Sunday, November 9, 2008

Domestic Diva

This was one of those really busy but refreshingly domestic weekends. A weekend full of time in the kitchen like I used to have BEFORE having children. Ironically now that I have a bigger family that could actually benefit from my love of cooking I don't have nearly as much time to actually do it. However, this weekend I was able to make a big batch of apple butter, bake a pie pumpkin and freeze the puree to use in our Thanksgiving pumpkin pie and whip up some homemade soup. Hubby wanted Chicken and Dumplings but I wanted to try and avoid using any canned soups and the recipe he loved so much uses 2 cans of cream of chicken soup in the recipe. Instead I cobbled together my own version which isn't so much stew-like but is a soup - not creamy but still yummy! And it qualifies as one of my "Meals for $10 or Less" - especially so since I snagged a 6 lb Perdue whole chicken on sale for 99 cents/lb. In reality after you buy the chicken you should have most of the ingredients on hand to make this healthy, hearty, meal-in-a-bowl soup.
Homemade Chicken and Dumplings Soup - $8.98

1 whole chicken - appx 3 lbs ($6)
2-3 bay leaves
10 whole peppercorns
1 tsp sea salt
3-4 celery ribs washed and cut into chunks - use the leaves if you have them $1
1 lb carrots (divided) washed; half cut into rough chunks, half cut into bite-sized pieces - 79 cents
1 large onion, peeled and quartered - 69 cents
2 medium red potatoes washed and diced into bite-sized pieces - 50 cents
Additional veggies to taste (optional)
Chicken bouillon cubes (optional)
  • Rinse the chicken; reserve the giblets for another use. Place chicken in a large stockpot or Dutch oven; cover with water adding the sea salt and other spices, rough cut carrots, celery and onion. Bring to a boil and then simmer until chicken is cooked through. When tender, remove chicken to a platter and allow to cool . Remove meat from bones and set aside.
  • At this point I like to let the broth cool so the fat will gel and you can skim it off with a large spoon (or if it's cold outside do what I did and put it on your deck for an hour or so). After skimming the excess fat start to warm the broth up again. When it's warm strain the broth to remove the whole spices and cooked veggies; discard these and return broth to the pot. Taste it - if it tastes weak I cheat and add chicken bouillon cubes until I get the full chicken soup flavor I am looking for. If the chicken flavor is good then adjust seasonings to taste and add the bite-sized pieces of carrot and potato and as much cooked chicken as you like. I usually also add frozen peas; tonight I added frozen green beans and frozen corn because I had them on hand. Return the soup to a gentle boil. In the meanwhile make the dumplings.
Dumplings - these are rolled dumplings which taste like homemade noodles (not to be confused with a biscuit or drop dumpling which has a cakier texture like a biscuit).

2 c all-purpose flour
1 t baking powder
1 c hot chicken broth
1 egg
  • Sift the flour and baking powder into a large mixing bowl. Make a well and pour in 1 c of hot chicken broth, mixing first with a fork then with your fingers. Add the egg and mix well. Add additional flour as needed until the dough is workable.
  • Knead the dough for a few seconds on a floured board. Separate the dough into 4 or 5 parts; roll each section into a thin roll. Cut into 1" - 2" pieces and drop dumplings into the boiling soup. Stir and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Test carrots and potatoes for tenderness and serve.

Working backwards in my cooking spree, yesterday we decided to make a dent in the 1/2 bushel of apples we picked at the orchard last month, so we made Apple Butter. It's a fun recipe to make with kids if you have a crank-style apple peeler.

My daughter quickly took over the job of peeling while my little guy was happy to watch and eat apples.
We used a recipe similiar to the one we made earlier this year - it turned out dee-licious and since it cooks all day in the crock pot you get the additional benefit of having your whole house smell like apples and cinnamon. I love putting it on toast; the only thing that would have been better is if I had been able to squeeze in making a loaf of homemade bread in my domestic delirium.
Surprisingly my girl and I had a little down-time too, probably during one of Hubby's 4 trips back to Home Depot.
We discovered that we both enjoy Oreos with milk. She even likes to dunk them which I find especially cute. Yes, that's my girl.

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