Showing posts with label 52 Project. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 52 Project. Show all posts

Monday, March 31, 2014

{12/52 & 13/52}: chicken 'n' dumplings


One thing you should know about me is that I love chicken 'n' dumplings.

{12/52}: sickies

And I knew it was time to make a batch when the girls spent a day looking like they do in the picture above. They had a nasty cold all week.

****

Before I get more into my love of dumplings, I'll share a brief story from a recent tot class. [Aside within an aside: when they call a class "jiggle and jive" and then make the moms jump around a lot, are they trying to inspire us to go to the gym more?] We were singing a song, and I had that experience that happens to me so frequently up here where I get lyrics to simple children's songs wrong. Apparently there are often regional differences in the words, which I never knew until having my own littles. It's an interesting experience to slip and slide through conversations with locals, knowing you might mess up even the most basic of childhood rhymes. Playing eenie meanie with Vivi the other day, she says, "That's now how it ends, Mommy! You're supposed to say 'Out goes Y-O-U.'" Or else I might stop singing "Ring Around the Rosie" after one verse, and everyone else continues a second verse that includes words like "buttahcups" and "thundah."

This time it happened, though, I walked away thinking the adapted New England lyrics to, "She'll be coming around the mountain" are really missing out. They replaced "We'll have some cake and ice cream," instead of "We'll have some chicken 'n dumplings," and I simply will not stand for such a variation without attempting to rectify the situation.

****

I love Cracker Barrel. Because I can't untangle their food from my happy childhood memories--of stopping there to eat with my grandparents on our way to Birmingham to visit my cousins, of selecting paper strips of candy to buy, of playing checkers and that weird golf-tee ig-nor-a-moose game, whatever it was called--I know my love is potentially blind. But I don't care; I will go on with my positive view of Cracker Barrel, no matter any evidence to the contrary that comes my way.

Whatever you say about Cracker Barrel's food, you'll probably appreciate their chicken 'n dumplings if you give 'em a try. Some people prefer dumplings to be giant matzo-like puffy orbs, but I come from the school of thought in which dumplings are flat rectangles of dense dough. That's why I call this recipe "Cracker Barrel chicken 'n dumplings," although it's only authentic in that it mostly tastes like their version to me. {Note: I added an alternative way of making puffy-orb dumplings at the bottom of the recipe because I know some people like eating them the wrong other way}.

There are faster ways to cook chicken 'n dumplings than this recipe.


If you want a real shortcut, you can do the 10-minute car-camping version: Put a drained can of chicken, a 15 oz. can of chicken stock, and a little water/flour slurry in a pot; let it come to a boil, drop in cut-up biscuit dough from a can, wait 5 minutes; et voila, dinner is served.

Or you could do the middle-of-the road 30-min approach: Dredge 6-8 chicken thighs and drumsticks in flour. Saute in oil in a Dutch oven until brown. Submerge with chicken stock (2-3 cups), cover, and simmer for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare 1 c. of Bisquick according to package directions, drop tablespoons of dough into stew (on top of the meat), adding more stock as desired, and cook 10 minutes uncovered, then cover and cook 10 more minutes.

But I find that even going all-the-way from scratch isn't time-consuming or difficult prep. The part that takes up the most time is cooking the chicken to make chicken stock. Whether you want to roast your chicken first to add a depth of flavor to the finished dish is up to you. If you're pressed for time or simply feeling lazy like I often am, you can just start with raw chicken in the pot. The only thing that changes is your cooking time.

I usually divide the task into two days. On the first day, I cook, cool, and shred the chicken (using the same method described in my chicken & rice soup post), then put it back in the stock and into the fridge overnight to marry flavors.  On the second day, I heat up the soup, add a slurry, season to taste, and cook the dumplings. If you want your kids to get some extra veggies, drop in frozen peas at the very end.


chicken 'n dumplings, the {sorta} Cracker Barrel way
serves 6

Stew Ingredients:
1 whole chicken, skin-on, cut into parts
1 carrot, broken in half
1 stalk celery, cut in half
1 onion, quartered
3 cloves of garlic, lightly smashed
handful of black peppercorns
salt & pepper
few stems of flat-leaf parsley
2 Tbs. all-purpose flour
1/4 c. whole milk (half & half or heavy cream work too)

