Do you have any favorite childhood foods? Maybe there was something special you only ate once or twice a year, or maybe it was a fun flair on an old favorite. Food coloring is an easy way to jazz up any meal, and the fun part is that you can use standard favorite childhood foods, add a little food coloring, and call it whatever you want! I remember my mom making us GREEN chicken and dumplings for St. Patrick’s Day!
I don’t really know why I loved it so much! Maybe just because it was a little out of the ordinary, a little bit fun. But, one year a few years ago, I remembered this neat dish and offered it to my kids on St. Patrick’s Day as a surprise. Understandably, they were a little hesitant to try a green bowl of something odd-looking. But, they tried it, and they loved it, and now it’s a tradition in our home to have this Green Chicken and Dumplings meal every year on St. Patrick’s Day!
It dawned on me as I was preparing for this blog post that it really is a shame that we don’t have this more often. The kids just LOVE it. But what’s the use of green chicken and dumplings at other times of the year? Well, first of all, you could easily do this at Christmas. In fact, you could add red bell peppers and red (purple?) onions and make it even a little more Christmas-y looking. Or, you could use a totally different food coloring and do this for almost any special occasion or holiday!
- 4-6 medium chicken thighs (approx 4 pounds)
- 2 cans biscuits
- food coloring
- salt and seasonings to taste
- veggies (optional)
First, I boiled the chicken until it was tender enough to gently fall off the bone, and the skin was easy to remove. I just spooned out each individual thigh onto a plate, separated off the skin and took the bone out, then gently spread out the meat with a fork before dumping it back into the pot. If you let it boil long enough, this will be super easy to do! My chicken started out frozen, so I got it onto the stove right after lunch, and by the time I was ready to fix dinner it was ready and easy.
Next, I had to add a little bit of water to the pot because much of it had evaporated. I had to add about 4 cups of water. Then I opened the biscuits and pulled each individual biscuit into 4 pieces. These don’t have to be pretty or even; just small enough that they will cook well, and close enough to the same size that they’ll be done at about the same time. No worries – I just pulled.
Boil the biscuits until they have an almost transparent consistency. While you wait, add your salt and seasonings to taste. I added garlic and onion powder. I also added some frozen mixed veggies, just to hearty it up because I knew my husband would be super hungry! Normally, I don’t include the veggies; this is the first time, but the kids didn’t complain and ate it up just as well as usual. So, I will likely use veggies in this for the future. It kind of turns this “chicken and dumplings” into more of a “chicken and dumplings stew,” but I’m okay with that!
Right about the time that it is all finished cooking, I added the food coloring. You need plenty of color to make an impact on the kids. For St. Patrick’s Day, the holiday when I remember my mom doing this, we use green. Here are some other holiday and seasonal color ideas!
- Winter, January – blue
- Valentines – red
- Spring – green, yellow, pink, purple, or blue!
- Easter – purple (Jesus’ stereotypical sash, royalty)
- Mother’s Day – pink or purple
- Summer – orange, yellow, or red
- Patriotic (4th of July, Memorial Day, Flag Day, etc) – red or blue
- Fall – orange or red (with seasonal veggies like squash)
- Back to School – primary colors: yellow, red, blue, (or green) (LOTS of drops for a deep color)
- Thanksgiving – use turkey instead of chicken
- Christmas – red (with green veggies) or green (with red veggies)