Homemade Chicken and Dumplings

It’s actually cold enough for frost to cover the ground here in the panhandle of Florida. And between work and Christmas shopping and baking, this family needed some good ole southern comfort food. My boyfriend loves chicken and Dumplings. He found a video on Facebook (Suzy Shirey Tidwell: Hoyt Tidwells Chicken and Dumplings video) and we followed that recipe. If you can’t find it on Facebook it is below. It’s simmering on the stove right now and I can’t wait to dig in.

The few things we did differently is we took 4 split chicken breasts and one large container of chicken broth and slow cooked them in the crock pot overnight. Leave the skin on the meat to make the broth richer.

Save the broth from the chicken to use as the base for the chicken and Dumplings.

Set aside the deboned, shredded chicken and save until ready.

Add 10 chicken bullion cubes to the broth and bring to a bowl.

Mix up: (by hand. DO NOT USE A SPOON)

3 cups of flour

1 egg

1/4 cup of shortening

1 cup of water

Add more flour as needed to make a stiff ball of dough.

Sprinkle flour on a pastry sheet and roll each ball out until thin. Using a pizza cutter, cut dough into long strips lengthwise and width wise. When the broth is boiling, add the Dumplings one mound at a time. Add pepper to taste.

Each time you add a mound of dough, shake the pot. Do not use spoons.

After all dough is added, shake one more time, reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 30 minutes.

Add chicken and stir with a wooden spoon. Simmer for about 20 minutes. Serve with your favorite bread and enjoy!!

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Garden of Eden Trail, Florida

It’s been just beautiful here in Florida. Warm days and cool nights make for some great hiking weather. Today my family and I hiked through the Garden of Eden Trail in the Apalachicola Bluffs and Ravines Preserve. It was an amazing hike but not for the faint of heart.


3.75 miles round trip showcasing some of Florida’s natural foliage and wildlife. This hike is strenuous and I would not recommend for small children. 

*This novice hiker nearly puked on some of the inclines but I pushed through and feel amazing for it. And the River Loop is definitely worth it.


Check out the National Conservancy website for more information on Florida hikes. 

While I miss the mountains, this was an excellent hike and worth the trip. 

Garden of Eden is north of Bristol, Florida (one hour west of Tallahassee)

For more Florida travels and recipes, please click the follow button! 

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

I love fall. I love the crisp cool air, the rustling of the leaves and all the all actitivies; like going to the pumpkin patch. Last weekend we went and picked out pumpkins. One of the best things about fresh pumpkins is the seeds. Each year I try a few different varieties of spices. Usually one sweet and one salty. And this year we had plenty to roast. 

Before you add any flavors to your seeds, you want to dry them out. You can either set them out for about 24 hours on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, or roast them in the oven for about 350 degrees for an hour. 


After they are dried out, then you can add the different spices. 

Pumpkin Pie Spice Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Ingredients:

1/4 cup of brown sugar

1tsp cinnamon 

1/2tsp nutmeg

1/2tsp ground cloves 

2 Tbsp olive oil 

Directions:

Heat oven to 300 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with partchment paper. Mix spices and brown sugar in a small bowl. Toss pumpkin seeds in oil. Add sugar mixture to the seeds. Stir. Add seeds to cookie sheet in a single layer. Bake for 20 minutes, stirring halfway through. Store in an airtight container. 


Traditional Pumpkin Seeds

Ingredients:

2 Tbsp olive oil

Salt and Pepper

1tsp garlic salt

Directions:

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Toss seeds with olive oil. Add garlic salt, dash of salt, and pepper to taste. With this recipe you can add as much as you want depending on your preferences. Roast for 20 minutes. Stir halfway through. Store in an airtight container. 
Happy Halloween! 🍁🎃👻🍂

Garlic Parmesan Pasta with Chicken Sausage & Tomatoes

Going to the Farmers Market is one of my favorite Saturday morning activities. I strive to shop local as much as I can, especially when I’m cooking for my family.


