Friday, January 31, 2014

Baked Stuffed Apples

Today's treat is an easy, delicious dessert that won't completely kill your healthy habits.  At heart, it's a warmed up apple, but when you dress it up the right way, it can be a fantastic sweet-tooth craving buster!
It's... Baked Stuffed Apples!  Now you know I just love baking with apples.  And this is a simple and perfect apple dessert!  Warm and soft, spicy and sweet.  You can't go wrong with this little snack!

All you have to do is core out an apple...
Fill it with some delicious oats, nuts, raisins, and spices...
And pop it into the oven until it's golden and crispy... And dig in!
These apples are so easy to make, and you can change up all the ingredients to match your cravings!

Baked Stuffed Apples
Makes: 1 medium apple

Ingredients:
1 apple (I've used fuji and gala and like them both.)
1/2 tablespoon butter/margarine, softened or melted
1/2 tablespoon honey
1/2 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons oats
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
Sprinkle of nutmeg
Optional: nuts, raisins, etc.  (I like sliced almonds and raisins.)
*Note: 1/2 tablespoon equals 1 1/2 teaspoons.

Directions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine all of the ingredients (except the apple) in a small bowl.  Take a taste and adjust amounts as you like.
  3. Core out the apple without cutting the bottom out.  I like to make a pretty big hole in my apple so it will hold as much filling as possible.  I do this by switching back and forth between a knife and a spoon to get the core out little by little.
  4. Fill the apple with the filling mixture.  Place in a ramekin and place in the oven.  (I like to use a ramekin so that the apple has the least chance of falling over.  But you could put it on a baking sheet, etc. also.)
  5. Bake for about25 minutes, or until the apple is soft and the filling is slightly browned on top.
  6. Let it cool for about 5 minutes before eating.  I like to cut it in half and cut off the bottom so I don't eat the stem-y part.
If you're feeling really indulgent, you could try it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and/or some caramel sauce on top!  Yummy!

Enjoy!!!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

So If I Don't Use the Car on a Wendesday...

...It will save it's break-down for Thursday.  When I have somewhere important to go.  When I am on a schedule.  When the hubby isn't home to let me use the other car.

But, thankfully, he could come home and rescue me for the third time in three weeks.  This time he just had to let me use the other car, and I wasn't stranded anywhere except at home.

So yeah.  This is getting a little ridiculous!  The car got fixed, and we got it back on Monday, but apparently it's not over its problems.  So there's a pretty good chance that it will be heading back to the shop tomorrow.  {Sad face}

It's a little comical, and I'm glad I can laugh at it a little bit.  But it's frustrating at the same time.  Though I can't blame the car for being tired.  It's 19 years old.  But it's been a pretty good 19 years.  It's the car that became "mine" when I turned 16.  So, I will be a little sad to see it go when it's time comes, though also really happy because it's just getting really old and the air conditioning doesn't work (sort of a problem when you live in Florida).  I'm just really, really praying it can wait a little longer because we really do not want to buy another car right now.  Our other car is almost paid off, and it would be so so nice not to have a car payment for a while.

Anyway, yeah... unfortunately the car saga continues...

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

So I'm Not Gonna Lie...

I haven't wanted to blog very much lately.  I'm only human, so it's usually really easy to share when I'm in a good mood.  But when things aren't going so well, it's a bit harder to be honest about it to whoever feels like reading these quite public posts.  I will never claim to be perfect, but it is a struggle to share your down moments on the internet.  But, I don't want to pollute the purpose of my blog by acting like I don't have struggles and problems and bad days (or weeks).

The thing about contentment is that it is a constantly shifting state.  Everyday you have to wake up and choose to be content with all of God's blessings.  So it's not exactly a thing you can achieve all the time.  (Or if you can, someone seriously needs to give me lessons.)  And, truth is, it's taking a bit more effort than normal to find that contentment.

