Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Mother's Day...Part 2...Finally!

A couple of weeks ago, I shared a little about the Mother's Day luncheon I hosted in honor of my mother and mother-in-law, and I promised to share the recipes and the two poems I received as Mother's Day gifts.  It's been a really busy couple of weeks, what with the end of school, and every time I would sit down to write, something else would demand my attention.  Well - today's the day! With Father's Day quickly approaching, I want to finish off Mother's Day and begin looking toward honoring the men in my life. 

In my last post, I showed you my tablescape.  I used my wedding china and crystal along with some beautiful (but inexpensive) Tiffany blue placemats and sparkling "diamonds" to pull together an extremely feminine table setting.  The ladies sat in the dining room while the men occupied the kitchen. Here's a little reminder...

Now to my favorite part...the food!  I planned the menu with ease in mind.  It takes us a full 45 minutes to get home from church, so I planned food that could be prepped the day before and pulled together in a short amount of time.  I'm sharing recipes for the main dish and dessert today.  Maybe I'll share more soon...

Mother's Day Menu
Chicken and Dumplings Casserole
Sweet and Sour Green Beans
Candied Sweet Potato Patties
Tossed Green Salad
Homemade Yeast Rolls
Classic Southern Buttermilk Pie
The day was about celebrating my two favorite moms, but I still had to feed a bunch of manly men and several picky kids.  I took a chance with a new recipe for the main dish, and, luckily, it was a great success!  

Chicken and Dumplings Casserole
1 whole chicken
1 large onion, roughly chopped
2 stalks celery, roughly chopped
2 carrots, washed and roughly chopped (you can leave them unpeeled)
2 springs of fresh rosemary
1 stick butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 rib celery, finely chopped
1 heaping teaspoon finely minced garlic
1 cup self-rising flour
1 cup half and half
2 cups chicken broth
1 can cream of chicken and mushroom soup, undiluted
salt and pepper to taste
Remove the giblets from the chicken and cover with water (plus another two or three inches) in a large stock pot along with the roughly chopped onion, celery, carrots and rosemary.  Add a good amount of salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil and reduce to medium low and cook for at least an hour or until chicken is falling off the bone.  (Don't boil it too hard, or the meat will become tough.)  Remove your chicken to cool.  Allow your broth to cool as well, and then strain it.  You will have a lot of yummy, fresh chicken stock to use over the next week.  I even had enough to freeze some.  Reserve two cups for this recipe.  When your chicken is cooled, discard skin and pick the meat off the bone.  I shredded it, but you could do a larger chop; whichever you prefer.
Finely chop a small onion (you should be able to find Vidalias right now!) and one stalk of celery and sauté in one stick of butter.  Season with s/p.  Cook until soft, about 10 minutes.  At the end, add the garlic and just cook until you begin to smell it (about a minute).
Spray a 9x13 casserole dish.  Spread the sautéed vegetables in the bottom of your dish.  Add the chicken in an even layer on top. 
In a bowl, combine the milk and half and half, whisking until free of lumps.  Season lightly with s/p.  Pour this over the chicken.
In the same bowl you just used (I just saved you some clean up!), mix the chicken broth and cream of chicken and mushroom soup.  Season this mixture as well, then pour over the flour/half and half layer.
Do NOT mix the layers.
Bake at 350 for about an hour until it is bubbly and browning.  It didn't "set" until the last 20 minutes or so, so don't worry if it looks wet while cooking.  I allowed it to sit for about 10 minutes to cool and finish setting up.  I added a little chopped fresh parsley before serving.
Tip - I prepared my chicken Saturday morning.  I sautéed my vegetables on Saturday, as well, and went ahead and layered the veggies and chicken and stuck it in the fridge.  I wanted to make sure that the flour mixture layer rose a little to make the "dumplings" so I held off on the last two layers until I got home from church Sunday.  It took about 10 minutes to mix the last two layers while the oven preheated.  While the casserole cooked, I was able to make the final prep on the other items.
This is really yummy and everyone enjoyed it!  It makes a lot and I enjoyed the leftovers for lunch the next day. 
For dessert, I made an old-fashioned buttermilk pie.  It was featured in last month's Southern Living magazine, and it was also a hit.
Classic Southern Buttermilk Pie
1  1/2 cups sugar
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
3 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled
1 tablespoon lemon zest
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pie crust
Preheat oven to 350.  Whisk together sugar and flour.  Beat eggs and add them, along with the rest of the ingredients, to the flour mixture.  Mix well.  Pour into pie crust.  (I admit it.  I use Pillsbury refrigerated pie crusts.  I mean, why not?  They are yummy and soooooo easy.  I always have a two-pack of them in my fridge for dessert or pot pies!) 
Bake for about 45 minutes or until almost set.  It will still have a slight "jiggle" but will set up in the fridge.  Be careful to shield your piecrust edges if necessary. 

Let cool and then refrigerate for a few hours before serving.  Again, I made this on Saturday and kept it refrigerated.  I did take it out before we sat down to lunch so it wouldn't be ice-cold when I served it.  I garnished with cool-whip and fresh berries.
As I mentioned, I was surprised not once, but twice, that day with poems written in my honor. 
First, Jewell gave me a poem she had written for me for Mother's Day.  She read it to me before we went to church.  She is a blossoming little writer, and I am very proud to share her poem with you.

Moms by Jewell Jones
Moms are great things in this world.
Moms are precious, just like pearls.
Without moms, what would we do?
Who'd cheer us on when we're feeling blue?
Who would fix our hair and send us on our way? 
Who would give us that warm smile and say "Have a great day"!
Without moms, we'd be a disaster.
Who would tell us "You're almost there" and "You keep getting faster"!
Moms are important, so treat them well
and they will always be there for you at the ring of a bell!
Jewell and me during a girls' day at the theater last fall.
I was also surprised with a poem by my mother-in-law, Martha Jones.  She has written beautiful poems about both my children after their birth.  Now I have my own!  (If Gerald is good, maybe he'll get one some day!)
Missy by Martha Jones

A life of beauty, one filled with grace,
Can be clearly seen in her family's face.
With visions of grandeur and words with a flair,
can hardly reflect a lady so rare.
A house in the country is a home filled with love,
A husband and children are gifts from above.
A faithful lady who walks humbly with God,
Following paths on which angels trod.
Cooking and cleaning, these things such a must,
Some days are so busy there's no time for dust!
The washing and ironing must come to an end,
The stack of clean laundry is ready to mend.
A party for the kids, joys for young and old,
Many happy stories from the yard are told.
The folks in life that really make us smile,
Are grand- and precious children that go the extra mile.
A designer and planner...sometimes a bit prissy,
But to all of us, she is our beloved "Missy".

She teared up while reading it, so you know I boo-hooed, too!
I was especially honored by both of these poems this past Mother's Day, although I think they were more than generous in their praise for me.  I just hope to live up to what they think of me!  I am truly blessed!
So, that's Mother's Day!  Just a couple of weeks until Father's Day.  Commence the planning!
I'm so glad you stopped by my neck of the woods!
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