Spades

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. šŸ™‚

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
  • Ā½ cup dry white wine
  • Ā½ 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!

4 Days

What a lovely weekend! It doesn’t hurt that I had four days off from work! I needed it, too. It was so nice being able to sleep in, do whatever I wanted and see family and friends. I didn’t really do any Black Friday shopping except for one item that I got in the afternoon. IĀ may have bought a certain something for a certain someone and maybe hid it at a friend’s house. But I’m not talking! On Friday night, Michael and I watched “The Woman in Black.” It was actually a really good movie and I think only PG-13, but it was SCARY!

On Saturday morning I did the exercise bike at the gym and then spent a long time working out with kettle bells. I was trying to build back all the core strength I had before I took a week off due to my cold. As a result, I lost track of time and ended up going longer than I planned on. Oh well, it felt great!

After that we went out to lunch at Mac! Mac & Cheesery on N. Mississippi Ave. Mississippi is a cool little neighborhood here in Portland with some funky stores, art galleries and good restaurants. We’ve both heard good things about Mac and it finally wasn’t pouring rain outside so we went. The place was trendy and funky, with retro lunch boxes decorating the walls.

I got a pink of Ninkasi Total Domination IPA, and I ordered the Fried Mac n’ Cheese Balls (there were 4 total, I ate 3) and then a tiny cup of the tomato garlic bisque. Michael got the order of four cheese mac.

The fried mac n’ cheese balls were fantastic–not greasy and just the right size. I am disappointed with myself for not looking up the calorie count BEFORE I ordered them. They were way more than I would ever have eaten, honestly. But they were really good. And my soup came in a tiny cup, so I didn’t eat tons of food–it just felt like I did!

Michael’s mac n’ cheese serving was humongous and he deemed it the “best” mac n’ cheese he’s ever had at a restaurant. I had a few bites and I agreed that it was really good–not quite as good as his homemade famous mac n’ cheese but REALLY GOOD. The flavors of the cheese were distinct and delicious, the breadcrumbs on top were crunchy. He ended up eating all of it. šŸ™‚

The service was friendly and fast at Mac, the food was delicious, the portions were huge (so lots of leftovers if you want), it was cheap and it was also a great place to take kids. There were ample choices for kids, vegans or people who were gluten free. If you’re near N. Mississippi Ave, give it a try!

After lunch we walked around (i.e. rolled ourselves down the street) and did some shopping. Michael found his white elephant gift for my family Christmas party and I enjoyed just window shopping at all the funky stores.

Saturday night, we went over to my friends’ Erika and Charles’s house for dinner. Charles made pork and chicken enchiladas from scratch and they were so good! He used green enchilada sauce and they were oozing with flavor. He also made Mexican rice on the side–which I haven’t had in years and ate way too much of.

We hung out and ended up playing to games of Spades until it was almost midnight and everyone was ready to go to sleep. It was so much fun! Spades is definitely my favorite card game. It’s easy to teach/learn and it can get really exciting. Erika brought out the dessert she made while we were playing the games:

Oh.My.God. You know, it’s funny because a few weeks ago I posted the recipe for the peppermint s’mores on my Facebook page and asked which of my friends wanted to make it and bring it to my house. šŸ™‚ Erika said she’d make up but she wouldn’t deliver them! Too funny, but I’m glad she decided to make them for us when we came over because they were SCRUMPTIOUS! Simple but decadent. I think I might make these for my family Christmas party…I will post the recipe if I do.

The rest of the weekend was spent doing the norm: grocery shopping, mounds of laundry, catching up on TV shows from last week and of course doing a little Christmas shopping. I also finished up all my holiday cards! I was really on the stick this year. (I started handmaking them last weekend when I was home sick and finished them this weekend while I watched TV.)

I used pictures that I took from Christmas last year when I got my new camera. They weren’t perfect photos because I hadn’t learned how to use my camera yet, but they looked pretty good. I think the cards turned out well. What do you think?

QUESTION: How was your weekend? Did you do any Black Friday shopping?