You know how it is, I'm sure, nothing's really wrong.  Sure, each day has little struggles, but there isn't a major reason to be discontent or depressed.  I'm just not sure what God has in store for our lives.  And for a while now, it's sort of felt like we're in limbo.  Just between things.  But that's not how God intends our lives to be.  We shouldn't be just waiting around for whatever is going to happen next.  Unfortunately, though that's really easy to say, it's a bit harder to live sometimes.  

It's just hard to not know anything about your future.  And we all know what that's like.  It's not an isolated feeling.  Right now, I have a lot of time to fill during the days while Thomas is at work.  A lot of time to think.  A lot of time to wish.  And I really try to make myself useful and put the housework and the important things first.  But no matter what I do with my free time, it seems to make me wish for something else.

If I watch a movie, I find myself envying the characters for the freedom and their problems that can almost always be solved by just talking to the other person.  If I read a book, I start wishing I could be whisked off to Narnia or Tremaris where the enemy is more obvious and less cunning.  If I watch "House Hunters" (a favorite of mine, that I'm not supposed to watch), I start out thinking I'm ok, and I just really enjoy looking at the houses.  But then, a day to two later, we drive by a house with a "For Sale" sign out front and I find myself wishing.

Constantly wishing... for something else... sometimes for anything else...

But that's not how God wants me to live; it's not how I want to live.  I want to be joyful, to be truly and genuinely thankful for all the blessings God has given me; I want to be content with where He wants me.

I obviously don't have the solution on how to be content, but I'm just trying to go through each day, thinking of things that I'm thankful for.

Like:  My husband who decided to buy me flowers just because he knew I needed some extra love.  Music, I'm so thankful for music and how it can change my whole day around.  I'm thankful that we have a wonderful place to live and the fact that my dream of living near the beach came true.  That I have fresh, (sometimes) healthy food I like to eat each day.  I'm thankful that I'm healthy and young and surrounded by people who care.

So that's all I've got.  All day long, I just try to think of these things and thank God for them, even if I'm not feeling it that much.  A small plan to fight discontentment, but as long as I try, I just have to remember that I have a very big God on my side.  Rooting for me.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Zebra Striped Bundt Cake

I made my second bundt cake yesterday for a Life Group get together.  That's the thing about most bundt cakes, they're pretty large, so I can't really make one just for Thomas and me because we'd have to be mega-fatties to eat it all before it went stale.
I've seen this recipe on Pinterest, and besides the fact that it includes both chocolate and vanilla cakes in one (which is awesome), I was really dying to try the artsy "zebra" pattern.  However, as you can see, though this cake looks and tastes delicious, the pattern doesn't exactly look zebra-y.  I've a theory about that though... you'll find out when you get to that part of the directions.
But even though the design of the cake didn't turn out how I imagined, it was still delicious!  The cake has a great flavor and the rich chocolate icing on top is the perfect finish.  Unless, of course, you're me and you think sprinkles is actually the perfect finish.
So this cake is both beautiful and delicious, and it happens to be completely homemade.  No cake mixes here!  But even better is the fact that you probably have all the ingredients you need in your kitchen!  So you can get up and make this cake right now!
Zebra Bundt Cake
From: Overtime Cook 

Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups plus 2 Tablespoons all purpose flour (or 3 cups cake flour)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar, divided
1/2 cup cocoa powder (not dutch process)
6 Tablespoons water
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter or margarine, melted and cooled  (I highly suggest real butter.)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
5 eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup milk

