The Opinionated Foodie: The Love (or Not) of Food and Everything That Goes with It


Making Grandma’s Chicken and Dumplings

Thanksgiving this year was oddly unique. The family enjoyed lots of time together and also lots of time apart. I got to read a book and play lots of Angry Birds, which I so enjoy but rarely get to do. It was fun.

For lunch on the big day, we had the usual. Then, that night we had leftovers just like always. This year, however, a new dish was in the leftover pile. It was my husband’s grandmother’s chicken and dumplins.

Grandma makes the chicken and dumplins sometimes, but her daughters make it too. You can’t always tell who has made it, and it is different depending on the cook. These dumplins were like nothing I had ever had before. They were so, so good.

When we got home, I got the bright idea to try to make these dumplins. I convinced my husband to call his grandma for the recipe. She, of course, did not use one. She did share some info, though, and using that and the intel I got from my MIL, I tried it out.

Dang, it was good.

The recipe to the best of my knowledge is-

004One hen. Not a chicken. Not a turkey. A hen. Ours was found under the frozen turkeys at Kroger. They may be seasonal. I have no idea. Ours weighed seven pounds.

Take the hen and let it thaw in the refrigerator for several days. Mine took two days. Take out the gizzards and neck and such. I fed that to the cat. Place the thawed hen in a pot and cover it (her?) in enough water to cover it/her. Add one tablespoon of minced garlic to the water. Cook covered over low heat for five hours. At the five hour mark, add a can of chicken broth. Then, increase the heat to medium for thirty minutes.

At this point, remove the hen from the water and let it/her cool. When cool enough to touch and handle, debone the hen and set the meat aside. At this point, I packed up the broth and the meat and stored both in the refrigerator over night.

005The next day, a nice, thick layer of fat had formed over the broth. Do not remove it. Heat the broth slowly to warm it up and add a half a stick of butter to it. I think this is the trick to what makes it so good. Also add a tablespoon of salt. Shread the chicken into pieces.

006While the broth is getting good and warm, open a can of refrigerated biscuits-prefereably the non-flakey kind. I used a can of ten. On a floured surface, roll out each biscuit until they are very thin and reflour as you go. Slice each thin biscuit into strips; I slice mine into four.

007When the broth is warmed and the butter has melted, add the chicken and turn up the heat to a rapid boil. Add the well-floured dumplins one at a time and so, so very lightly stir. I used a large spoon and just pressed mine down so they were wet. Minutes later-like five or so-the whole thing is done. Add salt and pepper to taste.

008 Serve in a bowl with lots of broth.

009

This must be the most unhealthy recipe ever-the hen, the fat, the butter, the dough.

011But, it will satisfy and make you feel so, so happy.

When I gave Mr. Opinionated his bowl, he took one bite and said, “You did good.” Coming from him about a dish that was supposed to be like his beloved grandma’s, I consider that a success, and I hope yours is too.



School’s Back in Session!

School has started back. Yeah! Sorta.

That means I don’t have all day to plan and prepare a hot, healthy, home cooked meal for my sweet family like I did all summer.

Wait? I forgot. I never did that anyway.

So, now I have to make dinner after working all day at school.

Yikes.

So, for all you working teacher-moms and all other moms or dads out there, I present to you…supper via math.

PLUS

IN A POT FOR TWENTY MINUTES ON MEDIUM HEAT, THEN SCOOPED ON GOOD HOAGIES, COVERED WITH MOZZERELLA, TOASTED, AND TOPPED WITH SALT, PEPPER, AND OLIVE OIL=

DINNER ON A SCHOOL NIGHT.



Swiss Steak with Asparagus and Gouda
March 11, 2012, 5:44 pm
Filed under: Food I Make | Tags: , , , , , ,

While I was recently grocery shopping, I checked out the “Reduced for Quick Sale” area of the meat case. Usually, the only meat found there would be some pre-formed burger meat that might be a little gray or weird chicken parts that I am totally unfamiliar with.

But this was my lucky day.

I found lots of still red/pink meat including some interesting Swiss steak.

Is there anything better than a good deal on still pink meat? I think not.

After I made it home with the Swiss steak, I googled recipes for it. It was too cool to grill, and the best non-grilling recipe I found was Paula Deen’s. Since I gave up Paula for Lent and in protest of her diabetic schemes, I decided to make it up as I went along.

It turned out okay. Here are the directions:

On a baking sheet or roasting pan, generously rub the steak with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Broil on high for five minutes on each side. Allow to rest and then slice thinly.

Meanwhile, microwave a bag of frozen asparagus for five minutes. Allow to rest.

Meanwhile again, in a saucepan, make a roux of two tablespoons of flour with two tablespoons of butter. When combined well and slightly brown, slowly pour in one cup of milk. Whisk as you pour. Turn up the heat and thicken. Add to that three or more ounces of gouda. I crumbled/chopped mine before I added it in. Stir, baby, stir. Season with salt, pepper, and paprika.

When you are ready to plate, layer the steak, the asparagus, and the gouda gravy. Season with extra pepper. Beautiful.

