Thursday, January 22, 2015

Chicken Pot Pie


I'd never made a chicken pot pie before. Costco's Marie Calendar's personal size servings were my go to. In fact, I wouldn't have even said Pot Pies were my favourite. I was indifferent. But one day last week I thought I would try my hand at making one. So good. So this week I made three more and delivered two of them to newborn moms and ate the other one. Here's the recipe. Delicious as is!

Pastry (adapted from Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup cold Tenderflake lard
6-7 tablespoons cold water

1. Put Tenderflake, flour and salt in a food processor. Pulse until pieces are pea-sized. (If you don't have a food processor, you can use a pastry blender, but it's SO easy with a food processor!)
2. Add water, one tablespoon at a time, while machine is running - through the hole at the top of the food processor. If you are hand mixing, mix with a fork until all the dough is moistened. (I have made this pastry enough to know that I just add 6 tbsp and add the 7th only if needed.)
3. Divide dough in half and roll out on lightly floured surface, trying to keep the dough circle-shaped by rolling from the centre outwards.
4. Gently transfer the dough to the pie plate by rolling it over the rolling pin and lining it up over the pie plate. Don't stretch the dough, just lay it out gently. You can now trim the edges of the pastry, but leave a cm or so to use to seal the top.
5. Roll out other 1/2 of pastry for the top...

I'm told the key to flaky pastry is keeping the ingredients very cold, and using Tenderflake. I'm not too concerned about temperature while making it and it always turns out great! That said, I do put my dough back into the fridge while I'm not filling it. I don't know that it's really necessary but hey, it's off the counter and out of the way for the rest of the prep. And I only use Tenderflake... I've never tried any no-name brands.

Filling (from allrecipes.com)
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cubed
1 cup sliced carrots
1 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup sliced celery

1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup chopped onion
1/3 cup flour
1/2-3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp celery seed
1 3/4 cup chicken broth
2/3 cup milk

1. Preheat oven to 425F
2, In a saucepan, combine chicken, carrots, peas, and celery. Add water to cover and boil for 15 minutes. Remove from heat, drain and set aside.
3. In the saucepan over medium heat, cook onions in butter until soft and translucent. Stir in flour, salt, pepper, and celery seed. Stir to combine and cook for 1 minute.
4. Slowly stir in chicken broth and milk. Simmer over medium-low heat until thick, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and set aside.
5, Place the chicken mixture in bottom pie crust. Pour gravy mixture over, moving chicken as needed to keep gravy from pouring over sides. (Use as much gravy as you can but don't be concerned if you couldn't fit the last 1/4cup in - it'll still be delicious!) Cover with top crust, cut away excess pastry and seal edges. (I like to bring the top over the bottom pastry and pinch together to make a strong seal, I don't like losing filling while it's cooking.) Make several small slits in the top to allow steam to escape.
6. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until pastry is golden brown and filling is bubbly. Cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Conversations:The Five-Year-Old #1

What are all those white things?

If you live in the Abbotsford area you have likely seen the white things as you drive towards Costco. There's about 1800 of them. 1,862 of them, actually. They're all lined up in the field. It's a memorial, of sorts.

Les Bazso/PNG FILES (The Province)
When my 5-year-old daughter points to them and asks what they are, what should I say?

If you don't know me well, I don't shy away from her questions. She recently asked how a baby comes out of the mommy's tummy. I told her. She laughed hysterically and then commented on how large a baby is and that it must hurt... yep.

So when she pointed to the 1,862 crosses that show the number of times a beating heart is stopped via abortion each week in Canada, I did my best to tell her the innocent truth.

I told her that sometimes a baby dies in the mommy's tummy before it comes out.

"So all the babies died right there?"

"No. That's where they put some crosses so people can see them and remember the babies that died."

"But now all the babies are in heaven." Not a question... a statement. She knows.

"That's right."

After a few seconds, she added, "Mom, did you have a baby that died in your tummy?"