Instructions:
1.       Melt the butter either in the microwave or on the stove and allow it to cool.
2.   Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour your bundt pan. Set aside.
3.      In a small/medium bowl, mix together 1/2 cup sugar, cocoa powder, and water. Stir until everything is mixed together. Set aside.
4.      In medium-sized bowl, cream together the cooled melted butter and 2 cups of sugar with a mixer. Add vanilla and beat until combined.
5.      Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
6.   In another bowl, mix together the flour, salt, and baking powder.
7.      With the mixer on low, add 1/3 of the flour mixture, then half of the milk, then repeat until all the milk and flour have been incorporated.
8.      Measure out two heaping cups of batter and mix into the bowl with the chocolate mixture. Stir to combine.
9.      To make the zebra look:  Spoon a heaping tablespoon of the white batter into the bundt pan. Spoon an equal amount of the chocolate mixture directly in the middle of the white. Next, spoon some white into the center of the chocolate. Repeat until all of the batter has been used.  (The batter will spread around the pan on its own.)
***Here's my note: I followed the above layering instructions exactly, and my cake did not have the zebra striping at all.  I would suggest using larger amounts of batter for each layer so that the striping will be more defined.  Next time I make this, I will probably use a 1/4 cup per layer, a.k.a. 1/4 cup of white, 1/4 cup of chocolate, 1/4 cup white, etc.)
10. Before putting it in the over, tap the pan gently on the counter to make sure the batter is evenly distrubuted in the pan (you don't want a lopsided cake).  Bake at 350 for 50-60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
11. Remove from oven and let cool in the pan for about 10 minutes before removing to cool completely.

Chocolate Glaze:
Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
1/2 cup cocoa
2 Tablespoons oil
1-3 Tablespoons water

Instructions:
Mix all ingredients for the glaze together to form a drizzling consistency.
Drizzle glaze over cooled cake.
Enjoy!

As I said, this cake was delicious, and I will defnitely be making it again sometime.  If the zebra striping works out better with my little change, I'll let you know!

Happy weekend!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

What's Up With Wednesdays? {Wednesday Wins}

So apparently my car doesn't like me on Wednesdays anymore.  If you recall, last Wednesday, I locked my keys in the car (only the second time I've done that in the almost 10 years I've been driving).  Ok, so I guess that wasn't really my car's fault.  Today, however, it just died.  And I'm pretty sure it wasn't my fault.  Thankfully, my wonderful hubby was available to come rescue me...again.  (I really hope he likes damsels in distress, because that's apparently what I'm becoming.)  Unfortunately though, it had to be towed, and we have no idea what is wrong with it and how much it will cost.  So, if I even have a car at my disposal next Wednesday, I'm pretty sure I will be avoiding using it!  Lol.

It's funny, though, how this all ties in. Our church is currently in the middle of a two week revival.  And to be honest, before it began, I was not excited about the prospect of having all of my free weeknights taken up with church services.  We have gone, however, and God has used the revival to teach me/remind me of several things.  And one of the two main things He's spoken to me about is needing Him every minute of every hour of every day.  The revival leaders have said the phrase "God I need you" so many times, encouraging people to pray that phrase to the Lord as many times as you can throughout the day, not just in times of trouble.

And today, as I was driving away from the house to take myself to lunch with a good friend a.k.a. a good book and then do a little leisure shopping, I was feeling pretty good.  Monday and Tuesday weren't very good days for me.  Nothing really bad happened, they were just blah and rough.  But this afternoon, I was doing worlds better, especially at the prospect of spending a relaxing afternoon out of the house.  But that phrase popped into my head as I was driving down the road thinking about how good of a mood I was in.  And so I prayed in that moment, telling the Lord that I need Him even in the good days.  Because only He knows what else will happen in my day.  And it's on the good days that really bad things tend to blindside you and end up that much worse.

So when, after my last stop of the day (getting gas), the car would not start, yet my day was not ruined.  God had maybe somewhat prepared me because I remembered praying that prayer and almost laughed at its significance.  So, even though the car is now in the shop with who knows how much money's worth of repairs awaiting it, I'm not worried.  It's still almost comical.  Especially since it's the second Wednesday in a row I've had car issues.  So thank you to the Lord for always being there when I need you, which is on the good days and the bad.

