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I Made Carla Hall’s Chicken and Dumplings

If you have been reading my blog, you probably know that I have never made chicken and dumplings.  My Mother and Grandmother made them from scratch but they never showed me how to make them.  I have seen many different versions of them and I realized that I don’t like the flavor of some of them.  I think they can taste a little bland.  After I finally got the courage to try to make the dumplings, I looked through many cookbooks and  decided to make Carla Hall’s version from her Carla’s Comfort Foods cookbook.  Carla is on The Chew, a daily TV cooking show here in the US, and she is from Nashville, TN.  She incorporates new techniques with older versions of recipes.

Carla’s recipe includes carrots, onions and celery and that would be a gigantic NoNo in this area of North Carolina.  We don’t traditionally put vegetables in our chicken pies so vegetables in dumplings would be unthinkable.  As I continued to read Carla’s recipe, I liked the idea of using bone in dark meat chicken pieces as I think they add flavor to any chicken dish.  The only herb that Carla used was thyme and it is a favorite of mine.

It took me a long time to prepare the dumplings for the first time but I prodded along and did not get into a rush.  I was a little apprehensive about what Mr. D would think of them as they were very non-traditional compared to the chicken and dumplings he is familiar with.  He liked them and said they were a cross between my grandmothers and the dumplings from a previous church we attended. I loved the texture of the dumplings as they seemed very light and fluffy.  However they absorbed the broth and had a delicious taste.

Here is a picture of my dumplings and I was so happy with the results.


Here is Carla’s recipe and it is listed below on two pages.

Page One:

carla's chicken and dumplings


Page Two

carla's chicken and dumplings 2

I loved the way Carla gave such good instructions about preparing the recipe.  The only thing that I did differently is when I was ready to cook the dumplings, I did not think I had enough broth so I added another cup of broth to the mixture and let it come to a boil before adding the dumplings.  We had enough of the tasty meal for ourselves and to share with a neighbor.

I will agree with Carla that her Aunt Minnie was great at preparing dumplings and I know that I will give it a try again soon.  Thanks Aunt Minnie and Carla for helping me to accomplish my wish of making homemade chicken and dumplings.  I truly believe Carla and her Aunt Minnie had a joy for cooking. Now I know for sure that I am truly Southern as I have learned how to make dumplings.

Thanks for stopping by.

Memories of the A and P and A Spanish Bar Cake Recipe

When I was growing up, my family did their grocery shopping on Thursday.  That was pay day and they got paid every week.  My Mother never made a shopping list that I remember and she must have kept everything in her memory that she needed.  She and my Daddy went to the grocery store together and I honestly think he might have been the memory part of the deal.  I do remember hearing her say, “Max, don’t let me forget to buy Ketchup” or whatever.

When they shopped at the A&P and if my memory serves me right, the Winn Dixie too, they would usually bring home a Spanish bar cake. It was prepared in a loaf pan in two layers and had raisins and spices in it.  It had a confectioners/buttery type frosting between the layers and on top of the cake.  I loved that cake and over the years have thought about it often.

Even though Mr. D grew up in Charlotte and I grew up in Rockingham, NC, I asked him if he remembered that cake and he said that he did.  He loved it too. Imagine my surprise the other day when I saw a recipe for that cake on the Our State website.  I read over it and it stirred such wonderful memories and I do plan to bake it in the next couple of weeks.  I am so happy to share it with you and I will also share the website link as it has a more detailed preparation of the cake.  Here is the link:

Here is the recipe and I had to cut an paste it the old fashioned way, you know with scissors and scotch tape so it may look a little rough but I think it is readable:

A&P cake 1_0002


A&P cake 2

This recipe was recreated by Steve Gordon of  www.A Taste of  You might want to check out his website and I do appreciate his re-creation of a wonderful childhood memory.

Thanks for stopping by.


A Confession and Ina Garten’s Lemon Chicken Breasts

Since the holidays I feel as if I have just been coasting along and not really thinking about the meals I have been  preparing.  When the weather was so cold for a couple of weeks, I really think my only goal was to stay warm and comfortable.  To do that I made a lot of soup, stews and hot chocolate.  Over the weekend we have returned to a more normal temperature with the highs each day being in the 50’s.  I started to think of Ina Garten’s Lemon Chicken Breasts recipe that is in her Barefoot Contessa – How Easy Is That Cookbook.  I have made the recipe before and as always with her recipes, I was not disappointed.  The combination of the herbs of oregano and thyme with the garlic and lemon makes the chicken so tasty and it is moist on the inside and crispy on the outside.

