off the beaten…recipe…

There are two kinds of home cooks: those who follow a recipe to the letter; and those who just sort of wing it.

I fall into the latter category.

Not necessarily because I’m such an amazing cook that I don’t need structure. But because I don’t always have everything I need when I start or the recipe seems unnecessarily complicated or I would prefer one ingredient over another. There are all kinds of reasons for my jumping the track and thankfully, it usually pays off.

Like it did with this chicken pot pie I made last night.

Never one to completely follow a recipe, I found one I thought sounded the best, used what I wanted from it and left the rest. I have to say, it was a big hit with Michael and my brother.

Here’s how I did it…feel free to add your own interpretation to my recipe… 😉


3/4 pound chicken (or three semi-large chicken breast pieces)

1 tsp diced garlic

3 tbsp olive oil

2 small potatoes

1 medium chopped onion

1 10-12 oz bag of frozen mixed vegetables

1/3 cup whole wheat flour

2/3 cup milk

2 cups chicken broth

2 – 9 in unbaked pie crusts

Salt and pepper to taste

In medium to large skillet, heat olive oil and garlic. Add cubed chicken and onions. Cook until onions are clear and chicken is no longer pink. Add cubed potatoes and bag of frozen vegetables. Cover with lid (if you have one). Once potatoes and veggies have become slightly softer (about 3-5 minutes on medium heat), add whole wheat flour and stir until “pasty.”

Pour in milk and chicken broth, add salt and pepper. Stir together until creamy, but thin. Let continue to cook over med-low heat for 10-15 minutes, or until thickened.

Meanwhile, place one thawed, unbaked pie crust into deep dish pie pan (or,you may use pre-formed deep dish pie crust in a tin found on the frozen baked good aisle) and bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes, or until just slightly browned. Fill with chicken mixture. Place second thawed, unbaked pie crust over the top and pinch at edges. (if using pre-formed crusts, pop second thawed crust out of the tin and lay over the first).

Make several cuts in the top of the crust to allow heat to escape. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with a pitch of coarse sea salt, if desired.

Bake at 375 degrees for 30-40 minutes, or until top is golden brown. Watch carefully so it does not bubble over (more incisions may be needed) or burn.


layla grace…

Maybe it’s because our house is in a constant state of renovation. Maybe it’s because I’m pregnant. Maybe it’s because their stuff is just so dang beautiful, but I’m enamored….

“Enamored with whom?” You’re asking yourself.

Layla Grace.

My friend Jen sent me a link to the website some time ago and I’ve absolutely fallen in love with the home and lifestyle company’s aesthetic. They offer something for everyone in the way of home decoration, personal style and children necessities. One minute I’m browsing through home accessories and the next I’m dreaming of crib bedding for Braden’s nursery or  drooling over a delicious fall recipe on the blog! It’s a whirlwind of sweet ideas!

Layla Grace is breezy and substantial all at once. I adore that. To me, there is nothing better.

So go ahead, pour yourself another cup of coffee and take a daydream journey through some of their latest blog posts this morning. I know I am.

{Photo found: Layla Grace The Backroom} we're doing Braden's nursery in gray with pops of accent colors, which is probably why this layout appeals to me soooo much!

{Photo found: Layla Grace The Backroom} i'm dreaming of cozy fall fires and boots and apple picking and comfort with this...currently remodeling our living room space and adding beautiful details like these are on my to-do list!

{Photo found: Layla Grace The Backroom} i love how sweet, simple and traditional this crib is! for Braden, we're refinishing an older crib

{photo found: Layla Grace The Backroom} yum...that's pretty much all i have to say about this...what an easy and delicious fall snack!

family-style cooking…

Unfortunately, I tend to worry. I also tend to be a people pleaser. Don’t get me wrong, I can definitely stand up for myself and I have my own opinions, but I generally want others to be happy…and I sometimes see it as my job to help them get there.
This is a problem on vacations when I feel like I need to bring something home to show family that I was thinking of them while I was away. I can spend a good chunk of time worried over finding a meaningful gift for each person that is within budget…it’s a difficult task…especially when you’re in Europe dealing with the added problem of a weak dollar.
In Rome I focused on enjoying myself during the first part of the week, but as our return flight edged closer I began to scope out gifts and panicked when I realized that budget, meaning and luggage space were definitely going colide in a way that made it immpossible for me to accomplish finding anything.
And then my genius husband came to my rescue.

After making several local Italian friends who schooled him on different areas of his native culture, he purchased three jars of a sauce called “Nduja” (it comes from the region his family originates in Italy) to share with his family at a big dinner some night upon our return. And then he called it a day. Ah, to be so uncomplicated.
I, on the other hand, still looked and worried and looked and worried over what I should get my family. Finally, he convinced me that I should do something similar with my family and we ended up purchasing a bottle of wine, a block of cheese and some chocolates.
This Sunday, I will be cooking an Italian family-style meal for my family and sharing all the goodies we brought home for them in a way that also allows us to share some stories and quality time.

I have been looking over recipes trying to find the perfect Italian recipe to share…I think I’m going with homemade pesto pasta, since it was a favorite of mine over there.

Wish me luck…I’ve never made pesto before, but I believe I’m up to the challenge. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

Here’s the recipe I’m thinking about using, in case anyone feels like trying it for themselves:

2 cups basil leaves
2 cups arugula leaves
1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
3 tablespoons walnuts
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 garlic cloves, peeled
3/4 cup (3 ounces) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/3 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
8 cups hot cooked linguine (about 1 pound uncooked pasta)

Place first 6 ingredients in a food processor; pulse 7 or 8 times or until mixture forms a smooth paste. Add cheese, broth, salt, and pepper; pulse until combined. Combine pesto and pasta in a large bowl, tossing to coat.

Oh, and by the way, the Naniamo bars were excellent!!