Overcoming Pie Crust

Chicken Pot Pie Success!

I have always been terrible at making pie crusts. I usually end up with a very ugly, dry, but holding the contents of my pie together. This past Thanksgiving I even bought pie crust and ended up with a mess.

My grandma loves chicken pot pies so I set out on a mission this week to conquer my nemesis. I’ll admit, I didn’t have great expectations.

The dreaded pie crust… I don’t know if it was my newfound recipe or God feeling bad for me, but here are my tips.

  1. Start your day by making the pie crusts. Then move onto the pot pie filling
  2. Don’t skip the shortening.
  3. Make one of your pie crust rounds slightly larger and use this as the bottom crust.
  4. Freeze your wrapped pie crust rounds if you only have 30 minutes, otherwise refrigerate for 2 hours.
  5. As you are placing your bottom crust into your pie plate, push the dough gently down towards the bottom. This will help keep your crust from shrinking.
  6. When you are sealing your top and bottom crusts, instead of trimming off all the excess, fold it under to make an extra thick edge. This will help the fluting hold its shape and minimize shrinking/filling spillage.
INGREDIENTS
  • 2  1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening or lard
  • 1/2 cup cold butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup ice water
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  1. Whisk together the flour, salt and sugar in a medium bowl. With a pastry cutter, cut the shortening and butter into the flour mixture until the mixture resembles coarse meal, with pea sized pieces of butter.
  2. Lightly beat the egg, then add it to the water and vinegar. Add the water to the dry ingredients and mix just until the dough comes together. If too sticky, add flour by the Tablespoon. Divide in half, then form into 2 discs. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate or freeze until cold.

Chicken Pot Pie Recipe

I decided to go with pre-cooked rotisserie chicken for my filling to make life a bit simpler.

Ingredients
  • 2 cups cooked, chunked chicken
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup celery, diced
  • 1/3 cup onion, diced
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 3/4 cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup milk
  • 12 ounces frozen peas and carrots 
  • 2 9 inch unbaked pie crusts
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

  2.  Add onions, celery and butter to the saucepan and cook for a few minutes, until soft and translucent. Stir in the flour, salt, pepper and garlic powder.

  3. Slowly stir in the chicken stock and milk. Simmer over medium-low heat until thick.

  4. Add the chicken to the pot along with the frozen vegetables. Taste and season with more salt, pepper, or garlic powder if needed. **Note, your roux or cream sauce will be quite salty on its own. Once you add the veggies and chicken, this will mellow out the salt.

  5. Roll out bottom (larger) pie crust round to a least 12″ for a 9″ pie plate. Fold in half, then in half again and transfer to pie plate. Unfold to cover plate and gently press the pie crust dough toward the bottom of the plate. Pour mixture into bottom pie crust. Cover with top crust, seal edges, and cut away excess dough. Make a few small slits in the top crust to allow steam to escape.

  6. Bake for 30- 35 minutes, or until pastry is golden brown and filling is bubbly. Cover the edges of the pie crust with tin foil too prevent over browning.

  7. Cool for at least 15-20 minutes before serving to allow your filling to set up.

If you are still reading – IT WORKED! I made pie crust and a delicious pot pie. I am so proud and everyone loved it. I will definitely make this again, but we will see if I am brave enough to tackle my pie love – French Silk Pie.

Life & Cinnamon Bread

When things get hard, make something beautiful.

2019 started off with unexpected medical diagnoses for my family. When you are facing something that you can’t change or overcome it is hard to process. I decided to take my grief and turn it into creativity. Bread making is definitely not my strength, but an art I look forward to learning more about. The patience involved is often rewarded with a light, airy and intricately crafted treat that can only be achieved with time. Cinnamon wrapped in layers of soft bread was the goal.

I started with a basic dough and let it slowly rise in my garage, which has been much like a refrigerator these days. Once the dough had warmed up a bit on the kitchen counter, my munchkin helped me roll out the soft dough and then cover it with softened butter, cinnamon and sugar. After carefully rolling into a log, we sliced perfect little spirals and then gently placed them into two loaf pans. There were about 3″ of snow outside beckoning an ever adventurous child, so we briefly warmed the oven and let the dough in the loaf pans rise while we played outside.

Once our noses were thoroughly frozen and our bums were wet from snow angels, we baked the bread.  The smell of cinnamon wafting through the house was tantalizing. After the agonizing wait for the bread to cool we finished one loaf with cream cheese frosting.

Rustic, simple, delicious.

