Monthly Archives: December 2008

Down Home Chicken And Dumplings

Finally…the winner of our poll!  When I prepared this, I had not had it in a very long time, I was excited, but a little worried that I wouldn’t get it right.  So, of course, I called the authority…my mother.  She quickly confirmed that I was doing everything right and somewhere along the way, I found out that my grandmother also made a nice big pot, (she adds green peas to hers, but, I’m a purist when it comes to this dish).  The recipe did not disappoint.  It is really quite simple for a dish that sounds like it would take forever, it’s filling, it’s comforting, and the leftovers are fantastic.  Keep in mind, the measurements really involve a bit of trial and error.  For instance, I start out using 2/3-3/4 of the listed measurement for flour and water because, if your dough is too wet or too dry, you add flour or water accordingly.  Here’s how you do it:




Cold Water

Black Pepper


Bone-In/Skin-On Chicken (I use breasts)

Bell Pepper





Start out by rinsing your chicken with cold water and cleaning and breaking down your veggies.  They don’t need to be chopped, or diced, or minced, or anything like that, as they will be removed in a later step.

0013I left the onion and garlic whole, because they’re small, and cut the pepper and celery in half.

0022Toss the chicken and veggies in a large pot and fill 3/4 full with hot water, season well with salt and pepper(this is the only actual seasoning, but trust me, it’s good) and bring to a rolling boil.

0033Reduce to a simmer until chicken is cooked through and veggies are softened.  While the broth forms, you can make the dumplings.  The original recipe calls for one cup shortening, five cups flour, one teaspoon salt, and two cups cold water.  I halfed these amounts (keep in mind to reserve some of the water and flour in case the consistency is off).  Combine the flour, shortening, and water.

0082Generously add black pepper and use a pastry cutter until the dough resembles course meal (do not overwork!).

0104If the dough is too sticky, add more flour, if it’s too dry, add more water.

0112Place the dough on a well-floured surface, sprinkle some flour on top.  Keep in mind, if you do not use enough flour, your dumplings will stick to everything and it will get very mess

0123Use a floured rolling pin to roll dough to about a 1/4 inch thickness.

0133Use a knife to cut dough into square or rectangular dumplings.  This step is very freeform, the dumplings do not have to be perfect.

017The dumplings are now ready.  Return to your broth pot and remove the chicken and all of the veggies.  Set the chicken aside to cool and discard the vegetables.

0211Gently lower your dumplings into the broth, stirring occasionally.

022Once you’ve added all of the dumplings, allow to gently simmer until cooked through.  After 20 minutes you can test a small piece for doneness.

023While the dumplings are cooking, use your hands to shred the chicken.  Some people use the fork method to shred meat but, I find it awkward and too time consuming.

024When dumplings are just about cooked you can add the chicken back to the pot and return to a simmer.

025Just before serving, add a splash of milk, for a little more depth.

0262Serve steaming hot and ENJOY the rich broth and tender dumplings!


*This post is dedicated to my Pop-Pop, Mr. Jessie Barnes Jr.



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Tastemaker Review: Cowgirl Chocolates

As a featured publisher of, I participate in the Tastemaker program.  Basically, that means I get to test out goodies and kitchen gadgets, for free.  They send them to me, and if it so pleases me, I review it.  Well, I received my first sample a couple of days ago, and let me tell you, it pleases me.  It would be wrong for me to receive 1/4 pound of such a fantastic product as Cowgirl Chocolates, free of charge, and not reciprocate.  Here they are:

0052First impressions make the most impact.  Arriving from Idaho packaged in a bold red box complete with ribbon, a charm, and a gift tag, and enveloped in branded red tissue, I was excited about my new treat before I was even sure what it was.

0152Each chocolate is wrapped in a different color.  Each color corresponds to the flavor, and of course, the handy dandy flavor guide is there to explain what makes Cowgirl Chocolates so unique.  The flavors are broken down into Spicy and Mild categories, which include a Spicy Hazelnut Milk Chocolate, a Spicy Cuppuccino, a Mild Ivory Orange, and a Mild Rasberry Lemon, among others.  Beware:  the Spicy chocolates should be reserved for truly adventurous eaters.  They start out smooth and then provide a slow and very real kick towards the end.  The Mild chocolates, are suitable for any palate.  My personal fave was the Habanero Caramel, a creamy, smooth chunk of caramel packed with a serious spicy punch.

0161I thoroughly enjoyed my adventure with Cowgirl Chocolates and I look forward to testing out a few more flavors.  To his own surprise, my husband also loved the kick of the Spicy variety, and was totally impressed by the ingenuity of the product.  To learn more about Cowgirl Chocolates, visit


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Just To Hold You Over: Buffalo Chicken Calzones

Okay, so I know the poll winner was supposed to be my next entry, but I won’t have time to go to the grocery store until the weekend.  So, just to hold you over until then, after getting some suggestions from my friends on the What’s Cooking board, I decided to make Buffalo Chicken Calzones for dinner tonight.  I’ve never made calzones before, but this morning, I took out a stray chicken breast to defrost and then remembered that I had a ball of frozen pizza dough in the freezer, and decided to try my hand at it.  My original plan was to do an alfredo type of filling, but I went with the buffalo chicken, because it seems a little more interesting.  I sort of made up the recipe as I went along, so this one definitely provides some insight into the culinary mind of me.  I used The Pioneer Woman’s basic method to whip up a quick homemade ranch dressing for dipping.  It was a perfect accompaniment.  I didn’t have any in the fridge but, I also think some finely chopped celery would be great in the filling, and of course, blue cheese dressing would be fantastic!  Here’s what i created:


Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts

Hot Sauce (Texas Pete’s is my fave!)

