Homemade Chicken and Dumplings

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I’m so excited that it finally feels like fall in NC! To celebrate, I’m making one of my favorite comfort foods – chicken and dumplings! 

Ingredients:

  •  3 cups cooked chicken
  • 6-8 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 Tbs. butter
  • ½ tsp. baking powder
  • salt
  • a cup of milk

Directions:

  1. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cut the butter into the dry ingredients with a fork. Stir in the milk, mixing until the dough forms a ball.
  2. Roll the dough out into a thin square with a floured rolling pin. Cut the dumplings into squares about 2″ x 2″. It’s okay if they aren’t the same size. Sprinkle flour over the dough before cooking.
  3. Bring the broth to a boil over high heat. Drop the dumplings in one at a time, stirring while you add them. Cook for about 15-20 minutes.
  4. Add the cooked chicken to the pot and warm for a few minutes.

Enjoy!

xoxo,

Megan

Happy National Southern Food Heritage Day!

October 11th is known as National Southern Food Heritage Day, and as many people know, southerners have quite a unique palate. Grits, Cheerwine, sweet tea, and hushpuppies are some of the more well-known southern foods and drinks. Yet, on National Southern Food Heritage Day, people throughout the South celebrate the dishes and treats that originated in our area, including the ones below.

  • King Cake: This special cake is a Mardi Gras tradition and not just in New Orleans. First appearing in 1870 and arriving in New Orleans from France, the king cake is a ring-shaped dessert topped with sugar and icing, in the colors of green, purple, and yellow. It is usually eaten on Fat Tuesday. Hidden inside the cake is a plastic baby doll. The person who finds it is “King for the Day” and is supposed to purchase next year’s cake or host a Fat Tuesday party. In addition, the baby doll symbolizes Jesus being visited by the three wise men on January 6th, which is also known as Holy Day, Epiphany, and the Twelfth Night.
  • Fried Foods(which can include any type of food): The South is known for fried green tomatoes, fried okra, fried fish, and just about fried anything. These battered delicacies come in a variety of different ways and can be made spicy. Other foods I have seen fried are butter, Oreos, and doughnuts. I would recommend trying these at your own discretion.
  • Pimento Cheese: According to Serious Eats website, pimento cheese originated in the 1870s with New York farmers. These New Yorkers started creating cream cheese, and Spain began sending canned red peppers or pimentos to the United States. In 1908, the two items appeared together in a Good Housekeeping recipe. Afterwards, the mixture became a hit, especially in the South. As a matter of fact, farmers in Georgia grew red peppers and sent them throughout the United States, adding to the craze. Over time, pimento cheese, which is also known as the “caviar of the South,” became a staple for many people below the Mason Dixon line. It is a mixture of pimentos, cream cheese, grated cheese, mayonnaise, peppers, and more. Pimento cheese is eaten on sandwiches, crackers, chips, or even on cheeseburgers.
  • Hummingbird Cake: This is another cake that is a tradition for many events. Ingredients include pineapple, banana, spices, pecans, and a cream cheese frosting. As for the hummingbird cake name, its history actually comes from Jamaica. Also known as the Doctor Bird Cake, this dessert is named after Jamaica’s national bird. It came to the United States in 1978 when it was printed in Southern Living with the recipe being written by L.H. Wiggins. Later that year, the cake won the Favorite Cake Award at the Kentucky State Fair. In 1990, Southern Living named the hummingbird cake its favorite recipe and the most requested recipe in the magazine’s history.
  • Boiled Peanuts: Remember the buckets of peanuts at Sagebrush Steakhouse or Texas Roadhouse? One can guess that these peanuts were boiled. Mainly popular in Georgia, boiled peanuts are a classic snack at baseball games, roadside stands, and restaurants. Historians believe this treat started in the Civil War after Union General William T. Sherman’s troops marched through Georgia. After the march, the South was depleted of resources and supplies for their troops. Peanuts became a main source of food, and when boiled over a fire with salt, soldiers discovered that the boiled peanuts would last up to seven days in their packs. Once the war ended, the love for boiled peanuts remained and continues to grow to this day.
  • Cheese Straws: Similar to breadsticks, cheese straws are the perfect southern appetizer and snack. Mainly consisting of flour, cheese, butter, and cayenne pepper, no one quite knows how cheese straws came to be, but some say it was created by a cook who mixed leftover biscuit dough and cheese together. Let’s just say no matter how this snack was invented, southerners are glad it was.
  • Charm Cakes: A Victorian-era tradition quickly grabbed the hearts of southerners and found its way into Southern weddings. Within charm cakes, little charms with significant meanings are attached to ribbon and hidden inside the cake. During a bridal shower, rehearsal dinner, or the actual wedding, each bridesmaid pulls out a charm. For example, the ring means you are the next to marry, seashell stands for eternal beauty, and a moon stands for opportunity.

