Tag: Slow Cooker

14
Sep

Slow Cooker Chicken Dumpling Soup

The first pictures with my new smart phone!

The first pictures with my new smart phone!

As soon as the first chill is in the air, I start craving soup. I ADORE soup. To me, soup means fall just as much as scarves, sweaters, pumpkins, and crunchy leaves. When September rolls around, it’s all I seem to want to eat: a hearty bowl of soup and some crusty bread. Mmmmm. I get hungry just thinking about it.

There is something immeasurably comforting about soup. With all the changes in my life lately, I needed something familiar and warm. When the temperature suddenly dropped and my soup craving kicked in, I knew exactly what I wanted to make: Chicken Dumpling Soup.

Cooking has always been a big part of who I am. Making homemade food for the people I love is one of my favorite things to do. Cooking is also what helps make a house feel more like a home. With all the craziness of the move, I hadn’t been able to cook in our new place yet, so it still didn’t feel “right.” Well, after whipping out my Slow Cooker and letting my soup fill the apartment with warm, inviting smells, it feels a lot more like home. I spent my Saturday evening writing a new chapter with a pumpkin candle burning next to me and Chicken Dumpling Soup simmering in the kitchen. It was pretty perfect (minus the homework).

The best thing about this soup (like all my recipes) is how incredibly easy it is to make. The only real prep work you have to do is chop veggies and mix the dumpling ingredients together. The slow cooker does all the rest! And if you are intimidated by making your own dumplings, FEAR NOT! It is simple and super fun to plop the raw dough into the soup. Trust me. Slow cooker soups changed my life, and I hope this recipe helps you greet fall with a belly full of warm soup.

Julia’s Crazy Good Slow Cooker Chicken Dumpling Soup

Say hello to a big bowl of cozy

Say hello to a big bowl of cozy

The Soup

1 yellow onion, diced

5 cloves of garlic, diced

5 carrots, diced

5 stalks of celery, diced

2 organic chicken breasts

10 cups of chicken broth (I usually do water and organic bouillon cubes)

1 Tbsp Thyme

1-2 Tbsp Herbs de Provence (note: I had these on hand, so I threw them in and they were FANTASTIC! If you don’t have Herbs de Provence, just use whatever blend of herbs you like. Rosemary is always good with chicken dishes) 

Salt & Pepper, to taste

The Dumplings

2 cups white whole wheat flour

2 tsp baking powder

2 Tbsp Earth Balance or butter

1 tsp salt

1 cup milk (dairy or non-dairy is up to you!)

1-2 tsp herbs of your choice, optional (I used more Herbs de Provence)

Directions

Add the veggies, garlic, and onion to the slow cooker and cover with broth. Submerge the chicken breasts whole. Add herbs, salt, and pepper. Turn your slow cooker to “Low” and walk away for 8 hours (don’t have that much time? Crank that dial to “High” and cook for 3 hours).

Mmmm…smell that? It’s ready for the dumplings! If you were cooking your soup on “Low,” turn it up to “High.” Take those chicken breasts out of the soup and shred the meat with two forks. Put all that goodness back into the soup.

To make the dumplings, mix the dry ingredients together. Then, add the butter and milk. Mix again. Take a spoon and plop the raw dough into the slow cooker. Cover, and let the dumplings cook in the soup for about 15-20 minutes.

Check the dumplings to make sure they are cooked all the way through, and DEVOUR!!!

Pair with a delicious crusty bread.

Happy Fall!

What’s your favorite fall comfort food?

30
Mar

The Adventure Continues!

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What a weekend! I hope everyone is refreshed and relaxed for the upcoming week because it is going to be a BIG one. Tomorrow, I am scheduled to meet with my agent to plan a publicity campaign that involves an expanded book tour. Right after I meet with Krista, I get to have lunch with the graphic designer who will be creating the book trailer for Seven Stones. Just writing that makes me feel professional and cool. 😉

I also have some pretty fabulous updates to share from over the weekend. In addition to meeting my writing mentee (she is fabulous. I am really looking forward to working with her!), I was contacted by several bloggers and businesses who are interested in reviewing and carrying Seven Stones. Getting those emails absolutely floored me. Thank you to everyone who has helped get the word out! A big shout out to everyone posting pictures on Facebook of them reading my book, writing reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, LibraryThing, and Twitter, or just letting me know that they are enjoying the read. It makes my day to see those posts, and I do a happy dance every time!

