Thursday, November 13, 2014

Chicken and Dumplings


Remember when you were a kid and you would get homemade chicken and dumplings all the time? Yeah, neither do I! Ha, but for some reason, there's just something very homey about this recipe. It feels like something your Grandma would have made and you would sit around a warm fireplace eating it. I love this recipe because that's what it makes you feel like when you eat it, so warm and cozy! Chicken and dumplings is the ultimate comfort food. I slightly adapted this recipe from Tyler Florance's version, and it's the best I have tried. I once tried to make Paula Deen's recipe and it turned out lackluster. So, just save  yourself some time and make this one! You can obviously substitute the homemade stock for store bought, but I don't like to waste anything and since I already had the chicken, why not? I did buy the roast chicken from the store, I find it's just as good and didn't want to spend 8 hours making this. 

Ingredients: 

Chicken Stock: 

  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 2 large carrots, cut in large chunks
  • Half bunch of celery, cut in large chunks (about 8 stalks) 
  • 5 cloves garlic, smashed (skins on is okay)
  • Bones of 1 whole cooked chicken 
  • 8 cups cold water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme or 4 sprigs fresh
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 2 tsp salt 

Dumplings:

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tbs baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup - 1 cup buttermilk 
  • 2 tbs chopped fresh chives 

Sauce:

  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 2 tbs butter
  • 2 large carrots, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 bay leaves 
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method:

For the stock:


Normally stock takes a long time to cook, but cooking the vegetables before adding the water and chicken bones helps speed up the process. Using a roast chicken, remove chicken from bones and set aside. Heat olive oil in large stock pot over medium high heat. Add the the vegetables and saute about 4 minutes. Add in the water, chicken bones, bay leaves, herbs and pepper. Cook for at least an hour, the longer the better! Strain into a large bowl to remove all the solids and set aside. 


For the Dumplings:

Sift all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. In a smaller bowl, Lightly beat the eggs and milk together until combined. Slowly pour the wet ingredients into the dry, folding gently. Add the chives. Mix just until the dough comes together. If the dough looks too dry, you can add more buttermilk. Set aside. 



For the Sauce: 

In the same stock pot used to make the stock, melt the butter and olive oil over medium heat. Add all the veggies and bay leaves, cook 5 minutes or until soft. Add in the flour and cook an additional 2 minutes to get rid of the raw flour taste. 



Add the stock, one cup at a time. Let simmer for 15 minutes to thicken. The sauce should be thick but still soup like. If it gets too thin, you can always add a little more flour or cornstarch to thicken it up. I actually ended up using all the stock and adding a bit of cornstarch. If you are going to do this, be sure to whisk the cornstarch with about a half cup of stock before adding it to the soup to avoid lumps. 

Fold in the reserved chicken from the roast chicken you used to make the stock. Stir in cream.

Using 2 spoons, drop heaping tablespoons of the dumpling dough into the hot sauce. The dumplings should cover the top of the sauce, but shouldn't be touching. Cover and let poach 10-15 minutes until firm and puffy. 

Garnish with chives and serve! 




Thursday, September 25, 2014

Penne with Chicken Truffle Cheese and Mushrooms




I know, this looks almost the same as the last post, but I promise it tastes totally different! Ironically, even though it has a few of the same ingredients, the texture and taste is just different. Either way, can you really ever go wrong with pasta and cheese? I think not! 

I have been really bad about updating lately, which seems to happen more often than not. Although I cook almost every single day, I don't find the time to edit all the photos, upload the recipe and write everything out. I recently began a career in Real Estate and am still working at my marketing job until the 1st of November, so I have been putting most of my energy and time into that. This is my true passion and I love doing it, but does anyone read this? I thought when I started my blog almost 3 years ago that I would grow a larger following, which I did not. I suppose that is why I do not update often, because I am not sure anyone is actually reading this. I love sharing my recipes, so I will keep posting, I am just not sure how often. Any feedback in much appreciated! Now on to the recipe...

Ingredients:
  • 12oz box penne pasta
  • 2 chicken breasts, cut into cubes
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 1 tsp Greek seasoning
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 container of mushrooms (about 4 oz)
  • 1/2 truffle cheese - if you don't have this, a sharp white cheddar or Gruyere will work as well!
  • 1/4 cup Italian blend cheese
  • 1/4 whipped cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup pasta water*
  • Salt and Pepper to taste 
Directions:

Bring a large salted pot of water to a boil and cook pasta according to package directions. Before draining pasta, reserve a 1/2 cup of the cooking water. 

Meanwhile, heat a large skillet with the olive oil over medium-high heat. Season chicken with Greek seasoning and add to the pan. Cook about 8 minutes, turning once until cooked through. 

Add the garlic and mushrooms, cook an additional 4 minutes until mushrooms are soft. Add the cheeses, stirring to combine ingredients. Slowly add the pasta water until the mixture comes together and is super creamy and smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste. 





