Monday, December 9, 2013

Barreling Toward Christmas

As we prepare for Christmas, we are still remembering the fun we had with the whole family home for Thanksgiving. One of our best memories was the evening we sat at the kitchen table for about an hour after supper, pushing a Fisher-Price tractor around and around our long table. We all pushed it from one person to the next, making tractor noises, as Little Sister squealed in delight as we helped the plastic farmer do his job.

After a while, someone suggested that the farmer probably should go check on the cows. On our real farm, checking the cows involves riding out to see them, to count them, to make sure that no cows are in distress. But when Little Sister drove her little tractor over to the line of plastic farm animals at the end of the table, she hopped the plastic farmer out of the tractor. Then she turned him toward the animals and shouted, "Hey guys! How ya doing?" She may need a little more farm time with Daddy-O.

I have sneezed and sniffed for the entire rainy gloomy weekend and Monday was no better. We needed an easy supper. I happened to read that a nearby restaurant was having chicken bog for their special this evening. I have not had chicken bog in many years—not since my first job right out of college landed me in the South Carolina low country, where chicken bog is a staple. It was served at restaurants, school cafeterias and fund raisers. It sounded just right for this rainy night. Comfort food to the max.


Since I had cooked chicken in the freezer and House Seasoning on hand, this was a quick meal. I only made a half of the original recipe because that's all the rice I had. It was more than enough for the two of us. We will be eating it again for a couple of meals. If you want to make the full recipe, check out Paula Deen's recipe link. The recipe I've written down here is what I made tonight.

   — adapted from Paula Deen

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (the ones I used were large ones)
1/2 lb. turkey smoked sausage
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon Lawry's seasoning salt
1 teaspoon House Seasoning**
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper (or to taste--we surely didn't want more!)
1-1/2 bay leaves
4 cups chicken broth or water (and more, as needed)
1-1/2 cups uncooked rice

Slice the turkey smoked sausage into rounds. In a stockpot, combine chicken, sausage, onion, butter, seasonings and bay leaves. Add the chicken broth, cover and bring to a boil. Lower heat and cook for about 30-35 minutes, until chicken is tender. Remove chicken from pot and let cool slightly. Using two forks, shred chicken and set aside. Add rice to the pot and bring to a boil, stirring well. Boil 10 minutes, then reduce heat, cover the pot and simmer for 10 minutes, or until rice is done. (Add more broth if needed.) Remove the bay leaves. Stir the shredded chicken back into pot.

Serves 4

I always keep House Seasoning on my shelf.   **House Seasoning:  Mix 1/4 cup salt, 1 tbsp. black pepper & 1 tbsp. garlic powder. Store in an air-tight container, such as an empty spice bottle.

On Saturday, before this cold got the best of me, I helped at our church bake sale. I took eight loaves of my sour dough bread.

And I made a few loaves of a new recipe, Cinnamon Swirl Quick Bread. Since I had never made this one before, we had to taste the first one to make sure it was bake-sale-worthy. It was very good. We decided it was even better a couple of days later. Makes it even easier to factor into your gift giving since you can make it ahead.

          —adapted from Plain Chicken

2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 cups sugar, divided
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-1/4 cups buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup canola oil
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1/4 cup confectioners (powdered) sugar
2 teaspoons water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a small bowl, mix 1/2 cup sugar and cinnamon.

Lightly spray a 9x5-inch loaf pan with PAM. Line bottom of pan with parchment paper or wax paper, and spray paper lightly with PAM. 

Combine flour, 1 cup of sugar, baking soda and salt. Whisk to mix dry ingredients. Add buttermilk, egg, vanilla and oil. Stir just until moistened. Pour half of batter into loaf pan; sprinkle with half of cinnamon sugar. Spread with remaining batter and sprinkle with remaining sugar. Cut through batter with a knife to swirl.

Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Allow to cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out to cool completely.

Combine confectioners' sugar and enough water to reach desired consistency; drizzle over loaf.

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