"I did." At this point I failed to keep the tears in my eyes. "Before you were born, I had a baby in my tummy, but I never got to meet it."

"But it's waiting in heaven for you." Again, a statement.

"Yah, I'll get to meet it one day."

"Is the baby a baby in heaven?" She asked in her sweet voice.

"I don't know. Maybe it's a kid..."

"It's probably so excited to meet you when you get to heaven!"

(tears flowing)


A couple hours later, at dinner:

"Mom what was the name that you were going to call me when I was born?"

"Finley? That was the name that I liked... but then we chose Sloan."

"I think the baby in heaven is named Finley. Then it could be a boy or a girl and you'll find out when you get there and meet it." She said with a huge smile on her face.


The next day
I started to think about my response and wanted to explain one more thing to her, but wasn't sure how to tell my innocent 5-year-old that some people chose for their babies to die. I didn't choose that. Of course a 5-year-old is too young to know about abortion. Of course. But I wanted to explain it somehow...

When we drove past the memorial the next day and she pointed out the crosses, I told her that sometimes a mom doesn't want a baby.

"You didn't want that baby?" Her voice was sad... and a little shocked.

"Oh Sweetie, I sure did! I wanted that baby very much. But I didn't get to keep it." Sometimes I'm amazed that I can keep talking without choking on my tears. She seemed to not notice.

"So then it's not so sad for the moms when they didn't want the baby and then the baby died."

"Well, sometimes it's still sad for them."

"Oh, cus maybe then after the baby died, then they thought 'Oh I wanted that baby" and then they're really sad. But they'll get to meet their babies in heaven too....... Just like you."

Exactly what we hope, my girl. Exactly! Repentence. Redemption. Reunion!


This kid.
She is amazing.
Insightful and thoughtful and gifted in ways that I don't comprehend.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Similar?

Everyone tells me that Sloan and Smith look similar but that Slater is the odd one out. And I agree.

I've always felt that Sloan is the mix of the two, but it seems that not many others see it. So here's a picture of my oldest and my youngest beside each other at similar ages. What do you think? At the least, you can see the similarities... right?


Not twins, by any means, but similar.

I sure love them both. And just to be fair to the middle child, here's one of him.

Dressed for Costco.

Obviously.



Friday, February 7, 2014

This is not a Food Blog

And yet, all I've really posted for 2014 is food blog posts. This is another one, and then I promise I will post something else that isn't food related soon!

I've made three new recipes lately.

#1. Cheese and Walnut Stuffed Chicken Breasts from the Bravo! Best of Bridge Cookbook (the link to the recipe is the exact recipe meaning that I don't need to type it out). Next time I make it I will take a photo and post it here... Anyway, it's amazing. Perfect for company which was exactly when I made them for the first time. I loved them! And will make them again. Come over... I'll probably serve these.

Jordan is part of a leadership group and once every XX weeks he needs to supply a treat for the breakfast meeting. Of course, he outsources... to me. So this morning I needed to supply some treats. I made two recipes. Both of which, I had never made before! Kinda risky, but it worked out okay. And that brings us to recipe #2. (I've eaten this cake before and it's amazing, but I had never made it!)

Chocolate Chip Banana Coffee Cake

1 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups ripe bananas, mashed (just use five, it's about right)
3 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 cup sour cream

1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cup chocolate chips

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
  2. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla. Beat until smooth. Add mashed bananas.
  3. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and baking soda. Add to the banana mixture, alternating with the sour cream.
  4. Pour half the batter into a greased 9x13" pan. 
  5. Combine brown sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle half over the cake and then half the chocolate chips. Pour remaining batter on top. Then top with brown sugar mixutre and chocolate chips.
  6. Bake for 50-55 minutes.
Or do what I did and make muffins and mini muffins. It's easier to serve at a meeting where there are no plates to serve on!