Flat Dumpling Ingredients: {see below for fluffy dumplings}
1c. all-purpose flour, sifted
2/3 c. water
large pinch of salt

Directions:

  1. Add chicken, veggies, garlic, peppercorns, a large pinch of salt, and parsley into a large Dutch oven or stock pot. Cover with water (approximately 8-10 cups, depending on the size of your pot) and bring it to a boil. Quickly turn the heat down to simmer and let it cook until the chicken reaches 175ºF with a meat thermometer, approximately 45 minutes. {Note: Alternatively, you can let it come to a boil, turn the heat off, and leave it for an hour to an hour and a half if you need to go somewhere during this time.}
  2. Put the meat on a cutting board to let it cool. Meanwhile, strain the stock into a bowl and discard the veggies. Shred the chicken, discarding the fat and bones {Note: This is where I stop for the day if I'm dividing the recipe in two; you can save the bones for another round of stock-making}. 
  3. Make a slurry by whisking together 2 Tbs. flour and milk; set aside. Return the shredded chicken to the pot. If you want a soup, add all the broth back; if you prefer the dumplings to be in a thick sauce instead of soup, add half the broth back (~2 c.) and more as needed. Add the slurry and bring the mixture to a boil.
  4. Combine water, a large pinch of salt, and 1 c. flour in a small bowl. It will make a sticky dough. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and roll until it is 1/4 inch thick. Cut the dough into 2"x1" rectangles, add to the boiling liquid, and cook for five minutes or until the dumplings rise to the top. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and add frozen peas if desired.
alternative fluffy dumplings (via Betty Crocker)

Ingredients: 
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour, sifted
2 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
3 Tbs. lard, shortening, or unsalted butter
3/4 c. milk, preferably whole

Directions:
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Drop by spoonfuls into the boiling liquid. Cook 10 minutes uncovered, then cover pot, turn down heat to simmer, and cook 10 more minutes.

{13/52}: on the mend!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

{10/52 & 11/52}: a bloom before spring

Updated 3/19: I forgot to tell you about my article that was published last week on Natural Parents Network, 5 Lessons My Kids Taught Me.

If there's one positive that comes out of being plunged in cold weather for so long, it's that I'm motivated to try new indoor activities to clear out the doldrums. For the kids, this means new art projects like shamrock potato stamps. For us, this means new food and drinks to brighten our dreary days.

This week I spotted a big bunch of Meyer lemons--my first ever!--at the seconds table of our local farm stand, so I made bubbly marmalade and lemon syrup. I've been stirring the marmalade into my oatmeal and yogurt, and we tried out a new cocktail (recipe below) that received our highest rating: restaurant-worthy. On my first sip I decided it's the perfect balance between a feminine and masculine drink, a little sweet but with a punch.

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

{8/52 & 9/52}: screw gentility

There are two main reasons I try not to complain about the weather, and they both have to do with my southern heritage. First and foremost is that as a southern girl, and I am born and bred to please. Genteel manners are in my blood, and a lady never lets on that she is not in a state of supreme comfort. Secondly, I still really have no concept of what is normal for the weather up here, and I refuse to be that cliche, just another Dixie redneck who can't hack the cold.

Luckily, y'all, those reasons have gone out the frosty window now that everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, is complaining to me about the weather. And thus, I say to Boston, on this bitterly cold Wednesday in a sea of bitterly cold days, DUBYA TEE EFF.

I am done. Done with my drippy nose, my numb fingers, my arse that tenses when I walk outside my front door. I am DONE. But unlike other activities I decide I'm finished with, being done does not mean I will be any less forced to deal with this weather. But I don't have to like it any more. You hear that, Boston? I DON'T LIKE YOU MUCH RIGHT NOW.

{That's about as harsh as my criticisms get, but I mean it with all my heart.}

And yes, I'm sorry I'm using the blog again as my personal punching bag, but what good is it if not a repository for my bitching, moaning, and aimless ranting? Sigh. Okay, I suppose I should end with cute pictures of my kids, which I can only hope make up for all manner of blogging sins. Please say yes?

{8/52}: Vivi has two less teeth than when I took this pic.

{9/52}: Writing her name! My big girl.

I am, XOXO, etc., your cranky pal,
~J


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

{4/52}: snow days

You are probably already sick of my "y'all, I am tired of this weather" whine, so I'll spare you. But yes, that is still on the rant rotation. Because this is the typical weather report for this unusually-cold January (you'll have to take my word for it that the report also read, "feels like -11ºF")...

