The spring holidays are a happy time to make those special dishes that make cooking a delight. A tasty salad works well with these meals along with other cooked vegetables. A simple dressing adds to the natural flavors of the salad ingredients. It works well with the Spinach-Mushroom Quiche.

The spring holidays are a happy time to make those special dishes that make cooking a delight. A tasty salad works well with these meals along with other cooked vegetables. A simple dressing adds to the natural flavors of the salad ingredients. It works well with the Spinach-Mushroom Quiche.

Cornish hens are a nice treat and are easy to prepare. A half hen is usually enough for a single serving. The orange and honey sauce as a final basting is slightly tangy, but sweet at the same time. The twice baked potatoes are a great side dish to go with them, if you desire.

Of course a sweet dish of some sort tops the menu with the fruit salad and the raspberry bars.



Arugula Salad with Pears, Mandarin Oranges and Toasted Pecans

1        package arugula leaves, stems removed

½ (one half) cup pecans, toasted

1        teaspoon EVOO, olive oil

1        tablespoon granulated sugar

1        fresh pear or green apple, cored and thinly sliced

1        teaspoon lemon juice

1        can Mandarin orange sections drained

½ (one half) cup feta cheese, crumbled

4        slices crisply cooked bacon, crumbled (Optional)

Vinaigrette salad dressing

Toss pecans with 1-teaspoon olive oil and 1-tablespoon granulated sugar and place on a baking sheet. Toast pecans in a 350 oven for about 5 minutes, do not over toast. Set aside.

In a large salad bowl toss together arugula and drained Mandarin orange sections. In a bowl toss together pear slices and lemon juice, add to arugula salad and toss to distribute well. Chill and when ready to serve toss in feta cheese and toasted pecans and bacon, (Optional). Let guests serve their own vinaigrette dressing to taste.

Spinach and Mushroom Quiche

1        prepared refrigerated piecrust

1        10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and pressed dry

1        8-ounce package button or shitake mushrooms, sliced

2        tablespoons butter

1        small sweet onion, finely chopped

1        clove garlic, minced then smashed

1½ (one and one half) cups milk

2        cups heavy cream

5        large eggs

Pinch of salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste

1        8-ounce package mozzarella or Swiss cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place prepared piecrust in a deep 9-inch pie dish and pierce with a fork several times. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 6-8 minutes until a light golden brown. Set aside.

In a skillet sauté onions and garlic in butter for about 4 minutes, then add mushrooms and sauté for another 3-4 minutes.

In a large bowl whisk together eggs, milk, cream, salt and pepper. Fold in mushroom mixture and add spinach. Mix to distribute evenly. Place pie dish with baked crust on a baking sheet and place on middle rack of oven, pour in spinach mixture. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 40-50 minutes until a knife inserted in center comes out clean. Let quiche set for about 15 minutes before slicing.

Cornish Hens with Orange-Honey

Serves 4

2        Cornish hens, halved lengthwise

3        teaspoons EVOO, olive oil

Salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste

¼ (one fourth) cup orange juice plus 1-tablespoon

3        tablespoons honey

2        tablespoons low salt soy sauce

1        teaspoon garlic powder

1        tablespoon white vinegar or rice vinegar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Place halved Cornish hens in a 9 x 13 inch roasting pan. Spritz or lightly coat hens with olive oil. Lightly sprinkle with salt and pepper, to taste. Roast hens for 35 minutes in 400 degree oven, then baste with sauce.

Sauce: In a small bowl whisk together orange juice, honey, soy sauce, garlic powder, and vinegar. Brush mixture over partially roasted hens. Roast hens for 5 more minutes and baste again with orange juice mixture. Roast until skin is a golden brown and meat is no longer pink inside, about another 10 to 15 minutes. Serve with roasted potatoes, twice baked potatoes, or cooked rice.

Twice Baked Potatoes

Serves 4

2        large baking potatoes about 1 ¼ (one and one fourth) pounds

4        tablespoons butter

Salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste

¼ (one fourth) cup milk

½ (one half) cup speadable cream cheese

2        green scallions, white and light green parts, finely chopped

½ (one half) cup sour cream

½ (one half) cup cheddar cheese, shredded plus ½ (one half) cup for sprinkling on top

4        bacon slices, crisply cooked and crumbled, for garnish

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Prick potatoes in several places with a fork or sharp paring knife. Microwave on high for 7-9 minutes until tender. Cut potatoes in half lengthwise. Scoop potato flesh into a bowl, leaving a thin shell with the skins.

Mash potatoes with a potato masher, add butter, milk, salt and pepper, to taste. Mix in cream cheese, sour cream, and ½ (one half) cup cheddar cheese, blend well. Fold in chopped scallions. Scoop potato mixture into the 4-potato shells, dividing evenly. Place on a baking sheet. Top each potato with cheddar cheese and bacon crumbles. Bake in 375 degree oven for 15-20 minutes.

Helpful Hint: For added zip and flavor add 1-2 teaspoons prepared horseradish to potato mixture before scooping into skins.


Fruit Salad

1        can Mandarin oranges, drained

1        can sliced peaches, drained

1        small can pineapple chunks, drained

10      maraschino cherries, cut in half

1        kiwi, peeled and cut into ¼ (one fourth) inch slices

1        cup miniature marshmallows (Optional)

In a clear glass salad bowl gently toss together oranges, peaches, pineapple, and cherries. Add marshmallows, if desired, to add a touch of sweetness to the fruit.

In another bowl beat together cream cheese, yogurt, and sugar until smooth. Pour over fruit and toss to coat, garnish top of salad with kiwi slices. Refrigerate for about 30-40 minutes.

Helpful Hint: To keep marshmallows from turning hard store them in the freezer, thaw when ready to use. If marshmallows are sticky add 2- tablespoons confectioners’ sugar in a plastic bag and shake it well with the marshmallows, separate by hand if they still stick together.

Raspberry-Peach Bars

4        cups all-purpose flour

1        cup granulated sugar

½ (one half) teaspoon ground cinnamon

Pinch of salt

2        cups cold butter

2        cups peach or apricot preserves

1        cup seedless raspberry jam

1        cup sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl combine together flour, sugar, cinnamon, and salt. With a pastry blender or 2-knives cut in butter until crumbly. Reserve 2 cups flour mixture.

Lightly vegetable spray a 13x 15 inch baking pan. Press remaining flour mixture onto bottom of prepared pan.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 25-30 minutes or until lightly browned.

Spread peach preserves over baked crust in pan. Gently spread raspberry jam over peach preserves. Sprinkle reserved 2-cups flour mixture over preserves. Sprinkle with sliced almonds.

Bake at 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes or until a golden brown. Let cool for at least an hour on a wire rack. Cut into bars.

Helpful Hint: Strawberry or blueberry jam or preserves can be substituted for the raspberry jam.


Hope Cusick has won awards at the North Carolina Strawberry Festival in 2012; The North Carolina Blueberry Festival, winning first place for her Blueberry Cheese Danish Pastry in 2012, and placing on her blueberry spinach salad and dressing; and has won various other contest awards for her blueberry cheesecake, breads, cookies, brownies and jams. She resides in Hampstead.