Thursday, May 21, 2015

Springtime Chicken Pot Pie

I have a confession to make. I always disliked Chicken Pot Pie. Only, I'm not sure I ever actually ate it to know that I didn't like it. It was more the concept. I mean, meat pie? I don't even like cooked fruit pies (much to my pie-loving mother's chagrin and dismay). Plus, it usually contains mushy peas and a gravy looking substance. Just, no.

A few years back, I actually was served some for the first time since I could remember and it wasn't bad. The crust was good. I could eat it. Then sometime in the last several months I got brave and decided to try making it for myself. It turned out pretty good! Unfortunately, I don't think I saved the recipe or wrote down what I did, so when Tom requested I make Chicken Pot Pie this week, I had to start at square one. Well, almost. The one thing I did remember was that I had used my apple pie crust recipe for the pot pie crust -- although, it's not really my recipe; it's from Tom's mom who is world renown for her apple pie (or, at the very least, a family legacy).

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

2015 Spring Garden Update & Wilted Spring Garden Salad Recipe

I suppose it's time for a 2015 Spring Garden Update. I feel like this has really been an ideal spring for gardening. The snow stopped in a timely fashion. We've had a few hot days, plenty of rain and generally weather on par for the season. I started my tomato seeds (and a few others) indoors in March and they are about a foot tall now. I thought about planting them in the past couple of weeks since it has been so warm, but once I saw we are expecting a low in the 30s this week, I decided to hold off. I don't want to shock them with cold shortly after transplanting. I have set them outside a couple of times to try to harden them off. One of the days was super windy, though, and two of my seedlings that I had growing in 2 liter bottles flipped over. I thought they were done for. I set them back up and tried to set them against a support for the rest of the day. Guess what happened. These two little tomato plants have grown into my biggest and strongest seedlings! For me, that was a good reminder, not only about the importance of exposing seedlings to the elements, but also about life -- how the trials we go through can serve to strengthen, grow and mature us, as we stay grounded in our faith and don't allow ourselves to be uprooted. So there you have it, the first life lesson from this year's garden.

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,whenever you face
trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith
produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work
so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."
James 1:2014

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Making Things: Bagels, Cheese and Other Recipes

Unintended though it was, this past weekend was a weekend of making things -- mostly food. On Friday, after a delicious surf 'n turf meal (in which I almost burnt the house down when the grill caught fire, but miraculously managed to keep the steaks from getting charred or overcooked), I decided to try the bagel recipe from my bread book.  I used the provided recipe, only I added sun-dried tomatoes and fresh basil, since that's one of my all time favorite bagel flavors -- and it's hard to find! I made up the dough on Friday and refrigerated it overnight. Saturday, I attempted the bagels. They turned out...just...slightly...misshapen.  I got two out of nine that were fairly good looking and decidedly photo worthy.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

My Apron Obsession

I'm not really sure how this happened, though I imagine Pinterest is at least partly to blame, but somewhere along the way I have become obsessed with aprons. I don't normally wear an apron when I'm in the kitchen. I got one as a wedding gift, and it was the only one I had. I wore it when I remembered, which wasn't nearly often enough. More often than not, I'd jump right into the kitchen after work without changing my clothes or halfway through a weekend day, and I'd end up with flour, water and who knows what all over my shirt. I had seen some cutesy aprons and made a mental note that that might be cool to have. Then, I started picking up sewing again. Basic sewing -- I don't really know what I'm doing and I'm still terribly impatient and not good with patterns -- but sewing nonetheless. It also just so happens that a friend introduced me to this awesome book on how to make homemade bread -- and it's AMAZING -- so I've been baking quite frequently. All these things combined, and I suddenly decided that I NEEDED to make myself a cute, fun, flirty apron. Of course, immediately following that, it dawned on me that my mom's birthday was coming up and she's big into baking cookies (which are the best cookies in the world, in case you were wondering) -- so, she definitely NEEDED a cute, fun apron as a birthday present!

French Bread, Fried Egg and Feta Brunch

Twas the day before Easter and I just had a hunch, that combining these ingredients would make a great brunch! Some freshly made feta, and freshly baked bread, a fried egg and fresh salad did rouse us from bed!  (Okay, enough of the rhyming.) Seriously, though. I've been on a homemade bread kick since a friend introduced me to this book (go buy it now!). And I FINALLY used my cheese making kit a friend got me for my birthday to make some feta! I needed to try out the cheese and brunch sounded like a good idea. I had seen some recipes for egg "boats" using french bread -- but I only took a half loaf out of the freezer and it didn't seem big enough for that. So, I made up something new. I don't know what to call it, so for now it's the FFF brunch (French bread, Fried egg and Feta). Whatever you want to call it, it's delicious. Also - brunch side salad = good idea!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Welcoming Spring into the Home and Garden!

My dad just told me today that my grandmother used to
look for the crocuses each spring and announce their
arrival -- I wasn't sure I had any anymore, but I found this
little guy in the front yard today!
Spring is my favorite season. Summer is my favorite, too. In fact, so is fall. But, I think the reason I love spring so much is precisely because it directly follows the one season (which shall remain nameless) which is not my favorite. After months of snow and cold and gloom, there is something almost magical about the sunshine and the revival of life come spring. That first crocus peeking through the snow. The birds beginning to chirp again. Bunnies and chipmunks playing in the backyard (they are cute until they start ravaging my garden later in the season...). Daylight that extends late into the evening. And, of course, Easter -- the ultimate celebration of new life. What can I say? Spring makes me happy!

Last weekend we had our first peek of spring, and I could barely contain myself. I spent all day Sunday working inside and out to help usher in the season. Today was not nearly so warm, but it was sunny. Although I had planned today as an indoor cleaning and project day, I could not resist the chance to get into my garden and start tilling -- since the ground had already thawed! Here's a look at how spring is making its way into my home and garden.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Fried Goat Cheese Spring Salad

Tonight's dinner truly sprang from a desire to use up the rest of a goat cheese log that I had. After some perusing on Pinterest, I found this recipe for Crispy Fried Goat Cheese and thought it sounded delicious! Then, I realized that I had recently had this sort of fried goat cheese, and it was on a salad at Leo's restaurant in Grand Rapids. It was delicious there and I thought I could probably replicate something similar at home. The recipe I came up with includes fried goat cheese, alongside grilled chicken, candied walnuts, apples, blueberries and onions over a bed of fresh arugula. Below are the details!