Warm woolen socks, soft mittens and Norwegian printed tights.  The cold weather has finally arrived and I have brought out my favorite attire.  My Daughter and I went shopping yesterday and found knit hats and sweaters, tights and leg warmers. We wanted to buy them all, we settled on our favorites and then went to lunch a quaint little Italian place nearby.

It has been a busy week of taking down holiday decor, preparing the den for remodeling and replacing our water heater which decided to start leaking on Christmas morning, of course.  The den is now down to minimum contents, the water heater has be replaced by my wonderfully handy husband and oldest son and all is right with the world once more.

The den I fear will have to wait for spring along with the other rooms to be remodeled, the weather it too cold at the moment to air our when painting as we will need to use Killz on some of the darker shades of red, yes the previous owner had, lets just say, a bright color palette. I love the cranberry red in our bedroom and plan to decorate using that as my base but, some of the other colors I want to soften through the house.

This chilly weather always initiates my seasonal crochet addiction.  I completed a lovely infinity scarf, in a soft lavender double half crochet.  I wanted the thickness for warmth.  I am just not warm unless my neck and feet are.  I have now embarked on crocheting several potholders for myself and family.  I’ve found a wonderful pattern that is simple and minimal.  I purchased some sturdy wool yarn for this task.  I will update including pictures when they are complete.

On to the topic at hand, Chicken and Dumpling.  There are several variations of this tried and true dish, the one we have settled on in our family is the large fluffy dumplings that cover the top of the pot soaking up the fragrant flavors within.  I have made the flat noodle style Southern dumplings for many years which were fathers absolute favorite.  He had to have a pot at least once a week, especially this time of year.  I do like them very much and I have my fathers favorite recipe and I will make and share in a future article.  But last evening was a perfect marriage of chicken, vegetables, spices and dough that would be a shame to keep to myself.

Begin by browning the chicken thighs in a large dutch over in grape seed oil, while they are browning and seasoning the pot chop the celery, onion, garlic, carrots and fresh thyme.  After removing the chicken sauté the vegetables and spices until they began to soften, about 7 to 9 minutes. Then add the chicken, 10 cups of water, 2 bay leaves and salt and pepper to taste.  Here I added a teaspoon of “Better than Bullion” just to add a bit of extra flavor to the dish. Let this simmer for about 30 minutes.

Then remove bay leaves and chicken, for the chicken let cool, then remove the skin and bone, shred meat with a fork and add back to the simmering pot.  Next, thicken the broth by using about 2 cups of the soup stock and 3 heaping tablespoons of flour, whisk thoroughly and incorporate  back into the pot of broth.

For the dumplings, whisk together the remaining flour baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Add milk, buttermilk is also and option here, butter and parsley until a dough forms.  Roll the dough into 8 equal balls or just drop by the spoonful into the broth.  Cover and simmer until the dumplings become full and firm, about 12 to 15 minutes.  Garnish and serve.  This is a warm family favorite that everyone will enjoy.

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The fire has dwindled to sparkling orange embers and I must take a trip to the market to gather ingredients for my next great cooking adventure.  Hoping everyone has an amazing day.

 

 

Hearty Chicken and Dumplings


 

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp grape seed oil

6 chicken thighs, bone in, skin on (about 2 lbs)

Salt and pepper

4 stalks of celery

4 carrots

2 small onions

2 Tbsp fresh thyme

2 cloves of garlic

2 bay leaves

2 cups plus 3 Tbsp all purpose flour

1 Tbsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

6 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted

3/4 cup milk (buttermilk can be used also)

2 Tbsp fresh parsley, plus more for garnish

 

Directions:

In a dutch oven heat oil over medium heat.  Add chicken and let brown turning once.  Remove chicken from pot and add chopped celery, onions, carrots and garlic to the pot.  sauté until vegetables begin to soften, about 7 to 9 minutes.  Add the chicken bayleaves, 10 cups of water and “Better than Bullion”, let simmer on until chicken is cooked thoroughly, about 30 minutes.

Remove chicken and bay leaves from pot, remove bone and skin from the chicken and shred with a fork, add back to pot.

Remove 2 cups of liquid from pot and add 3 Tablespoons of flour, whisk until smooth then incorporate back into pot to thicken.

In a large bowl mix Flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together.  Add milk butter and parsley mixing until dough forms.  Roll the dough into 8 equal balls or just drop by the spoonful into the broth.  Cover and simmer until the dumplings become full and firm, about 12 to 15 minutes.  Garnish and serve.  This is a warm family favorite that everyone will enjoy.

