Hey y’all! I know I’ve missed y’all and I hope you’ve missed me as much! I sure am glad we’re finally getting some rain! It’s definitely been a dry and balmy start to fall! I just hope it stays cool/cold and we can get this fall started!!! I’ve been stuck in fall cooking mode and all my soups would sure taste better if it were 10 degrees cooler! It’s been a wild couple of months around my house between work, school starting for my nephews, trips, and weddings. All that is finally over and I’m on my way home from a convention in Las Vegas with my AMAZING team and we’ve just had so much fun! We saw shows, we walked miles, we ate fabulous food, we drank amazing drinks, we learned how to better our business, we expanded our horizons, but most importantly we bonded as a company! It was without a doubt the best experience I’ve ever had. I have to take the time out to say that I’m so grateful for Front Gate! I know I’ve said it before but I just can’t say it enough. When I started real estate I never thought I would like it. I got my license for the sole purpose of selling my own houses and helping my mom out from time to time. One by one my amazing brokers and co workers taught me what to do and how to do it and how to love it. I can now proudly say I’m a full time realtor and I wouldn’t change it for the world. I’ve never been so happy with a job and it amazes me because it’s something I never even gave a thought to doing as a teenager. In fact, I always said that I wouldn’t have anything to do with real estate or construction. I graduated high school and went to college with all intentions of becoming a restaurant owner. I had plans… I was going to buy into Buffalo Wild Wings and put it at the corner of Hwy 12 and Spring Street in Starkville, right across from Fraternity Row. I had done the research and all but written a business plan and applied for the loan by my Junior year in college. Soon after starting my junior year, I saw a sign being put up at that exact location that said, “Welcome to the future home of Buffalo Wild Wings.”
My heart completely shattered. I’m not proud to admit that I cried over it! Haha, I wanted that so badly and to this day it still makes me so mad I could bite a nail in two! I coulda made millions people! Ok, thousands, but you get the picture! From there I was going to use my thousands to open a steakhouse right here in Flowood! I’m telling y’all I had a 4 year plan, a 7 year plan, and a 10 year plan all focusing on the restaurant industry. By the time I graduated college with my freshly printed, multi thousand dollar, business degree the only thing I could find in the restaurant industry, even though I had worked there for 3 years, was a waitressing job at Newks and they said they couldn’t do a manager in training position. As my heart shattered again, I looked to my sweet daddy, who gave me a job in his office and told me to work there until I figured it out. Before long my brother was telling me how I should flip houses, my company was formed within 2 weeks, my real estate license was on its way, and the rest is history. I’m now doing both of the things I swore I would never do and I honestly couldn’t imagine it any other way! It’s mind blowing how much I love what I do. And in the end, it’s a stepping stone to the restaurant industry. My retirement plan, 😊 but that’s not what this blog is about, now is it? Y’all are here for food! So let me tell ya bout it!
One thing I loved about Vegas was the food. We ate like kings and queens! We ate at Guy Fieri’s Vegas Kitchen, The Yard House, Vic & Anthony’s, and Cabo Wabo, just to name a few. It was all ahhhh-amazing! But I’ve got to be honest, I think I’m ready for some home cooking. I know I’m ready to see my puppies, my little heathen nieces and nephews, and my sweet, sweet bed! Before I left, I made some amazing chicken and dumplin’s…. If I do say so myself! 😉 I made the quick version; because, of course I worked late. The quick version consists of using frozen dumplin’s. Now, some of you may say two things. First, you’ll probably say I’m spelling dumplin’ wrong. No, I’m not, I’m from the south and being from the south I drop the “g” so you’ll just have to deal with it. 😉 plus “Dumpling” sounds about half as appetizing as “dumplin” right? Right! Second, you’ll say I cheated because I used frozen. The fact of the matter is, my mama is and has always been extraordinarily picky and hates doughy dumplin’s so it’s the way I was raised. That being said, I have recipes for homemade dumplin’s but I haven’t talked her into trying them yet, but I’ve been working on it for almost 27 years now so I think we’re almost there. What gives me hope you may say? Well, we were talking about this exact topic the other day and when I mentioned making them with biscuits (in the past she’s always freaked out and rejected the idea in its entirety) she sounded intrigued. This gives me hope that she will cave. In the mean time I took the quick and easy route and bought those frozen dumplin’s… If you decide to take my advice and try this, the dumplin’s are Mary B’s brand and I can almost always find them by the frozen biscuits (another guilty pleasure) on the frozen food aisle. If not there, they’ll be at the end of the frozen section.
