Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Tandoori Game Hens

Tandoori seems to be the new, hot "ethnic" flavor emerging in the food world. And while I don't own the equipment to make truly authentic tandoori, I do have the spices available. These game hens are excellent--unlike some marinades, the spices in this recipe actually are detectable in the meat, and the hens turned out moist and incredibly delicious.

The hens do require an overnight (or at least 5-6 hour) marinade. Some plain yogurt (Greek is preferred, as it's thicker and tangier) and a blend of spices is what you need. There's paprika, garam masala, paprika, cayenne pepper, and coriander.

Scoop the yogurt into a bowl or a large plastic bag.

Add the spices. The first one is garam masala, which is actually a blend of spices. The blends vary on who makes them. Find one you like, and stick with it. It's great to have on hand.

Paprika is next.

Then coriander seeds. For maximum flavor, crush them slightly before adding them, or toast in a pan over low heat until the seeds start to smell pungent.
Turmeric will add some color.
And of course cayenne will add a bit of spice.
And never forget salt and pepper.

Garlic and ginger will be the final ingredients in the marinade. I used this nifty garlic and ginger paste. But if you can't find it in your store, just chop some garlic and ginger until they make a rough paste.

If you've got a kid, this would be a great time for them to help. Just have them squish around the contents of the (closed) bag, to distribute the spices throughout the yogurt.
Grab your game hens.

Remove them from the package, rinse them well, and then pat dry.

Then toss them into the marinade bag. I was able to fit both hens in one large bag.

Put the bag in a large bowl (to avoid cross-contaminating your fridge) and let the hens marinate at least 5 hours and ideally overnight.

When you're ready to roast the hens, remove them from the marinade bag, and discard the bag.

Use paper towels to lightly pat them dry, and place them on a baking sheet or a roasting pan.

To help them cook evenly (and from the bottom from becoming soggy), I roasted mine on top of a heavy-duty cooling rack set on a cookie sheet.

Fold the wing tips underneath the hens. This will keep the tips from burning.

Now to stuff the hens. I used lemon, ginger, garlic, and bay.

Stuff everything in the hens, dividing the stuffing ingredients equally between the two.

Squeeze the juice from the remaining half lemon over the top of the hens.

Use kitchen twine or silicone roasting bands to secure the hens' legs together. Don't bind them too tight--just enough to keep them together.

Pour or brush some melted butter over the hens. Use clarified butter for more authenticity.

Pop the hens in a 425F oven for about 50 minutes-1 hour.

They will look and smell great!

The meat will be lightly flavored, and the yogurt marinade will ensure it's moist and delicious. If you want something different from the ordinary roasted poultry, definitely give Tandoori Game Hens a try!

Recipe: Tandoori Game Hens
1 c. Greek yogurt
1 tbsp. garam masala
1 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. turmeric
1/2 tsp. coriander
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 heaping tablespoon garlic and ginger paste (or 3 cloves garlic, 1 tbsp. minced ginger)

1/2 lemon, quartered
1-inch knob ginger, thinly sliced
1 bay leaf, halved
4-6 garlic clobes
1/2 lemon
1 tbsp. melted butter (clarified, if you've got it)

Monday, November 28, 2011

Night Before Pot Roast

It had been a while since we'd last had pot roast, and I was craving it. But having a day job means it's sometimes difficult to get everything together that early in the morning. So I came up with this recipe that's mostly made-ahead. All you have to do is a little prep the night before, and then throw everything in the crock pot before you leave for the day.

To make things easier in the morning, get out everything you need the night before, so it's on-hand and ready to go.

 I thinly sliced an onion.

Then I added some garlic cloves, dried thyme, and a bay leaf.

I threw them all in a plastic container, since my crock pot insert barely fits in the fridge.

I added some peeled and chunked carrots on top.

And there's your night-before prep, all done!

The morning of, dump the contents of your container into the crock pot.

Sprinkle some dried mushrooms over the top.

You could use fresh mushrooms, too. I just liked the idea of using dried food in a long-cooking meal. And the dried mushrooms I used were a blend--I believe there were portabella, oyster, morel, and a couple other kinds. Something kind of neat and different.

Scatter them around the crock.

Then lay the pot roast over the top.

 Liquid will help the pot roast braise. First, I added beef broth.

Then I added a bottle of beer. I used a bottle of Mr. Kim Chee's homebrewed Oktoberfest.

Pretty, right?

As always, salt and pepper came next.

And just because I like the flavor, I added a few dashes of Worcestershire.

All ready to go! Just turn the crock pot on low (for 7-8 hours) or high (for 5-6).

If you remembered to plug the crock pot in, you'll come home to a perfectly-cooked pot roast! It should be moist from the liquid, with a slight beer-y taste. The earthiness of the mushrooms should be detectable, and the onions will have melted into the flavorful sauce. And all for 10 minutes of effort!

