Sunday, December 26, 2010

Chicken and Dumplings

My husband had been begging me for months to make him chicken dumplings.  Honestly, I never really had homemade chicken and dumplings before so I had been kind of ignoring the request.  However, since he was so good to me this Christmas and bought me a beautiful Kitchen Aid stand mixer, I decided to finally grant him his request.  I actually was excited to make these, because one of my favorite cooking websites recently published the recipe.  This dish really turned out fabulous.  The dumplings were perfect in flavor and texture and the chicken was moist and flavorful.  My husband said that  was truly everything he hoped it would be and asked that I make it again in the near future.

Source:  Pioneer Woman, adapted from Gourmet Magazine


2 Tablespoons Butter
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
½ cups All-purpose Flour
1 whole Chicken, Cut Into Pieces (cut Up Fryer)
Salt And Pepper
½ cups Finely Diced Carrots
½ cups Finely Diced Celery
1 whole Medium Onion, Finely Diced
½ teaspoons Ground Thyme
¼ teaspoons Turmeric
6 cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth
½ cups Apple Cider
½ cups Heavy Cream

1-½ cup All-purpose Flour
½ cups Yellow Cornmeal
1 Tablespoon (heaping) Baking Powder
1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1-½ cup Half-and-half
2 Tablespoons Minced Fresh Parsley (optional)
Salt As Needed


Sprinkle chicken pieces with salt and pepper, then dredge both sides in flour.

Melt butter in a pot over medium-high heat. In two batches, brown chicken on both sides and remove to a clean plate.

In the same pot, add diced onion, carrots, and celery. Stir and cook for 3 to 4 minutes over medium-low heat. Stir in ground thyme and turmeric, then pour in chicken broth and apple cider. Stir to combine, then add browned chicken. Cover pot and simmer for 20 minutes.

While chicken is simmering, make the dough for the dumplings: sift together all dry ingredients, then add half-and-half, stirring gently to combine. Set aside.

Remove chicken from pot and set aside on a plate. Use two forks to remove chicken from the bone. Shred, then add chicken to the pot. Pour heavy cream into the pot and stir to combine.

Drop tablespoons of dumpling dough into the simmering pot. Add minced parsley if using. Cover pot halfway and continue to simmer for 15 minutes. Check seasonings; add salt if needed. Allow to sit for 10 minutes before serving.

St Nick's Dove Sticks

This was another recipe I made for my work's cookie exchange.  I found it on the back of a bag of peanut M&M's and it looked so easy to make that I knew I had to try it.  The recipe lived up to its expectations and it made for a very tasty treat at the exchange.

Source:  M&M's


1 bag Holiday Chocolate Peanut M&M's
1 bag Dove Milk or Dark Chocolate miniatures
1 cup creamy peanut butter
2 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
2 sticks butter
2 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs


Combine the butter, confectioner's sugar, peanut butter, and graham cracker crumbs in a bowl and mix thoroughly.  Press the mixture into the bottom of a greased 15 x 10 pan.

Melt unwrapped Dove chocolate miniatures in the microwave for 90 seconds or until smooth.  Pour melted chocolate on top of the mixture and smooth with a spatula.

Place red and green Peanut M&M's over the layer of chocolate. 

Refrigerate to set chocolate for approximately a 1/2 hour.  Cut and serve.

Peppermint Brownies

I recently participated in my work's annual cookie exchange and I was looking into making festive brownies.  When I found this recipe, I thought it was perfect and knew I needed to make it.  These brownies were delicious, but extremely rich!  I think I cut the brownies into pieces that were too big to finish in one sitting.  They were so consistent with fudge.  The peppermint flavor was perfect and not strong at all.  The girls at my work loved them and you can too!

Source:  Annie's Eats, adapted from My Baking Addiction


8 oz. unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
1½ cups unsalted butter
3 cups sugar
6 large eggs
1½ tsp. peppermint extract
1 tsp. vanilla extract
½ tsp. salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
4 (1.55 oz) milk chocolate bars, broken into segments
1 bag Hershey’s Candy Cane Kisses, wrappers removed and coarsely chopped


Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line a 9×13-inch baking pan with foil and spray lightly with cooking spray.

Combine the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl set over simmering water; heat, stirring occasionally, until completely melted and smooth. Remove from the heat. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the chocolate mixture with the sugar and eggs until well blended. Whisk in the peppermint and vanilla extracts and the salt. Whisk in the flour just until incorporated.

Spread half of the brownie batter into the prepared pan. Layer with the milk chocolate pieces. Spread the remaining batter evenly over the milk chocolate pieces. Bake 30-35 minutes.

Remove the brownies from the oven but maintain the oven temperature. Sprinkle the chopped Candy Cane Kisses over the top of the brownies and return the pan to the oven for 3 more minutes. Transfer to a wire cooling rack and let cool to room temperature. Chill the brownies until the candy topping has firmed up. Slice and serve.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Taco Pasta Casserole

Brrr!  This weekend's winter storm left me unwilling to leave the warmth of my house.  Weekends like this one are a good time to make comfort food.  Although my husband tolerates casseroles, he doesn't love them nearly as much as I do.  He was out of town this weekend, so I went casserole crazy!  This pasta casserole was delicious, and it led to even more delicious leftovers.  This recipe is a must-make for those cold winter nights!

Source:  Joelen's Culinary Adventures


1 1/2 cups dry penne pasta
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1/2 lb ground beef (80/20)
2 tablespoons taco seasoning (homemade or packaged)
3 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 cup multi-colored bell pepper strips
1 cup salsa (your preference - mild, medium, hot)
salt & pepper to taste
2 cups shredded Colby Jack cheese
fresh parsley for garnish


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large pot, fill with water and let it come to a boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente - 10-15 minutes. Drain and place in a baking dish.

Meanwhile, in a saute pan, add the oil and saute onions until softened. Crumble in the ground beef and brown. Add the taco seasoning, tomatoes, and bell pepper strips. Saute until vegetables soften. Add salsa then add salt & pepper to taste.

In the baking dish with pasta, pour over the ground beef and vegetable mixture. Toss lightly to incorporate. Top the pasta with shredded cheese and bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes or until cheese melts and lightly browns.

Before serving, top with chopped fresh parsley for garnish. Serve hot and if desired, serve with guacamole and/or sour cream.