Asian Glazed Cornish Game Hens with Cantaloupe Salad

IMG_0929Originally I found a version of this recipe in a magazine, and what really drew my interest was how easy it looked. For years I had been under the impression that cooking game hens was a lengthy process. I was delighted to discover that game hens can be found frozen in most grocery stores, usually for a cheap price. These glazed hens are delicious and can be easily made on a weeknight. I do recommend having butchers twine on hand in the kitchen, as well as purchasing your hens the day before so that they can defrost in the fridge overnight. Please enjoy these spicy, tangy, sweet and delicious hens!

Prep Time: Cook Time: Level: Serves:
25 min 40 min-60 min Intermediate 4

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 Cornish game hens, roughly 1 ½ lbs each, thawed
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2-3 tablespoons Asian chili sauce (Sambal Oelek brand can be found in most grocery stores)
  • ½ small cantaloupe
  • 1 shallot
  • 1 cucumber
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 500°. Thoroughly rinse off hens in cold water then pat dry. Season the hens all over with salt and pepper then truss with butchers twine. (If you need help trussing there are some great videos available on YouTube)
  2. Place hens in a roasting pan and roast in the oven for 15 minutes.
  3. While the hens are roasting, whisk the chili sauce, lime juice, brown sugar, olive oil and 2 teaspoons salt together. Set half on this chili mixture aside in a bowl to use on the salad.
  4. Baste hens with the remaining chili mixture, and then continue to cook until the hens register at 160° on a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh, which should take 20-30 more minutes.
  5. While hens cook, peel and thinly slice shallot and the cantaloupe.  Peel, seed and thinly slice the cucumber. Combine the cucumber, cantaloupe, shallot and toss with the remaining half of the chili mixture dressing.
  6. Once the hens are done, use kitchen shears to cut the twine and serve the hens with the salad, drizzle any juices from the roasting pan over the hens and salad as a finishing touch.
  7. Enjoy!

Chocolate Orange Cupcakes

Chocolate Orange CupcakesNothing cures a bad mood or the case of nerves like chocolate.  I’m not a huge fan of chocolate but this cupcake recipe had me coming back for more.  This recipe was created using the cake base from a German Chocolate Cake recipe.  I’m allergic to coconut, but I had to try the recipe that uses coffee in its recipe!!  One of my weaknesses is coffee.

When I do enjoy chocolate, it is usually chocolate covered oranges.  There is something sweet and refreshing about oranges dipped in chocolate.  A friend of mine and I had a bake date (with wine of course!) and decided to make these devilish cupcakes!

These bad boys did not last long!

Prep Time: Cook Time: Level: Serves:
20 min 15-30 minutes Intermediate 3 dozen

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 oz. Semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 ¼  C Cake flour
  • ¾  C unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 ½  tsp baking powder
  • ½  tsp baking soda
  • ½  tsp salt
  • 1 C lukewarm coffee
  • 1 C buttermilk
  • 1 ¼  C  unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 ¼  C sugar
  • 5 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 ½  tsp pure vanilla extract

Ganache Filling

  • 8 oz.  dark chocolate (chips or chopped)
  • ¾ C  heavy whipping cream
  • 2 TBS  unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 1 TBS  Grand Marnier or any orange liquor

Orange Dream Frosting

  • 2 TBS  butter, at room temperature
  • 4-5 C  confectioner’s sugar
  • 3 TBS  orange juice
  • 2 TBS  Grand Mariner or other orange liqueur
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 TBS grated orange zest or a drop of orange oil

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Melt chocolate in a double-boiler (*or you can use a metal mixing bowl over boiling water in a pot).  Set melted chocolate aside to cool.
  3. In a medium bowl,  sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  4. In a measuring cup, mix buttermilk and coffee together.
  5. In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar, until it is fluffy.
  6. Add eggs one at a time and be sure to mix them well before adding the next egg.
  7. Add melted chocolate and vanilla extract until mixture is well incorporated.
  8. Alternate mixing the flour mixture and coffee/buttermilk mixture, starting and ending with the flour mixture.
  9. Fill cupcake liners until 2/3 full and bake for 15-20 minutes.

Ganache:

  1. Place chocolate in a medium (heat-proof) bowl.
  2. On stove heat butter and heavy cream, until it comes to a boil.
  3. Immediately pour the boiling mix over chocolate and whisk gently until completely incorporated.
  4. Stir in liquor and let it cool and set.
  5. Pour ganache into a condiment bottle and squeeze contents into the cupcakes (once the cupcakes have cooled.)

Frosting Directions:

  1. In a small bowl, cream butter, orange juice and Grand Marnier together
  2. Slowly beat in confectioner’s sugar until the frosting peaks to a consistency to your liking.  (I’ve found that four cups usually does it.)
  3. Add in the pinch of salt and orange zest until well blended.
  4. Add to a piping bag with your desired decorating tip.