 

Jeans are Not a Mom’s Best Friend

I assume that most everyone is familiar with mom jeans and it’s typical stigma. However, since becoming a mom I have a new appreciation for the reasoning behind such a high waist. Personally, I can’t stand to wear something with such a high waist but with all of the stooping, bending, toy gathering and child lifting that I conduct on a daily basis, I get it. Mom jeans are more about functionality than style. You just need the dumb things to stay up. I only wear jeans when absolutely necessary, most typically when going outside of the house to an establishment where there are a majority of non-moms. As soon as I make it back inside the walls of my own home, I toss my jeans aside and grab a pair of pants classified in the category of active, lounge or stretchy wonderfulness. Not only do they stay up and go on easily, they move and contort into whatever angles I need to contort into in order to save the minuscule toy pieces from the robot vacuum.

Now, let me specify these are not leggings. Leggings have three purposes:

1. Outfit completion/modesty while wearing dresses and tunics.

Toddlers think anything mom wears below the waist makes for a great hiding spot/tent/dark cave, you get the idea. Also as previously mentioned, there is a lot of bending that happens as a mom.

2. Husband attraction.

Maintaining a house, avoiding complete child chaos and serving as garbage disposal to avoid waisting food from the already limited grocery budget is stressful. For moms, leggings gives us some inner sass, but it’s really all about that bass.

3. The gym. You know who you are and you don’t have young kids.

Being rather tall for my gender, the extra 3” of fabric I require makes jeans very expensive and difficult to find. Neither of these attributes are mom friendly. Being in the child bearing years also means that my body is continually changing sizes. Talk about a self esteem booster. I despise all of my pairs of jeans. So to the mom who is reading this and contemplating going to the grocery store in stretchy pants, I feel you. I’ve been there. I’ve gone there.

Summer has its fashion conundrums and aside from my incredibly pale skin and cellulite, I can’t wait for warm enough weather to wear shorts, dresses and when you just need a judgement free zone – maxi skirts. Now if I could only find a pair of universally applicable, comfortable, and super cute shoes.

Humbled and Emboldened

I recently spent an evening discussing the impact of becoming a parent. My fellow mom quickly agreed that it is an overall humbling experience. When your life transitions to sacrifice 100% of the time and you are left with barely enough time to shower, let alone think, you quickly die to self out of pure necessity. Interestingly, for dads, the experience is much different. The consensus was more of an emboldening and confidence building. If I can survive my kid, I can survive yours and just about anything else. Us moms were amused, but it did provide some interesting perspective on the roles that life throws at us as parents.

When the first two years have finally been surpassed and your child makes the transition from dependent to independent, all hell brakes lose. What was once a world revolving around them has now become a world where they must participate and contribute. This is also quite an awakening for parents. No longer are you keeping the kid alive, you have to quickly adapt to enforcing, instructing, encouraging and developing your little hellion into a well rounded future adult. Finding the balance between helping them pursue their natural born talents and providing guidelines for unacceptable behavior is a constant war that you are mostly winging.

In our house, dad gets the short of the end of the stick most of the time. He comes home from work to what can only be described as organized chaos and is thrown into a world that really only makes sense to mom. Perhaps this will be the season of humbling for dad and the season of exhausted, pillow screaming, emboldening for mom. As a toddler mom, my mind is repeatedly saying:

  • I CAN survive this day
  • I WILL help you become a better person
  • You are WORTH all the difficult, crazy moments

Having strength and patience on a constantly changing battlefield is both humbling and emboldening. Thank goodness for grandmas, Netflix, weekends and guilty pleasures. James 1:2-4 reminds us:

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

I take comfort knowing that these trials of parenthood will help me grow and by rearing and refining my little one, she will become strong and steadfast.

My Life is Full of Things I Dislike

As I stood in my kitchen last night, listening to the laughter of my little girl as daddy chased her around the living room, I was thinking about how much I hate washing dishes. They have to be washed, but it’s a chore without a reward because once they are dry someone still has to put them away. In moments like these I am increasingly tempted to embrace minimalism. Less stuff means less work, right? As my mind continued down the list of undone chores, I began thinking about how many things in my life I really don’t like doing. Changing diapers, cleaning up the toys for the umpteenth time, vacuuming so that I can mop, soaking stained clothing, putting away the clean laundry so that I can wash more clothes, paying bills, doing taxes, wiping muddy paws, pulling weeds, and the list goes on. My time is often filled doing things I dislike, but it’s surrounded by people that I love doing those things for. 

This weekend we remember one of the greatest sacrifices and miracles in human history. I can not fathom what Jesus went through during the crucifixion and resurrection. Yet, as he pleaded with God for another way and contemplated everything that lay ahead of him I wonder if he felt the same way I did while washing dishes? His life was about to be full of doing things that he hated, but he was surrounded by people that he loved doing them for. 

