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Chicken and Dumpling Casserole

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Chicken & Dumpling Casserole | veronicascornucopia.com

Although the first day of spring has come and gone, it’s been chilly and blustery here in Kansas, so I thought I’d share this warm and delicious casserole for everyone that’s still eagerly awaiting spring before it’s hot and sweltering and nobody wants to bake a casserole. This is pure comfort food and perfect to warm the soul on a chilly day.  It’s very quick and simple to make, which is good if you have a baby that has decided that if you aren’t holding him or playing with him or taking him on a stroller ride, he isn’t happy, because you won’t have to listen to him scream for very long  before dinner is in the oven. ;)

Chicken and Dumpling Casserole

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3 – 4 cups cooked chicken, cut into bite sized pieces (use rotisserie chicken if desired)
4 tablespoons butter
1 cup milk
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups chicken broth
1 (10.75 oz) can cream of chicken soup

Preheat oven to 400F. Place butter in 9″ X 13″ baking dish and place in oven while it’s preheating. Once butter is melted, you can remove the pan to continue with the recipe, or let it cook a little to brown it and add an extra dimension of flavor. Be sure to watch it if you decide to let it brown because it can go from nutty to burnt pretty quickly.

Remove pan from the oven and sprinkle prepared chicken over the top of the butter. In a medium bowl, whisk together milk, flour, baking powder and salt. Pour over the chicken, but do not stir. In same bowl, after scraping out as much flour mixture as possible, whisk together chicken broth and cream of chicken soup. Pour that over top of casserole; do not stir.

Bake uncovered for 35 – 45 minutes. When done, the top will be beautifully browned and bubbly around the edges.

Yield: about 6 servings

Veronica’s notes: I boiled a whole chicken for this recipe. It was about 5 lbs and I covered it with water in a stock pot and added a teaspoon of salt, boiling for an hour or two. I forgot to set the timer so I really don’t know how long I boiled it because I was so busy with the baby- lol. If you make it this way, it’s very economical, and you automatically make your own broth to use in the recipe.

Recipe source: The Better Baker

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Healthier Lasagna Soup

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If you haven’t seen recipes for lasagna soup all over the web for the last couple years, then you don’t follow as many blogs as I do-lol!  It is everywhere.  It’s taking over the blogging world.  If it wasn’t so delicious, it might scare me a little, but now that I’ve made it I totally get it.

Everyone has their own variation and I just took the one from Suzie’s blog and made it a little healthier.  I have to tell you that Biz is actually the reason I finally made this soup because I think she’s made it (and raved about it) 55.7 times since Suzie posted it and I just couldn’t resist any longer.

So glad I gave in–this soup is completely frabrilis!  I mean hello, lasagna in soup form?  Frabrilosity! 

P.S. A lot of things went wrong with my pictures and I do not care to explain the unattractive, cold plops of cheese and how thick this is because you would scoff at me and I’m not in the mood for your scoffing beyond the scoffing you’re doing at my cheese plops.  :D  Just follow my directions and you will have frabrilis soup that looks as delicious as it tastes.

Healthier Lasagna Soup

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2 teaspoons olive oil
1 (19.5 oz) package lean sweet Italian turkey sausage
1 cup chopped onions
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons dried basil
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 (28 oz.) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
2 bay leaves
6 cups chicken stock
8 oz. broken up whole wheat lasagna noodles or other pasta of choice
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the cheesy goodness:
1 cup low-fat cottage cheese or ricotta
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Remove sausage from casings and add to skillet along with the onions and cook, breaking up into bite-size pieces, for 5-10 minutes, until meat is cooked through. Add garlic, basil, oregano and red pepper flakes. Cook for 1 minute.

Add tomato paste and stir well to incorporate. Cook for 3-4 minutes or until the tomato paste turns a rusty brown color.

Add diced tomatoes, bay leaves and chicken stock. Stir to combine all ingredients. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Add uncooked pasta and cook until al dente. Don’t over cook or let soup simmer too long, as the pasta will get mushy and absorb all the broth.*

While pasta is cooking, prepare the cheesy goodness by combining the cottage cheese or ricotta and Parmesan together in a small bowl. To serve, place a dollop of the cheesy goodness in each soup bowl, sprinkle some of the mozzarella on top and ladle the hot soup over the cheese.

*Note: If you are anticipating leftovers, it’s best to cook the noodles separately and add them to the bowl along with the soup, then store them separately, drizzled with olive oil so they don’t stick together.  They will become mushy if stored in the broth.

Recipe source: slightly adapted from Two Dogs in the Kitchen.

Buffalo Chicken Chili

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I have Biz to thank for this amazeballs recipe.  I like a lot of different chili’s (this is the eighth chili recipe on my blog!), but this is definitely a contender for my favorite.  I love the heat level–we like spicy and for us this was perfect.  Spicy but not so spicy that you can’t taste the wonderful flavor.  Your lips may burn a bit, but you can still feel your mouth after eating a bowl, which is a plus in my book.

