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Monday, February 13, 2012

Chicken Pot Pie

I love this stuff.  

A couple of years ago, we were making Chicken Pot Pie for a lunch at church.  I had messed up on the shopping list and was in full on panic mode.  I combined a couple of recipes to stretch (I was thinking loaves and fishes that day) and the result was this recipe.  It turned out to be a favorite.  It's a homemade/shortcut combo recipe.  Not hard, but so much better than the frozen kind. 

I'm just going to start this post with a bossy-pants statement.  You need a whisk.  If you don't have one, get one.  Just make a list of all the groceries you need for this recipe and add "whisk" to the bottom.  Go ahead and do that right now.  I discovered the value of whisking later in my learning to cook journey - wasted years.  Here's a picture of my little whisk....... Heart. Sigh.

So, let 's get started.  Do not start without a whisk.  Melt the butter in a large skillet or saucepan and add the onion, finely diced.  Once the onion starts to get soft, add the flour. Stir it around and let the flour bubble up and cook for a few minutes.  Don't over brown the onions or flour.  Once it is bubbly looking (like at the back of the picture) start pouring in the chicken broth (like at the front of this picture) and WHISK.....whisk it in like crazy destroying any flour lumps.

Once you whisk in the broth, it will start getting really thick like this, just keep whisking and add the evaporated milk.  Keep whisking.

Once the broth and evaporated milk are incorporated I switch to a rubber spoon or spatula and continue to cook until mixture comes to a slow boil and thickens.  (For all those scared to make homemade gravy - you basically just made it and didn't even know).

Here is my whisk standing guard in case I need to attack some little lumps.

Now you add the cream of chicken soup and stir until smooth and then add all the spices.

And all the veggies and meat, stir it all up together.  By they way, you can use whatever assortment and amounts of meat and veggies you prefer. These are just my favorites.

Spray a 9 x 13 casserole dish with non-stick spray and pour the filling right in.  If you are using refrigerated pie crusts, lay them on top side by side.  I usually trim one with a pizza cutter first so that there is a straight seam in the middle where the crusts overlap.  You can also make any 2 crust pie crust recipe here and roll it out into one long rectangle to cover.  I don't LOVE refrigerated pie crusts (they taste a little bit acidic to me), but they are a great short cut here and seem to work better with savory pies than sweet ones.

One more tip for a smaller family; try splitting the filling between 2 pie pans and top each with one of the crusts.  Bake one as directed and freeze the other.  You can also freeze half of the filling in a freezer bag for another night.

There is no bottom crust in this recipe, so just tuck in the top that it looks beautiful, but not too it looks homemade.  Since you aren't really sealing the crusts, this part isn't that important.  I do try to press the crust into the sides of the pan so that it won't shrink up while it bakes. Cut a slit in the top so that steam can escape while your pie bakes.

This next part is totally optional; mix a Tablespoon of milk with a tablespoon of olive oil in a small measuring cup and brush across the top of the pie.  Sprinkle with seasoning salt.

Isn't she lovely?

Bake and enjoy!

Creamy Chicken Pot Pie
2/3 cup margarine
½ chopped onion
2 heaping Tablespoons flour
1 can chicken broth
1 can evaporated milk
1 can cream of chicken soup
½ teaspoon poultry seasoning
Salt and pepper to taste (about ½ tsp each)
4 cups chopped cooked chicken breast (about 2-3)
1 can sliced carrots, drained
1 can diced potatoes, drained
½ cup frozen green peas, thawed
2 Refrigerated pie crusts

Melt butter in saucepan, add onion and cook until tender.  Stir in flour and cook until bubbly.  Add broth and evaporated milk and stir with a whisk until blended and cook until thickened.  Add other ingredients.  Pour filling into a casserole dish (2-3 qt) and top with refrigerated pie crusts (cut to overlap and fit dish if necessary).  Cut slits in top of crust, brush with milk and sprinkle tops with seasoned salt.  Bake at 400 degrees for 40 minutes or until pie crust is golden brown.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

BE not Best

My husband shucked the corn last week [what that really means is that he preached a great sermon, four times]. He’s introducing a yearlong emphasis on spiritual disciplines, and last weekend was about service.  I sat down all happy and smug because I thought I was pretty good at service and would have opportunity to pat myself on the back…..until he opened his mouth.  Great. 

“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, 
but set an example for the believers 
in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.”
I Timothy 4:12 NIV

As he began teaching on this passage he explained that “set an example” means we must BE these things, not just do our best at them.  He told the story of how as a kid when they would play baseball outside, they would holler at one another to imitate a famous player’s batting stance – saying “BE……..(insert some great baseball player’s name here – this is seriously not my kind of story).  And try as they might, they could do their best to look like the player, but none of them could actually hit the ball like the player. 

I loved this teaching until I really thought it through - and realized that I can’t get this right on my own.  I can’t always be right in my speech, life, love, faith, and purity.  The mere thought of it makes me wanna run away screaming and mumbling bad words; I can’t do it.  And that’s exactly where He wants us and the reason that BE is so amazing here.  It literally means to be formed or made.  And when I can admit that I'm not all that, God can meet my dependence with the power of His forming strength.

