Category Archives: Recipes by The Dinner Belle

A fall favorite: Chili

I went outside yesterday and it was actually COOL. You know, the kind of weather where your hair doesn’t frizz instantaneously and your clothes don’t stick to your sweaty skin? Our weather man said it has not been that “chilly” (the high was in the mid-70s) since MAY. People, that is insanity. So, with cooler weather on the horizon, I am starting to get really pumped for fall. Crisp air, changing leaves and college football. Not that I watch college football of my own free will, but football means fall, so I like it for that reason. All of this thinking about fall makes me start thinking about cold-weather food. Soups, stews and chili. So, in preparation, I thought I would share my chili recipe with you.

Jessica’s Awesome Chili

1 lb ground chuck
14 oz can diced tomatoes
14 oz can tomato sauce
14 oz can dark red kidney beans
1/2 tsp sugar
3/4 tablespoon chili powder
pinch of cumin
Salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste
*optional* red pepper flakes


1) Brown your hamburger meat and drain grease. If you like your chili HOT, add a shake of red pepper flakes here.

2) Stir in your kidney beans. Cover and cook over medium heat for about five minutes.

3) Add your diced tomatoes, stir, cover and cook for five minutes.

4) Add your tomato sauce, sugar, chili powder, cumin, SALT, pepper and garlic powder. Bring up to a simmer, cover and reduce heat to medium low, stirring occasionally. Let this chili simmer for about 20 minutes, though it’s up to you depending on how chunky you like your tomatoes- the longer you cook it the more they will break down. I? Love chunks!

5) Give it a final taste and adjust your seasonings.

6) Eat as-is or top with grated cheddar cheese (Trevor’s favorite). Serve with saltine crackers or corn chips (<– Trevor turned me onto this, and it’s darn good!)

This is a soupier chili- I know everyone has a preference, but this is my particular favorite style of chili. This is a great, inexpensive meal that is super easy to double and freeze leftovers for a day where you don’t have time to cook. Enjoy!

Real Southern Chicken & Dumplings

Okay, y’all, I’m about to share one of my signature dishes with you guys, which is pretty good news because it is delicious!! This is a take on my Aunt Frances’s dumpling recipe, it’s her basic one, but I do it just a little differently. I have been making these things for YEARS (like since I was a teenager), and they are one of my little family’s favorites. I also tend to make these for friends when they have babies or need a special meal.

Because wouldn’t this make you happy?? It makes me happy every time!


This is not a 30-minute meal, let’s just make that clear from the get-go. This is a hardcore, made-from-scratch Southern woman recipe! And it is worth every flipping second you spend on it! Trust me. Here we go:

Ingredient Line-up
-1 medium-sized whole chicken (3-4 pounds)
-1 onion, quartered
-4 carrots, peeled and chopped in large pieces
-3 stalks of celery, chopped in large pieces
-3 cups of all-purpose flour
-2 eggs
-3 tablespoons of vegetable oil
-cold water
- 1 or 2 whole bay leaves (I use dried)
-salt, pepper, garlic powder and paprika

1) Start off by putting your raw, whole chicken in a large pot. A Dutch oven works great (I use my favorite Le Creuset for dumplings!), or whatever you would use to make soup or spaghetti sauce in. Make sure you remove the giblets, if there are any. Toss the giblets, except for the neck, which you can put in for more flavor, if you aren’t grossed out by a neck floating in your pot, which I am not.

2) Add all of your onion, carrot and celery, then fill your pot until your chicken is just covered with water. Drop in your bay leaf (I only use one, but some people like two) and season, season, season! You’re going to need a few teaspoons of salt for this much water, and make sure you do 10 grinds or so of pepper and a hefty shake of garlic powder. I just do a couple shakes of paprika over the top.

3) Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to medium low for about 30 to 40 minutes or until chicken is done. You can tell if the chicken is done if you lift out the chicken a bit and slice the skin between the leg and thigh- if the juices are clear, it’s done, if they’re bloody, give it another few minutes. If it’s a little underdone, that’s okay because it’s going to go back into the pot to simmer again. Remove chicken from pot. Let cool.

4) You can keep your stock simmering on the stove until you’re ready for it.

5) For the dumplings, you will take your flour, eggs, oil and water and mix them together. Also season with salt and pepper. You will notice I did not give an amount for the water. That’s because it varies. Start by adding about a half a cup of water. Mix it all together, and if your batter is still crumbly, add more. You want everything to come together but look like a ball of dough. You are going to be rolling this out with a rolling pin, so you don’t want it runny. If you add too much water, add a little flour. It won’t hurt it.

6) Once you feel your dough is “right,” sprinkle a large clean surface with a TON of flour. I like to line my island with parchment paper, then flour it so I don’t have to scrape dough off my countertops, afterwards. It’s a smart plan. Lay down your dough, dust it heavily with flour and pat it down into a rough circle. You may want to check the bottom to make sure it’s not sticking and add more flour if it is.

