Paula in a Pinch

Who doesn’t love Paula Deen? It’s her contagious passion for food, her bright positive attitude, her warm, southern hospitality, and oohhh that fabulous accent! Makes me wanna sit on my porch and drink sweet tea. I love her for another reason, too. She’s my go-to lady when I’m in a pinch and need to cook up something tasty, impressive, and not too complicated. I know I can count on a Paula Deen recipe to make an impression when the guests are coming, or the pot-luck party is approaching, or I just want that extra enthusiastic kiss from my husband at dinner time as he goes back to the kitchen for seconds…and even thirds!

What’s Paula’s secret to a delicious recipe, anyway? I’m pretty sure it’s butter. I had her Food Network show on in the background the other day, and I heard her say in her rich southern accent, “Now, I’m not gonna lie folks. This recipe has a lot of butter, a lot of calories, and it’s real fattenin'” And she was only making hot chocolate. Another day, I heard her say as she was finishing a beef stew recipe, “Alright, well this is just about done…but I’m just gonna put this stick of butter in…just cause I saw it sittin’ over there on the counter!” Yikes. But hey, that’s why Paula is my go-to lady for rich, savory, delicious, wow-the-crowd recipes, not recipes for the health-conscious. (That’s for another blog post.)

So, for weeks, my husband kept mentioning to me that he was craving “a nice homemade chicken pot pie”. Being the good wife that I am (insert “sarc mark“) I completely avoided even acknowledging that I heard him. This was to protect him from the immense disappointment that would inevitably result if I were to actually make chicken pot pie. You see, I had never made a chicken pot pie in my life that didn’t come pre-cooked, pre-packaged, and microwave ready. And, the selfish truth of the matter is, I personally have an irrational aversion to any food that even contains the word “pie”. (I’m that person that takes a piece of pie, and leaves a plate with an empty pie-shell on it.) But when the request started coming in daily, I knew I had to knuckle under and find a good chicken pot pie recipe. So, I turned to Paula. Thank goodness, once again, for Paula! I managed to make my hubby a delicious, flavorful, homestyle, FAST and EASY pot pie that even I enjoyed. There were enough for leftovers the next day (always a money-saving bonus!) …And I got that enthusiastic, “this was delicious”, extra kiss from my husband!

Here’s the recipe:

Paula Deen’s Easy Chicken Pot Pie
Makes 6 individual portions (in 3 x 5 in. disposable foil loaf pans)
Prep time: Depends on how fast you can chop vegetables. Or, use the frozen kind and save time.
Cook time: 30-45 minutes

What you need:
6 aluminum foil disposable baking pans, size 3×5. (in the kitchen supplies aisle in Walmart)
2 cups chopped cooked chicken
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
2 stalks celery, sliced
1 small onion, chopped (I like to use a white onion)
2 or 3 red skin potatoes, skin on, chopped to bite size
2 cans cream of chicken soup 
1 can chicken broth
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup biscuit mix
1 cup milk (increase to 2 cups biscuit mix and 2 cups milk for a thicker topping) 
3 tbs butter plus extra melted butter

1. Boil potatoes to soften, about 6 minutes. Drain and set aside. While potatoes are boiling, chop veggies.
2. Cook carrots, celery, and onions in 3 tablespoons butter in a skillet over medium heat until soft, about 5-7 minutes.
3. Add potatoes
4. Mix in the chicken, salt, and pepper, stirring lightly to not break up veggies.
5. In a separate bowl, mix broth and soup, then pour over chicken and veggies mixture, mixing lightly.
6. Spoon in to the loaf pans equally.
7. Stir together the biscuit mix and milk and spoon equally over each loaf pan on top of chicken mixture.
8. Drizzle some melted butter over each one.
9. Place loaf pans on cookie sheet to catch drippings and bake at 350 until topping is golden brown, about 30-45 minutes. (In my oven, it was done after about 30 minutes, so keep an eye on it) Allow to cool a bit before digging in. 

(I know this picture makes it look completely unappetizing. I was a dummy and forgot to take a picture when the pot pies first came out of the oven. So this is a picture of the leftovers I microwaved the next day. It may not be pretty, but it still tasted delicious!)

Money Saving Tips:

I am all about saving money. As a stay-at-home mom, I consider it my job to help make money by saving it. Here are some tips to save money and get the most out of this meal.

