July 27, 2014

A Southern Favorite All Year Around! Crockpot (Hen) Chicken & Dressing

During our cool spell here in Texas a couple of weeks ago, I had a hankering for some Chicken and Dressing after seeing a Facebook friend post that she was making some for her family.  

I grew up eating Chicken and Dressing or as some may call it Hen and Dressing as did my husband, but through the years we got away from making it so much.  We turned to  eating Turkey and Dressing only around the holidays.  

After reading her post, I just couldn't get it out of my head how good it sounded.  

Some may be asking, what is a hen?  

You may not know this -- All hens are chickens, but not all chickens are hens.  

Hens are female chickens that are slightly larger than the males.  

Basically, they are mature egg-laying chickens. When hens reach about 20 months old, their egg production decreases and they eat more feed than they can pay for in egg productions so they are better served in a stock pot bringing the most flavorful rich broth.

The key to cooking a hen is to cook it for a long time and with plenty of water.  This is where a crockpot comes in handy during the hot months of the year or just out convenience when you want to come home to a Sunday lunch after church and it be ready to be put on the table.  

Just like the hen is cooked in the crockpot so is the dressing.  I put the chicken on before I go to bed and cook it all night on low.  The next morning I lift the hen out of the crockpot and place it on a platter to cool enough to debone.  While it is cooling I begin making the dressing.  I cook the hen with onions, celery, and fresh herbs, and because we like a little crunch with the dressing, I add celery and onions  again with dried herbs to bump up the flavor some more.  

You can't even imagine how incredible my kitchen smells.  

While the dressing is simmering away in the crockpot, we leave for church.

We return and open the door.  

Oh, it is amazing!

The chickens we purchase in the grocery stores today are slaughtered when they are very young tender chickens.   

These are call pullets.  

The problem with this is they can be bland because they haven't lived long enough to have a strong chicken flavor.  I find this to be true with buying chicken breast, but this is not the case with hens sometimes called stewing chickens that live a long full chicken life.

Don't get me wrong, young chickens have their place and produce delicious recipes and I buy them.

The thing about hens is they are too tough for many popular recipes, but their rich flavor makes them perfect for Chicken and Dumplings, Chicken Spaghetti, and all kinds of soups and stews. 

Y'all, Southerners love them some (Hen) Chicken and Dressing and it is not just for the holidays.   

Many cook Chicken and Dressing in the oven, or as I did here, in the crockpot throughout the year.  

I hope you give this recipe a try and cook it in a crockpot.  Enjoy!

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July 21, 2014

Lemon Blueberry Squash Bread

Have you every heard of yellow squash in a quick bread recipe?  I was first introduced to it last summer  by my daughter.  I love to bake with zucchini in bread, but never had made any with summer yellow squash.    

Last summer we had an overabundance of yellow summer squash from our garden, so I decided to freeze it shredded in two-cup measurements and add it to soup and spaghetti sauce throughout the year.  This summer I still had a few in the freezer so I decided to try and make a quick bread.   Lemon Blueberry Squash Bread is a new favorite! 

Blueberries and Summer squash are in season right now so why not combine the two and make bread.  

I like to use vanilla bean paste when I have it available.  It's the best.  If you don't, regular vanilla will be fine. 

This easy quick bread  has a little tartness of the lemon zest in the batter and the glaze which sends it over the top.  

It is absolutely fabulous!

Lemon Blueberry Squash Bread is the perfect quick bread for a summer celebration!

We enjoyed this bread with a cup of coffee every morning until it was all gone.  Hope you get to make some real soon.  Enjoy!

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July 20, 2014

Inspirational Thoughts #13 You Are

You are the song, 
You are the song I'm singing
You are the air, 
You are the air I'm breathing 
You are the hope, 
You are the hope I needed
You are 
This song ministered to Jim and I so much. I want to share with you and hope you are ministered to also. Enjoy!

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July 8, 2014

Parmesan Crusted Zucchini Sticks

Summer is in full swing here in Texas and vegetable gardens are pretty much still producing including cucumbers, squash and zucchini.

Zucchini is a vegetable that has really taken the limelight in recent years.  Cooks around the world have discovered ways to turn them into delicious sweet treats like muffins, cakes, pancakes and all kinds of quick breads.

In savory dishes, it is the first vegetable of choice when it comes to low calorie and carbohydrate foods for dieters, me included.  

I love the taste of this summer vegetable almost as much as I do potatoes, which brought about this recipe for Parmesan Crusted Zucchini Sticks. 

These are super easy to make and I baked them instead of frying them to make them a little healthier.  

I dipped them in egg whites, and then in a parmesan pecan bread crumb mixture, and placed them on a rack in a baking sheet pan , and baked them, Oh, so good!

I served them with Homemade Ranch Dressing for dipping.

These are super delish!  I hope you get to make some real soon while the zucchini is plentiful in your garden.

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