Cornish Game Hens

Check another meal off my bucket list for 2017! Cornish game hen are a way to wow guests and a great alternative to ham for Easter Dinner or beef for Christmas.

I made them on a snowy April Fools Day. We took advantage of a nasty day outside, in between sports seasons, to stay warm inside, start a home improvement project, play board games and make some comfort food.

Cornish Game Hen

Ingredients

5 Cornish game hen, keep the gizzards and neck

2 Tablespoons olive oil

2 teaspoons of salt

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

1 teaspoon ground thyme

1 lemon, zested and cut into 6 pieces

1 large white onion, cut into 12 pieces

5 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped

10 stems of fresh thyme

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a large roasting pan with cooking spray. Dry the hens. Stuff each with a piece of onion, piece of garlic, piece of lemon and a stem of thyme Mix the lemon zest with the salt, pepper and ground thyme in a small bowl. Rub each hen with olive oil and sprinkle with  the lemon zest, salt, pepper and ground thyme mixture. Place into roasting pan and surround with the gizzards, rest of the onions, garlic and thyme stems. Roast in oven for about 1 hour and 10 to 20 minutes. Check internal temperature. When cooked through and juices run clear, place hens on a cutting board under a foil tent to rest for about 10 minutes.

You can make a great pan sauce with the drippings. Place the roasting pan on the stove over medium heat (2 burners if a large pan) and simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove the gizzards, onions, garlic and thyme stems. Add the juice of about 1/2 a lemon, a tablespoon of brown sugar and 1/8 teaspoon of pepper and stir. Whisk in 1 to 2 Tablespoons of cornstarch. Allow to simmer for another 5 minutes, whisking to get clumps out. Add 1 tablespoon of butter and remove from heat. It is ready to serve!

Each person got half of a bird and I still have enough to make a pasta dish with the leftovers for dinner tonight. I served served the hens with wild rice from Wegmans and frozen peas.

What are you making for Easter dinner? I am thinking ham, salmon, a potato dish and maybe asparagus. What sides are tradition in your family? Try something new like my Sweet Potato Gratin or polenta with Balsamic green beans.

Baked Alaska

Check one item off my 2017 Cooking Bucket List! For Valentine’s Day I made Baked Alaska for my family. It is definitely old fashioned and definitely delicious! I scoured the internet and my cookbook collection for recipes to learn the process. Allrecipes.com never fails to provide good recipes, so I used this recipe to make sure I got the meringue right.  Some use pound cake and sorbet and bake the meringue while others use sponge cake and ice cream and use a torch on the meringue. The thought of putting ice cream in the oven, made me nervous, so I decided to go the torch route. Plus that is more fun!

Baked Alaska

Ingredients

1 gallon of Hood Patchwork ice cream

1 box of gluten free chocolate cake mix, plus an extra egg (I like Wegmans GF chocolate cake mix)

8 egg whites

1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar

1/8 teaspoon of salt

1 cup of sugar

Directions

Take the gallon of ice cream out to soften, about 10 to 15 minutes. Prepare a medium sized bowl by lining with plastic wrap, wax paper or parchment paper and spray with non-stick spray. Press the ice cream down into the bowl and cover. Freeze for at least 4 hours.

Make 8 inch round cake according to instructions, adding the extra egg. Cool the cake and cut to size of the ice cream in the bowl if needed. Press cake onto the bottom of the ice cream. Cover and freeze for another 4 hours or overnight. About 10 minutes before you are ready to serve, take the bowl of ice cream and cake out of the freezer and make the meringue. Add the remaining ingredients to a mixing bowl. Whip until stiff peaks form. Turn the bowl with ice cream and cake onto a plate and take the bowl and wrap or paper off.

Frost the ice cream with the meringue. Take a culinary torch and run it over all the meringue until toasted. Serve immediately. Freeze the leftovers.

It was much easier to make than I thought. It does take planning, however. I froze the ice cream in the bowl and made the cake one night. The next morning (day of service) I cut the cake to fit the ice cream and put back in the freezer until after dinner, when I finished it with the meringue.

