Twelve Days of Christmas: Five Golden Rings

On the fifth day of Christmas my true love gave to me,
Five Golden Rings!
Four Calling birds, three french hens, two turtle doves,
And a partridge in a pear tree.

Okay so don’t hate me, but I had to skip the fourth day of Christmas… I’ll try to come back to it, I swear, but I just could not find something that I wanted to make for that theme… I had finally settled on calling bird sugar cookies, but can you believe that no one had a bird cookie cutter??? I got frustrated and decided to skip it for now.  I will introduce you to something fun I discovered while perusing Pinterest a few weeks ago: a pizza ring! This recipe is great because its easy, quick, and you can prepare it the night before and simply toss in the oven before serving.  So easy.  You can make it a variety of different ways, adding your own type of sauce, veggies, meats, cheeses, etc.  For my version, I used sweet basil marinara sauce, pesto, chopped spinach, chopped baby tomatoes, pepperoni, mozzarella cheese, and parmesan cheese.  I found this wonderful recipe at ducksinarow[dot]com.  You can chick on the link to see their variation of this recipe.

What you’ll need: 2 cans of Pillsbury crescent rolls, 1 jar of marinara sauce, spinach, shredded mozzarella cheese (plus more for topping), 1 tbsp of pesto, 1/2 cup of chopped baby tomatoes, pepperoni and parmesan cheese.

Preheat oven to 375 F Degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and lightly coat with non stick cooking spray.  Lay out the crescent roll triangles on the baking sheet in the shape of a sun.  You will want to make 2 layers of this.  I cut a few of the triangle down since I found them a little big for my pan.

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Mix sauce, shredded cheese, pesto, and spinach in a medium bowl.  Spoon the sauce mixture onto the crescent roll sun in the shape of a circle.  Top with pepperoni and shredded cheese.

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Fold the crescent roll triangles over the middle of the sauce mixture and lightly press to the other side.  This will make your ring.

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Top with shredded mozzarella and parmesan cheese and bake for 20-23 minutes.  Let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

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I brought this in for a work potluck.   I prepared it the night before and then ran home to bake it about 40 minutes before the potluck.  It was a hit and my co-workers demolished it! If preparing ahead, just make sure to cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

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Happy baking!
On the sixth day of Christmas my true love gave to me…

The Twelve Days of Christmas: Three French Hens

On the third day of Christmas my true love gave to me,
Three french hens,
Two turtle doves,
And a partridge in a pear tree

I have been insanely busy – there is just not enough time in the day for me to get everything done.  In fact, I don’t even have time to write this blog post, but I am doing so, because dammit I’m going to make time! I will finish this 12 days of Christmas even if it kills me (which, I mean, it won’t… sorry… I just felt like being dramatic).  So, questions I’m sure you’re dying to know the answers to: 1. Have I sent out my Christmas cards yet? No. But I will by Wednesday; 2. Have I finished Christmas shopping yet? No.  And I don’t want to talk about it; 3.  Have you wrapped any Christmas gifts yet? No.  Because I actually haven’t started Christmas shopping, meaning I have nothing to wrap; 4.  Have you finished your homework assignments yet? Noooooooooo.  And I am avoiding them like they are an infectious disease; 5. How’s your house looking? Dirty; 6. Is work driving you bonkers yet? Yes… when do my holidays start again??

Sheesh.  I’m tired.  I’ll be happy for this coming weekend when I can finish my baking, shopping, wrapping and cleaning.  I feel I just need a day off from my daily rustle and bustle to get myself organized.  Which brings me to this recipe… it comes with a bit of a story.  Let’s talk raw chicken.  Up until about a year ago, I could barely handle raw chicken without gagging.  I have the look, fell and smell, and I am INCREDIBLY paranoid about salmonella. So here’s what went down while trying to cook the three french hens themed recipe from my 12 days of Christmas blog post series:

Friday Night – I got home, poured myself a glass of wine, and pulled my thawed Cornish Hens out of my bag.  I had had a busy day at work, so I didn’t have much time to research how to cook cornish hens.  So, I got to work.  Remember that whole “can’t handle raw chicken or I will barf” thing?  Well once I realized that I would have to pull the chicken neck out of the body and chop part of it off, I almost had a heart attack… I started getting a little queezy, there was blood, I panicked, re-froze the hens, and ordered pizza.  I promised myself I would conquer the hens on Sunday.

Sunday – My company Christmas party was Saturday night… I spent. the day on the couch, watching movies and playing video games.  Dinner time came around and I needed grease and was no way ready to face the hens… I again, ordered pizza (please don’t judge me).

