October 17, 2009

Cooking with Connie: Chicken "n" Dumplings

Making every MEAL count!

Fall means Comfort Food…Chicken ‘n’ Dumplings

Once the weather starts to get a little cooler, I want comfort food.  Soups, stews, chowders, warm, cozy, and hearty meals that remind me of crisp fall evenings.  With the burning leaves, football games, warm sweaters, sweet scents of cinnamon and nutmeg…fall is absolutely my favorite season.  The harvest is over, and it’s time to cozy-up inside with loved ones.

One of my favorite fall stew recipes is Chicken ‘n’ Dumplings.  This dish reminds me of being a little girl in my grandma’s kitchen.  She would spread newspaper on the floor, give me a flour sifter and some flour, and let me “help” her sift the flour for her remarkable dumplings.  I would sift and sift and sift some more while feeling very helpful and important in her kitchen.

I make three different versions of dumplings, depending on how much time I have and what ingredients I need to use up.  The easiest dumpling is actually cut-up flour tortillas.  I also make a drop biscuit dumpling and a dumpling that I roll out and cut into 1-inch strips.  Either of these dumplings could be added to any boiling stew.   Just pick which one appeals to you and your family.  You can’t beat Chicken ‘n’ Dumplings for a heart-warming fall stew.  A green salad rounds out his homey meal.

Chicken ‘n’ Dumplings

½ c. onion, chopped
1 c. carrots, diced
½ c. celery, diced
2 c. cooked, chopped chicken (use leftovers from Orange Roasted Chicken)
2 ½ c. chicken broth
1 t. chicken bouillon (or one chicken bouillon cube)
½ t. rotisserie seasoning
1/4 t. dried, crushed thyme
1/4 t. salt

In large saucepan, saute onion, carrots, and celery in 1-2 T. Olive oil over medium-high heat until onions are transparent.  Add remaining ingredients, stir, and bring to a boil.  Cover, reduce heat and simmer 25-30 minutes.  Increase heat to boiling before adding dumplings.

Easy Dumplings

8-10 flour tortillas, cut into 1-inch strips

Add to boiling stew, cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Top with 1 T. Fresh chopped parsley before serving, if desired.

Drop Dumplings

½ c. flour
3/4 t. baking powder
3 T milk
1 T canola oil
1 T. Chopped fresh parsley
dash rotisserie seasoning
dash salt

Mix flour and baking powder together, add remaining ingredients and stir until dough forms.  Drop by heaping teaspoons into boiling stew.  Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer about 10 minutes or until dumplings are cooked through.  Top with 1 T. Fresh chopped parsley before serving, if desired.

Country-Style Dumplings

2 c. all-purpose flour
2 t. baking powder
1 t. salt
1/3 c. cold butter, cut into small pieces
2/3 c. chicken broth

Combine flour, baking powder and salt.  Cut in butter with a pastry blender until mixture is crumbly.  Add chicken broth, stirring with a fork just until dry ingredients are moistened.  Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead lightly 1 minute.  Roll dough to 1/8-inch thickness; cut dough into 2-inch squares or 2- x 1-inch strips.  Drop dumplings one at a time into boiling stew.  Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 25 to 30 minutes.  Top with 1 T. Fresh chopped parsley before serving, if desired.

October 10, 2009

Orange Roasted Chicken Recipe

 Orange Roasted Chicken Recipe

Orange Roasted Chicken Recipe

This week’s Orange Roasted Chicken Recipe uses a meat thermometer, citrus zester, and an oven roasting bag.  You may never have used a meat thermometer, but I always use mine to make sure meats are cooked to the proper internal temperature.   A citrus zester is a small tool that you lightly drag across the peel of citrus fruits to shave off that wonderfully fragrant and tasty zest.  You could also use a microplane by grating the fruit across the edge as you would a cheese grater.  Oven roasting bags trap steam which keeps the meat moist and tender.  Of course, you can use a roasting pan and cover with aluminum foil, but roasting bags make clean-up quick and easy.  If you use a roasting pan, you will need to baste the chicken half-way through baking.Continue reading

