Monday, August 26, 2013

Chicken and Drop Dumplings (SRC)

Chicken and Drop Dumplings ©

Yay Secret Recipe Club time again! If you're new here, each month SRC members are assigned a blog at random where they get to choose a recipe to make, keep it a secret and then all post on the same day. This month I was excited to be given Angel's Homestead by April who happens to be the fearless leader of SRC!

I really enjoyed taking the time to read through April's blog which is full of simple, easy to make and delicious recipes. I love her philosophy of frugal and sustainable living and this is really reflected in the food she makes for her family.

I don't have time for complicated meals at the moment. Life with 2 little kids is busy and in a couple of months, will be getting a lot busier with the arrival of #3! We're due at the end of October so only about 9 weeks to go.

Anyway, on to this month's recipe! Chicken and Dumplings...

I've made dumplings quite a few times, usually with a slow cooked beef casserole. They are such a great alternative to rice or pasta and so easy to whip up. My husband in particular is a big fan and really enjoyed these ones.

We've been having unseasonably warm weather for August so I was lucky that the day I had set aside to make this for dinner was cold and windy and just perfect for a warming and hearty dish like this.

April has several chicken and dumplings recipes on her blog so I decided to choose the simplest one and make a couple of changes of my own.

First I never use stock cubes because I am yet to find a good one without MSG and other yucky ingredients. So to boost the chicken flavour I browned the meat first and added some vegies to the broth while the chicken cooked. I also added some carrots and peas to the final dish for colour and because I can't help myself! I also used wholemeal flour because that's what I bake with most often.

Chicken and Drop Dumplings
Adapted from Angel's Homestead

4 chicken marylands (leg & thigh quarters)
1 litre chicken stock
2 cups water
1 medium onion, quartered
2 cloves garlic, peeled but whole
1 carrot, roughly chopped
1 stick celery, roughly chopped
3 carrots, extra (sliced thinly)
1 cup frozen peas

For the dumplings:
2 cups wholemeal self-raising flour (or plain flour with 1 tbs baking powder sifted through)
1/2 tsp salt
50g butter
1 cup of milk

To make the broth, heat up a large pot over medium high heat and sear the chicken pieces, skin side down, until golden brown. Remove the pieces and any excess oil. Throw in the onion, garlic, carrot and celery and fry for a few minutes. Return the chicken to the pot and pour in the stock and water (the chicken should be completely covered). Reduce heat to medium, put the lid on and allow to simmer for around 40 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and the meat is pulling away from the bones.

Remove the chicken pieces then strain the broth through a fine metal strainer, discarding the vegies.

Shred the chicken meat and return to the pot along with the sliced carrots, frozen peas and strained broth and place over medium-low heat. Check for seasoning and add salt if needed.

To make the dumplings, mix together the flour and salt in a large bowl and set aside. Place the milk and butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until the butter is melted. Once melted, pour the milk and butter over the flour and mix until just combined. Drop the dumplings into the pot, a tablespoon at a time until all the mixture is used. Cover and let simmer for about 15 minutes.

We all really enjoyed this, such a hearty and savoury meal for a cold day. Normally when I make chicken stock or soup I make it ahead of time so I can remove some of the fat. I didn't do that this time so there was quite a bit as you can see in the photo but I love that. It was a delicious dinner and one we'll be making again for sure.

Secret Recipe Club

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Johnny Cake Cobbler (Baking with Julia) + some news!

Johnnycake Cobbler ©

This week we had a choice of 2 recipes for Baking with Julia and I chose the Johnnycake Cobbler over the Raspberry-Fig Crostata, mainly because neither figs nor raspberries are in season here and even when they are, they're prohibitively expensive.

Unfortunately it wasn't quite the success I had hoped.

I used 8 smallish apples and 2 cups of thawed frozen blackberries for my full-size cobbler which I thought would be plenty but it seemed to shrink down to nothing. Or maybe it was just that there was at least twice as much topping as was needed. What I should have done is just turn it out on to a platter and call it an upside down cake!

What I liked - the combination of fruits, their jewel-toned colour and the texture of the cobbler thanks to the cornmeal.

What I didn't like - the quantity of topping, the saltiness and fact it took over 90 minutes to cook through!

I'm really not sure why it took so long to cook. Our oven has been even more unreliable than usual recently so it could be that, or it could be that I just stuffed up somewhere. This is actually a distinct possibility as we are expecting baby #3 and pregnancy brain has well and truly kicked in!

Not sure why I haven't shared the news before now but given I'm 30 weeks tomorrow it's about time. So in 10 weeks or less there will be a new baby in the family. We haven't found out the gender this time so we'll be getting an awesome surprise on this little one's birth-day.

