Jan 052015
 

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

Total Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes

Yield: 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!

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Dec 222014
 

xmas

My office had a holiday potluck recently and I made some cranberry bread to take with me. I’d discovered a recipe on pinterest for an amazing looking cranberry pistachio bread and wanted to make it but it was really involved. More than I wanted to do on a Thursday night at 8pm. So I found a similar recipe that was a little more simple. Here it is:

Apple-Cranberry-Pistachio Bread

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Yield: 12-16 servings

Calories per serving: Around 180

From: http://www.bettycrocker.com/recipes/apple-cranberry-pistachio-bread/5a7637ac-2edc-4d58-8bf4-8ac68367d2bd

Ingredients

  • Bread
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup apple cider or apple juice
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup shredded peeled apple (1 medium)
  • 1/2 cup sweetened dried cranberries
  • 1/3 cup chopped pistachios
  • Topping
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons apple cider or apple juice
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped pistachios

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour bottom only of 8x4-inch loaf pan. In large bowl with wooden spoon, mix flour, granulated sugar, baking powder and salt.
  2. Beat in oil, 1/3 cup cider and eggs until smooth. Stir in apple, cranberries and 1/3 cup pistachios. Spoon and spread evenly in pan.
  3. Bake 50 to 60 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
  4. Cool in pan 10 minutes. Remove from pan. Cool completely, about 1 hour 30 minutes.
  5. In small bowl, mix powdered sugar and enough of the 2 to 3 teaspoons cider for desired glaze consistency. Spread over top of bread. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons pistachios.
http://www.110pounds.com/?p=45071

I mixed everything in the Kitchenaid mixer (I love this thing) and then poured it into the mini loaf pan that I have. Using that instead of a regular sized pan I got 3 loaves of the bread out of it. The only change I made to the recipe was using the Splenda Blend instead of regular sugar.

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Using the Splenda blend I got calories down to around 135 each slice. I baked the bread for less time than the recipe called because the loaves were smaller. The recipe called for a glaze, as well. I skipped that for a few reasons. It was late in the evening and I didn’t want to do it and I honestly don’t think glazes or frosting add a lot to a recipe except for calories!

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How was the bread? It was really good! It was dense, not dry but dense. I think next time I make this I’d use plain Greek yogurt instead of vegetable oil, and maybe a little applesauce. I liked the mild flavor. There was a touch of sweetness from the cranberries and apple chunks but it was mild. It would be a great recipe for someone trying to watch their sugar intake.

Since I made the mini loaves, I had an extra one that I ended up taking to a friend’s house for her holiday party.

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Every few years she throws a house warming/holiday party and then we all go and walk along Peacock Lane. Peacock Lane is a short residential street in SE Portland that gets all decked out for Christmas. It’s actually a requirement for the homeowners to decorate!

Since the 1920s, each house in this quaint southeast neighborhood has been decorating for Christmas. Mostly Tudors, the houses are adorned with not only beautiful sparkling lights, but also nativity scenes, rotating Christmas trees and stunningly life-like replicas of Santa and Frosty. Be forewarned: this is a very popular Portland tradition and the crowds can get quite thick. It is wise to park several blocks away and walk, rather than drive through the area.

It’s a fun thing to do to get into the Christmas spirit. It’s not really necessary to do it every single year, we generally go every other year or so. So I took a loaf of cranberry bread and a bottle of wine to Sam’s house and we all hung out, eating (she made these turkey meatballs with a BBQ sriracha sauce that was amazing) and drinking before walking down to Peacock Lane.

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We had a great time at the party and then a bunch of us walked down to Peacock Lane. With Bella! It was raining pretty hard but we still had a good time (and got totally soaked).

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Bella did a great job! There were so many people that I think she was overwhelmed and so she didn’t bark at anyone. It was great!

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My cousin Anna and her friend came to the party and they walked Peacock Lane with us. It was fun! We chatted, they snuck a little adult beverage in non-see through cups and shared with us as we tromped around in the pouring rain looking at Christmas lights. :)

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I’m so proud of Bella! She’s really growing up. She’s not freaked out by strangers as much anymore and I’m excited to be able to take her more places and not worry about her being scared of everything that moves. Anyways, we went back to Sam’s house after walking Peacock Lane, soaked through and through, said our goodbyes and called it a night. All of us were very very soaked. My jacket is still drying out.

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