Saturday, August 22, 2009

Blue-tailed skinks and yummy stews!

Hello there! Having finished my internship/grad school I now have lots of time to make yummy dinners! First up is an easy recipe for Chicken and Dumplings, followed by a (not quite as easy) recipe for Boeuf Bourguignon.  Finally, I leave you with a picture of a Blue-tailed skink that was hanging out on the back porch.  Ever since moving a bird feeder to the back porch we've had nature galore! Lots of squirrels, some skinks, lots of cardinals, Carolina wrens and even a few hummingbirds.  The cats fantasize about eating them.  

Chicken and Dumplings (serves 2-3)
For the soup:
1 large chicken breast, chopped into small pieces 
1 large carrot, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1/2 cup peas
1 can cream of celery soup
1.5 cup water
1 block chicken bouillon

For the dumplings:
1 cup flour
1 tsp salt
1/2ish cup cold water

Combine chicken, onion, carrot, celery, 1.5 cups water and chicken bouillon cube in a pot.  Simmer on medium-low heat until chicken is cooked and veggies are tender. Meanwhile, combine flour and salt in a bowl.  Slowly pour cold water into mixture while kneading.  Once dough is well mixed (should be firm), roll into a thin "snake" and let it relax for a few minutes.  Then slice into 1 inch pieces.  Add cream of celery soup and peas to the soup and simmer over medium heat.  Add dumplings while stirring slowly.  Allow dumplings to cook for approximately 5 minutes, season with salt and pepper.  A few notes, for a thicker soup add less water and for an easy variation add the mixture (minus dumplings) to an over safe casserole dish and top with pre-made biscuits.  Bake at 350 for 30ish minutes or until biscuits are fully cooked.

Boeuf Bourguignon
5 slices or regular (not low fat) bacon
2 lbs stew beef, cut into 2 inch pieces 
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup beef broth 
5 carrots, sliced into 2 inch pieces
1 onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tbs tomato paste
3 cups dry red wine 
1 cup pearl onions
2 cups white mushrooms
1 tbs dried thyme 
Salt and pepper
Olive oil

Chop bacon into one inch pieces and fry in a medium sauce pan.  While the bacon cooks, season meat with salt and pepper and dredge in flour.  Once cooked, remove and save bacon.   Brown meat in the bacon fat in batches, brown meat on all sides cooking for approximately 5 minutes each batch.  Transfer each batch to a waiting bowl.  Once all meat is cooked add 1/2 cup beef broth to the pot.  Bring to a boil and stir to get all the delicious meat/bacon bits on the bottom of the pot.  Once broth has cooked down slightly, add onions and garlic.  Cook until translucent over medium heat.  Add tomato paste and cook for an additional minute.  Add carrots, wine, 1/2 tbs dried thyme, meat and bacon.  Bring to a boil while stirring, then reduce heat to low and cover.  Simmer on low for 3ish hours, until meat is tender.  30 minutes before stew is ready prepare mushrooms.  Wash and quarter mushrooms.  Combine mushrooms and pearl onions in a bowl and toss with olive oil, salt, pepper and thyme.  Bake at 350 degrees for 2oish minutes, stir occasionally.  Once roasted, combine the mushrooms/onions with the stew and serve with a tasty loaf of French bread.

Finally, for your viewing pleasure, a Blue-tailed skink

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