IN THE KITCHEN: Dinner for two (lovebirds)

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Celebrate Valentine’s Day with an intimate, homemade meal at home.


PHOTOS: Matthew Gaulin

There was a time going out for dinner on Valentine’s Day wasn’t an option for Cheryl Bloom and her husband.

“When we had the children we didn’t have a lot of money,” she says. “Therefore, it just made sense to stay at home and enjoy a meal.”

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Nevertheless, just because the food wasn’t cooked in a fancy, five-star restaurant didn’t mean the Valentine’s Day meal wasn’t special. In fact, it probably was more special because Cheryl’s children helped prepare her and her husband’s dinner.

“We would sit down as a family and the children would eat their dinner. Then, later, after we put the kids to bed, my husband and I would enjoy our dinner for just the two of us that was prepared by the kids,” she says. “That’s how this idea kind of got started.”

Cheryl doesn’t quite remember what prompted her to choose Cornish game hens to have for Valentine’s Day one year, but she believes it probably had something to do with her desire to always try something different. Plus, these young birds have a milder, more delicate flavor than their full-grown counterparts.

Cheryl explains that Cornish game hens require very little stuffing because of their size, but cooks should be aware that the stuffing has to be moist before placing it inside the bird.

“I don’t like dry stuffing in the first place, but making sure the stuffing is moist is important because it can dry the bird out,” she says. “Dry stuffing will draw moisture out of the hens.”

It’s also essential to tent the hens in tinfoil to further ensure juiciness and tenderness. And lastly, enjoy the meal your children helped prepare.

“This recipe is so simple it will be a piece a cake for them to help prepare or even cook on their own,” says Cheryl. “The Cornish game hens are nice because they offer that wow factor without being too complicated.

“I’ve always said with cooking, it should be simple and tasty. You don’t have to go overboard on ingredients and steps to have a nice, cozy Valentine’s Day meal.”


Cornish Game Hens with Stuffing

Recipe courtesy of Cheryl Bloom

Ingredients:

  • 2 (about 1 1/2 pounds) Cornish game hens, rinsed and dried thoroughly
  • 3 slices of bread
  • ½ teaspoon chicken seasoning
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon poultry seasoning
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • Pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Wash and rinse inside and outside of hens. Set aside.
  3. In a small dish, melt butter. While butter is melting, break bread into small, cubed pieces and season with chicken seasoning, salt, pepper and poultry seasoning. Toss to coat.
  4. Pour melted butter and milk over bread. Mix until bread is moist; then stuff each hen.
  5. Spray two large sheets of tinfoil with nonstick spray and roll the edges tight to form a loose tent around each bird.
  6. Place birds in a large roasting pan and cook for 90 minutes, or until juices run clear. Roll back the tents and set the pan under the broiler to brown the skin. Be careful not to burn.

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Cheesy Potatoes

Recipe courtesy of Cheryl Bloom

Ingredients:

  • 2 large baking potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons butter or margarine
  • 1 tablespoon onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon celery, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon flour*
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 ½ cup milk
  • 1 ½ cup shredded cheddar cheese
* Use cornstarch instead of flour as a thickener for the cheese sauce if going gluten-free.

Directions:

  1. Peel and cut potatoes into bite-sized pieces. Boil, but do not overcook.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Melt butter or margarine in a pan and sauté onion and celery until translucent.
  4. Add flour, salt and pepper to pan and stir. Next, whisk in milk until mixture thickens.
  5. Add shredded cheddar cheese and stir until cheese is melted. For a gooier consistency, add more milk.
  6. Transfer potatoes to a baking dish and pour cheese mixture over potatoes.
  7. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes.
  8. Remove potatoes and serve warm. Sprinkle with parsley or chives after potatoes are placed on plates.

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Parmesan Green Beans

Recipe courtesy of Cheryl Bloom

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups whole fresh green beans
  • 2 tablespoons butter or margarine
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • 2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese

Directions:

  1. Boil or steam green beans to preferred taste. Set aside.
  2. Just before serving, melt butter or margarine in a frying pan.
  3. Add green beans. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and onion powder.
  4. Remove from heat and sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese.
  5. Serve.
NOTE: Do not add parmesan into the pan while cooking unless you and your sweetheart enjoy crunchy cheese.

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