Chicken and Dumplings (homemade)

Ahhh. Is there a better comfort food than chicken and dumplings? My husband would say no!

I’ve discovered making them in the crock pot – I so love my crock pot. However, if you need them done faster, or crock pots aren’t your thing, you could also make this in a stockpot on the stove. It’s pretty much the same, except yours would be done faster.

Start with a whole chicken, giblets removed. Rinse and pat dry with paper towels (if desired). Make sure you’re using safe handling – no one needs to get sick! I rinse my sink with hot water a few times, then spray a disinfectant and let it sit before rinse, rinse and rinsing again!

Ingredients:

1 whole chicken (if you don’t want to de-bone, you could use boneless chicken breasts, thighs, pieces, whatever. I’ve done it before and it does make it faster and less ick on your hands)

garlic, pressed or minced (I used about 6 cloves)

sea salt, about a tsp

2 chopped yellow (or any kind you’d like) onions

6 celery stalks, diced or sliced

4-6 carrots peeled and sliced or diced (if you’d like)

I season my chicken with McCormick’s roasted garlic and herb, a bit of bay seasoning, fresh ground black pepper… you can add or omit as desired. I don’t measure those, but I’m pretty generous with my seasoning.

4 chicken bouillon cubes

water

Place all ingredients in the crock pot, and cover with water until there’s about 1/2-1″ of space at the top. Cover and cook on high (low if it’s more than 6 hours). Once the chicken is cooked through (they make handy thermometers for making sure!), remove and place in a separate dish to cool. I turn the heat down to low on the broth during this time. Replace lid. When chicken has cooled, break into small pieces and return to crock. After that’s done, you’re ready for the dumplings.

Dumplings:

2 cups of flour

1/2 tsp baking powder (I make my own so I don’t have any GMO cornstarch in it – it’s just a 2:1 of cream of tartar and baking soda)

1/4 tsp smoked paprika (optional)

pinch of sea salt

sprinkle of ground garlic (optional)

2 – 3 tbsp butter

Just under 1 c of milk

Combine dry ingredients.

Cut in butter with a fork or pastry blender

Stir in milk until ball forms.

Drop small pieces (about 1/2 tsp) into broth, return to high and let cook another 20-30 minutes so it can thicken and cook the dumplings. Stir periodically.

Mmmm, salsa…

I am attempting to make salsa for the first time today! Here’s a before picture…

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Ingredients:

3 cups chopped tomatoes – I used one can of diced (all natural) tomatoes – 14.5 oz and one large, ripe, tomato
1 medium diced yellow onion
1/4 cup minced fresh(!!) cilantro – really must be fresh for best taste
2 tbsp fresh lime juice
4 tsp chopped fresh jalapeno pepper – I used one pepper, with the seeds out of half. Be very careful – I wore gloves for handling the pepper.
2 cloves of garlic, pressed or diced
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper (I eyeballed this with my fresh grinder)

Mix them all together. Place in a blender (I love my Magic Bullet) and blend until you reach your desired texture. Refrigerate to allow flavors to meld. I love the lime tortilla chips they have now. Yum!

I didn’t measure all of this exactly. It isn’t very spicy so if you like more spice, you could add in another jalapeno or some of a Serrano pepper.

This is my first time making salsa. I think this is a great base recipe to add to, so if you’re feeling adventurous, go for it! My kids love salsa, but not spicy salsa, so I made this with them in mind – and how healthy all that is!! This is inspiring me to add jalapenos to my garden. šŸ™‚ YUM!

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Whole Wheat Bread

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I started baking our families bread back in November, when I found I couldn’t find ANY breads without either a corn or a soy product in it. I’ve played around with different measurements since then and this is a recent favorite!

(Mostly) Whole Wheat Bread

2 cups warm water (a little over 100 degrees, but not too hot!)
2/3 cup sugar
1 – 1/2 tbsp active dry yeast
—————–
2 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup canola oil
2 cups white unbleached bread flour
4 cups whole wheat flour

In the (large) mixer bowl, dissolve sugar in the warm water. Gently stir in yeast. Allow yeast to proof until it appears to be a creamy foam. *This step is very important – be patient and let your yeast rise!*

Mix salt and oil into the yeast mixture. Attach your dough hook. Starting with one cup of white flour (or mix the two kinds together prior to this step), add it to the mixing bowl with your mixer on a low or stir speed. Continue adding the flour one cup at a time until your dough pulls away from the edges and makes a nice dough ball. Turn out on a lightly floured surface (I love having my pastry mat for this) and lightly flour your hands. I usually keep a small bowl with flour so I’m not reaching into the flour container with dough-y hands! Knead dough for 8-10 minutes. Place a couple tbsp of canola oil (I just eyeball it – you need a good amount) into a large bowl (or use the mixing bowl – that’s what I usually do) and smear around the edges. Add the dough back in, turn to coat it, and place a damp cloth on top. Allow to rise until doubled in size – between 1-3 hours (it takes less time to rise in a warm area, so if it’s cool, it will take the longer end generally). If you’re baking, or have your oven preheating, you can place your mixing bowl on top of the oven, helping it rise faster. Or if you have a sunny window… you get the point! šŸ™‚ Yeast bread likes warmth!

Once the dough has risen, punch down (this is kinda fun – watch it “melt” into itself – kinda like a deflating balloon! My boys love watching this part!). Knead again for about 5 minutes. Separate into two, and shape into loaves. Grease your 9X5 baking pans (2 of them) and place your dough in to rise yet again. About 30-60 minutes this time, or until it poofs up over or to the edges. Bake in a preheated oven for 20-30 minutes at 350 degrees F. When it’s golden brown on top (like the picture) it’s finished. Pull out loaves and butter the tops while still warm (real butter, always). Let cool. Place on a cooling rack until finished cooling. You can freeze one loaf and slice the other with a nice, long, serrated knife. I keep mine in a ziplock bag on the counter – it’s usually eaten in a couple of days. I haven’t found my preferred way of storing my homemade bread yet – if you have ideas, please share them! To defrost your frozen loaf, you can preheat the oven to 250 degrees F, and place the loaf in for 10-15 minutes or so. It’s like a fresh loaf!

Please contact me for any questions, comments or suggestions! therivetingredhead@gmail.com

Happy baking!