Chicken and Dumplings

A few days before Christmas Eve, I decided to make these chicken and dumplings by Eat at Home for dinner. My nieces were staying at my mom’s house, and they came over for a bit so that my mom could go grocery shopping. It turned out to be a huge blessing, as my 9 year old niece is the reason this dish even turned out semi-successful!
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First of all, I have never made dumplings before. But I saw the short and simple ingredient list and thought this would be a great home-cooked meal to throw together, with ingredients that most people already have on-hand. I cooked the chicken ahead of time, sprinkled with garlic salt (which was a really smart choice, since the rest of the dish would be somewhat bland without – though ours had a bit of salt, since I wasn’t using low-sodium broth). Oh, and the chicken got both of my nieces stamps of approval. 😉
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But…the dumplings. First of all, cutting butter into dry ingredients then mashing with a fork doesn’t work. It just doesn’t. Don’t even pretend it does. I tried SO MANY TIMES (including rolling out into dough, realizing there were just huge chunks of butter, then mashing more). In the end, there were still chunks of butter in the rolled out dough, but after the huge mess of all the flour, etc., I just didn’t care enough to fix it that time. Also, it was so sticky. Like, REALLY STICKY. No amount of flour in the world would fix that. But my sweet, little niece, she worked at it and worked at it and was able to spread out the dough and then we were able to cut it, though it started to get overly sticky again, and I had to heavily flour the knife.
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Also, my niece had a great time shredding the chicken and arranging it on the plate. I should hire her or something! She is quite the kitchen helper.

In the end, it was more like chicken’n’dumpling-mush. That sounds gross, but it wasn’t. It actually did end up being pretty tasty, but it was not quite the way it should have been. Have any of you made dumplings before? I am quite intrigued now!
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Homemade Chicken and Dumplings

serves

Ingredients:
-2cu cooked chicken (I baked with garlic salt)
-4-6cu chicken broth
-2cu flour
-2tbsp butter
-1/2tsp baking powder
-about a cup of milk

Directions:
-In a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Cut the butter into the dry ingredients with a fork or pastry blender. Stir in the milk, mixing with a fork until the dough forms a ball (better idea – use a hand beater or electric one).
-Heavily flour a work surface, then roll the dough out thin with a heavily floured rolling pin. Dip your cutter in flour and cut the dumplings in squares about 2″x2″.
-Use a floured spatula to put them on a heavily floured plate. Just keep flouring between the layers of dumplings.
-Bring the broth to a boil and drop the dumplings in one at a time, stirring while you add them. The extra flour on them will help thicken the broth. Cook them for about 15-20 minutes or until they not doughy tasting (mine took 25 or so minutes). Add the cooked chicken to the pot and heat through, then serve.

-Tip: You can also freeze the uncooked dumplings for later!

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Beef and Bean Chili

A few months ago (aka…summer…) some friends of ours had their 3rd baby, and I signed up to make them a meal and deliver it to their house, so they didn’t have to cook. A bunch of people signed up, I believe 3 nights a week for several weeks, to give mama a break while caring for an infant plus two older kids, while dad is at work. It was fun to meet her baby and treat her to a nice and hot dinner. They had requested low calorie and low carb, which is hard to find in easily-transported dinners (soups, stews, spaghetti, casseroles, etc.), but then I found this beef and bean chili from Weight Watchers that I had been meaning to try and it seemed perfect! I made a double batch so that I could have dinner for my husband and I, as well.

For their batch, I used the canned tomatoes as-is, but I blended the tomatoes for my husband and I’s batch (I HATTTTTE tomato chunks, which I’m sure everyone is well aware).  It was so good! And you can’t even tell that it’s “healthy.” I have found that some WW recipes are touch and go – some are just bland and flavourless, and then some are really spectacular.

Oh, and we STILL have cooked beans left over in the freezer from this…a bag of dried beans makes a lot. And by a lot, I mean A LOT.

I did not get a chance to snap a picture of my own creation, therefore the photo used below is not my own, it is owned by Weight Watchers was obtained from their website.

