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Friday, November 27, 2009

Thanksgiving Feast!

     We decided to take it easy this Thanksgiving by staying home and relaxing. Yeah right! As the matriarch of my little family, I felt it my purpose on Thanksgiving morning to get up out of my warm, cozy bed and get into my kitchen and prepare a yummo feast!
     Jim so graciously took the boys out with him for a 6-miler and I got to work! On the menu for today is Cornish Hens with Brown Rice Stuffing, Sweet Potato Casserole, Brown Gravy, Corn Light Bread, Kasey's Green Bean Bundles, Sweet Tea and Pumpkin Cream Cheese Pie. I started at 9 and was sitting to eat at 12...This was such an easy Thanksgiving meal! And....oh yah....I was running out of sugar and used Splenda for my Corn Light bread, Pie and half the sugar for my sweet tea--made me feel a little healthier!!
Cornish Hens with Brown Rice Stuffing
Serves 4
1 Cup            uncooked brown rice
2 1/2 cups     chicken stock
1 small           onion, chopped
1/2                yellow bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup          dried apricots, chopped
8 Tbs             unsalted butter
1/2 cup          toasted almonds, slivered or chopped
1 tsp              dried thyme
1/4 tsp           dried marjoram
4                    Cornish hens
4 slices           bacon
     Bring chicken stock I use chicken broth to a boil, add rice, and cover. Reduce heat and cook for 40 minutes or until stock is absorbed. Set aside. Preheat oven to 325. Saute onion, bell peppers, and apricots in butter. I don't like bell peppers or apricots so I eliminated them and used a few pinches of brown sugar to replace the sweetness from the apricots Mix with cooked rice, almonds, salt, thyme, and marjoram. I thought marjoram was way too expensive, so I used the poultry seasoning I had in cupboard, it has marjoram in it Salt and pepper hens, inside and out. <-I actually forgot to do this step, LOL Stuff with rice mixture and place one bacon slice on top of each hen. Bake, uncovered, at 325 for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, basting often with pan drippings. I also used melted butter because there wasn't enough drippings in the beginning  If not tender after 1 1/2 hours, cover and steam for final 30 minutes.
     I started with my Hens. Defrosted and salted them.

(Jim laughs everytime he sees this pic, for some reason he gets a kick out of it! LOL!)

     I stuffed them with a Brown Rice Stuffing that was absolutely delicious that I will make it again on its own to have as a side dish.
     I saved the drippings and used them as the liquid for my McCormick Brown Gravy mix. For the Sweet potatoes, all I did was used a can of yams, about a half cup of brown sugar, baked on 375 for 30 minutes, topped it with marshmallows and baked until brown. You can find the recipe for the Corn Light Bread here.
     The Green Bean Bundles are sooooo easy. Kasey has made them for my family twice when I had both boys and I called her specifically for this meal so I could replicate them! A can of CUT green beans, wrap about 6 beans in a half piece of bacon, I use turkey bacon, secure with a tooth pick. You get about 8 bundles from one can. Then I placed in a baking dish and poured about half a bottle of Russian salad dressing on top. Baked in oven for 30 minutes at 350. So easy, so yummy!!!
     The Pumpkin Cream Cheese Pie came from my Cooking Club, Wendy made it in October and it was soooo yummo, or so I wrote in the margin of my cookbook! I decided to try it out for myself and I have to say, it was a little bland, and needed some tweaking.
Pumpkin Cream Cheese Pie
Serves 8
-basic pastry for 9" pie shell, unbaked
Cream Cheese Layer
1 pkg     cream cheese (8 oz.), room temperature
1/4 cup  sugar
1/2 tsp   vanilla extract
1 large   egg
Pumpkin Layer
1 can     pumpkin puree (16 oz.)
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp     cinnamon
1/4 tsp  ginger
1/4 tsp  nutmeg
1/8 tsp  salt
2 large  eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup   evaporated milk
     Preheat oven to 350. For the cream cheese layer, combine cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla and blend in egg. Spread cream cheese mixture over unbaked pie shell. For the pumpkin layer, combine pumkin, sugar, sinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt. Blend in beaten eggs and evaporatedmilk and pour over cream cheese layer. Bake until firm. 60 minutes or longer.

     I make my own pie crust, mainly because I'm cheap, and partly because it's fun! I recently saw a tutorial by Curtis Stone on how to make a better pie crust and I think it is soooo helpful. See it here.
I use a recipe from my Better Homes and Garden cookbook.
Pastry for Single-Crust Pie
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup shortening
4 to 5 tablespoons cold water
     Heres what I do!....And Curtis too! Mix my flour and salt. Cut in the shortening using pastry cutter or knives. Curtis uses a blender, which I think makes a huge difference. I used my hand mixer on 2 pies this week and they had incredible crusts!  I also use butter instead of shortening. I am however about to switch to coconut oil, it is supposed to be healthier...we'll see! When mixture resembles coarse crumbs, I add water a tablespoon at a time. I form into ball, place in plastic, put in fridge for about 20 minutes, remove, roll out and whala!

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