Chicken and Buttermilk-Chive Dumplings

Chicken and Buttermilk-Chive DumplingsFalling Ill
Fall is here! You know how I know? I’ve already had two kids stay home from school sick. There is something about the transition from hot to cool that plays havoc with the immune system. Since our weather has been a bit non-committal with one week being chilly and the next week climbing back up to 90, it’s no wonder the two of them went down without much fight. And don’t get me started about flu season…

With the possibility of more colds to come, I bought a bunch of chickens and got to making stock. Perhaps it’s a myth, or an old wife’s tale, or even just plain witchcraft but something about chicken soup helps people recover from colds quicker. Really. I think they even did a study on it. Check Google.

While I love a good chicken noodle or, even better, a matzo ball soup, I almost always head in the direction of comfort food when I am not feeling well. My “older son” is the same way. (He’s a twin. He’s only older by a minute but to him, it’s an important minute.) Which is why I found myself making him some chicken and dumplings Saturday night to get some of the magical chicken qualities in him and to make him feel better. I like to tell myself it was just for him but I know better.

Anytime is a good time for chicken and dumplings and I haven’t made anything like this since last fall. I love chicken and dumplings but this is the same son who can finish an entire large pizza by himself and still want dessert so I made a big pot. It was marvelous but there were no leftovers. Sigh.

The good news is he was back in school the following Monday. Whether that was because of the soup or sheer boredom from being at home remains a mystery. I choose to believe it was the chicken stock. The recipe is below if you would like to try your own experiment….

Chicken and Buttermilk-Chive Dumplings
Adapted from Tyler Florence and the Food Network
Yields 6 to 8 servings Read more…

Piri-Piri Chicken

Piri-Piri ChickenHot Chicken
Now that the weather has turned nice, I have been doing a lot of grilling. I mean I don’t think I have turned my oven on in at least two weeks. Well, at least not for dinner…

I have grilled ribs and burgers. I grilled some salmon a couple of different ways. And, of course, a whole lotta chicken. Chicken is the easy choice when your question to those who live under your roof about what sounds good for dinner gets no response. Just the sound of crickets. This happens nine times out of ten (which means we have what I want for dinner nine times out of ten). And, if they don’t like it, too bad. Ya should have spoken up when you had the chance!

I will say that their non-response gives me leeway to experiment a little. This can be a good thing when I am feeling like I am in a cuisine rut. It is how I found my latest obsession, Piri-Piri Chicken.

For those of you who are unfamiliar, Piri-Piri Chicken hails from North Africa and is actually the invention of the Portuguese settlers who lived there. The piri-piri sauce is basically a hot sauce made from African Bird’s Eye Chiles. And it’s spicy y’all. You can buy it at specialty markets or online where there are a number of possibilities to choose from. You can also make your own but the challenge is finding the chiles. Bird’s eye chilies are hard to find fresh in the US. You can substitute other red chilies like Thai chiles, Fresno, New Mexico, or pequin—and they can also be difficult to find in markets. I’ve been asking our produce buyer to bring in Fresno chilies forever and he does, whenever he can find them, but it is sporadic at best. Now that we are heading into warmer weather we should see more in the markets so cross your fingers.

When I made my Piri-Piri Chicken, I made my own sauce but had to substitute with serrano chilies (since that was all I could find). While it tasted really good, it didn’t have that punch of heat I was looking for so I am going to try again. but this time I am going to do it with the Nando’s Peri Peri sauce that we carry in front of our meat counter.

Fair warning, you have to let the chicken marinate for a while so this is probably best done on a weekend. And, since the weather is going to stay beautiful, I would say you have your Saturday evening meal planned…

Piri-Piri Chicken 
Adapted from Epicurious
Yields 4 servings Read more…

Gung Bo Chicken

Gung Bo ChickenChinese Legend
I like my Chinese food spicy, which is a good thing because most of the different regions of China come with their own brand of mouth-numbing heat. If I had to pick my favorite I’d probably go Sichuan over, say, Hunan or Cantonese. But, that’s mainly because it is what I have been exposed to the most. Plus you can never go wrong with a Sichuan Hot Pot.

