Mom’s Chicken and Dumplings

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One of my favorite dishes that my mother made was chicken and dumplings.  She was not into spicy flavors, though, and never used anything but salt and pepper.  A few years ago, my youngest daughter made some delicious chicken and dumplings that included Italian seasoning and I took that idea and incorporated it into my version.  I also used two chicken breast halves rather than stewing a whole chicken.  This is a great, filling, easy and economical meal.

MOM’S CHICKEN AND DUMPLINGS

  • Two chicken breast halves with ribs and skin
  • 6 cups water
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup milk
  • ½ tsp. pepper
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. Italian seasoning*

Dumplings:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1-½ tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 3 Tblsp. Shortening (Crisco)
  • ½ cup milk

*Italian seasoning mix:

  • 1 Tblsp. Dried basil
  • 1 Tblsp. Dried sage
  • 1 Tblsp. Dried thyme
  • 1 Tblsp. Dried rosemary
  • 1 Tblsp. Dried oregano

To make seasoning mix:

Mix together and keep in a closed container.  This will make over ¼ cup of seasoning.  Use only ½ tsp. for this recipe.  It’s a good seasoning for many dishes, especially Italian food.

To cook chicken:

In a large pot, place two chicken breast halves with ribs and skin.  Cover with 6 cups of water and cook over medium heat for approximately 1-½ hours until chicken is tender.  Remove chicken breasts from pot and pour broth into a large container to chill for an hour or two.  Remove skin and bones from chicken and refrigerate breasts until ready to cook dumplings.

To cook broth:

About 30 minutes before you’re ready to serve, remove any fat from the top of the chicken broth and pour four cups into the large pot.  Heat to boiling.

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In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, milk, pepper, salt and Italian seasoning.  Whisk this mixture into the hot broth and allow to thicken over medium heat, stirring occasionally.

To make dumplings

In a small bowl, mix together 1 cup of flour, baking powder, ½ tsp. salt, and mix in Crisco shortening with your fingertips to distribute evenly.  Stir in the milk to make a soft dough.

Bring broth to a boil and add the dumpling mixture by tablespoon.

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Cover the pot, leaving a slight edge open so it won’t boil over and cook for 20 minutes without lifting the lid.

To serve, place some warmed pieces of the stewed chicken breast in the bottom of a bowl, add the broth and dumplings – and enjoy old-time, homey comfort on a winter day.

4 servings 

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Leftover Biscuit Pudding

Normally, I make up my Biscuit Mix* and keep it in the refrigerator until I’m ready to make just a few biscuits for my daughter and me.  I use 1/4 cup of the mix and about a tablespoon of milk per biscuit.  This time, when I made up the mix, I forgot and added the full ¾ cup of milk and we had 10 biscuits which were good hot from the oven but not that great reheated.  Then, I remembered seeing a post on Syrup and Biscuits about her country grandma who made a kind of bread pudding out of leftover biscuits.  This sounded like a good answer to my problem and it was.  The pudding has a smoother, lighter texture than regular bread pudding and it’s very good – just like something Grandma might have made.

LEFTOVER BISCUIT PUDDING

  • 4 or 5 baking powder biscuits (about 2-½ inches dia. )
  • 2-½ cups milk, divided
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • ½ tsp. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F

Butter or spray a 9-inch square baking dish

Crumble biscuits over the bottom of the 9-inch prepared baking dish.

Pour 1 cup of milk over the biscuit crumbles.

Allow the mixture to soak until milk is absorbed.  Sprinkle granulated sugar over the top of the mixture.

In a 2-cup measure, place the eggs, vanilla, cinnamon and the remaining 1-½ cups of milk.  Whisk until blended.

Pour milk mixture over top of biscuits.

Bake @ 325 degrees F for 40 to 45 minutes until top is browned and mixture is set.

Best served warm.  Leftovers could be warmed briefly in the microwave.

Servings:  6-8

One-fourth cup of raisins or nuts could be mixed with the biscuit crumbles before the milk is added.

The pudding is very good served plain, but Syrup and Biscuits served her pudding with a rich bourbon sauce.  I opted for a lower fat version with a mellow bourbon flavor.

