Aimee’s Pretty Palate: Downsized Holiday Dinner

Photos by Aimee Broussard

The holiday season of 2020 brought with it unique challenges as many were forced to forego family gatherings, opting to stay home and downsize their dinners instead. Proof of this happening across the globe was when I saw an old recipe skyrocket on Pinterest around this time last year. Ironically, that recipe, my Cornish Hens for Two, has also held my No. 1 spot for an entire year. 

While the holidays this year have loosened up when it comes to travel, the appeal of a one-pot dish sophisticated enough for a scaled-down holiday meal—yet easy enough for, say, a Tuesday—will never lose its popularity. Serve the Cornish hens and their lightly caramelized sweet potatoes with a salad, and dinner is as good as done. 

And in the spirit of keeping things downsized, my Cast Iron Apple Crisp made in an adorable 8-inch skillet provides just enough deliciousness for a handful of people. The combination of oats and glazed walnuts intertwined in its crispy, crumbly topping keep it from being unlike any other apple crisp you may have had. Topped with a scoop of ice cream, there’s really no better way to indulge in apple season.  

Thankful and grateful for you this holiday season! 


 

Cornish Hens & Sweet Potatoes for Two

Ingredients:
2 Cornish hens, small enough to fit into a 7-quart Dutch oven (about 4 oz.)
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. coriander
1 tsp. paprika
½ tsp. thyme
½ tsp. cayenne pepper
Pinch salt
1 lemon, sliced
4 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 Tbsp. butter, melted
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed or sliced into wedges 
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray a 7-quart Dutch oven with nonstick cooking spray; set aside. 
Remove hens from packaging, and lightly pat dry with paper towels. 
In a small bowl, combine spices. Season cavities of each hen with half of spice mixture and insert a lemon slice and 1 sprig rosemary. Tie back legs together with twine to keep everything secure. 
Brush hens with melted butter (reserving unused butter), and season generously with remaining spice mixture. Place in a Dutch oven (or cast-iron skillet or roasting pan). 
Toss sweet potatoes with remaining butter and season with salt; surround hens with sweet potatoes. Add remaining rosemary and 2 slices lemon on top of potatoes. 
Place hens on middle rack of oven and roast, uncovered, for 50 minutes to 1 hour or until skin is bronzed and temperature reaches 180 degrees on a meat thermometer inserted into thickest part of thigh. Serve immediately. Sweet potatoes can be garnished with additional chopped rosemary if desired. 
Makes 2 servings.

Small Batch Apple Crisp

Ingredients:
Crumb Topping:
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup old-fashioned oats
1/3 cup glazed walnuts, chopped
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. salt
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter 
Apple Filling:
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
4 apples, peeled and sliced or cut into 1/2-inch cubes (I do a combination of both)
Pinch salt
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 Tbsp. vanilla
Juice of 1/2 lemon 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
Make Crumb Topping: In a medium bowl, mix flour, brown sugar, oats, walnuts, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Using a pastry cutter or 2 forks, cut butter into flour until there are small pieces remaining and evenly distributed. Set aside. 
Make Apple Filling: In an 8-inch cast iron skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add apples and salt and cook for 3 minutes. Stir in brown sugar, cornstarch, vanilla and lemon. 
Remove from heat and cover Apple Filling with Crumb Topping. Cover with foil and bake for 15 minutes. Remove foil and bake until crisp and bubbly, about another 20 to 30 minutes. Serve with a scoop of ice cream, and garnish with mint if desired. 
Makes 4 servings.

Aimee Broussard is a Southern food blogger and award-winning cookbook author. Seen on QVC, Rachael Ray and more, she is a self-proclaimed accidental entrepreneur with a penchant for porches and sweet hospitality. Find her online at aimeebroussard.com.