Shane and I also have been fortunate to have another friend come visit us this week. So far, I’ve done a pretty good job balancing school, writing, fun, and what I call The Book Stuff. One thing that really helps keep us sane (and well fed) is our giant slow cooker. I could write an 80’s love ballad for that thing. It is beyond awesome to be able to throw ingredients together, completely ignore them for 8-10 hours, and then come home from work to a delicious dinner. Because we have company, I decided to whip out one of my favorite recipes: African Chicken Peanut stew.

My version was adapted from this recipe. I mainly added more peanut butter, omitted the heat for Shane, and adapted the cooking time for a slow cooker. I like to serve the stew over a bed of brown rice with fresh cilantro sprinkled (in my case, piled) on top. African Peanut Stew is one of the most requested dinners in the House of Lee. Enjoy!

Julia’s African Chicken Peanut Stew

4 chicken thighs, skin and excess fat removed

1 medium or large yellow onion, diced

A 3-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and diced

8 cloves of garlic, chopped

3 medium or 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks

2 15 oz cans of diced tomatoes

1 quart stock (vegetable or chicken)

2 cups peanut butter, chunky

2 Tbsp ground coriander

Salt and pepper, to taste

1 bunch of fresh Cilantro, chopped (for serving)

Easiest Directions Ever

1. Chop everything and add it to the slow cooker

2. Add stock and diced tomatoes

3. Submerge the chicken thighs whole

4. Turn slow cooker on Low and ignore for 8-10 hours (5-6 on High)

5. When the time is up, remove chicken thighs. Shred the meat from the bone with two forks. Discard the bones (or save to make stock) and put the shredded chicken meat back into the stew.

6. DEVOUR! Serve over cooked brown rice with fresh cilantro heaped on top. I like mine with some sass, so here’s when I add cayenne pepper.

Suggested Pairing

This dish pairs well with old friends and a board game nigh

Happy Monday!

 

04
Mar

How to Be a Rock Star and Sell Oodles of Books

CHX

It better not blizzard the day of the book party. As I write this post, a white wall of snow is blowing past my window and rattling the frozen tree limbs against the house. It is cold, people. A blizzard blew in on Monday night and buried us in a few more inches of snow and cold. This is fine with me, as long as Minnesota doesn’t play any cruel winter tricks on me or anyone traveling to get to the book release party on the 21st. Which is 17 days away. In case you didn’t know. If you haven’t, you should grab a calendar and circle the 21st in red sharpie. Add some exclamation points and a few stars for good measure. Good. Now, all you have to do is come on down (or up) to Prairie Bay in Baxter, MN from 4pm-6pm for good food, a good book, and a great time.

Meanwhile, I’ve barely noticed the cold. Why? I’ve been busily searching for tips on how not to be boring. Because, while I consider myself pretty good with the written word, the spoken word intimidates me a bit. You might think that after teaching acting classes I’d be totally at ease before an audience. Here’s a secret: my palms get sweaty and my blood pulses so loud in my head I’m worried I’ll have a heart attack. I usually deal with my nerves fairly well, but they are always there. The book release party being a momentous occasion, I really want to get it right. The same can be said for the author events I’ll be speaking at in the future: I want to make sure what I say intrigues people and gives them an unstoppable desire to read my book.

Most of the tips I’ve managed to find on author appearances are incredibly simple. Make eye contact, don’t read your speech, have good posture, etc. are things I’ve heard before. I need to find a book entitled, How to Be a Rock Star and Sell Oodles of Books. I’m looking at you, J.K. Rowling.

Until I find such a resource, I’ve just been mulling over what to say, trying on my book release dress (very important), and trying to choose which pages to read on the big day. I am also happy to say that I’m still healthy, despite Shane’s nasty cold continuing to get nastier (he actually asked me to call the doctor and make an appointment. For anyone who knows Shane, you’ll understand how concerning this is). Between batches of honey garlic lemon tea, I’ve been sipping one of my favorite soups: Stuffed Pepper Soup.

I love this soup more than the traditional dish and, though I crave it all year round, it is especially satisfying in winter. I like the taste of stuffed peppers, but I don’t like how squishy and rubbery the peppers get during the roasting process (I’m weird about cooked vegetables. I like them raw). The soup has all the flavor of the stuffed peppers, comes together quickly, and is a hearty, wholesome meal.

I adapt the recipe for my slow cooker and it couldn’t be easier. Brown the meat, drain the fat, pop all the ingredients in the slow cooker before you leave for work, and have a lovely dinner awaiting you when you get home (cook for 8 hours on low, 5 hours on high). Serve with a big slice of crusty bread and you might be in heaven.

Happy Wednesday!