Thursday, February 26, 2015

Chicken and Dumpling Recipe with Biscuits

The ultimate winter comfort food.

This meal is always popular at our house.

I've been making chicken and dumplings forever. And, each time I make them, they come out different. For that reason, I hesitated to post this recipe. But, cooking is trial and error, and you will not get better until you jump in and try it ... over and over.

I have never actually made real dumplings. I prefer biscuits. The best kind of biscuit is the cheap, smaller biscuit. Do not use the big giant ones that you love to eat for breakfast. 

For years I just used chicken, salt/pepper and biscuits, but lately I've been using the recipe below. It gives it more pizzazz. It still comes out different every time I make it.

Loosely adapted from Paula Dean's recipe here.

1 whole chicken (boiled and deboned)
3 ribs of celery, chopped
1 large onion chopped
2 bay leaves
2 chicken bouillon cubes
1 or 2 teaspoons of pepper
1/2 teaspoon of salt (the bouillon cubes and soup add plenty of salt)
a dash of garlic powder
1 can of cream of celery or chicken soup
4 cans of biscuits
1 to 2 cups of flour

Place the whole chicken, celery, onion, bouillon and spices in large pot.  Add 4 quarts of water and bring to a simmer. Boil chicken until meat easily starts falling off the bone. Remove chicken from water, set aside and let it cool.

Once the chicken is cool enough to handle, remove the skin and discard it. Then, remove meat from the bone by using a fork to pull it away from bone. Return the meat to the juices.  Add the cream of celery soup to the pot and simmer gently over low to medium heat.

*Alternate step: Sometimes I dump all or half of the used chicken water out and replace it with fresh, canned chicken broth. This is personal preference. 

Next, pour 1 to 2 cups of flour on to a plate. Cut biscuits into fourths. Roll in flour until covered and drop into hot liquid. Repeat until all four cans are done. (You may only need 3 cans depending on how much liquid is available.) The flour will thicken your broth.

Do not stir once the biscuits are included. Use a spoon to push them under the liquid and all the biscuits are covered. This is the tricky part. You never want to over-stir dumplings. But, they tend to stick to the bottom of the pot. The heat has to be hot enough to cook them quickly, but not too hot or the dumplings will stick to the bottom and burn. If they stick, try to run the spoon along the bottom of the pot to unstick them but don't stir. However, when in doubt, it's better to stir than to burn!

I always prefer having lots of juice.  This requires less dumplings. Monitor your broth to dumpling ratio. Know it will thicken as it cooks. Feel free to add some more broth if you need it, but heat it first.

Good luck! I hope you enjoy your dumplings.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Frozen on the Farm: Sour Cream Coconut Cake

The farm is frozen. 

The animals are bunkered down and trying to stay warm while this three-day freeze passes over us. It was 70 degrees on Saturday, and I'm pretty sure it hasn't been much above 20 today. 

My family needed me to make something sweet. After all, they ate the last cake I made in under 24 hours, so it was imperative that I make another one. 

Since the weather is cold and icy, I haven't been to town in a couple of days. That translates to ...  I had to find a recipe with ingredients I had on hand. 

Once again, I turned to one of my favorite cookbooks. 

Dream with God

Have you ever heard of Dream Whip? It looks like this. 

Dream with God

I had never heard of it until a friend of mine used it one day. I actually laughed hysterically when she showed it to me. My first impression was that it was fake cool whip. For some reason I found that really funny. I assume it's an older version of something we have since replaced with regular cool whip or pudding. 

This was my first time to see it in a cake. I see it sprinkled throughout this old cookbook. It might have been the new kid on the block in 1978 when this cookbook was printed. 

The recipe calls for mixing all the ingredients together at once, but I always recommend adding the eggs one at a time. And this one has 4 eggs, so mix accordingly. And of course I always advocate for fresh eggs.  They make everything better. By the way, I'm sure I have some frozen ones in a nest right about now. 

Dream with God

The recipe also calls for three round pans, but I wasn't sure the icing would hold up. I went with a 9x13. Call me lazybones! 

I used a plain, boxed, butter cake mix but any white or yellow cake will do. Pillsbury is my favorite brand of boxed cake.

Dream with God

Bake it up at 350 for 30-35 minutes. Then let it cool. 

I mixed up the frosting and put it in the fridge until the cake cooled.

