A Camping Crumble

dump cake serving

Last weekend, Mr. Star Wars had his fall camping trip for Boy Scouts. TheRoomDad happened to have his annual guy golf trip planned for the same date (coincidence? perhaps not). I agreed to take Mr. Star Wars to the campout in TheRoomDad’s stead. Little did I know that the temperatures would drop to 37 degrees, and while that is not extreme cold for many parts of the country, it is arctic for us. We live in South Carolina y’all. I barely own mittens.

Mr. Star Wars and I negotiated a deal. We would spend the day at the campout and leave after dinner. Or more specifically, we would leave after dessert. Why dessert? The lure of the Dump Cake. What is Dump Cake? A fruit and boxed cake concoction that is the highlight of every campout (according to Mr. Star Wars). Basically, it is a poor man’s fruit crumble. By the time the sun went down, Mr. Star Wars eagerly accepted my offer to stop at the grocery store to purchase ingredients and make a Dump Cake just for us at home.

We opted for cherry and pineapple, but Mr. Star Wars did briefly consider a blueberry and peach combination. You can choose almost any fruit combination. I am including the recipe we used, but you can substitute any can of fruit pie filling and any can of chopped fruit of the same amounts.

Ingredients

  • 21-oz. can cherry pie filling
  • 15-oz. can crushed pineapple, undrained
  • 1 box white cake mix (or yellow cake mix)
  • 3/4 c. butter (12 T.)
  • vanilla ice cream to top (optional)

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

dump cake mix fruit

  • Dump the cherry pie filling and crushed pineapple in a 9 x 13 in. baking dish and gently stir fruit together.

dump cake add cake mix

  • Sprinkle the cake mix evenly on top of the fruit and make sure it covers the fruit completely.

dump cake with butter

  • Sprinkle slices of butter on top of the cake mix.

dump cake baked

  • Bake for 1 hour or until the top is golden and bubbly.
  • Serve warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top.

dump cake w ice creamFor those of you anticipating the arrival of many family members for Thanksgiving, you might want this recipe in your back pocket as a back up dessert plan. I am pretty sure it is fail proof. Have a great holiday!

Grown Up Kid Food

chicken nuggets bite

TheRoomDad was reminiscing about the days when I used to prepare delicious meals most evenings. That was before we had children, and I was trying to impress him. Fast forward to today. I only get excited about preparing food for parties and school snacks. If it is bite sized food, snack food, or party dips, I am all about it. Otherwise, I don’t want to be bothered.

One recipe that I have not used in awhile is something from my childhood– a recipe for homemade chicken nuggets. They may seem like kid food at first glance, but they actually have a slightly more sophisticated taste than your average chicken nugget, and I used to make them for TheRoomDad. It is a recipe adults and kids enjoy. I was gracious enough to dust off the family cookbook and make the chicken nuggets last night. I was going to say how much healthier they are than a box of nuggets from the freezer section of the grocery store, but then I remembered that the chicken is dredged in melted butter before being coated in seasoned bread crumbs. Enjoy!

chicken nuggets ingredients

Ingredients

  • 2-3 boneless chicken breasts (or 1 pkg of chicken tenderloins, ~1 lb.)
  • 1/2 c. Italian bread crumbs
  • 1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 t. dried basil
  • 1 t. paprika
  • 1/4 t. thyme
  • 1/2 c. melted butter

Directions

  • Cut chicken into 1 1/2″ squares. If you are using the chicken tenderloins, cut each piece into 2 or 3 nugget-y pieces. The tenderloin can also be left as is to make a chicken strip.

chicken nuggets assembly

  • Mix dry ingredients in a shallow dish.

chicken nuggets coating

  • Pour melted butter in a separate shallow dish.

chicken nuggets melted butter

  • Dip chicken pieces into the melted butter and then into the dry mixture to coat.

chicken nuggets bread crumb coating

  • Arrange coated chicken pieces on a jelly roll pan (baking pan with a lip).

chicken nuggets covered

  • Bake at 400 degrees about 20 minutes or until browned and chicken is cooked through. If you are using larger chicken pieces, you may need to turn once while baking.

chicken nuggets cooked

Comfort Food

taco soup and tortilla chips

It is dreary here today. We are on the fringe of all of the icy weather, so we have had solid rain with some icing. It means that bridges are closed, and school was cancelled. What do you do on a day like this? Cook soup. Since I was in my pajamas when I had this brainstorm, I sent TheRoomDad to the grocery store for Taco Soup ingredients. Not only is the soup delicious on a cold day, it is also the perfect soup for eating dinner in front of the TV and watching winter Olympics.

taco soup

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs boneless and skinless chicken breast
  • 4 to 6 garlic cloves, chopped fine
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 32-oz. chicken broth (sometimes I use an additional 16-oz. can)
  • 1 4-oz. can mild chopped green chiles
  • 1 16-oz. can yellow corn (I like shoepeg corn)
  • 1 16-oz. can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 16-oz. can light rd kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 16-oz. cans diced tomatoes (drain 1 can and leave juices in 1 can)
  • 1 package original taco seasoning mix
  • 1 package dry ranch dressing mix

Toppings

  • grated Mexican cheese blend
  • sour cream
  • tortilla chips

taco soup prepping

Directions

  • Trim any fat off the chicken breasts and cut in half. Put halved chicken breasts in a large soup pot with chopped onions, garlic, and 32-oz. chicken broth.
  • Simmer until meat shreds (about an hour or so). I take the pot off the heat and with two forks, pull the chicken apart in the soup pot. If it is not pulling apart easily, cook longer.

taco soup shredding chicken

  • Add all other soup ingredients through the ranch dressing mix.

taco soup adding ingredients

  • Cook another hour or two on low heat. If you would like to thin the soup at all, add some more chicken broth.
  • Serve with grated cheese, sour cream, and tortilla chips.

