Thursday, November 29, 2012

Southern Chicken & Dressing

This is the style of dressing I grew up on around the holidays. My grandma (Nanny) always made a HUGE batch of this for family gatherings, and she would always fill up a Tupperware dish and freeze it (because thats how awesome my Nanny is) just to send home with me... Along with her homemade giblet gravy, of course.

When I was a young airman and would still come home for the holidays, Nanny would even send me off with a Tupperware full of dressing. So, obviously, it is without a doubt my most favorite holiday dish. I could do without any other dish during the holidays, but there absolutely positively has to be Nanny's dressing.

Now, unbeknownst to me, there is a difference between Southern style dressing and the Northern stuff. I don't know. I've never actually stuffed a turkey or chicken with "stuffing" but I still thought dressing and stuffing were the same, North or South. Nope. Anyhoo, if you've never had Southern style dressing, it's pretty much the greatest stuff ever and you are all kinds of missing out on one of the finer things in life.

Now that I'm grown and living away from home without really coming around for the holidays, I call Nanny every year asking about this or that for the dressing.

I know this recipe by heart, but sometimes you just have to ask the expert now and then because, along with many many many other recipes that I use, there aren't any real measurements. This year I called Nanny while I was at the store, making sure I had everything I needed and she tells me: "well you need a good sized yellow onion and make sure you use enough sage, not too much, but enough so you can really taste the sage you know, and enough bread to mix with your cornbread, and however many eggs you like and pepper......" Ok, seriously. That happened. That's how we cook in my family. So forgive me in advance if I'm not 100% clear, but I'll do my best with this one.

Another important thing to note is that Nanny boils a whole chicken, debones it, shreds it, & makes gravy from the broth and giblets & uses the broth for the stuffing as well. That's where I draw the line. I have an extreme aversion to raw chicken, and I absolutely positively will not touch a whole raw chicken, much less mess with the skin and giblets and neck, oh my! So I am all about substitution. Instead of going through that whole painstaking disgusting process, I buy a regular rotisserie chicken from the store, remove the skin, and use all (dark & white) meat shredded into bite size pieces. One 3-4 pound rotisserie chicken yields about the same amount of shredded meat and is plenty for a large pan of stuffing. I also use store bought broth. Raw chicken problem solved.

So without further adieu, the best dressing ever, step by step:

4 stalks of celery
1 medium-large yellow onion
Sage (see pic)
Pinch of salt
1 tbsp pepper
2 pkg Betty Crocker yellow cornbread mix (do not use a sweet cornbread mix)
Small loaf of bread (I use about 3/4 of a market fresh, thin sliced Italian loaf, but regular white/wheat whatever will work)
32oz chicken broth (low sodium)
5 eggs (large)
Shredded chicken (see note about chicken above)
1 tbsp butter

Step 1:

Preheat oven to 400, grease up cast iron skillet sides and bottom and place in oven for about 10 minutes.


In a medium size mixing bowl, prepare cornbread mix according to packages, with 2 eggs, (1 per package)but instead of regular milk, use buttermilk. Also add pinch of salt.

Take skillet out of oven (I probably don't need to say this, but better safe than sorry: your skillet is going to be hot!! Use potholders). Pour cornbread mix into skillet immediately and cook according to package. Cook time may be slightly longer than package because you use 2. I also use a larger cast iron skillet than the 8" inch skillet that it calls for, again to accommodate for using 2 packages of cornbread mix. Just keep an eye on it and make sure it is golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean when poked in the center.

When cornbread is done, remove from oven and set aside to let cool.

Step 2:

Cut up bread slices. You can either remove the crust or leave on, personally, I like to leave the crust on. Place bread pieces on baking sheet and toast in oven to medium gold color. I use Italian bread because it makes a good dry, crusty toast that is perfect. Set aside and let cool.

Step 3:

Boil remaining 3 eggs.


Slice celery stalks & chop onion.

When eggs are done boiling (about 20 minutes, give or take) let cool.

Step 4:

Sauté onions and celery in butter until onions are translucent. You do not want to caramelize them.

Step 5:

In LARGE bowl, crumble bread (chunky crumble) and cornbread. I use 3/4 of the cornbread and give the remaining chunk out to munch on as it is friggin fantastic.

Step 6:

Peel and roughly chop eggs. Use whites and yolks. Add chicken, eggs, onions, & celery to large bowl with bread crumbs. Add in pepper & sage. For the sage, I measure with my hand, which I took a picture of. This is the same amount I always use; I know how much by looking at it. I have never actually measured it & I kick myself for not doing it this time, but I would say I use around 1/4 cup, loose. Mix ingredients by hand, trust me, it's much easier than trying to blend them together with a fork, spoon, or some other utensil.