7) Roll out your dough to about 1/8″ thickness with a rolling pin, continually dusting sticky spots with flour. Once it’s rolled out (probably about 2′ x 2′) let it SIT THERE for about 15 minutes. If you don’t, your dough will shrink up and really make you mad.

8) While your dough sits, remove the celery, onion and carrot from your stock with a strainer or slotted spoon. Save the carrots, but toss the rest.

9) Go ahead and take the skin off your cooled chicken and peel the meat off the bone. You’ll want bite-size pieces of chicken. Once you do that, chop your carrots into small pieces, as well. Set aside.

10) Cut your dumplings. Take my advice and use a pizza cutter for this, as it saves about an eternity of time. Cut your dumplings into about 1 1/2″ squares (you can go bigger or smaller as you prefer- it’s not science).

11) Turn up the heat on your stock to high until it boils, then turn it down to medium high. You’re ready to drop your dumplings!

12) Pick up your dumplings a handful at a time (you can stack them atop one another) and drop them one-at-a-time into the stock so they don’t stick to each other. After each handful, give them a loose stir. Keep going until all of your dumplings are in.

** If some of your dumpling stick, that’s okay. You don’t have to get each one into the pot at the risk of losing your mind. I generally lose 5 or 6 to stickage.**

13) Once all of your dumplings are in the pot, stir then every few minutes so they don’t stick, but let them simmer for a good 15 minutes. Then, drop in your chicken and carrots and stir it all together.

14) Taste your broth. Re-season. If it’s too thick, add a bit of water or canned broth. If it’s too thin, don’t worry, it will thicken up in a few minutes. If it doesn’t, just mix together a few spoonfulls of flour with some water in a cup to make a runny paste, then whisk it into your sauce- it will thicken right up. You want some juice, though, because you can soak it up with crusty bread!

15) Let all of your ingredients simmer together for five minutes or so over medium heat. Keep stirring so they don’t stick, but don’t chop at them.

16) Eat them. They’re good.

Let me know if you attempt this dish (I promise it’s not as complicated as I made it sound!)- I hope you enjoy it!!

The Great Potato War

Like some most of you, I have been using Pinterest as an excuse to look at pretty pictures of food all day long. I thought I mainly liked it for decorating ideas, but y’all, I have a food picture addiction. I think it’s because I’m all pregnant and starving to death and such, but seriously, I LOVE to pin food. My latest obsession? Potatoes. Because they’re good, they’re starchy and they taste really good with butter on them. I pinned these two potatoes to try.

Hasselback Potatoes: because, seriously, they look so cool!! I thought about calling them “Armadillo Potatoes,” but then I decided that I would not want to eat an armadillo, so I’m sticking with their given name.

Then, Crash Hot Potatoes. I’ve had this recipe flagged for EVER and just haven’t made it yet. I don’t know why I waited so long considering everything Ree Drummond makes is like culinary gold.

The verdict? I will say the Hasselbeck Potatoes had the potential to be awesome, BUT the recipe was not accurate on cooking time. They needed a good 30 minutes more in the oven because they were quite stiff inside.

The Crash Hot Potatoes, however, were AMAZINGLY FANTASTIC! Seriously, oh my gosh, so, so good. Super crisp on the bottom and the edges, but soft inside, oh hold me, they were GOOD. Trevor took one bite and asked “Do we have more potatoes?” He wolfed down his portion and told me “That was probably one of the best things you’ve ever made. Are they hard to make?” I told him no, they were super easy. Then he said “Okay, good, then there’s no excuse that we can’t have them every single day.” I like the man liked the potatoes.

So, my advice to you would be this: make the Crash Hot Potatoes. Because they will make your life very happy (and your husband, too).

Mexican Lasagna

This is a recipe I created (although I know I don’t hold the patent on Mexican Lasagna) a while back and wanted to share with you guys. We LOVE Mexican food in our house, and we’re always looking for new recipes utilizing our favorite ingredient: queso. YUM. This lasagna works just like a traditional one, except the noodles are replaced with tortillas and the other ingredients have a Mexican twist on them instead of your traditional Italian ricotta and such . I will say these pictures of the lasagna aren’t as pretty as it normally looks because I had to improvise with the cheese- I’ll explain later- but it was still delicious.


1 pack of 10 flour tortillas (you’ll use them all)
1 can (14.5 oz) tomato sauce
1 medium onion, half diced and half sliced
1 lb ground beef or ground turkey
1 can (14.5 oz) refried beans (we prefer low fat or vegetarian because then we can have more cheese!)
1 block of Queso-Melt cheese (or 10 oz tub of Queso-Melt cheese dip)
Salt, pepper, garlic powder, chili powder and cumin to taste

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Start off by making your burrito sauce. This will act as your red sauce in the lasagna. Take your sliced onions and sweat them (cook until translucent) in a bit of olive oil in a non-stick saucepan. Once those are done, add your can of tomato sauce. Sometimes I use a can plus one of those little 8 0z cans, depending on how saucy my mood is that day. Season with your salt, pepper, garlic powder (lots) and a little bit of cumin and chili powder. Cumin goes a long way- don’t over do it! Bring this to a bubble and let simmer for five to ten minutes. Set aside.

