Chicken & Dumplings

It’s been awhile since I did a recipe post, so I figured it was due.

The other night I made one of my favorite semi-homemade meals – chicken & dumplings. Now, please don’t make fun of the recipe – it is definitely a quick weeknight meal and it shows in the ingredients.

What I start with is the basics to my chicken pot pie recipe, and then adapt it to fit my needs. Here’s that recipe:

Easy Chicken Pot Pie:
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast halves – cubed
1 cup sliced carrots
1 cup frozen green peas
1/2 cup sliced celery
1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup chopped onion
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon celery seed
1 3/4 cups chicken broth
2/3 cup milk
2 (9 inch)  unbaked pie crusts
Directions
 
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C.)

In a saucepan, combine chicken, carrots, peas, and celery. Add water to cover and boil for 15 minutes. Remove from heat, drain and set aside.
In the saucepan over medium heat, cook onions in butter until soft and translucent. Stir in flour, salt, pepper, and celery seed. Slowly stir in chicken broth and milk. Simmer over medium-low heat until thick. Remove from heat and set aside.
Place the chicken mixture in bottom pie crust. Pour hot liquid mixture over. Cover with top crust, seal edges, and cut away excess dough. Make several small slits in the top to allow steam to escape.
Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until pastry is golden brown and filling is bubbly. Cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Now for the chicken & dumplings, the ingredient list looks a little bit different:

Chicken & Dumplings
One roasted chicken from the grocery store (pick the “savory” one – NOT one of those BBQ things), bones and skin removed, torn into small pieces
1 cup sliced carrots
1 cup frozen green peas
1/2 cup sliced celery
1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup chopped onion
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon celery seed
At least 2 1/2 cups chicken broth
2/3 cup milk
One package of refrigerated biscuit dough

Start off with a 1/3 c. of butter (unsalted, please) and melt in a large pot. Add in 1/3 c. chopped onion, 1/2 c. chopped celery, and 1 c. carrots. Let these cook for a bit – usually until the onions become translucent.

Once that happens, mix together the flour, salt, pepper, and celery seed – add to the pot to create a roux. It’s important to let the flour cook a little bit – it helps develop the flavor so your final dish doesn’t taste like flour, but don’t burn it. Then, add your broth and milk slowly, allowing the mixture to “grow”. You want to add some liquid – usually about 1/3 to 2/3 cups at a time – and stir it into the roux. Too fast and you may break the sauce – which is kind of hard to do with this recipe, but may happen. (Don’t fret, it will still taste awesome!)

Once you’ve added the liquids, make sure you have enough room to add your biscuits. Feel free to add more milk or broth if needed. Add in your chicken and peas at this point, and stir.

Then, take your biscuit dough and cut each biscuit into very small pieces. I usually cut them in half, and then at least each half into 4 pieces. Once your chicken mixture gets hot again, just short of boiling, start adding your biscuit pieces. I usually drop them in one at a time, otherwise they have a tendency to stick.

Once they are all in, let the mix cook for 10 – 15 minutes and serve!

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Fall Leaves

I took a drive today, killing time between appointments. I wanted to take a walk, but my son is sitting uncomfortably low in my hips. I don’t blame him – this time next year he will enjoy the walk with me outside the womb.

Driving through the park, I admired the fall leaves. The bright colors of red, orange, yellow make me happy. The crisp air isn’t too cold yet, and makes me smile as it blows through my hair.

I know that soon it will all change – the cold air will come, and so will the snow and ice. Each are beautiful in their own way, but nothing like my precious fall. The peaceful quiet before the rush of the holidays soothes my soul.

If only the fall would last longer, if the sun kissed afternoons would stay slightly warmer for a few more weeks. But it must change, and bring with it inevitable change.

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Adult Naps

How do I feel worse after a nap that before? I didn’t sleep all that great again last night, so after lunch I decided to lay down and watch some West Wing. I fell asleep for about an hour and a half, and now have a headache and am super stiff.

Crap. I was going to get some things done this afternoon, but I may be lucky to run the dishwasher and put clothes in the dryer.

