Friday, October 31, 2008


The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled. For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers. -M. Scott Peck

Thursday, October 30, 2008

I absolutely love receiving Chef Stephanie's email each month with her “the best thing I made this month” recipe and photo. The new and always fabulous dish seems to arrive at the perfect time.

Chicken and Dumplings with Leeks and Tarragon

With the weather quickly getting cooler and the end of daylight saving time right around the corner, I have already started craving heartier dinners – stews and soups, root vegetables, and squashes. One of my absolute favorite fall/winter dishes I just discovered last winter: Chicken and dumplings.

I know there isn’t a lot to “get” about Chicken and Dumplings, but I kind of didn’t get it. I have a vague memory from my childhood of my favorite babysitter in the whole world canning chicken and dumplings and the dumplings were super mushy. Gross. And this was not a dish that was served in my house, so the canned dumplings were all I knew. But then I came across this recipe and it looked so good, and it featured my favorite herb, tarragon. So I thought maybe it was time to give it another try. And was my bravery rewarded!

To me, this is more of a weekend meal, because it is slightly time consuming. That said, I did make it on a weeknight the other day when I had just a little extra time, and I think it took about an hour from start to finish. But, let me tell you, the results are totally worth it. Plus, half of the time to make it is hands-off while it simmers, and it is really a one-dish meal. All you have to do is steam up some broccoli or green beans and you have a complete balanced meal.

The stew is meaty and smooth and savory, and the dumplings are light and not mushy at all. They even retain their light texture as leftovers. So, I hope that you will try my winter favorite, and that you enjoy it as much as my husband and I do!

Chicken and Dumplings with Leeks and Tarragon

Serves 6 to 8 (I usually make half and it is good for the two of us with leftovers)

For the stew:
5 pounds bone-in, skinless chicken thighs
Salt and pepper
4 teaspoons vegetable oil
2 medium leeks
1 large onion, minced
6 tablespoons unbleached all purpose flour
1/4 cup dry sherry (or any kind of wine...)
4 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
2 bay leaves
1 cup frozen peas
3 tablespoons minced fresh tarragon leaves

For the dumplings:
2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon table salt
1 cup whole milk
3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1. For the stew: Pat the chicken dry with paper towels, then season with salt and pepper. Heat 2 teaspoons of the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add half of the chicken and cook until golden on both sides, about 10 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate. Return the pot to medium-high heat and repeat with the remaining 2 teaspoons of oil and the remaining chicken. Remove the remaining chicken from the pot.

2. Add the leeks, onions, and 1/4 teaspoon salt to the pot and cook until softened, about 7 minutes. Stir in the flour. Whisk in sherry, scraping up any browned bits. Stir in the broth, milk, thyme, and bay leaves. Nestle the chicken, with any accumulated juices, into the pot. Cover and simmer until the chicken is fully cooked and tender, about 30 minutes.

3. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board. Discard the bay leaves. Shred the chicken, discarding the bones, then return it to the stew.

4. For the dumplings: Stir the flour, baking powder, and salt together. Microwave the milk and butter in a microwave-safe bowl on high just until warm (do not over-heat), about 1 minute. Stir the warmed milk mixture into the flour mixture with a wooden spoon until incorporated and smooth.

5. Return the stew to a simmer, stir in the peas and tarragon, and season with salt and pepper. Following the steps below, drop golf-ball sized dumplings over the top of the stew, about 1/4 inch apart (you should have about 18 dumplings). Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook until the dumplings have doubled in size, 15 to 18 minutes. Serve.

To make the dumplings:
1. Gather a golf-ball sized portion of the dumpling batter onto a soup spoon, then push the dumpling onto the stew using a second spoon.
2. Cover the stew with the dumplings, leaving about 1/4 inch between each.
3. When fully cooked, the dumplings will have doubled in size.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Shop hpp at our retailers: Citrine, West Tisbury, MA

Please join us in welcoming Citrine in West Tisbury as one of our newest brick and morter retailers. At their shop you'll find a collection of crew tees, flare pants, hoodies and shirt dresses.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Peekaboo Picks: Fabulous Finds with Celebrity Style!

Many thank to Peekaboo Picks for featuring Hand Picked Pumpkin in this week's issue: Fabulous Finds with Celebrity Style.

Hand Picked Pumpkin. A Peekaboo favorite, custom clothing you can mix and match for your little pumpkin. Celebrity fans include Angela Bassett, Brooke Shields, Courtney Cox Arquette, and Angie Harmon. Visit to purchase.

Click here to read the entire line-up of manufacture's including some of our personal favorites Skip Hop, Mama Mio, Bugaboo, Appaman and more!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Inspirational thought

I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitute is happiness doubled by wonder. - G.K. Chesterton

Monday, October 20, 2008

New Gift Cards Now Available!