This is not my plate, by the way. Mine had way more asparagus.

I think that Swiss steak was nice here, but another variety of steak on sale would have been nice too. I guess it all depends of what you are in the mood for and how early you get to the meat department on sale day.



Our Annual Progressive Dinner #1: Feeding the Kids

One of my favorite traditions this time of the year is the annual Christmas progressive dinner we host for the junior high girls from our church.

They are so sweet and awkward and fun. Some years, they eat. Some years, they just look at each other.  One year, they scattered all over the house and went through regions not meant for guests’ eyes. Often, they sit down at the table and don’t move.

Any way, it is a ton of work, expense, and time. But, I love it.

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This year, we repeated a theme we have had before. We served the kids Italian. I made homemade fetticine with homemade Pomadoro sauce, homemade meat sauce, homemade lasagna, homemade meatballs, and one of my favorite dishes of all time, Trisha Yearwood’s homemade spinach and chicken casserole lasagna.

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It took me all day to prepare.

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I also served them alfredo out of a jar from the store and Sister Shubert’s rolls with garlic butter. Those took about two minutes.

Guess what they ate?

Well, it wasn’t what took me all day, that’s for sure.

It was still a lot of fun. They were so sweet and funny.  They talked and laughed and ate the stuff I bought at the store. Next year, we’ll have Mexican.

Probably mostly from a jar.



Schloppy Joes
November 19, 2011, 1:07 pm
Filed under: Food I Make | Tags: , , , ,

Several years ago, a friend was telling me about her family’s favorite meal that she makes for them. She makes it birthdays and other special occasions. On the occasion we were together, she had made it to serve to a large group of hungry teenagers at church. The kids left happy and full.

Surprisingly, her dish is the underappreciated Sloppy Joe. Go figure.

Her recipe is made up of four things: ground beef, Hunt’s ketchup, Hunt’s barbeque sauce, and garlic powder. The ketchup and sauce have to be plain Hunt’s and nothing else.

First, brown the ground beef and drain off a little of the fat. To that, add a cup of the ketchup and a cup of the barbeque sauce. On top of that, add two tablespoons or to taste of the garlic powder.

Allow to warm through. Serve all over a bun.

Simple and delish.



Out of Desperation Come Meals Like This: Hamburger Casserole

How boring is hamburger casserole? I mean, really.  It is so predictable and sometimes lame.  I bad hamburger casserole is only a step above a box of Hamburger Helper.  I don’t mean to knock the Hamburger Helper or anything; it got me through four years of college.  But, it is a little short on imagination. 

One night recently, my options for dinner were slim.  I needed to go to the store, but I didn’t have the chance to go.  I was stuck making do with only what I had, and that wasn’t much.

Hamburger casserole to rescue!

The recipe:

One pound of hamburger
One onion, diced
One small jar of mushrooms
One jar of good marinara
One round of fresh Mozzarella, sliced thick
One tube of refrigerated crescent rolls

 Preheat the oven to 350.  In a large skillet, brown your hamburger meat and your onion at the same time.  I like to leave the hamburger just a little pink.  Drain the meat if you wish, but I like to drain only so much.  The juice is where the flavor is.  Anyway, add your mushrooms and allow them to warm through. 

 Add the marinara to the meat mixture.  Heat until the sauce bubbles for five minutes. 

 In a square baking dish, line the bottom of the dish with half of the crescent rolls.  Prebake the crescent rolls for five minutes to avoid a soggy hamburger casserole bottom.  When time is up, remove from the oven and layer your meat and sauce mixture on top.  On top of that, layer the thick cuts of mozzarella.  This cheese layer is what separates this casserole for the Helper types.  The top layer is the rest of the crescent rolls. 

 Bake the whole shebang at 350 for twenty minutes.   Add a little Parm to each helping as your dish it out. 

 If this tastes anything like Hamburger Helper, please let me know, and I will send you a refund.



The Poor Man’s Steak-BBQ Bologna
September 13, 2011, 5:14 pm
Filed under: Food I Make | Tags: , , , , , ,

 If you are not from around here, I want to introduce you to BBQ bologna.  Simple. Southern.  Fattening.  Good.

It is good stuff, even for me-a self-described food snob.  Sometimes life calls for food that is bad for you but tastes good.  It makes you feel better, even if you don’t know what it is made of. 

Find a block or stick of bologna.  A little bologna goes a long way, and it is cheap.  Take off the red casing around the bologna, run a knife down the side to slit the bologna, and smother it with BBQ sauce.  No need to get fancy here; don’t use your homemade sauce or some expensive type.  Buy some regular BBQ sauce at the store; price doesn’t matter.   Just keep it simple. 

At this point, ask yourself about time.  Got it? Then smoke your bologna for a good part of the day.  No time? Put it in the oven.  I bake my bologna while we are at church on Sundays for two hours at 250. 

When it is done, slice it in half-inch slices.  Serve it with mayo, tomatoes, salt, and pepper between hamburger buns. Add cheese and hot sauce if you are feeling sassy.   

Good as gold. 

 




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