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Beef and Bean Chili

serves about 6-8

Ingredients:
-1lb lean ground beef
-2tsp olive oil
-1 medium onion, diced
-2 ribs celery, diced
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-1 small jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced (I omitted this, since I was cooking it for two kids as well)
-2tbsp chili powder
-2tsp ground cumin
-1tsp dried oregano
-2 bay leaves
-1/2tsp table salt
-1/2tsp red pepper flakes, or more to taste
-28oz canned crushed tomatoes
-1cu reduced sodium beef broth
-8oz tomato sauce
-30oz canned kidney beans, rinsed and drained
-1/2cu shallots, chopped

Directions:
-Coat a large stockpot with cooking spray and set over medium-high heat. Add beef and cook until browned, breaking up meat as it cooks, about 5 minutes. Remove beef from pot and set aside.
-Add oil to the pot and set over medium-high heat. When oil begins to shimmer, add onion, celery, garlic and jalapeño. Sauté until tender, about 4 minutes.
-Add reserved beef, chili powder, cumin, oregano, bay leaves, salt and red pepper flakes, and stir to coat vegetables and beef with spices. Add tomatoes, broth, tomato sauce and beans, then bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, partially covered, for about 30 minutes.
-To serve, discard bay leaves, and ladle chili into bowls and top with chopped shallots (I omitted the shallots).

Note: According to the WW website, 1 heaping cup is 5 points. Sweet!!

Barbecue Beef Sandwiches

Hot food season is definitely upon us!  Here in the Pacific Northwest it has dipped down into the 20s in the early morning and late evening, and I know that many parts of the country are getting their first snowfalls!  I have really enjoyed seeing the pictures circulating on Facebook from my friends in Albany, NY (where I used to live), as they got their first snowfall of the season a few days ago. 
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Soups and stews are GREAT, but in case you’re tired of “the usual,” then this slow cooker barbecue beef sandwich recipe is perfect!  The recipe comes from Eat 2 Gather’s website, however is a guest post by Just For Clicks, which appears to now be defunct (it looks like the recipe came from Southern Living Slow Cooker Cookbook originally).  This is an “easy-peasy” recipe (ugh, that saying really annoys me, but I know it’s really popular right now), that you can throw together in the morning and then have a delicious smelling and tasting dinner in the evening!

I apologize for the weird, glossy/shiny looking pictures.  I don’t know how that happened.  But this is really good. 
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Slow Cooker Barbecue Beef Sandwiches

serves about 8+

Ingredients:
-1 (3.5 pound) eye of round roast (or any kind of beef roast, really)
-2tsp salt, divided
-2 garlic cloves, pressed
-1 (10.5oz) can beef broth
-1cu ketchup
-1/2cu firmly packed brown sugar
-1/2cu fresh lemon juice
-3tbsp steak sauce
-1tsp coarse ground pepper
-1tsp worcestershire sauce
-whole wheat buns

Directions:
-Sprinkle roast with 1 teaspoon salt.
-Stir together remaining salt and all of the other ingredients (except buns, obviously).
-Add beef to slow cooker and then pour sauce over beef.
-Cover and cook on low for 8+ hours (ok, the original recipe said to cook on high for 7 hours, but I have NEVER seen that before…I cooked mine, already mostly defrosted, on low for 8-9 hours, and it was perfect).
-Shred beef and serve on buns.

 

Quinoa Chili

I’m going to preface this by saying I don’t know how to read.  Ok ok, obviously I *do* know how, but I have found I will miss entire steps or ingredients when I am looking at recipes on my phone.  It is hard to continue scrolling up and down on my phone screen – bring back the cookbooks! 😉  That’s how you end up using 2 cups of quinoa instead of 1 cup…and any of you that have cooked with quinoa, know that is a HUUUUUUUGE difference.  It just added to the protein and filling-ness of it, though.
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In any case, this delicious and VEGETARIAN quinoa chili comes from Damn Delicious.  Damn Delicious is quickly becoming one of my favourite food blogs to follow.  The recipes are often quite simple and, as stated, pretty delicious.  It is nice to have a go-to veg dinner option, that doesn’t feel vegetarian.  And my husband loved it too!