Ricotto Cheese (Part-skim or whole is fine.)

Kosher Salt

Freshly Ground Black Pepper


Parmesan Cheese


All-Purpose Flour

Frozen Pizza Dough (Defrosted)

Egg Yolk

Frozen Peas (Because you always need something green :))

Extra Virgin Olive Oil


Start by pre-heating your oven and pizza stone to 450 degrees (you can use a cookie sheet if you don’t have a stone.  Then clean, trim, and chop your chicken breasts and heat a skillet over medium fire.

0012Sautee the chicken in a small amount of olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Allow to cook through and lightly brown.

0032While the chicken cooks, melt equal parts butter and hot sauce together.

0021Next prepare the cheese mixture.  Combine ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, and paprika.


Next, stir the cheese mixture into the melted butter and hot sauce.

0072Transfer the mixture to a bowl  and add the frozen peas and cooked chicken (If your pot is large enough, you don’t have to mess another bowl).  Combine well.

0103Add an egg yolk to the mixture (the number of yolks can be increased depending on how much filling you are making).  This will help bind the mixture, so it doesn’t run out everywhere when you cut into it.

0111Incorporate, well and set the mixture aside while you prepare the dough.  Flour a board and score the pizza dough to divide into the number of calzones you would like to make.  I divided mine into thirds so that I’d have one for lunch tomorrow.

0091Stretch or roll each portion of dough into as round a shape as you can manage.  Mine were more oval, but I’m just gonna call them rustic.

0122Spoon the filling onto half of the dough.  Be sure not to overfill or it will bubble out while baking (yes, this happened to one of mine).

0132Fold over th dough and pinch the edges together.

0142Once all of your calzones are formed, carefully remove the pizza stone from the oven and lightly mist with cooking spray.  Then arrange the calzones on the stone, brush with olive oil, and sprinkle with some kosher salt.

0151Return stone to the oven and bake until crust is golden brown and crisp.




Filed under Chicken, Make Your Own Takeout, Uncategorized

We Have A Winner!

The winner of “You Can Have Whatever You Like,” is a one pot meal.

I will be making old-fashioned, Southern chicken and dumplings! My mother’s step-father is from Mississippi and the recipe my entire family uses is from the Mississippi Cookbook. The recipe has been passed down from my grandmother, to my mother, and now to me. It is delicious and sooo comforting. Check back over the weekend for the official post!

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You Can Have Whatever You Like


Filed under Polls, Uncategorized

Perfectly Simple Hot Cocoa

Like most people, DH and I are super-excited for the holidays this year and we’ve been talking about drinking cocoa while writing Christmas cards, since the weekend.  We didn’t actually get to it until yesterday but, the cocoa was all the better on a cold night, after a long day at work.  Here’s what I did:


Hershey’s Unsweetened Cocoa






Heavy Whipping Cream


Combine the first four ingredients in a small saucepan (I used 1/8 cup of cocoa, 1/4 cup of sugar, a dash of cinnamon and a pinch of salt).

009Then mix in the water (1/4 cup, here), and stir until mixture is smooth and shiny.

0101Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.  Then add the milk (I use the mug I’m serving in to measure the milk, two servings=two mugfuls plus a couple sips).

0121Stir to combine well and allow to return to a simmer over medium heat.  While the cocoa heats, you can use a small amount of the cream to make some fresh whipped cream.

011With your hand mixer on high, whip the cream to form stiff peaks.

0131Add in just a touch of sugar to lightly sweeten.

0141Serve up the cocoa with a dollop of whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon.

015Lastly, be sure to ENJOY with someone you love.

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Filed under Dessert, Make Your Own Takeout

The Consequences Of Taking A Day Off

One night last week, I worked late and DH surprised me by making stew for dinner.  When I arrived home to the comforting aroma of meat and roots simmering on the stove, I was oh so pleased and relieved that I wouldn’t have to stand over the stove after a long day.  The stew was delicious and I had a nice relaxing evening.  But, over the next few days, I discovered that DH had used all of many ingredients that I had been saving for other endeavors.  Two days later, I made chicken paprikash for the first time and halfway through, I realized that I didn’t have any chicken broth (though, I didn’t put two and two together for awhile) and I had to send him rushing out to the store for another can.

Since Thanksgiving, I had been planning to use my leftover turkey bones to make and freeze stock.  After eating all the yummy meat, I froze the bones and returned to them this past Sunday, only to discover that DH had also used all of my celery and rosemary.  I wasn’t ready to give up my plan so I did my  best to substitute the missing ingredients.  Here goes:


Leftover Poultry Bones (In this case, turkey)

Bell Pepper (subbed for celery)


Herbs (I used tarragon, sage, and parsley, any mix is fine)

Fresh Garlic


Kosher Salt


Roughly chop all the veggies and place in a large pot.  You can leave the herbs whole as you will be straining the finished stock before freezing it.


Toss them in the pot with the veggies, drop in your bones and pour in a couple tablespoons of salt.

0031Fill the pot with water and allow it to come to a boil over high heat.  I used hot water but, I assume cold would be fine, it would just take a little longer to  boil.

0041Once it comes to a boil, reduce the heat to medium, cover and allow to simmer for 2-3 hours (the bones should be falling away from each other).  Go drink some wine and lounge on the sofa while you wait.

0051Place a colander over a large bowl and strain out the veggies, bones, and herbs.

006Carefully pour into ice cube trays (you can also put in an airtight container or ziploc bag if you don’t have any spare trays).

0071Pop the filled tray in the freezer and use at your convenience.

0081Note:  I used the first of my cubes last night, and the dish turned out fantastic!  ENJOY!

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