So, now that that story has been told, let's back up in my day a little bit.  I had some delicious lunch at Panera (my favorite, and one of the only places I really feel not-awkward eating with only a book for company).  And then I was going to head over to Ulta because I really wanted to spice up my eyeshadow collection (which is extremely limited), and grab a high quality clear coat nail polish so that my color polish would stop chipping so quickly after I paint my nails.  But, when leaving Panera, I had the (fabulous) idea to stop by Marshall's first because they usually have some O.P.I. nail polishes really cheap, and I just enjoy walking around and looking at all the home decor, etc.  And check it out:
I grabbed all of this for less than $15!!!
I'm not familiar with the E.L.F. brand, but I don't even care... I mean, look at all those colors!!!  I just love that I got so many colors to try out and see what I like.  There are a lot of warm neutrals with the brights to mix it up!
And the only thing I was unsure of when I decided to buy a high-quality clear polish a few days ago was finding the right product.  I wanted a good brand (which usually means expensive, I'm a little more picky about my nail polish brands), but I also knew that good brands almost always have ninety million types of clear coats, and I wasn't sure what I was going to need.  So this little trial set gives me four different options to try out, so I can figure out what I like before I buy a full-size bottle.  I'm also excited that the set includes a nail hardener.  My nails have been in pretty poor shape lately and could really use a boost!

I ended up not even going to Ulta because I had already gotten more than I bargained for at a much cheaper price!  Thus, God also gave me a really good day before the tough part hit.  Because the Lord is with me at all times, I am still having a great day in the face of a pretty big setback.  Thank you to God!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Classic Crème Brûlée {Lundi Little Lovelies}

Since I got my crème brûlée tools for Christmas, it has been almost the only dessert I've made.  It is divine!  Thomas has actually licked the bowl several times after eating it.  It's perfect for us because the recipes are super easy to create just two servings.  But it's also just as easy to make more servings at one time!

I've tried several different variations so far: classic (vanilla), chocolate, and banana.  I'm sure I will also continue to try new flavors, but the classic creme brulee is so delicious that we will definitely keep coming back to it!  The other night, when I made this batch, we ate it with some delicious fresh strawberries that I had.  Yum!
This is classic (vanilla) crème brûlée.  It's super creamy and delicious.  And don't you just love the crunchy torched-sugar top.  (Besides the part where you get to eat it, Thomas' favorite part is torching the top.  He just can't stop playing with the torch I got for Christmas.)
Though it takes a little time with all of the steps, crème brûlée is actually incredibly easy to make.  As long as you follow the steps, I'd reckon that it's pretty difficult to mess up.  I hope you enjoy this decadent dessert!

*Note: I use crème brûlée/tarlette ramekins that are about 4 1/2 inches in diameter and 1 inch tall.  You could also use taller/skinnier ramekins if you like.

Classic Crème Brûlée

Serves: 2-4 (depending on ramekin size; I make 2 servings)
Adapted from: "Professional Cooking Torch Recipes" (the recipe book that came with my torch)

Ingredients:
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 large or extra large egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
More granulated sugar for sprinkling

Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Boil some water (I need about 3-4 cups).
  2. In a saucepan, combine the heavy cream and 2 tablespoons of sugar.  Cook over medium-high heat for about 5-6 minutes, until small bubbles form around the edges of the pan.  Stir occasionally.
  3. While the cream is cooking, combine the egg yolks and vanilla in a medium-sized bowl.  Whisk until light and smooth.
  4. When the cream is finished, slowly add it to the egg yolk mixture while whisking.  Do not add too much too quickly; you don't want to cook the eggs.  Beat continuously until well blended.
  5. Strain mixture through a mesh strainer into another bowl or a glass measuring cup (for easy pouring).  (This removes those bright white parts of the egg that usually stick to the yolk.)
  6. Pour the strained mixture into your ramekins.
  7. Arrange the ramekins in a baking pan.
  8. **Do these next steps in the order that you are most comfortable with.  Pour the boiling water into the baking pan to reach about halfway up the sides of the ramekins.  Then place it all in the oven.
  9. Cover loosely with foil.
  10. Bake for 25-40 minutes, or until custard is just set (the edges look set when you jiggle the pan, but the centers may be a little more liquid.)  If you make 4 servings, it will take about 25 minutes.  If you make 2 larger servings like I do, it will take more like 40 minutes.  Just keep checking about every 5 minutes until the custard jiggles more like jello than liquid.
  11. Remove everything from the oven, and then remove the ramekins from the water bath VERY CAREFULLY.  Chill the ramekins for about 3 hours.
  12. When ready to eat, sprinkle granulated sugar over the top of each ramekin, then torch it with a cooking torch or blow torch.  Continously move the flame over the top of the custard until it reaches the desired color.  It should melt and bubble up a bit.
  13. Serve immediately.
Ooh!  Just thinking about it makes me want to make it again today!  Yum!  I hope you love it as much as Thomas does!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Let Me Tell You About My Day