Step 7:

Transfer mix to large Pyrex dish, packing lightly so that it all fits. Pour chicken broth directly over dressing (evenly distribute over top. I just pour from one end of the dish to the other until the broth is gone).

Step 8:

Brown in oven for 25 minutes at 400.

Serve plain or with cranberry sauce or gravy.

I serve with chicken gravy, which I make, but I completely eyeball everything I use for the gravy, so I couldn't even begin to try to post the recipe. I may attempt to measure next time because if you like gravy, this dressing is excellent with chicken gravy, even better with Nanny's homemade giblet gravy that I won't even attempt.

Apologies for not having a picture of the dressing after it was browned in the oven, but as soon as it was done, Thanksgiving feast began & pictures were not the first thing on my mind :).

Sunday, November 25, 2012

(Incredible) Crockpot Chicken Enchilada Soup

Well folks, this is easily the best soup I have ever eaten. Ever. One taste and I was pretty sure I done died and went to heaven. It is even, dare I say it, BETTER than Chili's... Okay, I can't officially claim that, but it is in my opinion, so that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

While making this, I asked Josh if I should put habaneros in it... Let's just say his answer was a definite yes & I doubt anyone wants to know what he actually said, but yes, I added habaneros. 3 in fact. I love them, Josh loves them... But not everyone loves them or the heat, so I will leave that out of the ingredients, but for those that want to know: 3 whole habaneros, minced in food processor, then added to other soup ingredients.


2 cups maseca, or similar brand, instant corn masa flour (see pic below)
2 quart prepared chicken stock (made with 2oz,or two packets, concentrated stock; see pic below)

*you can also use 4 bullion cubes, or 2tbsp chicken base*

1tbsp chili powder
1.5 tbsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
16oz enchilada sauce (you can use up to 20oz. The store I went to was out of the biggest cans)
8oz tomato sauce
4.5oz green chiles
2 medium yellow onions
16oz Mexican velveeta
About 2lbs shredded chicken

*I buy a whole rotisserie chicken take the skin off, and shred it. It's much easier (and cheaper) than buying raw chicken, boiling it & shredding it, but do as you wish*

In a 5qt crockpot:

Dump your two cups of masa flour in the crockpot. Add chicken stock one cup at a time while stirring into corn flour with a fork. This is very important because you don't want your corn flour to be lumpy. If you see lumps, not a big deal... Scoop them put with a fork and mush them on the side to get rid of them.

Add in your spices, then stir in enchilada sauce and tomato sauce. Finely chop onions and add to soup, along with green chiles. Cut velveeta in small cubes and add to soup. Cook on high for about 3 hours (stirring occasionally), add your shredded chicken and cook for another hour... 4 total, stirring (occasionally).

You can serve without toppings, or add a dollop of sour cream, avocado, pico, cheese, olives, jalapeños.... Anything really.

Enjoy :)

Thursday, November 15, 2012

White Chicken Chili

When I think of chili, I think of the good ol' red meat chili with enough peppers to burn your face off. I love chili, and I'm sure it's a staple for most of us in the cold months.

On a whim, I decided to change it up, and it has quickly become a favorite in our house.

I know chicken chili isn't a new concept, but it was new to me the first time I made it, and I just went through the store picking up things that I figured would be good in it. Now the recipe is tweaked to our liking, and I thought it might be worth sharing.

In this recipe, I use canned green chiles, but I really prefer using a freshly chopped poblano pepper instead; however, they're not in season here, so I made do with green chiles. It was still wonderful.

You will need:

Jalapeños, sliced very thin

* I used 7 because that's what I had in my fridge. I probably would have used more because the hotter the better!!! This is definitely a "to taste" item, though. It had that fantastic slow burn and was enough to heat me up, but wasn't as hot as I usually make it*

Habaneros, ground in food processor

* Another "to taste" item. I used 2 small peppers*

2 bell peppers, chopped

*I used my favorite, yellow & orange*

1/2 cup chopped green onions
1 large can cream of chicken soup
4-6 cups chicken broth

*I used a combination of boxed broth and broth from boiled chicken*

2 cans white beans (drained)
8oz diced (or chopped) green chiles

*or one fresh chopped poblano*

2lbs shredded chicken
1pkg white chicken chili seasoning

* I boiled chicken breasts with rib meat for 20 minutes in seasoned water (cumin, red pepper, onion powder) then let it cool & shred with fork*

Mix ingredients, except for the chicken broth, in the crockpot. This mix will be thick, but it is important to incorporate all of the more solid ingredients (including cream of chicken soup) before adding the chicken broth. The cup difference (4-6) in the chicken broth will depend on how thick you like your chili and how big your crockpot is. I think I ended up using about 5 cups, stirred into other ingredients slowly, 1 cup at a time, until it was the desire consistency. Cook on high for 5 hours, or low for 8.

