Chicken & dumplings

Another classic Southern comfort food dish. Ahh…. so fabulous.

I learned to make this dish when I was just out of college and had a job that was more handling customers than washing diapers. For the record, I’ll take Cheerios over conference calls any day. ;)  This was one of those “oh I use some of this and a little of that and sometimes those — should I write this down?” sort of things, so I’m doing my best to turn it into an actual recipe.

Chicken & dumplings

Ingredients

  • 4 chicken breasts or one roasted rotisserie chicken
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup butter, cold
  • Chicken broth — about 2 quarts
  • 2 Tbsp. or so cornstarch
  • Salt, pepper, onion powder

Instructions

The chicken
    1. Either boil or slow cook the chicken breasts, saving the water it was cooked in, or (time saver alert!) buy a lovely already-roasted rotisserie chicken from the grocery store. Viola, my Grandma would wittily say, you’re halfway there. With either method, wait till the chicken is cooled and chop it into chunks; set aside for now.
The dumplings
    1. While the pot of broth is heating up, cut the butter into the flour like you’re making biscuits using either a pastry blender, a fork, or a few pulses of the food processor. Now sprinkle in some salt and pour in chicken broth, a little at a time, till the dough holds together enough to be able to roll it out — this will take somewhere around a cup or cup and a half, but it’s not a science. When the dough holds together, roll it out very thin and cut into strips about an inch wide, and two inches long. A pizza cutter is great for this! These, obviously, do not have to be anywhere near perfect.
    2. Returning to your chicken broth: get a big pot of chicken it simmering — either the water you reserved from cooking the chicken breasts, or some homemade you might have in the freezer. If you’re using quarts of chicken broth, pour in one full quart plus whatever is left after making your dumplings. Bottom line: you want plenty in there so the dumplings have room to cook.
    3. After the broth has come to a nice simmer, start carefully dropping in the dumplings; they’ll all sink to the bottom at first and that’s fine. Let them simmer gently for about half an hour, swirling the pot around every so often. You don’t want to do too much stirring because the dumplings are delicate as they’re cooking and you don’t want to make them all into a giant ball of mush; some gentle moving around with a wooden spoon is fine.
Thickening time!
    1. Whisk about 2 Tbsp. of cornstarch into 1/4 cup of cold water till it’s all dissolved and there are no lumps. Pour this mixture into the pot of dumplings and stir gently, then add in your chopped chicken.
Seasoning
  1. Sprinkle in some salt, some pepper and some onion powder, bring the whole mess back up to a simmer, then reduce heat so it’s just below simmer. Let it cook another half hour or so to give the cornstarch time to work its magic and thicken things up and for all the flavors to get to know each other properly.

Now serve! This is crazy good with green beans (cooked with bacon fat, duh) or just on its own. It also freezes like a dream so I make a giant pot once a month or so and freeze quart size bags of it.

Cappuccino fudge crinkles

Kiddo and I had the urge to make cookies, and since he doesn’t actually eat any of them, I get to pick the recipes. This one jumped right off the page at me, I swear: cookies plus chocolate plus coffee? Sign me up.

This one is from the Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook — you know, the red and white one. It’s a classic.

You will need:

  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1 packed cup brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 Tbsp instant coffee (I used two packets of Starbucks VIA sent to me gratis by the awesome Maris)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/3 cup vanilla yogurt
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar

To make:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F
  2. With a mixer, beat butter on medium to high speed for about 60 seconds to soften it up, then add in brown sugar, cocoa powder, coffee, baking soda, and cinnamon (not granulated sugar). Beat till combined, scraping bowl as necessary
  3. Add in egg whites and yogurt, and beat till combined
  4. Add in flour, 1/2 cup at a time, beating till just combined (if you’re using a hand mixer you may need to finish off with a wooden spoon — the batter gets pretty thick and sticky)
  5. Pour granulated sugar in a shallow bowl, then drop teaspoons of the cookie dough into the sugar, a few at a time. Roll the dough into balls, coating with sugar as you go. The dough will be crazy sticky, but you’ll be able to handle it easier once the white sugar is stuck to it
  6. Place cookies 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 350 for about ten minutes, or until edges are firming up. Cool on a wire rack
  7. Eat with abandon Carefully pack up to give away

Hot chocolate

The Kiddo loves him some Polar Express. He loves the hot chocolate song and wanted to make some to enjoy while we watched the movie. And by “enjoy” I mean “direct me to drink on his behalf” because he has very strict rules about drinking anything other than milk and water. Alrighty then.

