Friday, February 4, 2011

My Two Right Hands

Since mid morning, we've accumulated another 5" or so of snow.  I decided, again,  to shovel our sidewalk and some of the driveway...at least the portion where Shawn pulls the car up in the drive. Weird, I know, but I actually start pretending I'm preparing to go skiing while I put all of my winter garb on...my long johns, my ski socks (yes, I have special ski socks), thermal glove liners...the whole bit.  I have that same feeling of anticipation I have just before hitting the slopes.  And then.  The reality of the situation sets in when I look at the shelf with my ski boots stored up high and instead I reach for grungy work boots.  Ok, that's a lie.. I don't own work boots....I grabbed  a semi-dingy pair of UGGs that have seen better days but are incredibly warm.  They will be my work boots today. 

To be perfectly honest the real reason I've decided to shovel snow is because I heard on the news that someone lost 3 lbs in just a couple of hours doing the same thing. 
   
I had one problem and that is that all of our gloves have been 'misplaced' by my kids and now I am left with not even a mismatched pair but instead a mismatched pair of right handed gloves.   I'm going for it anyway.
 
 So I go shovel snow with two right hands.   My left hand starting cramping about five minutes in and it had nothing to do with the work I was doing but rather trying to conform my left hand to an unnatural position.
30 minutes into the job and I am done.  Not with the actual job, just done with two right hands.
Warning: Don't try this at home.  Your hand will thank you.
And,  so much for minus 3 lbs.


              $70 CSN Giveaway:  Enter by clicking HERE.  

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Thursday, February 3, 2011

Nancy's Made From Scratch Chicken Pot Pie + Giveaway

Yesterday I announced a $70 CSN giveaway which you can enter by clicking HERE.  Please do!

I also mentioned that I'd made Trev's favorite, homemade from scratch Chicken Pot Pie.  This is a perfect comfort food to enjoy on  a blustery winters day.  It's literally a meal in itself and we like it so much that we don't want anything else with it - except a second helping, which suits us all fine at my house. 
I skipped breakfast this morning and had leftovers for brunch.


Nancy's Chicken Pot Pie (Trevor's favorite)


4 boneless chicken breasts
1 lg. yellow onion
2-3 carrots, diced into bite sized pieces
1 cup fresh green beans cut into bite sized pieces (I've tried both canned and frozen to find that the texture is not the same and they have a negative impact on the flavor of the pie)
2 potatoes, peeled and cubed
salt
pepper, coarse ground
1 can whole kernel corn


4 tablespoons butter
1 yellow onion, chopped
about 5-6 tblsp all purpose flour
3-4 cups chicken broth
1 cup milk or 1/2 and 1/2 or a mixture of both




In the pics below, you might notice that I am using more of the ingredients than I call for above.  I usually make about twice of what I wrote down because I usually cook for 8 and we like to have leftovers.  


I start with fresh veggies


Place whole chicken breasts, cut green beans, onion and carrots in a pot of water. 


Add a little salt and boil for about 20 minutes.

Add potatoes and boil another 12-15 minutes, until potatoes are tender. 
 

Remove from heat, take out the chicken breasts and set aside.



Drain the remaining veggies in a colander and add one can of corn, allowing it to drain.


Fold together so the potatoes don't begin to get mashed up



Remove any fat or skin from the chicken breasts and then cube into bite sized pieces or tear into little chunks.
Fold chicken into the vegetable mixture.



Spread this mixture into a lightly greased or buttered baking dish, or individual casseroles.  I did both here.  Salt and pepper generously. Set aside while you make the sauce.


To make the sauce, combine the butter and onion in a skillet and cook until onion is tender, about 20 minutes over medium heat.






Add the flour and stir constantly to make a thick, pasty mixture.  





Add the chicken broth, a little at a time, and stir until smooth and free of any lumps.



Add milk or 1/2 and 1/2


Don't worry if the sauce seems too thin.  It will thicken while baking in the oven.  This is how it will look before pouring over the veggie and chicken mixture.