Food is part of the South’s history and every family’s heritage. These timeless dishes are ones that most people in the South truly love and will continue to share with future generations.

Simply Southern Hush Puppies

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Hush puppies – one of my favorite Southern foods! Now, you can make them yourself using this simple recipe!

Ingredients: 

3/4 cup self rising flour
1 cup self rising corn meal (not mix)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 small onion, finely minced 
1 pinch garlic powder
1 pinch onion powder
1 pinch old bay seasoning
1 Tbsp sugar
3/4 to 1 cup buttermilk
Canola oil for frying

Directions:

1. In a large mixing bowl, mix together flour and cornmeal. Add egg, onion and spices. Add buttermilk and stir with fork just until blended. Mixture should be farily stiff. Add a little bit more buttermilk, if necessary.
2. Heat oil in deep fryer to 375 degrees. Drop dough by teaspoons into hot oil and fry until hush puppies rise to the top and are golden brown. Remove from fryer and drain on paper towels.
Enjoy!
xoxo,
Megan

Cherry Pie Bites

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The weekend is one of my favorite times to bake and of course, eat! However, there are sometimes I only want a taste of something sweet. A great recipe for just that is cherry pie bites. They are perfect for a few people or a large crowd. You’ll be sorry if you don’t make them soon. 🙂

Ingredients:

2 cans crescent roll dough
21 oz. can cherry pie filling
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tbsp. milk

Directions: 

  1. Preheat oven to 375. Grease a muffin pan with butter or cooking spray.
  2. Unroll and separate the crescent dough. Place one triangle into each cup.
  3. Fill all the cups with a tablespoon of pie filling.
  4. Fold the 2 shorter ends of the dough together at the top 2. Then, pull the longer end over the shorter ones.
  5. Bake for 13 to 15 minutes or until golden brown.
  6. While the bites are cooling, whisk together the powdered sugar and milk.
  7. Drizzle the glaze mixture over the bites.

Enjoy!

xoxo,

Megan

Yummy Hot Fudge Sauce

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While the weather may be cooling down, I’m still thinking about cold foods, like ice cream! This past weekend, I made this delicious hot fudge sauce for my friends and family. Everyone loved it, so I thought I would share the recipe with you! The yummy hot fudge sauce makes a great topping that’s not just for ice cream and is a great present (hint, hint)!

Ingredients:

  • 1 pinch Salt
  • 1 (6 oz.) bag Semi-sweet Chocolate Chips
  • 1/4 cup Sugar
  • 1/2 cup Brown Sugar
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • 2 Tbsp. Butter
  • 1/2 cup Half & Half

Directions:

Mix all ingredients together in a saucepan. Stir over medium heat until ingredients are melted and hot.

Enjoy!

xoxo,

Megan

Easy, Breezy Chocolate Truffles

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This past weekend, I was craving anything chocolate but didn’t want to put forth much effort into making a yummy treat. So, I made these easy, breezy chocolate truffles. And trust me, they are very easy to make.