Since the veggies are pureed and totally not visible, there’s less risk of complaints from picky eaters.  I felt super manly while eating it, with all the meat and beans and spiciness, and apparent lack of vegetables.  But then I couldn’t pee standing up, so that was the end of my manliness.

Also, just an FYI, your chili will not be this thick right after cooking it.  This was the day after I made it, and before I heated up the bowl.  Not many things look good cold, but apparently chili is one exception to the rule. I think it’s so purdy.  (I believe I just lost my man card again.)

Buffalo Chicken Chili

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2 large carrots, peeled & cut into 1-2″ pieces
3 stalks celery, cut into 1-2″ pieces
1 large red pepper, cored & cut into 1-2″ pieces
5 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 pounds ground chicken
5 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon paprika
1/2 cup Frank’s Hot Sauce
2 (15 oz) cans tomato sauce
1 (15 oz) diced tomatoes
1 (15 oz) black beans, drained
1 (15 oz) chili beans in sauce (do not drain)
salt and pepper to taste

Optional garnish: blue cheese crumbles or Spicy Ranch Crackers

Place carrots, celery, red pepper, and garlic in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment.  Process until pureed and set aside.  In a soup pot, heat oil and add ground chicken and cook about 10 minutes on medium heat until no longer pink.  Add vegetable purée to chicken mixture and cook about 5 minutes until veggies start to soften.  Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 1 hour.  Serve with blue cheese crumbles or Spicy Ranch Crackers, if desired.

Nutrition Per Cup (without garnish): 239 calories, 3.4 fat, 29 carbs, 7.5 fiber and 23.5 protein.

Recipe source: My Bizzy Kitchen

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I won’t be posting Wednesday, so I’m going to take this opportunity to remind you to enter my cookies giveaway by Wednesday at midnight. Good luck!

Barley with Butternut Squash, Apple & Onion

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This is one of the “meals” (it’s really a side dish but I like to eat it as a meal) I’ve been making for years and usually resurrect come fall/winter.  My family absolutely loves it too, even my little nephew (or at least he did at 4 years old, the last time he ate it)!  I appreciate delicious vegetarian meals that satisfy me and this one fits the bill fo sho. The combination of the creamy squash, chewy barley, crisp red pepper & apple, and the contrasting savories and sweetness–it’s all just magic to me.  And I guess if a four year old boy will relish something that only contains unrecognizable healthy ingredients, it is pretty magical.

Barley with Butternut Squash, Apple & Onion

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3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 cup uncooked barley
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups butternut squash, peeled & diced
1 cup onion, chopped
1/2 cup sweet red pepper, diced
1 medium apple, peeled, cored, diced
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic, minced
3/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/3 cup fat-free chicken or vegetable broth

Bring 3 cups of water and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt to a boil in a medium saucepan; add barley. Cover saucepan and simmer barley until tender, about 30 to 35 minutes; drain.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat; add squash and cook, stirring often, until it’s starting to soften–about five minutes. Add the onion and red pepper and cook for an additional 3 minutes.

Stir in apple, garlic, thyme, black pepper and remaining 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Cook, stirring, until apple is almost tender, about 2 minutes; stir in broth, scraping bottom of skillet with a wooden spoon to loosen any browned bits. Stir in cooked barley; toss over low heat to mix and coat. Remove from heat and serve.

Serves 4, about 1 cup per serving.

Per serving: 192 calories; 4.2 g fat; 0 g cholesterol; 37 g carbohydrate; 8 g fiber; 5 g protein; 5 Points Plus

Recipe source: WeightWatchers.com

Shredded Chicken with Noodles

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I made this two years ago, it’s about time I shared it!  This is basically chicken noodle soup but with sauce instead of broth. As I’m all about chicken noodle soup, especially with homemade egg noodles, I love it with or without the broth (forget that my “sauce” looks more like broth, I obviously messed up by not thickening it enough, but you’re not going to, right?), and this is one of those hot comforting meals that seem essential during cold winter months.

In other news, today is the last day to enter my Tropical Traditions Gold Label Coconut Oil giveaway, and I also posted my announcement about February’s Sweetest Swap a lot later in the day than usual (after staying up until 6 AM on Monday so I could get all the details worked out and schedule the blog, I forgot to schedule it! Of course.) , so if you missed it, please check that out as well.  Now let’s scare the chill out of our bones with some savory chicken and noodles shall we?  And if you’d like to make your egg noodles from scratch, it couldn’t be easier, you can snag my recipe here.

