Archive for the ‘main dishes’ Category

Just thinking about chicken & dumplings takes me back to my mother’s kitchen.  This is comfort food at its finest, and is extremely cheap to make.

Now this Southern girl doesn’t like NOODLES with her chicken when it’s supposed to be dumplings.  They are totally different critters.

True Southern dumplings are like puffy pillows of biscuit goodness draped in a piping hot broth with bits of chicken.

Is your mouth watering yet?

There is an art to making good dumplings – you will get better at it the more you make them.  The broth should not be at a roiling boil or your dumplings will fall apart.

On the same token, if your broth is not hot enough, your dumplings will fall apart.

I like to use chicken breast that I have pressure canned (you ARE canning chicken when it’s on sale, right?).  The broth is flavorful and the chicken is tender.  Open a can, make your dumplings, and you’re ready for supper!

Variations instead of chicken:  squirrel or rabbit – any mild flavored meat.

For this recipe, you will need approximately 3 quarts of chicken broth.  (I use 1 quart jar of canned chicken breast/broth plus 2 additional quarts of water with about a tablespoon of chicken base.)

Put this in a large stock pot (5 or 6 quart will do) and bring to a slow boil.

This dumpling recipe can easily be halved or doubled depending on how many you need.  The below amount feeds three of us with enough left over for lunch for two.

To make your dumplings, mix the following together:

3 cups all purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar

Cut in 6 tablespoons butter with a fork or pastry blender.

Add 1 1/2 cups milk – you may need a little more/less depending on humidity. GENTLY stir together. Be careful not to overwork the dough – it will make your dumplings tough.

The dough should not be a sticky mess. You should be able to handle it without having gobs of it stick to your fingers.  If it’s too sticky, add a little bit of flour.

Put a piece of waxed paper on your counter – it makes clean up easier. Pat the dumpling dough out into a rough rectangle. Cut into small rectangles with a butter knife dipped in flour (they should be about 1 1/2″ long). Let the dough rest while the broth comes to a slow boil.

Drop several pieces of dough (7 or 8 ) into the broth at a time, being careful not to crowd the pot. The dumplings will expand as they cook. Cover the pot partially with a lid.

Check dumplings after 3 or 4 minutes, and gently turn them over with a slotted spoon. Cover with lid again.

Check dumplings after another 3 or 4 minutes and test for doneness. (Scoop one out into a bowl and cut it in half. If it’s still doughy, it isn’t done! Put it back into the broth and cook for a couple more minutes.)

Have a large bowl or dish ready to hold the dumplings as they are cooked. You have to do them in batches, and it will take a little while to do.

When serving, scoop out some of the chicken with a few dumplings and pour some broth over the top.  Season with salt and pepper to your liking.

Ummmmm, ummmmm, GOOD!  😀


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Well, I finally ran out of the enchilada sauce I canned in October, and after paying $1.79 for one teeny tiny can at the store, I decided it was time for another batch.

I made spaghetti sauce yesterday and canned it today.  While I have the canner out,  it was now or never on the enchilada sauce.

I did adjust my basic recipe for the whole batch – cut back on the cumin and water.  After simmering for a couple of hours, it worked out perfectly divided between 9 pint jars.

Process at 10 pounds pressure for 15 minutes.  Voila!  😀

Here’s the mondo batch recipe:

1 – 106 oz can tomato sauce (Contadina is my favorite – Sam’s carries it)
2 to 3 onions (or one LARGE onion), chopped, sauteed in olive oil, and pureed in the blender
6 1/2 teaspoons oregano
9 Tablespoons chili powder
6 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
6 or 7 teaspoons ground cumin
several tablespoons minced garlic
1/2 tomato sauce can (#10) of water
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons salt

You could also add cayenne pepper to taste. Adjust seasonings to your liking.


We use this on chicken enchiladas, bean burritos, tacos, etc.

For easy bean burritos: take 1 pkg large flour tortillas, divide 1 can of refried beans between them – spread a hefty tablespoon (at least) down the center of each tortilla, then spoon 1 to 2 tablespoons enchilada sauce on each, and lastly top with cheddar cheese. Roll up into burritos, place in a 9×13 pan, and bake at 350 degrees for about 20 to 25 minutes until they’re hot.