As I was reluctantly stewing in these thoughts, I went back to our ladies retreat the weekend earlier.  One of the sessions hit hard with the truth that part of learning to dwell with God means that I must take off my insecurity and tendency to compare myself to others and put on the things He has made just for me.  We looked at Isaiah 51:9, where the people cry in their pain and misery, “Wake up God!”  They are worn out from life being stinky, feeling fed up that they are losing ground while their enemies are gaining it.  Then God answers them with Isaiah 52:1,  “Awake, awake [it’s almost as if He’s saying, You wake up!], put on your strength; put on your beautiful garments….” Could it be that we groan and complain to God, hurt that He's not where and how we want even while He has already lavishly provided every bit of strength we need?  

I think we often try to fit into the old irrelevant garments of our past, the ill-fitting garments that belong to someone else, the ridiculous costume of a fake life, the dirty garments of an unguarded life, or our spiritual birthday suits not wearing or BEing anything; not daring to put on something new and amazing.  God has given each of us spiritual garments of beauty and purpose.  HE enables us to BE the things in 1 Timothy 4:12, not just do our best to try; going to the party in dirty borrowed clothes.

So Wake Up!  
Don’t compare!
Don’t look back to the past in regret or longing!
Don't look forward to the future with fear and uncertainty!

Look up toward HIM.  Let Him dress you in the spiritual things He created perfectly to fit Your life and passions and His purpose and Kingdom.  

BE encouraged and BE brave!

Here you can link to Todd's blog and Todd's Sermon on Service

Here are some picture of me doing a One Gal Fashion Show at the Retreat, this is my version of illustration.  It's so scary, you're sorry you missed it, I know.

Pointing out a dirty spot (wearing filthy clothes), I picked this shirt up off my son's floor right before we headed to the retreat.
This was an authentic illustration - peeeyoooou.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


What ever happened to my dream of a calm “Walton-esque” family bedtime routine?! The things that are hollered from one end of my house to the other after bedtime are decidedly not “G’Night John Boy!” (for my younger readers, you might need to go find an episode of The Waltons on Netflix to understand that reference.) Since I have two big kids who I can no longer bribe or bargain into bed by 8:00 and a preschooler who really needs to be in bed by then…..we have a problem – with regularity.  Honestly, many nights I’m just wiped out by the mental game before this chore even starts! 

All that to say a we’d had a couple of nights that resulted in me marching to bed while dropping a wooden spanking spoon back into a kitchen drawer after everyone was in their beds. ANGRY.

I’ve been learning about anger.  Since we know that everyone gets angry, even Jesus, and that there are times when it’s an appropriate emotion we sometimes let ourselves off the hook when our anger is sinfully self-serving and damaging.  I’d been doing this and recognized it when I read this blog post about masking anger as justice.  This post did a lot to remind me that I must always be very quick to rein in my anger, but it also did a lot to make me feel guilty (which I can do all on my own, thank you very much).  As I was stewing in the in between of conviction and guilt I remembered these words from Romans 2:4, given first in the Amplified Version, then The Message…..

Or are you [so blind as to] trifle with and presume upon and despise and underestimate the wealth of His kindness and forbearance and long-suffering patience? Are you unmindful or actually ignorant [of the fact] that God's kindness is intended to lead you to repent (to change your mind and inner man to accept God's will)?
Or did you think that because he's such a nice God, he'd let you off the hook? Better think this one through from the beginning. God is kind, but he's not soft. In kindness he takes us firmly by the hand and leads us into a radical life-change.

The author of the blog I read makes such a valid and convicting point that is echoed in the beginning of Romans 2:4.  When we allow anger to camp out and make a home in our hearts, it doesn’t accomplish what we most want to see in our homes and in the hearts of our little ones.  In fact, we are just wasting His goodness and patience, acting as if it were worthless.  Wrath does not produce righteousness.  But this is the part where God swooped right in and encouraged me.  I can get really hung up on the “not supposed tos."

  • I’m not supposed to discipline in anger.
  • I’m not supposed to be impatient at bedtime (even though I’m worn slick out). 
  • I’m not supposed to feel drained or irrational.  
  • I’m not supposed to eat a whole package of Turtle candy (even if it was leftover from a “great mom” project and I’ve ignored it in the cabinet for 6 months)…..just a random one there, popped into my head for  no reason. 

You get the idea?

But my God isn’t really about the list of supposed tos, He’s about a whole new identity. One where the things that make Him mad make me mad too, where the things that make Him incredulous get a big eye roll from me, and the things that make Him dance with joy fill my heart with hallelujahs that are not of this world.  So He doesn’t leave me marinating in my anger broken parenting, He takes me to kindness and the purpose of it…..

Kindness leads to Repentance.

It’s God’s way.  My wrath will not make my kids obey from true hearts of repentance.  I can force their behavior, but that’s not what I want for them.  I want them to know God well and truly and follow after Him no matter who, what, where, or how. That can only come from inside out, heart first, life second transformation.  If I want a “supposed to”, then this is one I should cling to. Kindness.  Not a “push me over fill you with flattery” empty kindness, but a particular patience that comes with knowing that kindness can sneak right in and change a rebellious heart supernaturally. At my house, we just totally are not there yet.  But that's OK.  I like how it is stated in the Message, God’s kindness “takes us firmly by the hand and leads us…..” That’s how I want to parent, that’s how I want to live.

So let yourself off the hook, eat a couple of Turtles and settle into God’s kindness.  

Besides, a later than usual bedtime might lead to an unexpected nap the next afternoon....

Which might give a few unexpected moments for this......