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Monday, October 31, 2011

Genius, Panini-Pressed Cornish Game Hen (Spinach Optional)

I'm so excited to present to you my version of this recipe which I adapted from Alton Brown!  I was so impressed with the genius technique of this simple, quick and delicious main course when I first saw it on ABC Good Morning America. This is particularly great to cook on a weeknight when you're hungry and craving a good meal you can eat right away without a lot of preparation.  Although I feel it's wonderful for two to four people, I think it's fantastic for one or two.  It also makes a great presentation if you have any guests.

                                                 Pure Genius!

                                    And Oh, So Delicious!

Adapted from Alton Brown as seen on ABC GMA

Serves 2

  • 1 Cornish game hen, approx. 1 1/4 - 1 3/4 lbs.
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt for the hen + a sprinkle of table salt for the spinach
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper + a sprinkle for the spinach
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • All-purpose, non-stick cooking spray
  • 1/ea. 9 oz. bag baby spinach (optional)*

  1. Preheat a panini press on high.*
  2. Wash and pat the hen dry.
  3. Working on a cutting board, use poultry shears or a very sharp knife (I love my surgery shears!) to cut down the center of the top of the bird along the breastbone.  Open up the hen like a book and place body up on the cutting board.  Give the bird a good smack in the middle with your hands to press it as flat as possible.  To remove the backbone, cut along both sides of it from the neck to the tailbone. You can discard the backbone or save it for use in a soup stock.
  4. Sprinkle both sides of the hen with the salt, pepper and garlic powder.
  5. Spray the bottom of the panini press with the non-stick cooking spray.
  6. Place the bird skin side up on the press. (I cook half a bird at a can keep it warm while you cook the other half.)  *Spray the hen with the non-stick cooking spray and close the lid.  (Don't forget to place a drip pan under the press to catch the juices.)
  7. Place about a 4-lb. weight on the press and cook for about 10 minutes or until the skin is golden brown. (I use an iron skillet as a weight.)
  8. Remove the hen from the press and let it rest for about 3 minutes before serving. 
For each serving:
While the hen is resting, toss half the bag of spinach onto the panini and sprinkle with a little table salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Close the lid to the press and cook about 30-45 seconds.  The spinach will soak up the hen's juices and be very flavorful!

Immediately place the spinach on an individual serving plate and top with a Cornish hen half!  Presto...a quick, lovely, delicious and impressive dinner with practically no effort!

*Tips:  I haven't tried it; but if you don't have a panini press, a similar grill such as a George Foreman may work.  In his TV presentation, Alton said most any green salad mix would work in this recipe; but, here again, I have not tried that.  He also suggested brushing the hen with olive oil right before closing the lid: I used the cooking spray here, as offered in the printed recipe, and it worked fine...I haven't tried the olive oil yet.

Enjoy this after a busy day when you're tired and hungry!  Better yet, impress your loved one with this delicious dinner on date night and be prepared for lots of hugs and kisses!

Printable Recipe

What's That Got to do with This?

We had so much fun with my grandson the other day decorating this Halloween cake!  (I confess, it was from a kit...he's only 2 1/2!)  He was so excited to decorate the cake.  He's not allowed a lot of sweets; and as you can imagine, most of his decorations went into his mouth!

                                         Yes, Put It Right There!

                                            Good Job!

     <<<<<<<<<Happy Halloween>>>>>>>>>

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Crunchy Carrot Salad with Golden Raisins and Walnuts

If you're looking for a super-easy salad as a side or take-along dish, look no further!  Carrot salad seems to be a Southern staple, and I know you'll enjoy my crunchy version with a unique twist of sweet, golden raisins and walnuts.  As an extra bonus, this delicious salad is loaded with healthy nutrients!

                          As Bugs Bunny Would Say..."Carrots Are Divine!"         

            And They Are, Especially With Golden Raisins And Walnuts!

Serves 4 to 6

  • 3 c. coarsely shredded carrots (about 6/ea. whole carrots)*
  • 1 TB sugar
  • 1/8 tsp. salt (or to taste)
  • 1/ea.  8 1/4 oz. can crushed pineapple, well drained (about 3/4 c. after drained)
  • 1/2 c. golden raisins
  • 1/2 c. coarsely chopped walnuts (optional)
  • 1/4 c. mayonnaise*

*Tips:  Use prepackaged grated carrots to make it even easier, and I prefer Hellmann's light mayonnaise.


Toss all ingredients gently, but thoroughly.  You'll enjoy watching your fans multiply (like rabbits) after they munch on this delicious salad!

Printable Recipe

What's That Got to do with This?

My daughter recently taught my 2 1/2 year-old grandson to make cookies for the first time.  Snickerdoodles were the cookie of choice that day...sorry, they disappeared before I got a photo of the gorgeous delectables!

                                          Cooking Is In Our Blood...


                                  And We Start Early Around Here!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Southern Grits, Pencils and Red Eye Gravy

A friend recently passed this funny article with recipe on to me about how to properly cook and eat grits.  If the original author recognizes this, please step forward so I can give appropriate credit (I couldn't find you)!