Ingredients:

  • 12 0z. bag milk chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 Tbs. almond flavoring
  • Powdered sugar or cocoa

 

Directions:

  1. In a microwave-safe bowl, melt the chocolate chips on medium for 3-4 minutes, stirring halfway through.
  2. Once done melting, stir until completely smooth.
  3. Mix in the sour cream and almond flavoring and blend well.
  4. Refrigerate for 30-60 minutes.
  5. Roll into 3/4 inch. balls and then roll into powdered sugar or cocoa.

xoxo,

Megan

A Summer Must: Key Lime Strawberry Cheesecake

If you haven’t already noticed, I have a big sweet tooth. The Key Lime Strawberry Cheesecake recipe is perfect for fulfilling my sugar cravings and is a refreshing summer dessert. After all, it is a refreshing dessert for the whole year!

Enjoy!

Ingredients: 

  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 3 – 8oz. packages of cream cheese softened
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 – 8oz. container sour cream
  • 1 1/2 tsp grated lime rind (lime zest)
  • 1/2 cup Key Lime Juice (recommend Kermit’s Key Lime Shoppe juice; order online only)

Directions: 

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Stir together first three ingredients and firmly press on the bottom and 1 inch up the sides of a greased 9-inch springform pan.
  3. Bake crust at 350 degrees for 8 minutes; cool completely. Reduce oven to 325 degrees.
  4. Beat cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer until fluffy; gradually add 1 1/4 cups of sugar, beating till blended. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in sour cream, rind, and juice. Pour batter into cooled crust.
  5. Place in 325 degrees oven and bake for 1 hour and 5 minutes; turn the oven off. Partially open the oven door; let stand in oven for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and immediately run a knife around the edge of the pan, releasing the sides.
  6. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack; cover and chill 8 hours. Garnish with strawberry slices, blueberries, and lime rind.

 

Strawberry Sauce

Ingredients: 

  • 1 1/4 cups fresh strawberries
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp lime rind
  • 1 tsp lemon juice (or more to taste)

Directions:

  1. Process all ingredients in a food processor until smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides.
  2. *Sauce should be a bit tangy, but not overwhelmingly so.
  3. Drizzle over the top slices of the cheesecake when serving.

 

Raspberry Sauce (alternate)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 jar seedless raspberry jam
  • 1/2 cup fresh raspberries, halved
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice

Directions: 

  1. Cook all ingredients over medium heat, stirring constantly so the sauce cooks but doesn’t stick. Once the jam turns into a liquid, remove from heat and cool, then refrigerate. Drizzle over slices of cheesecake when served.

xoxo,

Megan

A Recipe for #SharkWeek: Tasty Shark Poke Cake

Today’s shark-related post is all about food. This Shark Poke Cake recipe is adapted from delish.com and is delicious to eat. Plus, you can turn the recipe into a cupcake version. Just use a cupcake pan instead of a cake pan, as well as, one doughnut and fin per cupcake. Remember to also adjust the needed number of ingredients for a dozen or so cupcakes. For example, you’ll need 12 fruit roll-ups, not one.
Enjoy!
Ingredients:
  • 1 box vanilla cake mix plus ingredients for cake mix
  • 1 1/2 cups white chocolate chips, melted
  • Blue food coloring
  • Black food coloring
  • 1 strawberry fruit roll-up
  • 3 mini powdered sugar doughnuts
  • 2 cups marshmallow Fluff
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • 3 cups whipped topping

Directions: 

  1. Preheat oven to 350º and grease baking pan. Set aside.
  2. Prepare cake mix according to the box directions. Add a few drops of blue food coloring and stir together. (The cake will resemble the ocean.) Bake until done, about 25 minutes. Once cool, poke holes all over the cake.
  3. Combine the marshmallow fluff and water. Microwave for about 10 seconds. Pour the mixture all over the cake, making sure the holes are filled.
  4. In another bowl, add 5 drops of the blue food coloring to the whipped topping. Fold together. Frost the cake with the icing and decorate with shark fins and life preservers.

To make the shark fin decorations, mix the melted white chocolate with a few drops of the black food coloring. Using a piping bag or sandwich bag with a hole, pipe fin shapes (similar to triangles) onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and freeze until hard. Once frozen, add a drop of marshmallow fluff onto the bottom of the fins and place on the cake’s icing.

