Wednesday, January 14, 2015

An Afternoon of Cooking Comforting Food

This past weekend, I was able to be in the kitchen for a few hours and all kinds of wonderful things happened!

First of all, I wanted to prepare a quick, delicious, one-pot meal for dinner.  And we were all amazed at how my creative efforts turned out!


This was initially a chicken casserole of sorts, but after seeing how it turned out, and eating it, we have dubbed it a new name - Chicken Cobbler!


Indeed, a chicken casserole couldn't be easier or tastier than this one!  It had a comforting, down home flavor that just stuck to your ribs in a wonderful way!


I also endeavored to make my own flour tortillas!  Unfortunately, this is the only picture of them I took - the tortillas were gobbled up within minutes of cooking by family and friends that were gathered around our table! If crumbs are any indication of a food's worth, than indeed - these were awesome!  I will be making all our flour tortillas from now on!  I used whole wheat grains, ground the flour, and then made these super fresh, soft and incredibly tasty whole red wheat flour tortillas - and as for the picture - you'll just have to use your imagination, because all that was left of them were crumbs :)


I also prepared two loaves of homemade sourdough bread using the freshly ground flour as well.  This is a picture of the loaves just before popping into the oven.


I also prepared my very own Chai Tea concentrate using maple syrup and a variety of spices.  I cannot tell you how incredibly wonderful the house smelled with all these delicious flavors wafting around!

I'll post the recipes below for those of you who are interested.  It was a most productive, comforting afternoon!

CHICKEN COBBLER 

1-2 chicken breasts, cooked, shredded
1/2 cup butter
1 onion, diced finely
2-3 stalks celery, diced finely
4 cups chicken broth (or water chicken was cooked in)
2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
2 cups milk
1 can cream chicken soup
1 tablespoon chicken bouillon 
Salt & pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease 9x13 casserole dish.  In small skillet, melt butter and add chopped onion and celery.  Cook until veggies are soft, and translucent.  Salt and pepper to taste.  
Pour butter mixture into 9x13 pan.  Add shredded chicken in a layer over the veggies.  Do not stir. 
In a bowl, combine flour, salt, baking powder and stir in milk.  Pour this mixture over chicken.  Do not stir.  In another bowl, combine chicken broth with cream of chicken soup.  Pour this mixture over the chicken.  Do not mix layers (just like peach cobbler!)  Bake in preheated oven for 40-45 minutes or until casserole is browned and bubbly. Serve ... trying to remember your manners, and not lick your plate clean!  

Whole Wheat Flour Tortillas

2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp lard
1/2 very warm water

Combine flour, baking powder, and salt together in bowl.  Blend in lard until crumbly. Slowly pour in water, and stir together to form a ball.  Lightly knead dough on floured surface until dough becomes cohesive and less sticky.  More water may be added in small amounts, if needed.  Cover dough with towel and let rest for 45 minutes.  Then divide dough into small balls, and again, let rest for 20 minutes.  (You want the gluten to relax in the dough.  This is not about letting them rise, but allowing the gluten to rest.)  Roll out each individual dough ball until very thin (don't worry if shape isn't completely circular, remember your tortillas will have character!).  Heat a nonstick skillet to medium-medium/high heat and place one tortilla on griddle.  Cook on each side for about 1 minute or so, watching carefully so they don't burn.  They cook FAST! Repeat until all tortillas are browned.  Serve immediately, or allow to cool and store in airtight container.  

Chai Tea Concentrate

6 cups water
1/3 cup maple syrup or honey
2-3" fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
2-3 cinnamon sticks
1 tsp black pepper (or peppercorns) 
2 whole vanilla beans
3 star anise
15 cloves (or 1 tsp crushed cloves)
1 tsp allspice 
2 tsp cardamom 
5 black tea bags or 2 tbsp black tea leaves

In a medium pot, bring water and sweetener to boil, and then turn down to a simmer after sugar is dissolved.  Add spices and continue to simmer for 20 minutes.  Once spices have simmered, add in tea bags (or tea leaves) and let them step another 10 minutes.  Strain out spices and tea bags, and store the chai tea concentrate in the fridge.  It will last several weeks - but I doubt it will - it is that good! To make your chai tea - mix the chai tea concentrate 1:1 with warmed milk.  Or you can add a tablespoon or so to your favorite hot green tea, and then you have green chai tea - and this is my personal favorite!  Since I am mostly intolerant to milk, I have been using this chai tea concentrate in my hot green tea every day, and it has been over-the-top delicious! Now, since I am not one to let anything go to waste, I couldn't stand just throwing away all these wonderful smelling spices - so of course, I found a use for them! 




I found a candle warmer this summer at a yard sale.  I've put it to a different use than it was intended for, but in my opinion - even better!  Since I don't burn candles a lot, and we need extra moisture in our home especially during the winter months with the dry heat, I have been using my candle warmer as a humidifier!  I am using a small stainless steel saucepan that sits on the candle warmer and I fill it with water each day, as well as various spices and essential oils.  This not only humidifies the house, but provides a pleasant aroma as well!  So, I just added the leftover spices from my Chai tea concentrate to this little pot and continued to enjoy Chai tea smells wafting through my house for several days!  I love having productive days like this!  I've got several ideas for future days when I have time like this to be spent in the kitchen, and I'll try next time to take better pictures of the final result.  Until then, may the Lord bless and keep you in His presence today! 

5 comments:

  1. Awesome use of your time! And I am so thankful I was able to enjoy some of the products of your productivity! Your sourdough bread is always amazing, and Zac really enjoyed the chai concentrate in his hot tea the other day.

    Thank you for all your hard work and efforts-- and for sharing! Yum!
    ~Raquel
    www.atthenewlyweds.blogspot.com

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    1. Thanks Raquel! I enjoy being able to cook and bake for my family, it is a blessing to eat wonderful things cooked at home, and I am even more glad to be able to share things created in my kitchen with family and friends :)

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  2. Mercy! You have been a busy bee, my friend. :) One of the blessings of winter, don't you think? Being indoors where it's warm and serving up good home-cooked meals that nourish body and soul. It all looks delicious. Have fun! xo ~ Nancy

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    1. Yes, winter just seems to call me into the kitchen, and warm the house up with home cooked meals. There is a joy that comes in being able to season our home with love and good food!

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  3. Ah, I can almost smell the deliciousness! Thanks for sharing the home-making inspiration with us :)

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