Friday, February 6, 2015

Chicken Pot Pie - Free Recipe Card Download

Chicken Pot Pie Recipe

This recipe is a compilation of a number of recipes I found online for Chicken Pot Pie, plus one I had in my head. All of them have in common that they are "kind of" homemade... although I find that the more I cook homemade, the more I like it! I generally make my pot pie with just a top crust which saves on a lot of calories, and saves the hassle of making sure the bottom crust doesn't get soggy! The version in my head uses a can of cream soup as the gravy, but now that I've had a homemade gravy version, it's so much more tasty!

  • 2-3 cups shredded cooked chicken
  • 1 lb bag frozen mixed veggies (carrots, green beans, peas & lima beans)
  • 1 cup diced potatoes
  • 4 Tbsp. Butter, divided in half
  • 1/2 c. finely chopped onion
  • 1/2 c. finely chopped celery
  • 1/3 c. all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp. salt (plus more to taste)
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tsp. crushed garlic (optional)
  • 1 1/2 c. chicken broth
  • 2/3 c. milk
  • 1 9-inch refrigerated pie crust
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Defrost vegetables and drain if needed. In a large bowl, combine chicken and vegetables and set aside.
  • In a large skillet, place the potatoes in water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover an simmer for 8-10 minutes until potatoes are tender. Drain, then add to chicken and vegetables.
  • Dry the pan, then over medium heat, melt 2 Tbsp of butter and add the garlic, onion and celery. Cook until nicely tender and onions are browned. Add the remaining butter and cook until it melts, then add flour, salt and pepper. Slowly mix in the chicken broth and milk, and stir frequently at a simmer until the mixture thickens. Check the taste to determine if you want to add additional seasoning.
  • Pour the gravy mixture over the chicken and vegetables and stir until all is mixed together. Pour mixture into 9-inch pie plate and cover with crust. Pinch the crust around the edges, and poke several holes in it to allow pie to vent. 
  • Bake for 30-45 minutes until crust is browned, and mixture is bubbling. If edges of pie are brown before pie is ready, cover the edges with foil. Remove and let cook 5-10 minutes before serving.
  • A glass pie plate makes it easy to see if the pie is bubbling.
  • Pie can be made ahead and frozen. Thaw overnight in refrigerator before baking and cooking time may need to be extended to 1 hour - 75 minutes. (If cooking from refrigerator, a metal pan is recommended.
  • Save this file to your computer, print at home, or upload to your favorite photo printing service to print as a 4x6.

Monday, February 2, 2015

A Month of Letters Challenge

I joined a challenge for February to write a letter each day for a month. I decided to write my "letters" on postcards, making my notes short and sweet with the bonus of a pretty picture on the card. Also, I have a HUGE stash of postcards thanks to my PostCrossing habit (more on that in another post maybe)!

I've decided to write postcards in the evening, so I actually wrote my postcard for February 3rd tonight on the 2nd, so then it's ready to go out in the mail first thing tomorrow. So far, it has actually been so fun that I must restrain myself from writing more than one note per day. However, I don't want to burn out on the writing thing, so I will resist. :)

I have an album on my Facebook page where I'm posting photos of each postcard. Click this link to see the album: Rebecca's Month of Letters Challenge on Facebook

Friday, January 23, 2015

Project "Read more in 2015"

At the end of December, I received an email from Goodreads congratulating me on reading 14 books in 2014, and all I could think of was, "That's IT?!???" I consider myself a READER and that just seems like a really small list, and I definitely want to start reading more.

First of all, I had to figure out why I wasn't reading as much, and I have to say - true confessions - that one of the culprits of stealing my time is playing games on my phone. I'm embarrassed to admit that! So to make more time for reading, I deleted nearly all the games off my phone, keeping just two that I play with others, so they aren't huge suckers of my time.

With that distraction eliminated, and a decision to actively spend more of my free time reading, I also set a goal for reading this year: at least 2 books per month, or 24 books this year. I also plan to alternate between fiction and nonfiction, so I get a good mix of titles read.