This is what you’ll need:
THE LAZY COOKS DUMPLINS:
4 lbs chicken breasts (bone in skin on is better for flavor but more time consuming, your choice!),
1 cup butter (don’t judge me),
2 pkgs Mary B’s dumplin’s (keep frozen),
1 cup chicken broth,
Salt, garlic salt, pepper.
Super simple, super easy. You have a couple options on this chicken. You can put it in the crockpot on low before you go to work or sometime in the morning and let it cook through the day so it’s ready when you get home all you have to do is debone, skin, and chop (if you didn’t use boneless skinless) or you can boil it on the stove. Either way is fine. Technically you could probably put all the ingredients in the crockpot and come home to heavenly goodness but I’m not sure how the dumplin’s would do. They stick together if you don’t stir but if you don’t mind them being Doughier that’s ok. But any way, I put my chicken in a large stock pot, cover them with water, add a 1/2 cup (a stick) butter, and a good bit of salt. I would say no less than a teaspoon. I know it sounds like a lot but trust me! Turn all of that on to boil.
While the chicken is boiling chop up your onion. I use yellow onion or vidalia. I wouldn’t use red onion for this… It wouldn’t be the same taste. Just plain old yellow onion is best! Dice into small chunks. They don’t have to be uniform or perfect but they don’t need to be too big. Once the chicken is done, pull it out of your boiler to cool. Leave the water (now broth) in there though, that’s your base for the soup. You need that stock. Skim the top of the broth to get off the excess “foam,” the nasty stuff that somehow boils off chicken during the cooking process. I always skim it off and throw it out. You can turn the broth to low or medium while you’re doing the next step. Once the chicken is cool, pull the dumplin’s from the freezer. Start chopping, deboning, and skinning the chicken. Once that’s done, put the chicken and the onion into the broth.
Open the packages of dumplin’s and break them up. Some will be stuck together, gently pull them apart. I break mine in half and in 3’s. Use your discretion on this though. The most important thing though is that they don’t need to thaw too much so they don’t stick, so if you notice them getting too warm, put them back in the freezer while you work on the frozen ones. Finally, you’ll add the rest of the butter and the extra broth. Now for the dumplin’s. The dumplin’s go in one or two at a time, stirring continuously so they don’t stick.
If it looks like you need more broth you can add water or canned broth. Once all the dumplin’s are in add some salt, garlic, and pepper, and allow the soup to get nice and thick. If it doesn’t look like it’s getting thick enough for you, you can add a can of cream of chicken soup. You must stir occasionally to prevent it from sticking, this is so important!! Not only will it stick to your boiler but the dumplin’s with stick together as well and form a big ball of dough. Which you don’t want! I usually serve this with buscuits and butter beans or blackeyed peas…. Sometimes I’ll do creamed corn. My mom loves it with English peas. Whatever suits your fancy!! I also sprinkle just a little lemon pepper on top because I’m different and it’s delish!