I am blessed by the people in my life and I am forever grateful that Jesus chose to sacrifice himself in my place. This weekend I am thankful for the opportunity to honor His death, celebrate His resurrection, but most of all I am thankful to be a recipient of His unconditional love. 

Pulverized

Reflecting on joy, contentment and cultivating Mindfulness. 

You know that feeling when life gets out the meat hammer and goes to town on your schedule, friendships, children, attitude, health and general exsistence? It’s been one of those weeks. Finding strength and encouragement despite your new, flattened state can be particularly challenging. Recently I’ve been spending time looking at scripture and reflecting on what it means to maintain joy and contentment despite the events of each day. Timely topic for reflection apparently! 

Overcoming the emotions and gut reactions that accompany daily disruptions is the true test. How is this achieved? Take a moment to pause and step outside of your thoughts and feelings. I imagine it looks like one of the beginning scenes from Dr. Strange where time slows and you see his spiritual form being thrust out of his physical form. You mentally pause the situation, look around and try to identify the true source of angst. Then work on diffusing that instead of escalating the situation by adding to the fire with more words. The more popular term for this is Mindfulness. 

Mindfulness takes time and practice to master. Breaking the emotional heatwave is the first step. I found myself, while in the middle of a toddler’s tantrum, making up a song about how I was going to be patient. My daughter found the high notes particularly amusing. Prayer is another useful tool. Talking through the situation with God mentally or verbally helps bring calm. Not only will you have spiritual reinforcements, the Holy Spirit helps reroute your mental attitude. Avoiding cellular devices is another positive choice when I’m feeling particularly overwhelmed. Instead of jumping on social media or losing yourself in browsing take the moment to work on your mindfulness. Diffuse, reflect and look for ways to overcome the same struggles in the future. Think of it as emotional detoxing. 

I look anxiously forward to the weekend and a cup of espresso as soon as my teething toddler relinquishes my lap. Offering words of comfort to his disciples, Jesus reminds us in John 16:33, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

Overcome. He did and so can you. 

Regeneration

Eight years ago as my mom and I waited for a shuttle, we sat next to a few fish tanks lost in the overwhelming news and reality of the moment. My cancer was gone. As relieved as we were to receive the news and be headed back home, the joy was hampered by relief and uncertainty. I was excited to be going home. Living out of a hotel while going through medical tests and surgery is not something I highly recommend. However, more surgery loomed in the future along with the possibility that the cancer could reappear. 

Certain anniversaries since then have held special meaning. Three years in the clear was the first hurdle towards long term remission. Then I made it to five years and all my doctors breathed a sigh of relief. 10 years will mark the final nail in the coffin for medical insurance red tape. So what is special about eight years? 

The number eight in the Bible signifies Resurrection and Regeneration. It is the number of a new beginning. Eight is 7 plus 1 and since it comes just after seven, which itself signifies an end to something, so eight is also associated with the beginning of a new era or that of a new order.

In the past eight years I have graduated college, worked a few jobs, married a pretty cool guy, got a new dog and became a mom. In the last month I made the decision to change my career path and focus on my adventurous toddler and develop my entrepreneurial skills. This is a new place for me. After nearly 7 years as someone’s assistant, I am taking a step towards a new beginning. 

Pursuing opportunity is intimidating when there is more than one option, but never moving forward and embracing risk keeps us in stasis. Life is vastly out of our control, as much as we don’t want to admit or accept that fact. Living intentionally to intercept change and flourish despite of it is the goal. 

Regeneration can be regrowth or reformation and both of those words seem applicable in 2017. As I celebrate remission, I look forward. Whether it was cancer or _____________________, it changes us. Let your blank be your motivation and live to the fullest with what God has given you. 

For Such a Time as This,

Krista

Best Toys for Aggresive Chewers

If you are looking for a toy for your dog, but nothing withstands your furry friend’s destruction here are some suggestions! Our German Shepherd can destroy a toy in a matter of minutes. We timed her once. A “tough” stuffed alligator lasted a mere 3 minutes. Needless to say, stuffed toys and aggressive chewers don’t mix. Kong, which is known for its durable rubber toys that you stuff with treats, has a line of tough stuffed or soft toys. Don’t waste your money. We got the Wubba and the only thing that survived was the thin rubber ball inside.

Image result for tug n tossMy mom stumbled across the brand Jolly Pets and we have been impressed! Our German Shepherd started out with the Tug-N-Toss in the horse size. The horse version, which is 10″, was unintentional but she loves it nonetheless. They make multiple sizes of each of their toys so that all breeds can play.