  • Buy the generic brand of soup. There will be no taste or quality difference with this recipe. The difference is in the plainer packaging.
  • If you have unused or leftover bags of frozen vegetables in the freezer, use those instead of buying the fresh vegetables. Any vegetables will do, it doesn’t have to be carrots and celery. 
  • Make it stretch: A few days before making this recipe, I bought one whole, 4-5 lb chicken (already cut up by the butcher, with the skin left on and giblets included) for $7.50, plus 3 potatoes, a small bag of fresh celery, a small bag of fresh carrotts, and 2 white onions, with the intention of stretching this chicken for a week’s worth of meals. First, I made my homemade chicken soup, which is really my mom’s recipe, which is really probably her mom’s recipe. I don’t wanna toot my own horn, but it’s the best chicken soup there is. Even people who are indifferent to soup (ie, my husband) can’t stop themselves from sighing “mmmmmm” at the first spoonful. So, the soup made more than enough for two dinners for two people, and it left me with about 5 cups of cooked, chopped up chicken. I set aside 2 cups for the pot pies, 2 cups for chicken salad, and I put 1 cup back in the soup broth. The chicken pot pies lasted another two days, and so did the chicken salad (just mix chicken with one chopped up tart apple, plus mayo, lemon juice, honey, nuts, celery, onion, salt & pepper, and whatever else you want in there, to taste). This is just one example. You could also roast a whole chicken, and set aside 2 cups for the pot pie, which would be delicious with that roasted chicken flavor. Even better, roast a small to medium turkey, and you’ll have more leftovers than you’ll know what to do with, AND leftover turkey bones can be boiled for a flavorful and nutritious soup!
  • Make the pot pie in a casserole pan instead of buying the individual loaf pans. Just dollop the biscuit mixture evenly around the pan on top of the chicken mixture. Keep an eye on it as it cooks, as cooking time may be different.  

“As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him” (from Psalm 103, a wonderful, encouraging psalm)


Five Things I Learned About Pregnancy

This is for all of you soon-to-be moms and someday-to-be moms out there.

When I was pregnant, I read every book, magazine, and pamphlet about pregnancy I could get my hands on. But these things weren’t in them. Or maybe they were, but I don’t remember reading about them, and I ended up learning these lessons the hard way. Maybe you can learn from my experience? Or, just get a good laugh over the things this first-timer didn’t know? In any case…

Five Things I Learned About Pregnancy:  

1. You might lose that “gotta go right now” sensation in your bladder in the last few weeks of your pregancy. (And a short while after giving birth!) TMI? Hope you’re reading this after you’ve had your dinner. Hey, I was completely blindsided by this one, so I’m just throwing the warning out there. I learned this one the embarrassing way. Nooo, I didn’t have an “accident” in the middle of Wal Mart. I did, however, call the hospital in a panic one afternoon a few days before my due date, convinced my water had broken, only to rush in and find out a few tests later that…let’s just say it hadn’t. In my defense, the doctor told me they get several ladies a day who, overly-pregnant and overly-anxious to “get this baby out”, make the same mortifying mistake I did, because in the last trimester it’s quite common to lose sensation in your bladder (you do have a 6+ pound baby sitting on it, you know?) …Or maybe that’s just what they told me because I burst into tears and sobbed, “Has this ever happened before?” I don’t know. The moral of the story: pee often in your last trimester, because your body may or may not decide to tell you when to do so. And, like I did, you should go to the doctor if you have even the slightest concern that your water has broken, just in case. But when your water does break, you will most likely KNOW it. Nothing else in the world feels like it. Unless you’ve ever sat on a giant water ballon.

2. You don’t need to buy a nasal aspirator. You know those booger sucker thingys people with babies always have around? You NEED one. It will be your constant companion during the early newborn days. Your little tyke, having just entered the world and having just begun to get the knack of breathing, will produce a lot of snot in those first few days (if he’s anything like my child) and will have no idea how to breathe through it or get rid of it. This will upset him tremendously. Enter the nasal aspirator. But you don’t need to buy one. You can get one (or six) for free from the hospital. I bought one when I was nine months pregnant for something like ten dollars at Babies R Us, only for it to break when I brought it home and tested it out (not on self). When I had my baby boy, the nurse gave me one to use in the hospital, and it was top-of-the-line! We’re talking the Prada (or something top-of-the-line) of nasal aspirators. But I kept losing it, and every time I did, they’d just give me a new one. Since you can keep pretty much anything you used on your baby that’s not nailed to the hospital room floor (erm…as far as I know) I eventually found them all and ended up going home with six nasal aspirators. Now, I keep one in every room and one in my diaper bag! Sweet. This is also how I acquired the baby’s cute little hair brush and comb, and a really nifty water bottle that holds 24oz!  

3. As soon as you go into labor, EAT SOMETHING! My water broke at 1:50 in the morning (that’s 8 hours after dinner), and contractions started a half-hour later at less than 5 minutes apart, and never let up. I thought, “This is it. We gotta go to the hospital. I should eat something.” But I didn’t. I was too excited. Fast forward to 12 hours later, I still hadn’t eaten anything (because if you get an epidural, they won’t let you!) and the nurse is telling me, “Your baby is coming! PUSH!”, to which I was responding “I can’t push I’m HUNGRY!”So she switched gears from “picture your baby coming with each push” to “picture getting closer to being able to have lunch with each push”, and that kinda did the trick. Baby arrived. It was beautiful and miraculous and indescribable. Then they brought lunch. But all I could eat was crackers because I was so nauseous from NOT EATING for over 20 hours! Lesson learned. Next baby, I’m stopping at McDonald’s on the way to the hospital.