Not cool, weather. Not cool.


But right, okay, I said I wasn't going to complain about the weather. And I try not to, honestly! If it weren't for my bloody hands (or, well, you know, not literally bloody, just splotchy and numb), I think I'd appreciate the cold air more.

In almost every way, I truly do lead a charmed life, in that I have as much comfort as I could ask for. Also, it's not like I have a real 9-5 job or anything, so when I do have some short bouts of walking around in the cold, I can follow it up by as much snuggling and hot tea and as many blankets as I want when I get inside. But wait, now I sound like I'm gloating. There's just no winning with you, is there Reader?

Only kidding.

I realize I didn't come around the blog at all last week except for my weekly update post. [Well, that and I did some mid-winter blog cleaning and got rid of my banner. Just trying it out. Any opinions? Or did you even notice?] But would you believe I've been writing every day? I have more to say about that, but I'll save it for another post. It's been a while since I've shared a post that was primarily pictures, and this is feeling like a good time to do that.

The girls were so happy to have sticky snowman snow finally, but then after the first day it fell, it's been so cold they haven't been able to play in it! But luckily I brought my camera out and caught these moments.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

{3/52}: on form and function

3/52: Post swim class warm-up with blankies and vanilla milk.

On the one hand, I wish I had a better portrait for this week. On the other, this iPhone snapshot really does do our week justice. It is gritty, blurry, glassy-eyed, and struggling to find composition. We are freezing cold up here! The high today was something like 10 degF, and we're getting a snowstorm tonight.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

{1/52 & 2/52}: writing intentionally

1/52: Note helpful tongue.

2/52: Note new rug! What do you think?

I wasn't sure at first if I was going to do another year of the 52 project, so I let a few weeks go by to see how I felt. And I missed it! I consider it forced journaling, plus it gives me a great way to keep track of good photos of the girls. Since I didn't post anything the first week of the year, I'm squooshing them both into this post.

Friday, January 03, 2014

{52}: cheer to spare


"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week in 2013."

On the Range
December 24 - 31, 2013

{On the Range} is my weekly series where I discuss what we're doing, reading, and eating. It's a little bit 52 project and other photo projects, and a little bit {Did you Read?} and {In the Ranger Kitchen}.

Happy New Year! We had a lovely week. Nate's sister Katie came to visit, and the girls adored her and insisted she share every moment and toy with them. It was the kind of spectacular display of love that makes these girls so endearing, despite the roller coaster emotions and behaviors that are three and five years old.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

{51}: making lists, wrapping gifts


"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week in 2013."

On the Range
December 17 - 23, 2013


{On the Range} is my weekly series where I discuss what we're doing, reading, and eating. It's a little bit 52 project and other photo projects, and a little bit {Did you Read?} and {In the Ranger Kitchen}.

My week...

  • Hustling and bustling to get ready for Christmas! We paused to watch The Sound of Music in two parts of the last few mornings. I wonder if that will become a new tradition for us. At one point, Charlie said wistfully, "I wish I was a child of Maria's." Oh well, gee, thanks a lot kiddo. But really, who doesn't wish that?

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

{50}: risky business


"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week in 2013."

On the Range
December 10 - 16, 2013

{On the Range} is my weekly series where I discuss what we're doing, reading, and eating. It's a little bit 52 project and other photo projects, and a little bit {Did you Read?} and {In the Ranger Kitchen}.

My week...

  • We went sledding after the first snow, which surprised some friends given the inch of ice we got on top of the six inches of snow. It made for interesting sledding....or you could replace "interesting" with "incredibly fast, probably dangerous, and definitely messy." At one point Vivi and I were standing at the bottom of the first of two slopes watching Nate go down with Charlie, waving as they passed. We barely had time to turn around again when an out-of-control sled manned only by a young boy hit Vivi at full-speed, sweeping her off her feet and flipping her fully over him and onto her stomach. She cried for a brief minute and then was ready to go. I'll tell ya', these New England winters make for tough kids; they aren't for the faint of heart.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

{49}: I already have one


"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week in 2013."

On the Range
December 3 - 9, 2013


{On the Range} is my weekly series where I discuss what we're doing, reading, and eating. It's a little bit 52 project and other photo projects, and a little bit {Did you Read?} and {In the Ranger Kitchen}.