Working my way through my bucket list. I found cornish game hens on sale this week and put them in the freezer, so a fancy dinner where we will each have our own “little chicken” according to my kids, is coming soon 🙂 What is on your cooking bucket list? What would you love to cook?

Cooking Bucket List 2017

Happy New Year! Thank you for coming on this journey with me. Looking forward to a great year ahead full of cooking, family and friends!

I mostly finished my 2015 bucket list, after taking a break  in 2016. Poached salmon was one of the last items and it was delicious! I don’t have an official recipe for the poached salmon. I know I used a lot of butter. 4 sticks to be exact. I added some lemon juice, fresh thyme, salt and pepper to the butter and poached the salmon for about 15 minutes. It was AMAZING! Served it with a broccoli risotto.

Coming up with my own proprietary bread and pizza dough mixes was next, but I’ve found others that I love to use and well, honestly, those are easier in my day to day life for now 🙂 My kids love the Goodbye Gluten Gluten-free bread that I found at Wegman’s. My favorite is still the King Arthur’s Gluten-free bread mix, right out of the oven. For pizza, which we usually have on Fridays when we are all tired from the week, it’s Freshcetta frozen gluten-free pizza or I use Against the Grain’s Pizza Shells to make our own.

For 2017, I am back in the swing of things and ready for some new challenges! I am making some family favorites gluten-free and trying some new cooking techniques. Hopefully this will inspire you to make your own cooking bucket list or just pledge to cook at home more in 2017 😉

  1. Gluten-free koeksisters (A South African fried dough, dipped in syrup)
  2. Dragon Ball from Takara (a local sushi restaurant)
  3. Homemade Ginger Beer
  4. Gluten-free Egg Yolk Ravioli
  5. Gluten-free Yorkshire pudding
  6. Gluten-free Croissants
  7. Indian Pudding
  8. Cornish Game Hens
  9. Lamb Mango Korma from scratch
  10. Baked Alaska

Happy New Year everyone! Best wishes that the hope and excitement of a new year lasts more than this day 🙂 What is on your cooking bucket list? Do you have a family favorite that you need help adapting to be gluten free? Let me know!

 

 

Completing My Cooking Bucket List

It has only taken me two years to (almost) finish my 2015 bucket list. I am working on finishing them before the end of 2016 and starting a new list in 2017!

1. Gluten Free Pretzels or Pretzel rolls

I made the rolls one night in August using a recipe from Nicole Hunn at Gluten-Free on a Shoestring. http://glutenfreeonashoestring.com/pretzel-rolls/. They were delicious! We had some leftover pulled pork and meatballs in the fridge so everyone made their own pretzel roll subs for dinner. The next morning we made egg and cheese sandwiches, which would have been even better with some grilled veggies.

2. Poached Salmon (Still needs to be completed)
3. Gluten free Puff Pastry

I made the puff pastry on Valentine’s Day. It was an all day affair. It was delicious! But very time consuming. Again, I used a recipe from Gluten-Free on a Shoestring, http://glutenfreeonashoestring.com/gluten-free-puff-pastry/. I will definitely make it again for a special occasion.

4. Gluten Free Beef Wellington


I used the GF puff pastry to make Beef Wellington. It wasn’t pretty but tasted amazing! I made a mixture of mushrooms and chicken livers sautéed with fresh thyme, salt, pepper and a little beef stock and spread that on the pastry, when cooled. I used a top sirloin roast because that is what I had in the freezer.  I based my cooking times on the recipe for Beef Wellington in The Good Housekeeping Cookbook from 1973. I did rush it and the meat was warm, so the puff pastry fell off of the roast, but the pastry was buttery and crispy while the meat with juicy and tender. Perfect!  I will definitely make it again.

5. Coq au Vin
I made this way back in early 2015 on Superbowl Sunday. Not exactly traditional Superbowl food, but delicious! Julia Child’s recipe of course, from Mastering the Art of French Cooking.  I skipped the cognac though since I didn’t have any and wasn’t sure if it was gluten free and used King Arthur’s gluten-free all-purpose flour as a thickener. Traditional recipes like this, can easily be made gluten-free. I was so happy with how this came out! It disappeared before I remembered to take a picture!

