Sunday, May 18, 2014

Chicken and Dumplings Topped with Mini Biscuits

These are not your normal "Southern-style" chicken and dumplings, but they are every bit as good. Friday night Andy and I were watching "Drive-ins, Diners and Dives" and I saw this guy, not Guy, fix this dish. I have no idea where the restaurant was, but I thought I'd try my hand at making a dish similar to what I saw. The biscuit dough does double duty. First roll out creates the mini-dumplings (formed with a shot glass) and the second creates even smaller biscuits (formed with a 2 liter cold drink top) to sprinkle on top of the soup. Yes, it's worth the extra effort.

It was cold, damp and nasty outside this weekend and this dish was perfect. I'm not going to mention any names, but SOMEONE, not myself, put such a dent in the pot we had one small bowl left. So was it good? I think so!

3 lbs. bone-in chicken thighs
2 carrots, finely chopped
1/2 large Vidalia onion, finely chopped
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
About 2 cups self rising flour
1/2 stick butter, softened
Salt, pepper and poultry seasoning
 Put chicken in a large pot and cover with water. Add some salt for seasoning. Skim off the foamy fat that rises to the top of the pot and discard.Cook until chicken is done and almost falling off the bone.  Remove the chicken from the pot and set to the side to cool so you can handle it.
While the chicken is cooling, cut up the celery, carrots and onions.
 Add vegetables to the pot. Remove meat and skin from bones while these cook.
 In a small bowl add flour and cut in butter. Add milk in batches and stir until it forms a ball.
Once it's mixed up, stop and return the chicken to the pot.
 Season with salt, pepper and poultry seasoning. Taste broth to determine if more needs to be added.
Roll dough out on floured surface. Cut dumplings with a shotglass.
 Finish cutting biscuits and wait until broth comes to a rolling boil.(Save scraps around these biscuits)
 Drop dumplings into rolling broth one at a time.
 Dumplings will start to puff up. Carefully stir periodically. Turn heat down on medium to low and let simmer.
 Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. Roll out the "scraps." Using a cold drink top, cut out as many mini-biscuits as you can with the leftover dough.
Place the mini-biscuits on a Pam-sprayed baking sheet and bake until light golden brown, about 25 minutes.
It's ready to ladle up and top with the "cracker-like" mini-biscuits. 

Danish Kringler Pastry aka Almond Pastry Puff

My Mom is an excellent cook. Just don't ask her to share a recipe with you if you are a family member. It's not happening. If you're a complete stranger or the child of a family friend, then it's all yours. For years she fixed a pastry she called Danish Kringler and everyone that ate it raved over how good it was. What makes it so good is the almond-flavored glaze and the sliced almonds that are resting atop the glaze. This is not an overly-sweet treat and goes down great with a hot cup of coffee. Mom received this recipe years ago from a family friend, Susan N. After Mom moved in with my sister, she ceased bringing this delectable pastry over for us to enjoy. Since then, I've begged  her to give me the recipe. She would reply by telling me she needed to fix it to show me how it's done. About six months ago she brought the recipe, along with a bag of family photos, and the promise I could copy it after we sorted through the pictures. I almost wept. She even pulled the recipe out of her purse and teased me by showing me the outside before she hid it again. Well, time got away from us and she left without letting me copy it.

A few months later she brought a recipe book full of goodies by for me to look through. I was flipping through her Taste of Home Christmas recipe book and saw "Almond Pastry Puff " along with a picture that looked strikingly like my Mother's Danish Kringler. Hmmmm. So I read on. I "Googled" the recipe after she left and printed a copy out and bought the ingredients the next day. Now, I'm not saying this is EXACTLY like she fixes her's, but it's a pretty decent replica. I found Susan N. on Facebook about a month ago and I'm hoping to be able to compare her version with this.

You know how I like to "tweak" recipes? I didn't with this one.

    2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1 cup cold butter, divided
    2 tablespoons plus 1 cup cold water, divided
    1/4 teaspoon almond extract
    3 eggs

    1-1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
    2 tablespoons softened butter
    4 teaspoons water
    1/4 teaspoon almond extract
    2/3 cup chopped almonds, toasted

   Combine one cup flour and salt in a large bowl.
With a fork, cut in a half cup of butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbles.
 Add 2 tablespoons of cold water to the flour and butter mixture and stir until blended.
Divide the dough in half.
   Roll out the dough into log shapes.
   Flatten both pieces into 12-inch x 3-inch rectangles.
Add the remaining butter and water to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil.
    Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the extract and remaining flour.
   Take the saucepan off the heat and let the mixture cool for 5 minutes.
One at a time, add the eggs. Beat them into the flour mixture well until it is smooth and shiny.
Spread over the flattened pastry mixture.
 Bake at 400° for 18-20 minutes or until the top is lightly browned. 
Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan to wire racks.
  In a small bowl, combine the confectioners' sugar, butter, water and extract; beat until smooth. 
Split the frosting between the two pastries and sprinkle with almonds.

