chicken and dumplings

As the days grow short, some faces grow long. But not mine.

Every autumn, when the wind turns cold and darkness

comes early, I am suddenly happy. It's time

to start making soup again. ~Leslie Newman

Mmmmm, chicken stew with dumplings is so darn comforting-- it reminds me of my dear grandma, who smelled delightfully of Carmex and cinnamon. Perhaps when I am older, I will smell like Burt's Bees and basil.

chicken and dumplings

I won't give all the nitty gritty details for a chicken soup recipe because most people have their own. For those who don't have a usual method, start by sauteing up your veggies, add broth (add extra broth if you're adding dumplings), then add cooked chicken, then toss in some fresh herbs. What I will give the recipe for, are these yummy lumps of dumpling...

herby dumplings
makes 6 dumplings (enough for 3 people)

generous 1/2 cup flour
3/4 teas baking powder
1/4 teas salt
a handful of fresh herbs (dill, parsley...whatever you'd like), or instead of herbs, use a few scallions, minced
1 1/2 Tbs chilled butter
1/3 cup milk

In a bowl, combine the dry ingredients with the herbs (or scallions). Add butter and work into the dough (using your fingers, if you like) until the butter is in pea-sized clumps. Add milk and stir into a dough.

Then, drop dough into the simmering stew using tablespoons.
Cover and simmer until dumplings are cooked (20 mins).


yum mac n' cheese

The poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese.

~G.K. Chesterton

I realize that the world does not need another recipe for macaroni and cheese. That said, I'm sharing not just any ol' recipe, but my yum mac n' cheese, which is the result of tinkering with the "classic" recipe in the New Best Recipe.

yum mac n' cheese
serves 4

1/2 pound riccioli pasta (or elbow macaroni if you want to be literal about it)
2 C grated cheddar cheese (extra old white & regular old orange)
1 teas whole-grain dijon mustard
3 Tbs flour
1/4 teas cayenne pepper
2 1/2 C milk
2-3 Tbs unsalted butter
1 C small dry breadcrumbs
Salt to taste

Bring salted water to boil in large saucepan. Add macaroni and cook until done (in fact, cook until a little more than done). Drain and set aside.

Preheat broiler. In the hot saucepan, melt butter over med-high heat until foaming. Whisk in flour, cayenne pepper, and dijon mustard. Slowly add milk and bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Once it's reached a boil, turn heat down and simmer until thickened (about 5 mins).

Take off heat and add grated cheese and a few dashes of salt. Stir until cheese is fully melted, then add pasta and return to heat. Cook over med-low heat until it's steaming. Transfer cheesy goodness to a 8-in square baking dish and sprinkle with breadcrumbs. Broil until crumbs are golden. You'll probably need to let it cool for a few minutes before digging in.


nifty marble magnets

I'm on the bandwagon (or is it off the bandwagon?). I can see how one could get addicted to making marble magnets -- it's pretty fun.

I used silicone sealer, 3/4" magnets, marbles (the ones with one flat side) from the floral aisle of Michael's, and toothpicks. For the pictures, I cut up some stock photo mags I have kickin' around -- I'll try using real photos next time. Not martha has written up some stellar instructions, but I'll still include a few picts of my process...

spreading the glue on the magnet to affix the picture

putting a pea-size dollop of glue in the center of the picture

pushing the marble down on top of the glue

securing the marble where I want it to be (the glue spreads out to the edges and fills any cracks and gaps of the marble's surface--pretty nifty)

ta-da! a side view of the finished magnet

A finished set, snug in an ol' Altoids tin


c is for choco-chip cookie

Cookie Monster: Me not *take* cookies, me *eat* the cookies.

Robert McNeill: What's the difference?

Cookie Monster: Eat begin with an E and take...Begin with a T.

Cookie Monster and I have a few things in common. Besides the blue fur and deep voice, it is the love of all things cookie. This recipe is from my favourite cooking companion. The authors say the thick and chewy texture comes from melting the butter and adding an extra egg yolk. Whatever it is, it works. These cookies are definitely chewy and chocolatey.

chewy chocolate chip cookies
makes at least a couple dozen

2 C plus 2 Tbs all-purpose flour
1/2 teas baking soda
1/2 teas salt
12 Tbs (1 & 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 C packed brown sugar
1/2 C white sugar
1 large egg, plus 1 egg yolk
2 teas vanilla extract
1-1 1/2 C semisweet chocolate chips
I substituted some walnut pieces for some of the chocolate -- nutty and yummy!

Preheat oven to 325. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt together. Set aside. In another bowl (or KitchenAid mixer, if you've got one) mix butter and sugars until blended. Beat in egg, yolk, and vanilla. Add dry ingredients and beat at low speed until just combined. Stir in chips (and walnut pieces).

Roughly form dough into balls and place on prepped baking sheet. Bake until cookies are light golden grown, the outer edges are starting to harden, but the centers are still soft and puffy (15-18 mins). Rotate the sheet halfway through baking time (I especially need to do this 'cause our oven doesn't heat very evenly). Cool on sheets for a few minutes before putting on a rack to finish cooling. Better test one at this point, just to make sure they aren't poisoned. Better test another one with milk.