Back to the cobbler, I served it with lashings of cream (probably unnecessary given the huge amount of cream in the cobbler itself) and my 3 taste-testers all enjoyed it, but the fact is there is still a large chunk in the fridge and no one asked for seconds which is pretty telling.

You'll find the recipe for the Johnnycake Cobbler on page 389 of Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Eastern Mediterranean Pizzas (Baking with Julia)

So you know the saying 'if you don't have anything nice to say, then don't say anything at all'? Well that pretty much sums up my feelings about this week's pick, Eastern Mediterranean Pizzas. This will be a short post.

I thought I would love it but this was seriously one of the blandest things I have ever eaten. It's my own fault really, for not tasting and adjusting but I was in a hurry and thought I would just trust the recipe. Big mistake. It was bland to the point of being inedible, even topped with a dollop of greek yoghurt and a scattering of coriander. It also wasn't helped by the fact our lamb mince was incredibly greasy.

I can see the potential though, so if I were to attempt these again I would at least double the cinnamon and all-spice and also add some ground cumin and coriander and probably chilli flakes as well.

Hopefully others had more success!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

MyProsperity (Review)

Recently I was approached by Nuffnang to review an online personal finance platform called MyProsperity, as part of their Nuffnang Product Talk. Now I know at first glance finance has very little to do with a mostly food-based blog but bear with me!

As a stay at home mum of 2 little boys and (spoiler alert!) with bub #3 due in October, life is very busy! It's all too easy to rely on takeaways and cut corners to make things a little easier. However, I have found all those little things cost money and can add up very quickly. My solution has simply been to become more organised.

Over the past 12 months we have made lots of positive changes that are already having a great impact on our financial situation. Things like buying some of our basic food items from Aldi, making my own laundry powder and other cleaning products and cutting out most the processed (and pricey) food that we used to eat.

The bottom line is I want to be able to stay home with my kids, at least for the next few years, and keeping track of our money is a crucial part of that. MyProsperity is a free, simple and secure way to handle your finances.

So how does it work?

You visit the MyProsperity website and sign up for free, which only takes a few minutes. The hardest part was coming up with a complicated enough password (which is actually very reassuring as I know it will be secure).

You link up all your existing bank accounts, credit cards, loans, shares, super and property. The program finds your accounts, gathers all your transactions and even values your car and house to give you an up to date picture of your net worth.

What is especially useful for us is seeing exactly where we are spending our money.

Despite having made a budget some time ago, it required a fair bit of work to open up the spreadsheet and manually enter our purchases. MyProsperity does all of this automatically and even categorises your spending as groceries, petrol, entertainment, travel etc. I did find some of my purchases were wrongly categorised. Anything I purchased online for example, was listed under online services rather than clothing or healthcare. It took about 10 minutes to go through and correct these categories so they are ready for next time.

Will we stick with it?

Definitely. I feel like we have only just scratched the surface of what MyProsperity can do for us but already I am loving having all of our information in one place and being able to see at a glance where our money is going. Seeing it all laid out is a great incentive to try and spend less!

Image Source

My top 3 tips for spending less on food:

1. Make your own

Lots of basic foods can be so easily made at home - pizza bases, stewed fruit, granola, cakes/muffins/biscuits and even almond milk - all at a fraction of the price you will find them at the supermarket and much better for you too.

2. Plan your meals

We have started shopping fortnightly and writing out a complete meal plan for that time. I do mine in Excel but you can just write on a piece of paper if that's easier. I choose a main meal for each night, making sure there will be enough leftover for my husband to take for lunch the next day. I then check the freezer and pantry and list out any ingredients we will need to buy. I add in anything we need for breakfast, kindy lunches and to stock the pantry with essentials and then I'm done. I print the list and head off shopping. At the end of the fortnight the fridge is practically empty and we haven't wasted a thing.

3. Cut out the crap

As I have mentioned before, we have made a real effort to cut out snack, junky and processed foods. I am very proud of the fact that Oscar's kindy lunchbox has never contained anything in a packet. I buy yoghurt in 1kg tubs (and planning on switching to homemade soon) and spoon it into his own little container, I make wraps and sandwiches, cut up fruit and vegetable sticks, add a homemade treat like a muffin or just some rice cakes with cream cheese. I did a review of the lunchbox we chose for him here and it has been working brilliantly with no need for any extra packaging or even gladwrap.

Full disclosure - I received a $50 Myer giftcard for my time in reviewing MyProsperity. All thoughts and opinions are my own and I have published this review in good faith.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...