Here is a picture of Ina’s Lemon Chicken Breasts:

Ina's lemon chicken_0001The recipe is fairly easy to make and the hardest part is probably chopping the garlic and juicing the lemons.  I decided I wanted to make the chicken for our Sunday meal but I had some time constraints that kept me from having the time to bake the chicken in the oven.

Here is Ina’s recipe:

Ina's Lemon Chicken


So here is the confession. I made the sauce, put it in my slow cooker and added the chicken.  I have a two quart slow cooker and I cooked the chicken on high and it was ready when we came home from our Sunday services.  Honestly, I admire Ina so much, I felt a little creepy changing her recipe.  You know it was sort of as if I was trying to rewrite the Bible.  I never remember Ina using a slow cooker for anything even though I have seen her use the large roaster pans or dutch ovens.  So how did it turn out?

Actually it was pretty tasty and I could taste all of the wonderful flavors of the lemon chicken that I love so much.  The chicken only cooked for about four hours so it wasn’t at the fall apart stage.  I do have to say the flavors seemed a little more intense from cooking the chicken in the crockpot but we did enjoy it.

This is a picture of my lemon chicken.  I used bone in chicken breast and chicken thighs.


I will always admire Ina Garten and one of my favorite things about her is the fact that I can follow her recipes exactly and get great results.  After doing this, I do not plan to put all of Ina’s recipes in my crockpot. She tests her recipes so thoroughly that I am sure she knows the very best way to prepare them. I do plan to experiment with different herbs and seasonings to enhance the dishes I prepare in my crockpot.

Thanks to Ina Garten for being such an inspiration and thanks to you for stopping by.

For Winter Blahs – Justin Wilson’s Turnip Au Gratin

We are experiencing cold weather and dreary days here in North Carolina and that just reminds me that January has to be my least favorite month.  Even though I try very hard not to get the winter blahs with cloudy cold days, I have to fight getting the doldrums. I mentioned in my post on Monday that I visited the library over the weekend. I wanted to browse through some cookbooks to see if I could be inspired to prepare food in a different way, especially vegetables. Now don’t get my wrong, I still love the way we prepare our vegetables in the South but I would like to amp up my vegetable preparation to just make them a little tastier. I recently prepared collards and seasoned them with a Harissa Olive Oil and that added a little heat to the dish but we really enjoyed the flavor.

As I browsed through Justin Wilson’s cookbook “Justin Wilson’s Homegrown Louisiana Cookin”,  I saw this recipe for Turnip Au Gratin. It really caught my attention as I love turnips.  That wasn’t always true as my Mother and Grandmother would boil them in water with a bacon grease seasoning until they were mushy.  My Mother-in-law made the best turnips and I really don’t know how she seasoned them but she diced them into real small pieces.  They were always so good and did not have a strong taste. As I read over this recipe,  I think it could really be a main dish with the three types of cheese included in the recipe. I have never heard of turnips prepared this way but it sounds comforting and tasty.


turnip au gratinJustin recommends using large turnips in the recipe but I have always thought that the smaller turnips don’t have such a strong taste to them. My recommendations would be to look for small firm turnips and they are available this time of year.  I really think you could call this surprise casserole and most people would not recognize the turnips as a main ingredient with all the other luscious additions to this.

As I read over Justin’s cookbook, there is one thing that I realize and it is the fact that he enjoyed cooking.  I enjoy cooking too and it helps me to rid myself of the winter blahs. I actually got excited and enthused when I read this and I don’t remember getting so excited over a vegetable in a long time, especially a turnip.  Hope you are having a great January and thanks for stopping by.


Justin Wilson’s Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya

When I shared a Cajun New Year’s with you on New Year’s Day, I immediately thought of Justin Wilson. He had a cooking show on PBS in the 80’s and I really enjoyed it. He was an internationally acclaimed humorist and published four cookbooks. He had a great Cajun accent and his Louisiana dishes really appealed to me. Over the weekend I visited the library and borrowed one of Justin’s cookbooks, “Justin Wilson’s Homegrown Louisiana Cookin.”  As I have read through it, the recipes really seem familiar to me.There is more seafood included in the recipes but you would expect that from the state of Louisiana.  As far as his techniques and cooking style, they remind me so much of the way our parents and grandparents prepared food.

