20 Minute Chicken And Dumpling Stew

Recently I decided I didn’t want to always be fussing with cooking raw chicken before I made everything, so I got some frozen pre-cooked chicken. I also got frozen veggies, because we need to eat more of them.

Ingredients:

  • half a bouillon cube
  • garlic
  • pepper
  • whatever other seasoning seems like a good idea
  • chicken
  • frozen peas and carrots
  • Bisquick
  • milk
  • water

Throw your broth basics, pre-cooked chicken pieces, and however many peas and carrots you want in a larger pot than you think you need. Add about a cup of water for every bowl of soup you want to end up with.

Put that on high and get out a bowl to mix your dumpling dough. Add a couple cups of Bisquick, salt and pepper if you want it, and enough milk to make a quite moist dough – think something like a Betty Crocker brownie mix that you pour into a pan. Mix that with a spoon.

Is the water boiling yet? If it is, drop spoonfuls of your dumpling mix in. Simmer that for the like ten minutes or until the dumplings are as done as you want them. Serve immediately!

Reward Biscuits

I fairly badly needed to clean the kitchen: dirty dishes on the counters and island, stove greasy, dirty dishes in the sink, clean dishes in the dishwasher – anyway, you get the point, which is that I am a human disaster. We also are once again out of bagels. So I needed both food and motivation to not live in filth.

Motivation mostly tastes like cheese.

Ingredients:IMG_1186

  • bisquick
  • seasoning salt
  • pepper
  • milk
  • shredded cheese

Start your oven preheating to 350°F and get out your ingredients, a large spoon, a bowl, and a baking tray.

Throw a bunch of Bisquick in the bowl, then add a fair sprinkling of pepper and seasoning salt: you don’t want tons, probably, but the bit of extra flavor makes them taste amazing and also like they took more than a half second to plan out.

Add a dollop of milk! Then start mixing stuff up. It should end up just moist enough to hold together. When you’re close to that texture, toss in a bunch of shredded cheese and some more milk and mix that in, a bit more gently. Does it more or less hold together? Good.

Now use the spoon to transfer big lumps of it to your non-stick baking tray. I got six biscuits about the size of my palm, but results will vary depending how big you like them and how much Bisquick you started with. Then add more shredded cheese on top, as much as will stay more or less in place. At some point when you’re finishing up, the oven should be finished pre-heating, so just pop those in. I cooked mine for 13 minutes, and they’re still kind of soft and the cheese on top is gloriously melted but not really bubbly. Mix up your baking time as needed! You probably don’t want anything shorter than 8 minutes or longer than 20, though, no matter your biscuit size.

While those are cooking, you can probably clean most of a kitchen, putting away dishes and loading the dishwasher and wiping down counters. I found it very motivating, because you can get a lot done in a short time and then afterwards sit down with a piping hot, cheesy biscuit as a reward for being an actual adult who does cleaning and stuff.

Chicken Noodle Soup

I got sick a week or two ago – some stomach thing that meant I took my first-ever trip to Urgent Care and left me feeling like I’d been hit by a truck for a couple days before disappearing without a trace. After the first couple days, I eventually felt well enough to contemplate sick-person food. Canned chicken noodle soup mostly tastes like salt to me, and gives me headaches if it’s not the low-sodium stuff, but luckily making it from scratch only takes like 20 minutes, and you can take breaks.Chicken Soup

Ingredients:

  • couple chicken thighs
  • some kind of grease (butter, olive oil, vegetable oil, whatever)
  • handful of noodles
  • bouillon cube or low-sodium broth of some kind
  • seasoning
  • frozen veg if you’re feeling particularly ambitious and coordinated

Get out a non-stick pot and cut your chicken into it with kitchen shears. Add a bit of your grease and turn it to medium, then ignore it for like five minutes. Move the chicken around a bit, then toss in your bouillon cube, seasoning (I used paprika, garlic, salt and pepper), and a couple cups of water. Turn the heat up a bit – or don’t, whatever, this is not meant to be a mentally involved cooking exercise – and, when it comes to a boil throw in the pasta. Small pasta’s probably easier, but if fettuccine’s a necessary part of your comfort food experience, go for it. The pasta should take as long as indicated on the box. If you’re doing veggies, throw them in when you’ve still got a couple minutes to go.

When the pasta’s tender, you’re ready to go. Most recipes I see give servings, and some even apply the magic power of math as applied to measurement for calories, but this is a judgement-free zone. This made a bowl each for T and I, but it’s easily alterable and if you’re feeling as sick as I was it’s a tremendously legitimate life choice to just sit down with the whole thing and a sleeve of crackers and devour the whole thing.

Potatoes and Chicken

The little corner store near the dorm had a corner that contained both ready-made soups like ramen and also spices. The seasoning I used for this was from that corner, so I honestly have no idea if it was supposed to be vaguely tomatoey seasoning or some king of tomato-vegetable soup. Student life and linguistic incompetence for the win.

