Saturday, February 28, 2015

Chicken Pot, Chicken Pot, Chicken Pot Pie

Chicken pot, chicken pot, chicken pot piieee...

This is a little chant my husband walks around saying whenever I'm making Chicken Pot Pie for dinner.  He paces around like an excited little kid -- looking over my shoulder, smacking his lips, and rubbing his hands together.  The first time I made it for him after we were married, he actually pulled out the camera and took pictures. No, I don't think my pot pie deserves this attention, but he enjoys my cooking and is supportive of  my efforts.  My pot pie isn't totally homemade.  I use the Sandra Lee method -- semi-homemade.

This recipe is pretty basic and simple and I cook this when I need to pull dinner together quickly.  As with most of my recipes, this is something I found on the internet and added my own little twist, like the Worcestershire sauce.  Unfortunately, my tweaking of recipes usually consists of  "a few shakes of this and a few pinches of that".
  

Chicken Pot Pie:

1 pre-cooked chicken - torn into bits or cubed
1 jar of chicken gravy
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of chicken soup

1 small bag of frozen mixed vegetables
1/2 small chopped onion 
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
Worcestershire sauce -- about 4-5 hearty shakes (or to taste)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 or 2 pastry pie crusts - depends on if you want top and bottom or top only

I mix all of the ingredients (with the exception of the pastry crust) together in a skillet and cook on medium heat.  I cook this until the mixture begins to boil.


I then transfer the mixture into a small casserole dish. I roll out the pastry crust, do some funky little cutout - this time it is a snowman because of all the snow we've been having - put it over the top and bake for 25-30 minutes on 400 degrees.  Cook until crust is brown.

 
I normally don't use a bottom crust.  Maybe one day I will get adventurous and surprise my husband by throwing a bottom crust in there.


While this recipe would never rival anything that Paula Deen would make, it does have lots of meat, vegetables, and a thick, rich gravy full of flavor.  Another perfect meal for those cold winter days! If you would like a printable copy of the recipe, please click here





PS...find this post at the Link Party on Restless Arrow, The Winthrop Chronicles and Coastal Charm!
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Friday, February 27, 2015

The Almost Chair

For some reason, I have an obsession with chairs...and clocks...and wooden crates.....and old books....and tables.  I don't know why, but I've learned to live with it.  How?  By buying chairs....and clocks.....and wooden crates....and old books....and tables!  I'm also a sucker for unusual things in usual spaces.  Like this chair.

 
I call it the "almost" chair.  It wants to be a chair, but has nothing inside to make it one. It has good bones.  Well, probably not even good bones since it needs some work, but I like the chair.  How many people would buy a chair that can't be used, just to sit in a space and look cute.  Answer?  Most women!  It's the equivalent of men purchasing tools they will never use.  Did I just type that out loud?  ;-)

Anyway, I've been keeping my eye on this chair for about 3 months, waiting for it to go on sale. The price finally dropped and I grabbed it up. The man carrying it to my car asked if I had plans to reupholster this chair.  What?!  And ruin a perfectly good chair??  Nope, no plans to make it functional.

I like the shape and style. It fits in an awkward hallway space.  I left the feed bag on it for the photo because I had the bag fixed just like I wanted it.  And you know how it is when you move something...you can never get it fixed back exactly like you had it.

These are the other things I've placed in the chair, just for a little whimsy.


Now I do realize that the average person wouldn't have this little vignette anywhere in their house, but for me, it fits.  Atypical and unusual.

What strange and nonfunctional piece do you have in your house?








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Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Odd Corner

When we woke up, the ground was once again covered with snow.  I don't think I've ever used the word "snow" so many times in one year!


Since the temps have been so chilly, we've stayed inside most of the week, with the exception of the bizarre flights to and from Dallas that my husband had to endure. This has definitely been a strange winter for us.

I realize that while I've posted a few photos of our house, I haven't really shared many of the little things, you know, the details.  I will be sharing details in the next few posts.  Those little details do make such a difference in a home.

For instance, we have a weird angled corner in our living room, the Odd Corner, if you will.  I had no idea what to do with this space once we put our Christmas tree away.  The tree filled the spaced and looked wonderful there, but you can't leave the tree up all year long.  I was truly frustrated over what to do with this space.  I knew I needed an extra chair or two for seating in the living room, but didn't really feel that two chairs would work.

As I've shared previously, I have been looking for cool flea markets, thrift stores and antique stores in our area.  I found a listing on Facebook for a shop that had only been open a few months, but I knew from her photos that it was the place for me.  The Trove has turned into a great place to find treasures for our home.  Jamie's prices are very reasonable and there are all sorts of goodies to go through.  AND, I found the perfect little ensemble for the odd space in our living room.

