45 minutes. Follow the manufacturer’s safety instructions for releasing the pressure on the pot before opening the lid.

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Sesame Venison Green Bean Dinner | #FieldtoFork

Last winter I enjoyed hunting whitetail and just used up the last of the meat in a sesame green bean dinner. After a hard day’s work, we were tired and hungry and didn’t want to spend a lot of time cooking dinner. I had some fresh green beans that needed to be used up so I pulled out the small venison roast and made a quick delicious meal in no time at all.

You’ll only need one pan and a small bowl, so clean up is a snap too.


Sesame Venison Green Bean Dinner

Start to finish 15 minutes
Serves 4

Sesame Venison Green Bean Ingredients

1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 cloves garlic peeled and minced
1 pound venison roast (or other red meat), trimmed and sliced into strips
1 pound green beans, washed and trimmed
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon granulated white sugar
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon sesame seeds

Sesame Venison Green Bean Instructions

Add the sesame oil to a cast iron wok and heat on medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook it until it becomes golden. Add the meat to the pan and sear it until it’s browned on all sides. Next, add the green beans. Stir and fry them for 5-8 minutes or until they become flaccid.

In a separate bowl, mix the soy sauce, rice vinegar, sugar and water. After you’ve mixed the liquids thoroughly add them to the pan with the meat and green beans. Cook the mixture for an additional two to three minutes or until most of the liquid is cooked off. Sprinkle the mixture with sesame seeds and serve as a single plate meal.

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Easy to Make Elk Meatloaf Recipe

This best-ever meatloaf is an easy to make dish that our family loves. You can also substitute beef, deer or other game meat if you do not have elk available. Serve it up with mashed potatoes, green beans, or sides of your choosing. H loves to smother a slice of meatloaf with mashed potatoes, shredded cheese, and Cholula sauce. How do you dish yours up?

Elk Meatloaf

Total time:  65 mins; Prep time:  5 mins
Serves: 8


2 pounds ground elk (or other ground meat)
1 egg, whole large
1/4 cup catsup, plus extra for top
1 tablespoon Worcestershire
2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 a sleeve of Saltine crackers, crushed
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup diced onion
1 tablespoon Season All


Preheat oven to 350 F.

Add the ground elk to a large bowl. Add the egg, catsup, Worcestershire, and vinegar and knead until the items are well mixed. Next, add the crushed crackers, garlic, onion, and Season All. knead until the mixture is well blended. Transfer the mixture to a prepared 5″x9″ loaf pan. Squirt lines of catsup over the top of the uncooked loaf. Cover the pan and bake for 45 minutes. Remove the cover and bake an additional 15 minutes. Remove the loaf pan and allow it to rest 15 to 20 minutes prior to serving.

Savory Green-Chile Mountain Lion Calabacitas Recipe

Here’s a wild spin on an old favorite Calabacitas Recipe! Have you ever had that wonderful Mexican zucchini dish? Well, it’s one of my family’s favorites and I just made it better, if you can believe it.

Image-1If you’ve just started following me, you might not know that I live in Southwest Colorado with a view of New Mexico from my front porch. Those of you who’ve visited the area know that green chile is a staple, and finding a meal including it doesn’t take long. That also means that my Calabacitas include said chile.

We buy bushels of New Mexico’s Hatch Green Chile. We roast it, clean it, seal it up, and freeze it for later use. If you don’t want to go through this effort, you can always buy green chile in the freezer section at your grocery store.

I’m not sure if I ever shared another story, but I’ll make sure and do so, right now. In the area, there are many of us who hunt for our food. We’ve recently acquired the name “locavores” but in years passed, we were called hunters. I’m a hunter. I enjoy the organic meat that goes in my freezer, and this year I finally caught up to a cougar. No, not a lady who chases younger men. A mountain lion. I tagged one and yes, he went into my freezer.


Many people say, “Why would you kill an animal you don’t eat?” I say quite the contrary. Mountain lion is a delicacy, and I only have a small amount left because the calls for me to share came quickly. I am blessed to be able to share the fruits of my labor with others. You see, mountain lion hunting is truly the most arduous hunt in which I’ve partaken.