October 3, 2009

Classic Enchiladas Recipe

Classic Enchiladas Recipe

As Dora the Explorer would say… “Enchiladas Super Bien Sabrosas”

My cousin’s favorite food is Mexican.  So when she and her girls came over to visit on a week night, I wanted to serve Mexican.  I didn’t want to spend a lot, but I wanted the classic Mexican flavors.  I decided to use cooked beef from a roast in enchiladas rather than the more popular ground beef.  I only had 1 cup of leftover beef, so I added rice and black beans to stretch it and make more classic enchiladas.  I have to say…my cousin and her husband lived in San Diego for awhile and enjoyed delicious and authentic Mexican food while living there.  I even visited once, and we ate in a restaurant where I had the best guacamole I’ve ever eaten.  So, I was nervous about even attempting Mexican food to serve to them.  But, the dish was a success.  Even the kids ate it!  I would have liked it to be a little spicier.  So, I’ve included in the recipe optional ingredients and variations that will add a little kick, if you prefer.  The chipotle pepper will add a smokey-heat flavor and the green chilies will be a milder spicy flavor.Continue reading

September 26, 2009

Beef Hash Recipe

Madame Deals is pleased to bring you a new weekly column, Cooking with Connie. Stretching meals, cooking from a stockpile and meal planning are topics that Connie will write on. Connie is an awesome cook and she is so good at cooking a large portion of meat and then making many different meals from it. We are so excited to have Connie join us!

Cooking up Beef Hash in a Dash

After slow cooking and serving last week’s pot roast, I had a delicious gravy left over.  The hearty gravy had yummy pieces of tender beef all through it, so I decided to serve it over split baked potatoes.  I topped the beef-smothered potatoes with a Monterey jack and cheddar cheese blend and fresh chopped chives.  On the side, I served crisp tender green beans and a tall glass of iced tea.  This was a wonderful way to serve “leftovers” without serving the exact same meal twice.  And, my husband didn’t even realize it was from the same pot roast he’d eaten two nights before.

In addition to my leftover creation, I had reserved almost 2 cups of the pot roast before making the gravy.  This cooked beef can be used in a number of recipes creating different tastes.  In the fall, one of my favorites is beef hash.  This is a simple recipe with classic, home-cooked flavor.  The beauty of this recipe is its versatility.  It can be served with eggs and toast for breakfast.  Or, serve it with a small green salad for lunch.  Pair beef hash with your favorite steamed vegetable and garlic toast for dinner.  Plan ahead and you can throw this meal together in no time because the two main ingredients are already cooked.  If you bake or boil potatoes earlier in the week for other meals, simply cook a couple extra potatoes, and keep them in the fridge until you make your beef hash.  Planning out a few of your meals each week will save you time and money!

Beef Hash

2 T olive oil
1 c. onion, chopped
½ green pepper, ribs and seeds removed, chopped
2 c. beef, cooked & cubed
2 c. potatoes, cooked & cubed
1 T. fresh parsley, chopped
½ t. salt
1/4 t. black pepper
2/3 c. milk
1 T. Ketchup
1 T. Worcestershire sauce

In a large skillet over medium heat, cook onions and green pepper in oil until onions are translucent.  Add beef, potatoes, parsley, salt, and black pepper and stir.  Cook mixture over medium-high heat for about 10 minutes or until potatoes are browned, stirring only occasionally.  Stir in milk, ketchup, and Worcestershire sauce, scraping bits off bottom of pan.  Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes.

*Note…the 2 cup measurement is approximate.  Since you are making this dish using pre-cooked ingredients, it’s OKAY to only have 1 ½ cups of meat and 2 1/4 cups of potatoes if that is what you have to work with.  Don’t get discouraged if you don’t have the EXACT measurement.  Unless you are baking, it isn’t always necessary to have exact measurements.  Omit the green peppers, add more ketchup, substitute fresh chives for the parsley, play with the ingredients based on your family’s tastes.  Have fun in the kitchen and experiment with new flavors!

