Chicken and Dumplings

This meal is pure comfort food! It’s also nutritious, with plenty of vegetables and organic chicken. The dumplings can be made with organic whole wheat flour, or left off entirely. The fat can be drastically reduced by using skinless chicken and skipping the browning. Also, the entire recipe can be vegetarian by using vegetable stock and substituting a mixture of beans…or even seitan. Be creative, according to your personal dietary requirements!
















Chicken and Dumplings
4-6 servings

Chicken Stew
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 stalks celery, chopped
2 medium onions, chopped
4 medium carrots, chopped
1 parsnip, chopped
2 teaspoons dried thyme
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 large bay leaf
1/4 cup flour
6-7 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
3 pounds chicken thighs, or breasts, bone-in
1-1/2 cups flour (this can bee half/half whole wheat and white, or 100% of either)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup coarse ground cornmeal
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup + a splash heavy cream (or milk, or buttermilk)
Quicker Dumplings
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1-1/2 cups Bisquick
1 package (10 ounces) frozen peas

In a Dutch oven (or a 5- to 6-quart heavy pot with a tight-fitting lid), heat oil over a medium flame. Brown the chicken pieces, and remove. Discard their skins. If you’re paying attention to fat, pour off all the rendered chicken fat into a safe container, and add a tablespoon or so of olive oil to the pot. Add all the vegetables, garlic, and herbs. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is soft, about 5-10 minutes.

Add 1/4 cup flour and cook, stirring, 30 seconds. Add the browned chicken back to the pot, then add broth and bring to a boil, stirring constantly; season with salt and pepper. Reduce heat to medium-low, maintaining a low simmer. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, 45-60 minutes.

Meanwhile, make dumplings: In a medium bowl, whisk together remaining flour, thyme, baking powder, sugar, salt cream. With a fork, gradually stir in milk to form a moist and soft batter. It should be just a little thicker than pancake batter and should easily drop from the tip of a spoon. Set aside. Note: Quicker dumplings, mix 1 egg with 1/2 cup milk, then add the mixture to 1-1/2 cups Bisquick and stir to combine.

Stir peas into pot. Drop batter in simmering liquid in 12 tablespoonfuls, keeping them spaced apart (dumplings will swell quite a bit as they cook). Wrap lid in a dishtowel (absorbs steam, which can make dumplings soggy), cover pot with lid, and simmer until chicken is tender and dumplings are firm, 12 minutes. Serve!

Braided Olive Bread

I’ve been making this bread for decades, and it never fails to look beautiful and taste delicious. I strongly suggest that you make a double recipe, either making one large loaf, or two smaller loaves. You’ll be glad you did! The original recipe can be found in Deborah Madison’s delightful book, “The Savory Way”.

braided olive bread













Braided Olive Bread

1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
10 ounces green Sicilian olives (use the strongest-tasting you can find)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup organic whole wheat flour
Approximately 3 cups unbleached organic white flour
8 whole green Sicilian olives, as above, for decoration
1 egg, beaten

Warm the milk, water, and sugar until warm to the touch (a bit warmer than body temperature). Stir in the yeast and leave it until it foams up a bit. Some yeast packets aren’t very foamy, but a little island of paleness will show up after about 10 minutes…and that’s enough!

Next, remove the pits from the olives. I do this by laying a large chef’s knife on top of an olive and giving the flat of the blade small *thump* with the heel of my hand. This loosens the pit enough to pick it out of the olive’s flesh. Chop the olives into pea-sized pieces. You need to end up with a cup of chopped olives.

Once the yeast has shown signs of life (a bit of foaminess, or that little pale island), stir in the chopped olives, olive oil, salt, and whole wheat flour. Stir until a batter begins to form, then begin adding small amounts of the white flour until the dough is stiff. This is where things become a little flexible: different flours, the yeast, even the weather, has an effect on how much flour it will take to create that stiff ball of dough. So take it slow and have fun watching your dough develop. When you have a ball of dough too stiff to handle, cover the bowl with a clean cloth, and let the dough take a little rest break for about 20 minutes or up to 3 hours. During this resting stage, gluten development begins, and simple sugars start to form as starch is broken down. Although it may look like nothing is happening, you’ll notice the difference as soon as you handle the dough because it will have become smoother and elastic.

