Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Hey Dumplin', I like your dumplings!

We are bed and breakfast people. We've become those people. We like being those people.
In May we were able to get away to the Lincoln Way Inn in Franklin Grove, IL. We've been there a few times and we really enjoy it. The house is beautiful, the owner is so kind, the food is great, and the town is quaint. There's a cafe in town where we like to go at least once. It's the kind of cafe that only takes cash and everyone looks at you nosily when you walk in. It's almost like they know you aren't from around there. The food is great. I was feeling soup and salad, Andy also had the soup - Chicken Dumpling Soup. It was awesome. So awesome that Andy tried to sweet talk the waitress into getting the recipe. Hey, we aren't looking to set up shop in town - so what if we take the recipe home and love and enjoy it. Nope. We did not win. Crazy out of towners!!
Thus began our mission for a recipe for Chicken Dumpling Soup. I asked my Taste of Home peeps - all they gave me was really creamy options. This was a broth base with thin square/rectangle dumplings. I ended up using a favorite soup recipe of ours and finding a dumpling recipe. The results? They weren't the same but SOO good. Admittedly the dumplings were a tad too thick - but the kids loved them. Andy kept eating them, so I think it's a winner. I DO think I will see if this quaint restaurant had an email and plead my soup lovingness and see if they will bless me with the recipe. Guessing they will say no... worth a shot.  I also plan to make this again but use my pasta sheeter to make really thin fast cooking dumplings - that may be our ticket to dumpling happiness...
Regardless... try this recipe... it's still really good.
Update: Bwahahahahah maybe they have an email… yeah… no. Guess we’ll just have to go back there for soup again.

Chicken and Dumpling Soup
2-1/2 pounds bone-in chicken thighs
1-1/4 teaspoons pepper, divided
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 large onion, chopped (about 2 cups)
1 garlic clove, minced
10 cups chicken broth
4 celery ribs, chopped (about 2 cups)
4 medium carrots, chopped (about 2 cups)
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme or 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon lemon juice

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup milk
2 egg
1 tbs butter, melted
1 tsp salt
Pat chicken dry with paper towels; sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon pepper and salt. In a 6-qt. stockpot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add chicken in batches, skin side down; cook 3-4 minutes or until dark golden brown. Remove chicken from pan; remove and discard skin. Discard drippings, reserving 2 tablespoons.
Add onion to drippings; cook and stir over medium-high heat 4-5 minutes or until tender. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Add broth, stirring to loosen browned bits from pan. Bring to a boil. Return chicken to pan. Add celery, carrots, bay leaves and thyme. Reduce heat; simmer, covered, 25-30 minutes or until chicken is tender.
While soup is simmering - make dumplings.
In a large bowl combine the flour and the salt. In a medium bowl combine the milk, egg and melted butter. Whisk to combine and beat the egg. Make a well in the middle of the flour and add the egg mixture.
Stir the dough until it forms a ball and then turn it out onto a floured surface and knead it until the dough is smooth. Roughly 5 minutes. Then place the dough back into the large bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough rest for 10-15 minutes.
Once again turn the dough out onto the floured surface. This time flour a rolling pin and roll the dough out to about 1/4 inch in thickness. Use a pasta sheeter if unable to roll with rolling pin thin enough. Then cut the dough into desired noodle shapes.
Roll out to 1/4 inch thickness
Cut with a pizza cutter into desired shapes
Let the noodles dry for at least 20 minutes before cooking.
Add noodles to soup for 30 minutes of cooking time - or desired doneness.
Transfer chicken to a plate. When chicken is cool enough to handle, remove meat from bones; discard bones. Shred meat into bite-size pieces. Return meat to stockpot. Stir in parsley and lemon juice.
Adjust seasoning with salt and remaining 3/4 teaspoon pepper. Remove bay leaves.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Time to make the donuts!