Feeding a family of five can get expensive, and when there are three growing kids and one hungry man, pasta goes a long way. I love a good pasta dish, but try to cut back on the heavy sauces. For this recipe I used Wishbone’s Garlic Parmesan Salad dressing as my base for the pasta. 


Sam’s has some amazing chicken sausage flavors. I used the Gouda and Pear Chicken Sausage, which added the right amount of sweet. 

Fresh tomatoes from the Farmers Market and some mozzarella cheese and dinner was complete. 


Ingredients:

Pasta shells (I use bow tie pasta but it’s just a matter of preference.)

One package of Chicken Sausage; cut into bite sized pieces

One large tomato; diced

Salad dressing (add to taste)

 1 cup Mozzarella cheese
Directions:

Boil pasta as directed on box. I cook the whole box for our family of 5. Heat a small amount of oil in a skillet. Sauté Chicken in skillet until brown. Add tomatoes during the last few minutes, cook enough to soften. Season with salt and pepper. Drain pasta and mix with salad dressing. Top with chicken mixture and mozzarella cheese. And dinner is done! 

Filling enough but light on the calories. Enjoy!

Thanks Hurricane Nate

It has been a busy hurricane season this year. Nearly every part of Florida has had some effects from either Hurricane Irma, Maria, or Nate. While the panhandle has been spared the majority of the damage, it sure has made our beaches a little more creepy and have caused some environmental damages as well.


I have not taken the time yet to explore all the areas around Panama City that have been affected by Nate, but we did visit one beach along the Gulf Coast to survey the changes. I can say that based off of other reports, St. Andrew’s State Park has some eroding and sadly, some sea turtle nests were destroyed by the wave surges.

We walked over an hour down Tyndall AFB’s beach. Less hectic than Panama City Beach, still affected by Hurricane Nate passing through. The rain from the outer bands of the hurricane brought a rise in our humidity and it settled quite nicely over the beach. We walked much closer to the dunes and the grass that lined the upper part of the beach due to the water still rushing onto the shore.


My kids found empty shark egg sacks, Sea Cucumbers caught in the seaweed and branches that were pulled in from the grassy areas. Jelly fish and crabs were scattered along the beach, as well as trash that was caught in the undertow. It was very sad to see plastic bags and fishing line tangled in the seaweed.


We have been very lucky so far in the panhandle. We have mostly seen rain and some slight wind damage, nothing like those in the Keys and Puerto Rico.

It was a good reminder of how quickly Mother Nature can turn and attack. We are never 100% certain of where a hurricane will go until close to the last minute on some occasions and we never really understand the power Mother Nature has until we are personally effected by it.

Between winter storms in Colorado, fires in California, hurricanes and earthquakes, the Earth is angry. It would be wise of us to listen.

Be kind to the Earth and kind to each other. We are all fighting a battle, and in the times of natural disasters, we need to show compassion, kindness, and lend a helping hand any way we can.

Hug a tree and hug a friend. Smile at strangers and love our tribe just a little more today.

Lake Seminole Family Trip

Growing up in Missouri and Wyoming, my family spent most long weekends and summer breaks at the lake. We are carrying on that tradition with my kids. Our family, all 12 of us, loaded up two campers, two jet skis and two kayaks and spent the weekend playing at Lake Seminole. 

Now while I love the beach, the lake was the perfect spot to take out the jet skis. The water was smooth and the weather was perfect. Only and hour and half from Panama City, FL, it was the perfect spot for a weekend getaway. 

I think we have found our next great camping spot. Where’s yours?

Fried Cajun Potato Cakes


One of the benefits of feeding a large group of people is leftovers! Leftover potatoes can be used for many different recipes. One of our favorite uses is Potato Cakes. I used the leftover potatoes from our Shrimp Boil to make this recipe. However, you can use leftover mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes. 