Muffins: Grease a muffin pan and fill with one heaping tablespoon of batter, then top with 1/2 tsp of sugar mixture and 1 tsp chocolate chips. Repeat with another spoonful of batter and top with 1/2 tsp of sugar mixture and 1 tsp chocolate chips. (You'll probably run out of chocolate chips, but that's fine... just get some more out of your giant Costco-sized bag!) Bake at 350 degrees for 28-30 minutes. Makes 30 large muffins.

Mini-muffins: Grease the muffin pan and fill with one tablespoon of batter (fill them up). Top with 1/4 tsp of sugar mixture and 1/2 tsp of chocolate chips (about five chocolate chips, if you're counting). Bake at 350 degrees for 22-25 minutes. Makes 48+ mini muffins. 

The recipe is courtesy of Kari W. from the Arnold Church Cookbook. Thanks Kari!

Then recipe #3 is because I needed to send something savoury along too. Enter Ham and Cheese Slab Pies. Terrible name, tasty result!

(Image from same site as recipe)

I made it the night ahead of time, so at room temperature, I found it a little cheesy, so I would suggest using a little bit less of the cream cheese... just a light layer across the bottom is sufficient. Otherwise, make it as the recipe suggests! And remember, the puff pastry takes about 2 hours to defrost.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Muffin Tin Apple Pies

Great little dessert, especially for guests!

Photo from food.com
I saw this photo and wanted to make them! Mine didn't look quite this perfect... but they tasted mighty fine. (You can click the link to see the suggested recipe.)

My pastry was a half-recipe following the Tenderflake box only because I had some tenderflake at home and thought I may as well use it. (the only other recipe I use Tenderflake for is my peppermint cookies and I won't be making them again until December, so may as well use it up!)

So I made the pastry, then followed the Mini Apple Pies recipe for the filling. Cinnamon, sugar, apples, flour, butter - yep.

Served them with some vanilla ice cream and loved them! You should try them. They were surprisingly easy. And if you live somewhere where you can get your hands on Krause Farms Frozen Pastry, just as good, and even easier!

As a side note: I made them in just a regular size muffin tin, but then I had a little extra pastry and apples, so I used my extra-large muffin tins and made a couple larger ones too. The meal we were serving them with was six courses, so the regular muffin tins were perfect, but for a regular size meal, larger would never hurt!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

2014 Books

In 2013 I read around 40 books. Many were great. Some were okay. A handful weren't worth finishing.

So this year, I'm toning it down. Over the past 13 months, I've downloaded books on my Kobo and haven't read them yet. Or I've purchased some good looking covers at Costco during a grocery shop and haven't read them yet. Or there's some that I've started but just haven't finished. This is the year that I'm going to read the books that are already on my shelves! It's all part of the year of Simplify. No unnecessary purchases.

No new books until they are all done!

Here's the list.

NON-FICTION

  1. The Bible. Our church is doing a "read-through-the-Bible" as a church, following the M'Cheyne Reading Plan. I'm a few chapters behind right now, but I'll be caught up by the end of January...
  2. A Year of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans. 47% done. Surprisingly enjoyable, but not enticing enough to stay up late and finish it.
  3. Where is God When it Hurts? by Philip Yancey. Got it for free on Kindle last January, so I want to read it now. Haven't started it... nothing has hurt enough, I guess.
  4. Unglued by Lysa TerKeurst. Christian Living... they always get started and not completed.
  5. Am I Messing Up My Kids? by Lysa TerKeurst. Started, not completed... but yes, I am messing up my kids. In case you were wondering.
  6. Having a Mary Spirit by Joanna Weaver. Oh man... started probably 5 years ago, and read a little bit every couple months. It's great but because it's got chapter questions I find it takes motivation to read it...
  7. Killing Jesus by Bill O'Reilly. Jordan just read it and said it was great. Looking forward to starting it one day. Unless my in-laws want it back soon... then I may take it off the list.
  8. Experiencing God by Henry Blackaby. Started a couple years ago. I'd like to finish it.
  9. The Bible Jesus Read by Philip Yancey. Time to finish it...
  10. Raising a Daughter After God's Own Heart by Elizabeth George. Hope I'm ready for this challenge!
  11. Returning to Holiness by Gregory Frizzell. Read it in Bible school... or at least was told to. Can't recall if I actually read it.
  12. 127 Hours by Aron Ralston. Got it as a Christmas gift but I'm nervous about the suspense of the book. Suspense is just too much for me. Plus he saws off his hand... that can't be nice to read about.
  13. Modoc: The True Story of the Greatest Elephant That Ever Lived by Ralph Helfer. A friend lent it to me six years ago. She probably wonders what happened to it.