Since it’s finally fall and it’s time for warm, ooey gooey, cinnamony (is that a word?) goodness I decided to make some monkey bread. Let me explain. My nephew absolutely adores honey buns. He isn’t a Cookie Monster or a chip monger he is the honey bun extraordinaire! Buy a box of 6 and they’ll be gone in two days if you don’t hide them! I’ve been promising him for a while I would make him something special. Something he would love. I originally planned on honey bun cake but allllllllll over Facebook for the last few weeks, all I’ve seen, every other post is about pull apart monkey bread. It’s all anybody can talk about or post about but nobody is actually making it. They’re just teasing me with it like, “Doesn’t this look good, maybe you should make it, somebody should make it, it should be you, only you could do it justice Calah.” Yep those exact words. Plus, I knew Jeffery would love it and it wouldn’t go to waste on the counter until someone threw it away. So I set to work and I bought canned biscuits! (Cringe cringe cringe!) it’s a pretty easy concept. I hate canned biscuits… Yes I’ll eat frozen, they’re different. Believe me! Anyway! You open the biscuits, cut them up, coat them, smoosh them into a bunt pan, pour stuff over them, bake them and destroy them. But I have to be different… Or difficult… Or both haha anywhooo… Here’s what I did instead!
Monkey Bread Bundt Cake Bites:
3 packages (cans) Pillsbury buttermilk biscuits,
1 cup unsalted butter,
1 cup sugar,
3/4 cup brown sugar,
2 tsp cinnamon,
1 tsp vanilla,
1 cup chopped pecans.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a tube pan or Bundt pan. Mix your granulated sugar and cinnamon together. Get two gallon sized ziplock bags. Put half your sugar-cinnamon mixture in each bag. Cut up your biscuit dough into quarters.
Put half the dough in one bag and half in the other. Seal the bags and shake. Make sure you get the dough well coated in the mixture.
Melt butter and mix with brown sugar. Put one bag in the bottom of the Bundt pan, shaking excess sugar mixture over the top, add half the pecans, and pour half the brown sugar and butter mixture over the top. Now, repeat with the second bag. You can do this all at once, but this way you make sure each little bite is generously coated!
Now bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes. Allow the pan to cool for 10 minutes. There will still be a lot of sticky, ooey gooey, buttery, caramely (? Sounds like a good enough word to me but I’m no English major) 😊, boiling hot liquid in the pan so be careful! Once it’s cooled, turn it upside down onto a serving platter. Cut into pieces or pull apart to serve! I’ve thought about doing this with cinnamon rolls, as well or even croissants! I’m not crazy about refrigerated biscuit dough because I’m weird but it wasn’t obvious in this! You could also peel and dice up some apples or pears and for those of you who love pumpkin everything, you can add some nutmeg and pumpkin pie filling or fresh pumpkin as well. I’m going to play around with this and do a little pecan pie filling type thing for the holidays! I’ll keep you updated!!
Since I was supposed to post this before Halloween and I didn’t, cause I’m awful and I’ll make no excuses… I had a Halloween Treat for y’all but it can be made all the time and doesn’t have to be Halloween-y if you don’t want it to!! It’s super simple and something that I made with my nephews as a special treat for them. I called it Halloween Bark but really it’s just Trail Mix Bark kinda…. I’ll let y’all decide what to call it… I’m going to call it White Trash! 😉
Reese’s cups minis or regular sized chopped up,
Dry Roasted Peanuts,
It depends on what you’re making this for and for how many. I made separate batches for each kid so I put a piece of wax paper down in a 9in round cake pan. Then, I scattered the bottom with pretzels, bugles, and Oreos. On top of that I put the Reese’s, candy corn, and peanuts in. Then, I melted and poured the white chocolate. When I was done, I let the chocolate sit on top and cool. After it cooled I cut it into pieces and stored it in a ziplock! All done! You can stir it up instead of layer it. You can also add googly eyes and use a cookie cutter to make it look like a ghost or a bat… There are tons of things you can do with this though and it’s sooooo good! You can do peanut m&ms or regular, butterfingers, Heath bars, snickers, ritz crackers instead of bugles, or both, or all of the above! You can also use check mix, caramel chips, butterscotch chips, chocolate chips, toffee bits. Pretty much anything!
That’s all I have for y’all today folks!! Get ready for my deluxe Thanksgiving blog coming your way in about 2 weeks!! I’m hoping I won’t forget to post it like I did with this one! 😳 Y’all need to remind me! 😊 I hope y’all all had a fantastic Halloween! Let’s get ready for Thanksgiving!!