So this morning, I had breakfast with a great friend that I haven't seen in a while.  And it was wonderful!  The cinnamon crunch bagel with honey walnut cream cheese from Panera was to die for too!

However, after breakfast, I had plans to head across the road to the bank ATM and then to Publix (they're right next to each other).  So, I went over, and since I just needed some cash from the ATM, I just grabbed my wallet and hopped out of the car... leaving everything else inside... "everything" also includes my keys and my cell phone.  Awesome.  (Please note the sarcasm.)  

Thank goodness the bank was just opening so that I could head inside and use a phone.  And thank goodness Thomas was able to come right over to unlock the car for me.  And thank goodness I could just walk across the parking lot to Publix and still get most of my grocery shopping done while Thomas was on his way.  (I say "most of my shopping" because guess what else got left in the car?!  Yep, my shopping list.)  At least then time wasn't wasted, but I was more glad that I didn't just have to stand outside by the car like an idiot for 20 minutes.

But... other than that minor hiccup, I don't have any complaints about my day!  It's quite productive, and of course, we always have trivia to look forward to on Wednesdays!

Ooh, and I bought some fresh strawberries at the store this morning (maybe a little consolation prize for me being dumb), and I can't wait to eat them with the creme brulee we're having for dessert tomorrow!  I will really try to take some photos this time so that I can blog the fabulous recipe!

Happy Hump Day!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Movies I'm Excited to See

2014 brings chances for new beginnings, a fresh start in a new year, and many other things.  I'm excited and scared to see what this new year holds, but one things I do know: the movies will be awesome!  Here are some of the ones I'm looking forward to in the first few months 2014.

Just click on the movie titles to go to IMDb.com where you can see more information and watch trailers.

January
Lone Survivor - This one is already out, and Thomas and I already have plans to see it, but I still can't hardly wait.  I love a lot of the cast members (Mark Wahlberg, of course), and I also really love a good action movie.  I'm interested to see this one since it's based on a true story and apparently pretty close to what really happened.

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit - I'm a big fan of all the Jack Ryan movies (I've never read any of the books though).  I have loved Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford, and Ben Affleck as Jack Ryan, and I'm also really excited to see Chris Pine in the role.

I, Frankenstein - This one is a bit more of a wild card.  Aaron Eckhart playing Frankenstein's monster in a mythical world with different species battling for control.  I'm not sure about how I feel about Aaron Eckhart in this type of role, but the storyline intrigues me.

February
The Monuments Men - I am DYING to see this movie.  An "Ocean's 11" type of cast in a World War II drama/comedy/action flick.  Oh, amazing.  This movie is going to be absolutely amazing.

Robocop - Eh, this one is sort of a take-it-or-leave-it one for me.  I'm interested in the story line but not wow-ed by the cast, so we'll see. With all the other choices, this is one that may have to wait until it comes out on DVD.

Winter's Tale - So I recently read the book, and the movie will probably be absolutely nothing like it.  But that isn't necesarrily a bad thing.  The book was very confusing, and the ending was weird.  So I'll be really happy if they deviate a bit and just turn it into the really beautiful love story that is almost was.

Non-Stop - Liam Neeson doing what he does best... getting the bad guys.  On a plane.  Over the Atlantic (or Pacific, or something).  Against all odds.  I don't really care what else this movie has going for it, I'm already in.