Pour the liquid mixture over the chicken and veggies.  You want the liquid to completely cover the vegetables, and then some.  We like it kinda saucy at my house.  None of my pictures of this came out. ;-(  sorry

Pie Crust

Most of the time I cheat and use a store bought pie crust.  The past two times I've made this  though, I have made my own crust.   As for store bought, I like Pet Ritz.  When it comes to homemade, I've made crusts with Crisco and real butter.  I found this butter recipe online at allrecipes.com and every reviewer gave it five out of five stars. I agree with the reviews.  Yum!

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, chilled and diced
1/4 cup ice water
(I added a little pepper)


In a large bowl, combine flour and salt.  Cut in butter until it resembles coarse crumbs.  Stir in water a little at a time, until the mixture forms a ball.  Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 4 hours, or overnight.

 Remove from fridge and roll out in the shape of your pan to completely cover it, or roll it so that you can cut into strips if you want a lattice top.  Bake at 350°  for about 40-50 minutes or until crust is done (individual pies may cook a little faster)



Here are the finished individual pies.  The sauce bubbled over while they baked so that's what you see all over the sides of the pots.  Next time, I'll use less sauce to begin with.




The reason I am not showing you a picture of my big chicken pot pie is because I didn't take one and that is because if you saw that you'd probably skip this whole post and recipe altogether!  I made a huge one in a lasagna dish, about 12" x 16" and my crust started sinking in the middle with the liquid coming up to the top.  It still tasted just as good as the others, but looks wise...it got an F-.  
Although, I must say it doesn't look too bad served up in my red transferware bowls...I mean the crust gets all messed up anyway, and no one here noticed anything but the taste.  So, I guess that means it turned out okay after all.  





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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Snowed In & a CSN $70 Giveaway

 Schools were canceled last night before it even began to snow.  Shawn and I went to the grocery store, along with everyone else and their dog, yesterday evening.  I used to think Walmart was busy during the Christmas season.  Not a single loaf of bread was to be found at Walmart Supercenter.  We settled for two packages of English Muffins.  Shawn grabbed the last package of butter sticks and I split what was left of the canned chicken broth with another shopper.  Note to self: Not a good idea to already be low on groceries and then go shopping shortly after a blizzard warning is announced.    
The sleet began falling at around 11:00 last night.  It was still falling swift and steady when I went to bed a little past 1:00 a.m.
This morning, I woke to a continual snowfall.  Falling snow is one of the most beautiful sights, to me.

Look what the weight of the snow is doing to the trampoline.

This chair is on the covered porch!  

I'm snuggly warm inside by the fire, but my neighbor isn't.  Can you make him out in this picture?  He's in between the tree closest to the window (notice how high the snow drifts are) and the smaller trees further in the background.  He's having a jolly time shoveling snow from his driveway.

"Help, I've fallen and I can't get up".  Ashton is having a Randy moment, from A Christmas Story.

I've spent my day baking and organizing my curio cabinet, and in my pj's.  I love all day pj days.
I used the chicken broth I got last night to make homemade Chicken Pot Pie.  I'll share the recipe either Thursday or Friday. 
Here's a sneak peek at one of the individual pies I made. 

 And, here's a little peek into my curio cabinet after arranging and cleaning it.  This houses vintage red glassware, crystal, a few pieces of transferware and some heirloom silver pieces.



Ok, let's get to the giveaway!  CSN Stores contacted me once again and offered one of you lucky ducks a $70 gift certificate good towards any purchase at any of their 200+ stores.  If you've been around blogland you may be familiar with CSN.   Whatever you're shopping for, you're sure to be able to find it here.  Last giveaway I featured some cool pieces from All Modern.  Here are some of their modern bar stools

I'm a sucker for the beautiful wood grain in these Hoopla barstools.

Here, traditional meets contemporary in these Johnston casual barstools


 These Zanzi swinging bar stools are fun, adapting to any position, and come in equally fun colors.

Rexite - Zanzi Swing Swinging Stool with Gas Lift Adjustable Height

All you need to do is leave a comment and you're entered.  Become a follower and enter again with an additional comment to let me know you're following along.
I will announce the winner in one week, on February 8th.