Orange Doodle Tart

veggiezest

Orange Doodle

Today’s recipe is an awesome…awesome blend of beautiful flavors. It is one of those recipes that make you look like a star at dinner parties but doesn’t demand too much work. Its a combination of flavors from snicker doodle & orange custard balanced with dark chocolate ganache. When you make a tart of any kind, usually the crust takes most of the time – you prepare the dough, you roll it out, you bake it for a good amount of time etc. In this tart recipe the crust is made of snicker doodle cookies which can be store bought – like mine.

There is only one place near Pondy where they sell snicker doodles and they make it GOOD! Its the regular sugar cookie coated in a mixture of cinnamon and sugar but it also has orange zest inside the cookie with was actually the inspiration behind this recipe. If your snicker doodles don’t have orange…

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Caramel Apple Cider Muffins

Caramel Apple Cider MuffinsCaramel Apple Ciders are synonymous with fall and winter days.  Apple ciders have been warmed up with spices such cinnamon sticks, nutmeg and vanilla. One of our favorite things next to food is books.  It is a perfect evening, if either of us can curl up with an amazing new book and some Caramel Apple Cider.  The Sonoran desert hardly gets snow, but on a really chilly day, this drink can truly warm you up.  So these muffins are inspired by this wonderful drink.  We added a crumble topping and a salted caramel drizzle for extra yumminess!

Leave us a comment and tell us your favorite winter memory or your favorite thing to do to unwind!

 

Prep Time: Cook   Time: Level: Serves:
15 min 40 min. Easy 2 dozen

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4               eggs
  • 3  1/3 C all purpose flour
  • 2 C            apple cider
  • 1 1/3 C    sugar
  • 1  C           butter, softened
  • 4 tsp        baking powder
  • 2 tsp        cinnamon
  • 1 tsp        salt
  • 2 tsp        vanilla

Crumble Topping

  • 1 C            brown sugar
  • ½  C         sifted all-purpose flour (sift before measuring)
  • ½ C          butter (cold)
  • 2 tsp        cinnamon

Salted Caramel Drizzle

  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1/2 C  caramel

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Cut up butter into small cubes.  In a small bowl, combine all crumble topping ingredients together and blend until it is crumbly.
  3. In another small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.  Set it aside.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, cream together sugar and butter until fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time, blending well and then add the vanilla.
  5. Alternately, starting with the flour mixture, mix in the flour mixture and apple cider on low speed.
  6. Fill cupcake liners about 2/3 of the way and bake for 10 minutes.  Add crumble topping on top and bake for another 5-7 minutes.
  7. Mix the salt and caramel together.
  8. After baking let them cool for about 5 minutes and then drizzle salted caramel on top.

Gift of Giving (Home/Family Series Part 3)

Gift of Parenting

It is said that the love of a child is the greatest gift of all.  For new parents, you can help make things that will enhance a child’s growth or stimulate their environment.  You can help build a new art center in the playroom.  Make a wooden monogram letter decorated pertaining to the child’s interests.  Frame a book cover of the child’s or one of the parent’s favorite childhood books.  There are many great ideas on the web and some that are handmade and ready to sell to those of you who aren’t crafty (like us!) and those of you that time just isn’t on their side.

You can make magnets out of scrabble letter and a customized magnetic board!

Do you have any great or fun gift ideas for new parents?  Please share them below in the comments section.

Blackberry-Peach Sangria

Blackberry Peach SangriaSangria has some deep roots in Europe.  Wine was known to be spiced with cinnamon and ginger.  Wines would often be made from many different berries and fruits.  Water was not safe to drink until modern times, so naturally the only safe thing to drink was wine and beer.  Sangria as we know it has roots from Spain and was first introduced to America at the 1964 World’s Trades Fair.  These sangrias usually used a “claret” or “bordeaux” wine, some fruit and brandy for flavor.

Sangria has become such a big hit and a staple to serve at parties.  There are many blush, white and red sangria varieties with numerous flavor combinations.  This recipe is a red wine type.  To get the best possible flavor, make sangrias the night before as they are at its best when marinated.

Blackberry-Peach Sangria

1 btl (750 ml) red wine

1 C  peach puree

½ C brandy

½ C  Blackberry syrup

1 C  fresh blackberries

fresh peaches for garnish (optional)

Directions:

  1. Combine all ingredients and stir.
  2. Marinate over night or minimum of four hours.
  3. Shake before serving and serve over ice.