Monday Night – Okay hens, it’s on like donkey kong.  I threw together the glaze, covered the hens, and tossed in the oven.  I ignored the blood.  I made some fantastic roasted potatoes and a goats cheese and pear salad.  I meant to add some roasted pecans to the salad, but I burned them to a crisp – note: 350 F Degrees in the toaster oven is not the same as 350 F Degrees in a regular oven; well, at least not in mine.  I couldn’t save them.  The hens were done, potatoes roasted, and my belly was rumbling.  It looked really good.  In my panic, I pretty well dismembered one of the hens to make sure it was cooked.  It was.  While eating the hen, I noticed small amounts of red and pink near the bones – I called my boyfriend’s dad in a panic, asking him: 1. if I am going to live, and 2. If it’s normal?  He assured me that often game will have a little more vein around the bone and might be a little pink here and there.  As long as they juices ran clear, I should be fine.  Of course, I continued to panic – my boyfriend then began to panic.  The hens tasted REALLY good, but I couldn’t get over my fear, and after a few bites, I abandoned my hen, and moved on to my potatoes and salad –  my boyfriend made pogos.

Sooooo I don’t really know if this recipe turned out. The part of the bird that I actually ate was lovely… I really need to invest in a meat thermometer.  Anyway, the recipe is below.  Baking Fail.

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The pear and goat’s cheese salad is pretty easy – this version had spinach, chopped pears, walnuts, and goats cheese, but my favourite way is with roasted pecans and dried cranberries.  To roast your pecans, preheat the oven to 350 F Degrees and bake for 8 to 10 minutes.  Don’t leave half way though and get distracted by a movie – keep an eye on them they can burn easily.  I top it with a light raspberry vinaigrette.

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The potatoes were very easy.  I tossed them in Kraft Sundried Tomato and Oregano salad dressing, a little EVOO, salt, pepper and garlic powder, and tossed in the oven.  I baked them for about 45 minutes at 400 F Degrees.

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Honey Spiced Cornish Hens

For the hens I first made the glaze. I combined 1/4 cup honey, 1/8 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, 1/2 tsp chili powder, 1/2 tsp onion powder, 1/4 cup red wine, one whole star anise, and 1/2 cup whole black berries into a large skillet.  Bring to a boil, and then let simmer for about 10 minutes.  Remove the berries and star anise and let the glaze cool.  Brush the glaze on both sides of the hen and place on a foil lined baking sheet.  Bake at 400 F degrees for 50 – 60 minutes, or until a meat thermometer read 165 F.  Let the hen sit for 10 minutes before serving (I covered mine in foil).  One hen will serve two.  You can find a version of this recipe here.    

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The next recipe will be better… I promise.  I feel I need mom supervision when working with whole hens/chickens/turkeys/etc., so I will ensure that Ken’s mom is around the next time I decide to attempt this.  I hope everyone is a little more organized this holiday season than I am!! Ken and I had a blast at my company Christmas party this past Saturday night.

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On the fourth day of Christmas my true love gave to me…

The Twelve Days of Christmas: Two Turtle Doves

On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me,
Two turtle doves,
And a partridge in a pear tree.

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The Twelve Days of Christmas recipes continue!!  Today’s theme is two turtle doves, and might I say this recipe is MUCH simpler than the last one.  It took very little time to make these and they are relatively simple.  To read about my Partridge in a Pear Tree recipe, click here.  I love turtles.  When I was growing up nothing excited me more than the orange turtle box under the tree.  My mom would leave it unwrapped since my dad would always go snooping for them, and by the time Christmas day would come around there would be none left.  She actually started buying two boxes of them because we just couldn’t help ourselves!  These turtle doves are essentially your basic run of the mill turtles, cloaked in white chocolate with a milk chocolate drizzle topping.  They are freaking fantastic.  I snagged this recipe from Woman’s Day Magazine’s December issue.

What you’ll need:  1 heaping cup of pecan halves, 16 soft caramel candies, 1 cup of white chocolate, 1/4 cup of milk chocolate and 1 tbsp plus 1/4 tbsp of shortening, divided.

The first step is roasting your pecans.  Toss a heaping cup of pecans onto a parchment lined baking sheet and bake at 350 F degrees for about 10 minutes.  Make sure the pecans are arranged in a single layer, not overlapping, in order to get evenly roasted pecans.  Once the pecans have cooled, divide them into 16 clusters.

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Next, add a soft caramel candy to the top of each cluster.  Try to arrange it so that it is at the top of the cluster, touching multiple pecans.  I actually flattened the caramels a little bit so that they would better coat the pecans.  Place in over, set to broil, and bake for 2 to 3 minutes or until the caramel has melted.  Watch your caramels carefully, it can burn very easily if you’re not paying attention.

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Let the melted caramel cool.  Meanwhile, melt white chocolate and shortening  in a double boiler, in a microwave, or in a heat safe bowl atop a pot.  Once melted, spoon heaps of the white chocolate over the pecan and caramel cluster.  Refrigerate for 10-15 minutes, or until hardened.

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Melt the milk chocolate as you did the white, and then drizzle over the white chocolate.  Return to the fridge to cool.  I left them in for about a half hour.

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These taste really good.  Let them soften to room temperature before serving or you will be biting into a really hard caramel center.

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Annnd that’s pretty much it… super simple right?  With cooling time in the fridge it took me about an hour from start to finish.  They’re a great gift to give at Christmas – especially for Turtle lovers.  Pop them in a home decorated box, wrap and send – it’s that easy.

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On the third day of Christmas my true love gave to me…