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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Spicy Hot Chocolate

It seems that a spicy hot drink is the best way to warm up on a cold January evening.  I developed this hot chocolate to please my oldest daughter.  It’s our favorite wintertime drink.

SPICY HOT CHOCOLATE

  • 1/4 cup plus 1 Tblsp. granulated sugar
  • 2 Tblsp. cocoa
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • Grating of black pepper
  • 2 cups hot milk

In a medium saucepan, mix together the sugar, cocoa, salt, chili powder, cinnamon and pepper.  Gradually stir in the hot milk until sugar and cocoa are dissolved.  Heat over medium heat until mixture is steaming but not boiling.

Pour into two mugs and serve (by the fireplace if possible)

Christmas Cherry Mince Tarts

In 1987, my oldest daughter came up with an idea to add tart cherries to a dried fruit mincemeat that I made.  We enjoyed it so much that it ended up replacing the regular mince pie on our holiday menu.  This is a small English-style Christmas tart version.  It was our dessert today on a snowy December afternoon.

CHRISTMAS CHERRY MINCE TARTS

  • Pastry for single-crust 9-inch pie
  • 1/4 cup dried apricots, finely chop0ped
  • 1/4 cup prunes, chopped
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 cup frozen tart cherries
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 Tblsp. toasted walnuts, chopped
  • Dash of salt
  • 1 Tblsp. quick cooking tapioca
  • 1 tsp. milk
  • 1/2 tsp granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F

Divide pastry dough into five portions.  Use four portions to line small tart/pie pans (mine measure 4 inches diameter across the top).  Set aside.

In a small pan, combine finely chopped apricots, chopped prunes and raisins along with the 1/4 cup of water.  Bring to a boil and then simmer until liquid is absorbed – about 4 minutes – stirring occasionally and keeping a close watch so the mixture doesn’t burn.

Remove from heat and stir in frozen cherries (no need to defrost).  Stir in cinnamon, 1/2 cup of granulated sugar, chopped walnuts, salt and tapioca.  Mix well and divide among the four unbaked tart shells.

Roll the remaining portion of pastry dough and with a 3-inch cutter, cut out a design and place one on each of the tarts.  Brush with milk and sprinkle with granulated sugar.

Place tarts on a large sheet to catch spills and bake @ 400 degrees F

for approximately 25 minutes until the crust is brown and the filling is bubbling.

Remove to a wire rack to cool.

Makes four 4-inch tarts 

A nice treat when it’s cold, windy and snowy outside.

Carrot Bars with Orange Cream Frosting

We got our first major snowfall of the season and my oldest daughter came to spend the day with me and do a little shoveling.  For supper, I made our go-to meal on a cold winter day – potato soup with homemade yeast rolls.

Here are my previously posted recipes for Potato Soup and Yeast Rolls.

For dessert, I went back to a recipe I had first made in 1989 from a cookbook called Blue Ribbon Cookies.   It was a nice finish to a hearty, body-and-soul warming meal.

CARROT BARS WITH ORANGE CREAM FROSTING

Carrot Bars:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Grease and flour a 9×9″ baking pan

  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1 egg
  • 2 Tblsp. water
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 Tblsp. sour cream
  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. ground ginger
  • 3 Tblsp. chopped nuts
  • 3 Tblsp. raisins
  • 1/2 cup grated carrots

In a medium bowl, whisk together the oil, egg, water, sugar, sour cream and vanilla.

In a separate small bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, salt and ginger.  Add the dry ingredients to the oil mixture and blend well.  Stir in the nuts, raisins and grated carrots.

Spoon mixture into a 9×9 greased and floured baking pan.  Bake @ 375 degrees F for 20-25 minutes until the top is golden brown.  Cool in pan placed on a rack.

When the bars are cool, frost with:

ORANGE CREAM FROSTING

  • 1 Tblsp. softened butter
  • 1-1/2 oz. softened cream cheese
  • 3/4 Tblsp. orange juice concentrate
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar

Place above items in a small bowl and whisk until smooth.  Frost top of bars.

Cut into squares to serve. 

I’m not a big fan of snow, but being able to share a meal with my daughter in front of the fireplace makes it a lot more pleasant.