6. Duck

I made a feast for myself on Mother’s Day, with Karina’s help. I seared the duck breast (saved the fat) and served with lamb chops, a smoked mozzarella risotto and roasted asparagus. It was a real decadent meal! I used the leftover duck fat to make shoestring potato fries the next day! What a treat!

7. Chilaquiles

I made these for my birthday dinner 2016. It was a simplified version using the tomatillo salsa recipe below. I heated up the sauce, added some tortilla chips, shredded cooked chicken, and topped with sunny side up eggs (cooked in another pan), then sprinkled with feta and fresh cilantro. It was so good. The kids even ate it!

8. Develop my own  of GF flours to make an all purpose flour
I haven’t done this yet for a couple of reasons. I am not a great technical cook. I don’t follow recipes exactly. I don’t always measure precisely. I cook from feeling.  So I have taken help from the amazing GF flours already out there. I like to use Cup4Cup and King Arthur’s GF blend.

9. Gluten free pasta from scratch

I have made GF pasta from scratch a couple of times, once without a pasta machine and once with the pasta machine. I still need to do some more testing. Both times, no matter how thinly rolled, it still came out gummy. This is where a good flour blend would help to find a way to take out the gumminess. Anyone have any suggestions?

10. Gluten free gnocchi from scratch
I have made gnocchi several times and it has always come out delicious! I use mostly ricotta and then sweet potato, Yukon golds or leftover mashed potatoes with a little GF all purpose flour. I will write the recipe down soon, I promise! I usually serve my gnocchi with a pesto or light cream sauce.

11. Gluten free bread from scratch that is good enough for anyone to eat

There are two cookbook authors I go to when I want to bake something GF. Nicole Hunn from Gluten Free on a Shoestring which you have heard me talk about a lot lately because of her amazing new cookbook coming out and the other is Roben Ryberg (You Won’t Believe It’s Gluten-Free!).  I have been making Roben’s Everyday Loaf (corn-based) a lot recently. It is a good sandwich bread. More often, I have been making King Arthur’s GF bread mix, but that is expensive as is the GF bread my kids like, either Wegman’s or Trader Joe’s.
12. Gluten free pizza dough that is good enough for anyone to eat.

I haven’t even attempted this yet, but hope to soon. Fridays are our pizza night, so by the time Friday rolls around I’m usually exhausted, so we have frozen pizza (Freschetta’s GF Cheese) or I use the Against the Grain crust to make my grilled pizza recipe below. You can also bake it in the oven at 425 for 12-15 minutes. 

Grilled Pizza (feeds our family of 5 with leftovers)
By Marie Ericson

Ingredients
2  frozen pizza crusts (I like to use Against the Grain)
2 Tablespoons of olive oil
1 6-ounce can Hunts Tomato Sauce
1 16-ounce block of mozzarella cheese, shredded
Salt and pepper
Toppings, optional and only limited by your imagination! Ham and pineapple, sausage, peppers and onions, fresh ricotta, olives, spinach and feta or leftover hamburger

Directions
Heat grill to about 400 degrees. Brush olive oil on one side of each pizza crust. Put that side down on the grill. Brush the other side of the pizza crust with the oil and close the lid for 2 minutes. Using spatulas (I have found 2 work best), flip the pizza crusts and turn the burners down to low or move crusts to a cooler part of the grill. Close lid for 2 minutes. Top the crusts with sauce, 3-4 Tablespoons per crust. (You will not need all 6 ounces, so reserve the rest for pasta the next day.) Sprinkle about 8 ounces of cheese on each pizza and add any toppings you are using. Close lid and cook until cheese is melted, 5 to 10 minutes, depending on your grill.  Using 2 spatulas remove each pizza and put on serving platter, cutting board or pizza stone and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
For the remainder of 2016 I will try to finish this list by making Poached Salmon, maybe testing flour mixtures to make my own all purpose flour and make a gf pizza dough that is good enough for anyone to eat. I predict the Salmon will happen and the other two…well, maybe next year.  What is on your cooking bucket list? 

