Chicken and Dumplings

Good old fashioned comfort food!
Hearty and great for lunches for the week.

Make sure you read all the way at the bottom for a few tips I found that helped quite a bit while making.

Prep time: 45 minutes (though some is done while simmering is happening)

Cook time: 2 hours approx total start to finish

Ingredients

  • 1/4 c. butter
  • 3 stalks celery cut into 3 pieces
  • 2 carrots cut into 3 pieces
  • 1 small white or yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 large bay leaves
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp poultry seasoning
  • 3 lbs bone-in chicken breast
  • 32 oz carton chicken broth
  • water (4 – 6 cups approx)
  • 4 tbsp self-rising flour
  • 2 cups self-rising flour
  • 1/4 c shortening (Crisco shortening sticks)

Instructions

  1. Mix all seasonings in a small bowl
  2. Melt butter in a 10 quart stock pot over med-high heat. Add celery, carrots, onion and seasonings. Mix and cook for about 5 minutes. Push veggies to the side as much as possible so chicken can be laid on the bottom. Brown chicken 5 -7 minutes each side.
  3. Measure 3/4 c. of chicken broth and put in refrigerator to chill
  4. Pour remaining chicken broth into stock pot. Add water as needed to cover chicken breasts completely by 2-3 inches. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, reduce heat, cover and simmer until chicken is tender, about 1 hour.
  5. Remove chicken and carrots and place on a plate/platter to let cool. Celery can be removed and thrown away.
  6. Measure out 1/2 c. of cooking liquid and put in a bowl to cool for about 5 minutes. Once cooled, add 4 tbsp. flour and whisk together well. Add back to stock pot and whisk well until smooth. Keep liquid simmering on low.
  7. In a large bowl add 2 c. flour and shortening. Using a fork, cut shortening into flour until it is evenly mixed and in small bits. Add in half the chilled chicken broth, using gloved (or bare) hands knead together. Continue adding broth until all flour is moist and dough pulls together into a ball.
  8. Flour a flat surface. Knead dough in flour 5 – 6 times. Flatten, sprinkle with flour and roll out to approx 1/8 inch thickness. Cut dough with a sharp knife into small squares: 1 in x 1 in or smaller. (They will expand quite a bit so in order to get bite size pieces they must be fairly small to start).
  9. Drop dough squares, in batches, into simmering cooking liquid. Use a spoon to push dough aside to add more pieces to prevent them from sticking together. Partially cover and simmer for roughly 12 minutes, until dumplings are firm. Cover and remove from heat.
  10. Pick meat off of chicken bones, pulling apart/cutting into bite size shreds. Slice carrots into desired thickness. Add chicken and carrots to pot. Leave covered for about 30 minutes before serving.
  11. May need to be salted to individual taste.

Tips

  • 2 large chicken breasts or 3 smaller pieces work best. You have to be able to fit the largest surface of each pieces on the bottom of the stock pot to brown
  • Using a smaller crock pot:
    • Browning chicken may be more difficult because of less surface space on the bottom but it can be done
    • May need more broth or water to completely cover chicken for cooking
  • You could use the milk cap or similar sized form to make dough circles instead of squares. Just make sure that pieces are small or it is difficult to easily eat.
  • Add more carrots if desired
  • Add 1 – 2 tsp minced garlic if desired to step 2

Homemade Bubble Bath Goo

Yes, you read that correctly. Bubble Bath Goo! It’s kind of like Playdoh that can go in the bathtub and you can add your own essential oils as well (lavender is particularly great before bedtime to help calm down that rambunctious little one).

This simple creation is a great (cheap) way to add bubbles, calming scents and some fun to a bath! The kids will LOVE IT!

Simple ingredients that you probably already have!

My son loves bubble baths and adding bath bombs to make the water colorful but none of those items are cheap and I worry about the ingredients that are in some of them. Scrolling through Pinterest the other day, I found a great recipe for bath goo and thought we would try it!

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 c. Bubble bath
  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • 1/3 – 3/4 c. cornstarch
  • Essential Oils of your choice (optional)
  • water based food coloring (optional)

*Note: I used Mr. Bubble because that’s what I had readily handy BUT it has it’s own scent which didn’t necessarily mix very well with the Calmness oil I added. Next time I will buy some scent-free, organic bubble bath instead.

Instructions:

  • Mix Bubble bath, melted coconut oil, essential oil and food coloring to a bowl and stir until blended. *If you want a marble effect with the food coloring you can wait and add it after adding the corn starch.
  • Once blended, add cornstarch, starting with 1/3 cup and adding more as needed until you have a solid consistency. *You can use a spoon to stir but honestly it is much easier to just use your hands to mix in the cornstarch plus it will be easier to feel the consistency.
  • You’ve added enough cornstarch when it becomes a “solid” ball though, it will still lose its shape almost like it’s melting into your hand.
He thought it was AWESOME!