Once the dough has rested, turn it out onto a floured counter or table and begin kneading. The olives will add a few bumps to the dough, but you’re still aiming for a smooth, even consistency. I knead for about 10 minutes, but again it depends on the flour and how everything is coming together.

Film a bowl with olive oil, and roll the dough ball around a little so that it has a film of oil, too. Cover the bowl with a clean cloth or plastic wrap and place in a warm—not hot—spot to rise.

Once the dough has doubled in size, anywhere from an hour to and hour and a half, punch it down and divide it into three equal parts. Roll each part into a rope about 22 inches long (if making a single loaf. Twice as long if making a double-sized loaf.). Each rope should be about 3/4″ wide. Braid tightly, then form the braid into a spiral with the edges of the dough just touching, tucking the ends underneath.

Set the braid aside to rise again. If you’ll be using a baking stone, rise the braid on a peel dusted with cornmeal. If baking on a baking sheet, place the braid directly upon the sheet. Cover the braid with a clean towel, return it to its warm place to rise, and wait another hour or so.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, with the baking stone, if you’re using one. Break the egg into a small bowl, and whisk. Refrigerate.

After the braid has risen, brush with some of the beaten egg, and push the whole olives into the braid at juncture points of the braid. Slide the bread onto the hot baking stone or place the baking pan in the oven. After 15 minutes, brush more egg onto the newly exposed surfaces. Continue baking for another 45 minutes, or until the bread is nicely colored and has reached an internal temperature of 180-200 degrees (using a Thermapen-type thermometer, shake the pan slightly and use a towel to lift the bread up on its side. Then poke the thermometer into the underside of the bread.). Let the braid cool on a rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

My favorite food and wine pairings for this bread is feta cheese and a Chianti, or as the bread accompanying a roast chicken. Bon appetit!

Oven-Roasted Tomatoes

















I didn’t know, when I started this experiment, that  I would be making highly-addictive tomato candy. My beloved had to gently suggest I stop my maniacal late night nibbling. I may sneak back out to the kitchen when he’s asleep.

Oven-roasted cherry and Roma tomatoes are delicious, luscious, and candy-like at 200 degrees for six hours + one hour at 300 degrees (total hours = 7). Add a lttle more time if your tomatoes are bigger.

I tried 250 degrees on convection for three hours, which yielded the same look, but the flavor was only “really nice reduced tomato flavor”. Not bad at all; very tasty, in fact. But if one compares the two? Long, low, heat wins the day.


Oven-Roasted Tomatoes

Cut small tomatoes in half, set cut-side-up on a rimmed baking sheet, brush with garlic-infused olive oil (6 minced cloves per 1/2 cup oil), sprinkle exceedingly lightly with sea salt and black pepper. Roast at 200 degrees for six hours + one hour at 300 degrees (total hours = 7). If your tomatoes are a little larger, keep roasting until they look like the photo, above 🙂

Do try to resist gobbling.

Great on pizzas, tossed with pasta, on crackers, as sandwich ingredients, etc., etc., etc…

Mango Salsa


Search the internet and you’ll find pages of recipes for different kinds of mango salsa. Your choice depends on how you’ll be using the salsa and your personal taste. The core ingredients are mango, some sort of onion, cilantro, and lime juice. Other veggies or fruits can be added. Heat, in the form of cayenne or jalapeño peppers, can be added. Salt can be added…it’s all up to you, and they’ll all taste terrific. Here’s my version—

Mango Salsa
Makes about 2-3/4 cups

2 cups chopped pitted peeled mango (I also use tiny thawed cubes of frozen mango)
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
2/3 cup chopped green onions (or red onions, if you’d like more punch)
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or finely-minced jalapeño pepper
Other possible additions:
—1/2 cup tiny cubes of peeled cucumber
—1/2 cup tiny cubes of firm avocado
—1/2 cup tiny cubes of firm tomato
—1/2 cup tiny cubes of pineapple

Toss ingredients together. Serve with unsalted corn chips, or over grilled tofu, fish, chicken, or pork.