Ingredients:

  • can of corn
  • pound of ground chicken
  • ketchup
  • salt and pepper
  • like half a packet of whatever seasoning that was
  • potatoes

Start the potatoes boiling and the meat browning about the same time and the timing works out pretty well. Put salt and pepper on the chicken while it’s browning so that it has at least some flavor starting out.

The potatoes probably take ten minutes if you’ve cut them into chunks, but periodically stab one with a fork to check for texture. Stabbing is probably the most fun way to check doneness in anything. When the potatoes are done, drain them and add them to the chicken. Drain the corn and throw that in, too, then add a couple squeezes of ketchup and some other seasoning. If you have access to weirdly fancy things like ‘spices you know the names of,’ then any kind of spice you’d associate with a summer barbecue flavor would probably complement it well.

Serve immediately.

It takes two pots, which is more than what I’d usually prefer for something I’d call quick and easy, but it also takes less than half an hour total, which is pretty good.

Mac and cheese

So, one thing about mac and cheese is that you can make it just by applying cheese to macaroni. And in Russia, that seemed way easier than making cream sauce, and boxed mac and cheese was completely unavailable. Which meant I was making comfort food – and trying to be healthy – with as few ingredients as possible.

  • macaroni noodles
  • some kind of cheese that was roughly the consistency of a block of Colby Jack
  • can of mixed carrots and peas
  • meat of some sort – looked like a thing of hard salami?

Okay, so nothing was really labelled. Like – I know it was cheese. And you can use any kind of cheese that grates okay and melts nice. And the meat was some kind of strongly flavored cured sausage thing that looked good – you can honestly use whatever, but I wanted something strongly flavored to pair with the mild cheese, plus not to have to cook it separately.

Start the water boiling and start grating the cheese. Hopefully you’ll be done the cheese by the time you throw the noodles in, and then you can slice the sausage thing. When the noodles are done, drain them, then put them back in the pot. Add the cheese and meet, drain your can of veggies, throw those in, and stir everything together. The residual heat should melt the cheese, and you’ve got a quick dinner that has most of the major food groups.

More things to do with pasta and chicken

Ingredients:

  • pasta of choiceIMG_0328
  • chicken breast
  • flour
  • butter
  • onion
  • garlic
  • seasoning salt, coriander, cumin, paprika

Start a pot of water boiling – add a little salt. In a large pan, start a generous chunk of butter melting on medium-low. Add like a pinch of half-sautéed onion and a tablespoon of diced garlic and let that all kind of mellow together for a couple minutes.

Start cutting up your chicken. One breast is enough for me and T, though we’d probably use two thighs if we had them. Chuck that in the pan, sprinkle like a tablespoon of flour and the spices on top. The flour makes a sort of pseudo-breading that works quite well.

It should be time to add the noodles to the water now – chuck in your favorite pasta.

Turn the chicken, then turn down the heat to low: it’ll still get a little crispy on the outside from the higher heat, but then cook all the way through and be delicious.

When the pasta’s done, scoop the pasta and like a quarter cup of pasta water into your pan, swirl it around so it’s all got some of the same flavoring, and serve.

Poutine

IMG_0312Poutine is a super Canadian thing: there are restaurants that do just poutine, and even McDonald’s has a version. A lot of restaurants have variants, actually: an Indian place in downtown Victoria has butter chicken poutine, and a barbecue place has pulled pork poutine with this ridiculously amazing bourbon-based gravy, and there was a food truck that had poutine with buffalo chicken and banana peppers. There are a lot of ways to do poutine, and they’re pretty much all amazing.

Basic poutine ingredients:

  • cheese curds
  • gravy
  • French fries

Ingredients for the poutine I made because we were craving it but there’s only one place in town that does it:

  • two large orders of McDonald’s French fries
  • packet of brown gravy mix (plus water)
  • garlic dill cheese curds

So, while T went out to get us French fries and sweet tea, I started the gravy on the stove and started the oven preheating to 350°F. Just make the gravy according to package directions: it doesn’t take very long. T got back with pretty much perfect timing, so I dumped one order of fries in a medium casserole dish, then added about half of the cheese curds, then layered the other order of fries on top. The rest of the cheese curds goes on top, and then I dumped gravy over the whole thing and stuck it in the oven for 10 minutes.

Theoretically if you’re making it from scratch and using potatoes you’ve made and seasoned yourself, you could probably just throw everything together in the last couple minutes of baking time.

Also theoretically, the baking is optional: the cheese curds don’t have to be completely melted as a requirement of the recipe, just because I really love them that way. It made a pretty decent gooey and delicious dinner for two. I added a bit of pepper to mine at the end, but it’s optional. Basically the whole thing is deeply indulgent and Canadian junk food that goes together really easily.