Notes

  • This is a great crock pot recipe. Put the chicken, onions, garlic, and broth in the crock pot on low in the morning. At the end of the day (about 3:00) shred the chicken. Add the other ingredients and cook a few more hours on low.
  • The longer it sits, the better it tastes!
  • Freezes well.

taco soup bite

My Super Bowl Spread

Of course I am not talking about the difference in points for the game Sunday. I am talking about the party dips I will have on hand while watching the Super Bowl. This is a big decision for me. Do I go with a cream cheese or mayonnaise based dip? Hot or cold? Do I pretend I am adding a healthy component and choose a dip that is served with raw vegetables? I went back through TheRoomMom files and photos to help me decide. I think I am going to make the hot artichoke dip because it is a favorite from childhood. I will need something on the side– The Big Sandwich perhaps?

Click on the pictures below for recipes and tips for these super party snacks.

P.S. I had to look up the spelling of Super Bowl. I was not sure if it should be one word or two. Is that confusing for anybody else?

Hot Dips

hot artichoke dip

buffalo chicken dip

pizza dip

hot vidalia onion dip

charleston cheese dip

Cold Dips

dill dip in bread bowl

sun dried tomato dip

pan fried onion dip2

bacon almond cheese dip w cracker

Black Bean Salsa Dip

Mexican 7 layer dip

Thanksgiving Stuffing

sausage stuffing

Growing up, I always had a pretty traditional Thanksgiving meal that included a cornbread stuffing with chopped hard boiled eggs. I am not sure what region or style that sort of stuffing (dressing?) is, but it was never my favorite part of our Thanksgiving meal (sorry TheRoomMomMom). My parents are from a small town in Kansas, and I know it is the recipe TheRoomMomGrandmom always made. After spending Thanksgiving with TheRoomDad’s family, I found a new stuffing that I love. Thankfully, TheRoomDadMom shared her recipe with me many years ago. It is now my favorite part of the meal.

I know I am posting this stuffing recipe too late for you to enjoy at this Thanksgiving, but I couldn’t get pictures for you before today. Be sure to file it for Christmas dinner and have a great Thanksgiving with your family, friends, and other loved ones!

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 c. chopped onion
  • 1 c. chopped celery, leaves included
  • 1/2 c. butter
  • 1/2 lb. ground pork sausage meat (I like Jimmy Dean)
  • 1/2 c. coarsely chopped mushrooms
  • 8 c. unseasoned bread crumbs (from 1-2 loaves of pre-sliced Italian or other crusty bread)
  • 1 T. kosher salt
  • 1/2 t. ground pepper
  • 1 t. rubbed dried sage
  • 1/2 t. dried thyme
  • 1/2 t. dried rosemary
  • 1/2 t. nutmeg
  • 1/2 c. chicken stock (plus more– at least 1 c.)
  • 1/2 c. dry white wine
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 c. chopped dried apricots

Directions

  • A day or two before you need the stuffing, cut sliced Italian bread into 1/4 in. chunks and spread in one layer on a jelly roll pan. Bake at 350 degrees until lightly browned and toasted. It usually takes about 15 minutes or so. Move the bread around the pan several times during baking. Let cool and store in an airtight container or a Ziploc bag.

bread crumbs

  • In a skillet, saute onion and celery in butter until tender. Set aside in a large mixing bowl.
  • In the same skillet, cook sausage and mushrooms. Pour off any fat and add celery and onion mixture back into the sausage and mushrooms.

sausage and mushrooms add onions celery

  • Put bread crumbs in the large mixing bowl you used to hold the celery and onions. Pour sausage mixture on top and add all of the seasonings.

mix bread crumbs with ingredients

  • Moisten bread crumb mix with 1/2 c. white wine and 1/2 c. chicken stock. Mix thoroughly.
  • Add a little chicken stock to the beaten egg to thin. Add the egg and apricots to the sausage bread crumb mix. Stir well.

sausage stuffing mix thoroughly

  • Add more chicken stock if the mix seems dry. All of the crouton pieces should be moistened, but there should not be liquid in the bottom of the bowl. Do not over saturate.
  • Pour mix into a greased casserole dish. Bake uncovered at 325 degrees for 30 to 45 minutes. When the top is browned, remove from the oven.

Notes

  • If you can find pre-made unseasoned bread cubes, you can use those instead of making your own bread cubes/croutons.
  • White wine can be eliminated and replaced with chicken stock.
  • You can use fresh herbs or a combination of fresh and dried. Increase the amount if using fresh to taste.
  • I pour a little chicken stock on the top after the mix is in the casserole dish before baking.
  • I usually use 1/2 c. white wine plus one 15-oz can of chicken stock total by the time I finish prepping it all.
  • I like a round casserole dish with high sides like a 3-quart with a lid.

onions celery mushrooms