LOWER FAT BOURBON SAUCE

  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 Tblsp. cornstarch
  • 1 cup cold water.
  • 2 Tblsp. butter
  • 3 Tblsp. bourbon

In a small saucepan place sugar cornstarch and cold water.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and let simmer for 3 minutes.

Remove from heat and stir in butter until melted.  Stir in bourbon.

Makes about 1-½ cups of sauce

*Biscuit Mix

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tblsp. baking powder
  • 1/3 cup vegetable shortening

This amount of mix combined with ¾ cup milk will make ten 2-½-inch biscuits.  Bake @ 410 degrees F for 12 minutes.

Refrigerate mix in a covered container and use ¼ cup of mix plus about 1 Tblsp. Milk for each biscuit.  This mix is also good for dumplings or as a topping for casseroles.

Henny Penny Chicken Casserole

I was looking through an old cookbook I bought in 1986, The Best of the West – Westwood First, of Course.  Westwood is a suburb of Cincinnati.  The book was published by the Westwood First Presbyterian Church and is filled with homey recipes submitted by members of a self-described “eating church”.

I was looking for a casserole that would use some cooked chicken, frozen mixed vegetables and some Cincinnati light rye bread.  I started to make the dish and realized that in 1986, Westwood loved cheese and butter – a lot.  I adapted the recipe to make it acceptable for our diets and I like the resulting casserole.  It’s comfort food at its best.

HENNY PENNY CHICKEN CASSEROLE

  • 1/4 cup melted margarine or butter
  • 2 cups soft bread cubes (I used light Cincinnati rye bread)
  • 1-1/2 cups frozen mixed vegetables, cooked according to package directions, drained
  • 2 cups cooked shredded chicken breast
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • Grating of black pepper
  • 1 cup cold milk
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese

Preheat oven @ 350 degrees F.  Butter or spray a 2-quart casserole.

In a large skillet, melt the butter/margarine and add bread cubes, tossing to coat.

Reserve 1/2 cup of bread cubes.  Place remaining cubes on the bottom of the casserole dish.

Spoon cooked mixed vegetables over the top of the bread cubes.

Spread shredded chicken over the mixed vegetables.

In a medium saucepan, whisk together the flour, salt, pepper and cold milk.  Add the chicken broth and cook over medium high heat, stirring frequently, until mixture begins to bubble.  Reduce heat to medium and cook for two more minutes, whisking continually.

Stir in the grated cheese and pour sauce over the chicken in the casserole.  Dot with remaining bread cubes.

Bake covered @ 350 degrees F for 15 minutes. Remove lid and continue to bake for 10 to 15 minutes more.

Servings:  4 to 6

This is a really delicious casserole and the addition of the rye bread cubes gives it a special flavor kick.

Cranberry Apple Bread Pudding with Applejack Sauce

puddingThe recipe for this dessert is adapted from one in Susan Branch’s Christmas from the Heart of the Home cookbook.  I have all of her cookbooks and they are simply wonderful.  You can get an idea of her work on her great web page.   I made a few minor changes in my recipe, including using applejack for the sauce.  The original recipe called for whiskey, but brandy or rum would also be good.

CRANBERRY APPLE BREAD PUDDING WITH APPLEJACK SAUCE

  • 6 cups of bread cubes (day-old firm bread – I use stale homemade bread)
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1-1/2 Tblsp. vanilla (that’s right – 1-1/2 tablespoons)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1-1/2 cups tart apple, peeled and sliced
  • 1/2 cup cranberries, fresh or frozen

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F

Put bread cubes in a colander and pour over 2 cups hot tap water.  Let stand 5  minutes, then squeeze out excess moisture.

crumbsIn a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, vanilla, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Add the apples, cranberries and bread.  Stir lightly until blended.

mixturePour mixture into a buttered 9×9 baking dish.  Bake @ 325 degrees F for one hour and 20 minutes.

APPLEJACK SAUCE

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 Tblsp.  applejack
  • 1 egg, beaten

In a small pan over medium low heat, melt the butter.  Add sugar and stir about 2 minutes.  Remove from heat and slowly stir in applejack, continue heating and stirring for one minute.  Remove from heat, slowly add a small amount of sauce mixture to beaten eggs, add eggs to mixture over low heat, stirring until thickened.

ajackServe the bread pudding warm with warm applejack sauce.

servingThis makes a nice, comforting wintertime dessert.