Friday, June 24, 2011

Chicken & Dumplings

This will be a difficult recipe to explain, as it's one of those family recipes that have been passed down over and over without being written in any detail.  You add things until they taste right and cook them until they are done.  The old fashioned way does take most of the day, though there are a few shortcuts, such as cooking chicken the day before.  I also sometimes use a large package of 8 chicken thighs instead of a whole chicken, if they happen to be on sale.  Either way, don't just use boneless skinless, chicken breasts.  You really want the flavor of the dark meat and bones in the broth.
Another item of note is the chicken base.  It is not the same as bouillon.  A good chicken base will list "cooked chicken" as it's first ingredient.

Chicken & Dumplings

1 plump, whole chicken
2 c. Bisquick
2/3 c. milk
2-4 Tbsp. Chicken base
Chicken stock or water (up to 16 cups)

1.  Place whole chicken in large stock pot (be sure to remove any giblet packets).  Cover with water.  Bring to a rolling boil.  Lower heat to medium and cover.  Continue to boil, turning occasionally, for 30 minutes-1 hour or until chicken is done.  (Legs will start to fall apart from chicken.)
2.  Remove chicken and allow to cool completely.  Reserve stock.  When chicken is cooled remove meat from bones.  Skim fat from top of stock.
3.  Add more chicken stock or water until you have about 4 quarts and heat over high heat.  Add chicken base according to taste. (More if you are just using water, less if you are using a seasoned stock.)  Add chicken back in and bring again to a rolling boil.
4.  Prepare dumplings by combining bisquick and milk in medium bowl.  Roll dough out very thin on a floured surface.  Using a pizza cutter, cut them into strips, about 1 in wide and 3-4 in long.
5.  Drop the dumplings, one by one, vertically into the boiling pot.  If the dumplings cover the top of the pot, use a spoon to create a small opening to drop dumplings down in to.  DO NOT STIR!  Lower heat to medium and let them continue to boil.  At first the dumplings will all float on top and look like a fluffy white blob.  Eventually, (around 12-15 minutes) they will separate somewhat and you will see a more opaque gravy in between instead of a thin, clear broth.  That is how you will know they are done.
Note:  They often taste even better the second day, as the flavors have more time to develop together.
Finished chicken and dumplings.

source: Mom

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Sweet Broccoli Salad

A few years ago we used to have regular gatherings at my friend Tara's house.  Another friend, Davita, brought this salad a few times and every time I couldn't get enough of it.  She was nice enough to share this recipe with me, and now it has become a favorite recipe for potlucks and get-togethers.
By the way, I've stopped apologizing for not having pictures.  Sometimes these meals have to get prepared and then we are out the door for the next activity.  For instance, when I made this salad I had exactly 10 minutes to make it, change clothes, put on makeup, use the restroom, get shoes on the kids and drive to the church before our activity began.  So yeah, no time for pictures.

Sweet Broccoli Salad

4 c. chopped broccoli (washed)
1 lb. bacon, cooked and chopped
1/4 c. shelled sunflower seeds
2 T. red onion, diced
3/4 c. raisins (I actually like to use craisins)

1 c. mayonnaise
1/4 c. white vinegar
1/4 c. sugar

1.  Mix mayo, vinegar, and sugar to make dressing in small bowl.
2.  Combine broccoli, bacon, sunflower seeds, onion, and raisins in large bowl.  Pour dressing over the top and mix well.

source:  Davita M.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Taco Bake

Okay, gourmet food it isn't, but my family really likes it.  My husband doesn't normally like macaroni and cheese, but this version, dressed up with taco meat and salsa, makes for a yummy, kid-friendly, quick meal which he also enjoys.  Especially if, like me, you cook your taco meat up ahead of time.

Taco Bake

1 box macaroni & cheese dinner
1 lb. ground beef
1 pkg. taco seasoning
3/4 c. sour cream
1 1/2 c. shredded cheddar cheese, divided
1 c. salsa

1.  Prepare mac & cheese according to directions on box.  Once completed, stir in sour cream.
2.  Meanwhile, brown ground beef, add taco seasoning according to directions.
3. Spray 2 qt baking dish with cooking spray.  Spoon in 1/2 of mac & cheese mixture.  Top with meat, 1 c. shredded cheese and remaining mac & cheese.
4.  Cover and bake 15 minutes at 400 degrees.
5.  Top with salsa and remaining cheese and bake uncovered fore 5 more minutes.

source: Kraft Food & Family

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Mexican Tortilla Skillet

As a variation of taco night, this one may be my favorite as far as ease of preparation.  It was made even easier this time since last time I bought ground beef I cooked and seasoned it and then portioned it into the freezer right away.  I like to serve this with a little sour cream and a side of lime flavored tortilla chips

