Chili-rubbed Game Hens with Scallions, Sweet Potatoes and Chimichurri

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For many years, I have dreamed of travelling to Mexico.  Not to the beach resorts, but to Mexico City and San Miguel de Allende to take in the culture, the art and the stunning architecture. A special birthday was recently celebrated in this magnificent country.  The people were welcoming, the cuisine truly delicious and the art and architecture, spectacular.

I created an oven baked sheet pan dinner with some Mexican flavors that could make a wonderfull Cinco de Mayo dinner.  Game hens were roasted over a bed of scallions with sweet potato rounds and served with a zesty chimichurri sauce.  Can’t say it is authentic Mexican food but it was a delicious tribute to this country we fell in love with.  You could double the hens and veggies and have plenty of chimichurri for 4.

More Mexican inspired recipes can be found here.

Chili-rubbed Game Hens with Scallions, Sweet Potatoes and Chimichurri

  • 2 Cornish game hens, about 1 1/2 pounds each
    salt, pepper, chili powder, ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    2 sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced horizontally in 1 inch thick rounds
  • 6 scallions, ends trimmed
  • Preheat oven to 400 F.
    Pat the hens dry. Sprinkle the inside cavity generously with salt and pepper.
    On a shallow baking sheet just large enough to accomodate the hens and the veggies, spread the scallions. Place the hens on top of the scallions.  Rub with the chili powder and sprinkle with cumin.
    Toss the sweet potato rounds with the olive oil. Spread around both hens evenly. Roast in the lower part of the oven for 45 minutes, flipping  the sweet potatoes over once. Remove the hens from the sheet pan to a serving platter and serve with the vegetables and chimichurri sauce.

Chimichurri

  • 1 cup lightly packed fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1/2 cup lightly packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 1/2 cup mint leaves
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup  fresh lemon juice
  • 4 tablespoons grated lemon zest
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin

In a blender, place all ingredients and purée to a sauce consistency. Can be made several days in advance and refrigerated.  Serve alongside the Cornish game hens.

 

Tomato-Pesto Deep Dish Savory Pie

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This endless cool weather has me itching to get out into the garden.  Hélas, mother nature has not been cooperating.  When I saw a huge display of gorgeous  heirloom cherry tomatoes at my supermarket, I stopped dead in my tracks.  They could have fooled me into thinking it was tomato season.  They looked that good.  I brought some home and baked up this delicious tomato-pesto tart while dreaming of the homegrown tomatoes and basil, soon to come!  Summer in the kitchen, in spite of the weather!

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Raspberry Oat Scones

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January is National Hot Tea month. What better to go with a cup of tea than a warm scone?  January also being a month of resolutions to eat more healthy, I went looking for a scone recipe that had some nutritious value but still tasted great.  These scones are chock full of old-fashioned oats and fresh raspberries and get their bold flavor from ginger and lemon zest.  As far as scones go, they baked up moist with a lovely crumb.  Spread them with a smear of raspberry jam to sweeten them up, if desired.

Raspberry Oat Scones

Adapted from Good Housekeeping

  • 1 1/2 cups of old-fashioned oats, plus more for topping
  • 2 cups unbleached flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter(1 stick)
  • 6 onces of fresh raspberries
  • 1/4 cup candied ginger, finely chopped
  • zest of a lemon, finely grated
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a food processor, pulse the oats, flour, sugar, baking powder and baking soda until finely ground. Add the cold butter and pulse until coarse crumbs form.  Transfer to a large bowl.
  3. Using a wooden spatula, fold in the raspberries, ginger, lemon zest and buttermilk.  Flour your  hands and finish kneading gently until the dough just binds together.
  4. Turn the dough onto the parchment lined pan and pat the dough into a circle mound.  Score the dough into 12 slices.  Sprinkle the dough with some additional oats.
  5. Bake 27 to 30 minutes until golden on the edges.  Let cool at least 10 minutes before cutting into triangular scones. Makes a dozen.

Looking for more scone recipes?  Here is a half dozen recipes of my favorites from the archives:

Lemon-Ginger

Cranberry-Orange

Blackberry-Thyme with White Chocolate Glaze

Coconut-White Chocolate 

Dark-Chocolate Cherry

Classic English

Looking for a page turner to accompany your cup of tea and scone? Lisa See’s The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane is set in the tea growing regions of China and is a compelling read.

