New Year’s Eve dinner

New Year’s Eve Dinner & Games

I feel like for most of 2014 Michael and I were reclusive. We didn’t plan a ton of friend events because we were both so overwhelmed with wedding planning and life stuff and every weekend we had free was dedicated to planning the wedding. I still saw my friends here and there but we just weren’t super social. I definitely missed that and once we got back from Hawaii I started planning stuff and actually saying yes to things we got invited to! It was nice to be social again. 🙂

In the past we’ve gone out to a nice dinner on New Year’s Eve but in the last few years we’ve decided to stay in and do our own thing. (I used to go out dancing for NYE with friends–my favorite thing was the Michael Jackson vs. Prince dance party at various clubs in town!) This year we decided to have a little dinner party with another couple and play board games.

For dinner we made Cornish Game Hens. I’ve done them before but it’s been awhile. I looked around for a recipe that sounded good (last time I did them I just used some butter, seasoning and herbs) and we got to cooking. I looked for a few different hen recipes and found this one that was great.

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I didn’t have a traditional roasting pan but thankfully Google solved that for me and I made a “roasting” tray in the Le Creuset pan with foil. This recipe was super easy to follow and it didn’t take too long. The hens we got didn’t have the giblets in them, so it was a lot easier to clean them.

Roasted Garlic, Herb and Lemon Cornish Game Hens

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Servings: 4-8 servings

From: http://www.daringgourmet.com/2014/03/24/roasted-cornish-game-hens-with-garlic-herb-and-lemon/

Ingredients

  • 4 Cornish game hens, patted dry with paper towels
  • 8 thin slices of butter
  • 4 sprigs each of fresh rosemary and thyme (or herbs of choice) plus some extra leaves of each
  • 4 large cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 lemon, scrubbed well and cut into quarters
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • ½ cup chicken broth

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
  2. Pat the hens dry with a paper towel. Use your index finger to loosen the skin on the top of the hen and slip a thin slice of butter under the skin on top of each breast. Add a few rosemary and thyme leaves (or herb of choice). Repeat for each hen. Put a quarter of a lemon in the cavity of each hen along with a clove of garlic and a sprig of fresh rosemary and thyme (or herb of choice). Truss the hens by tying the wings and legs.
  3. Rub each hen all over with some extra virgin olive oil, then sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Place then hens on the rack of a roasting pan lined with aluminum foil, spacing them out so they are as far apart from each other as possible. This will enable their skins to get browned and crispy.
  4. Place the hens in the preheated oven and roast for 25 minutes.
  5. While the hens are roasting, combine the chicken broth and wine in a bowl.
  6. After the hens have been roasting for 35 minutes, reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Pour the broth/wine mixture over the hens and continue to roast for 30 minutes, basting the hens with the juices at the bottom of the pan every 10 minutes or less. The hens are done when an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 165 degrees F and the juices run clear. If you prefer darker skins, turn up the temperature to broil for a couple more minutes, watching closely to prevent burning.
  7. Carefully remove the hens and pour the juices from their cavities into the roasting pan. Transfer the hens to a warmed platter, remove the trussing string, and tent with aluminum foil to week warm. Pour the juices from the roasting pan into a saucepan and boil for about 5 minutes until the liquid is a thin sauce-like consistency. Serve the hens whole per guest or cut in half lengthwise and place cavity-down on each serving plate. Drizzle the sauce over the hens and garnish with fresh herb sprigs and a slice of lemon. Serve immediately.
http://www.110pounds.com/?p=45077

I used fresh rosemary from the garden and lots of garlic. Some of the reviewers of the recipe said the minced garlic burned. I decided to use slivers instead of minced. I also used a lot more garlic than the recipe called for and honestly, I’d use more next time. I would also flip the birds over half way through so that they get crispy brown on both sides.

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Our friends arrived just as the birds were done. Michael cooked up some small red potatoes with onions, garlic and herbs. It went great with the chickens. I considered making a salad but it seemed liked a lot of food so I skipped it. Also, the hens looked really big but once you started eating them, it wasn’t as much food as it looks. The bulk of it was the bones and stuff.

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The meat was really juicy and mild in flavor. I’d use more garlic and a little more salt next time I make these. Everyone seemed to like the dinner, so I was happy! Our friends, Brian and Courtney, made flourless peanut butter cookies for dessert and they were delicious! I need to get that recipe.

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We got some new games for Christmas: Settlers of Cattan, Ticket to Ride, and Bunco. I was super excited to try them out. I ordered Ticket to Ride on Amazon and with Prime it should have arrived long before NYE but sadly, it did not. (I contacted Amazon and they were great about it, gave us an extra month of free Prime, but I was still disappointed the game didn’t arrive because that was the plan for the dinner party.) In the end, we ended up playing a card game instead, Spades, but it was super fun! I love that game and often play it on my phone when I’m watching TV.

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It was Brian and me against Michael and Courtney and when we called it a night our teams were tied! It was really fun.

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We had a white wine blend with dinner and I opened a small bottle of champagne (it was actually the other mini bottle of champagne that the hotel gave us on our wedding night–it took us that long to finally drink it). We didn’t make it til midnight to ring in the new year, which would have been nice but at the same time I was also happy to go to bed at a decent hour! Dang, we got old.

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It was a fun, easy going night and I love playing games so that was a great time, too. It also felt amazing to sleep in super late on New Year’s Day! Hope you had a great New Year!