Remember: you can add or delete any of these ingredients to create a salsa that suits your personal taste, but I’d suggest keeping the core mango-onion-cilantro-lime juice combination as the base.

Turkey and Beans Chili

turkey chili















This chili features complex flavors that are smokey, spicy, savory, and rich, and offers the perfect comfort food for cool weather. It’s also low sodium and low fat. If fat is no issue for you, I’d suggest sautéing the turkey in about a tablespoon of olive oil until browned, and also sautéing  the vegetables—in a separate pan—in another tablespoon of olive oil until translucent, then mixing the two together and following the rest of the recipe as written.

Turkey and Beans Chili
6-8 servings

1 pound ground turkey (make this meatless by using your favorite meat substitute or adding more beans)
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
1 medium red bell pepper, ribs and seeds removed, coarsely chopped
3 cups frozen corn kernels
2 28-ounce cans chopped tomatoes, drained
1  8-ounce can tomato sauce
1 15.5-ounce can sodium-free red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 5.5-ounce can sodium-free black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 small can chopped green chilies
10-18 drops stevia (to taste)
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons espresso (or coffee) powder
4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons chili powder
4 teaspoons dried basil (or 2 T. pesto)
4 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
4-6 cloves garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
Sriracha sauce or cayenne pepper, to taste
1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke
Garnish: Low fat sour cream, chopped cilantro

Heat turkey in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat, stirring constantly to avoid burning. Break up the turkey and cook until it is no longer pink, about 8 minutes.

Add the onion, pepper, and frozen corn, and cook about 4 minutes. Add all the rest of the ingredients, stirring until thoroughly mixed. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer, covered, for 30-60 minutes. Remove and discard the bay leaves. Taste, and adjust seasonings, if needed.

Garnish with low-fat sour cream and chopped cilantro.

Green Gazpacho

This recipe is a “what was in the refrigerator” version of a recipe by the inspired Yotam Ottolenghi. It is perfect for hot weather! I made it with fewer fats and sodium. Extra/different ingredients/quantities from Ottolengi’s original recipe are in parenthesis.

green gazpacho










Green Gazpacho
Serves 4-6

2 celery sticks (including leaves)
2 small green peppers
1 pound cucumbers, peeled
3 slices stale whole wheat bread, torn up (white bread)
1/4 cup canned chopped green chiles (1 fresh green chile)
3-4 garlic cloves
2-3 drops stevia (1 tsp. sugar)
1/2 cup walnuts (1.5 C. walnuts)
2 cups spinach (6 C. spinach)
1 cup basil leaves
1 cup parsley (2 T. parsley)
4 tablespoons champagne vinegar (4 T. sherry vinegar)
3 tablespoons organic extra virgin olive oil (1 C. olive oil)
1 cup nonfat organic yogurt…or plain coconut vegan yogurt (3 T. Greek yogurt)
2 cups water
9 ounces ice cubes
(2 tsp. salt)
Cayenne pepper (white pepper)

Using a blender, add roughly chopped veggies and a bit of water to within 2-3″ off top of blender. Puree. Pour into large soup tureen. Keep doing this—adding ingredients to the blender, filling until 2-3″ from the top—until all ingredients have been pureed and added to the soup tureen. Mix thoroughly. Add more water, if needed, to reach desired consistency. Taste. Adjust seasonings.

Add ice to blender, pulse once or twice to crush, and add to soup. Serve with croutons, if using.