There’s something to be said about the effort that goes into putting the food on your table. While I won’t ever knock anyone who chooses to only buy their food at the grocery store, I do feel a huge satisfaction from doing the work myself. If you’ve ever had an herb or vegetable garden, you probably know the gratification of which I’m referring.

I cannot tell you how my friends prepare their lion meat, but I will share one of my absolute favorite recipes.

Mountain Lion Calabacitas

Start to finish: 30 minutes
Servings: 12

(This is a recipe that is tasty also as a vegetarian dish, for my family and friends who don’t partake in meat eating.)

1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 small red onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 pound ground mountain lion (or other ground meat)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Dash of oregano
1/2 pound roasted Hatch green chile, seeded and chopped
3 zucchini, sliced and chopped
3 yellow squash, sliced and chopped
1/4 cup butter
Sea salt
Ground pepper

In a large skillet, disco, or wok, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic. Sautee these until they are golden brown. Stir in the meat, breaking it up with a spoon or spatula. Sprinkle in the cumin and oregano. Stir until the meat is cooked through. Add the green chile, stirring the mixture until it becomes fragrant, about five minutes. Next, add the zucchini, yellow squash, butter, and salt and pepper to taste. Cover the mixture and cook until the squash is tender, about 10 to 15 minutes.

Mountain-lion-clabacitas-recipe-wild-game-field-to-forkServe with whatever garnishes and sides you prefer. Almost all of my meals include tortillas, and cheese is always a must for my husband. Speaking of those two, you can roll, or fold, the mixture into a tortilla, add goat cheese and avocado, and you have a delicious taco or burrito.

Other optional additions include, but are not limited to, whole kernel corn, poblano chiles, and tomatoes. I indeed use some of these when I don’t have other ingredients. It’s great either way.

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Wild Turkey Tortilla Soup Recipe


Field To Fork: Wild Turkey Tortilla Soup

Taking-home-dinner-Mia-Anstine-wild-turkey-soup-Hank-Anstine-photo-Beretta-USA-blogRecently, I’ve written about how to get started with turkey hunting and how to prepare yourself and your gear to go afield. Within my family, there’s not much more enjoyable than taking our Beretta A300 shotguns out to the field to tag and bag a spring-time wild-turkey.

However, there’s more to the thrill of hunting wild turkeys than the process of hunting the bird. While the challenge of outsmarting these savvy birds and putting the knockdown on them is part of the fulfillment in the hunt, there remains the question of how to make the most of your wild turkey harvest. Today, I’d like to share one of my favorite recipes for wild turkey.

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Blue-Cheese Elk Burger Recipe

Since it’s summertime, I have to revive a favorite elk recipe. This is one I play with all the time, depending on the mood of my taste buds. I sometimes add barbecue sauce. Sometimes I leave out the blue cheese, add garlic, sauteed mushrooms, and so on. You can also substitute beef, deer or other game meat if you don’t have elk available. Let me know how you like them.

Elk-burger-recipe-Mias-Motivations1/2 C – diced onion
1 Tbsp – vegetable oil
1 – egg, whole large, beaten
1 tsp – dried thyme
1 tsp – dried rosemary
2 tsp – brown sugar
1/2 tsp – salt
1/4 tsp – pepper
2 tsp – Worcestershire
4 oz – crumbled blue cheese (optional)
2 pounds – ground elk (or other red meat)

Other items needed: Hamburger buns, mayo, mustard, catsup, lettuce, tomato, cheese and/or any of fixin’s that are your favorite on a grilled hamburger.

In a large skillet, add vegetable oil.  Heat over medium heat.  Add onions and saute.  Set them aside to cool.  (we puree the onions after sauteing them and add them as below so the kids don’t notice them).

In a large mixing bowl, add the egg, thyme, rosemary, brown sugar, salt, pepper, and Worcestershire. Mix thoroughly.  Add mixture to ground meat and mix until well blended.  After the mixture is well blended, add blue cheese if desired. If you’re questioning the blue cheese, TRY IT! You just might like it. If you don’t like it, simply leave it out next time.