I did omit the can of chilis, because my husband doesn’t like them, but I also omitted the cilantro and avocado – although I LOVE both ingredients, I forgot to buy an avocado, and I didn’t have anything else to use cilantro for, so buying an entire bunch of it seemed wasteful.  This was a very tasty dish, and I am sure those ingredients would have just made it moreso!  As you can see in the pictures though, I did serve it with a dollop of sour cream and some shredded cheese.
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PS – I made this shortly after my husband got his new cell phone.  LOOK AT THE QUALITY.  Seriously.  I’m kind of obsessed.  You can literally see all the morsels of quinoa.  Amazing.
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Quinoa Chili

serves 6

Ingredients:
-1cu quinoa (as noted, I used 2 by mistake – if you want the extra protein, you can add more, but you may need a larger pot)
-1tbsp olive oil
-3 cloves garlic, minced
-1 onion, diced
-2 (14.5-ounce) cans diced tomatoes
-1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
-1 (4.5-ounce) can diced green chiles (I omitted this, cuz my husband is not a fan)
-1.5tbsp chili powder, or more, to taste
-2tsp cumin
-1.5tsp paprika
-1.5tsp sugar
-1/2tsp cayenne pepper
-1/2tsp ground coriander
-Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
-1 (15-ounce) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
-1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
-1.5cu corn kernels
-3tbsp chopped fresh cilantro leaves
-Juice of 1 lime, optional
-1 avocado, halved, seeded, peeled and diced

Directions:
-Cook quinoa according to package direction, then set aside.
-Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven or large pot over medium high heat. Add garlic and onion, and cook, stirring frequently, until onions have become translucent, about 2-3 minutes.
-Stir in quinoa, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, green chiles, chili powder, cumin, paprika, sugar, cayenne pepper, coriander and 1-2 cups water, making sure to cover most of the ingredients; season with salt and pepper, to taste (I ended up having to add more liquid, due to the extra quinoa)
-Reduce heat to low; simmer, covered, until thickened, which is about 30 minutes. Stir in the beans, corn, cilantro and lime juice, until heated through, about 2 minutes.
-Serve immediately with avocado, if desired.

Slow Cooker Barbecue Chicken Sandwiches

Sometimes you just want something yummy and easy…but not too easy.  This barbecue chicken sandwiches in the slow cooker recipe by Eat at Home is just that!  It requires just a touch of prep time the morning of (or night before), but then you walk into your home after a hard day at work and dinner is ready (minus a few minutes for bun-toasting).  If you really are looking for something yummy and super easy, then you can just as easily throw chicken with just some barbecue sauce (Sweet Baby Ray’s, anyone?) in the slow cooker.  But this recipe does add a little something extra, with the extra spices, onion, etc….just a little more “oomph” as they say.

Also – it is a great way to use up some of the liquid smoke I bought awhile back for other recipes, that I’ve hardly touched since!  Also, if you are worried, liquid smoke is only $2 a bottle, depending on where you go.  I’ve still only used it a few times and I’m honestly not sure what it adds, but it must add something!

Side note: the original recipe calls for 3lbs of chicken (which serves 10-12 people). I only used two chicken breasts, which serves 2-4, depending on appetites, and I adjusted the other ingredients accordingly. Feel free to click between my blog and the original blog, to get the ingredients right for the amount you have!
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Slow Cooker Barbecue Chicken Sandwiches

serves 2-4 

Ingredients:
-2 chicken breasts
-1/2 onion, diced
-1cu of any combo of ketchup or any kind of barbecue sauce
-4oz taco sauce (original blogger notes: not salsa!)
-1tbsp brown sugar
-1/2tbsp dry mustard
-1tbsp vinegar (I think I used red wine vinegar – but you can use whatever you have)
-1tbsp Worcestershire sauce
-3/4tsp oregano
-3/4tsp garlic powder
-1tsp liquid smoke

Directions:
-Toss all the ingredients into the slow cooker. Stirring is not necessary, but I did.
-Cook on high for 5-6 hours or low for 7-8.
-Shred the meat and stir it until well-combined. Serve on buns – or even in pitas, tortillas, or if you’re light on carbs, over a salad!

