Well, we had a few more inches of snow last night! We're not used to keeping snow on the ground in Oklahoma for more than a few days so this has been pretty unique. It's supposed to be below freezing for most of the week and I'm cooking up a batch of chicken and dumplings for a family from my church. They have a son going through chemo for cancer and the ladies at the church are trying to help out by getting them food. Small thing we can do for a family going through so much.
A couple of people wanted my recipe so I said, 'check the blog', that way I only have to type it once! I do something I like to call big batch cooking or lazy woman cooking, whatever you like. Simply put, it is cooking once big time and getting several days of eating on it. My kids are really active in everything on earth so most afternoons we might get 30 minutes to eat and get somewhere leaving little time to actually cook something. I'm not a fan of grabbing something on the go. You should sit at a table and eat as often as possible! This dish is one of my eat later dishes. It can go on the table pretty quick if you have the chicken broth mix already in the freezer!
I start by crockpot cooking a whole chicken. I simply stick a chicken in the crockpot, with celery, garlic and onion shoved in it's backside along with about 6 cups of water and 1/2 stick of butter or margarine. I sprinkle salt/pepper and I like sage on it. Sometimes I put carrots and potatoes under it for our evening meal.
When we've eaten all the chicken we want that night, I take the rest of the chicken off the bone and stick the bones back in the crockpot liquid and add a couple of frozen chicken breasts in it and cook it on low all night.
The next day, I strain the broth from the crockpot. If you refridgerate the broth for a couple of hours you can then take off most of the fat. (this is good since you've been eating fudge!) Dice the chicken breasts and any leftover chicken and put it all in a 1 gallon freezer bag along with a couple handfuls of frozen mixed veggies or whatever leftover veggie I have in the fridge. Now you have the starter for chicken soup or dumplings!
For chicken soup, just thaw and bring to a boil and throw in noodles, enough for your family and season it to taste. You can add more veggies while cooking if you need to. These are good meal stretchers, that's what I do when more kids end up at my house than I declare on my taxes. Word has gotten out that my sons mom can cook so he ends up bringing all kinds of friends home!
For dumplings, here's my recipe, I've tried several over the years but always come back to this one. I like dumplings to be really light and fluffy!
1 1/3 cups all purpose flour- you really need to just use white flour, don't use wheat
2 teas baking powder
1/2 teas salt
2/3 cup milk
2 tablespoons salad oil, I use olive oil or crisco oil.
Mix flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Stir together the milk and the oil and add it to the flour mixture. Stir just until it is a soft dough (DO NOT OVERMIX) It will give you the toughest dumplings and could probably use them as softballs!
Drop the dough by spoonfuls into boiling chicken stock, it needs to be boiling continuously but not really hard. The dumplings will sink at first but will rise as they cook. Keep the chicken stock boiling and do not cover the pot for 10 minutes. Do not stir at all during this time. After 10 minutes, cover the pot and cook another 10 minutes. Again, do not stir. I sprinkle the top of the dumplings with a little parsley for color.
I usually double my recipe so we have enough for leftovers the next day.
If I have the stock ready and frozen I can get either of these meals on the table in under 30 minutes. The soup is faster but I think the dumplings are better just because I like dumplings!
This is comfort food at its best, creamy, hot and so very tasty! And believe it or not, each of these dishes are pretty low in fat! Plus, you can get rid of leftover veggies.