My week...
  • The photo above is blurry, but it perfectly captures the "Christmas Story" mood that was my experience of getting Charlie dressed to walk to town in the snow.
  • I'm late submitting this weekly post because I forgot about it. It's amazing that I've gotten to this point (49 weeks!) and only just forgotten one. I plan to finish the year out strong so I can count this project done. :)
  • I'm calling this post "I already have one" because it's my new short mantra that keeps me from spending too much this month. Even if it's not true, it's working. Boot tray? Already got one (we don't, but we have a mudroom). Earrings that go fabulously well with my new holiday party dress? Already have 'em (I don't, but I hope to borrow some).

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

{48}: trimming and retrimming the tree


"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week in 2013."

On the Range
November 26 - December 2, 2013


{On the Range} is my weekly series where I discuss what we're doing, reading, and eating. It's a little bit 52 project and other photo projects, and a little bit {Did you Read?} and {In the Ranger Kitchen}.


My week...
  • Thanksgiving was a great break! I am still stuffed.
  • We got a tree on Saturday and trimmed it right away (see pic above), and now it appears it was already on its way out of this world, so we'll be detrimming its ugly brown needle-raining self this afternoon to take back to the garden center. I can only imagine that my spell check doesn't consider "detrimming" a word because this is not how nature is supposed to work--or, not yet anyway. But lo, here we are.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

{47}: reflecting on another week


"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week in 2013."

On the Range
November 19 - 25, 2013


{On the Range} is my weekly series where I discuss what we're doing, reading, and eating. It's a little bit 52 project and other photo projects, and a little bit {Did you Read?} and {In the Ranger Kitchen}.


This is a double duty post to give you our weekly update and check on on Day 14 of pre-holiday boot camp. How was your second week, Mom?

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

{46}: reflecting on the week

"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week in 2013."
No lie, this is one of the best pics from our holiday photo shoot. Why is it so hard to get them both to look and smile?

On the Range
November 12 - 18, 2013


{On the Range} is my weekly series where I discuss what we're doing, reading, and eating. It's a little bit 52 project and other photo projects, and a little bit {Did you Read?} and {In the Ranger Kitchen}.

This is a double duty post to give you our weekly update and check on on Day 7 of the first week of pre-holiday boot camp. How was your week? Be honest, you did only half or less of the things, right? That's okay. Being that each will only take you 15 minutes, these items can really be combined into a few days, so don't be discouraged. #LeanIn and soldier on! And if you haven't started yet, you can do it any time. There's no rush.

Monday, November 11, 2013

{45}: notes from The Mikado


"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week in 2013."
We took our friends' 3 kids for a day this weekend. Wild!

On the Range
November 5 - 11, 2013

{On the Range} is my weekly series where I discuss what we're doing, reading, and eating. It's a little bit 52 project and other photo projects, and a little bit {Did you Read?} and {In the Ranger Kitchen}.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

{42}: hayride with Daddy


On the Range
October 15 - 21, 2013


{On the Range} is my weekly series where I discuss what we're doing, reading, and eating. It's a little bit 52 project and other photo projects, and a little bit {Did you Read?} and {In the Ranger Kitchen}.

My week/Meals

  • We had a great weekend full of fall events: a hayride, the Head of the Charles regatta, and football (the last one was not so good).
  • I have been cooking recipes from The Family Flavor cookbook so I can review it for you, and I'm looking forward to telling you more soon! I'm also excited to have discovered this America's Test Kitchen magazine today in Whole Foods. Oh, did I mention our town got a Whole Foods? Trouble!


Media


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

{41}: pumpkin alexander


"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week in 2013."


On the Range
October 8 - 14, 2013

{On the Range} is my weekly series where I discuss what we're doing, reading, and eating. It's a little bit 52 project and other photo projects, and a little bit {Did you Read?} and {In the Ranger Kitchen}.

Charlieisms
  •  Are you listening to that blah blah music again? (she meant opera music)
  • Me: You can paint for one more minute. Charlie: No! I want to paint for all the minutes.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

{40}: leaf peepers

"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week in 2013."

On the Range
October 1 - 7, 2013

{On the Range} is my weekly series where I discuss what we're doing, reading, and eating. It's a little bit 52 project and other photo projects, and a little bit {Did you Read?} and {In the Ranger Kitchen}.

Share

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...