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This makes a bunch and can be frozen.  Very versatile – use whatever you have in your pantry!

2 pounds ground hamburger meat, browned and drained
1 large onion, chopped and sauteed with the meat
1 envelope taco seasoning
1 envelope dry Ranch Dressing mix
2 cans tomatoes
1 can Rotel
1 can whole kernel corn
1 can sliced mushrooms
2 cans pinto beans
2 cans shoe peg corn
1 can yellow hominy

Combine and simmer over low heat for at least 30 minutes to an hour (or longer in the crockpot). Serve over chips (Fritos are good) topped with cheese.

VARIATIONS: I have omitted the mushrooms, pinto beans, and the shoe peg corn, then added a can of Ranch style beans (undrained), can of black beans (drained), one small can of V8 juice, can of beef broth, and sliced olives. I’ve also added a pound of Velveeta to the whole mix. You can do basically anything with this – be creative! 😀

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Stew meat or roast, cut into cubes
carrots, sliced
potatoes, cubed
onion, chopped (or use dehydrated or onion powder)
2 cans Campbell’s Beefy Mushroom Soup (don’t dilute)
1 jar beef gravy (we like Heinz)
couple jars full of water
salt and pepper to taste

Brown beef in a heavy pot or Dutch oven. (I use a little bit of olive oil for this. Browning the meat adds flavor to the stew.) Add other ingredients and simmer on low/medium heat, stirring occasionally. I let this cook for a couple of hours at least. I’ve also made it in the crockpot and let it cook all day.

Serve with homemade bread or cornbread. Super on a cold day!

Enjoy! 🙂

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Frito Pie

Excellent on a cold winter’s night!  I like to serve this with coleslaw just to cool it a bit (buy the packaged slaw from the store and add salt, pepper, a little sugar, and mayo or Miracle Whip – about 1/4 cup or so.  Be sure not to overdress the slaw.  The salt will pull moisture out of the cabbage so you’ll wind up with more dressing than you start with. I make it ahead of time and let it sit for an hour or two before serving).


1 ½ lbs ground beef, browned and drained
1 chopped onion (cook with beef)
1 – 15 oz can enchilada sauce
1 – 8 oz can tomato sauce
12 oz Velveeta

1 pkg corn chips (Fritos)

Combine all ingredients (except chips) and cook over low heat until cheese is melted. Serve over corn chips.

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This is my version of the Applebee’s classic.  VERY good and easy to make.  (Not to mention much cheaper than eating out!)


Marinate chicken breasts with fajita seasoning (we like the McCormick Grill Mates Mesquite flavor) and some lime juice. Grill or fry in a little olive oil. Cut into strips.

Use regular salad greens and add: chicken, grated cheese, and diced tomato/onion/jalapeno – optional. Garnish with sour cream, guacamole, and chopped green onion. Can also add tortilla chips if you’d like.

The dressing is the secret: Mix ranch dressing with some salsa or picante sauce. I don’t even measure it – just pour some of each in a bowl and stir it up until it looks right (start with around equal proportions of each one, but I think I use a little more ranch than salsa).


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This is WONDERFUL with homemade bread.  :o)   Very easy and delish!

Smoky Potato Cheese Soup

1# smoked beef sausage, sliced
dehydrated onion – to taste (or use onion powder)
3 cans beef broth
3 or 4 potatoes, peeled and cubed
16oz Velveeta
2 (12oz) cans evaporated milk *OR* 2 3/4 cup regular milk
pepper to taste

NOTE:  We like the Hillshire Farms beef smoked sausage the best. I saute it in a skillet for a few minutes first to render some of the fat out before adding it to the soup.  (You could also take an ice cube wrapped in paper towel and run across the top of the broth to remove any fat that cooks out of the meat – before adding the Velveeta and milk. You won’t remove as much of the fat this way, but it does help some.)  I don’t like the soup to be greasy, but I like the taste of the beef sausage much better than the turkey.

Simmer potatoes and sausage in beef broth until potatoes are soft. Mash potatoes slightly with potato masher. Add Velveeta and milk at end of cook. Stir until melted.

ANOTHER NOTE:    Soup should be thick, but normally I wind up adding about 1/4 cup flour with some water and thickening it up a bit more (added with the milk and cheese).

Cook time: approx 30 minutes YUM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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