I put away some cookie dough in small doses since they are best straight from the oven. Just stash the dough in freezer containers for your next late-night chocolate binge.


xmas cards preview

It's October and you know what that means -- time to make Christmas cards! Truth be told, it's time to make more Christmas cards, 'cause I couldn't help myself get started back in July.

Here are a couple examples using my new mini snowflake stamp
and some foliage that I spray-painted silver...

And a sneak peek at a couple more...


dried cherry and italian sausage stuffing

"Thanksgiving is America's national chow-down feast, the one

occasion each year when gluttony becomes a patriotic duty

(in France, by contrast, there are three such days:

Hier, Aujourd'hui and Demain)." ~
Michael Dresser

I absolutely love Thanksgiving and am so glad that Canada celebrates it in October so I can have my stuffing now. While I was at first wary of experimenting with my favourite dish on the table--the stuffing--this Real Simple recipe makes me wish I'd have branched out sooner.

dried-cherry and italian sausage stuffing
makes 4-5 servings (easy to double if you’ve got a crowd)

¼ C butter
3 celery stalks, finely diced
1 medium onion, finely diced
½ loaf (5 C) French bread, cut into 1-inch cubes and toasted*
½ C dried cherries
A little less than ½ pound Italian sausage—casings removed, cooked, and crumbled
A little less than ½ C flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1 teas black pepper
1 14½-ounce can chicken broth

* Lay bread cubes on cookie sheet and drizzle with a little olive oil. Toast in 350° oven until a little crispy.

Melt butter in skillet over medium heat. Add celery and onions and cook until translucent. In large bowl, combine the celery and onions with the bread, cherries, cooked sausage, parsley, and pepper. Add the broth and stir until well combined. Using a large spoon, loosely stuff mixture into turkey OR simply cover and bake at 325° for 1 hour, then uncover and bake for 15 minutes more. Mmmmmm...serve warm.

fluffy pumpkin pie

This was my mom's recipe. It's fluffiness (thanks to the egg whites) is a nice alternative to the usual dense pumpkin pie.

The flowers in this picture are the oh-so-fun maple leaf roses.

fluffy pumpkin pie
makes one pie - (For two of those weenie store-bought pie crusts I multiply the ingredients by one and a half times)

One crust of pastry
2 C cooked, strained pumpkin (personally, I think straining is a pain, so I just use canned pumpkin)
1 C milk
3 egg yolks, beaten
1 C sugar
1 teas vanilla extract
½ teas cinnamon
1/8 teas cloves
1/8 teas nutmeg
dash of salt
3 egg whites, beaten stiff

Preheat oven 350°. Mix pumpkin together with milk and egg yolks. Then add sugar, vanilla, spices, and a dash of salt. Fold in stiff egg whites.

Pour into pastry shell and bake for 45-55 minutes. It needs to cool a while before you slice into it. Serve with a dollop of fresh whipped cream.


zucchini pasta

That would be cool if you could eat a good food with a bad food and the good food would cover for the bad food when it got to your stomach. Like, you could eat a carrot with an onion ring and they would travel down to your stomach, then they would get there, and the carrot would say, "It's cool, he's with me." ~Mitch Hedberg

I make this dish more than I'm willing to admit, but Jeff will tell you we eat zucchini pasta at least once a week. Oh, we jazz it up with a little sliced red pepper or toasted pine nuts, but we are surprisingly content with the simplest version.

zucchini pasta
serves 4

olive oil
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
dried red pepper flakes
2-3 zucchini, depending on size, thinly sliced lengthwise*
course salt
pine nuts - optional
freshly grated parmesan

*A note about slicing the zucchini - Stainless steel cheese slicers (I love mine from Fiskars) are stellar for slicing vegetables.

Start with olive oil in a large saucepan on med-low heat. Sauté the garlic and red pepper flakes to flavour the olive oil. Turn up the heat to med-high before adding the zucchini slices and a couple pinches of salt. Cook, stirring ooccasionally until zucchini is done (10-15 mins). It’s especially lovely if it gets a little toasty brown. You really can’t overcook the zucchini unless you burn them because they aren’t meant to be crispy. Add the pine nuts.

Meanwhile, boil salted water for the pasta and cook al dente. Drain. Toss with the zucchs, top with parmesan, and serve.


happy hip bunny

This cuddly bunny went to Kim's husband, who had to have surgery on his hip.

When life calls for a bunny, I recommend the pattern from heartstrings. (Next time I'd adjust the pattern to make the head a little bigger.) What's cool about the pattern is that you just whip up a bunny from any square of soft/fluffy knittage (mine was a 6-in square). I used a chenille-combo yarn called Hunny, which is described on Yarndex as having "alternating lengths of chenille, eyelash, and baby fur."

mmmm...soft as a baby's fur.