March
300: Rise of an Empire - Well, I loved "300".  So, this one has me interested.  The cast isn't quite as good as the first movie.  But ancient Greek and Roman history is my thing.  So even if it's butchered into things that didn't really happen in history, even if I don't love the cast, even if the storyline is completely fake, I will still watch it.  I just love this time period that much.

Divergent - I loved the book!  And the second book.  The third book, not so much.  But, from the looks of all the previews I've seen, the movie seems like it will pretty heavily deviate from the book.  So, I'm really interested to see what the filmmakers' visual take is.

Noah - I've mentioned this movie before when the preview first came out, but I'm still really excited to see this!  I absolutely love Russell Crowe (I mean, who doesn't?!), and this has the possibility to be an epic movie with a great spiritual message.  I'm really excited about this one.

So, this isn't completely a comprehensive list.  Thomas and I may end up seeing a few others in the coming months.  And we may end up skipping a few of these.  But I'll keep you updated on my reviews as I see them!  "Lone Survivor" this week, I can't wait!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Cinnamon Swirl Bundt Cake with Vanilla Glaze

Yes... This cake is exactly as amazing as that title makes it sound!  No question.
We had some friends over for dinner last night, and we usually have a system that one couple cooks the dinner and the other couple brings dessert.  But yesterday, I was really hoping and banking on the fact that our friends wouldn't have had time to make a dessert because I was majorly itching to try out my new bundt pan.
So, with all of that in mind, I hopped on Pinterest yesterday afternoon to find the perfect first recipe for my pan.  Oh and find it I did!  Thank you to Sweet Lavender Bake Shoppe for posting this fabulous recipe on your blog!
This cake is amazing!!!  As you may know, cinnamon is by far, my favorite thing ever!  I looooove baking with it.  And pretty much, when it comes to cinnamon, I never follow the recipe.  If it says 2 tablespoons, there is no leveling it off here.  No, no, I add those heaping spoonfuls without hesitation! 
The brown sugar and cinnamon swirl in this cake give it an amazing sweetness that is perfectly balanced by the yellow cake and vanilla glaze.  Everything about it is delicious.  The texture is incredibly gooey and moist.
And the photos you're seeing may or may not be from the slice I had for breakfast this morning.  Yep, I was one of those people this morning.  And oh my goodness, I am so glad I was.  Because, last night when we ate the cake at room temperature, it was fabulous.  But...
...This morning, when I had it warmed up with some melted butter on top, it was positively heavenly!  You know, it's basically a coffee cake anyway.  I could have easily polished off another quarter of the cake hot with butter on top.  It was divine!  My mouth is watering for another piece right now just looking at the pictures and thinking about it.
Even if you're not eating it for breakfast, I highly recommend smearing on some butter and popping it in the microwave for half a minute.  Your taste buds will love you for it!
So without further ado, here is this absolutely amazing recipe.  I only made a few small changes from the recipe I found, but you can check out the original at Sweet Lavender Bake Shoppe's blog.

Cinnamon Swirl Bundt Cake with Vanilla Glaze
Adapted from: Sweet Lavender Bake Shoppe
Serves: 10-12

Cake:
  • 1 box yellow cake mix, dry (15-16 ounces)
  • 3/4 cup oil
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup yogurt (The original recipe suggested greek, I went with regular fat-free vanilla.)
Brown sugar and cinnamon swirl:
  • 1 cup loosely packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
Vanilla Glaze:
 Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Spray your bundt pan with cooking spray; then coat it with a very thin layer of flour.  (You may be able to omit these steps if you have a non-stick bundt pan.) 
  2. In a small bowl, mix together your brown sugar and cinnamon. Set aside. 
  3. In the large bowl mix the dry cake mix, oil, eggs, and yogurt with a whisk until everything is incorporated and there are minimal lumps.
  4. Pour half of your batter into the bundt pan and then scoop half of your brown sugar mix over the top. With a knife, swirl the two together. Top with the remaining half of your cake batter and the other half of your brown sugar mix. Again, swirl together with a knife or skewer. You will have to swirl it quite a bit to get everything mixed together well.  Gently tap pan on the counter to settle and even out top.
  5. Bake for about 40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  6. Let cool it in the pan for about 10 minutes before inverting it onto a cake platter or plate. Let it cool before drizzling the glaze over top.
  7. To make the glaze, mix the powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and milk until it is completely lump free. Spoon or pipe over the cake.