4. In case of a “red flag” during your ultrasound, don’t let the tech, or your doctor, scare you. There are certain markers that can be detected during your baby’s ultrasound that indicate an increase in the likelihood of Down syndrome, or other abnormalities. I am not anywhere near an expert on this issue, and I don’t want to imply that I have any educated information about it that should replace the information given by your doctor, genetic counselor, etc, on this serious issue, but I have had experience with it as a patient/pregnant mother, and I understand how frightening it can be to be told (very solemnly) that your baby has a “marker”, and that you will need to see a “genetic counselor”. I want to point out that the doctor, genetic counselor, and/or ultrasound technician’s job is to take this issue extremely seriously. Not only is it apart of their job, but they could easily be sued if they did not take any “red flag” seriously, and go out of their way to inform you of all of the possibilities related to it. When I was pregnant, the ultrasound technician informed me that there are at least six “red flags” or markers that are connected to an increased likelihood of Down syndrome. Some are considered more “serious” markers than others. My son had a “less serious” marker, called a “bright spot”, on his heart. This was likely a calcium build-up or other material that shows up brightly on an ultrasound, and many, many babies have these bright spots and are not born with Down syndrome. When the technician discovered this marker, she went from very jovial to very serious. She literally shut down, and would not answer any of my questions beyond telling me that she saw a marker and I must see a genetic counselor. It frightened me, until I realized that it is her job to take the marker seriously, and (no matter what her opinion was about the severity of the situation or the likelihood that Down syndrome was present) treat it the same way she would treat any other marker or indication, basically to avoid being sued. Imagine if the ultrasound technician had simply said, “your baby has a marker that is connected to Down syndrome, but it’s not very likely that he has it, and I wouldn’t worry about it if I were you.” If my son had ended up with Down syndrome, I might have sued her for not taking the situation seriously and properly informing me about the possibility, with facts and statistics, of my son having Down syndrome, so that I could make the proper preparations for the arrival of my baby. What I’m trying to explain is that, your doctor may, at some point during your pregnancy, frighten you to pieces with some sort of “marker” for something or other. It is good that they take these things seriously. But you should understand that it’s not something you should lose sleep over, no matter how serious the doctor and technician treat the situation, until you have seen the genetic counselor they send you to. This is the person who is authorized to talk more candidly with you about the facts, statistics, etc, to help you understand how concerned or unconcerned you should be. This person is actually allowed to answer any questions you may have, with less concern about being sued, because they are a specialist. My husband was another one of those babies who was found to have some sort of “marker”, and his parents were actually advised to terminate the pregnancy. I’m pretty glad they chose not to. 🙂

5. You know all those old wive’s tales about how to naturally induce labor? They don’t work! I know because I tried them all. But that won’t stop you from trying them all too. A switch goes off in our brains in the last few days of pregnancy, where we go from thinking “Pregnancy is so much fun!” to waking up every day thinking “Uggggh I’m still pregnant? How do I get this baby out of here?” Watch the episode of Friends called “The One Where Rachel is Late” and you’ll know exactly what to expect.

…Stay tuned for “Five Things I Learned About Newborns”

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” -Psalm 139:13-14 (NIV)    

Allow Me to Introduce Myself

This is my blog.

This is me:

This is my wonderful husband:

This is our sweet baby boy:

…And this is what happens when we try to take a family photo:


Let me tell you a little about myself. I grew up in a small rural town, in a small rural county the northern-most inhabitants of the small rural state called “lower slower”. When I finished high school, I moved to the north to go to college, where I met my husband in a Bible study, and we fell madly in love. We had the perfect, fairy tale romance. Two years later, we were married. We had the most perfect, fairy tale wedding. Four months later, we discovered our baby boy was on the way! Another (unexpected) dream come true! Then my husband went active duty in the military, and we were relocated. I left my fabulous job and our small rural life to become a stay-at-home mom and to follow my husband, happily wherever after, around the globe (well, so far to two other states). Since becoming a wife and mother, I have begun to learn a multitude of lessons about life, love, marriage, and parenting. It’s not always easy, but there’s always something to learn, and through it all, I have found that I am not in control, but my Father in heaven is. The most valuable lesson I have learned so far is that, while the fairy tale romance is beautiful and thrilling, what gets you to marriage is not what keeps you married. As my husband and I grow and learn together in our marriage, we are discovering the riches and treasures and joys that the early fairy tale romance does not even begin to touch.   

Join me in the journey of every-day life after the fairy tale; our happily ever after, wherever it may lead. 

Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.” -Ephesians 3:17-19 (NLT)