Friday, August 8, 2014

White Cheddar Truffle Mac and Cheese


I absolutely love truffles and anything truffle related. Seriously, if you ask anyone who really knows me, they will tell you it's borderline obsessive. Every time I see anything on a menu with truffles, I have to try it. So naturally, when I saw this English Farmhouse Cheddar with Italian Truffles cheese at Trader Joes, I had to have it! It was everything I imagined it would be...creamy, trufflely goodness. After eating about half the block, I got to thinking of what I could do with the rest to avoid eating it in one sitting. Mac and cheese, duh! So that's where this amazing gem came from. You can leave out the chicken if you just want it as a side dish, maybe top with some bacon...yum! 

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbs + 1 tsp olive oil
  • 3 cups uncooked macaroni
  • 2 chicken breasts, cut into cubes 
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
  • 4 Tbs flour
  • 3.5 cups milk (I used 2%) 
  • 4 cups Trader Joes English Farmhouse Cheddar with Italian Truffles
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper 
  • 1/2 cup garlic & herb breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 Parmesan cheese 

Method:

Preheat oven to 350°

Cook pasta according to package directions using a large pot with salted water. Drain pasta, do not rinse and set aside. 

Meanwhile, heat a large pan over medium high heat with 1 Tbs olive oil. Season chicken with salt, pepper and any other seasonings you want. I used a garlic herb seasoning. Add the chicken to the pan, cook until brown, about 3 minutes per side. The chicken doesn't need to be fully cooked at this point as it will continue cooking in the oven. Remove chicken to a plate and set aside. 

Add onion to the pan, adding more oil if needed. Cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the stick of butter and allow to melt. Once melted, add the flour and cook for 1 minute. Slowly add in the milk while whisking to avoid any lumps. Allow the mixture to come to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cooking for 5 minutes or until the mixture has thickened (it should coat the back of a spoon). Turn off the heat and add the cheese, stir to combine and melt the cheese. Add the salt, pepper, pasta and chicken. Stir until combined. Taste for seasonings, you may need more salt or like more pepper. 



In a small bowl, mix the breadcrumbs and Parmesan with 1 tsp olive oil. Pour the pasta mixture into a greased 13x9 inch pan; top with breadcrumb mixture and bake for 30-35 minutes until bubbly and the top is crisp. 

Then, indulge! :) 





Monday, July 7, 2014

Ultimate Summer Pasta Salad


To me, 4th of July is the official declaration of summer. Not Memorial Day or June 21st as it is to most people. It just REALLY feels like summer on this day, with all the BBQ's and the smell of fireworks in the air. This year I made some festive cupcakes and the cutest jello shots shaped like watermelons.



I did not make this pasta salad for weekend festivities, but with all the summeriness I was craving a good pasta salad. I saw one similar on The Pioneer Woman Sunday afternoon, so I decided to use that one as a base to create a pasta salad full of fresh summer veggies and of course bacon and cheese :) You can use any combo of ingredients, adding broccoli and cauliflower would be delish in this too. This post is also full of some super cool "food-hacks" for cherry tomatoes and corn! 

Ingredients: 

  • 12 oz bowtie or other small pasta
  • 6 slices bacon, cooked and chopped
  • 2 ears fresh corn
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, cut in half (fun to use this method to cut them!) 
  • 3 scallions, chopped
  • 5 oz sharp cheddar cheese, cubed
  • 1/2-3/4 cup mayo or miracle whip*
  • 4-6 tbs apple cider vinegar*
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper 
  • 5-10 basil leaves, chopped 
Method:

Cook pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile prep the other ingredients. 

Steam corn in the microwave for 1 1/2 minutes on high until cooked but still has a nice fresh crunch. This is the best way I have found to cook corn in the microwave. Remove corn from ears. Cook and chop the bacon, cut the tomatoes and chop the scallions and cube the cheese. Throw everything together in a big bowl.



In a small bowl, mix the mayo, vinegar, salt and pepper together. *You'll want to use the 1/2 cup mayo and 4 tbs vinegar if you plan to serve this right away. If you are going to refrigerate this for a few hours or overnight, use the 3/4 cup mayo and 6 tbs vinegar. Reserve 1/4 of the mixture to toss over everything once you remove it from the fridge as most of the initial sauce will have absorbed into the pasta. 

Drain the pasta and rinse with cold water until cool. You do NOT want this pasta to be hot or it will melt the cheese and make everything else taste weird. 

Toss the pasta with the ingredients in the big bowl, then mix in the sauce. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with the chopped basil just before serving.



Enjoy! 




Friday, June 13, 2014

Chicken Parmesan Lasagna Bake


I posted this photo on my Instagram yesterday and got a lot of requests to post the recipe, so here it is! :) It is definitely one you want to keep in your repertoire, it's fairly quick and oh so yummy. My boyfriend is lucky (most of the time) enough to be my taste tester, and this was one of his favorite meals. I haven't fed him anything that has killed him yet, but there has been some so/so recipes I have tried. This is not one of them. This one is amazing. So go make it, like now. 