(adapted from www.realsimple.com)

Eggnog pancakes

As the solemnness settles in during the days between Christmas and New Years Eve, I sit in the quiet kitchen pondering what magic I can yield from all the leftovers.  My Daughter absolutely loves pancakes, in fact, when she can think of nothing to say she just simply says “pancakes”.  This has lead to our family  somewhat becoming pancake connoisseurs.  We’ve attempted many variations so when I realized we actually had leftover eggnog, yes a Christmas miracle I know, I decided to make eggnog pancakes.

They were a huge success and did not last long at all.  The aroma of these pancakes were in keeping with the season, I just wish the weather would cooperate.  It feels like summer outside and has been difficult to keep the holiday spirit when it feels as if we should start the grill and BBQ  instead. Shorts are usually not caroling attire, but the rains are heading our way and there is cooler weather beyond that so New Years Eve will be chilly, we cannot wait.

To make these delicious pancaked whisk the dry ingredients together, then the liquids.  Then blend those just until mixed, do not over stir this.  using an ice-cream scoop  I drop the batter into a medium temperature pan lightly coated with oil.  Cook these slowly on a lower setting, due to the eggnog they tend to  brown a bit quicker over high heat. Sprinkle with powdered sugar, add butter and pure maple syrup for a delicious breakfast.

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Eggnog Pancakes


 

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

2 Tbsp of sugar

1 Tbsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/8 tsp ground nutmeg

2 eggs room temperature

1 1/4 cups eggnog

1 tsp vanilla

3 Tbsp melted butter

maple syrup and powdered sugar


Directions:

In a deep bowl Whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder salt and nutmeg together, Then, in a separate bowl whisk eggs lightly, add eggnog vanilla and melted butter until well blended.  Combine all ingredients just until mixed, do not over stir this. Using  an ice-cream scoop drop the batter into a medium temperature pan lightly coated with oil.  Cook these slowly on a lower setting, due to the eggnog they tend to  brown a bit quicker over high heat. Sprinkle with powdered sugar, add butter and pure maple syrup for a delicious breakfast.

Wishing everyone a joyous holiday this season from my kitchen to yours….

 

 

Christmas Eve Pies

In my kitchen, we have been baking all afternoon, and how the house smells of sweetness and warmth with a hint of Christmas.  And of course, wonderful Christmas music wafts through those delicious smells, the mixture creates a “warmth” around the entire house. The fire place embers still twinkle orange  like starlight on a black and grey clouded sky from this mornings fire, which took the chill from downstairs.

With the holidays moving so quickly and zero hour (Christmas Eve) upon us, I knew I needed to sit down and slow my busy pace for a few moments. As the golden sun fall below the ghostly tree line and evening sets in I pluck my pecan pie from the oven, the deliciously sweet and warn caramel fumes fill my kitchen.

For the pie, I made a simple shortening crust, mixing flour shortening, I use butter flavored, and just a splash or 2 of cold water to soften and form it.  I split that in two halves, wrapped it in cellophane and let it rest in the refrigerator for about thirty minutes.  Meanwhile I mixed the sugars, corn syrup, vanilla, melted butter and eggs. Blend this well.   Prepare your pie crust in desired dish.  cover the bottom of the pie crust with chopped pecans, about 1 heaping cup, then pour your custard mixture over them evenly.  Cover this ever so lightly with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees, remove the foil and bake for another 20 minutes.

With Christmas moving as if Santa’s reindeer themselves were pulling through the sky I did not have the opportunity to take amazing photos of the “oh so delicious pies”.  I have however, managed to capture a tiny sliver of the aftermath and I submit them for your tantalizing enjoyment.

The crumbly goodness of my Souther pecan pie using chopped pecans was well received.  The pie formed a crisp, crunchy, nutty shell topping as it baked while the crust became flakey and buttery .

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Simple pie crust:

2 1/4 cups All Purpose Flour

3/4 cup shortening (I used butter flavored)

1/2 cup cold water (more or less)

Directions:

In a large bowl cut shortening into flour with a pastry blender until it forms small pea like beads.

Here I transferred the mixture to my kitchenaid mixer, using the dough hook I slowly added cold water by the tablespoon until a soft smooth dough formed.  If dough becomes sticky add a sprinkle of flour to bring it back to a soft dough.

Divide in half, form a disc, wrap in cellophane and let rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Roll out to pie plate size and lay in greased, floured pie plate.  Fold edges as desired.

Southern Pecan Pie

Prepared crust

Southern Pecan Pie filling:

1 cup of sugar

3 Tbsp brown sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup of corn syrup

3/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/3 cup melted salted butter

3 large eggs well beaten

1 cup (heaping) chopped pecans

Directions:

Whisk together the sugars, corn syrup, vanilla, melted butter and eggs. Blend this well, you should see it cream together into custard type filling.  Prepare your pie crust in desired dish.  cover the bottom of the pie crust with chopped pecans, about 1 heaping cup, then pour your custard mixture over them.  Cover this ever so lightly with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees, remove the foil and bake for another 20 minutes.