While your sauce is a-simmering, brown up your hamburger meat over medium heat. Once browned, add your diced onion and cook until it’s translucent. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

For the refried beans, I just take the can of beans, dump them in a tupperware dish and add about a 1/4 can of water. Heat them for two minutes in the microwave and stir. The water thins them out enough to spread.

Grate your cheese, or if the store has rejected your numerous pleas to carry the BEST CHEESE ON EARTH, you can use your favorite queso dip, instead. It tastes the same, but it looks kind of ugly. That’s okay, though.

This is the cheese brand you should buy if you ever see it. Bi-Lo generally always has it. Trust me that it's worth the $6 you'll pay for it. Tastes just like what you eat in the Mexican restaurants.

Okay, now we’re ready to assemble:

1) Lightly spray your casserole dish with cooking spray. Then, cover the bottom lightly with red sauce.

2) Layer two flour tortillas on top of this. I lay one whole one in the center, then rip another in half and lay it as shown.

3) Sprinkle 1/2 of your ground beef/onion mixture over the tortillas.

4) Add 1/3 of remaining red sauce.

5) More tortillas.

6) Add 1/2 of your refried beans. Top with your cheese or cheese dip.

7) Repeat these steps until you use all of the tortillas. Top final layer with red sauce and shredded cheese. Bake for 20 minutes or until cheese on top gets all melty, browned and bubbly. Let set for 10 minutes before slicing so all of your cheese and sauce don’t go and rush out.

I *may* have overfilled mine a bit… maybe. Also? It normally looks so much prettier than this when I use shredded cheese, but I assure you, it tasted phenomenal.

Hold me. I love cheese. Obviously, it won’t be so runny if you use shredded cheese (or if you actually let it set for 10 minutes like you’re supposed to before slicing into it.).

This tastes like a giant, delicious burrito. This makes four monster servings- Trevor can never eat two, even though he always says he will. That’s okay, though, because then he can have some for lunch. So there you have it, Mexican Lasagna!

Santa Fe Chicken (a Crock Pot recipe)

I stumbled across an amazing Web site the other day, called Seriously, guys, it is a wealth of deliciousness! I have been trying to incorporate more healthy, low-fat recipes into our line-up of traditional Southern (ie: FATTY) staples. Most recipes I come across that are low-fat or low-cal look incredibly unappetizing. If the food isn’t satisfying, there is no way I can stick to a healthier lifestyle and make better food choices. No way, no how. I like food too much to eat something I don’t fully enjoy. Imagine my sheer joy when I found this site where the food all looks like REAL FOOD. And? If you do Weight Watchers, Gina puts the point value on each and every recipe, along with the other nutritional information.

We tried out her Santa Fe Chicken recipe last night, and I have to say, I was incredibly impressed. I really wanted to share it with you guys because we liked it so much, and it’s very budget-friendly! It made enough for at least two or three full meals for our family. It was a bit spicy for Knox, so if you’re feeding kiddos, leave out the cayenne!

Crock Pot Santa Fe Chicken
Gina’s Weight Watcher Recipes
Servings: 8 servings • Size: 1 cup • Old Points: 3 pts • Points+: 4 pts
Calories: 190 • Fat: 1.5 g • Fiber: 5.6 g • Carbs: 23.1 g • Protein: 21 g

  • 24 oz (1 1/2) lbs chicken breast
  • 14.4 oz can diced tomatoes with mild green chilies (Publix has their own brand for cheap)
  • 15 oz can black beans
  • 8 oz frozen corn
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 14.4 oz can fat free chicken broth
  • 3 scallions, chopped (I used one small onion)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder (I omitted this since I used real onion)
  • 1 tsp cumin (I used a healthy shake, not a full teaspoon)
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper (again, I just gave a shake- I think a full teaspoon would have burned my taste buds off)
  • salt to taste (make sure you taste before serving and adjust your salt)

Combine chicken broth, beans, corn, tomatoes, cilantro, scallions, garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, cayenne pepper and salt in the crock pot.  Season chicken breast with salt and lay on top. Cook on low for 10 hours or on high for 6 hours.

(This is going to look really watery, but don’t worry, once you shred the chicken into it, it evens out). Half hour before serving, remove chicken and shred. Return chicken to slow cooker and stir in. Adjust salt and seasoning. Serve over rice (extra pts).

This is pretty true to what it ends up looking like. We didn’t top ours with any cheese or green onion- it really didn’t need it. Trevor told me “Wow, this tastes nothing like it looks. I saw that and thought it was going to taste kind of bland.” First off, I wanted to say “I don’t ever make bland food, crazy man!” LOL, but seriously, he was right- this stuff was flavor-packed. It didn’t feel like “diet” food at all, even though there are only 1.5 grams of fat in a serving! We served ours over brown rice, and it was delicious- can’t wait for the leftovers! I have to say, this would also make a pretty rockin’ soup or stew if you didn’t want to add rice.

I’ll make sure to share new recipes we try and love with you guys!

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