Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Sharing the Love: Monster Cookies

This is a half batch of my mom's recipe.  And yes.  I do juggle the shells to estimate half an egg.  Make it work.  Or double the batch and use five eggs.  But you're gonna need a monster bowl for that!

Monster Cookies:
1 c shortening
1 c brown sugar
1 c sugar
1 c peanut butter
2 1/2 eggs
1/2 T vanilla
2 1/4 c flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/4 tsp salt
3 c oatmeal
1/2 lb m&ms
1/2 c chocolate chips

Mix sugars with shortening, eggs, and peanut butter until creamy.  Slowly add dry ingredients until well blended.  Add vanilla.  Stir in oatmeal, and then candy.  Drop on cookie sheet.  Bake for about 10 minutes for 350 (do not overbake). 

*Do not be tempted to double the candy/chocolate.  The cookies will not stick together well.  Lesson learned the hard way. More than once. 


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

With Gratitude

what i am thankful for,
the short list.

the captain.
the rugrats.
the teenager.
the teenager's mom.
god's grace.
my siblings.
all five senses.
the show parenthood.
my friends.
my clients.
the president.
the color green.
childrens' artwork.

and you, my readers.

be happy.  be thankful!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sharing the Love: Chicken Pot Pie

Alternate Title:  Longest Recipe Post Ever

This might be my all-time favorite recipe.  It's not super simple, so it's not generally my style.  But there are definitely ways to cut down the prep time, which I have listed at the end.  I also wrote down a whole bunch of miscellaneous suggestions for your culinary convenience.  The first time I made this, it took me an entire afternoon.  But today, from idea to oven, it took 50 minutes!

This is the BEST meal to make for someone who is sick, or had a baby, or is going through a hard time.  It's comfort food, it's a one-dish meal, you can make it ahead and they can refrigerate it or freeze it, and it's delicious.  I strongly suggest you use my crust recipe, but if you have to use a frozen premade one, please use Trader Joes. 

I hate this photo.  I shouldn't even post one.
Corn.  I'm sure.  You have to use peas and carrots.

Here you are, my mother's Chicken Pot Pie:


1/3 c flour
1/3 c butter
1/3 c chopped onion
1 - 2 chicken breasts, cooked, cubed
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 3/4 c chicken broth
5 oz peas and carrots
2 small cooked potatoes, cubed
2/3 c milk

Melt butter. Add onion, cook for a minute or two. Add flour gradually until cooked together. Remove from heat. Add broth & milk. Bring to a boil until it starts to thicken, stir pretty constantly, or milk will burn. Season with salt & pepper. Stir in vegetables and chicken.

3 c flour
1 c shortening (Crisco)
1 tsp salt
1 egg
6 Tbsp water
2 tsp vinegar

Blend flour, shortening and salt until crumbly. Add egg, water, and vinegar. Mix together (I use my hands!). Roll out with rolling pin. I use 2/3 for bottom crust and 1/3 for top crust.

Place bottom crust in greased 9x9 pan (or 9" pie pan). Leave some hanging over the edges. Scoop filling into pan until about 3/4 full (or a little more, just don't fill all the way to the top). Lay top crust over entire pan. Pinch the top and bottom crusts together to seal. I then take a fork and push with prongs all the way around the edges to complete the seal. Poke holes in the top of the crust either with a fork or knife to allow it to breathe while cooking. 

Bake at 425 for 30 minutes.
(If frozen, bake at 400 for 50 minutes)

Tips and suggestions:
- To make in a 9 x 13 pan, triple the crust and double the filling

- I sometimes buy the disposable mini loaf pans at the grocery store and make individual pot pies. They're putzy, but then I can freeze them and make them one at a time. Or I give them for gifts to my friends!

- I never use more than 10 oz of peas and carrots, even when I triple the filling. Just add the amount to your liking.  Today, as you'll see from my photo, I used frozen corn because I didn't happen to have peas and carrots.  Also, frozen are way better.  Canned will do in a pinch, but they don't look very colorful after you cook them for half an hour.

- To speed things up, you can bake the chicken the day before or buy a rotiserrie chicken at the grocery store.

- If you're making this for a weeknight, you could always prepare it on Sunday and store it in the fridge overnight and cook it the next night. If it's going to be longer than one day, though, freeze it so the crust doesn't get soggy. Or you can make the filling on the weekend and put that in the fridge for up to a few days and make the crust on the day of.

- If your crust seems too "wet" and doesn't handle well, just slowly add more flour until it's easy to handle and rolls out well. I always have to flour my counter surface and my rolling pin. To make consistently good, flaky crust, you need to follow these measurements exactly.  I learned the hard way that estimating does not a good crust yield.

If you have any questions, please call or email me anytime.  I'd be happy to walk you through it.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Full Potential

I was watching Ellen just now.  I tape it every day, and I admit that I fast-forward through some stuff (don't tell Ellen).  Look.  My time is really limited.  I always watch the monologue and then most of the guests.  But if there's someone I don't know, as a time-saver, I skip them.  Anyway...

I almost accidentally fast-forwarded this segment on the Collins family, who adopted four boys from Ghana.  They adopted the three brothers together, at once.  The mother sold everything she had, including her car, and has taken three jobs to raise these boys.  When they went back to Ghana to pick the boys up, the best friend of the oldest brother asked if he could come with.  He said he'd only eat one meal and clean her house if they'd take him too.


What am I doing with my life?  Who am I affecting?  Am I making anyone's life better?  It's moments like these that I ask myself if I am living my full potential.  And usually the answer is "I don't know," which likely translates into "Probably not." 

A lot of things touch me.
I'm pretty emotional.
I'm pretty passionate.
A lot of things make me cry.

But they also inspire me to be a better person.  To have an open mind and an open heart and accept what God has in store for me.  I'll find it the grace of God.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Project Happiness

It's late fall in Minnesota.  Most of the leaves have fallen, and it's chilly.  Like, really chilly.  If you stand really still and smell deeply, you know that the living things are going to sleep.  That they've paid their annual dues and are taking a well-deserved hiatus.  They're also going to play dead so what's coming next doesn't kill them.  SNOW.  ICE.  BITTER COLD.  Whoa.  I even hate those words.

Last year, after the holidays, in the heart of winter, I got super bummed.  SADD?  Who knows.  I call it winter blues.  I just get tired of being cold, and spring feels so long away.  So I went to the store, and I bought balloons and I took this photo.

And I named it Project Happiness.  I vowed to look hard for things that made me happy.  I vowed to focus on them.  And if I couldn't see anything, then I created it.  And I regularly posted photos and thoughts that made me happy. 

This year, if the w****er gets to you and the s**w chills you to the bones, and you think there is no end, look around.  Find something that makes you happy and share it.  With me, with your loved ones.  And call it Project Happiness (with no credit to anyone but youself).  Yeah.  It'll help (me and you).  I promise!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Sharing the Love: Apple Crisp

10 c peeled and sliced apples*
1 c sugar
1 T flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 c water

1 c oatmeal
1 c flour
1 c brown sugar
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 c melted butter

Mix first five ingredients together in a large bowl.  Pour apple mixture into greased 9 x 13 baking dish. 

Mix topping ingredients and sprinkle over apple mixture.

Bake at 350 for 45 minutes.

Serve warm with vanilla ice cream. Enjoy!

*I am partial to Granny Smith, but any tart apple will do.
(good ideas: Braeburn, Jonathan, Pink Lady, McIntosh).