I made this on a football day, and once it was done, I left it on "keep warm" for the rest of the day for anyone that wanted to go grab a bowl.

I also love serving this with a dollop of sour cream, avocado, or sprinkle of cheese... Or all of the above.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Crockpot Bacon Wrapped Chicken & Stuffing

Crockpot bacon wrapped chicken and stuffing... That's a mouthful. This is another "Pinspiration," and again, I don't have the original pin. I randomly came across it and thought... Hmmmm, this would be good if... So inspired by another recipe, but not the same recipe.

I will be honest, the chicken itself wasn't that spectacular. It was good, but nothing worth getting excited over... But the stuffing, holy crapola!! The stuffing was amazing. Now, I make killer homemade stuffing that is my grandma's recipe && I'm serious when I say that it is to die for, but this recipe turned a box of stuffing into some of the most amazing stuff ever. I've even contemplated modifying the recipe for thanksgiving. It's that good.

So why is it so good? Bacon. It's all about the bacon. The recipe I got the inspiration from didn't use bacon. I can't imagine this dish without bacon because let's be honest, bacon makes everything better. I say this constantly. It's true.

You will need:
1 package of chicken. I think I used a little over a pound and a half; 3 or 4 chicken breasts will work just fine for this recipe
1 can cream of chicken soup
6oz Greek yogurt
3/4 cup chicken broth
1/2 tbsp rubbed sage
1/2 package bacon (give or take a few slices)
1 box chicken stove top stuffing (this kills me; I detest boxed stuffing, but I am now a believer!)

Trim fat from chicken breasts (optional... Chicken fat grosses me out). Pound slightly to make more tender and a bit thinner. Wrap in bacon. I used 2-3 slices per breast, just enough to completely wrap around it. Place chicken breasts in bottom of crock pot. Top with dry stuffing mix and sprinkle sage on top. In a bowl, mix cream of chicken soup, Greek yogurt, and chicken broth. Pour on top of chicken and stuffing. Cook on low for 4 hours.

Easy as it gets & bacon magic happens in the crockpot and all that flavor gets soaked up by the stuffing. It's soooooo good.

Skinny Water

Ok so, a friend posted a concoction of sorts on Facebook and said it was detox water. She's a total inspiration when it comes to fitness and such, so usually if she says something is worth trying, I believe it. But, me being me, I have to have just the right amount of motivation. I lead a busy life, so that's hard to come by. (Obviously, my blog always gets neglected). Anyhoodle, I saw something SIMILAR on Pinterest, of course. Well y'all know me, I have to put my own spin on everything and I have become so obsessed with this "skinny water" that I felt the need to share.

If you want the original recipe, there's a ton on Pinterest. Just search detox water. I would link it for you, but I'm posting from my phone again... Sooo maybe when I get around to adding the pile of recipes I have and editing my last post I will get around to adding a link here. Maybe.

Let me be clear about this: I absolutely do not know the specifics of why this is referred to as "detox water." I call it skinny water because that's what I posted on Facebook and it has a nice ring to it. I mean, I'd much rather drink skinny water than regular old water water. I can tell you that I drink a lot of water on a daily basis... Usually around 2 gallons. I hardly ever drink anything other than tea or water. Not that you care about my bathroom habits, but since I've been drinking skinny water, I pee like a racehorse... Maybe that is part of the whole detox idea. Don't know, don't care. All I'm saying is that this skinny water is worth trying and a much much much better alternative to soda, sugary drinks, crystal light, and mio.

So I have a new favorite water jug (in the pic) that is 64oz, and I want another one so I can rotate it, but the ingredients are per 64oz (1/2 a gallon) for those that want to adjust quantity.

1 small-ish lemon
1/4 large cucumber
4 fresh mint sprigs
8oz green tea

How to:

Slice cucumber & lemon thinly, rinse mint, brew green tea, and put it all in your jug. Fill with water. Refrigerate over night. It's refreshing and full of flavor the next day.

So this is why I need another, or possibly a couple more jugs. Aside from the fact that it is awesome and keeps my skinny water cold until I drink it all, but I refill it during the day... Around 4 or 5 times actually, and use the same lemons, cucumber, and mint for one day. Each time I refill it, I brew another bag of tea and fill with water and put it in the fridge for an hour or so then re-freeze the cold tube. I think it would be a great idea to make two or more batches and rotate throughout the day.

Again this is not the original "detox water" recipe. I changed it to my liking, and as far as I can tell, the results are the same. If you look up Julian Michael's detox water, she uses marigold tea bags. I have seen green tea used as a replacement. Also, green tea supposedly helps speed up your metabolism. Lemons are a good sources of vitamins and minerals, are good for your skin & are a natural diuretic. As far as cucumber and mint? I don't know, but the flavor sure is nice.

Try skinny water and let me know what y'all think or if you find another recipe that's good to try.

:) <3