The icing recipe leaves you wondering on the correct quantities. I used about 12 oz of sour cream, 3 cups of powdered sugar and a full bag of coconut. It tastes great but it has the consistency of tapioca pudding. Good thing I went with the 9x13 pan.  

Dream with God

The kids have whined because it has coconut in it, but I'm betting it won't be here in 24 hours!

Here is the finished result! 

Dream with God

The cake is totally different than anything I've had before. It's really good, but so different I don't know how to explain it. It's not overly sweet, but sweet. The sour cream almost gives it a cream cheese consistency, but without the smoothness.

Dream with God

The cake is moist and has a little bit of a sponge consistency. And it doesn't taste like a box cake. The dream whip did its job! 

I'm thinking this is an old-school flavor that I'm not familiar with...but I like it. My husband liked it too. The kids haven't tried it yet. 

Give it a whirl and tell me what you think. Make it for your grandmother and see if it reminds her of something from long ago. 

1 boxed cake, yellow or white
1 package of dream whip
4 farm fresh eggs
1 cup of water
1/2 cup of oil

3 cups of powdered sugar
12 oz of sour cream
1 bag of coconut flakes

CAKE: Mix the cake ingredients together, blending the eggs in one at a time. Bake at 350 degrees in a greased 9x13 inch pan.

ICING: Mix powdered sugar, sour cream and coconut together. Once cake has cooled, spread the icing over the cake. Store in the refrigerator. 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Chocolate Marshmallow Cake

I found this recipe in an old cookbook that was originally printed in 1978. It has been reprinted a few times since then, but it still has old recipes. 

"The Pastors Wives Cookbook"

My mom had this in her "toss" pile several years ago, and I scooped it up. In my opinion, old cookbooks always have great recipes. 

It has been THE BEST cookbook ever!

It includes recipes from all the food groups, but I lean heavy on the cakes, cookies and breads.  I have some recipes that have become regular repeats, but I continually experiment with new ones, like this one here.

When I read this, I knew it would be similar to a "Mississippi Mud Cake".  As I was making it, I quickly realized the cake and icing taste almost identical to my chocolate sheet cake, with the exception of the marshmallow.

I love a simple, homemade, chocolate sheet cake. The milk chocolate is so very yummy. It's a flavor you can't get in store-bought cakes. There is something magical when you mix cocoa and butter.

This recipe is super simple. You mix everything together, bake, dump the marshmallow on it, then the icing and let it cool.

My honest review of this cake...decadent...and it's really really sweet. Like,  makes-your-teeth-hurt, kinda sweet. But, what else do you expect from something with marshmallow oozing all over it, right? That translates to... my kids LOVED it! They didn't notice the over abundance of sugar. :) 


2 sticks margarine (melted or softened)
2 tablespoons cocoa
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
4 eggs
1 cup nuts, chopped, optional
1 7-ounce jar Marshmallow Cream

Mix above ingredients together and pour into a greased 9x13 pan. The batter will be thick. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until done. Cover with marshmallow cream while cake is still hot. Spread icing on top of marshmallow cream and swirl it in.

2 tablespoons cocoa
1 stick margarine
3-4 cups of powdered sugar
6 tablespoons milk

Mix all together. Beat until smooth.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Peanut Butter Rice Crispy Treats - (No Marshmallow)

It all started because I was in the mood for a little something sweet. 

As I was scrolling through facebook, I saw these. 


Something quick and easy and I had all the ingredients. And, my son loves peanut butter. We discussed it and decided it was a good idea to make these. 

I recommend gathering your ingredients and measuring them out so they are ready to go. This cooks quick...10-15 minutes... and you will not have time to measure while it is cooking.

I recommend an 8 quart pot. It will look too big, but it will give you room to stir and keep everything inside the pot! 

Combine one cup of sugar, one cup of light karo syrup, one teaspoon of vanilla and a dash of salt (or 1/8 of a teaspoon). Cook this on mid-to-high heat until it boils. You will need to stir it as it cooks. Use caution as it is hot. 

Next, turn the heat down to low-to-medium. Add one and one-third cups of peanut butter. Stir until well blended and melted. 

Turn the heat on low. Pour four cups of rice crispy cereal into the mixture. Stir! Mix it up well until all the ingredients are combine. 

Remove from stove. 

Spread wax paper on your counter top. Spray ice cream scoop or large spoon with oil. Dip the mixture out onto the wax paper. This recipe will make about two dozen crispy cookies. Let cool about 5-10 minutes to solidify and enjoy. (The longer they sit, the firmer they get.) 