 
This chair was in great shape and just the style I was looking for.  I may redo the chair for a project later on, but for now I'm happy with it.  My husband fully expects this chair to be painted.  He maintains that most women cannot leave wood a wood color!  :-)


The vintage door adds a rustic touch to balance the formal-ness of the chair.

 
The basket I purchased from Magnolia Market looks great here.


While I'm not a fan of fake flowers, this space needed some color.  Don't worry, the fake flowers will be replaced with real flowers throughout the summer.  Unfortunately, this little basket and pail will be moving to the screened-in porch once the weather warms up.  Which means I will be visiting the Trove to find another cute little somethin'-somethin' to replace it.  :-)

Have a great snow day!


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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Magnolia Market and Texas Treasures

Living in a rental home creates a few decorating challenges in that you are limited to what you can change.  I seem to fall into the old cliche "bloom where you are planted".  Which translates - work with what you've got!   So I work with yellow walls instead of the soft whites and grays I prefer.

In a previous post, I wrote about my trip to Waco, TX and the treasures purchased at the Magnolia Market and Junque in the Trunk.  While I am still moving some of those treasures around trying to find their perfect spot, a few of them have found their special place...for now.  :-) 

I love this basket with the coverless books, pail and paintbrushes.


It is sitting in our upstairs hallway on the recently refurbished table.  While it is a little rustic, it works nicely next to a vintage typewriter.

 
Remember this shelf and sign?

 
When I saw them I knew they would work perfectly in our guest bath.
 
 
Books and signs can be displayed anywhere.  They are a great fit for this tiny bathroom that needed that little something extra.

I will be posting more photos as I place the remaining treasures.  Happy Tuesday!

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Monday, February 23, 2015

Pinterest....OR My Fantasy Life

I have had a Pinterest account for a year, maybe more.  I have a little over 800 pins, which I don't think is alot, but it could be.  I refer to my Pinterest boards as "my fantasy life".  Why?  Because the majority of the things I pin I will never purchase nor bake nor make nor wear.

For instance, this bed found on Etsy.com.


I love this bed and it is pinned on my FOR THE HOME board.  Will I ever have this bed?  Nope, not unless the Etsy seller decides to lower the price, drastically.  This bed, in queen size, costs approximately $1,200.00.  I cannot ever see me paying that much for a bed.  But, I can see this bed in my house, fully attired in a thick comforter, soft sheets, a lacy bedskirt and lots of pillows.  I see me lying like a queen in this bed, with lots of little minions bringing me fruit and chocolate all day.  And I never gain weight. That's how it works in my fantasy life.

This recipe is on my RECIPES board - Little Lemon Souffles by Martha Stewart.


They look YUMMY and the recipe seems simple enough.  Unfortunately, the word SOUFFLE intimidates me.  While the recipe looks like something I could prepare, that one word keeps me from even attempting to bake these little delights.  I envision the lemons coming out of the oven shriveled and brown and a big hole right in the middle of the souffle.  Epic failure!  However, in my fantasy life, I'm wearing my pastry chef's hat, I have a soft dust of flour along my cheek and I'm carrying a tray of the most perfect Little Lemon Souffles the world has ever seen.  Oh, and I'm wearing my new Jimmy Choo shoes!

I love fresh flowers, especially hydrangeas...and white or pale pink roses.  I've tried repeatedly to grow hydrangeas with no success.  While the leaves will grow beautifully, I've never been able to squeeze a flower from my plants.  To say that I do not have a good relationship with plants is an understatement.  They hate me!  It does not matter how much I nurture them, they flounder under my brown thumb.  See the look on the cucumber and carrot below (courtesy of adventure-in-a-box.com)? This is the look I get when plants see me coming! 


In my fantasy garden, all of my plants look like this..


I win major awards for my beautiful gardens. Everything in my garden thrives.  Martha Stewart visits and wants to know my secret.

Yes, it is silly and I know none of these things will ever happen, but on my Pinterest boards there is no limit to what I can do or imagine!

I've challenged myself to complete at least one Pinterest recipe and one Pinterest DIY project per week just to see what happens.  I might even give the Little Lemon Souffles a try.  I will take photos and post the good, the bad and the ugly.  I'm glad there are not alot of pins on my RECIPE or DIY boards!  :-)

What are your "fantasy" or fear of failure pins?