Rethinking my cooking bucket list and looking forward to 2015

Happy Holidays! Happy New Year! We made it through the holidays with only slight cross-contamination issues. Paul had minor reactions, but fortunately nothing too bad. One instance was completely my fault. I was so excited that he wanted to try a pickle because he usually won’t touch them, that I didn’t even think to look until after he ate a couple of bites whether or not it was gluten free. Sure enough, he woke up with stomach pains that night.

I managed to cook a completely gluten free Christmas dinner with grilled pork roast (started on grill and finished in oven) with a blueberry balsamic brown sugar gravy, mashed potatoes with marscapone, goat cheese, gruyere and of course butter. I roasted brussel sprouts with bacon (fresh from the pig of a co-worker of Tim’s) and we had a salad.

                                     

Dessert was a chocolate trifle with chocolate pudding, GF brownies and fresh whipped cream. Then people could choose to top it with crushed heath bar or GF oreos.

                                             

I even made most of the same treats I usually do at Christmas, just gave them a gluten free spin! I used Snyder’s gluten free pretzels and Hershey kisses to make a salty-sweet treat and I used the sugar cookie recipe on the back of the GF King Arthur Flour box to make sugar cookies that were a big hit!

                                                 

                                                 

My mom also helped the kids decorate gingerbread houses. I used plastic houses that you just put the frosting on and stick the candies on. Great for gluten free eating! No one really eats the gingerbread anyway 🙂

 

Earlier my dad and I made gluten free boerwors, which is becoming a yearly tradition 🙂 We had it the day after Christmas for another family party with the traditional pap (kind of like polenta) and a tomato and onion sauce.

Now it is time for school vacation. I am also taking the week off work to be with the kids. Hopefully I’ll get some cooking done to make the craziness of school/work weeks a little easier until February vacation. I’m also taking some time to reflect, as I usually do about my cooking bucket list of the past year and what to add for this year. I had to put my cooking bucket list last year on hold to make room for a new way of cooking, eating and feeding my family, due to my son’s Celiac diagnosis. I would like to revisit some of my favorites, making them gluten free and add some new goals as we continue on this journey.

This was my 2014 list, I actually finished 4 items :

Cooking bucket list for 2014:

1. Rusks (think South African biscotti)
2. Macaroons – COMPLETED!


3. Scones – COMPLETED
                                      
4. Brussel Sprouts (I’ve never cooked them. My husband loves them, so I’m taking one for the team so my kids won’t inherit my food prejudices 🙂 ) – COMPLETED

                                

5. Pretzels
6. Poached Salmon
7. Beef Wellington
8. Coq au Vin

9. Khachapuri (a Georgian cheesy bread)

10. Duck (not necessarily a whole duck, we’ll see how adventurous I feel)
11. Tortillas – COMPLETED! AND THEY WERE GLUTEN FREE!

                                 
12. Chilaquiles (My favorite Mexican breakfast!!) 

So for 2015, here are my gluten free goals and cooking bucket list: 

1. Gluten free Pretzels or pretzel rolls
2. Poached Salmon (can easily be done naturally gluten free)
3. Gluten free Puff pastry
4. Gluten free Beef Wellington (need to do #3 1st!)
5. Coq au Vin (can easily be done naturally gluten free)
6. Duck (can easily be done naturally gluten free)
7. Chilaquiles (can easily be done naturally gluten free)
8. Find my own blend of GFflours that make best all purpose flour
9. Gluten free pasta from scratch
10. Gluten free gnocchi from scratch
11. Gluten free bread from scratch that is good enough for anyone to eat!
12. Gluten free pizza dough that is good enough for anyone to eat!

Well, looks like I have some cooking to do! I am also going to try as much as possible to cook one recipe from my cookbooks each week. I have many, many new gluten free cookbooks to explore and recipes in old cookbooks to make gluten free! I’ll need more than a year to do that 🙂 I will keep you all posted, probably through Facebook when I have time. I’m always here to answer questions and chat about food though! Feel free to email me at mammascooking@gmail.com or post a question on my Facebook page. Wishing you all the best in 2015!

Bucket list completed and new goals for 2014!