I have heard of Jambalaya for as long as I can remember and as I read this recipe, I thought it would be a warm and inviting dish for the cold weather most of us are experiencing right now.  All in all, other than the cutting or chopping of the meat and vegetables, the recipe seems relatively easy.

chicken and sausage jambalaya

In the recipe Justin refers to another page of the cookbook on how to prepare your own Chicken Stock.  He does state that you could use water instead and I think it would be okay to use store bought chicken stock or broth. I can just imagine the comforting smells of this as it is simmering on the stove.

Justin Wilson’s book really brought back some great memories for me and I am happy to share his  Cajun cooking with you.  Thanks for stopping by.


Sharing The Joy Of Cooking and And A Vegetable Beef Soup Recipe

Over the last few days I have read posts from fellow bloggers and I have been impressed with their blog goals for the New Year.  I have been thinking of my blog goals for this year and I hope I can convey to you the joy and passion I have for cooking.  When I am having a bad day and things are spiraling out of control, I can go into my kitchen and prepare something from past experience or from a recipe.  When it turns out the way I intended, I feel a sense of accomplishment and realize everything isn’t “messed up.” I can see over the years how the skills of cooking has evolved and I am so happy to see chefs on TV and so many other resources for cooking that our parents never had.

I love to watch the HGTV show House Hunters and I sometimes chuckle to myself when I see someone require a “gourmet kitchen.”  I wonder if they think the gourmet kitchen will make them a “gourmet.” I remember all the meals my Mother and Grandmother prepared with the very basic cooking equipment in very small kitchens.  There were so many delicious meals prepared and I don’t think they ever thought about a gourmet kitchen.  They just loved to cook for their family and friends. You don’t have to be a gourmet to make one or two dishes that are your signature dishes and people look forward to enjoying.

I have another goal to share different cultures of the South with you during the year.  Because I live in North Carolina, I have shared this part of the Southern culture with you but there are so many other wonderful parts of the South for us to explore together.

The recipe I am sharing with you today is a recipe I have adapted from my Grandmother and Mother.  They would make homemade vegetable soup in the summer time with fresh tomatoes.  Imagine eating soup in the summer when you didn’t have air conditioning in your home.  As I remember this, I only remember how good that vegetable soup was and don’t remember the heat at all.  The basic soup was the cabbage, potatoes, and tomatoes and I revised it to make it a little more hardy.  I do make the basic soup sometimes but not in the summer.

country vegetable soupAs far as a personal goal for the year, I do plan to make chicken and dumplings.  I have said this before but haven’t ever done it.  This year and sometime this winter actually I do plan to give it a try.

I hope you will continue to read my blog as I share my love for cooking and the South and the traditions that make it so special. Thanks for stopping by.

Sharing A Favorite Lasagna Recipe and A Favorite Friend: Gym

I know the new year is a time when we set many health and diet goals and I think that is a wonderful thing to do.  Today, I am going to share with you one of my favorite Lasagna recipes.  It is a recipe that I have made many times and I like it because you don’t use as many lasagna noodles in the recipe and that helps Mr. D with his diabetic challenges.  I try to find the whole wheat lasagna noodles and that seems to help even more. This recipe is also a time saver for us because I can divide it up in portions and freeze it for later.

Healthy Lasagna

As you can see, this recipe came from the website and unfortunately, it no longer exists.

Believe it or not, at the age of 67, I still have goals and I do believe the most important one for me is to keep moving.  In the fall, I injured a muscle and I was not able to go to the gym for a long period of time.  I really missed it and I saw the consequences of not going.  My body began to have all kinds of aches and pains, my blood work wasn’t as good as it was the previous year and I can honestly say  I missed the “me” time of working out.

Every thing I ever read about aging includes exercise.  As Mr. D and I have worked out at a gym two to three times a week consistently for several years, I do believe that having a “gym” for a friend does improve your health and relieves stress.  If you don’t live near a gym and just walk through you town or neighborhood, I think it is a healthy option.  So if you are wondering what my health goals are for the year, it would be to continue to move and work out and go to the gym. I also plan to eat more fresh vegetables, fruits and one bite instead of two bites of those wonderful Southern dishes. Diet is a four letter word for me!

I would love to hear your comments on how you plan to keep moving this year.  Thanks for stopping by.


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