As of this writing – sleep is a commodity – one of which I just don’t have much of.  I’d trade MANY things to get it….  I’m hoping at posting date… it’s better.  Currently, the thing that robs me of sleep is Bernard.. good o’ Bernard – our black lab.  He’s a trial.
So Sunday morning 4:30 – I’m awake… I wait until 5 something to walk to goofy dog… but then what?  Donuts.
Rewind… the day before I’d been to the Wilton Outlet Sale and bought a 20 well donut pan.  I had a 6 well pan – but come on… I can now make 26 donuts – at one time!  That’s better – WAY better.  Considering I have a board on Pinterest dedicated to donuts – this pan seems important.  I also bought well over 2000 cupcake liners… um… yeah… crazy yes?  Shaking my head.  Also, way too much stuff that Bronwyn gave me big ol puppy dog eyes asking if we could get.  Next time – tell her she can pick 2 things… oh well.
So donuts!  I made these chocolate sprinkled frosted donuts because they were easy and figured they were a win.  Andy couldn’t wait for us to eat together and scarfed one down.  The kids?  “Do we HAVE to eat this?”  Ugh!!  My nonbaked good kids!!  Oh well – we thought they were delicious.  Who wouldn’t like fresh donuts on a Sunday morning?  Oh… my kids…

Chocolate Frosted Donuts

1 cup all-purpose flour 
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 large egg
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup sour cream
2 Tablespoons  unsalted butter, melted
1 and 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Chocolate Glaze
1/2 cup  semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 Tablespoons  unsalted butter
2 teaspoons light corn syrup
2 teaspoons water
rainbow sprinkles

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a donut pan with non-stick spray. Set aside.
Make the donuts: Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and nutmeg together in a medium bowl. Set aside.
Whisk the egg, brown sugar, milk, and yogurt together until smooth. Add the melted butter and vanilla, whisking until fully combined. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Do not overmix. The batter will be very thick.
Spoon the batter into the donut cavities—I highly recommend using a large zipped-top bag for ease, as pictured and explained in detail above. Cut a corner off the bottom of the bag and pipe the batter into each donut cup, filling 2 ∕ 3 –3 ∕ 4 of the way full.
Bake for 9–10 minutes or until the edges are lightly browned. Remove from the pan and bake the remaining donut batter. Allow the donuts to slightly cool before glazing.
Make the chocolate glaze: Place the chocolate chips, butter, corn syrup, and water in a medium bowl. Melt in 20 second increments in the microwave, stirring after each time, until completely melted and smooth. Dip the tops of the donuts into the chocolate glaze and then cover with sprinkles. I simply poured the sprinkles into a deep bowl and dipped the tops of the donuts into it. You'll likely have leftover ganache. It's great on ice cream!
Donuts taste best eaten the same day, though they may be covered tightly and stored at room temperature for 2 days.
Make ahead tip: You can freeze the unfrosted donuts for up to 2 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator, warm up to your liking in the microwave, and top with glaze.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Chicken! More Chicken!

Recently I ordered 80 pounds of chicken breasts to be picked up out of a back of a truck in the back parking lot of a church - I'm so excited and I love Zaycon! Anyway... this chicken I'm talking about is thighs. Rewind...
Andy was not feeling so well for a day or two and hardly ate anything - but I served this chicken and he couldn't get enough, neither could my kids. So 80 pounds of chicken breasts and they like legs and thighs [facepalm]. Thighs are delicious - for sure. Especially when they are soaked in a mixture of ranch dressing mix, paprika, and garlic powder. At first, I was a touch worried about it being too much flavor - but the reality was it was perfect. They bake at 500 degrees for 15 minutes which is a crazy high temp for my oven to be at unless it's doing a self-clean - but it worked well and that chicken came out great.
Nicholas ate more than I did. Bronwyn had seconds too. Andy? Maybe fourths? Maybe more? Safe to say this recipe is a keeper and will be repeated.
NOTE: I used boneless skinless thighs. Made for a leaner meal - as much as this cut can be lean.