Spaghetti Squash with Spaghetti Sauce

I have been meaning to try out spaghetti squash for over a year now.  My friend Alysha and I were discussing it recently and it turned out she had been intending to try it also.  We decided to get together last weekend to join efforts…this was actually a HUGE deal for her, as she is one of the pickiest eaters ever (by her own admission!)…and honestly, I have never been a huge fan of other squash.
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We were both a little nervous.  We also had no idea what we were doing.  I googled a lot of recipes and ways to prepare it and it seemed that roasting it was the most popular and reportedly tastiest method.  We merged this Dashing Dish microwaved spaghetti squash recipe with this Martha Stewart roasted spaghetti squash recipe, and adapted our own version from there.
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IT WAS SO GOOD!  I think we were both a little surprised at how much we enjoyed the final product.  It was a bit on the crunchy side, which I actually really liked.  Alysha observed that the slight sweetness from the squash made the sauce a bit sweeter, also.  Also: one squash will yield a TON of “spaghetti.”  We each ate large portions that night, and it created about 4-6 leftover servings.
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It was also really fascinating how it really does look like spaghetti!  I realize it’s called “spaghetti squash” for a reason, but was still neat to see how it literally came out in spaghetti-like strands when we scraped each half with a fork.  I have been told if you want to do a quicker version, you can simply nuke it for 6-10 minutes and it will be ready.
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The spaghetti sauce is a recipe that Alysha got from her mother-in-law and is now her and her husband’s go-to sauce – and it’s really obvious as to why.  It was delicious!!

Bottom line: if you are wary of trying out spaghetti squash – don’t be!  If a squash-disliker and a picky eater ended up loving it, then it must be a keeper! 😉
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Spaghetti Sauce

serves about 6

Ingredients:
-1lb ground beef
-1/2 an onion, diced
-2tbsp minced garlic
-salt and pepper, to taste
-a couple shakes of basil
-a couple shakes of oregano
-one shake of rosemary
-one shake of thyme
(note: there are no specifications for precise amounts – do it to your taste and what seems right for you)
-one small can of tomato paste
-one medium can of tomato sauce
-one large can of diced tomatoes with Italian seasonings (blend it ahead of time if you don’t like chunky tomatoes, like the two of us!)

Directions:
-In a frying pan, brown the meat with the onion, garlic, and a dash of salt and pepper.
-Once browned, drain the grease and add to the crock pot, along with the spices, tomato paste, one can of water (in the paste can), sauce, and diced tomatoes with the juice. Mix together.
-Cover and cook on low for as long as you like (about 8 hours at the most).
-This can be done on the stove top, as well.
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 Spaghetti Squash

serves about 6

Ingredients:
-one spaghetti squash (mine was about 4lbs)
-olive oil
-dash of garlic powder or salt

Directions:
-Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
-Puncture the squash a few times with a fork or knife.
-Microwave the squash for about 5-6 minutes, then cut it in half (it will be nearly impossible to cut if you don’t microwave it first). Scoop out the seeds and any gunk that you can see.
-Line a baking dish with parchment paper or foil (or just put it directly on, if you prefer) and set the squash in, face up. Using a basting brush, spread some olive oil on each side, and sprinkle some garlic over it.
-Roast it in the oven for about 30 minutes. It should be easily punctured with a fork.
-Using a fork, scrape the insides of the squash to create spaghetti-like strands. You can keep scraping until you get down to the skin!

Chicken Parmesan Meatball Soup

A few weeks ago, I decided that I wanted chicken parmesan for dinner.  Like, badly.  I looooove chicken parm (I sound like a broken record, cuz I know I’ve said that a lot!).  In any case, I had not had it in awhile, so I was jonesing.  However, it was also a dreary day outside, so I was also thinking it would be a perfect day for soup.  Warm, comforting, relaxing, homemade soup.  Mmmm.