White Bean and Chard New Year’s Eve

Usually my boyfriend and I go out for a nice dinner on New Year’s Eve. I like the glitz and glamour of getting dressed up and being spoiled at a restaurant. Last year we changed the norm and stayed home. We were preparing for him possibly losing his job in January–which did end up happening–and wanted to tighten the reigns in anticipation. Thankfully, after a long 9 months unemployed, Michael got a new job and a fantastic one at that.

We had so much fun last year cooking a really nice meal at home and spending the evening playing scrabble together that we decided to do it again this year. Last year I made my very first ham and it turned out great! This year, we made something different: Gnocchi with Chard and White Beans and I added chicken to the recipe I found.

Skillet Gnocchi with Chard and White Beans

Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 16-ounce package shelf-stable gnocchi
  • 1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 6 cups chopped chard leaves, (about 1 small bunch) or spinach
  • 1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes with Italian seasonings
  • 1 15-ounce can white beans, rinsed
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese
Instructions
  1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add gnocchi and cook, stirring often, until plumped and starting to brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.
  2. Add the remaining 1 teaspoon oil and onion to the pan and cook, stirring, over medium heat, for 2 minutes. Stir in garlic and water. Cover and cook until the onion is soft, 4 to 6 minutes.
  3. Add chard (or spinach) and cook, stirring, until starting to wilt, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, beans and pepper and bring to a simmer.
  4. Stir in the gnocchi and sprinkle with mozzarella and Parmesan. Cover and cook until the cheese is melted and the sauce is bubbling, about 3 minutes.
Calories: 325 Fat: 7 Carbohydrates: 55 Fiber: 6 Protein: 14 Cholesterol: 8
3.1.09

 

I bought purple chard AND some kale at the grocery store and I used both in the recipe. I bought the gnocchi at Trader Joe’s, which is the only store I have ever found it in. I also added some fresh grape tomatoes, also from TJ’s, to the recipe in addition to the canned tomatoes. I thought the fresh tomatoes added a lot to the recipe and I’d definitely add more next time.

Robyn's Birthday

I opened a nice bottle of red wine, even though the red didn’t really go with dinner. It was what I wanted and it actually ended up tasting pretty good with the gnocchi and chicken. Michael had a glass of whiskey then switched to an IPA. I set the table and lit some candles and turned on the music. It was fun cooking together and the recipe was SUPER easy and fast. This could most definitely be a work night meal.

Everything was done in one skillet, so the clean up was easy as well. Next time I would add more of the tomatoes, and more greens. I didn’t really add as much as the recipe called for and I regretted that. The chard and kale went perfectly and I wished there was more in it. As for the chicken, Michael baked a boneless chicken breast with just some lemon pepper seasoning and when it was done, chopped it into bite size pieces and threw it into the skillet at the last minute.

Robyn's Birthday

The chicken definitely added something to the recipe. I’m so glad we did it. The chicken and gnocchi and greens were fantastic together. Michael felt like the white beans weren’t necessary but I kinda liked the beans in it, too.

Robyn's Birthday

The cheese melted in the skillet and mixed with the tomato chunks to make a sauce. This recipe was most definitely a winner! I halved the recipe and made three servings (yay leftovers!) and because I added the chicken to it the calorie count was off. I’m guessing it was more in the range of 450-500 calories for the entire dish. (I also added more cheese.)

After dinner we shared some Ben & Jerry’s Karmel Sutra ice cream for dessert and then worked on the crossword puzzle we started on Christmas. 😉 Yes, it’s taking us a week to finish it! Fat Kitty was super excited about everything and just HAD to make his presence known.

 

Man he looks so grumpy in that photo! He didn’t like that we were ignoring him to finish the crossword. Before we came home to fix dinner, we saw a movie, Django Unchained. I wanted to share my mini review of that.

The movie started out really, really strong. The first half of the film, I LOVED it. It was exciting, intriguing; it had a great story, the characters were interesting, the acting superb (I even thought “wow, I see Oscar in their future”), and the camaraderie between Christoph Waltz and Jaime Foxx was great! I don’t want to give too much of the plot away, so I will be a bit vague.

While the slavery aspect was really, really hard to watch and that horribly racist word was used a lot, I was able to ignore that because it was the time period and that’s what the story was about. But honestly, 3/4 into the movie I was over it. The use of that word was too much and it became every other word and I found myself cringing. That needed to be toned down. Also, it is very, very violent and graphic so if you can’t handle people being shot on film don’t see this movie. There were a few scenes where I just had to close my eyes because I couldn’t take it. Finally, my last complaint was that Tarantino needed an editor, badly. Like I said, the first half of the movie was GREAT. The second half had some pacing issues and there were quite a few scenes toward the end where I thought “Oh my god is this OVER YET?”

Don’t let that deter you from seeing it, though. Despite the missteps, the movie was still really good and Christoph Waltz seriously stole the show. I hope he goes on to very big things in his future because he was riveting. There were also a lot of other big names in the movie that threatened to steal the show (Samuel L. Jackson’s and Don Johnson’s characters). Oh, and there’s a part in the movie that will have you rolling on the floor laughing so hard. The only hint I’ll give: it’s Jaime Foxx’s outfit change. 🙂 Okay I’ll give you another hint: my first thought when I saw it was “Is that Prince?”

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Anyways, it was a fun New Year’s Eve: good company, good movie, good food. I hope you rang in the new year with your loved ones!

QUESTION: How did you spend NYE? Have you seen Django Unchained?