Fourth day into the new year and we are sitting in the house with piles of snow outside warming up after the final round of shoveling. Feels like deja vu from all the storms we had last February. While my kids play bowling on the Wii and my husband is working from home, I am taking a few minutes to give you an update on my cooking bucket list of 2013…oh wait, Neil wants milk and Karina already wants a snack…So back to the bucket list…What’s that Paul? You want some juice?…and this is why I haven’t written a blog in a few months. If I get a chance before complete meltdowns from cabin fever occur, I also want to write my goals for my 2014 cooking bucket list and some new projects.

2013 Cooking Bucket list – COMPLETE!* (and I did 5 of them in December again)

1.  Boerevors sausage (South African farmer’s sausage)
I made 5  batches of this sausage tweaking the recipe each time. Over the holidays my dad and I made the best batch so far! That recipe will be a family secret for now 🙂 
















2.  Souffle
I made a chocolate souffle using Martha Stewart’s recipe as a guide. Didn’t rise as much as I wanted it to, but it was gone in 10 minutes! 




















3.  Melk tert (a South African milk tart)
I used my mother’s recipe and it was delicious. Instead of making a crust, I used the mini phyllo shells, which got a little soggy in the fridge overnight. Next time I would either serve them immediately or use the crust in the recipe if making ahead.




















4.  Pasta 
I ended up make canneloni and filling it with ricotta and spinach and serving with tomato sauce. Delicious! Not as thin as they would be had a I used a pasta machine, but thin enough. Karina and I rolled and rolled and rolled until thin. I made a version of a dish I had last year when I went to Mario Batali’s Eatly in NYC. 
















5.  Carbonara
This was delicious! The whole family loved it. I mean, bacon, eggs, cheese, peas and pasta. You really can’t go wrong. Traditional is with spaghetti or linguine noodles but the kids chose the orecchiette.
















6.  Filet a whole fish
I cleaned and filleted a red snapper. It wasn’t pretty, but I did it and turned it into the most delicious ceviche!




















7.  Ceviche
This was my favorite. “Cooked” the snapper in lime juice for 4 hours and tossed it with avocado, tomatoes, a little red onion, olive oil and cilantro and ate it with tortilla chips. LOVED IT! Karina even loved it. Now that I’ve done it once though, I will definitely ask the fish monger to clean and filet it for me. Make sure you tell the fishmonger that you are making ceviche and want a fish that was brought in that morning. Call ahead. It is worth it!




















8.  Paella
This was also a family favorite. I made some spanish chorizo from scratch, brined the chicken using smoked paprika and cumin. Everything  came out great, except the mussels. I didn’t time those right and some didn’t open enough. I will definitely make this again!
















9.  Octopus* – Did not do this the Octopus that were available were on the “Avoid” list of the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Seafood Watch.

10. Jam
So I may have copped out a little on this one, but I never said I would do canning 🙂 I just simmered a bunch of berries over the summer that were on the verge of going bad. Strawberries, blueberries and raspberries cooked with a little bit of water, balsamic vinegar and sugar. It was delicious on ice cream and on toast for breakfast.

11. Yorkshire pudding
This was delicious! I will definitely be making this again. It is super easy. So much easier than I thought it would be. I looked at a couple of recipes and used this one from allrecipes.com. I didn’t make a roast that night, so I replaced the beef drippings with beef stock and served it with some leftover sausage and squash.
















12. Cream puffs
I used one of my South African cookbooks for this and it was fairly successful. The best discovery was the “mock” pastry cream recipe from the de Villiers, Cook it and Enjoy It. You just whip together a little butter with sweetened condensed milk and lemon juice. Amazing!





















For 2014 I have created a bucket list for the year and I’m starting on an ambitious project of cooking a recipe from one of my cookbooks each week, that I have not made before. I have 50 cookbooks, so that gives me 2 weeks off 🙂 Hopefully I will have time to blog about it. If not visit my Facebook page to get updates! 

Cooking bucket list for 2014:

1. Rusks (think South African biscotti)
2. Macaroons
3. Scones
4. Brussel Sprouts (I’ve never cooked them. My husband loves them, so I’m taking one for the team so my kids won’t inherit my food prejudices 🙂 )
5. Pretzels
6. Poached Salmon
7. Beef Wellington
8. Coq au Vin

9. Khachapuri (a Georgian cheesy bread)

10. Duck (not necessarily a whole duck, we’ll see how adventurous I feel)
11. Tortillas
12. Chilaquiles (My favorite Mexican breakfast!!) 

