CHICKEN AND DUMPLINGS

This recipe has a 30 minute prep time, 50 minute cook time and feeds 4.
~2 pounds chicken breast, cut into 1 inch cubes
~1/4 teaspoon each salt and black pepper
~1 tablespoon olive oil
~2 cups chopped leeks
~1 & 1/2 cups chopped carrots
~1/2 cup chopped celery
~1/2 teaspoon each dried marjoram and thyme
~1/4 cup all purpose flour
~5 & 1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth
~1/2 cup whole milk
~1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
~3 tablespoons minced parsley

~~~for the dumplings~~~
~1 & 3/4 cups all purpose flour
~1/2 teaspoon baking soda
~1/4 teaspoon salt
~3 tablespoons vegetable shortening
~2/3 to 3/4 cup low-fat buttermilk

1: Sprinkle the chicken with the salt and pepper. In a deep, nonstick skillet, heat the oil over moderately high heat. Add the chicken and cook for 4 minutes on each side or until browned; using a slotted spoon, transfer to a plate.

2: Add the vegetables, marjoram and thyme to the skillet and saute' for 5 minutes. Stir in the flour and cook til bubbly, then stir in the broth and milk. Add the chicken and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice.

3: To make the dumplings: in a medium-size bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt. Using the two knives, cut in the shortening, then stir in enough buttermilk to form a soft dough. On a floured surface, roll out the dough into an 8"x8"x1/2" square; cut into sixteen 2 inch squares.

4: Slide the dumplings into the skillet. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes or until cooked through. Top with the parsley.

ENJOY!

Outside I am miserable, with the sun beaming down shamelessly, hot wind like bad breath gagging me. I spent the day in sweat because that's what you do in the summertime, but also because that makes this all the sweeter. Coming into the house is like an instant freeze-out. The air conditioner is working overtime to make sure I feel every bit of the temperature difference, 68 degrees feeling more like 32. Half an hour ago naked wouldn't have been bare enough; now I want multiple layers of clothing and the thickest comforter I can find. I want something toasty warm in my belly, so I can flop on the couch and relish this.

There's a pot of boiling chicken on the stove. I can smell it immediately, but until my body cools off it means nothing. Now, primed for a heat altogether different from that outside, I can appreciate the smells wafting from the kitchen. I can actually think about boiling broth--a feat that would have been near-on impossible an hour ago.

She likes to make chicken and dumplings when it's can't-stand-it-hot outside. Other people barbecue and endure the heat with lemonade and coleslaw, but not my mother. She's the kind of woman who eats ice cream in February, when the scoops can stay cool enough that they don't melt before contact. A warm bowl of something homemade is her ultimate summertime trick. When I go to the kitchen, she's chopping up carrots and celery and little bits of dough for the pot. This is what I love most about heat waves--that inside the air is so cool and the food so hot that you feel you're in winter, even though it's hell outside.

In a few hours the chicken and vegetables and dumplings will be hot enough to melt. We'll let them cool off just a bit before we add too much pepper and salt to the hot, piping bowls. We'll all gather in the living room together under pillows and blankets and each other and we'll slurp our soupish-stewish concoction while we watch It's a Wonderful Life or some other winterish movie. These are the last days of summer and soon the winds will change and the nights will be chilly and it will be a different season. We'll say goodbye to the chicken and dumplings until June or so, when the weather is right.

Chicken and Dumplings, easy crockpot version

Ingredients
1 chicken, whole or pieces but include bones and all pieces. Free range would be nice.
1 pound good whole carrots
Inner parts of a bunch of celery
1 medium large yellow onion
1 14 or 16 ounce can of petite diced tomatoes
1 16 ounce bag petite frozen peas
Mushrooms type and volume optional
1- 24 ounce box chicken broth, I recommend Swanson’s or Better Than Bouillon
¼ cup Italian Seasonings – I used a mixture from my garden of dried thyme, marjoram, oregano, sage … heaviest in the order written. Commercial mixes will also suffice.
¼ cup chopped parsley – Again, from my garden but please, if you don’t have the luxury of your own garden use either fresh or frozen, never dry.
2 ¼ cup low fat Bisquik mix
2/3 cup skim milk

Equipment:
Large Crockpot
Large frying pan with lid
Bowl
Vegetable peeler
Knife
Can opener
Stove
Refrigerator


The day before serving:
Place chicken, peeled carrots, sliced celery, chopped onion, mushrooms in whatever shape preferred, tomatoes plus juice and chicken broth in large covered Crockpot and cook on high with lid until chicken is done. Discard skin and bones, place chicken back in broth. Place everything (OK to leave in liner of Crockpot) in refrigerator over night.

3 hours before serving:
Skim solidified fats and discard
Shred cooked chicken
Add seasonings, parsley, and peas
Reheat everything in crock pot again on high

30 minutes before serving:
Pour broth into large frying pan
Bring to a boil
Mix dumplings from Bisquick and milk
Drop raw dumplings (about 2 Tablespoons each) into boiling broth
Turn heat to medium
Cover
Cook about 20 minutes

Serve.

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