Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Easy Chicken and Dumplings

You have no idea how bad I wanted to title this post "Chicken and Dumplins".  I mean, I've never heard anyone below the Mason-Dixon line actually annunciate the "g" in dumplings.  And if they do they must be a relocated yankee.  It's kind of like how southerners use the working "fixin'" when they are talking about how they are about to do something.  Can I get an amen??  Anyone??

I gave in and added the "g" because I was afraid that when people searched for this recipe that it wouldn't show up otherwise.  Fine.  Just know I'll call them dumplins for the rest of the post....

Anyhow, when my hubby and I first got married I asked him what recipes he would like for me to try out and the first recipe he mentioned was chicken and dumplins.  It's now been almost ten months since our wedding day and I finally got around to making them.  This is definitely a cold weather dish and I just didn't feel right whipping a big pot of them up in August, you know?

There are a lot of great chicken and dumplin' recipes out there: some that only call for 4 ingredients, others that require 3+ hours in the kitchen so that you can make your own biscuit dough.   I'm sure I'll try the completely from scratch route at some point, but on this particular night I simply didn't have time.  I combined portions of several recipes and added a few twists of my own to come up with the recipe below.  I did take a few shortcuts, but I don't believe the flavor and quality of the dish suffered at all.

From start to finish it took me an hour and fifteen minutes.  Often I see prep+cooking time that is WAAAY shorter than what it takes me, but the time I mentioned includes pulling all of the utensils out, cooking the chicken, etc.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Oooey Gooey Red Velvet Chess Squares

Every Wednesday night growing up I would eat dinner at our church before whatever activities I had on hand.  The food was always the very best kind of down home Southern food you can imagine: fried chicken, green beans flavored with ham hocks, homemade biscuits and sweet tea. If it was something your great grandmother might have made from scratch it was there.

It's been a while and my memory is a little fuzzy, but I'm pretty sure a local restaurant called Lulu's came in and fixed everything.  Some Wednesday nights they would make this stuff called ooey gooey cake.  It was basically heaven in sugar form.

Ooey gooey cake is very similar to chess bars and pies.  They both don't completely firm up when done, resulting in a gooey texture. And seeing as how I'm that person who loves pulling cookies out of the oven when they're not quite finished baking to keep them super soft, this recipe hits the spot for me.

I've had the basic yellow cake-type and then chocolate versions of ooey gooey cake and chess squares, but had never tried a red velvet version.  Curious, I did a quick search of the internet to see if I could find a recipe, but to no avail.

Off to the mixing bowl I went armed with a few ingredients I thought might produce the result I was looking for.  And I've got to say I feel like I got exactly what I was hoping for.

The bottom layer of these ooey gooey red velvet chess squares is somewhat similar to that of a brownie.  But the top layer of butter and cream cheese is what qualifies them to carry their title.  These squares are really easy to make and would be perfect to take to a Christmas or holiday get together.  Or if you're like me and have a slight obsession with red velvet recipes then you can make them all year long!

Warning:  These bars are very rich and extremely addictive.  Eat one (or three!) and then give them away, lest you end up eating the whole pan.....

Friday, November 16, 2012

Roasted Potatoes with Parsley, Parmesan and Bacon

The potato is one of those foods that is pretty versatile.  You have baked potatoes, mashed potatoes, hash browns, potato hash; you can make them into chips or fries, or make potato salad.  The list is quite long.  And unlike some foods such as fish, potatoes are a safe bet when you're hosting since pretty much everyone will eat them.

I've made several of the aforementioned dishes and have always had pretty good results.  It's always great when you can throw a few potatoes in the oven and let them bake while you fix the rest of your meal.  I mean, can I get a shout out for baked sweet potatoes topped with brown sugar, cinnamon and butter?!  

But when about when you want to add a little more of a different flavor to potatoes?  This recipe adds parmesan cheese, bacon and parsley to roasted yukon gold potatoes to create a flavor combination that is second to none in my humble opinion.  The bacon and cheese add a wonderful richness while the parsley brightens it just a bit to keep it from getting too heavy.  

