Chicken & Dumplings

This is one of my go to meals. Colorado's weather in March bounces back and forth, one day 70 degrees out and the next day, snowing with the high of 20. Very hard to plan meals with this going on and I swear my teenager has a tape worm because he's always hungry and lately have not been making enough to fill his tummy. This is one of those meals that will leave the hungriest guy completely full.

3 lbs of chicken thighs ( seems much but remember, you have bones)
4 cloves of garlic, just smashed enough to smell them
1 medium yellow or sweet onion
3 ribs of celery
4 carrots
1 tbsp of onion powder
1 tbsp. Garlic powder
1 tbsp. Salt
1 tsp. Dried basil
5 tbsp. Chicken bouillon, if using the cubes, only 3 of them, but I use better than bouillon's brand.

1 ½ cup cake flour/ can us all purpose, but the cake flour makes the dumplings more "airy"
1 ½ tsp. Baking powder
½ tsp salt
2 tbsp of fresh herbs of your choice ( I like chives)
5 tbsp unsalted butter
¾ tsp sugar
2/3 cup milk


In a dutch oven boil water and place chicken in the boiling water for an hour to 2 hours, depending the thickness of the chicken. Trust me, boiling the chicken will give you the starter broth , and the most moist chicken you will ever taste.
While that is boiling, smash your garlic, dice the onion, slice the carrots and celery into bite size pieces.
Once the chicken is fully cooked, set aside until cool enough to handle and strain the “chicken water” with a fine mesh strainer and save the water, and put back into the pot. Bring back to a boil. You can use 2 forks to tear the chicken apart but I use my hands. Throw away chicken bones and skin. While destroying your chicken, place remaining ingredients for the soup into the dutch oven, return chicken meat into the same pot and cover. Boil until veggies are firm to add the dumplings.

Sift all dry ingredients, finely chop your choice of herb/s, add the flour mixture. Melt butter and add to milk and mix with the dry. Mixture will thick like paste. I use a cookie scoop to add the dumplings to the soup, or a soup spoon will work fine. Don't make them too big or they will not steam correctly.

Bring the soup to a rolling boil, quickly add the wet dumplings to the soup and cover with lid. Takes 10-15 minutes for the dumplings to steam in the soup. DO NOT lift the lid while cooking, we want the dumplings to steam not boil, boiling them will make them dense and mushy instead airy.
The flour from dumplings should thicken the soup but for some reason it doesn't or you want it thicker, follow the directions for making gravy with corn starch and add until desired thickness.

Enjoy, and if any is left... wait for the soup to cool and refrigerate. Seems even better the second day but we never have leftovers. 

Pepper Jelly

Makes 6- ,1 cup jars

2 Cups of each, red & green bell peppers, seeded and chopped
8 of your choice of hot peppers such as ghost peppers/jalapeƱos, seeded. (if you like it hotter, leave in some seeds)
½ tbsp. Unsalted butter ( this will reduce the foamy stuff that forms at the top when everything is said and done )
1 cup Apple cider vinegar
1 pkg. Fruit pectin
5 cups sugar

PLACE peppers in 6 qt. Sauce pot. Add vinegar. Stir in pectin. Add butter to reduce foaming. Bring mixture to full rolling boil (a boil that doesn't stop bubbling when stirred) on high heat, stirring constantly. Stir in sugar. Return to full rolling boil and boil exactly 1 min., stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim off any foam with metal spoon.

LADLE immediately into prepared jars. Keeps in the fridge for a couple of weeks but if you're not going to eat that much jelly in that time frame, here is a great video on how to give your jellies a water bath to keep them fresh and sealed.