Ingredients: 

Leftover mashed potatoes

2 tsp Cajun Seasoning

1 egg beaten 

2 Tbsp Flour

1/2 cup shredded cheese

2 Tbsp Oil

Flour for dusting

Directions: 

Mix cold mashed potatoes with all ingredients except the oil. Roll into balls, roll in flour on a cutting board and pat into Cakes. Heat oil in a skillet until hot. Add Cakes and cook on each side for about 5 minutes or until golden brown and heated through. Serve with shredded cheese and your choice of toppings. 

Side note: I use Yukon Gold potatoes for a more creamier flavor and the yellow color. But any type of Potato will work. 

Enjoy! 

Low Country Shrimp Boil with Clams

My oldest son loves fresh seafood. For his 14th birthday he requested a Low Country Shrimp Boil with fresh clams. It’s the perfect meal to feed a crowd and it’s fun! The best part of the Boil is you can mix up the seafood to what is either in season or to your preference. Crawfish is traditional with a Shrimp Boil but they are out of season until January. Clams, crab legs, mussels, or scallops are great substitutes. 


Ingredients:

2 Bay Leaves

1 Garlic Clove

1/2 bag Old Bay Crab Boil

1 yellow onion (cut into wedges)

4 cups of water

5lb yellow potatoes

2 packages of Polish Sausage (cut into chunks)

5 ears of corn (shucked and cut into chunks)

1lb bag of fresh shrimp

1lb bag of fresh clams

Directions: 

Fill a 4 quart pot with 4 cups of water (or about halfway). Add seasonings, Crab Boil, Garlic and onions. Bring to a boil and continue to boil (covered) for about 10 minutes. Add potatoes and cook at a boil for about 20 minutes. Add corn and sauasage. Continue to boil for about 8 minutes. Add clams. Boil until clams open or about 8 minutes. Add shrimp. Turn off heat and allow to sit, covered, for 15 minutes. Drain water and dump over a table covered with a plastic table cloth. 

We use tongs to serve up the food and enjoy! Our favorite sides are coleslaw and chewy bread. 

Remember, fresh seafood is always best! Shop local!

Spontaneous Roadtrips and Indiana


I try to hold true to this statement and once a year take my kids on a trip. This summer, however, we did not plan any vacations or trips. We were just going to be homebodies and enjoy what our town had to offer. 

Life had other plans. The boyfriend has family in Indiana and decided last minute we were going to take a roadtrip and spend the week in the Midwest. 

12 hour drive later, the kids and I woke up to the sun rising over the corn fields and windmills greeting us a good morning. 


We spent the week exploring the bfs hometown. From eating pizza in a double decker bus to venturing out to see waterfalls, we had a blast. 

Stops included the Air Force Museum in Dayton, OH. Swimming in the river in Liberty, IN. And a bonfire watching the sunset over the farmlands. 


The trip home included a stop at the Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, KY and a tour of the Jack Daniels Distillery in Lynchburg, TN. 

While a trip to farm country may not seem exciting, it’s all about who you travel with. My kids got to experience another state and I got to learn more about what makes my man tick. 

No trip is ever boring when it’s with the ones you love. So get out and explore. You never know what you might learn. 

Florida Beaches

Staycation has been good so far. We have had two incredible beach days at two of my favorite beaches. 

Day 1: Mexico Beach. I love going here because it is not nearly as busy as Panama City Beach but just as pretty. White sand and clear waters make for a relaxing day. A few hours of soaking up the sun followed by lunch at Tou Cans (a great little seafood joint right on the beach)  and the day was a success. We ended the night in a high note with Moana and some Snapchat fun. (Mexico Beach below)

Day 2: St. Andrews State Park in Panama City Beach. This section of the beach is usually not as busy or as rough but emerald green and beautiful. When taking smaller kids to the beach, this cove is the perfect little spot. We got our fill of sun and brought home our fair share of sand. Another successful beach day. 


Day three will be filled with shopping and dinner at Pier Park. Spring Break has been good to us so far!