Storage:

Store for up to 7 days (maybe a little longer but it gets a bit dry) in an airtight container.

It was quick enough to make though, that you can easily do it while the water is running in the bathtub.

Using:

Put the kid in the tub and hand them the ball of GOO!

That’s it!

There is a good 10 minutes of Goo playtime before it dissolved completely!

His skin was super soft when he got out of the tub and the Calming oil blend really helped him relax (which is super impressive since he has ADHD and is very rarely calm). He actually got out of the tub and cuddled up with a blanket on the couch for a good hour and that NEVER happens!

If you try it, let me know how it turns out and what your kids think of it!

Follow me on Instagram @highflying_em

Ways to Save Time: Imperfection

IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE PERFECT!

Striving for perfection is not a bad quality. Its a great way to live BUT when you have kids perfection isn’t always possible. Sometime you have to be adaptive and just let it go.

Sorry! I couldn’t pass up that opportunity!

But seriously, perfection can waste so much time its crazy. Trying to get that perfect Instagram photo or making our kid’s school art project look like a realistic giraffe but the eyes just aren’t in the correct position no matter how many times you try.

And no, I would never be guilty of those things *MASSIVE EYEROLL*

It never turns out this good

But getting that perfect Instagram picture? That can be one of the biggest time drains EVER! Try getting a good picture of a 6 year old with ADHD where he isn’t making a goofy face. I dare you!

This is what my actual Photo library looks like. I have to take at least 10 pics of him every time in order to get 1 halfway decent one. LOL!

For my son, I will take a million and more pictures and never apologize for it nor for the time it takes because my focus is on him and I’m spending time with him.

I have no makeup and wrinkles…and you know what? I don’t care because my son looks adorable!

You want to know where I waste a TON of time? On pictures of myself.

This angle is bad. I have a double chin in this one. I’m making a weird face in this one. My hair is sticking up in this one…and on and on and on. I try to take one picture of myself for an Instagram post and suddenly, not only am I being way too overly critical of myself but I’m spending 30 minutes trying to get it just right.

We all know this is the reality either way

Granted, I know that not everyone does this but we all have things we end up wasting time on that are unnecessary.

We all get caught up in this time trap occasionally (or ALL the time) and Elsa really has the right attitude. Just Let it GO! The kids won’t remember if things were perfect but they will remember if you were overly frustrated/upset at something because YOU wanted it to be perfect.

The point I’m trying to get across is that being a mom isn’t perfect. It’s messy and dirty and time consuming so there is no reason to waste time trying to be make every little thing perfect.

If you can’t get the perfect Instagram photo use the best one you have and just glue the eye back on the giraffe art project so that is semi-resembles an animal and call it a day.

Embrace your imperfections and get on with your day!

Ways to Save Time: Prioritize

Write down the things you need to get done daily and prioritize them from most important to least important.

Lists seem simple and cheesy but they really help to prevent feeling overwhelmed.

Writing out a list helps you visualize what needs to be done and allows you to prioritize.

  • On Monday, laundry may be #1 on the list because everyone has been sick and needs clean sheets and non-germy clothes
  • On Wednesday, grocery shopping may be #1 because there is no food left in the house

Lists also make it easier to see where certain “to-do” items might overlap, meaning you can plan accordingly and get it all done more efficiently.

For example:

I would physically change my list to this:

Now, I makes more sense. I can do the household chores like ironing and cleaning the bathroom at the same time and personally, I would do them first to get them over with.

Next, I obviously need to leave the house and I would prefer to make sure I finish it all in one trip versus forgetting and having to go out again.

And last but not least, my peaceful, most enjoyable task of the day is sitting down to write. It is my “reward” for finishing everything else but also, now that I don’t have those other things weighing on my mind, I can relax and concentrate.

Which is what I’m doing right now!

Reality Check

We all know that this strategy won’t always work. Kids get sick, you get a flat tire…you know, LIFE happens.

And I will be the first to tell you that I don’t always stick to this BUT I can also promise you that on days where I do make a list and I prioritize it, I am at least 75% more likely to get most of the list done. (Give or take!)

Save time: Make a list and prioritize it

Ways to Save Time: Mom Life

Is there even time to be a Mom?

There are a few common utterances that every mom EVER has said: “I don’t have time” or “Where did the time go?” or “There aren’t enough hours in the day.”

We have all said it. We have all felt the pressure of time and not getting things done. We have all cried because running out of time is overwhelming and we just can’t get it all done.

Laundry, cleaning, cooking, going to the grocery store, helping the kids with homework, etc. And that’s just the essentials of daily life, right?

