Monday, November 21, 2011

Turkey's & A Pumpkin Patch

The Holiday's just seem to lend themselves to all things tacky. I will not be getting out my rudolph sweatshirt, accept of course for an ugly sweater party, but I did make my first character cake pops. Here's my attempt at turkeys and pumpkins. Happy Thanksgiving!

It might have been just as much fun finding just the right sprinkles and candies to complete the turkey beaks, eyes and feathers as it was to make these little guys. I chose Whoppers for the turkey heads, chocolate candy coated sunflower seeds for the beaks, leaf shaped red sprinkles for the distinctly turkey wattle, and some Duff black chocolate for the eyes.

As creepy as my little turkey heads are laying around body-less, I was delighted at how they came out.

For the tail feathers I used sour patch kids. Bakerella ( used candy corn, which I thought was a great idea, but I was looking for something I could attach together so that I could put the tail on in one motion.

I made some cuts and pressed the cut edges together to make one colorful turkey tail.

I had lofty goals of adding little feat to my turkeys with yellow leaf sprinkles, but abandoned the idea when I realized the balancing act required to get the head and tail to stick to the cake pop chocolate. I realize I could have made the cake pop and then attached the head and tail with chocolate afterward, but I thought they would look more seemless if I attached the head and tail directly to the unsolidified chocolate covering. Oh by the way, these are red velvet cake pops. I love red velvet, and realized too late that I was having a Stell Magnolia's moment. Remember the bleeding armadillo cake?

Here are my turkeys!

The pumpkins were obviously much more simple. I used the stems from holly berry sprinkles, and some more of those candy coated sunflower seeds for my pumpkin stems.

Some of my pumpkins had some leaves fall on them.

I loved making these! I hope the recievers of these turkey's and pumpkins enjoy eating them as much as I enjoyed creating them.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Chicken & Dumplings

I decided to try my hand at chicken and dumplings. It fits all my major requirements for a go to meal. It's was super easy, fast, cheap and delicious. I buy chicken breasts in the bulk packages, put them in individual baggies and freeze them. They are cheap and when all else fails they make for a healthy dinner. However, chicken breasts are boring. So I find myself always looking for a halfway decent way to cook chicken breasts. Now, I'm aware proper chicken and dumplings requires that you cook a whole chicken, but this is the healthier weeknight version.

I started with a chopped onion, several stalks of chopped celery, chopped carrots and garlic. I confess all I had on hand were baby carrots, and for the record they were an annoying thing to chop. When I cook I freeze leftover chopped onion and other freezable veggies. In this case I already had chopped onion and celery. I find that Rachel Ray's dishes would be 30 minutes if it weren't for all the ingredients that have to be chopped. Maybe she secretly chops and freezes her onions and celery ahead of time too!

From here I added 8 cups of chicken broth. I use Better Than Bouillon. It's cheaper than boxed chicken broth and more flavorful than bouillon cubes. Plus, I find that it has enough salt that recipes with it don't require much if any added salt. If you use regular chicken broth for this, you will likely need salt. In the broth veggie mix I added 2 large chicken breasts, and boiled them. Once shredded, they came to about 5 cups of shredded chicken.

I added my chicken to the pot, and then I added a quarter cup of Sherry for an added zing and half a cup of fat free half and half. Certainly real half and half is great on special occasions, but as I said this is the weeknight version. I then added a quarter teaspoon black pepper, 1 teaspoon thyme and 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning.

Somewhere in this process, I did make dumplings as well. See the aforementioned pierogie dough for the recipe in a previous blog. Two cups flour, one teaspoon salt, one egg and water. I debated on rolling this out, but opted for just pulling pieces of dough and plopping them into the soup. Why make a bigger mess?

So Chicken and Dumplings absolutely lends itself to a lot of butter and or a roux of flour and butter. However, I opted to add about 4 tablespoons of cornstarch to thicken up the "gravy" a bit.

The Rooster informed me as I started chopping that he didn't like chicken and dumplings, but in the end he ate two bowls. I take this to mean he liked my chicken and dumplings. It was a success!

Chicken & Dumplings:
1 Medium Onion Chopped
2 Celery Stalks Chopped
Half Cup Chopped Carrot
2 Garlic Cloves Chopped
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil to Cook Veggies
5 Cups Shredded Chicken / Two Large Chicken Breasts
8 Cups Chicken Broth
1/4 Cup Sherry
1/2 Cup Half and Half (Fat Free Works Fine)
1/4 Teaspoon Pepper
1 Teaspoon Thyme
1 Teaspoon Poultry Seasoning
4 Tablespoons Cornstarch

2 Cups Flour
1 Teaspoon Salt
1 Egg