Gift of Giving (Home/Family Series Part 2)

New Homeowners or The Newlyweds

There is nothing like owning a home or being married for the first time.  For these couples, try etching your own wine glasses with a custom made stencils.  They are super easy do.   Finding or making your own stencil will be the hardest part.  You can always do a monogram for these couples.

You can make scented candles, all items can be easily found at Michaels.  You can even add scented oils for bigger touch.

If you’re not feeling crafty, you can find custom made wine glasses online from several different stores.

Pot Roast

Pot RoastThis dish reminds us of the those days playing with our neighborhood friends until sundown.  Our moms yelling at us to come in for dinner.  We’re tired but gleeful of the amazing adventures that we just encountered and on the kitchen table was our restoration.  Our rejuvenation.  Back in those days, life had boundless opportunities and endless possibilities.  Pot roast is just another one of those timeless and classic home-cooked meals that reminds us that food feeds much more than the body…it feeds the soul.

This recipe uses a crock-pot for easy cooking.  Make it in the morning and it’ll be ready for you by the time you get home from work.  Cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 5-6 hours.

Prep Time: Cook   Time: Level: Serves:
15 min 8 hours Easy 8

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1-2 lb.  chuck roast
  • 3  russet potatoes (skinned and cubed)
  • 1 pkg.  baby carrots
  • 1 lg.  onion (sliced wegdes)
  • ½ C  red wine
  • 1 TBS  cornstarch
  • 2 tsp  house seasoning or steak seasoning
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 3 bouillon cubes
  • 3 cloves of garlic (chopped)
  • 1 TBS  Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 TBS  vegetable oil

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Pour a glass of wine and sip. (to test the flavor *wink, wink*)
  2. Cut up onions and potatoes and set it aside in a small bowl.
  3. In a large skillet, on medium-high heat, heat the oil.  Season the chuck roast on both sides with garlic. (Approximately 3-5 minutes on each side)
  4. In crockpot, stir in half of the vegetables (onions, carrots and potatoes) with a ¼ C of wine, cornstarch and a little bit of salt and pepper.
  5. Place the seared pot roast atop the vegetables. Pour on top the remaining juices and garlic over the roast and vegetables.
  6. Add in bay leaves, sprinkle Worcestershire sauce across the roast and the bouillon cubes.
  7. Top with rest of the vegetables and pour the remaining ¼ cup of wine on top.
  8. Set your crockpot on low and cook for 8 hours.
  9. Pour yourself another glass of wine and wait for your house to fill with a great aroma.

Gift of Giving (Home/Family Series Part 1)

Hostess with the Mostest

Do you have a family member that just loves to entertain?  Make her an unique serving platter.  Check this out from one our favorite DIY blogs Wit & Whistle.  Buy a white porcelain serving platter, some chalkboard paint and bake it.  This gives a simple but useful dish that any hostess can label what they’re serving.

Make your own coasters using tile pieces from Home Depot or Lowes.  You can custom make these to any host/hostess’ interests!

For more DIY gift ideas for the home, check out Wit & Whistle or our DIY board on Pinterest.

Rice Cake & Dumpling Soup (Manduguk)

Rice Cake & Dumpling SoupThis is a soup usually prepared for New Year’s and special occasions.  This is quick and easy to make and can be prepared in less than thirty minutes.  Great for cold days and we love it when we’re feeling under the weather.  Mandu is Korean for dumplings.  We haven’t mastered making our own dumplings but that is on the Cooking Bucket List.  This recipe uses vegetable dumplings that you can find in the frozen food aisle in any Asian specialty store along with the rice cakes.

Prep Time: Cook   Time: Level: Serves:
10 min. 15 min Easy 4

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 C  rice cakes
  • 15 pieces of dumplings
  • 6 0z.  beef (chopped in small chunks)
  • 6 C  water
  • 1 tsp  soy sauce
  • 1 TBS  garlic (minced)
  • 2-3 green onions (chopped)
  • 1  small onion (chopped
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 seaweed sheets

DIRECTIONS:

  1. In a large pot, add beef, garlic and soy sauce and cook until the beef browns.
  2. Add water, dumplings, and rice cakes.  Bring to a boil and then lower to medium heat.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk eggs.  Cut up sheets of seaweed into small long strips
  4. Add salt and pepper for flavor and then add in eggs, onions, green onions and seaweed.
  5. Cook for approximately 5 more minutes or until dumplings are done.

Gift of Giving (Experience Series Part 5)

Gift of Local

Shopping local and supporting small business owners and entrepreneurs supports the local economy too!  Many of the products and services you buy from local businesses are unique.  There are many entrepreneurs on the web that make their products such as Etsy.com.  You find many great and creative gifts at this website, if you’re not crafty yourself.

Our town has a local nonprofit ran theater that shows independent films

Try using ThinkLocal, where you can find local businesses, restaurants and events near your city or your state.