Unfortunately, I can't credit the the page where I saw these. Facebook rearranged my feed before I had a chance to pin it. Despite all my scrolling, I could not find it again. I had pinned this one by Martha Stewart a while back and it is almost identical. 

1 cup of white sugar (Optional - use 1/2 c. white and 1/2 c. brown)
1 cup of light karo syrup
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1 dash of salt
1 1/3 cups of peanut butter
4 cups of rice crispy cereal

1. Bring sugar, karo, vanilla and salt to a boil. Stir while cooking.
2. Add peanut butter and turn down heat to medium. Stir until well blended.
3. Turn stove to low. Add rice crispy cereal and stir until well blended.
4. Remove from stove.
5. Scoop out onto wax paper.
6. Let cool 5-10 minutes before eating.
7. Makes 2 dozen.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Turkey Vidalia Onion Avocado Sandwich

Do you ever get desperate? 

Desperate for something that will dazzle your taste buds? But, all you have in your fridge is boring left-overs! 

I cooked a turkey a few days back. The hubby caught them on sale after Christmas. I had hoped we would get around to smoking it, but we ran out of time and it had to be cooked. I tried one of those fancy "brines" I've heard so much about. 

Either I did something wrong or used a lack-luster recipe. Boring!! Now, I'm stuck with some pretty bland turkey in my fridge that needs to be eaten.  

Out of desperation comes creativity, right? (tweet this) 

In an effort to do something with the left-over turkey, I came up with a yummy sandwich! It was super simple and quick to make. 

First, you need some of this stuff. 

Vidalia onion salad dressing. 

Take some lose turkey and shred it. (Use two forks and pull it apart.) Then mix with a tablespoon of dressing. (or more!) 

This is a bad picture, but you can see my shreded turkey and dressing concoction. (The high-dollar paper plate came from the Dollar General... in case you were wondering.) 

Next, butter two pieces of your favorite bread and put them face down in a medium-hot skillet. You want it to get crisp, but you don't want to cook it too fast. 

Sprinkle some grated, cheddar cheese on one side. This will melt slightly as bread warms and toasts. (Chipotle or guyure would work nice also.)

Next, add the turkey mixture to the other side. 

If you like your turkey really hot, you can microwave it for 30 seconds prior to putting it on the bread. It gets slightly warm on the bread but not hot. 

When the bread is toasted to your liking, remove it from the skillet. You want it to be crispy! 

*NOTE - We are not flipping our bread. That would make your goodies fall off. 

Slice a fresh avocado in half. Then, take one side only, cut it length wise while in its peel. Then scoop it out with a spoon and place it on your sandwich. Save the other half for the second sandwich because you are going to want another one. 

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Sprinkle the avocado lightly with garlic powder and salt. 

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Next, add some lettuce. 

Top with the cheese bread slice. 

The combination of the vidalia onion dressing and the garlic make this a little tangy and sweet. It's a great combo of flavors! I'm sure you could add a few more things like onions and maybe tomato but this was all I needed. I don't do raw onion and I wasn't sure tomato would marry well. Besides, Mr. Tomato gets invited to all the sandwich parties so why invite him to this one? 

This was a uniquely, yummy sandwich that I encourage you to try. But it might not appeal to the masses .... or those who do not like this type of salad dressing. However, I had it for lunch and again for dinner! Lol. I lovvvved it!! 

Pin this recipe. 
The toasted bread (with real butter of course) makes the sandwich! Don't skip that step. And do not use that crappy, sliced sandwich cheese that is not even real cheese. What is that stuff anyway? 

I hope you enjoy this easy sandwich! Make it and send me your photos on Twitter @jc12999. Or, pin it to Pintrest. 

Happy eating! 
Ingredients - quantity depends on how much you like on your sandwich
2 slices of sandwich bread
cheddar cheese
turkey (fresh or sliced)
vidalia onion dressing (1-2 tablespoons)
avocado (half of one)
butter (3-4 tablespoons)
garlic powder and salt

1. Butter the bread and lay it face down in a medium-hot skillet.
2. Shred turkey and mix with vidalia onion dressing.
3. Place desired amount of cheese on top of bread while in skillet.
4. Place turkey on top of other slice of bread in the skillet.
5. Cut avocado and place on top of turkey after you remove it from skillet.
6. Sprinkle avocado with garlic powder and salt.
7. Place desired amount of lettuce on top of avocado.
8. Place other piece of bread on the top.
9. Eat and repeat!