The good news is that during my nap, Marshall and Sherman quit growling at our neighbor. They are not used to seeing or hearing him during the day, so now they are back at it – looking and growling at him through the window. They do seem to be happy not to be in their kennels, where they usually would be at this time of the day.

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Last Day Before Maternity Leave

I feel very strange at the moment – I just left work for approximately 3 months.

I’m starting maternity leave.

Never mind the fact that I am (eep!) 9 months pregnant – this is the first real break I’ve ever taken in my life. I’ve bounced from high school, straight to a summer job, into college while working, straight into grad school and starting a full time job before I graduated again.

But I think that this break will be to my benefit, both personally and professionally. One thing that I’ve really learned about non-profits is the amount of burnout that takes place in such a short amount of time. My mentors and teachers have always told me to pace myself – remember to take lunch breaks, and segregate work and personal time – but burnout still happens. And I’m pretty sure I’m there.

So, in a couple of days – long enough for people to start noticing my auto-reply on my work email, I’m going to disconnect my iPad and phone from work accounts. I’m going to truly take a break, focusing on me, my life, and my baby. I don’t think I can disengage from social media – my daily blogs and Twitter – but I think that I will be able to slow down my consumption. Which isn’t a bad thing – I can stay up to date on the news and trends. But this is a very special time, and I want to make sure I don’t miss anything.

Like I said, I feel strange. And excited. And nervous. What the hell am I going to do tomorrow morning when I don’t have to go to work?

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My Writing Space

My writing space is never the same – I usually write my posts from my iPad, which can go anywhere.  But I usually do my best work sitting at my kitchen table.  I have a nice view of the backyard, plenty of space to stretch out, and I’m close to the coffeepot.

I sometimes write in the basement family room, which isn’t conducive to writing.  I’m usually distracted by the television, or the dogs.  Never mind that there isn’t a good place for me to put the keyboard and the iPad.  

I anticipate that the kitchen table will become my new norm though.  Tomorrow is my last day at work for awhile, and my main base will be that comfortable kitchen table with a mug of tea.

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Thankful

Now I realize that the trend is currently to post what you are thankful for each day, but I am horrible at remembering to do it every day. So, since I’m completely clueless on what to write about tonight for NaBloPoMo, I’m going to go full out thankful tonight.

I am thankful for my husband, Tim. He has been supportive of me and all my crazy ideas, and I don’t know what I’d do without him.

I am thankful for my family, especially my mom of late. She is always there when I need her, and having her by my side has meant so much.

I am thankful for all the wonderful people that I have met, gotten to know better, and worked with this past year. Most of all, I have to be thankful to my friend Josh Rohrscheib, who has pushed me to be active in my community again.

I am thankful for the opportunities that I have had this past year. One of the most important to me was to not only become the Community Editor for Re:Decatur, but then be asked to be Treasurer for the board.

I am thankful that I had the opportunity to work with my boss, Jean. She is leaving us soon, but I learned quite a bit from her while she and I worked together – mostly how to get out of my comfort zone. She is a crazy and brilliant lady, and I wish her the best in the future.

I am thankful for such an easy and pleasant pregnancy with Charlie. I have never felt healthier or happier than while pregnant. I hope this feeling continues after he is here, but even if it doesn’t, I’m glad I had this experience.

I’m thankful for the unconditional love of my pets. This year, Tim and I were able to volunteer at the Macon County Animal Shelter, walking dogs at events to get them adopted. Seeing those dogs on a regular basis helped me appreciate my own dogs even more. We met many great adoptable dogs, but there are a lot of dogs out there that need a lot of training and love.

I am thankful for my friends, both here in Decatur, and those away from me.

Just a few things that I’m thankful for as we get closer to Thanksgiving – what are you thankful for?

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Slowing Down

Slowing down really isn’t in my vocabulary. Today I managed to rearrange the downstairs shoe pile (a Herculean task in itself), clean out the bathroom closet, and rearrange things in Charlie’s room. And we made it to dinner with my parents and brother. Now I’m finally relaxing with a cup of tea before bed, thinking only that I didn’t get the floors mopped…

Pretty normal stuff I’m sure, but I do need to slow it down. Only a couple more weeks until Charlie is here. I just hope that I can sit back and rest then, otherwise I think my mom and Tim will tie me to a chair.

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