New card stock gift cards available just in time for the holidays!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Inspirational Thought

Everyone stumbles over the truth from time to time, but most people
pick themselves up and hurry off as though nothing ever happened. -
Sir Winston Churchill

Thursday, October 16, 2008

How fun is this?!: The Best Party in Chicago for kids

Be sure to visit one of our favorite kid friendly spots, My Corner Playroom, Friday, October 24th for good old fashion holiday fun including Halloween treats, face painting, music, spooky stories, crafts and more.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Pregnancy presents Gear & Style: Baby Fashion

Many thanks to Pregancy Magazine for featuring the Hand Picked Pumpkin Pierson Long Sleeve Lap Tee and William Drawstring Pant in their Fall 2008 issue of Gear & Style.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Many thanks to Babble for this lovely review posted this morning

I had so much fun designing my daughter's tee-shirt that I have vowed to give the experience of Hand Picked Pumpkin as a baby gift. Customize a t-shirt, bodysuit, hoodie, pants, dress, playsuit, or romper by choosing from a wide selection of contemporary fabrics. Select the color for the garment (pink, blue, white, brown, or kiwi) and then choose fabric for the trim.
The fun part is choosing the fabrics, of course, and there are so many cool ones to choose from. You can use different patterns for the trim on the neck, cuffs, and back of neck. You can even choose the color for the snaps on the cuffs. Every garment is locally hand sewn and the quality is outstanding. Clothing is made from the softest interlock knit and, of course, it's machine washable.
Look forward to seeing your unique creation in three short weeks. Sizes for 3-24 months. Their popular shirt dress now comes in toddler sizes, too.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Inspirational Thought

There are many wonderful things that will never be done if you do not do them. - Charles D. Gill

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Spring/Summer 2009 Collection

Visit us at AmericasMart October 11-14th to view our Spring/Summer 2009 Limited Edition Ready-Made Collection.
Hand Picked Pumpkin
Mama Mia Showroom
250 Spring Street Building 3 -13E109A
Atlanta, GA 30303

Monday, October 6, 2008

Lots of baking to be done

We made our way to Jonamac Farms in DeKalb, Illinois this weekend for our fall family tradition of apple picking (just like their tagline LOL!). Because we always pick more apples than we can eat, we also make it a tradition to try new recipes that involve apples in the weeks that follow. Here's one we plan to make this evening for Dutch Apple Cake from

Friday, October 3, 2008

Inspirational Thought

I found this interesting quote on my Starbucks coffee cup this week.
"Mother-love is not inevitable. The good mother is a great artist, ever creating beauty out of chaos." - Alice Randall

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Featured Guest Chef: Stephanie Ito

A serious believer in at least one treat a day (I'm eating chocolate covered raisins as I type this post!), I am very excited to try Chef Stephanie Ito's, The Very Greatest Chocolate Chip Cookies. Here's what she has to share:

I really do try to exert some control over my sweet tooth. I have learned that a cut-up banana on my morning bowl of (whole grain) cereal means that I don’t have to pour sugar on my cornflakes or eat Apple Jacks. I know a lot of sugar isn’t good for me. But, it is the rare evening that I don’t indulge in dessert. Usually it’s a scoop or two of ice cream or an ice cream bar. You have to have a little treat every day in order not to feel deprived.

This week I HAD to have chocolate chip cookies. There is a recipe I discovered earlier this year that I have made way too many times for my own good since then. These are seriously the best chocolate chip cookies I have ever had.

Since I didn’t want to eat all 24 of them, I took most of them to book club this week to foist on my friends. One of my friends from culinary school is in the book club, and when she e-mailed me after our meeting to tell me that the cookies were “a religious experience” I knew what the best thing I had made this month was.

Before I give you the recipe, I want to tell you the four things that I consider to be the secret to this recipe:
1. The pecans (or walnuts if you prefer) MUST be toasted and chopped up nice and fine. I put them on a cookie sheet and put them in the oven when I turn it on to preheat. They’re generally nice and toasty by the time I am ready to stir them into the batter.
2. This is a dough you don’t want to work too much. Don’t beat the butter and sugars “until light and fluffy” – just stir them together until they are combined. This goes for when you add the flour too – just beat the dough until it comes together, no more.
3. BUTTER – never shortening, never margarine.
4. Don’t over bake the cookies. The edges should be just starting to brown and the middle should still be a little soft.

So, here you go. Enjoy! (And don’t eat them all in one day – you will be tempted.)

The Very Greatest Chocolate Chip Cookies

½ cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
½ cup (120 grams) firmly packed light brown sugar
8 tablespoons (1 stick/115 grams) unsalted butter, cold, cut into ½ inch pieces
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 ¼ cups (175 grams) all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1 ½ cups (200 grams) semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup (130 grams) pecans or walnuts, toasted and chopped

Adjust the oven rack to the top third of the oven and preheat to 300˚F. Line three baking sheets with parchment paper.

Beat the sugars and butter together until smooth. Mix in the egg, vanilla, and baking soda.

Stir together the flour and salt, then mix them into the batter. Mix in the chocolate chips and nuts.

Scoop the cookie dough into 2-tablespoon balls and place 8 balls, spaced 4 inches apart on each of the baking sheets.

Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until pale golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

October Pumpkin of the Month!

Here's Augie, our newest pumpkin of the month! His mom Kacy added this note:

I absolutely LOVE Augie's western overalls and shirt. I find having two boys, it is hard to find clothes that don't make them look like they are 10 when they are only 10 months and 3 1/2. Augie actually looks like a baby and adorable! The fabrics are so soft and wash nicely. I am also a big western print fan
and I love the fabric choices. Thanks for making such a great product!!

Congratulations Augie and Kacy on receiving a $50 hpp gift certificate!