Garlic Ranch Baked Chicken Thighs
3 Tbsp Ranch Seasoning unsalted
1 Tbsp smoked paprika
1 tsp black ground pepper
1.5 Tbsp garlic powder
1.5 tsp salt omit salt, if using salted ranch
4 Tbsp oil mayonnaise or buttermilk
4 lb chicken thighs about 9 pcs
Preheat oven to 500F with the baking rack in the middle. Line a 9"x13" rimmed pan with parchment paper or foil for easier cleanup. Set aside.
In a bowl whisk together until combined 3 Tbsp ranch seasoning, 1 Tbsp smoked Paprika, 1 tsp black ground pepper, 1.5 Tbsp garlic powder, 1.5 tsp salt and 4 Tbsp of oil.
Trim the chicken thighs from the extra fat and skin leaving only enough skin to cover the top of the thigh. Alternatively you can remove the skin completely. Pat dry the chicken thighs with paper towels.
Combine the chicken thighs and seasoning together in a large ziplock bag or a bowl and massage the seasoning into the meat.
Arrange the chicken thighs on a baking sheet, tucking the ends of each thigh under itself and stretching the skin over the top. Now, place the pan into the preheated to 500F oven and bake at 500F the first 15 minutes and then 375F for 45 minutes.
About 30 minutes into the cooking loosely tent the top with foil to prevent the top from burning. Start to check if the chicken is done about 55 minutes from the start of baking. Depending on the size of the chicken thighs and your oven you might need more or less time than indicated. When the meat is easily torn off the chicken with a fork and the internal temperature registers at 165F the chicken thighs are done baking.
Remove from the oven, then transfer the chicken thighs to a serving plate and allow to rest for about 10 minutes before eating. This will allow the juices to be redistributed, which will prevent the meat from being dry. Garnish with parsley or cilantro if you wish

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

How many legs on a chicken?

Our Memorial Day was low key - like really low key - and that was great. There's nothing wrong with having a slam packed fun day with lots going on, places to go, but there's something magical about a low key holiday. We kind of slept in - as much as Bernard will let us sleep in (which isn't much). The day was hot - SOOO hot. 103 was the temp our thermometer claimed we hit as a high. Still we did some gardening, family walks (minus Rusty), time outside in water, and even surprise slushies!
For dinner, I planned a new recipe - chicken legs! There was much discussion around those legs, how many legs did a chicken have, what were chicken thighs, what about one-legged chickens, on and on. While silly - this recipe did not disappoint. For veg I used carrots, broccoli, onion, and green pepper. I used these because being me, I didn't read the FULL recipe ahead of time which would have made sense... details. This is what I had in the fridge, and it worked out really well. You double season the chicken, and bake it on a rack above the veg, so all those healthy juices that drip down - drip on top of your roasted veggies. So very good. The kids ate so fast and wanted more and more chicken. This recipe is certainly a do again and with more veggies!

Baked Garlic Paprika Chicken
3 -3 ½ pound chicken drumsticks
1 ¼ teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon bouillon powder (you may replace with salt)
1/4 cup canola oil
4-6 garlic cloves minced
2 Tablespoons onion powder
1 Tablespoon smoked paprika
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
3-4 Tablespoons fresh herbs (thyme, parsley, oregano)
1 pound or more green beans and carrots or any vegetables

Wash chicken legs dry, rub with salt , white pepper and bouillon powder and set aside
In a small pan set over medium low heat, combine canola oil, minced garlic, fresh herbs, smoked paprika and cayenne pepper . Stir for about 30 seconds or 1 minute. Let this mixture sit for a little bit about 5 minutes.
When ready to bake, preheat oven to 425°.
Place the chicken in a large bowl, toss with garlic paprika spice mix, then sprinkle with the onion powder.
Line a baking pan with foil; Add vegetables at the bottom, top with a wire rack. Arrange chicken legs out in a single layer.
Bake chicken legs until cooked through and skin is crispy, about 45-50 minutes
If desired rotate chicken halfway through-roughly 25 minutes.
Remove chicken and vegetables. For a carb option serve with rice