I have written before about my personal challenges with Chinese cooking. It’s like I have a mental block when it comes to cooking with a wok. This is why, when I am craving Chinese food, I will generally leave it in the hands of the experts and order take-out. There have been a number of favorite establishments over the years that have helped me sooth my spicy cravings. And, there are a couple I frequent currently—but there is only one that remains head and shoulders above the rest.

Back in the dark ages, WAY before my husband and I started dating, our group of friends frequently dined at Emeryville’s Public Market. It was the perfect place for a large group to meet and eat because you could satisfy everyone’s appetite. You could get anything you wanted. Ginormous burritos? Yep. Afghani cuisine? Check. Noodle Bowls? Check. Hofbrau? Of course. Nine times out of ten, though, I found myself in the long line at The Crispy Fry for their Gung Bo Chicken, extra spicy. It was the perfect dish of spicy and saucy served over a huge mound of steamed rice. It was the ideal ending to a hard day of work or the best answer to a hard night of partying. And if the craving struck mid-week for lunch? You knew you had to get there early ‘cause the line started forming the minute the doors opened to the market.

When they remodeled the Public Market and the Crispy Fry ultimately closed, I was distraught. I have been searching for a replacement that is just as good ever since but have not had much luck. So, I have been forced to face my demons and try to do it myself. It’s been a process though I have had some success. This recipe for Gung Bo Chicken comes close but I am quickly coming to the conclusion that nothing could ever take the place of The Fry.

Gung Bo Chicken
Adapted from Food 52
Yields 3 to 4 servings
Read more…

Sweet Potato Sheet Pan Chicken

Sweet Potato Sheet Pan ChickenIt’s The Sheet
I have been a little obsessed by sheet pan cooking lately. What is sheet pan cooking? you may ask. It’s basically a one-pot meal for the oven. Everything is cooked together on the sheet pan. Cuts down on time and dishes! The best part is the cooking everything on a sheet pan—it makes it easy to enjoy the roasted flavors of the fall.

To be fair, it can take a couple of times making a sheet pan recipe to get it exactly right. Sometimes the chicken you are using can release a little too much liquid and make everything a little soggy (though still tasty).

With a little online research, you can find an amazing number of recipes for sheet pan dinners. Or, if you really want to commit you can order this lovely cookbook Sheet Pan Suppers: 120 Recipes for Simple, Surprising, Hands-Off Meals Straight from the Oven.  And, go nuts!

My most recent sheet pan discovery is this recipe for Sweet Potato Sheet Pan Chicken. My husband went wild for it. It’s a perfect mid-week meal.

And, if I could offer one piece of advice, no matter what recipe you are making, line your sheet pan with heavy-duty foil before putting everything on it. You will thank yourself when you are too stuffed to clean up….

Sweet Potato Sheet Pan Chicken
Yields 4 servings Read more…

Amy’s White Chicken Chili

Amy's White Chicken ChiliBack to Reality
It happens every time we go on vacation. Usually, the day before we are supposed to head home, my husband starts professing our need to eat better when we return to undo any of the caloric damage we have done while sipping Mai Tais and eating hula pie. Of course, this same conversation occurs after the holidays as well. It’s kind of a running theme. (But, I digress.)

Since returning from vacation, I have been trying hard to lighten up our meals–which has been more challenging than normal due to crazy sports schedules and the recent addition of braces for one of my sons. While he would love it, the last thing the dude wants to chew right now is a steak. Pasta is an obvious choice but my beloved and I are trying to cut back the carbs. Finding common ground ain’t easy. Plus, it’s still raining and grilling in the rain is not my idea of fun…

Last Friday I roasted two chickens ‘cause chicken is a good, lighter choice. (Full disclosure, I did make mashed potatoes for the boys. I may have had a bite.). Since my husband and daughter were away at a volleyball tournament, the boys and I were only able to get through one of the chickens which meant I needed to do something with the other. I chose to make this White Chicken Chili.

It’s surprisingly not bad for you! And, since April has been noticeably chilly, a nice and warming bowl after a day of work is a good thing. Bonus, using the pre-cooked chicken means it’s pretty easy to eat for the metal mouths….

Amy’s White Chicken Chili
Yields 6 to 8 servings

This is easy enough to prepare on a weeknight if you are starting with pre-cooked chicken.  I like to serve it up in individual bowls with a choice of toppings for everyone to choose from. Feel free to experiment with your own ideas. Read more…