Shredded Chicken with Noodles

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1 whole cut up fryer chicken
2 whole carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
½ whole medium onion, diced
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoons turmeric
¼ teaspoons white pepper (more to taste) (I used black)
¼ teaspoons ground thyme
2 teaspoons parsley flakes
16 ounces, weight frozen “homemade” Egg Noodles or same amount dried large egg noodles
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1. Cover chicken in 4 quarts water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Simmer for 30 minutes.
2. Remove chicken from pot with a slotted spoon. With two forks, remove as much meat from the bones as you can, slightly shredding meat in the process. Return bones to broth and simmer on low, covered, for 45 minutes.
3. Remove bones from broth with a slotted spoon, making sure to get any small bones that might have detached. Add the carrots and celery and onions to the pot, followed by the herbs and spices. Stir to combine and simmer for ten minutes to meld flavors.
4. Increase heat and add egg noodles and chicken. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes.
5. Mix flour and a little water. Stir until smooth. Pour into soup, stir to combine, and simmer for another 5 minutes, or until broth thickens a bit. Test and adjust seasonings as needed.
Recipe Source: The Pioneer Woman via Framed Cooks

Taco Chili

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Usually on the rare occasion I ask Dennis if he will make something while I’m at work, I get the irritated face.  The “I hate to cook why must you torture me?” face.  The “wouldn’t you rather me rather scrub the toilet and clean the sink drain out by hand instead?” face.  Cooking just isn’t his thing.  It stresses him out.

But chili is another story.  It’s what he lived on as a bachelor and may be the only thing that he really likes to cook.  I handed him the recipe for this with instructions for adapting it to what we had, preparing myself for the sound of grinding teeth (worst sound ever!), but there was no teeth grinding and he didn’t even frown a little.  He actually seemed excited.  It was like I’d been speaking a foreign language all these years and I finally communicated something he understood.  Even better, he reported that he “really enjoyed” making it.  I think his enjoyment translated into the final product because this chili is incredible!  It’s very simple, but oh so good, and if you top it with sour cream and cheese and scoop it up with tortilla chips, you get the total deluxe taco effect. :)

Taco Chili

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1 lb. ground beef
1 envelope taco seasoning (or 2 1/2 tablespoons homemade taco seasoning)
1 (16 oz) can black beans, drained
1 (16 oz) can kidney beans, drained
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, minced
1 green bell pepper, chopped
10 oz package frozen corn kernels (Dennis used fire-roasted frozen corn)
1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Optional toppings: Additional cilantro, shredded cheese, chopped tomatoes, chopped scallions, sour cream, crushed tortilla chips, etc.

Brown the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat; drain.  Combine with remaining ingredients in a large pot  and stir together.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until you can stand it no longer.  (Dennis simmered his for one hour.)  Serve hot with optional toppings.

Veronicas note: There’s no need to remove the seeds from the jalapeno, unless you are very sensitive.  Dennis left half the seeds in and this was a mild chili.

Recipe source: adapted from The Comfort of Cooking

Favorite Cornbread


With three different cornbread recipes on my blog already, you might think I was cornbread crazed since I’m adding another.  Well, I guess maybe I am.  Growing up, we practically lived off of beans and cornbread during the winter months.  Plain pinto beans with no spices save salt, and whole wheat cornbread that was dry, not sweet at all, and was perfect for absorbing copious amounts of salty butter.  It might not sound particularly tasty, but we loved it.  I think it was the magic of butter, which we surprisingly were allowed to consume without limits since Grandpa deemed it a healthy fat and Mom learned all her health-nut ways from  him.  So we loved our beans and butter, er, cornbread.

This cornbread is the antithesis of the cornbread I was raised on, and truth be told, the first time I made it I was completely aghast that Mel dared to call it cornbread.  This wasn’t cornbread, this was cake.  And her whipped honey butter? The frosting!

But everyone (I brought it for a chili day at work) loooved it.  I didn’t bring the honey butter the first year and at first, some were disappointed, but after tasting it said, “This doesn’t even need butter!”  It really doesn’t.  It practically melts in your mouth, it is so soft and moist.  I noticed when I brought the honey butter last year they barely touched it.  The cornbread is perfect on its own but if you really think you need some sweet butter, go to Mel’s blog for her unique recipe, which includes marshmallow fluff and is very good.

Anyway, after making this for others for two years and taking little tastes, I finally made it just for us for the first time last week when the temps were cooler and I wanted something to go with some ham & bean soup.  I have to say, I’m a convert.  Sorry, Mom.  This is definitely my new favorite and I have to tell you, Dennis is gaga for this stuff and he would never eat any of my cornbread before, not even Jiffy mix, which is similar to this, just not as soft.  The Lighter Northern Cornbread recipe on my blog is also crazy good, but it’s lower in fat and sugar so it’s not quite as melt-in-your mouth.  If you’re looking for some full fat goodness, I gotcha covered.

Favorite Cornbread

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1 ½ cups (6 ¼ oz) all-purpose flour
½ cup (3 oz) corn meal
2/3 cup (5 oz) granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3 tablespoons butter, melted
2 eggs, beaten
1 ¼ cups milk

Preheat oven to 350F.  Spray an 8×8 baking dish with oil; set aside.  Whisk together dry ingredients in a medium mixing bowl, make a well and add oil, butter, eggs, and milk into the center. Stir well until mixed (batter will be runny – don’t be alarmed!). Pour into prepared pan and bake for 35 minutes. This doubles perfectly for a 9X13-inch pan, but will have to be baked longer (start checking after 45 minutes-I can’t remember how long it took when I doubled it in previous years).

Recipe source: Mel’s Kitchen Cafe

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