Roasted Cornish Game Hens

Thaw 3 Cornish Game Hens.  Mine were still a little frozen the morning I wanted to get them started, so I submerged them in cold water for one hour, dumped the water and refilled pot to submerge them again in cold water for one additional hour.  They were completely thawed after that, but you can continue to dump and refill the cold water every hour until yours are thawed. 

Remove hens from packaging and rinse well, inside and out.  Pat dry with paper towels, inside and out. 

In a small dish, mix:
- 1 tablespoon sea salt
- 1/4 to 1 tablespoon white or black pepper (depending on how much you like pepper)
- 1 to 2 tablespoons garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 2 to 3 tablespoons dry parsley

Rub skin of hens with olive oil, just enough to lightly coat.  Sprinkle spice mixture into the cavity and rub into the outside of the hens.  Set the hens aside.  You can let them marinate in the refrigerator for 3 hours to intensify the flavors.  I only had mine in the refrigerator for about 2 hours. 

Spray a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray and preheat oven to 450 degrees. 

In baking dish spread:
- 5 to 6 carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks
- 1 onion, peeled and cut into large slices
- 5 to 6 celery stalks, including leaves and cut into large chunks
- 5 or more stalks of fresh rosemary (I used all that was in the small box I got at the store and I think it was more like 7 or 8)

Place the hens on top of the veggies and tie the legs together with kitchen string or tin foil.  Cut small cubes of butter and stick four (or more depending on your preference) under the skin in various places of each hen. 

All ready for the oven
Place prepared baking dish into oven for 15 minutes.  Meanwhile, melt some butter (stir in a little garlic powder  and seasoning salt if so desired).  After the hens have cooked for 15 minutes, baste with the butter.  Cook for a total of 60 minutes, basting with butter or olive oil (or pan drippings if there are enough) every 15 minutes. 

The skin was so crispy and the meat was very flavorful

After 60 minutes, check to make sure hens are thoroughly cooked and let them rest for 15 minutes before serving. 

I cut each hen in half, so this recipe served 6.  I did not serve the veggies except I gave some of the carrots to the baby, who enjoyed them!  A few of the remaining veggies went into omelets for my husband's weekday breakfasts and the rest (minus the sprigs of rosemary) of the veggies and pan drippings got mixed into the dog bowl for a tasty treat (the dog was very happy!). 

Basic Biscuits and Gravy

I've never really been a fan of biscuits and gravy - a combination of a texture thing and my dislike of sausage.  When I discovered the men in my family LOVE biscuits and gravy, I set out to find a recipe that I liked too.  The biscuit part was easy because I have a great recipe already.  I found a gravy recipe that looked easy and after a few trials, I have tweaked it to where I love it almost as much as the boys do!

Basic Biscuits
Preheat oven to 425.

In a bowl add:
-2 cups flour
-3 teaspoons baking powder
-1/2 teaspoon salt

The original recipe says (that my mom always used when I was young) calls for sifting the dry ingredients.  After seeing a recommendation in a cookie recipe, I have started using a whisk to mix the dry ingredients rather than sifting them. 

Using a pastry cutter (or a fork in a pinch), cut in 1/4 cup shortening to dry ingredients.  Make sure the shortening is thoroughly incorporated into the dry ingredients.  You shouldn't see any big clumps of shortening. 

TIP: to make measuring easier, fill a 2 cup liquid measuring cup with  water and spoon in shortening.  Once the water level rises to 2 1/4 cups, carefully pour out the water and dump the shortening into the dry ingredients.

All at once, add 3/4 cup milk.  I stir with a wooden spoon and turn the dough out onto a floured pastry sheet before all of the flour mixture is fully incorporated.  Dust your hands with a little flour and gently kneed the dough 20 to 25 times (this will get the rest of the flour mixture combined).  Roll or pat dough to desired thickness (I usually aim for about 1/2 inch or a little thicker).  Use a biscuit cutter or fun cookie cutter (or a drinking glass in a pinch) and place biscuits on ungreased baking sheet.  Bake for 10 to 12 minutes (times vary depending on ovens and altitude...they are done when the bottoms are a light golden color).  Serve! 

Recipe makes 10 to 20 biscuits depending on how thin you roll your dough and how big your cutter is.  I like leftovers so when it's just the four of us I usually make a double batch.  A triple batch is enough when it's the 6 of us.  When it's the 9 of us, I make biscuits till I'm blue in the face ;-)

What's better than biscuits?  Star-shaped biscuits!

Brown one pound of your favorite sausage.  I don't like most sausages because they are too spicy for me (yes I'm a wimp!), but I discovered that the maple flavored sausage is very mild and the maple flavor adds a wonderful element to the gravy. 

Once the sausage is completely browned (no more pink), stir in 1/3 cup flour.  Stir until all of the flour is completely absorbed by the sausage grease (you're making a roux, which will be the thickening agent for your gravy).  I let the sausage/flour mixture cook for a minute or two after the grease is absorbed so that it browns the flour just a little (a little cooking tip I learned back in high school from a wonderful chef).  Slowly stir in 3 to 4 cups of milk using a whisk.  I usually add about 1/4 to 1/3 cup at a time and thoroughly whisk it in so that it doesn't clump.  The sausage will get a little caught in the whisk, but don't worry, it will come back out!  The amount of milk you use depends on how far you want to stretch the gravy.  More milk means more gravy but less meat in each serving. 

After all of the milk is mixed in, add 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of seasoning salt (to taste) and 1/2 to 2 teaspoons of white or black pepper.  I am not a fan of pepper so I use a small amount of white pepper, which is milder than black pepper.  But if you love pepper, add until the gravy is delicious to you!

Serve and enjoy!!

This recipe serves 4.  I double it for 6. 

Easy Glazed Boneless Pork Chops

Jumping into the week right after a trip is CRAZY.  I managed to have clothes clean, but no menu or grocery shopping was done!  My husband graciously offered to pick up some protein to go with potatoes and veggies I already had in the house, and I went in search of an easy, yummy recipe to use with the boneless pork chops he brought home.  Modified the one I found and it was a HIT!

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 to 1 tsp cayenne powder (depending on how spicy you like things...I used 1/4 and it was JUST right for me and the babies)
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp paprika
1 tsp of salt (or less if you're watching your salt intake)
1/4 tsp white pepper (or more if you like pepper more than I do)
6 boneless pork chops

- Preheat oven to 350.

- In a shallow bowl or pan combine brown sugar, cayenne, garlic powder, paprika, salt, and pepper.

- Dredge pork in seasoning mixture (patting it in for good measure).  Don't dry the pork before doing this, the moisture from the meat helps the seasoning stick.

- Heat approximately 3T olive oil in a large skillet and add the pork when the oil is heated.  Brown the pork on each side (approximately 5 minutes per side).

- If you have an oven-safe skillet you can just stick it in the oven after the pork is brown on both sides.  If you don't, lightly spray a cookie sheet and transfer the pork to the sheet after they are brown.  (I did this and poured some of the yummy oil/sugary juice from the skillet over the pork before I stuck it in the oven)

- Bake for 5-10 minutes (depending on the thickness of your chops).  If you have a meat thermometer the pork should be at 145F (or you can just wing it like I did).


I cut the leftovers up and used it in a stir fry the next night - YUM!