Let me pause for a moment and talk about types of play and chewers. If your dog likes to sit down and turn toys into bones, then your options will become significantly limited. You should never leave a dog with a toy if they demonstrate this kind of behavior. Our German Shepherd has matured out of the constant chewing phase. Puppies chew continually as a result of teething and you just have to live through it. Adult dogs that sit and chew toys to shreds probably need more exercise and mentally challenging toys (this would be the perfect instance for a Classic Kong stuffed with peanut butter or plain yogurt). Also try new types of play for your chewer: frisbee, fly ball, agility, tracking or hiking. If returning a toy during fetch isn’t working, have you tried playing with more than one ball? Get creative! Research your breed and find out what makes them unique. Working dogs are popular house pets in the US, but they need to “work” in order to stay out of trouble.

Ok, back to toys. So in addition to the Tug-N-Toss, which our dog loves to tackle, we got a Push-N-Play. I was slightly dismayed when I got this ball in the mail as it was 6″ of hard plastic. I couldn’t squeeze it. I realized in hindsight that is meant to be chased, not picked up. German Shepherds are among the top 10 breeds for bite strength so this ball proved to be no issue for our crazy girl. She had that ball in her mouth in no time. It does wear her jaw out so we mostly chase it. The great thing about the Jolly Pet toys is that they are meant to be punctured and maintain form. So dogs can bite them over and over and it won’t destroy the ball (within reason, you will eventually need a new one).

Some of you may be familiar with the ChuckIt! Brand, best known for their plastic ball holder that helps you throw tennis balls. They make a variety of balls in addition the the tennis ball launcher. We have the Max Glow and Erratic Bouncer. These two thick rubber balls have been holding up very well, considering our Shepherd can split a tennis ball in two. The ChuckIt! balls have been perfect for her to chase, exercise her jaw and are much easier to wash off than a tennis ball.

Toys take a bit of experimentation to find out what your furry friend likes best. On a whim we got a $1 pink plastic frisbee from Target and our Shepherd has been obsessed ever since. So go pick out a toy and have some fun!

 

Do Your Work

Third time is the charm came true for me this weekend when I had the opportunity to hear Bob Goff speak. Twice before Bob had stopped by Louisville, but a small person prevented my attendance. Bob wrote the book, Love Does, and if you have not had a chance to read it open another browser window and go buy it on Amazon!

Bob has so many amazing stories and as I walked hurriedly to my car in the frigid weather after the event, I began to think about what makes his life such an awesome adventure. Bob’s main message that evening was to do your work. Commit to where God has brought you, faithfully move forward, and in time God will begin to reveal his purpose. I had the honor to work for a veteran, lawyer and historian who put it this way,

“We have to get out of the way and let God be God.” – Colonel Ronald D. Ray

Regardless of what Bob has encountered in life from arranging meeting with Sultans on Twitter to contracting Malaria, his joy is made complete by following after God wholeheartedly. Bob has made his life about seeking out those that society pushes away and never saying no to opportunity. If this life is only a speck in the span of eternity, then what do we have to lose?

Bob ended his message with a dare to walk on the edge of our comfort zones. God uses desperation to draw us closer to Him. Examine your current situation, seek to understand the work God has called you to here and now and step out on the edge. Make 2017 about wholeheartedly jumping into God and go do your work.

2017 Aspirations

I gave up on trying to make and keep New Year resolutions long ago. Instead I like to think of New Year aspirations. Each year I have a few hot topics that make the top of my aspiration list. Adventure and travel are always on the list. Hiking Red River Gorge and enjoying some country music, chocolate crepes, BBQ and pizza in a trip Nashville, TN are on the horizon.

Reading more is something I aspire to accomplish. After college I was so burnt out on books that I can probably name the books I’ve read cover to cover since. Inspiration is always a good way to start out a year, so I’ve picked Daring Greatly by Brene Brown and Quiet by Susan Cain as my first two hurdles.

On my mind at present is my one year old walking. Each day she becomes more daring and ventures into the great unknown with tiny, wobbly steps. She also loves to climb everything and I can only imagine all the things that she is going to get into, but also all the things and places we will be able to go when she is confident on two feet.

After what seems like a decade (but is really more like a couple of years), I anxiously await my husband’s graduation and the precious time together that we will no longer have to give up. The last few months before graduation are going to be an intense challenge, but that will make receiving his diploma all the more victorious. I am also faithfully praying and seeking out the ability to quickly overcome school loans, to help keep my family as debt free as possible.

One of the best parts of marriage is having someone close to me to share big dreams with and work towards those dreams together. Proverbs 16:3 is a verse I was inspired to pray over my family this year,

Commit your work to the LORD, and your plans will be established.

I pray that the Lord will move in His way and that we will be able to accomplish mighty things.

Happy New Year and may you aspire to do great things in 2017.