Serve!  Remember, you can serve this cake at room temperature, or warm it up a bit in the microwave.  Try out some butter on top or a scoop of vanilla ice cream!

The original recipe stated that the cake would keep for one day at room temperature or two days in the fridge.  I put mine in the fridge last night, but I'll try to give you an update on how long it lasts, if I don't eat it all today!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Chicken and Dumplings: A Cold Weather Classic

Ok, so the cat just took about an hour long nap on my lap (only ended by the fact that I absolutely HAD to go to the bathroom), and now I'm exhausted.  Sitting on the couch for too long in the afternoon just kills me.  It's not that it's not relaxing, it's just that if I sit there too long, my body seems to shut down for the rest of the day.  Bleh.  She was adorable though!  And I'd still be sitting there right now if my bladder hadn't been bursting.  To me, there is just this unspoken rule that if your cat comes to lay with/on you, you don't move until the cat has vacated her spot.  That's just how it works.  You sit there, legs asleep, overheated, bored to death, moving as little as humanly possible until she decides to move.  That's just the rule.  Lol.  (FYI, I know I sound ridiculous.)

Anyway, today I figured I would share a recipe!  Since it's (probably) cold where ever you are right now, this meal is perfect!  I absolutely love chicken and dumplings.  Any time we eat at Cracker Barrel, it is positively the hardest decision in the world to choose between their chicken and dumplings or a breakfast meal.  Talk about tough!

This recipe is very similar to Cracker Barrel's version.  The dumplings are flat, but delicious, and the dish is interspersed with shredded chicken.  (In my humble opinion, this meal would be even better if you just left out the chicken all together, but I know we need some protein to balance it out.) 

Also, just FYI, I made half of the recipe below for just Thomas and I, and we had about 2 servings of leftovers too.

Chicken and Dumplings
Adapted from: Buns in My Oven
Serves: 6-8 people

Ingredients:
  • 3-4 medium chicken breasts (depends on how much chicken you want in it)
  • 6 cups chicken broth (I used boiling water and chicken bouillon cubes.)
  • 3 cups flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 1/2 tablespoons butter or margarine
  • 1 cup milk
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
Directions:
  1. Cook the chicken, then let cool and shred.  (I just boil it because it will get seasoned when you add everything together, but you can cook it anyway you'd like.) 
  2. While the chicken is cooking, you can prepare the dumplings.  Mix the flour, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.
  3. Cut in the butter using a fork or a pastry blender until the mixture is coarse and crumbly.
  4.  Slowly stir in the milk.  Do not over mix!  (The original said you might not need the whole cup, but I found that I did and my dough was still a little dry.  Next time, I would probably use a little more than a cup.)
  5. Turn out the dough onto a floured surface and roll out to a thickness of about 1/4 inch.  It doesn't have to be perfect.
  6. Using a knife or pizza cutter, cut the dough into small sections (about 1 to 1 1/2 inches square).  Lay out on a parchment lined baking sheet to dry for about 30 minutes.
  7. Bring the 6 cups of broth to a simmer in a large pan.
  8. Add the dumplings one by one so that they don't stick together.
  9. Cook for 6-7 minutes, stirring often to make sure all of the dumplings cook evenly.
  10. Add the shredded chicken to the dumplings.  Continue cooking for about 20 minutes.  The mixture will thicken up quite a bit.
  11. Salt and pepper to taste and serve!
I hope you enjoy this lovely cold-weather meal!  Yummy yummy!