This is actually so easy that it barely deserves to be called a recipe. Don’t you love that kind of recipe?

Stir together in a mug:

  1. 3 teaspoons cocoa powder
  2. 3 teaspoons sugar
  3. Pinch of salt

Now add either boiling water or steaming hot milk and stir. Add marshmallows at will.

Feel free to entertain your taste buds by adding peppermint syrups, Bailey’s, cinnamon, etc.

That’s all. Isn’t that easy? Don’t you want to quit buying those little packets?

Stay warm! :)

Strawberry layer cake

Yesterday was the first birthday of One Particular Kitchen! Yay! So I did what anyone would do: I made a cake. My mother made this cake for my birthday a few times and it was always spectacular and pink and fluffy. I was am the kind of little girl who thinks there can never be too much pink, and this cake was just the prettiest, most precious thing my birthday-girl self could dream up while I was running around in Gunne Sax dresses (which were, of course, pink).

Did I mention I make this in my pink Kitchenaid mixer?

I have a copy of this recipe, officially called Strawberry Layer Dessert, that came out of my mother’s cookbook, and I’m afraid I’m not sure which one it was; likely early versions of the Better Homes and Gardens or Betty Crocker picture books, but it’s nowhere to be seen in either one of those books I have on my shelf.

This one involves some downtime between steps, so be sure to allow yourself time to get everything done.

Strawberry layer cake

Ingredients

  • Two 10-ounce packages frozen sliced strawberries, thawed
  • Two 3-ounce packages strawberry-flavored gelatin
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 2 cups whipping cream, whipped to stiff peaks
  • One 10-inch angel food cake

Instructions

  1. Drain strawberries, reserving 1 cup syrup (see note below)
  2. Dissolve gelatin in boiling water, add reserved strawberry syrup, then chill mixture till partially set
  3. Beat mixture using whisk attachment of stand mixer until light and fluffy — this took quite a few minutes for me till it was lighter pink and fluffed up nicely
  4. Fold in whipped cream and chill another 30 minutes or so till the mix is thickened up again
  5. Transfer 1 1/2 cups of mixture to a separate bowl and fold in strained strawberries
  6. Split angel food cake into three layers, and use the smaller bowl of mixture with the strawberries to fill between layers, then frost top and sides of cake with remaining mixture. Garnish with fresh strawberries if you have them on hand

Notes

I ended up with frozen whole strawberries that did not have syrup, so I put them in a bowl with some sugar while they thawed, which produced some lovely syrup. Instead of slicing I just broke them up a little with a fork before folding into the whipped cream mixture and they were lovely!

Skillet apples

This is another one of those recipes that I have written down on a scrap of paper and tucked away. I have no idea where it came from, but it’s so yummy.

It’s also what I had for breakfast this morning. Is that wrong? It’s fruit, people.

Try this. Seriously. Gather:

  • 1 skillet (I used my smallest cast iron)
  • 2 Granny Smith apples
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • Sprinkle of nutmeg

And then:

  1. Core and slice apples (uniformly sized pieces are your friends so they’ll cook evenly; you can also peel them if your little heart desires, but I dig the peels)
  2. Melt butter in skillet
  3. Add apples, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg to skillet and stir to combine and coat apples (note: the mixture will look a little dry at first and you’ll be tempted to add more butter, but don’t; as the apples cook down they’ll get nice and juicy and everything will be great)
  4. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 15-20 minutes or until apples are nice and tender and sauce is starting to thicken
  5. Serve for breakfast

I can neither confirm nor deny that these are crazy good with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Just sayin.