To make the life preservers, cut the fruit roll up into 3-inch long pieces. Then, each piece again into four pieces. Wrap four strips around a powdered doughnut and secure with the marshmallow fluff.

xoxo,

Megan

Why I “Work Smarter, Not Harder”

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Every day I try to use the motto “Work smarter, not harder.” Everyone has their own definition of this phrase, but it generally means using your thinking skills to minimize tasks and extra steps, so that you use your time wisely and more effectively to get things done quickly. For example, instead of putting something off that would take five minutes or less to complete, do it immediately and move on to the next task.

The main purpose behind the “work smarter, not harder” motto is that you, as the individual, are able to prioritize your own needs and build upon your strengths and weaknesses. You are able to visualize what you need to focus on, see if there is anything you can cut from your workload or lifestyle, ask for help if needed, and figure out how you work in the quickest and most effective manner possible. Everyone has their own answers and meaning to the motto. Now, the question is: how do you work smarter, not harder? Take a look below to see some of the tips on how you can put this motto to use in your life.

  1. Move and work in blocks. Instead of working hour after hour, divide up your work into equal sections. For each section of your to-do list, change up your location for working, whether it is inside, outside, or at home. The most important thing is to not set exact time limits for when you’ll finish a certain section, but to move when you have a certain section finished. Be sure to take a quick break or a fast walk to refresh yourself after each task.
  2. Check your email first thing. This is mainly where I get the bulk of my to-do list. See what items you need to prioritize and get those done first. Then, move on to the smaller tasks that will take less time to finish.
  3. Communication is key. Collaboration and communication can either make or break a project. Communicating effectively with other team members will help eliminate any mistakes or misunderstandings, or having to rework parts of the project.
  4. Don’t multitask. As much as we love to do so, multitasking can actually cause more trouble (and work) than needed. Stay focused on one task at a time and complete that task before moving on to the next.
  5. Create a routine and stick with it. When it comes to your work, to be more effective and efficient, it is best to try and do most of it at the same time each day. According to research, when we establish routines, our brains become in the habit of completing the task over and over again. Pretty soon, you’ll be able to accomplish a task quickly with less preparation. Essentially, you do the job on autopilot.
  6. Relieve stress. When you are stressed, it can be hard to achieve anything on your to-do list. Let’s refer back to tip #1. The breaks between the sections of time will help you ease your stress and stay calm while working. Also, having a clear mind allows you to think through your task and helps prevent mistakes and misunderstandings.
  7. Use your “GPS.” In her book, It’s About Time! author Mitzi Weinman explains GPS as “goal, purpose, and scope.” According to Weinman, this system can be used to get the whole picture and how you need to accomplish it. For example, you can see a task completed and then envision the various steps needed to completing it. Also, “GPS” can help you set goals for each of those steps until it is done (goal). Always ask yourself “why” we are doing something and how it fits into the larger goal (purpose).

“Work smarter, not harder” is a motto everyone should try at least once in their lives. Give it a shot – you might happily discover you are able to get more done in a shorter amount of time.

xoxo,

Megan

Yummy S’mores Dip – A Must-Try Recipe!

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S’mores Dip is definitely one of my favorite desserts. Bring on the chocolate, marshmallow, and graham crackers goodness!

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 tablespoon butter
  • 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
  • 15 jumbo marshmallows, halved
  • Graham cracker squares

Directions:

  1. Adjust rack to the center position of the oven and place 8-inch cast iron skillet or regular frying pan on rack. Preheat oven to 450°F with skillet inside. Once preheated, use a potholder to remove the hot skillet from the oven.
  2. Place a pat of butter in the skillet and coat the bottom and sides. Pour chocolate chips in an even layer into the bottom.
  3. Arrange marshmallow halves over the chocolate chips, covering the chocolate completely.
  4. Bake for 5 to 7 minutes or until marshmallows is toasted to your liking.
  5. Remove from heat and rest for 5 minutes. Serve immediately with graham cracker squares.

Enjoy!

xoxo,

Megan