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Comfort Food

I’m still on a Pintrest recipe testing kick. Who knows, maybe I’ll follow through with my New Year resolution of trying a new recipe every week by accomplishing 52 experiments before 2013.

Chicken and Dumplings (the soup kind)

The first time I tried “chicken and dumplings” was on a date at a restaurant. He was going on about the importance of trying new food, but I was not feeling adventurous. Looking at the menu, chicken and dumplings seemed the safest bet while still qualifying as “new” (to me). A plate arrived with fluffy biscuits on top of a thick soup with sweet carrots and tender chicken. It was heavenly. To his credit I also enjoyed the braised beef cheek on his plate. The date did not work out, but I was pleased with finding a new food to expand my picky palate. I want to note this was many years ago and I’ve since tried things more exotic than Southern comfort food. Since my addiction to Pintrest lets me look at the recipes before I read the ingredients, I discovered chicken and dumplings with biscuits on top is only one of two ways to make it! I’m not sure which is the “real” version, I imagine it depends on what your Grandma made and where you were raised. The recipe I made this week was the soup version of chicken and dumplings, with dough cooked in the broth. It was hearty and delicious and everything I want in an it’s-almost-fall soup. I don’t think I’m going to make regular chicken noodle soup again.

I adapted my recipe from Tiffany’s at Eat At Home Cooks. She’s from Kentucky so it must be legit. I feel like this is probably the right time to confess that I subscribe to Southern Living and totally fantasize about living next door to Paula Dean. I might be a Southern Belle in another life.

  • 3 cups cooked chicken (shred a rotisserie chicken from Costco, best $5 you’ll spend)
  • 8 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cups flour, plus extra for rolling the dough
  • 2 Tbs. butter (I didn’t have butter so I used butter flavored Crisco, worked just fine)
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • about a cup of milk, maybe a bit less
  • salt to taste (give it a few good shakes)
  • black pepper to taste (same as the salt)
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 white onion, finely diced (I like the onion for flavor here, I didn’t want to bite into big pieces when the soup was done)
  • 1-2 carrots depending on size, peeled and sliced thin
  • The next time I make this I’ll try adding spinach, chopped celery or peas might also make good add-in’s

In a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt.  Cut the butter (or Crisco) into the dry ingredients with a fork or pastry blender.  Stir in the milk until the dough forms a ball, it should be pretty easy to handle.

Heavily flour a work surface. Roll the dough out thin with a heavily floured rolling pin.  Use a pizza cutter or knife (Leia got a kick out of using the pizza cutter to slice the dough) to cut the dumplings in squares about 2″ x 2″. Don’t throw out the ugly pieces, soup doesn’t discriminate.

Bring the broth to a boil. Add the dumplings in a few at a time, stirring while you add them so they don’t stick. Don’t dust the flour off, it is what thickens the broth. Add your vegetables and cook for about 20 minutes. Toss the chicken with your seasonings and add to the pot. Let it simmer for another 5 minutes and you’re done! If the soup isn’t as thick as you’d like, use 1 Tbs. of constarch. Always mix in some cooking liquid with your cornstach to dissolve it before adding to the pot.

Crock Pot Macaroni and Cheese

I love mac n cheese. I like the chemical laden stuff from the blue box (crunchy confession: I usually buy Annie’s, but I won’t turn down Kraft if it’s on my plate). I even like Velveeta shells and cheese (the horror!). I rarely make it from scratch because it’s just too easy from a box. Even from the box, I try not to make it more than once a month. Leia won’t eat the stuff. What toddler doesn’t eat mac n cheese?! Mine. So I end up eating the whole pot and feeling sick later.

This recipe is from Liz over at A Whisk and A Prayer. Originally from “Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker Recipes for Two”

  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 12 oz can evaporated milk
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted, cooled to room temp
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 cups shredded cheese (I used a 50/50 mix of mild cheddar and fontina)
  • 1/2 pound elbow macaroni or mini penne tubes, par cooked and drained (this means cook them for about five minutes until tender but not completely cooked)
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 tsp. onion powder
  • A few dashes of worcestershire
  • A spoonful of good mustard
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Spray the inside of your crock pot with cooking spray or grease it with olive oil. Combine milk, evaporated milk, eggs, butter, and salt in slow-cooker and whisk until until smooth.

Add the shredded cheese (not the Parmesan) and macaroni, black pepper, onion powder, worcestershire and mustard. Stir gently with a spatula to coat evenly. Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese on top. Cover and cook on HIGH for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, reduce the temperature to LOW and cook for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, until custard is set in the center and the pasta is tender. The macaroni and cheese may sit in the cooker on the KEEP WARM setting for 30 minutes before serving. I took her advice and added sauteed bread crumbs to the top before serving.

The verdict? Eh. It had good taste, but the cheese curdled on me despite using the evaporated milk. I’m not sure if this had anything to do with the spices I added or the cheeses I used. I know cheddar tends to separate, while fontina melts smoothly. I know making a bechamel the helps stabilize the consistency, so maybe I need to test recipes of that variety. I will say that Leia took more than two bites, which is a mac n cheese record. I ate a full bowl, because the flavor was good despite a disappointing consistency. My Mom said she loved it, and even enjoyed a bowl heated up the next day. But she’s my Mom, of course she’s going to love everything I make (thanks Mom).

Pumpkin Spice Cake

That is the unofficial name I’m giving to the hybrid of two Pintrest recipes. The first recipe came from an article on Hungry Girl with substitutions to make for eggs and oil in cake mixes. Spice cake with pumpkin puree was on the list. Devils food with greek yogurt was another one I want to try. The other recipe was this drool worthy Cinnamon Roll Pumpkin Vanilla Sheet Cake from Picky Palate.

Everyone needs to make this cake, unless you’re diabetic, then I apologize for taunting you. It was moist and combined all my favorite fall flavors! My house smelled delicious. Plus it’s only 8 ingredients, doesn’t get easier.

  • 1 box Spice cake mix (Duncan Hines)
  • 1 15oz can of pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 Tbs. pumpkin pie spice (use cinnamon if you don’t have PPS…then go buy or make some PPS)
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 Tbs. milk
  • 1/4 cup real maple syrup (it’s expensive, I know)

Line a 9×13 pan with parchment (or spray with nonstick). Mix together the can of pumpkin with the cake mix using an electric mixer. Ta-da, you just made a cake! The batter is very thick so you have to spread it in the pan with a spatula. Leia licked both beaters totally clean – no eggs, no guilt.

Melt the butter and stir in brown sugar and pumpkin pie spice. Drop spoonfuls on the cake and swirl gently, you don’t want to mix it in completely.

Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes. Let it cool in the pan for a few hours or until it’s no longer warm to the touch. Mix together the powdered sugar, maple syrup and milk. You can omit the milk if you like a thicker consistency. This glaze is pretty sweet, and if that’s not your thing I would suggest just brushing some maple syrup on top of the cake while it’s still warm. The maple flavor really goes well with the pumpkin and spices.


4 responses »

  1. Oh my gosh I have to come over for breakfast lunch or dinner! lol

  2. Mmmmmmm. Mmmmmmm. Mmmmmm. Did I mention I’m pregnant? Mmmmmmm. Mmmmmm

    • I’ll hop on the ol’ private jet and bring you something! I need people to eat all these recipes I’m trying. Tomorrow is baked caprese risotto – carbs and cheese with a few tomatoes to make you feel healthy 😉


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