The alternative name for this reading project is "Project clean off the nightstand" because that is the place I tend to collect books that I want to read or intend to read. My nightstand isn't very big, but it has two lower shelves, and it is literally fully packed with books to read. Alternate project name number two is "Project finish all the books I've started" - my Goodreads "currently reading" list includes 8 books, and I'm actually only currently reading 2 of them!

This morning, I reorganized the piles on the top of the nightstand, and stacked the books in order that I plan to read them. Here's what's on my nightstand:

I'm currently reading Hardwiring Happiness by Rick Hanson, Ph.D., which was a gift from my cousin Ashley for Christmas. I just started it, so no opinions to report yet. :)

The next two books are the selections for my twice-annual girls book weekend. We had actually planned to read these last fall, and then our discussion weekend was postponed to this spring, so I've had plenty of time to postpone putting these on the top of the list, but the time is now! The two titles for book weekend are Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis and Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

Next is a classic; I became interested in Hemingway after reading Paula McLain's novel The Paris Wife last year. A Moveable Feast is Hemingway's own writing about his wife Hadley.

Following that: Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha and Mohammed Cross the Road? by Brian D. McLaren - one of last year's book weekend suggestions that I started but didn't finish.

Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver

Our Great Big American God by Matthew Paul Turner

The non-pictured book I will probably also finish soon, as it's already in-progress, is Cold Tangerines by Shauna Niequest. I saw the play last year in Pasadena, and it's an easy read, I just set it aside and sort of forgot about it!

I'm also currently listening to the audiobook of Insurgent by Veronica Roth (#2 in the Divergent series.) I'm using audiobooks to bribe myself to exercise, and only listening when I go for a walk. I'm already 25% of the way through it, and find myself wanting to take longer and longer walks so I can keep listening.

I'd say Project "Read More" is off to a good start!

(Want to share your book recommendations and see what else is on my "want to read" list? Friend me on Goodreads!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

England Top 10

Since I've been home, people have been asking me about my trip: How was it? What was the best?

I seem unable to answer the first question with anything but superlatives: amazing, wonderful, spectacular, life-changing.

The other thing I am unable to do is answer the second question the same way twice. Every day it seems, I remember something different as the best. There are so many great stories from this trip, so I might be blogging a few of them, but I thought I'd start with a top 10 list. I'm working on some projects that will get my fun photos on display in places I can enjoy them every day. One such project requires that I pick my favorite 18 images. Every time I try to narrow it down, I can't do it! So I thought I'd make an attempt at a top 10 list from my trip.

1. Wicked. Truly spectacular! I don't go to the theater often, and other than London or New York, I'm not sure it would make my travel wish list. I. Loved. Every. Minute. Note. Costume. Character. I LOVED The Wizard of Oz film when I was a kid, watching it over and over and over, so to see Wicked was something I will remember for a long, long time. And I will never, ever see the original again without seeing it completely differently. Oh, Elphaba! If only I had known. Loved, loved, loved it.

2. The London Eye. The Eye hadn't been built when I was in London before, so it was a must on my list. Never  have 30 minutes gone so quickly! The day I went up, I had already seen snow twice, so I felt especially lucky to go up during an interval in the day with plenty of sun. I loved seeing the London skyline from above, and I was completely fascinated by watching the wheel in action and seeing how it worked.

3. Evensong at Westminster Abbey. This was pure loveliness, and I loved it so much I went twice. (I also went to Evensong at St. Paul's Cathedral, but I enjoyed it more at Westminster Abbey.) In a building as majestic as this, it is hard to not think of God's greatness; I think this was the point of such giant churches. I loved the beautiful choir, the reading of Psalms, and time to sit in this beautiful place, hearing God's beautiful words and reflecting on my life.

4. Vincent Van Gogh's Sunflowers at The National Gallery. When The National Gallery went on the list of things I must do, I confess: it was because of Claude Monet's Waterlilies. When I was in London before, the famous Monet was off display for cleaning or on loan or something - I forget! But it was the Sunflowers that captivated me more. Not that I overlooked Canaletto, Renoir, Pissarro or Degas, the temporary exhibit of Frederic Edwin Church, and dozens more amazing paintings.

5. The Underground. I'm pretty sure it was living in London before when I fell in love with public transportation, and I've been enamored of it every since. It's a crazy thing for a girl to love, but that colorful map is so cool, and this idea that you can just hop on and hop off and get anywhere you need to go without a car. On this trip, I also traveled by train and bus quite often, and enjoyed them all, along with the all-important advice to "Mind the Gap!"

6. Windsor Castle. What's not to love about wandering around a real castle, especially one where the Queen herself lives sometimes? As a added bonus, I got my picture taken with a royal guard.

7. The Tower of London. So much history like "this is where Anne Boleyn was beheaded!" and interesting fun facts, like learning the reason a pound is called a pound. The Crown Jewels were spectacular. I went to the Tower before when I was in London, and I confess, it was the Crown Jewels that lured me back! But as we walked around the Tower of London, we just kept saying "this is SO cool!" The icing on the cake was that although it was rainy when we got there (of COURSE it was!), the sun came out later, and we enjoyed brilliant views of Tower Bridge.

8. The Making of Harry Potter Studio Tour. I know, I know. Go to England with all it's culture and history, and visit the Harry Potter tour? Absolutely! As a fan of the series, it was so  much fun to see how the stories were brought to life in the movies through sets, costumes, art, design, and more. Like so many of my favorite things about this trip, it was a chance to see beautiful things. I spent hours soaking up the details. On the other hand, I spent mere minutes enjoying my Butterbeer as it was literally freezing outside!

9. The Three Horseshoes. One Sunday, the biggest adventure of the day was a walk to the local pub, a favorite of my friends, for dinner and a pint. I'm 1000% positive that beer tastes better after a long walk on a brisk day, because I have not enjoyed a beer that much in a long, long time. I also enjoyed the very tasty fish and chips, the lovely walk home along the local canal, and the fact that the pub has been around since 1535.

10. Days of Rest. I knew when I planned this trip that most of all, it was rest I most needed. Yes, I wanted to revisit London for the first time after living there. Yes, I wanted to see amazing sights, and have new experiences. Yes, I wanted to take a bazillion pictures. But mostly, I wanted a VACATION. I wanted to do all those other things, and not come home needing a vacation from my vacation. There was plenty of down time on this trip. I read a book. I printed pictures of my vacation before I got home. I watched movies. I wrote in a journal about my trip. I enjoyed time with friends. It was soooooo good.

Speaking of friends, I can't say enough good things about  my hosts Nathaniel & Dean. I met Nathaniel almost two years ago when I started a new job, and started working with him. He moved to England exactly 3 days after we met, but we work together a lot and over time have become really good friends. Not only did he invite me over to England to visit, but he and Dean took such good care of me while I was there, making me feel welcome well before I arrived, and at home the minute I arrived. Friends, thank you - again and again and again - for your hospitality, because that made everything on this list possible. I'm so glad we're friends, and your kindness and hospitality will never be forgotten.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Thankful Thursday: Joy Dare Week 12

Ah, home sweet home. As much as I did NOT want to leave London, I reluctantly boarded a plane for home last Wednesday. Re-entry to normal life has not been terrible. I have one last London photo to share from my last day in the city. Like my first day in the city, it rained. A lot. On my list had been to revisit a couple locations to snap photos, including Piccadilly Circus. If one can only get a picture in the rain, may as well make the most of it!

233. Piccadilly Circus (technically from last week)

247. My beloved California Poppies. Love these, and it thrilled my heart to find that they were blooming when I arrived home.

242. When jet lag means you wake up at 3:00 am... you can get a LOT done before going in to the office. I fell asleep before 8 pm more than once after arriving home, but on the upside, I woke up in the middle of the night with plenty of energy to do the unpacking and laundry.

It's Tuesday night now, and I'm mostly back on California time, although I've still been waking up around 5:00 am. I look forward to sleeping late again one of these mornings!