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Chocolate Chip Crust Chocolate Cheese Cake - That's a lot of C's

We'd been trying to hard to get together with friends, somehow our schedules just impossibly did not match up. On a whim, our friend suggested that Saturday night - well it worked! I was on tap for dessert and chips. These two things I can handle. Decided on a chocolate no-bake cheesecake that had a chocolate chip cookie crust. I thought I was so smart and used my Rice Krispie Treat method, a baggie covered hand with pam on it to form the crust around the springform pan. Well.. chocolate chips aren't really great at holding their form, so my efforts didn't really pay off... but the crust was delicious.
The cheesecake I made with full-fat cream cheese this time - I'm learning! that setup beautifully! Even the chocolate whipped cream turned out great.
Our evening was so very nice. Time with our friends - chatting, walking, laughing. Enjoyed it immensely. The cheesecake was awesome too. We brought home 3 pieces but knew I didn't want to have to run as many miles as those three pieces were going to cost me calorically... Andy liked the cheesecake but it was a little too chocolatey for him (who is this man?), so I asked a friend if they wanted the pieces. Um... yeah! They were coming for extra herbs anyway, so I sent them home with cheesecake. The report was it was good. Well, I know that too. :) this is a FOR sure make again. Without question - yes. You should too. It's actually very easy to make. Honest, it is!!


1/2 cup (112g) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup (72g) light brown sugar
3 tbsp (39g) sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups (195g) all purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups (211g) semi-sweet chocolate chips

20 oz (565g) cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup (104g) sugar
5 tbsp (35g) natural unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup (42g) semi sweet chocolate chips, melted
1 1/4 cups (300ml) heavy whipping cream, cold
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp (73g) powdered sugar*
1 cup (100g) chopped chocolate chip cookies
Additional cookies, for edges**

3/4 cup (180ml) heavy whipping cream, cold
1/4 cup (29g) powdered sugar
3 tbsp (21g) natural unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Mini chocolate chips, optional

1. To make the cookie bottom, preheat the oven to 350°F (176°C). Place parchment paper in the bottom of a 9 inch springform pan and grease the sides.
2. Cream the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes.
3. Mix in egg and vanilla extract until combined.
4. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
5. Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and mix until well combined.
6. Stir in the chocolate chips. The cookie dough will be thick.
7. Press the dough evenly into the springform pan.
8. Bake for 16-18 minutes or until the edges are slightly golden.
9. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely in the pan.
10. To make the cheesecake filling, add the cream cheese, sugar and cocoa powder to a large mixer bowl and beat until well combined and smooth.
11. Add the vanilla extract and melted chocolate and mix until well combined. Set aside.
12. In another large mixer bowl, add the heavy whipping cream and powdered sugar. Whip on high speed until stiff peaks form.
13. Add about 1/3 of the whipped cream to the cream cheese mixture and fold carefully to combine.
14. Add the remaining whipped cream and fold carefully until well combined.
15. Add the chopped cookies and fold to combine.
16. To put the cheesecake together, first add chocolate chips cookies around the sides of the pan, sitting on top of the edge of the cookie bottom. If you have trouble getting them to stand up, spoon small amounts of cheesecake filling up against the cookies to help keep them in place.
17. Add the remaining cheesecake filling and spread into an even layer.
18. Refrigerate cheesecake until firm, 5-6 hours or overnight.
19. To finish off the cheesecake, make the chocolate whipped cream. Add the heavy whipping cream, powdered sugar, cocoa powder and vanilla extract to a large mixer bowl and whip on high speed until stiff peaks form.
20. Remove the cheesecake from the springform pan and pipe swirls of whipped cream around the edge.
21. Top the cheesecake with additional cookies and mini chocolate chips.
22. Refrigerate cheesecake until ready to serve. Cheesecake is best for 3-4 days.
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