Ingredients:

For the lasagna:
  • 10 no bake lasagna noodles, broken into pieces 
  • 3 cups cooked, shredded chicken (2 chicken breasts or 3/4 of a rotisserie chicken) 
  • 10 oz frozen peas 
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese 
  • 1/2 cup Swiss cheese (I used 2 slices) 
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1/4 cup seasoned panko bread crumbs
  • 1 tsp olive oil 
  • Fresh basil for topping
For the sauce:
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 6 tablespoons flour 
  • 1/2 tsp poultry seasoning 
  • 1 tsp salt 
  • 1/2 tsp pepper 
  • 5 cups milk 

Method:

Preheat oven to 400°.  

To make the sauce: melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Once melted add garlic, cook for 1 minute, careful not to burn. Add flour, poultry seasoning, salt and pepper. Cook for 2 minutes to make sure you don't have a raw flour taste in your sauce. Add the milk, one cup at a time, allowing the sauce to slightly thicken with each addition. This should take about 20 minutes total for the 5 cups. Set aside.

To assemble the lasagna: Grease a 9x13 pan. Cover the bottom of the pan with half of the broken lasagna noodles, half of the sauce, half of the chicken, half of the peas, 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, 1/4 cup Swiss (1 slice cut into small pieces) and 1/3 cup water. Repeat the layer once more: half of the broken lasagna noodles, half of the sauce, half of the chicken, half of the peas, 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, 1/4 cup Swiss (1 slice cut into small pieces) and 1/3 cup water. Cover  tightly with foil and bake for 40 minutes. 


For the topping: mix together the breadcrumbs and olive oil. After 40 minutes, remove the foil and sprinkle with the breadcrumb mixture. Return to the oven for an additional 10 minutes. Let stand at least 10 minutes before serving.


Note: I had to put a sheet pan under the 9x13 pan to catch over flow from the water/sauce. Do not omit the water, it is important to use it to help the noodles cook. 



Thursday, June 12, 2014

Lemon and Chive Goat Cheese


I loooove goat cheese! I think most people do; however, it can be pricey, and the store bought stuff is full of preservatives. It is so simple to make your own and you can add any flavors you want. 1 quart of goats milk will give you 2 logs of cheese and the kind I buy at Whole Foods only costs about $4. This particular kind has a lemony flavor because of the lemon juice, which I love. You can however, substitute white vinegar for less flavor or use apple cider vinegar to make crumbled goat cheese (delicious on pizza!). The possibilities are endless: you can add garlic, herbs, honey, nuts, etc. For this one I just used chives. The slight onion flavor complements the lemon flavor nicely. This is also wonderful to use in Kale and Quinoa Pilaf or Rigatoni with Mushrooms and Caramelized Onions

Ingredients: 
  • 1 quart goats milk
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice (about 2 large lemons) 
  • salt
  • chives or other herbs
Method:

Using a heavy bottom sauce pot, heat milk to 180°, stirring constantly (use a candy thermometer to keep temp). The milk should have gentle bubbles and a slight foam but not be boiling. Turn off the heat.


Stir the lemon juice in the milk and let set 10-15 minutes. The milk will curdle and become slightly thicker on the surface.


Next, line a siv with 2 layers of cheese cloth. Gently pour the milk mixture into the cheese cloth, letting the excess liquid drain away. Gather the ends of the cheese cloth and tie it into a bundle. You can also use a rubberband to keep the bundle together. IMPORTANT: Do not squeeze the bundle of cheese to rid excess liquid. 

Tie the bundle to a handle of a wooden spoon and hang over a deep pot or bowl to drain. Let the cheese drain 6-8 hours un-refrigerated. 


Scrape the cheese into a bowl and season with salt and any desired herbs. Form into logs. 


Voila, homemade delicious goat cheese! It will keep in the fridge for up to a week. 

Monday, May 12, 2014

Pecan Pie Bars



I made these pecan pie bars for my Mom for Mother's Day and they were a hit! They are the best of both worlds, shortbread like cookie crust on the bottom, and creamy/crunchy pecan pie filling on top. They are great on their own but even better with a scoop of ice cream. Yum! 

Ingredients: 
Crust- 
  • 1 3/4 cup flour
  • 3/4 cup butter, slightly softened 
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup pecans finally chopped (I used the food processor) 
Filling:
  • 1 1/2 cups light corn syrup 
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar 
  • 4 eggs
  • 3/8 cup flour 
  • 2 tsp vanilla 
  • 1/2 tsp salt 
Method:

Preheat oven to 350°

Line a 8x8 pan with parchment paper for easy removal. 

To make the crust, combine the flour, butter, sugar and pecans in a medium bowl. Using your hands, cut the butter into the dry ingredients until it resembles a coarse meal.
Press the mixture into the prepared pan and bake 15-18 minutes until slightly brown (par baked). 


For the filling, combine the brown sugar, eggs, flour, vanilla and salt. Mix with a mixer or by hand with a whisk until smooth. Add in the corn syrup, mix until combined. 


Stir in pecans. 


Spread evenly over the hot partially baked crust. 


Return the pan to the oven and bake for 35-40 minutes until a knife inserted 2 inches from the side comes out clean.