Mexican Tortilla Skillet

1 lb. ground beef
1 clove minced garlic
1 pkg. taco seasoning
6 tortillas
1 can diced tomatoes with green chilies
1/2 c. salsa
1/2 c. shredded cheddar cheese
1 chopped green pepper (optional)

1.  Brown ground beef.  Add garlic and taco seasoning and stir.
2.  Using a pizza cutter, cut the tortillas into 1 in. squares.
3.  Add tomatoes, salsa and tortillas to skillet.  Cook about 5 minutes, adding water if it seems to dry.  Once heated through, sprinkle cheese on top, turn off heat, and cover until cheese is melted.  Sprinkle with green pepper, if using.
source:  Family Feasts for $75 a Week

Friday, June 17, 2011

Banana Bread

This is a no-fail banana bread recipe.  In fact, I accidentally omitted one of the eggs last time and it still turned out awesome and got compliments from the book-club folks.

Banana Bread

2 c. flour
3/4 c. sugar
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
3 ripe mashed bananas
6 Tbsp. butter, melted and cooled
2 eggs
1/4 c. yogurt
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 c. chopped walnuts

1.  Whisk flour, sugar, baking soda and salt together in a large bowl.  Mix bananas, butter, eggs, yogurt and vanilla together in another bowl.
2.  Fold banana mixture into dry mixture until just combined.  Fold in nuts.
3.  Pour into an 8 inch prepared bread pan (I like to spray it with baking spray which has flour in it.)  Bake at 350 for 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
4.  Let cool for 1 hour before serving.

source:  America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Apricot Chicken

My sister first made me this delicious dish when we visited them in Utah.  I asked her for the recipe so many times that she eventually started sending out her recipes as Christmas gifts.  An idea which I copied several times!
Sometimes this recipe includes curry, but as I've mentioned before, my husband hates curry, so it isn't in our version.

Apricot Chicken

2 cut up frying chickens (or 8 chicken breasts)
8 oz. Russian salad dressing
1 pkg. dry onion soup mix
1 c. apricot jam

1. Spray and oblong pan with cooking spray and place chicken in it.
2.  Combine dressing, onion soup mix, and jam.  Pour over chicken.
3.  Bake at 350 for 45 min- 1 hour or until chicken is done.
Serve with rice or garlic mashed potatoes

source: Erin P.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore

Don't be put off by the number of ingredients, as this is a super simple dish to prepare.  It's a good way to use your bone-in chicken, even leg quarters, though I think you could use boneless chicken breasts too, if you wish.  This chicken in a sweet tomato sauce over egg noodles got me major props with the mother-in-law, and you really can't have too many of those!

Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore

1 onion, thinly sliced
3-4 lbs. bone-in chicken thighs (I do remove the skin)
2 cans tomato paste
2 cans sliced mushrooms
1 green pepper, chopped
2-4 cloves minced garlic
2 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. sweet paprika
1 tsp. basil
1/2 tsp. celery powder
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. salt
1/2 c. chicken broth
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. crushed red pepper

1.  Place onion in the bottom of the slow cooker, then place chicken on top of the onion.
2. Combine remaining ingredients and pour over chicken.
3.  Cover and cook on low 7-9 hours or on high 3-4 hours.
Serve over noodles, pasta, or rice

(Sorry, no pics, as I made this and then promptly left on vacation!)

source: Family Feasts for $75 a Week

Friday, June 3, 2011

Chicken Florentine Lasagna

This is a nice change from the regular lasagna, but still has meat for those who aren't willing to go totally veg.  (Husband, perhaps?)  This makes a really good size lasagna and we did have tons of leftovers.  Of course, that could be because some of the kids wouldn't touch anything green.
To simplify/speed up the recipe, you could also use pre-cooked, cut up chicken.

Chicken Lasagna Florentine

12 lasagna noodles, cooked according to directions
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 c. chopped chicken
seasoning salt, to taste
1 10 oz. pkg. frozen, spinach, thawed and squeezed to remove excess water (you could also use fresh)
2 lg. eggs
1 c. shredded mozzarella, divided
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 c. butter
2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. dried parsely
1/4 c. flour
1 c. chicken broth
2 c. milk
1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese

1.  Heat oil in a large skillet over med. high heat.  Season chicken with seasoning salt and add to pan. Cook until lightly browned.
2.  In a large bowl combine cooked chicken, spinach, eggs, 1/2 c. mozzarella, basil, oregano, and nutmeg.
3. In a saucepan, melt butter over med-low heat.  Add garlic powder, parsley and flour. Stir until well combined and cook for about a minute.  Slowly add chicken broth and milk and keep stirring.  Add Parmesan and stir until sauce is thick and creamy. 
4.  Layer lasagna noodles in a greased 9x13 pan.  Top with half of the chicken mixture and half of the white sauce.  Repeat with remaining noodles, chicken, and sauce.  Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella.  Bake at 350 for about 25 minutes or until hot and bubbly.

source:  Family Feasts for $75 a Week