Fall Stuffed Cornish Game Hens

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Although Cornish game hens seem made for company, they are a favorite weeknight dinner for our family.  They practically cook themselves and fill the house with tantalizing aroma. Thanksgiving has come and gone in Canada and is still a month away in the US, but these little hens had all the flavors of Thanksgiving packed into each one.  Stuffed with a whole grain rice mix studded with pecans, cranberries, orange and pomegranate, they were simply delicious!  I used a Uncle Ben’s Ready Whole Grain Medley with quinoa, brown rice and garlic, straight out of the package, uncooked.  This type of rice is precooked. Any combination of rice/grains can be substituted but it should be almost fully cooked before stuffing.  Served with a side of butternut squash, it was sublime!

Fall Stuffed Cornish Game Hens

  • 4 Cornish Game Hens, patted dry inside and out with paper towels
  • salt and pepper
  • Poultry seasoning mix(I used a Montreal chicken spice mix)
  • 2-3 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1 8.5-once package of Uncle Ben’s Ready Whole Grain Medley with quinoa, garlic and brown rice, uncooked
  • 1/2 cup of dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup of red onion, finely diced
  • 1/2 cup of pecans, chopped
  • Arils from half of a pomegranate(about 1/3 cup)
  • 1 orange, peeled, seeds removed and diced in chunks(I used a tangerine)
  1. Preheat oven to 450 F.
  2. Salt and pepper the inside cavity of the hens.
  3. Combine the grain medley with the cranberries, red onion, pecans, orange and pomegranate arils.  Fill each bird cavity with the stuffing.  Tie each bird with kitchen twine or a skewer to prevent the stuffing from falling out during roasting. Dab the butter between each wing and breast and a bit more above the stuffing where the legs are trussed.
  4. Place the hens evenly spaced on a shallow baking sheet. Sprinkle each bird with some of the poultry seasoning.
  5. Bake at 450 F for 45 minutes.
  6. Serve with a side of fall vegetables such a butternut squash and/or brussel sprouts.

There’s a lot of optimism in changing scenery, in seeing what’s down the road.” Conor Oberst. Photo credit MZ

Upside Down Honey Walnut Pear Cake

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“And all at once summer collapsed into fall.” Oscar Wilde

The dynamic combination of in-season pears with honey, warming spices, yogurt and walnuts come together in this simple but elegant cake.  Instead of the usual brown sugar on the bottom of the pan, a honey-orange-vanilla syrup is poured over the pears before adding the batter.   Flavor-packed in every delectable bite, it is sure to become a fall favorite.  Serve with a dollop of  yogurt if you’re being good, or ice cream or whipped cream if not!

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Sheet Pan Bay Leaf-Orange Chicken and Sweet Potatoes

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When I read The New York Times’ recipe for Bay Leaf Chicken I was intrigued.  Most recipes calling for bay leaf only use 1.  This was meant to use up a lot of fresh bay leaves from the garden in a marinade for chicken thighs.  I wanted to try the recipe in spite of not growing bay leaves in my garden and I easily substituted dried bay leaves.   The marinade is absolutely fantastic.  It is more of a thick wet-rub with bay leaf, Worchestershire sauce, orange zest and the warming spices  of cumin and  coriander.  The original recipe asked for mustard seeds which I did not have so I substituted some grainy mustard and added some cumin seeds. The chicken thighs can marinade for as little as an hour or up to overnight.  Mine marinaded about 4 hours.  I modified the recipe completely from this point on.  I roasted the chicken in a sheet pan alongside sweet potatoes and shallots.  This dish smelled absolutely divine while cooking.  Instead of a parsley salad, I made a wilted spinach salad to accompany the chicken.  To serve, I spread a layer of baby spinach on a serving platter. I placed the hot chicken and sweet potatoes/shallots over the spinach to wilt it.  I drizzled the whole dish with a simple mustard vinaigrette then added the orange chunks and toasted sunflower seeds.  Sublime! So colorful and pretty, too.   Continue reading

French Almond-Pear Cake

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“It is, in my view, the duty of an apple to be crisp and crunchable, but a pear should have such a texture as leads to silent consumption.”
Edward Bunyard, ‘The Anatomy of Dessert’

More pear than cake, this cake is just bursting with fruit. Choose pears that are ripe yet still firm.  The pears do not need to be peeled, so this cake is super quick to make.   French in style, there is only enough batter to hold the fruit together. As far as cakes go, it is pretty guilt-free.  The almonds on top give it another layer of almond flavor and make it gorgeous to serve. Oh là là, délicieux!