My oldest son loves to bake and cook but mostly experiment in the kitchen.  This is his second attempt at the ole Southern staple chess pie.  The first he did on Thanksgiving 2014, the Thanksgiving of the smoked turkey, it has come to be known.  Although that year his chess pie tasted absolutely to die for there were some discrepancies in the crust and topping.  This years chess pie was a home run, he hit it out of the park and this recipe will be going into the family cook book for generations to come.

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We used the other half of the pie crust recipe above for this pie.

Southern Chess Pie

Prepared crust

2 cups sugar

2 Tbsp corn meal

1 Tbsp all purpose flour

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup melted unsalted butter

1/4 cup milk

1 Tbsp white vinegar

1/2 tsp vanilla

4 large eggs lightly beaten

Directions:

You must bake the pie crust slightly before adding the filling.  Line your crust with aluminum foil and add pie weights or beans.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 5 minutes.  Meanwhile, blend together all ingredients starting with sugar and ending with beaten eggs.  Mix this well until a smooth silky consistency is reached.

Layer the bottom of your crust with copped pecans evenly, these will rise to the top as the pie bakes created a magnificently crisp topping.

Pour mixture into pie crust, cover slightly with aluminum foil or a pie crust ring and bake in a 350 degree oven for 50 to 55 minutes.  Cool on a wire rack.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Pizza

It’s Sunday Morning and I have gotten up to sit comfortably in front of a crackling fire in the fire place with a hot cup of Cinnamon Dolce` to write.  The house is quiet “all the whos still asnooze” as was said.

Yesterday was my daughters 16th birthday and we seem to always end up going to the Gaylord Opryland Hotel for their yearly Christmas extravaganza and this year we’d hoped was no different.  Her boyfriend joined us and we all sat down to a lovely home cooked dinner with cookie pizza for desert, loaded up in the family car and headed to Opryland.  Our excitement and joy was soon turned to horror and despair when the traffic cam to a stand-still over a mile from our destination.  It seemed everyone else in Nashville has decided to head to Opryland as well.  We thought we’d try a sneak attack and come in from the other side but, when we drove past and seen the parking situation we decided to reschedule for weeknight.  We drove around looking at the beautiful Christmas lights of Nashville, returned home and had a warn cozy bonfire in our back yard fire pit with Laughter and reminiscing.

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I wanted to share with you the huge chocolate chip cookie pizza I baked for my daughters Birthday.  She requested cream cheese icing on top of this cookie so of course, I did just that.  The recipe is an old one I use to make for my oldest son when he was a child.  It has been my tried and true “go to” chocolate chip cookie recipe for over 20 years now because of its versatility.  It can be baked up moist and chewy  or with just a few extra minutes in the oven crisp and ready to be dunked in a cold glass of milk, just the way a cookie should be. I used my Grandmother’s pizza pan which is over 50 years old.  It came to my kitchen via my mother and it’s well seasoned charm will be passed on to another generation some day.  This recipe is not of my own doing but one I found on a Butter Flavored Crisco container as a young Mother.  But worthy of sharing non the less.

The Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie 

3/4 cup Butter Flavored Crisco

1 1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar

2 Tbsp milk

1 Tbsp pure Mexican vanilla extract – (my secret ingredient)

1 large egg

1 3/4 cup all purpose flour – King Arthur is what I use

1 teas.  salt

3/4 teas. baking soda

1-2 cups of chocolate chips

-or-

1 cup of chocolate chips

1 cup of chips or nuts of your choice

 

Directions

Heat oven to 375 degrees.  Prepare cookie sheet do not grease, you can however use a silicone mat.

In mixer on medium speed cream together crisco, brown sugar, milk and vanilla until smooth and creamy.  Add egg and bled well.

In a separate bowl blend all purpose flour, salt and baking soda. turn mixer to lowest speed, add flour mixture to your creamed mixture blend just until it is weak incorporated.  Add your ships and nuts if desired and mix slowly just until well blended. I suggest this be done by hand to prevent crushing the chips and nuts.

Drop cookie dough but the round tablespoon full 3 inches apart on ungreased baking sheet.

to make the cookie pizza, pour dough onto pizza pan and spread evenly, this is very important as not to let the edges get too crisp and brown before the center cooks well.

Bake for 11 to 13 for crisp cookies, 8 to 10 for chewy cookies  and 15 minutes for the pizza.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoy.