The Missing Potato

I made individual pot pies yesterday that had the same “face only a mother could love” quality that my apple cherry pie did at Christmas. They didn’t win on pretty but for the first time I delivered the flake! These hot hands of mine finally didn’t drastically melt the butter and overwork the dough! For those of you who are new here read Pumpkin Pie Day and the last few sentences will make more sense. In short my hot hands usually give me pastry problems. This was the first time I have successfully delivered flakey dough. 

I turned to the recipe I know and adore by the lovely Ina Garten. If you haven’t tried her chicken pot pie recipe but love pot pie just start your journey there. They are so delicious but where are the potatoes? This isn’t an Ina criticism but a general one. 

I don’t understand why potatoes aren’t stock ingredients in chicken pot pie recipes. When I think of comfort food there is usually a potato nearby. Pot pies are the ultimate comfort food so where’s the potato? They add luciousness and heartiness without lifting a finger and are also great fillers. If you need your quantities and coin to stretch a bit further add a couple potatoes. 

As you would expect after all that fuss, I tweaked Ina’s recipe and added two large and one scrawny parboiled russet potatoes (along with a half cup additional stock). Never parboiled before? Dice up your taters, throw them in a pot of well salted, boiling water until they just start to tenderize. And there you go. Easy as pie. Make sure they aren’t soft like you’d want for a mash, or you’ll get a goopy mess in your pie.

So for all you non-Texas people who are actually experiencing really cold weather, give this recipe a whirl. It’s sure to warm you well and while you’re at it send us Texans some snow. My girls and I would heartily appreciate it and I’m guessing (unless you have littles or are little at heart) you are ready to get rid of some. 

I know there are days that just don’t go as planned and I’ll be the first to admit to frequent culinary disasters, but make the pastry yourself. I bought pre-made pie dough just in case, since others outside my family were counting on me for dinner, but thank goodness I didn’t need it. Golly it makes the difference and it can be done … even by me. It may not be pretty (see my exhibit A below) but your mouth won’t mind. 

  

Oh, and while I’ve got you, the recipe calls for roasting your own bone-in chicken breasts. If you need to cut corners here’s an easy way to do so. Buy a rotisserie chicken. Otherwise buy extra chicken breasts and roast them for another dinner later in your week. Prepare them as stated in the recipe. They are simply delicious! Add a side of Redeemed Brussels Sprouts and you’ll have happy tummies without spending all week in the kitchen. 

Happy Pot Pieing Y’all!

 

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Reason #1573 to Love Aldi & a Few Ways for your Maiden Voyage not to be Embarassing

I don’t really have 1573 reasons to love Aldi but I could give you a substantial list. It has been a place of huge blessing for our family budget. I started shopping there almost ten years ago when I moved into my first independent apartment. It was the first time I truly had to pay my own bills and cook, since I wasn’t eating at the college dorm hall or at my parents. I wanted to eat well and save money so I did maybe half of my shopping there. Fast forward a few years and I was now newly married. I was in charge not just of myself but of Matt’s meals too. I continued to get about half our groceries at Aldi and supplemented with places like Dillon’s (Kroger to you south of the Texas border folk), our local Applemarket, and Target. There’s been a lot of fast forwarding but bear with me and fast forward a few more years, a new state, and two kiddos later. I am even more thankful for Aldi than I was ten years ago, and am proud of what they are trying to accomplish with regards to removing synthetic dyes and ingredients from all their branded products (most of what they offer), by the end of the year. Due to their Simply Nature line, as well as an increasing choice of organics and USDA meats, I no longer have to significantly supplement with other stores. Our grocery shopping is now done about 90% at Aldi. 

On a weekly basis I am able to save anywhere from 10-40% compared to other grocery stores. If you’ve never been and need the dollars to stretch further than you think possible, without sacrificing the health of you or your family, give Aldi a try. You’ll be happy you did. 

I’m working on an article for next week that outlines some of my favorite products (and why), as well as a few things to stear clear of, but until then here are some tips to make you look like a seasoned Aldi shopper if you’ve never been. The first trip can be infinitely embarrassing if you don’t know how things run, so here are some quick tips I wish I had know before my maiden voyage. 