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Sunday, February 22, 2015

It's All About the Cheese

I'm one of those people who has a difficult time being spontaneous.  I like to plan and organize.  For the evening with our guests, I pepared a cheese platter.  I've served cheese boards before, but didn't put a lot of thought into pairings with other foods.  It wasn't until my husband ordered a cheese board at the Vintage Wine Bar in Philadelphia that I actually considered the presentation and pairing of cheeses with other foods.
Vintage Wine Bar
Once I saw the way the restaurant presented the array of cheeses,  when we returned home I started doing research on pairings and what actually constitutes a "perfect" cheese board.  The opinions are many, varied...and endless.  And I will not rehash it all because there are already numerous blogs out there detailing the "perfect" cheese board.


Fortunately, there are four simple "rules" to remember. 
  1. Vary the cheeses - flavors and textures - strong to mild, soft to hard.  Use no more than 4 varieties.
  2. Let the cheese rest. Take your cheeses out of the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before serving.
  3. Slice the cheeses before placing on the board or platter.  No cubes.
  4. Offer one bread or cracker, one jam or compote, one fruit, and one or two savory items, such as olives and prosciutto.
The layout should be visually pleasing, since you eat with your eyes first.  Don't crowd the cheeses on your board.


Place your cheeses first then add the remaining items accordingly.  Any other items you add should only be for the visual appeal of the board.  I used flowers and a stand to give the board a little height and balance.


For our board, I served 3 cheeses - smoked Gouda, Havarti and brie.  The pairings included grapes, fig spread, honey, olives, prosciutto, nuts and a variety of crackers.  I also served basil pesto.  While it appears that I broke a couple of rules, I look at it as bending them a little. :-)  Just enough to be pleasing to the eye and to the palate!

Enjoy!


 

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Friday, February 20, 2015

Deal of the Day...and Some Heart-Shaped Pasta

Once again, the snow is coming down.  This is truly a rarity for this southern girl and I'm loving every minute of it!

Today was another one of those days when I had to travel to the store for the unnecessary "necessities".  Actually, some items were necessary as we are having guests tomorrow evening for hors d'oeuvres.  I have decided to make a cheese tray, but more about that tomorrow.  In my quest for entertaining items, I found another fabulous deal on flowers.  These hydrangeas were marked down to $1.89 for 3.  I'll take two packages please.  Aren't they amazing?!  Yes, the answer is YES!



And they blend beautifully with the pink hydrangeas I purchased earlier this week.  Hydrangeas are one of my favorite flowers.  They fill up a space and change the look of a room.

BUT, my "deal of the day" was this adorable heart-shaped pasta from World Market.


It was on the Valentine's discount table. I paid a whopping 75 cents for a bag of pasta!  I will be able to use this for two meals.  It doesn't have to be Valentine's Day to serve heart-shaped pasta.  Use it to make any day of the week special.


I kept the prep simple -- cooked al dente, tossed in EVOO, sprinkled with oregano, parsley and a little crushed red pepper.  Top with Parmesan cheese and add some French bread with basil pesto to round out the meal. I don't know about you, but I think this pasta was a great deal.  On these cold winter days, hot, hearty meals are truly a "necessity"!


Happy Friday!




PS...you can also find this post at the Link Party on French Country Cottage!
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Thursday, February 19, 2015

Winter....and a Touch of Spring

"Please stay off the roads and do not travel unless it is absolutely necessary."

What is it about those words that immediately make you want to run to the store to pick up supplies for a paint project you won't be able to start until the temperatures reach 50 degrees?  Which won't be until summer!  Or, that you need fresh flowers, NOW.  Or, that you need bacon, NOW.  Or, or, or...the list goes on.  I believe it is a subconscious rebellion that you experience when you are told you "can't" do something.  So what do you do?  You ask the hubby to take you to the store, that might be closed, in the 4-wheel drive, to make the purchases you really don't need.  The result - paint project supplies and canning materials for pickle making.  Who knows WHEN there will be adequate cucumbers for homemade pickles...but here you are, nonetheless, with most everything you will need to accomplish the two projects.

If you are lucky, you also end up with these...


Beautiful pink hydrangeas for $6.00 off the Valentine's discount table.  While they were a little sad, I revived them with some alum and added a little bit of spring to our home. I love the colors -- the pale pink flower with the bright shock of lemon yellow.

Having the lemons reminded me of a recipe I have for Warm Winter Lemon Cake.  It brings the two seasons together nicely...warmness for the chilly weather and tartness for a taste of spring.

 
Since I was in the kitchen baking this cake, I decided to carry the Fat Tuesday menu through today and prepare another New Orleans style dish - Cajun-Style Shrimp and Grits.