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Turkey Cauliflower Mushroom Bake

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“We know that in September, we will wander through the warm winds of summer’s wreckage.  We will welcome summer’s ghost.”  Henry Rollins

Even though my children are grown and flown the coop, I still feel like it’s Back to School every September.  And that means baking wholesome one dish meals that fill the house with enticing aroma.   This healthy casserole is one of those perfect fall dishes, chock full of vegetables, low in carbs and fat.  Kids will think they’re having a fabulous Italian meal and won’t suspect you have an entire head of cauliflower hiding in there!  Roasted cauliflower is combined with ground turkey, mushrooms and spinach, topped with marinara and a sprinkling of parmesan.  It is baked to a pipping hot,  delectable 1-dish meal in just 15 minutes.  It can be made ahead a day.    I modified the original recipe from Cookin’ Canuck by adding spinach and shallots to the mix.  It made for a delicious weeknight low-carb meal.  To save time, you can use bottled marinara.  You can serve it over pasta, but then…there goes the low carb!  Enjoy!

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Fall Alfresco Table Setting

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“By all these lovely tokens September days are here,

With summer’s best of weather

And autumn’s best of cheer.”

Helen Hunt Jackson

When summer’s sultry heat has abated and the leaves have just started to turn is a wonderful time to enjoy some fall alfresco dining.  Take a cue from nature and highlight autumn’s gorgeous jewel shades in your table setting.  Start dinner a bit earlier to catch the setting sun and share some easy conversation around a table set under the early autumn sky.  Bring in some candlelight and break out the sweaters to stretch the evening under the stars.

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Breakfast Grain Salad with Fruit

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For a recent morning business meeting on a sveltering hot day, I was looking to serve something cool.  I searched for a breakfast salad not knowing if such a thing existed.  I came upon a quinoa berry salad on the Two Peas and Their Pod blog.  I loved all the fruit and nuts in it and the mint and basil herbs for flavor punch.  The vinaigrette is fat free and a combination of orange, lemon and lime juice with honey. My grain mixture had red quinoa, lentils, amariinth, wheat berry and farro.  So good with a great tooth feel and  crunch.  Fantastic source of protein as well.    I added arugula to my version and seasonal fruit instead of just berries.  It was a big hit.  Easily doubled for a crowd as I did for mine.  Why didn’t I think of salad for breakfast before now?  It was like a giant grain and fruit bowl that have become so popular.  Best eaten the day it is made because of the berries.  This salad is so good you may not want to have it just for breakfast.  It would make a great side for any meal.

Breakfast Grain Salad with Fruit

Adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod

Honey Citrus Vinaigrette:

1 teaspoon orange zest
4 tablespoons fresh orange juice
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon finely chopped mint
1 teaspoon finely chopped basil

Salad:

  • 2 cups cooked ancient grains mix  or quinoa, cooled to room temperature
    1 1/2 cups strawberries, cut in quarters for the large ones or halves for the smaller ones
    5 clementine oranges, peeled and segmented
  • 2 cups of arugula
  • 1 cup of chopped seasonal fruit such as plums, pears or peaches
  • 1 cup blackberries
    1 cup blueberries
    1 cup roughly chopped toasted whole almonds
    1 tablespoon finely chopped mint
    1 tablespoon finely chopped basil
  • zest of 1 lime

Directions:

For the dressing:  In a small jar, whisk together the orange zest, orange juice, lemon juice, lime juice, honey, mint, and basil. Reserve.

For the salad:  In a large serving bowl, combine the cooked grains and the arugula.   Toss with the vinaigrette. Top the salad with the fruit, almonds, basil, mint and lime zest.  Toss gently just before serving.