Bacon Wrapped Chicken Thighs

The marriage of chicken and bacon is one that is pretty hard to beat. The firmness of the cooked bacon on the outer layer with the tender bite of chicken inside make this a feast for your mouth! You can find numerous recipes everywhere on the internet featuring bacon-wrapped chicken breasts that are rolled in brown sugar. I'm sure they are awesome. However, they lose me at rolling the meat in sugar. Do we not have enough of that in our diets already? If you have read any of my chicken recipes, you know we are thigh lovers, so when I found this one, I tucked it away to use when I had some left-over bacon (What's that? I know, right!). The meat is so much more flavorful and moist. We do have family members who don't share our love, so please substitute with white meat if that is your preference. Normally we use thick cut bacon and the timing worked out just fine...crispy out, done, yet moist in.

These are super-easy to fix and is one recipe you'll go back to time and time again.

Pack of 5 large or 8 medium boneless skinless chicken thighs with fat trimmed
*If they are huge, cut in 1/2 like we did these
1 slice of bacon per piece of chicken
Smoked Paprika, garlic salt with parsley, salt & pepper

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil to make your clean-up a little easier.
  2. Season both sides of the chicken with the smoke paprika, salt and pepper
  3. Wrap each piece with a slice of bacon
  4. Lightly season with garlic salt with parsley
  5. Bake for about 25 minutes or until bacon is crispy and chicken is done
    (check internal temperature -- 165 degrees)

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Smothered Chicken

Hiding under two melted glorious pieces of Mozzarella cheese is a moist piece of chicken topped with creamed spinach and deliciously sauteed mushrooms. What? I lost you at creamed spinach?? Well, if you're not willing to be a little adventurous, you don't know what you're missing! As I've mentioned a few million times, I'm not big on eating chicken breasts, but they are quite moist and delicious in this dish. I pinned this recipe last year and we really loved it. I normally try to stick with less ingredient/steps dishes, but this one is worth all the extra effort. 

Creamed Spinach:
1 bag of spinach
4 oz. cream cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (not the powdered type)
2 teaspoons minced garlic
3 Tbsp. red onion, chopped fine
2 Tbsp. olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Sauteed Mushrooms:
8 oz. sliced mushrooms
1/2 stick butter
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 C white wine (if you won't drink it, don't use it!)
2 teaspoons minced garlic
Salt and pepper to taste

5 boneless chicken breasts
2 slices Mozzarella cheese
1 Tbsp. Lawry's garlic salt
1 Tbsp. Lawry's Seasoned salt
1 tsp. pepper

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. 
  2. Spray a 9x13 casserole dish with Pam. Place seasoned chicken in the dish and bake for 20 minutes.
  3. Over medium heat, saute onions. When softened, add spinach one handful at a time and let it cook. Add more until all is wilted. Stir in garlic. Add cream cheese and Parmesan cheese. Continue to cook, stirring frequently until cream cheese is melted. Set to the side.
  4. Melt butter and blend in olive oil over medium heat. Cook mushrooms until slightly tender. Stir in wine. Add garlic and season with salt and pepper. Cook until wine is reduced.
  5. Turn chicken breasts over. Top each with an even layer of creamed spinach and mushrooms.Cover with two slices of cheese.Bake for another 12-14 minutes or more. Cheese should be bubbly. 
  6. Once the internal temperature reaches 165, remove from oven and let the meat rest for 10 minutes before eating.
Recipe credit: Bacon, Butter, Cheese & Garlic


Monday, May 5, 2014

Chicken and Dumpling Casserole

Who doesn't love a big, creamy pot of chicken and dumplings? Here is an alternative that has been put to the top of our favorites stack. After seeing it make the rounds all winter on Pinterest and Facebook, I finally took the time to test this casserole version. This one is definitely a keeper!! What I like about it, is it can be made with left-over chicken (or even turkey) and with some home-made chicken's on the table in no time flat! The Bisquick mixture makes a  nice, flaky crust that is a wonderful substitute for puffy dumplings.

2 chicken breasts (or 3 large leg quarters) stewed and shredded or rotisserie chicken
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 stick butter
2 cups Bisquick
2 cups of whole milk
1 can cream of chicken soup
3 teaspoons of Better than Bouillion (or cubes)
1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1 teaspoon black better
1/2 teaspoon of salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt a 1/2 stick of butter.
 Spread shredded chicken over the butter. Season with salt and pepper.
 In a small bowl mix milk and Bisquick.Pour over chicken. DO NOT STIR!
 In a medium bowl, mix chicken broth, bouillion, poultry seasoning and soup.
 Carefully and slowly pour soup mixture over the top of the Bisquick mixture. 
Again, DO NOT STIR! The "dumplings" will cook up like a cobbler.
Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the top is a flaky, golden brown. Dig in!!