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Thanksgiving Quick, Thanksgiving Easy

Just the Two of You

Posted: November 16, 2011 - 10:45am
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Fresh oranges make fun containers for foods like mashed sweet potatoes that can either be spooned or piped into shells with a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip. Convenience foods such as Kraft’s Stove Top stuffing are tasty and time-saving helps for fixing side dishes and, for a splash of sweet luxury, Felix’s all-natural ligonberries, imported from Sweden, makes a simple sauces special.

For the first time in years, my husband and I will be having a quiet Thanksgiving at home with just the two of us, so we have decided to forego the big turkey and other time consuming cooking chores and keep it simple. I know many of you will be doing the same. We're stuffing Cornish hens -- decadent really when one person gets to enjoy an entire hen by themselves --  and using a slightly tweaked boxed stuffing mix (not half bad, I promise) for the dressing. To fancy things up, mashed sweet potatoes, attractive topped with a slightly-browned topped marshmallow, will be served in fresh orange "cups." This year, the big splurge will be for a 14.5 ounce jar of Swedish all-natural Ligonberries, found with the  jellies in the jams in the supermarket, about $8 for a 14.5-ounce jar for making a sauce. Despite the ups and down of the economy and the hardships that come out of it, there's much to be thankful for, don't we know it. The joys of family, friends and wonderful food  continue to be plentiful. We appreciate the efforts of the farmers that grow our food, the companies, stores and staff that provide and sell it and the loving hands that cook and serve it. Whether you are spending your Thanksgiving alone, surrounded by a crowd, or with the someone special that you love and care for, savor Thanksgiving for the wonder it is.

Sue Ade is a syndicated food writer with broad experience and interest in the culinary arts. She has worked and resided in the Lowcountry of South Carolina since 1985 and may be reached at kitchenade@yahoo.com.   

Stuffed Rock Cornish Hens with Lingonberry Sauce

For the hens

2 Cornish Game Hens, about 20-ounces each, fresh, or fully thawed
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
Salt and pepper

For the stuffing

1 (6-ounce) box Kraft Stove Top cornbread stuffing mix
1 1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
2 pieces pre-cooked bacon
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Rinse hens with cool water, then pat dry. Lightly sprinkle insides with a bit of salt and ground black pepper; set aside. Make stuffing:  Bring broth and butter to a boil in a medium saucepan. Stir in contents of stuffing mix pouch. Remove pan from heat and stir in bacon, cranberries and nuts; cover pot with lid and allow to set for 5 minutes. Lightly stuff hens with stuffing mix (about 1 cup); do not pack  tightly. (You will have leftover stuffing, which may be and stored in a covered container in the  refrigerator for up to 2 days.) After hens are stuffed, tie legs together with cooking twine. Place hens on a rack in baking pan large enough to hold them comfortably. Brush with melted butter and place in oven. Bake for 1 hours, or to minimal internal temperature of 175 degrees. (Although poultry cooked to a temperature of 165 degrees is considered safe to eat, cooking it to 175 degrees will ensure that the dark meat of the hens is tender.) Rotate hens halfway through baking time, basting occasionally with additional butter and accumulated juices When hens are done, remove from oven and allow to sit for 10 minutes to set or redistribute juices. Place hens on a serving platter, remove twine  and cover foil to keep warm. Strain drippings into a small saucepan, skimming off as much fat as possible; set aside.  Serve with Ligonberry Sauce (recipe follows.) Makes 2 servings.

Ligonberry Sauce

Strained, de-fatted drippings from baking pan used to cook hens
1 cup Ligonberry preserves (look for Ligonberry preserves in the jelly aisle of larger supermarkets)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon prepare Dijon mustard
1/2 tablespoon vinegar
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Place all ingredients in a small saucepan. Over medium heat, cook and stir until mixture is hot and ingredients are well combined. Makes about 1 1/2 cups sauce.

For the potatoes

1 large sweet potato, scrubbed
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Salt and pepper
1 large orange, cut in half with fruit, membranes and seed removed
2 marshmallows, cut in half, or 2 tablespoons Marshmallow Fluff
 
Cut the orange in half, removing fruit, pulp and seeds, to make two hollowed-out orange "cups;" set asides. Scrub the potato, and prick several times with a fork. Cook on HIGH in the microwave for 5 minutes. Turn over to cook 5 minutes more, until potato is soft. Allow potato to cool long enough  to handle, then split in half, remove pulp and place in a medium size mixing bowl. With a hand-held electric mixer, mash potato with butter, adding brown sugar and lemon juice until smooth. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Spoon potatoes into the orange cups, then top with a marshmallows or marshmallow fluff. Bake in a 375 degree oven until marshmallows are lightly browned. Makes 2 servings.

Pumpkin Layer Bars

by Caroline Kennedy, Bluffton
"For  pumpkin lovers."
-- Caroline Kennedy

Crust
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup quick or old-fashioned oats
1/4  cup chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans)
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted

Filling
1 1/4 cups canned pumpkin puree (not pie filling)
1 cup evaporated milk
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
3/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/4 teaspoon salt

Topping
4 ounces (1/2 of an 8-ounce package) cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sour cream, room temperature
2 tablespoons orange marmalade
 
Position oven rack in center  and preheat to 350 degrees. In medium bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, oats, nuts and cinnamon. Stir in butter, mixing well. Press onto bottom of a 9-inch square baking pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from oven. For filling:  in medium bowl, combine pumpkin, milk, sugar, egg, pumpkin pie spice and salt. Pour over baked oat mixture. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until tester inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack. For topping: In a small bowl, combine cream cheese and sour cream. Stir in orange marmalade. Spread over pumpkin layer. Refrigerate until chilled thoroughly. Cut into bars. Yield: 3 dozen bars.

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