Pin me! 

Friday, January 23, 2015

The Best Green Beans Ever

Remember when you were little and the only vegetables you seemed to eat were green beans and corn? 

Maybe that was just me. 

I despised veggies when I was young. I forver ate my hamburger with meat and cheese only! No veggies!!

As an adult, I don't eat green beans as often as I used to because thankfully my palate has grown to love other vegetables.

However, I'm a sucker for the old fashion green beans with bacon and onion cooked with them! How much more southern can you get? 

We were discussing this recipe at work the other day. Every since then I've wanted some. 

Tonight, I needed a side dish to go with some turkey I had made earlier. This was my chance to fulfill a craving. Luckily I had all the ingredients on hand, but I didn't have all night so I opted for canned beans vs. frozen. They were great! 

First,  sizzle up one package of bacon. I recommend cooking it crisp. (Like, who wants to eat soft bacon anyway?) Yes, for you oven people, it would work fine in the oven. Just save your grease. 

My recipe is bacon heavy because I love bacon. Feel free to cut the bacon in half if that suits your fancy. 

While the bacon is cooking, chop half of a large onion or one small onion. 

When the bacon is as crispy as you like it, remove the bacon and drain half the grease. 

Then, add the chopped onion.  Cook these until they are clear...well, as clear as they can really be in bacon grease. :)

While the onions are cooking, chop the bacon into bite sized pieces. Crunchy bacon makes this step really easy. 

When the onions have cooked through, remove them from the grease. (I prefer to place them on a plate with a paper towel to absorb extra grease.) Drain any excess grease out of your pan and wipe clean with a paper towel. Be careful not to burn yourself...that pan might still be hot! (Every calorie counts...even if this recipe is latent with fat, bacon molecules.)

Next,  add two cans of drained green beans. You could use any kind of green bean that you fancy. This is all I had on hand. Most people make this with a full bean and not a french bean. But it works fine either way. 

Add your cooked onion and chopped bacon back to the pan.  

Add one cup of chicken broth. (NOTE: Frozen beans take longer to cook. If you opt for frozen beans, you may need to add a full can of broth and cook longer.) 

Cook 20 minutes on low until broth cooks off. You want to do this slowly so your beans absorb all the savory flavors. Don't rush it too much. 

Eat them as soon as possible...out of the pan because who can resist green beans all slathered in bacon..right? 

Confession: I ate most these myself. Not all in one setting, but I didn't let them linger long.

Craving gone! 

2 cans of green beans - or 1 package of frozen beans
1 cup of chicken broth (one can if using frozen beans)
1 package of bacon (depending on your love of bacon, you could easily get by with 1/2 a package)
1/2 of a large yellow onion, chopped (or one medium onion)

1. Fry bacon until crisp. Remove from grease and drain on a plate with a paper towel. 
2. Chop onion. Cook in bacon grease. 
3. Remove onion. Drain grease from pan. 
4. Chop bacon. 
5. Add green beans to the pan, cooked onions and chopped bacon. 
6. Add one cup of chicken broth. (more if using frozen beans)
7. Cook on low, uncovered for 20 minutes or until broth is gone. 
8. Cool and enjoy!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Secrets of the Kingdom of God

Have you ever heard someone say, "Repent, the Kingdom of God is near!"? 

What feelings or thoughts come to mind when you hear that? 

Honestly,  I have always had mixed emotions about that verse...until recently. God gave me a new perspective on this. 

John 1: 14 After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. 15 “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”

One of the ways I've seen this verse was futuristic...Jesus is coming back soon, better get my life in order...oh my goodness! And, Luke 20:30 does lend itself to that thought pattern.   

But, in John 1:14-15 we see a different concept. What Jesus meant when he said this was literally...the kingdom has come is standing right in front of you!

How much closer can it get? 

Jesus was standing there, offering people heaven on earth. 

In the Old Testament, there was a system for getting near to God. People made long treks to the temple. They cleansed themselves before coming close to God. And even then, they needed a priest or a profit to tell them the things of God.  

Fast forward to the New Testament. God, through his Holy Spirit, would now live on the inside of his people. Awesome news! 

The Kingdom of God is near! 

I'm so glad He lives on the inside of me, being my comforter, being my peace, my joy!  While I love to go to church, I'm glad He doesn't only reside in church...but in my heart...where I can access him anytime....whether I'm clean or dirty, full of sin or repented. He is there!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

How to Make White Gravy

Okay folks, this blog is going to be extremely spiritual...especially if you take your food serious.