I, with great hesitation, confess I do not remember the last time I cooked grits that were not instant.  I tested the recipe in the article and found them to be really yummy.  I can't wait to try the fried leftover grits!

I did make a couple of changes (in quotes) of the article for my blog post. When you read this, I hope you get as big a belly laugh as I did!

                   Yep, They Pass The Test!     

What Are Grits?
(Author Unknown)

Some folks believe Grits are grown on bushes and are harvested by midgets by shaking the bushes after spreading sheets around them. Many people think Grits are made from ground up bits of white corn. These are lies spread by Communists and terrorists.  Nothing as good as a Grits can be made from corn.  
Research suggests that the mysterious Manna that "was" rained down upon the Israelites during their time in the Sinai Desert was most likely Grits.  Critics disagree, stating that there is no record of biscuits, butter, salt and red eye gravy raining down from the sky and that "people would not be punished" by forcing them to eat Grits without these key ingredients.

How Grits are Formed: 
Grits are formed deep underground under intense heat and pressure. It takes over 1,000 years to form a single Grit. Most of the world's Grit mines are in Georgia, and are guarded day and night by armed guards and attack dogs.  Harvesting Grits is a dangerous occupation, and many Grit miners lose their lives each year so that Grits can continue to be served morning after morning for breakfast--not that having Grits for lunch and dinner is out of the question.

Yankees have attempted to create synthetic Grits. They call them Cream of Wheat. As far as we can tell, the key ingredients of Cream of Wheat are Elmer's Glue and shredded Styrofoam. These synthetic Grits have also been shown to cause nausea, and can leave you unable to have children.

Historical Grits:
As said earlier, the first known mention of Grits was by the Ancient Israelites in the Sinai Desert.  After that, Grits were not heard from for another 1,000 years. Grits were used during this time only during secret religious ceremonies and were kept from the public. The next mention of Grits was found amidst the ruins of the ancient city of Pompeii in a woman's personal diary discovered in the seat of an old sedan. The woman's name was Herculania Jemimana, who was known as Aunt Jemima to her friends.

The Ten Commandments of Grits:
I.    Thou shalt not put syrup on thy Grits.
II.   Thou shalt not eat thy Grits with a spoon or knife.
III.  Thou shalt not eat Cream of Wheat and call it Grits, for this is blasphemy.
IV.  Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's Grits.
V.   Thou shalt use only salt, butter and red eye gravy as toppings for thy Grits.
VI.  Thou shalt not eat instant Grits.
VII. Thou shalt not put ketchup on thy Grits.
VIII.Thou shalt not put margarine on thy Grits.
IX.  Thou shalt not eat toast with thy Grits, only biscuits made from scratch.
X.   Thou shalt eat grits on the Sabbath for this is Manna from heaven.

How to Cook Grits:
For one serving of Grits:  Boil 1.5 cups of water with salt and a little butter. Add 5 Tbsp. of Grits.  Reduce to a simmer and allow the Grits to soak up all the water.  When a pencil stuck into the Grits stands alone, they are done. That's all there is to cooking Grits. (When I used this recipe, I used 1/8 tsp. salt, 1 TB butter and I did not cover the grits (since no mention was made of a lid); and the grits took about 15 minutes to soak up the water using direct, low heat. Also, I found it should be stirred occasionally, and I feel this recipe is enough for one to two servings.)

How to make red eye gravy:  Fry salt-cured country ham in cast-iron pan.  Remove the ham when done and add coffee to the gravy and simmer for several minutes. Great on Grits and biscuits.

How to Eat Grits:
Immediately after removing your Grits from the stove top, add a generous portion of butter or red eye gravy. Do NOT use low-fat butter.
The butter should cause the Grits to turn a wondrous shade of yellow. Hold a banana or a yellow rain slicker next to your Grits.  If the colors match, you have the correct amount of butter. In lieu of butter, pour a generous helping of red eye gravy on your Grits.  Be sure to pour enough to have some left for sopping up with your biscuits.  Use biscuits made from scratch.  Never, ever substitute canned or store-bought biscuits for the real thing because they can cause cancer, tooth decay and impotence. Next, add salt.  The correct ratio of Grit to Salt is 10:1.  Therefore for every 10 Grits, you should have 1 grain of salt.  Now begin eating your Grits.  Always use a fork, never a spoon to eat Grits.  Your Grits should be thick enough so they do not run through the tines of the fork.
The correct beverage to serve with Grits is black coffee. DO NOT use cream or, heaven forbid, skim milk.  Your Grits should rarely be eaten in a bowl because Yankees will think it's Cream of Wheat.

Ways to Eat Leftover Grits:
Leftover Grits are extremely rare and may only be a rumor. Spread them in the bottom of a casserole dish; cover and place them in the refrigerator overnight. The Grits will congeal into a gelatinous mass. The next morning, slice the Grits into squares and fry them in 1/2" of cooking oil and butter until they turn a golden brown. Many people are tempted to pour syrup onto Grits served this way.  This is, of course, unacceptable but delicious.


"Bless" these Grits.
May Yankees never get the recipe.
May I eat Grits each day while living.
And may I die while eating grits.


So, there you have to properly cook and eat grits!  Try them...just be prepared to speak with a Southern drawl after you finish!  Enjoy! 

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