Recipe: Night Before Pot Roast

1 onion, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 bay leaf
3 large carrots, cut into large pieces
1 oz. dried mushrooms
1 3-4 lb. chuck roast
1 bottle beer
1 can beef broth
1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper, to taste

Combine all ingredients in a large crock pot. Cook for 5-6 hours on high or on low for any amount of time over that. Serve and enjoy!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Holiday Gift Idea #2: Gourmet Gift Baskets

The second holiday gift idea for 2011 is a gift from Gourmet Gift Baskets. I've been looking around for something to get members of the family, and gift baskets have been high on my ideas list. They're already packed to ship and I can set the day they're delivered.

And they have great variety--including care packages, breakfast items, chocolates, and even beer gift baskets (maybe Mr. Kim Chee would like one...) They also have baskets with same-day delivery! Baskets range in price from $24.99 to $299, so fit everyone's budget. But the best thing about Gourmet Gift Baskets is that they're sending baskets to our troops.

Gourmet Gift Baskets has offered a great opportunity to bloggers. For each blog entry reviewing their baskets and/or site, they will send two care packages to injured soldiers who will be spending their Christmas at Walter Reed Hospital. What a lovely gesture! So, if you're looking for an easy shopping experience from a generous company, check out Gourmet Gift Baskets!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Holiday Gift Idea and Giveaway #1: Jen's Wreaths

Starting November 26 until Christmas, I will have an entry featuring a holiday gift idea, sale, or giveaway! These entries will be posted on Saturdays and Sundays. So check back on the weekends for new steals and deals!

This first entry features Jen's Wreaths in Deer River, Minnesota! They make fresh Christmas wreaths from around October to the end of December. They sent me one last year in exchange for blogging about them, and I was impressed! It came in a nicely packaged box, and it smelled amazing. We hung it in our living room so we could smell it all winter. I don't think we got around to throwing it away until mid-April, and even then it looked and smelled fresh.

Christmas wreaths, especially Minnesota-made wreaths, are something I've come to love. They're just so fresh and festive. But they don't just make wreaths. They also make door swags, centerpieces, crosses, and candy canes. And I'm not sure if it's new or not this year, but they also sell wreath accessories and ornaments.

Another new thing this year is Thanksgiving decor. If you're not quite ready for Christmas, it looks like they still have some harvest wreaths and swags available.

Their fresh wreaths are super affordable, and they are also offering free shipping throughout the holidays. What's not to like?

Want to win your own fresh wreath (pictured to the left)? Check out the Rafflecopter form below! One lucky winner will win an 18-inch traditional wreath, compliments of Jen's Wreaths!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Saffron Rice

Happy late Turkey Day, everyone! Hope you all had a fun one! (Mr. Kim Chee spent his on the couch--the flu's going around, ouch!) My sister and I went shopping at 10 p.m. and got back at 2 a.m. My first experience at Black Friday shopping (if you can call going that early Black Friday shopping.) A midday nap seems like it's in the cards for today...!

If you're looking for interesting ways to use up your turkey, why not spice it up with some Indian flair? This quick and easy side dish will be ready with just a few minutes' prep. It's got a slightly unusual flavor, and is so good. For an extra easy entree, just add diced turkey at the end (and maybe some cranberry sauce--yum!)

Pour a can of vegetable (or chicken) broth into a pot or a rice cooker.

The thing that makes this saffron rice is, obviously, saffron.

A nice generous pinch will do it.

Saffron's a great spice. It's not an overwhelming flavor, but it does have a very distinctive taste. And it turns everything a pretty amber color.

It's also the world's most expensive spice. But don't be put off. It's sold by the ounce, and it's really light. And you won't need much in each recipe. It's a nice exotic spice to have on hand, and one that you can't substitute if it's asked for in a recipe.
A short cinnamon stick will give it a bit more spice and a slightly unusual (and festive!) flavor.

Add a pat of butter. Then turn your rice cooker (or pan) on warm and let the saffron steep for about half an hour.
When time's up, add a cup of basmati rice.

Cook your rice until it's done (or until your cooker tells you it's done.) Then fluff it up and serve!

The butter will cause some of the rice to get nice and crunchy. The saffron will infuse its flavor throughout, and the cinnamon will give it a hint of spice. It's a fabulous side dish that's a bit different than plain rice, and will add a little bit of exotic flavor to your dinner.

Recipe: Saffron Rice
1 can vegetable broth
1 generous pinch saffron threads
1 1" cinnamon stick
1 tbsp. butter

1 c. basmati rice

Combine broth, saffron, cinnamon stick, and butter. Heat on "warm" setting in rice cooker or very low on the stove, for around 30 minutes.

Add basmati rice; cook according to package directions or until rice cooker finishes cooking. Fluff and serve.