This dish is warm, smooth and spicy.  It can be served for lunch, dinner and even breakfast, if your are feeling a bit adventurous!  The Cajun-flavored shrimp and sausage blends nicely with the creamy grits.  Perfect for a cold winter's day.


What is it that you "just have to do" when you are forced to stay inside?




 

P.S.  The recipes in my blog can be found on my RECIPES page.

Shared on the link party at Average Inspired!
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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Fat Tuesday...and A Few Details

Jambalaya, and a crawfish pie and a file' gumbo
'Cause tonight I'm gonna see my ma chère amie-o
Pick guitar, fill fruit jar and be gay-oh
Son of a gun, we'll have big fun on the bayou

This was a great song by Hank Williams and what better way to celebrate Fat Tuesday than with homemade Jambalaya!  This is a recipe I found on Campbell's Kitchen website.  As with all recipes, I tweak them here and there, as I'm sure you do as well.

The snow we received during the night looks beautiful this morning! I love the look of winter - there is beauty to be found in all things - and I haven't minded keeping some of my winter decor hanging around.


The skates I found at a thrift store for about $3.00, the sled I purchased at Hobby Lobby years ago, the bucket came from HomeGoods (a favorite shopping place), the greenery from the Lone Star Antique Mall in Haltom City, TX and the ribbon was purchased at Hobby Lobby. I try to purchase most of my household decor and entertaining items on sale.  This little vignette cost under $15.00 and is a cute addition to our home's foyer.

If you've been reading my blog, you know it is still in its infancy.  Occasionally, you will notice some changes here and there as I decide on the final look I want to achieve.  This blog is much like my home in that I'm constantly making little changes to get things how I want them to look.

I've added a few photos of the house to the "Our Home" page.  Instead of placing a few photos of the details on that page, I decided to post them in different blogs.  After all, the details are the things that constantly change. :-)

Have a great day!

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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Another Winter Day....and Hot Chocolate

We are still buried in ice and some snow. Winter feels as though it is here to stay for a while, well, at least for the rest of the week.

Which makes it another perfect day for some homemade hot chocolate!

I got the recipe for this homemade hot chocolate from my bestie Connie in Wyoming.  It is rich, chocolate-y and makes you feel warm and toasty on cold winter days.  You can make enough to serve 4 or make a cup just for you.  The "accoutrements" for this recipe are endless!  Grab a cup, snuggle up in your favorite spot with a blanket (and a good book), and your perfect winter day is set!

Winter Hot Chocolate (serves 4)

1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa
a dash of salt
1/3 cut hot water
4 cups milk
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)

Mix sugar, cocoa and salt in a saucepan.  Stir in hot water until dry ingredients are dissolved.  Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until mixture boils.  Boil and stir for 2 minutes.  Add milk.  Stir and heat through.  Do not boil.  Remove from heat and add vanilla.  Mix well.

Winter Hot Chocolate (serves 1) 

2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa
a dash of salt
1 cup milk
1/4 teaspon vanilla extract (optional)

Mix first 3 ingredients in mug.  Heat milk.  Gradually add milk to cocoa mixture.  Stir well.  Add vanilla, stir well.

Enjoy!






PS...I've joined this post to the Link Party on French Country Cottage!
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Monday, February 16, 2015

Snow...and Mud Pie

While we didn't get the predicted "Blizzard of the Year", we do have some ice and now the snow has started falling.  I love snow -- it makes everything white, light, bright and airy!  :-)  And it is nice to enjoy one of these Cinnamon Bun cupcakes and some hot chocolate while watching it snow.  Isn't it cool that the powdered sugar looks like snow?  :-)


I told my husband I would give him a few more minutes of work time and then we would head outside to join the neighborhood festivities.


I don't know how many of you have heard of Mud Pie products.  I absolutely LOVE them!  They are too cute and have such a vintage look to them.  I purchased my first set at the Frisco Mercantile in Frisco, TX.  As I've previously mentioned, I really love that store and always come away with an armload of treasures for my home!

They can be a little pricey, but can be found at some stores for very reasonable prices.  Some of the pieces I have were purchased at HomeGoods. The platter below is sold on the Mud Pie website for over $30.00.  I found it for $9.00.  Quite a bargain, right?


Pottery Barn also carries some of these adorable items, but you will pay a steep price for them at Pottery Barn.


I found this cute little butter knife just in time for Thanksgiving. I also have another set of cheese knives and the napkin holder.

You can peruse their website if these little gems pique your interest.  I will be ordering the sugar pack holder to add to my collection.  I hope you find something you like!

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