Here, on the Eastern Shore, chicken & dumplings might as well be a food group. My mom made chicken or turkey and dumplings as I was growing up, but she made drop dumplings. Tender, biscuit-like little pillows. Fluffy dumplings. While they were delicious, they were never my favorite. My first “slick” dumpling was at the local Chincoteague Fire Department Pony Penning dinner. The Ladies Auxiliary sells tickets for a chicken & dumpling dinner, served immediately following the saltwater cowboy’s return to the carnival grounds with the wild horses that have made the swim. It’s really more like lunch, considering it’s served at around noon – but, here on the shore lunch is “dinner”, and dinner is “supper”.

After my first bite at the fair grounds, I was sold on rolled dumplings. Thick, chewy pieces of eggless pasta – swimming in a rich chicken broth, with lots of tender pieces of chicken. Comfort food at it’s finest! Once I married a man from the island, I knew I had to get my chicken & dumps recipe straight. Like I said before, for a Chincoteaguer, it’s almost a food group. For a couple of years I used dumplings I found in the freezer section, which is well and good. But, I knew I’d really take pride in making them from scratch. Flour, milk, and salt is all you need to make them happen. I usually do a double batch of the dumplings, as I’ve found this recipe doesn’t produce as many as I like. Homemade chicken stock is always your best bet, but a low-sodium store-bought stock is okay in a pinch. I’ll usually just pull the meat off a roasted chicken and refrigerate, make the stock from the carcass, and use the reserved chicken to combine with the dumplings.  A favorite dish in our home, it doesn’t get more comforting than this!

The backbone of any good soup is a good stock. Whether it’s chicken, beef, seafood, of vegetable – it’s key. When I was first learning to cook, I had the hardest times with soups. It seemed so easy, yet, I kept messing it up. It was always too bland, or too overly seasoned. Thankfully, after a few bunk batches, I got the feel for it. It is almost too easy in it’s simplicity. Some chicken scraps, carrots, celery, onion – combined, transform into liquid gold.

You could easily substitute a turkey carcass, if you happen to have one lying around. It’s quite possible a few of you might! I like to make the stock a day ahead, and refrigerate overnight. That way the fat separates to the top of the stock, and I can skim it right off before reheating to make the whatever it is I might be doing with the stock. I find that poultry, more than anything, renders a ton of fat. So, I always like to remove as much as I can. I don’t even bother peeling the onions or the carrots. I literally stumble to the stove in the morning in my PJ’s, throw the stuff in the pot, and call it a day. Doesn’t get much easier than that, folks!

I never thought I’d say that a meat-stuffed cabbage would be my new favorite dish, but it is true. I guess that’s what living in a house with three guys will do to you! I’d tried a recipe for stuffed cabbage a while back, and I didn’t like it. It used bratwurst, which I’m not the biggest fan of in the first place. Plus, I think the dish and I had just gotten off on the wrong foot to begin with. Cabbage rolls were always something I saw other families eating, and were kind of grossed out by. Meat and cabbage, okay. But, to slather it in tomato sauce? Weird.

I came across this recipe on Pinterest, and I couldn’t wait to try it. I had originally written in Swedish meatballs into our menu for the week, but decided to swap it out for the cabbage rolls where the main ingredients (ground pork and beef) were the same. Completely and totally blew everyone away! They are braised in red wine, and that really does something for the cabbage. Cabbage can be such a harsh flavor, but the wine balances it right out. And, the cabbage mellows the wine out. It’s a win-win! The rice combined with the ground meats really lightens up the texture of the filling, too. Often meat fillings can be so dense and rubbery – this was just right. Also, I’m pleased to report that the tomato sauce fits right in perfectly. You really can’t go wrong when the base for the sauce is the delicious beefy, wine-y braising liquid. If you’re looking for a last minute Christmas Eve supper, look no further. With a little bit of prep work leafing the head of cabbage (that I actually found quite fun!), this is a dinner that takes care of itself on the stove top – so you can spend more time doing the fun stuff. Plus, the scent of it bubbling away is intoxicating…

Also, I finally hopped on the Facebook bandwagon. Stop by and say howdy over there, if you are so inclined. I hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas!


We haven’t been eating a lot of beef recently. I usually only buy steaks and roasts when they are on sale, and it’s been a while since I’ve come across a good deal.  Beef can be so expensive, but it’s something everyone in the house really enjoys and looks forward to. Enter, the eye of the round roast. At around $3.00 per pound, it’s a very affordable cut. I love a beautiful tenderloin as much as the next person, but they’re very pricey!

This is a great option for nice dinner of roasted beef, that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. Would also be great for entertaining for the Holidays (roast beast, anyone?). It requires a bit of forethought, with the salt marinade overnight, but otherwise it’s pretty effortless. If you don’t have a digital probe thermometer, I highly recommend getting one. To achieve proper medium-rare results with beef, it’s an essential piece of kitchen equipment. Makes roasting meats of any kind a “no-brainer”. I served it sliced, as is. But, it’s also wonderful with a bit of horseradish – or, a jus made from the pan drippings. Leftovers make a fabulous french dip or roast beef sandwiches the next day. Put this on your menu for Sunday dinner this week!