Monday, January 2, 2012

Learning Family Traditions

I've been married to Lance for five years this June.  After the death of my parents, his family opened their arms and, more importantly, their hearts to me. It's absolutely amazing just how blessed I am to have them in my life.  They are wonderful to Jude, spoiling him every chance they get and and I enjoy the time we spend with all of them.

After Christmas, I rode with my mother-in-law, Gean and her husband Don to Frisco, Texas to stay at her niece Katherine's home.  Katherine's mom (Paula) and stepfather (Jim) were there as well.  We went there on Thursday morning and came back on Sunday afternoon. Lance had to work through the week and wasn't able to be there, and we sure did miss him.
During our trip we visited the ICE experience at the Gaylord Texan in Grapevine, Texas.  Quite an experience at nine degrees.  It was a really cool (pun intended) place. The theme was Shrek from the Dreamworks film Shrek The Halls.

Shrek and Donkey
Jude on the ice (literally)
Jude and me photo op
We had such a wonderful time. I definitely want to go back next year.  Although I'm not sure the grandparents will be on board for that.

So now to the reason for this post.  A few weeks ago my mother-in-law Gean and her sister Paula told me all about their Mama Mia's (their father's mother) chicken and stuffing recipe.  During our trip to Frisco, I had the opportunity to watch Gean and Paula make this old family recipe.  It was quite a treat to watch.

This was a recipe they had not made since I had been in the family and I was interested in it because of all the history behind it.  Mama Mia would use a whole chicken in the recipe and it needed to feed a lot of people.  So over time this recipe developed. 
Mama Mia's Chicken and Stuffing Recipe
(click on to enlarge)
I watched every step of the process and now I want to share it with you.  Notice this is not a traditional southern chicken and dressing recipe with sage and corn bread.  The main seasoning in this is basil and, while corn meal is added, the main bread is french bread.  The most interesting ingredient I find in this recipe is the head of lettuce. You may be tempted to leave it out, should you decide to try this recipe, but I suggest you keep it.  And would I steer you wrong?
Gean (left) mixing the stuffing early on as Paula (right) watches.

I also snapped some pictures of the dressing being mixed up in the process.
The stuffing mixture before going in the pan
Now here's what you do.  First put down a layer of the mixture of stuffing into the bottom of your pan.  Make sure you have a nice big pan.  This is an aluminum roasting pan.  And actual roaster would work probably as I find that aluminum pans make it to where food seems to take longer to get done in the oven.  But that's just my opinion.

First layer of uncooked stuffing

Then the second layer is your chicken.  While Mama Mia used an entire baking hen, Gean and Paula used breasts and legs. 
Second layer of raw chicken on top of the stuffing layer
Then the last layer is what's left of the stuffing mixture.
And the last layer of stuffing before going into the oven.
Before putting it into the oven, Gean and Paula covered it in foil.  They placed it in a 350 degree oven for 2 1/2 to 3 hours or until the chicken was done.  Sometimes the breasts get done before the legs, so be sure to watch that. Then, when it good and done, remove the foil off the top as to toast the top of the stuffing good and brown.
Fresh out of the oven

Now, just so you know, I loved it on the first night.  But it's even better on day two.  Believe me when I tell you this.
My plate the first night (not the best lighting but you get the idea).
It's interesting, Gean and Paula talked about that, although it was good the first night, what they wanted to do to make it better the second day.  Paula basically added more basil to it and a little water so it wouldn't get too dry in the oven.
Fresh out of the oven on Day 2
Like I said, I really enjoyed it much more on day two.  What I love about this recipe is the history behind it.  I want to keep this recipe and pass it down like Mama Mia did with her children and grandchild.  I want Lance and Jude to experience this taste of history from their Italian family and maybe one day Jude's wife (heck or even Jude himself) will want to make this recipe for his children. I hope so.  There's nothing more important than family and then keeping the history alive by carrying on family's traditions. 

Happy New Year everyone!  Here's hoping you have a wonderful 2012 with your family. 


  1. wow these foods seem delicious
    hope you always be this happy :)

  2. Thanks! That's very sweet! I appreciate you taking the time to read my posts. :)