Happy New Year everyone! 

More Summer Fun…Eating on the road or after just returning from a vacation

Summer is still in full swing. Long days of fun in the sun don’t give you much energy for dinner. Keep it simple. Have a picnic in your backyard or take one to a local outdoor concert. Kids love to think that they are just snacking and not eating dinner, so make the picnic out of a bunch of snacks. 
I love to bring carrots, celery, whole wheat crackers, hummus, cheese sticks, prosciutto, salami, cooked hotdogs or sausage (already cut up – use leftovers!), cut up watermelon or cantaloupe or any fresh berries, peaches, plums, or any fruit that are in season or that you know your kids will eat. Using the celery, if you have the time or energy, you can even make ants on a log 🙂 Peanut butter and raisins are a hit with many kids. You could also make ham and cream cheese roll ups. spread a little cream cheese on a piece of ham, roll up and serve. Two out of my three kids love that one! Bring some nutella to spread on the crackers as a special treat.
If you can pack a picnic for a night, pack it for a road trip. Heading up to Vermont for the weekend? Bring a picnic to eat in the car or picnic area for lunch or dinner. 

 When returning from a vacation, the last thing you want to do is cook or eat takeout. Keep some frozen meals on hand or stock up on Trader Joe’s frozen appetizers before you leave, so you can make an easy dinner when you get home.

Enjoy the outdoors as long as we can! This past week in Boston was crazy hot, so I’m sure many of us all fled to the AC, but now it is 70s and sunny! Perfect! Like most of a Seattle summer 🙂
I am half way through my cooking bucket list. I conquered (somewhat) oysters last week. I personally only got one open. My husband got another one open. Then I decided to roast the other four I bought to get them to open. Two out of the four did. My parents, who do not like raw seafood, enjoyed the roasted oysters that did open. My husband and I both loved the raw ones. I made a quick version of a mignonette sauce with red wine vinegar and garlic. I would try it again, but only after inspecting the oysters when I buy them, for ones that I think I can open 🙂
Cooking bucket list 2012
Bread – Done
Gnocchi – Done
Meringues – Done
Calamari – Done
Flan
Lobster – Done
Koeksisters
Oysters – done
Mozzarella
Pork Belly
Short ribs
Chocolate truffles

Cooking Bucket List and Spring Cooking!

In the spirit of trying new cooking techniques and foods each month, I decided to create a Cooking Bucket list. The foods I plan to try making this year. I already made bread from scratch in January and gnocchi from scratch in February, so this month I am going to make Meringues for the first time! Anyone with a good recipe, let me know! Here is my list:
Gnocchi and homemade bread!
Cooking bucket list 2012
Bread – January, Done
Gnocchi – February, Done
Meringues
Calamari
Flan
Lobster
Koeksisters
Oysters
Mozzarella
Pork Belly
Short ribs
Chocolate truffles
I found some great inspiration by googling  “Cooking Bucket List.” Here are some great ones I found:
As the weather gets warmer seafood (especially during Lent) and salads tend to make a larger appearance on our dinner tables. My recent favorite lunch I made as a treat for myself while the boys were napping and I was doing lots of laundry, was Scallop Caesar Salad. I had bought fresh scallops for Valentines day and only made 1/2 the amount I bought, so I froze the scallops. I know some of you are crying sacrilege! but they were still great even once defrosted in the microwave.

3-4 Diver Sea Scallops
2 Tbsp butter
Couple of splashes of White Balsamic Vinegar
Salt
Lemon Pepper
Romaine Lettuce
Parmesan
Croutons
Caesar Dressing
Melt butter in saute pan over medium high heat. Salt and pepper all sides of the scallops and then sear on each side in the melted butter. When almost completely cooked, pour in a couple of splashes of white balsamic vinegar (you can use rice wine, white wine vinegar or lemon juice). Place romaine lettuce, a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese and a handful of your favorite croutons in a salad bowl. Toss with your favorite Caesar dressing and then top with scallops. Delicious!