I used baby yukon gold potatoes since they would cook faster, but the regular sized ones will produce the same result.  And the original recipe called for the removing of the potato skins, but I liked the rustic look and decided to leave them.

These potatoes are just as delicious as they look and they have most definitely earned a spot on my list of go-to recipes for when I'm hosting a get together.  After all, I'm pretty sure no one would complain about anything that has bacon and cheese :)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Caramel Pecan Brownies

Not gonna lie.  I like boxed brownies better.  Most of the time, that is.  I think it's just that I don't see why you should add all the fuss that comes with making brownies from scratch when the "just add eggs, oil and water" version does the trick just fine.

But after seeing these caramel pecan brownies on Pinterest one day my curiosity got the best of me.  And I must say I was pleasantly surprised.  Little things like toasting the pecans and making your caramel sauce with real cream do indeed make a noticeable difference.  While you'll dirty up a few more bowls than you normally would, it will definitely be worth it.  Plus, that gives you more batter to sample :)

Feel free to leave out the pecans if they're not your thing.  You could also substitute with walnuts or add butterscotch chips.  Or white chocolate chips.  Or mint.  Your choice!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Chocolate Pound Cake with Old Fashioned Fudge Icing

I made my first pound cake not too long ago, and after the pleasant (and delicious) experience I decided to branch out and try another flavor.  My hubby's stepmom made the most amazing chocolate pound cake with a fudge icing one night when we were over there (think icing being poured directly over the hot cake just out of the oven....) and that sealed my decision to take on this recipe from the Junior League's Perennials cookbook.

Some chocolate on chocolate cakes are too much for some people.  I may not be in that camp, but there are those out there who don't particularly care for the "death by chocolate" types of confections.  The good news is that this is a cake even those said individuals will love.  The actual cake's flavor isn't so overpowering, letting the rich fudge icing get its share of the limelight as well.

This icing is the kind that everyone's grandmother used to make.  The kind you cook.  I'm not sure what it is about cooking chocolate icing, but it makes it so much better than the frosting you simply whip in a stand mixer.  Simply put, this icing takes the cake (pun intended).

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Nutella Surprise Chocolate Chip Cookies

Last summer my sister spent six weeks in Paris and fell in love with this stuff called Nutella.  Maybe I've been living under a rock for the past 26 years, but I had never really heard that much about it until her love affair began.  Still, it took about 16 months and a special occasion for me to ever buy a jar of this chocolate hazelnut spread.  

I had stumbled upon a recipe for nutella stuffed cookies on Pinterest (surprise, surprise) a while back and figured Sarah Beth's birthday would be the perfect time to give these babies a go.  Sure, they took a bit longer to make than your average cookie, but they were so good that the extra effort was MORE than worth it.  

These cookies have brown butter, brown sugar and three (yes, three) different kinds of chocolate chips mixed into the dough.  A nice plump dollop of nutella fills the middle while a light sprinkle of sea salt on top gives these cookies an unexpected pop of flavor.

While these cookies are certainly nothing less than delicious once they cool, they taste the best just out of the oven when the dough is still incredibly soft and warm and the nutella just spills out when you bite in.....can you tell I ate several of these and know just how they taste best???  If you're not near the oven when they come out just pop them in the microwave for 10-15 seconds.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Funfetti Cake Mix Cookies

Is this funfetti overload?  I realize today's post might be a bit much since I just did a post on Funfetti Cake Batter Fudge last week.  But these cookies were so delicious that I couldn't help continuing the trend......

Apparently October is popular for birthdays in my family, as my mom, sister and grandmother all have their special day during the month.  I had already agreed to make a pound cake for our breakfast brunch, but also wanted to bring something else.  A sweet something else on the side.  I had a friend in high school who made the most amazing cake mix cookies, so I thought funfetti cake mix cookies might hit the spot.

These cookies are based on the cult favorite funfetti cake mix, so they don't take too long to make it from the bowl to the oven to your tummy.  Four ingredients, eight minutes in the oven.

I added a bit of cornstarch to these as I've found that doing so keeps cookies soft and fluffy.  You could really use any cake mix you'd like....I think next time I might try red velvet!