For an interesting read about choosing the right teacup, click on this link to get to a fascinating article written by my niece Jessica Woollard, in Fresh Cup Magazine: https://www.freshcup.com/lips-and-curves-the-right-teacup/

Turkey Ragu-Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

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With the New Year  intention of eating healthy yet tasty foods, we tried this recipe and were blown away by how delicious it was. The portobello mushroom caps are partially cooked before getting stuffed with some lean turkey ragu which I loaded with veggies.  The stuffed mushrooms are sprinkled with a little shredded cheese and returned to the oven for just 10 minutes.  I served ours on a bed of velvety purréed spinach.  Pesto or harissa would be just as good and would save a step, but would be higher in calories.  This was a satisfying meal that was full of flavor to perk up January healthy eating.    Skinny gourmet dining at its best!  Depending on the size of your mushrooms, you may get 4-6 servings, 1 mushroom per person.  Select mushrooms that have a deeper concavity to hold the stuffing.   Hope you’ll try it!

Turkey Ragu-Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

Adapted from Cookin Canuck. You can read the original recipe here.

For the mushrooms:

  • 4-6 portobello mushrooms, stems removed
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 425F.  Oil the flat side of the mushrooms and set them on a baking sheet, bottom side up.  Salt and pepper the inside cavity.  Bake for 12-15 minutes until the mushrooms begin to soften.  Turn the mushrooms upside down to drain out all the moisture.  Keep warm until ready to stuff.

For the ragu:

  • 1 pound of lean ground turkey
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 red pepper diced
  • 2 stalks of celery diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 14 oz can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup of dry red wine
  • 2 teaspoons of dried rosemary
  • 2 teaspoons of dried oregano
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of dried pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup of grated cheese(I used an Italian blend with added parmesan cheese)

In a large pot, heat the oil and brown the turkey with the onion, red pepper and celery, stirring often to break up the meat and keep from burning.  Add the spices, wine, garlic and tomatoes.  Bring to a boil then simmer for an hour until the ragu is nice and thick.  You can modify the ragu with other vegetables you prefer or have on hand, such as carrots instead of peppers for example.

Assembly:

Reduce oven temperature to 375F.  Divide the ragu among the mushrooms on a baking sheet.  Top each one with some of the cheese and bake for an additional 10 minutes, until the cheese is melted and bubbly.

Spinach Velouté (Adapted from Jacques Pépin)

  • 16 onces of spinach
  • water
  • 3/4 teaspoon each salt and black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons of salted butter

In a large pan, sauté the spinach in just enough water to wilt it.  Reserve the cooking water and place the spinach in a blender with the salt, pepper and butter.  Purée until a velvety consistency is achieved.  Add a little of the cooking water to thin the sauce if needed. This will make more of than you need to serve with the mushrooms.  The sauce is fantastic with eggs, chicken or fish.

You want the ragu nice and thick. Cook it down until it is of a chili-like consistency.

Not just good for you. This dish looks appetizing on the plate.

Enjoy!

Dutch Baby Pancake

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Dutch Babies are puffy golden oven-baked pancakes that are often called German pancakes.  Once the batter is made, the pancake bakes itself in the oven and is served directly from the baking dish. Coming out of the oven it is just gorgeous so have your guests ready for the wow moment as it deflates quickly.  The Dutch name was coined by Manca’s Cafe in Seattle Washington in the first half of the 20th Century and is probably an misnomer for the autonym “Deutsch”.  Whatever it’s origin, it is an absolutely delicious breakfast which lends itself to personalization.  I made mine with lemon and orange zest as I was serving it with fresh berries.  This was my first time making a Dutch baby and it was so easy and much less messy than conventional pancakes.  Happy New Year!

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Cheesy Broccoli-Bacon Soup

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There is a wonderful tea room, A Taste of Britain, near where I live and it is a favorite lunch spot with friends.  Although they make wonderful scones, tea sandwiches and offer a lovely selection of loose leaf teas, their soups and salads are outstanding and what I usually order.  Recently I enjoyed a delicious broccoli-bacon-gruyère soup that was out of this world!  Thick and creamy with a hint of smokiness from the bacon, it was memorable.  I tried to recreate it here.  My version has no cream with the thickness coming from giving the soup a whirl in the blender.  Use a good melting cheese such as gruyère or aged cheddar.  Finish the soup with a sprinkle of fresh herbs and grated cheese.  Soup’s on!

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Fudgy Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

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Break out the stand mixer!  “Tis the season for baking cookies. This year I’m adding these chocolate crinkle cookies to the family favorites.  The recipe was very easy and with only 10 minutes in the oven, super quick.   The cookies are not only pretty, they are ooey-gooey-fudgy good and sure to please the chocolate lover.  The dough needs to be refrigerated at least 3 hours so plan accordingly.  I chilled mine overnight.  The pretty crinkle sugar pattern is created when the dough expands during baking and the sugar dusting splits apart.  Happy holiday baking!

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