September 19, 2009

Getting More Beef for Your Buck & Slow Cooker Pot Roast Recipe

Madame Deals is pleased to bring you a new weekly column, Cooking with Connie. Stretching meals, cooking from a stockpile and meal planning are topics that Connie will write on. Connie is an awesome cook and she is so good at cooking a large portion of meat and then making many different meals from it. We are so excited to have Connie join us!

When buying beef roasts, it is truly helpful to know how you will be cooking and serving the beef. The most economical cut is chuck.  These roasts should always be slow roasted or braised.  They will not slice well and do not make a pretty presentation.  However, due to high marbling, chuck roasts are quite tender and moist.  Other cuts, such as round and sirloin, are leaner and slice nicely to make sandwiches or classic roast beef.  But, these cuts are generally more expensive.  When it comes to getting the most beef for your buck…choose chuck.  And especially when your local grocery store runs specials on chuck roasts or stew beef, buy it.

Here’s an easy and delicious pot roast recipe.  With this recipe, you will be able to serve tender pot roast with gravy AND you will have beef left over.  With that beef, you can create beef stew, beef hash, beef pot pie, burritos, or you could simply freeze the cooked meat for a future use.

Slow Cooker Pot Roast Recipe

Pot Roast Recipe

4-5 lb chuck roast4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 T worcestershire sauce
3 T Ranch dressing mix (1 packet)
6 oz beer (or beef broth)

Trim roast of excess fat.  Place in a slow cooker.  Sprinkle roast evenly with Ranch dressing mix.  Top with chopped garlic.  Combine worcestershire sauce and beer and pour over roast to a depth of ½ inch liquid in bottom of cooker.  Add more beer, if necessary.  Cover and cook on low for 6 hours or until beef is fork tender.

When roast is tender, remove from slow cooker and keep warm.  Stir together 3 T beer and 3 T flour until smooth.  Add this mixture to cooking juices and cook on high, uncovered, until thick.  Reserve one to two cups of cooked beef for a future use.  Return pot roast to slow cooker, smother with gravy and keep warm.  Serve with your choice of mashed potatoes, egg noodles, steamed rice, pan fried potatoes, toast, biscuits, grits, or almost anything!

*Slow cooker tip …don’t peek.  Each time you open the lid, you increase cooking time by 15 minutes AND moisture-rich steam escapes, drying out the dish!

If you like this recipe you will love these recipes:

Instant Pot Beef Roast Recipe
Instapot Pot Roast Recipe
Easy Pork Roast Recipe

September 17, 2009

Ask A Teacher: How does my child stack up?

Dear Parents,

There are times in our lives that we need to compare and there are times when we shouldn’t. I have two wonderful children that are similar and very different and I love them for their unique qualities. We as parents spend a lot of time looking at other people’s children and comparing ours to theirs. I myself do this and then the voice in my head says “stop”. We need to embrace our children for who they are. I am a certified Regular and Special Education teacher and I have a son in Kindergarten this year. My goal for him is that he enjoys learning. I am not concerned that he isn’t the best in math, reading, spelling, or science. I only care about the fact that he rushes to get ready for school each day if Blue’s Clues isn’t on. We need to compare our child’s progress in terms of their achievements. I have seen the progress he has made in just a couple of weeks in school. We go to the library at least once a week to select books to read together. It amazes me that he is starting to read to us. It makes me so happy that we are raising a kind and confident person. We are teaching him to try his best and believe in himself. He was upset that some of his friends can read already. My husband and myself explained that  it does not matter if someone else can read already. He will soon learn as well because we will practice with him. We have shown him that he is special and his gifts are unique. I am just reminding you to honor your children and help them become better by enabling them to achieve through positive reinforcement, guided activities, and most importantly communication. The best tip I can give you for raising a successful student is help them to believe in themselves. This is done by teaching them to measure each little accomplishment and be proud of themselves.

Here is my theme song which I borrowed the lines from


written by Michael Masser and Linda Creed

performed by Whitney Houston

I believe that children are our future

Teach them well and let them lead the way

Show them all the beauty they possess inside

Give them a sense of pride to make it easier

( I know that this is part of the song and the meaning of the song does not have anything to do with this but I love this verse)