But then the most amazing thing happened.  I went onto my “Chicken Dishes” Pinterest board to look for chicken parm and I found Chicken Parmesan Meatball Soup by Chocolate Moosey.  Seriously.  Chicken Parm + Soup = I died and went to Heaven.  Again, SERIOUSLY – the most genius idea in the world.

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I am still excited about it today.  And I might have to break my “never cook the same dish twice” rule in order to make this dish again because it was fan-freaking-tastic.  How long can I rave about this, you wonder?  😉

My husband was joking that it was like eating chicken meatballs in marinara sauce for dinner.  Ours was probably quite a bit thicker than the original recipe, as it calls for canned crushed tomatoes, and I just used canned tomato sauce.  I don’t like chunky tomatoes, and I could have blended the tomatoes, but that felt like an extra step.  However, now that I think about it, it probably would have been a thinner soup had I done that. 
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Also, I know that it is pretty ingredient-heavy, but the good news is that most of the ingredients are things you already have in your cabinets!  Also, don’t do what I did and almost forget the cheese at the end – I had started to dish it up in our bowls, then was like I FORGOT THE CHEESE, and dumped them back into the pot.  That’s really how my mind works sometimes, haha.

In related news, sorry for posting 3 pictures of essentially the same thing.  I didn’t take any preparation pix, so I figured I’d over-compensate this way.

Also: this would have been great with some pasta, too!
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Chicken Parmesan Meatball Soup

serves 4-6 (depending on appetites)

Ingredients:
For the meatballs
-1/4cu + 1tbsp panko breadcrumbs or crushed cornflakes
-1lb ground chicken
-1/4cu finely chopped onion (roughly half a small onion)
-1 clove garlic, minced
-2tbsp parmesan cheese
-1/2tsp salt
-1/2tsp dried basil
-1/2tsp dried parsley
For the soup
-1tbsp olive oil
-1tbsp butter
-1/2cu chopped onion (you can use the rest of the onion from above)
-1/4tsp salt
-1/4tsp ground black pepper
-1/8tsp dried basil
-1/8tsp dried oregano
-1/8tsp dried thyme
-1/8tsp paprika
-2 garlic cloves, minced
-2tbsp tomato paste
-28oz canned tomatoes with juice (I used tomato sauce, which provided a thicker soup)
-2 cu + 1cu chicken broth
-1/4cu shredded mozzarella cheese (plus more to garnish)

Directions:
For the meatballs
-In a small bowl, add 1/4 cup panko/corn flakes, then in a large bowl, mix together the chicken, onion, garlic, parmesan cheese, salt, remaining 1 tablespoon panko, basil, and parsley.
-Make one inch meatballs (mine might have been bigger), then roll them into the panko. Keep them refrigerated on a tray while you make the soup.
For the soup
-In a large Dutch oven, heat the oil and butter on medium-low or medium until melted. Add the onion and cook until soft, 5-8 minutes. Add the salt, pepper, basil, oregano, thyme, paprika, garlic, and tomato paste. Stir all together and cook another 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and 2 cups broth. Bring a boil then turn down to a simmer and cook 30 minutes.
-Add the soup mixture to a blender and puree until smooth (FYI – I skipped this, because it seemed like too much work, as I would have had to do it in batches, and then it’d also be more dishes to wash, and I was so happy with the result).
-Add back to the pot with the remaining 1 cup broth and bring to a boil.
-Once boiling, add the meatballs. Cook 7-10 minutes or until the meatballs are fully cooked (now this was actually a bit tricky – I had more meatballs, most likely, because I used more chicken – also be careful, as I had to cover the pot at this point, since everything was popping, and sauce/broth was getting everywhere, including on me, which kinda hurt! Every so often, I would lift the lid just far enough to stick a spoon in to stir/rotate the meatballs, but not enough to let the sauce pop on me and all over the stove).
-Stir in the cheese until melted. Serve in bowls and garnish with extra mozzarella cheese.