    FICTION
    1. A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving. I'm 42% done and enjoying the writing, but want to finish the book (even though I already know what happens).
    2. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. It's only been on the go for five years... or so.
    3. The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion . I bought it because it was on sale for $4.99 for my Kobo. I am VERY excited to read it because of it's reviews, but I COULD have waited for the library copy.
    4. The Harem Midwife by Roberta Rich. I read the first one (Midwife of Venice) and loved it, so I'm hoping this one is good too. Bought it because I loved the first one so much!
    5. The Midwife of Hope River by Patricia Harman. Midwife books are apparently my "type"...
    6. Christ the Lord by Anne Rice. A friend lent this to me years ago and it's still on my bookshelf. I have no idea if it's going to be sacrilegious or faith based... I guess I'll find out.
    7. Pigtopia by Kitty Fitzgerald. It's a young adult book that I bought on a whim 7 years ago. I probably have an hour left in it, and I can still recall exactly what's going on in the story, so I should just finish it.
    8. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Bought it on a recommendation... maybe Oprah's (?) and started it. But then found out the movie existed so I watched it instead.
    9. The Emperor's Children by Claire Messud. Started but wasn't pulled in. Will restart and finish.
    10. Voyager by Diana Gabaldon. I read Outlander last year and enjoyed it. Looking forward to catching up with my characters.
    11. Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon. Book 3.
    12. Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon. Book 4.
    13. Same Kind of Different as Me by Ron Hall. February book club choice.
    14. Orphan Train by Christina Kline. March book club choice.
    15. The Shoemaker's Wife by Adriani Trigiani. April book club choice.
    Whew. 28 titles. It shouldn't be a problem since I love to read. But I also picked up a few new TV series that I'm into (Downton Abbey, Homeland, House of Cards) plus my Precepts studies. Plus that whole "being a mom and wife" thing. It's going to be a busy year! Don't pop by, my toilets won't be clean.

    Monday, January 20, 2014

    Cheddar Apple Muffins

    I've never tried apple pie with cheese. I'm told it's an American classic and is the best way to eat it. It doesn't sound delicious to me, but I'm probably wrong.

    So when I wanted to make some muffins and a new recipe, this one sounded interesting. Cheddar Apple Muffins.


    Once I was already committed, I noticed it was only 2/3 cup of sugar to 3 cups of flour. I realized they were not going to be "sweet" muffins. But the addition of apple juice obviously sweetened the batter, since they are a nice mix of sweet and salty. I would tend to call them more of a savoury muffin... What an interesting combo - cinnamon, sugar, apple and cheese. Surprisingly good.

    Recipe can be found here. But... use butter. It's always the better choice!

    I made them in my new Muffin Top Pan. I received it as a Christmas gift, upon my request, because I'm told it's wonderful to make Paska in! Who knew?

    I was also very excited to try it with muffins. I'm sure if it was a runnier batter they would have filled the muffin tops out better, but this was a thick batter and ended up being more of a scone like look and consistency. I'm not sure the photo shows the size of these puppies... they're about 4 inches wide and only an inch tall!


    Very cool. I like the Muffin Top Pan and I'm looking forward to using it with a cupcake batter soon.

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