  1. Before you leave your car to approach the store grab a quarter. You need this to get a cart. There’s a slot you slip said quarter in to unlock your cart. If you don’t bring a quarter you’ll simply stand there pulling on the carts like a crazy person (yes I did this), wondering why they don’t release. Some Aldi patron might just give you their cart or hand you a quarter in pity but save yourself the embarrassment and just bring one with you. 
  2. They do not bag your groceries. Your groceries get put righ back into a cart and you bag them after you pay. You can purchase paper or plastic bags at the register if you so desire but I always bring my reusables. Save a tree and some other resources right? This is my girls favorite part and I quite like it too. They love being responsible for loading a bag and I’ve always secretly wanted to be a grocery checker. 
  3. They do not take credit cards. They take debit transactions, checks or cash. Made this mistake on my maiden voyage too, but thankfully had my check book. 
  4. When you return your cart you get your quarter back. Happy day! They money you save would make it worth losing a quarter but you get it back when you re-hook your cart. Just do the reverse of what you did to get it out and you’ll be good to go. 

There you have it. Basic tips to surviving your maiden voyage like you’re a professional Aldi shopper. 

Happy Alding šŸ˜‰

Ah Liberty Burger your ‘Crunchy’ Salad is Delish!Ā 

I was not aquatinted with Liberty Burger until moving to Dallas. The treasure trove of food in this city could have you eating somewhere new and most likely delicious weekly with no end in sight. That might be an exaggeration but probably not.  

We rarely eat out and when we do it’s usually because we have family visiting. Our usual ‘must eats’ when in good foodie company include In-N-Out Burger, Cane Rosso, Twisted Root and Torchy’s, but there’s this salad at Liberty Burger which I think of often, drool over often, and desire often. I know it’s probably criminal to get a salad at a burger joint, but you can put a delicious patty atop so maybe don’t hurt me just yet.  

Since you’ll thank me later this salad is called ‘Crunchy.’ Mixed greens, feta cheese, dried cranberries, diced apple, walnuts, dynamite croutons, and almonds (which I have them leave off because I am content with the walnuts). As I said earlier, when you were planning on hurting me for ordering a salad at a burger joint, you can put a patty atop. I always do, but eat it separately like a weirdo. There’s a delicious creamy garlic dressing that comes with it but I ask for their basalmic vinaigrette. It’s crazy acidic with just the right amount of garlic and sweetness.  

What I’m trying to say is that this salad is perfection. The Texas born and grown Liberty Burger will hook you up whether you want a salad (which you do), or a burger, so check them out at givemelibertyburger.com

Since budgetary restrictions limit the amount of Liberty Burger I would have if infinitely wealthy, I have tried replicating ‘Crunchy’ at home. My last attempt went rather well. 

  

Just look at it! Colorful, textured and fresh. I forgot to take a picture with the croutons I made because they were all happily tummied (is that even a word?) before I remembered. I roasted diced pieces of whole wheat bread in olive oil, butter, cayenne, salt and pepper. They were zippy and the wheat bread gave them some added character. It may just be my go-to cruton bread from here on out.

My husband is not in love with big salads for a meal, but he even gave this one a thumbs up, as long as I didn’t try and serve it to him on his birthday (long story for another day). In short I made him a big salad on his birthday last year and have yet to hear the end of it. Apparently you don’t make a man salad on his birthday … at least my man. Haha. After six years of marriage, this should have been obvious, but alas a temporary lapse in good judgment occurred.

Use whatever dressing you like but I made a basalmic vinaigrette. I feel like the acidity and slight sweetness go really well with the ingredients, and it’s a snap to make. Start with a base of basalmic vinegar and add lemon juice, Dijon mustard, garlic and pepper. Slowly drizzle in in olive oil, whisking as you go. Yum! I have ceased measuring but here’s a great quantities starting point from marthastewart.com. Adjust however you like. I often add a wee bit of Worcestershire sauce too. The great thing is this dressing can be stored at room temp for several weeks, so don’t be afraid to double your batch.
 

I hope if you’re ever in Dallas you give Liberty Burger a try. Until then give this salad a whirl at home. Your taste buds will eagerly anticipate the real deal. 

Happy ‘Crunchy’ing!

