Monday, September 29, 2014
As I head into the second month of school, I am finding it harder and harder not to be swept away in the chaos of our every day. The summer days moved more slowly and there seemed to be more time to spend with my family. I had looked forward to the first days of school because I thought it would give me some breathing space and quiet time to collect my thoughts and become "normal" again. Instead, it seems as if the days rush by in a blur as I wake up to dark skies in the morning, rush everyone out of the house, curse the fact that I'm never going to keep up with the laundry or be able to keep food in the house long enough.
The afternoons are filled with three kids coming home at different times with different needs and different amounts of attention. Logan wants to go somewhere/anywhere. Madison needs help with homework, only she doesn't want to do it when I have the time to help. Aidan just wants to eat, know what time practice is, and then skip out of the house to see his friends. In between, there is dinner to prepare before leaving for soccer practice because it's too late to put together when we get home.
My brain is on overload and the words out of my mouth have begun to sound like manic crazy lady talk. I know there is an intelligent woman somewhere in there. Only, she appears to be caught in the ever-spinning tornado that rolls through the house in the middle of the afternoon. There are times I hate the way I sound, the hysterical ear-splitting yells to get homework done, clean your room, why can't you pick up the clothes or clean the dried up toothpaste in the sink. I get sick of my own nagging.
These days I typically have three children in tow, and it is rare for me to have just one child at a time. Usually, they are battling to be heard, to have a question answered, or arguing over what to do and where to go. Well, Monday was my chance to have Aidan, the ever-suffering middle child, all to myself because of an early dentist appointment. We finished right when school was starting. I could have taken him back to school right away, which is my typical always-follow-the-rules way. However, I was near Whole Foods and decided that we should go together and get a few things before heading back home toward school. Of course, he was all for it only because it meant getting to school even later.
We entered Whole Foods and his eyes widened at all of the beautiful food around us. He was grabbing things that we had to try, asking me if I'd ever had this or that. He went crazy for the ready-made sandwiches, soups, and breads. I looked at him and his wonderful eye for taste and food and thought this is my child. I didn't know if he felt the same connection I did and truly got how special this moment was for me, how it took me back to an earlier time when it always was the two of us in the morning. And, do you know as he said goodnight to me that night, he told me how he really liked spending the morning with me and asked when we could do it again because "it was so much fun." Sigh...be still my motherly heart.
The week might not have been perfect, in fact far from it. Hectic as usual. I was batty as usual. Yet, at this moment I choose to focus and reflect on those times that were special and beautiful. Those are the times I want to savor and look back on. They weren't major moments that happened in our lives, but they are the times that we will hopefully all look back on years from now as the good times we've shared as a family. And, the simple beauty will always outshine the every day.
Friday, September 19, 2014
The Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond. With a few changes here and there, I have made it my own. And, with a few shortcuts, it's easy as...well, pie.
|Pie filling before pie dough is added|
|What are those!? Carrots. Aren't they pretty?|
The filling can be made ahead of time and refrigerated until ready to use. You could also make the entire thing and then freeze the pie for another day.
For a print-friendly version of the recipe, click https://sites.google.com/site/chickenpotpiefoodtherapy/.
Adapted from The Pioneer Woman: Ree Drummond
1 3-4 pound whole chicken
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 cup of water
3 carrots, peeled and finely diced
3 stalks of celery, finely diced
2 shallots, finely diced
2 small russet potatoes, unpeeled, diced into small pieces
1/2 cup fresh or frozen peas (if frozen, thaw ahead of time)
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups free-range chicken broth
1 cup dry, white wine
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 refrigerated pie crust
For the chicken:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Rinse chicken and pat dry. Place in roaster pan, lining the bottom of the pan with aluminum foil for easy clean up. Season with salt and pepper. I like to add a stalk of celery, one carrot, and one lemon in the cavity, but it isn't necessary for this dish. It does slightly flavor the chicken if you want to add it.
Pour one cup of water into the bottom of the roasting pan for moisture. Cover the chicken lightly with foil. Bake for 35 minutes, covered. Remove foil and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes until chicken is browned. Remove from oven and allow chicken to cool down before handling.
Once cool enough, remove the chicken meat from the bones and chop into smallish pieces, about 1-inch chunks.
For the filling:
In a stockpot, melt your butter over medium heat. Add the carrots, celery, shallots, and potatoes. Season with a little salt and pepper. Continue cooking the vegetables over medium heat until they soften and the shallots are translucent, stirring continually for about 10 minutes. Add in the chopped chicken and peas.
Sprinkle the flour and dried thyme over the vegetable/chicken mixture and stir gently to mix it in and coat the vegetables.Slowly add in the broth, stirring to mix it in with the flour. Then, add in the wine, still stirring. Cook the mixture for a couple of minutes to make sure the flour and liquids are well-mixed. Pour in the heavy cream and turn the temperature to low. Continue stirring and cooking over low heat until the gravy has thickened, about 5 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Prepare a 9-inch deep pie dish by spraying with a little cooking spray. Pour the chicken/vegetable mixture into the pie dish. Place your pie dough over top of the mixture and crimp any way you like. Work fast, however, because the heat from the filling will soften the dough fast. Place the pie onto a cookie sheet just in case it bubbles over while baking. Then cut slits into the top of the pie crust for easy breathing.
Bake in the oven for 30 minutes or until your crust is browned according to your picky standards. Cool for 10 minutes before dishing it out.
Note: If you would like to freeze the pot pie, prepare everything as listed above. However, allow the vegetable/chicken mixture to cool before adding it to the pie dish. Place the dough on top, cover the pie with plastic wrap or foil, and place in the freezer. You can bake it at 375 degrees straight from the freezer. Just remove the foil or wrap and bake for 45 minutes, just like the good old days!
Thursday, September 11, 2014
It's somewhat embarrassing to tell you that my culinary experiences began in my college years. Yes, I've been cooking on my own since I was about 10, but my repertoire was limited to chicken dinners and casseroles, brownies and cookies, and the odd family favorites like cheese grits. This all changed when I began college in New York City. I can tell you all about the different foods and restaurants I was introduced to, from Korean to Indian to the best Chinese food I have EVER eaten, but I'll save that for another time.
Thursday, September 4, 2014
One of my favorite smells in all of cooking is the combination of freshly brewed coffee and blueberry muffins baking in the morning. When my brother and I were kids, it wasn't unusual on the weekend to wake up to that glorious smell as we came down the stairs. My mom loved to make us our special muffin breakfast, complete with strawberries or peaches and whipped cream. Those were the days when I could easily eat 2 to 3 muffins at a time and a little fruit and a whole lot of fresh whipped cream without even thinking twice. Of course, I'm not a 13-year-old girl anymore. Indulging with no regard for calories aside, I'd probably make myself sick if I ate like I used to.