That doesn’t include working on the baby book that has been sitting untouched since Connor was 2 months old, or working on that fun Pinterest project that is supposed to help develop kid’s brains, or even just taking a few minutes for yourself to shower and feel pretty by putting on some makeup.

It’s tough. It really is. There is no easy answer when you have kids. Every day is unpredictable and no amount of planning can help you fit everything you want to do into every single day.

But don’t give up hope completely. There are plenty of tricks and ways to improve your time management skills to at least prevent you from feeling overwhelmed in mom life.

Over the next few days, I will be how to give yourself extra time with a few simple tips. Be sure to follow me so you don’t miss any of them!

A few of the topics will be:

  • Perfection – meaning you don’t have to be perfect
  • Prioritizing – sounds simple but its so beneficial
  • Distractions – there is a time and place for distraction
  • And more
This may show my age but this is still one of my favorites! I used to love hearing this while watching old Adam West Batman reruns.

Spaghetti Stuffed Meatball

I tried a new recipe for dinner that was a huge hit. I mean, who doesn’t love spaghetti and meatballs…IN REVERSE!

Being the first time I attempted this recipe, I followed the directions and made one giant meatball but next time I want to try making smaller, individual meatballs. If you want to do this, you would just need a smaller bowl to form the right size.

The hardest part was “wrapping” the meatball. It takes a bit of time and some patience but in the end, it was well worth it. When you try this, just keep working the meat into a solid ball.

Recipe was originally found on Tasty but I made a few modifications to our taste.

Make sure to comment after you make this and let me know what you think!

RECIPE: SPAGHETTI STUFFED MEATBALL

PREP TIME: 30 MINUTES

COOK TIME: 1 HOUR

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1.5 lbs ground beef/sirloin
  • 0.5 lbs sweet or spice Italian sausage
  • 1 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup Italian parsley chopped
  • 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 4 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 24 oz jar of marinara
  • 1/3 box of spaghetti pre-cooked and cooled
  • Parmesan cheese for topping
  • Fresh basil chopped for topping

INSTRUCTIONS:

  • Preheat oven to 375F (190C)
  • Mix sausage, ground beef, bread crumbs, parsley, parmesan, garlic, eggs, milk, salt, pepper and onion powder into a large bowl until all ingredients are well combined.
  • Using a large mixing bowl, preferably glass though I used plastic, line the bowl completely with plastic wrap. Make sure that the entire bowl is covered and plastic wrap hangs over the side with at least a few inches extra all the way around. Coat the plastic wrap in the bowl with cooking spray.
  • Evenly spread meat mixture into the bowl starting at the bottom and working it up the sides of the bowl. Try to keep the thickness of the meat to roughly 1/2 inch all the way around.
  • Sprinkle mozzarella on the base of the meat bowl.
  • Coat cooked spaghetti with marinara sauce. About 1/3 jar. Make sure spaghetti is coated well but not “runny” with sauce. Add noodles on top of mozzarella.
  • Pull the plastic wrap hanging over the sides of the bowl up and towards the opposite sides of the bowl. Working the sides of the meat together and over the spaghetti to form a ball. This takes a few minutes of working the meat. Pinch the seam so that it disappears. Once you have the seam closed, you can take it out of the bowl and continue to pat and shape the whole ball so the meat is even and solid all the way around. If you need to, you can put it in the fridge for 15-30 minutes to help it “stick together” then continue patting and forming.
  • Place ball on a foil-lined cooking sheet.
  • Cook for 45 – 60 minutes depending on oven. Meat should be evenly browned and slightly crispy on the outside.
  • Let meatball sit for about 10 – 15 minutes.

SERVING PREP:

  • Ladle some marinara sauce onto your serving plate and spread evenly.
  • Add extra spaghetti noodles to plate and spread out so meatball will sit evenly on top.
  • Carefully remove meatball from foil using a spatula to prevent foil from sticking to meat and place meatball on top of spaghetti.
  • Top with marinara, parmesan and fresh basil (if you prefer, you can leave off the marinara topping on the entire meatball and spoon extra sauce onto the individual slices once served. This makes serving less messy.)
  • Cut the meatball into slices like a cake and serve.
Cut into cake slice and serve! YUMMY!

TIPS:

  • Wearing gloves while handling meat makes clean up much easier! No meat under your nails (that always weirds me out).
  • Extra mozzarella never hurt anyone
  • Slice up leftovers and store in individual containers for easy reheating. This gave us about 4 slices of leftovers, which are each a meal. It reheats really well! Stick in the microwave for 1 minute at a time until warm. Add extra marinara on top when storing to prevent meat from drying out in the microwave.

ENJOY A UNIQUE TWIST ON SPAGHETTI AND MEATBALLS!