Blogging about food is something I haven't done until recently, but I cook ALL the time so I thought it was fitting.

In order to get good food, I just have to cook it myself! Plus, I have a sweet family that enjoys eating so cooking is a must.

My sweet friend Michelle asked me the secret to making cream gravy. She had done it several times and each time it had not turned out well. It reminded me of being in college. My roommates and I would try to make gravy, but we were never successful. It wasn't until I got married and really started cooking a lot that it got easier. It takes some practice.

I tried to snap some photos to capture the experience. Consistency is not the easiest thing to photograph, but maybe it will all make sense.

These particular photos were taken while making S.O.S. That is fried hamburger meat in white gravy. It is best eaten over biscuits.

First, after I cook my hamburger meat (or you can pour a little grease in the pan), I drain most of the grease out of the pan. I leave around 4 or 5 tablespoons. You don't have to be exact because you can add more or less flour accordingly.

This photo is hard to see, but I have tilted the pan to try to show you. Leaving a FEW drippings in the pan is good too. It makes the gravy taste better, but DO NOT over do it. You can actually have too many.

Next, sprinkle some flour in your pan.  You want it to somewhat be equal to the grease. Maybe 3-4 tablespoons. Not too much, not too little. (secret #1) This is where the mistakes are made people!!

Now, stir it around. It should be somewhat liquidy, not to clumpy. I recommend using a wire whisk (secret #2). If you are really good, you can use a fork. Cook it until it looks kinda like this. Thick and bubbly...but not too thick. This happens fast. No more than 2-3 minutes.

Now, get ready! Here is where the fun part comes in. Pour in some milk. Maybe half an inch deep and stir with that whisk I told you to use. Make sure you get around the edges and on the sides. Sometimes the flour likes to gather around the edges. You will gradually add milk as you go so don't panic that this is not enough gravy.

Make sure your temperature is set kinda low, maybe a 4 on the electric stove. You do not want to scald the milk. Cook until the mixture gets thick. (secret #3) DO NOT FORGET TO STIR. If you don't like stirring, this is not the dish you should be cooking. Stir! I said stir!!!!

Now, see this picture?  Can you see the thickness here.  Not over thick, but starting to thicken. You see that, right?

Now, it is the time to add more milk. This will be the last time you add milk. Do not over do it. Just add about what you added before...maybe a little bit more. If you are not comfortable adding that much milk, you can do it in smaller stages. Add a little, stir, thicken, add some more, etc.

You can go ahead and season it now. I only use salt and pepper. Don't ask me how much because that just depends on your taste buds. But, you can see from the picture how mine looks. (Equal parts of salt since you can't see that.) The salt and pepper make the gravy so don't be afraid to season it good.

You can take some very short breaks from stirring, but never leave the gravy on the stove alone. It can do tricks while you aren't looking. The milk will burn if you are not careful.

Continue to stir on and off for about 5-10 minutes, the gravy is going to get thicker. This takes a while, but remember...all good things come to those who wait. Your taste buds will thank you.

ALTERNATIVE STEP:  If you are stirring your heart out, and your gravy does not get thick, add more flour. You heard me right, add more flour. It will be fine because you are using your secret weapon - THE WHISK!  It will look clumpy, but whisk it in like it had been there from the start. You can do it.

If your gravy gets thick really fast, then you will need to add more milk. It will also thicken a little bit as it cools off. So, if it gets thick ASAP, and you have not had to stir much, you need to add more milk. Remember, it's gravy not flour. No one wants to eat flour!

You are almost there.  See this consistency? You are on the right track. Just keep cooking and stirring.

Finally the master piece is DONE! You did it. Can you see this consistency? Kinda thick, but not too thick? That is what you are going for. This whole process takes about 15 - 20 minutes.

When I finished, I added my hamburger meat back to my gravy because I was making SOS. If you are really talented, you can make the gravy with the meat in the pan, but why chance it? Just take it out, make gravy, then add it back.

Click here to share these secrets with your friends! 

And, if all else fails, I have a great alternative for you.

Pioneer Gravy Mix!

This stuff cooks in about 3 minutes and it's pretty darn good in a pinch.

Making gravy takes practice so don't be to hard on yourself if it doesn't work out the first time. Just keep trying. Comment below and let me know how it goes!

Check this out on Pintrest. 

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