Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner!

When you haven't gone grocery shopping in about 3 weeks due to CRAZY life, like me, dinners can get tricky.  Luckily we have been living out of the pantry and I wanted to share this great recipe that was easy, quick to make, quick to clean up, and was good too.  I just had to share, it is a keeper!


Easy Chicken Pot Pie
1 medium onion, chopped
2 Tbsp oil
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp poultry seasoning
1 can chicken broth
3/4 cup milk
1 can cooked chicken (find it by the tuna)
1 small bag of frozen mixed vegetables, thawed
2 refrigerated pie crust

1.  In a large saucepan, saute onion in oil until tender.  Stir in flour and seasoning.  Gradually add broth and milk.  Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 min. until thick.  Add chicken and veggies.

2.  Transfer to a 9 inch pie plate that is lined with one unrolled pie crust.  Top with other pie crust.  Trim, seal, flute edges.  Cut slits in top.

3.  Bake at 450 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbly.

Staying Up Late

Book #4 of 2011 is...
Between Friends
by Debbie Macomber

I have a confession to make. I bought a book for Matt's aunt, who was in the hospital, and before I gave it to her...I stayed up half the night and read it. Yes, it was a school night. Yes, I had other things that I should have been doing. Yes, there is a slightly moral issue about buying something for someone and then USING it before you give it. And, yes, it was that good of a book. Luckily, Matt's aunt is a kindred spirit when it comes to books and she laughed when I confessed and then SHE stayed up late and finished it too.

A Simpler Time

Book #3 of 2011 is...
The Happy Hollisters by Jerry West

I love to read books that remind me of a time when life was simpler.  I love being transported to a place where kids can ride their bikes to the ice cream shop and where parents give their kids warm milk and cookies before bed.  I love PRETENDING that I actually live in a time like that...and because of this I love to read my collection of Happy Hollisters books.  I wanted a simple read this week where I could forget for a few hours about the crisis in Egypt, the state budget in California, and the report cards that are due at work.  So I dug out the original Happy Hollisters book, curled up with a mug of warm milk (don't be grossed out, it is TOTALLY good with a swirl of cinnamon sugar in it...think latte) and lost myself in their world.  This is a great book and series if you ever need to be reminded of 1950's America at it's best.

Busy Day Chocolate Cake

Matt has the biggest sweet tooth and he would be happy if I planned desserts with the same energy and enthusism that I plan meals.  So last week I thought I would try this new recipe I saw for homemade chocolate cake.  It was described as being a "pantry" cake because it doesn't require anything you don't have on hand (no eggs or milk even) and it also promised that it is mixed and baked in the same 8x8 pyrex dish.  This cake was moist and rich and good and I wanted to share it.  It would make a perfect Valentine's Day dessert!

Busy Day Chocolate Cake
Mix with a whisk in 8x8 square pan:
     1 1/2 cups flour
     1 cup sugar
     3 Tbsp cocoa powder
     1 tsp baking soda
     1/2 tsp salt
Add wet ingredients:
     1/4 cup vegetable oil (I used olive oil because it's what I had)
     1 tsp vanilla
     1 Tbsp vinegar, white (I used apple cider because it's what I had)
     1 cup water
Mix with wisk or spatula
Bake 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes.

Frost with simple frosting (confectioner sugar, milk and vanilla) or just dust with powdered sugar!

Feeling Better

I spent the weekend sick with a bad cold but one of the good things about laying low for a weekend is that I had a chance to read a book!  This book was highly recommended and loaned to me from a friend from church and it was another book that I wouldn't have picked up myself.  It was an intriging read that allowed me to escape from my achy, snotty body for awhile, thank goodness!

Book #2 of 2011 is...
Bel Canto
by Ann Patchett

This book is about a dinner party in a South American country that is taken hostage by a terrorist organization, but the hostage takeover goes ary and the rest of the book is about the days, weeks, months that these two parties spend encamped together.  Slowly the lines between terrorist and terrorized are broken down as everyone realizes the humaness of the other.  This is a book that questions how similar we all are once everything is stripped away and how, perhaps, really getting to know someone is the only way any real peace in this world can ever be achieved.  It was a good "food for thought" book.

Following Through

This past weekend I chaperoned a Jr. High Confirmation Retreat at the Lutheran camp, Mt. Cross, in Felton, CA.  I am teaching a confirmation class this year at my church and I committed to this retreat last August but as it drew closer the less I wanted to spend the weekend with a bunch of jr. high kids...I mean really?  But I am trying to stick to my New Year's resolutions and go where the Lord sends me...literally sometimes.  So away I went and I could not have had a more rewarding weekend!

I got to spend the weekend surrounded by 160 wholesome and awesome jr. high kids who really renewed my faith in the next generation.  These kids were kind to each other, they were full of God's light, they were humble and vulnerable and not in love with Justin was SO refreshing! 

I also got to meet the moms (the other chaperons) of these great kids and they were so generous with me about sharing their knowledge and experiences as parents.  Parenting a jr. high girl doesn't have to be the horrible years of parenthood, instead I got to witness bonds between mothers and daughters that was inspiring and gave me hope.  It turned out that spending time with these strong Lutheran moms and being surrounded by these great girls was good for my soul and following through on my commitments was good for me too.  When you go out on a limb (or out of your comfort zone) for God, God will always meet you there and you will be blown away by the view.  Sometimes I just need to remember that.

Simple Things

This year I am trying to focus on the simple things in my life that bring me comfort and joy.  One of the simple things I enjoy is curling up or stretching out with a good book.  Over the years, books have played a part in making me a who I am, they have stretched my empathy, they have helped me to discover new ideas, places, and people, they have made me wiser, and they definately help me unwind.  I am going to keep track again this year of the books that I read, good and bad, and I hope that you will read along with me!  Books are a simple joy that I just can't get enough of.

Book # 1 of 2010 is...
The UnNamed
by Joshua Ferris

This book was a Christmas present from Matt's cousin.  I appreciated this book because it is one that I wouldn't have purchased for myself, but it was a good read.  In this book, a man suffers from a disease that no one else has...he can't stop walking.  It is the story of this man's struggle with his condition but really it is a love story as he and his wife deal with his illness that everyone else dismisses and discredits.  It brings up questions about the seperation of body and soul and it discusses the limits of one's will over one's body, which is something that everyone can relate to.  This was an interesting read that made me think for days afterward.  Thanks Darin for this great gift!