When the Kiddos give you Lemons don’t forget the LemonadeĀ 

It’s been a ‘lemons’ couple of months when it comes to sleep. My youngest just finished a two month sleep strike. Oh mercy. She is back to sleeping through the night but I am a complete mess. I’m up as frequently as she was and often can’t get back down. 

In college I burned the candle at both ends and could go for a week or two at a time before needing a recharge day. Now I nap several times a week to keep from feeling like a complete zombie. I came across this meme earlier and just giggled. This was so me. Sorry friends who had small children if I ever told you I was exhausted. I didn’t understand. 

 

Image subject to copyright 

All you parents understand – all you mums especially. Nights of little-to-no sleep are part of the job description. Sometimes these long nights turn into periods characterized by exhaustion, which can be scary, so don’t be afraid to ask for help. Asking for help does not come naturally for me but with a little practice and a patient husband, I hope I am improving.  

During my daughter’s sleep strike it was so tempting to get frustrated with her or to feel exasperated when I had to be up for the fifth time, but let me challenge you. Instead of begrudging the fact that you’re exhausted, give thanks and praise God for why you are awake. When I started tuning my heart to praise I had great joy amidst the exhaustion. I was thankful my daughter needed me. I was thankful for another chance to hold her close. 

She and I have spent many a wee hour around a pile of Cheerios and a sippy cup of milk. I have laid on the floor because that was the best I could do, but I wasn’t frustrated. My daughter felt loved and enjoyed our little picnics. This picture was captured during one of these such times. I just love her face. How could that not delight me. 

  

I am not doing the ‘delighting,’ ‘thankfulness,’ and ‘praising’  perfectly, in fact this morning I was quite a grump, but I am often reminded that the time we have with our littles is short. I know I will miss being awoken and miss being needed in the ways my daughters need me now. Having children presents many ‘lemon’ moments, but thank the Lord they are also the lemonade. 

For the Sake of an Update

Happy New Year dear reader! As I revisited my ‘about’ page this afternoon I realized it was quite out of date, so without further ado here’s an update to start 2016. This mum still loves Wellies. That much will never change and my Anglophile self will never tire of rain. My (now) three year old still loves puddle jumping as much as me and has outgrown three pairs of Wellies. Our youngest, Sophia, has almost grown into the smallest ones and I believe will be a stellar puddle enthusiast like her sister. Last week she fell into a puddle of cold water and was more frustrated at being removed than she was at being cold. If you’ve been with me since the beginning or if you’ve merely caught up, you’ll realize there’s my big update. We’ve had another baby since I started this blog. My husband and I welcomed Sophia Miette to our family on November 2, 2014. 

   

The first (above) picture was taken the week we brought her home and the second was taken this fall. She is a sweet, cheeky munchkin and I believe could not be more different than her sister! 

Right now Izzy’s passions include anything with dragons and princesses. She likes to get grungy and be outside, but we must do it in a princess dress. Izzy loves to read, paint, cook, and I feel would have made an excellent medieval bard. She is constantly making up songs and stories to be performed to her stuffed animal audience on a daily basis. Sophia eats everything and is a complete scavenger. After seeing the new Star Wars film my husband and I call her ‘Rey’ in jest. She will disappear and emerge with all sorts of treasures (mostly pantry and fridge items). She is our snuggler, has a ornery laugh and is a determined little thing. Watching the two of them together is precious and often highly entertaining. 

We still live in Texas where my husband is halfway through his masters in theology from Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS). We moved with our daughter Izzy, from Kansas to Texas almost three years ago to the day. The two pictures below are of her. She was seven months in the first and is now three and a half. 

     

We are blessed to be here in Dallas, and with almost three DTS years under our belts, we continue to feel less and less like fishes out of water. This adventure has come with a lot of difficult growth and trust but when we are weak He is strong. We have continued to see the Lordā€™s faithfulness beyond what we ever could have imagined, and are excited to see what He has in store for our growing clan.
 
 

This blog continues to be an outlet for my life as a stay-at-home mum and I continue to write in the hope that someday it will become something honed and refined. I am committed to you dear reader and am blessed by you. Thank you for bearing with me as I continue in this endeavor and I pray the recipes and moments of mummy honesty are a blessing to you and honoring in the eyes of my Savior. Happy New Year dear reader, whoever you may be!