Saturday, January 26, 2013

Easy Chicken Pot Pie Recipe

We've been having a cold snap here in my area, with below-freezing temperatures for several days.  I wanted to make something hearty and comforting for dinner, so I decided to find a recipe for Chicken Pot Pie.

It was my first attempt, and turned out great, thanks to an easy recipe I found on Pillsbury's website.  This would be a perfect way to use up leftover cooked chicken or turkey, and it uses frozen vegetables, ready-made pie crust, chicken broth--all things I usually keep handy. It doesn't take long to prep (especially if you already have cooked chicken) and took 35 minutes to bake.  I checked it after 15 minutes and put strips of foil around the edges so the crust wouldn't burn, then put it back for the last 20 minutes. I let it rest for more than 5 minutes, but it was still piping hot. I used a spoon to scoop it into serving bowls, since this type of pie doesn't come out in perfect, firm little slices.  Delicious!

I didn't have any leftover chicken, so I started by sauteing chicken strips in a little butter, then dicing and shredding it.  I also substituted chicken stock for the chicken broth, because I find that stock imparts a much richer flavor. (That's what I started doing for all of my crockpot recipes, too: any stews or soups that call for water, I substitute the appropriate type of stock instead.  The end result is much more flavorful.)

Here's a photo of the finished product (before cooking, at right, and after, below). The Chicken Pot Pie was absolutely delicious, and best of all, there's plenty left over for lunch tomorrow!

The Fugitive

This is Berry, my daughter's pet hamster.  Unlike the dwarf hamsters she's had in the past, Berry is a full-sized hamster that is very sociable. She tries to interact with you the moment you walk into the room, and she loves chewing on anything and everything she can wrap her teeth around.

For the past few weeks, Berry has been climbing on the furniture in her enclosure, trying to knock the lid off. We had to remove her exercise wheel because of all the racket she was making, and put a second level on the enclosure so that she could satisfy her urge to climb. My daughter also lets Berry run around her bedroom in a clear plastic exercise ball whenever she gets the chance.

Yet Berry still had the urge to wander.  Last night, while my daughter slept, Berry figured out a way to unlock the lid on her enclosure, and escaped off into the night. She must have climbed down from the dresser, ran along the baseboard heater, and found the small hole in the wall where the pipes go through.  When I went to wake up my daughter this morning, the lid was ajar, and Berry was gone.

I'm not sure what sort of misbegotten adventures young Berry got herself into during her time spent exploring the nooks and crannies of our home, but she eventually emerged in the Family Room (located one floor below my daughter's room--a long way down!) at around 7:30pm.  Our dog, Scooter, spotted her behind the TV entertainment center and alerted us to her presence by wagging his tail and pointing to her with his nose. My daughter got Berry's exercise ball and called to her, and the hamster scurried right over and into the ball as if nothing had happened.

We're all very glad that Berry is back, safe and sound. Scooter got an extra special dinner (liverwurst mixed in with his kibble) and Berry got some extra exercise ball playtime.

The lid on Berry's enclosure is now weighed down with a big, heavy book. We'll see how long it takes little Miss Houdini to figure out an exit strategy.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Winter Waterfall

This is the waterfall in my backyard pond.  It was 10 degrees Farenheit when I went out to take the picture.  Brrrrrrr!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

A Year in Photos:

I'm not big on making resolutions, but this is something I've been wanting to try: the 365 Project is a free website where you can upload one photo a day for an entire year, journaling your life through photographs.  I've seen friends do something like this on Facebook or Instagram, and this  year, I'm giving it a go.

I'm not going with any particular theme for this project--just planning to snap one photo a day from now till New Year's Eve 2013. I won't be posting them all here, but every once in a while, if you see a photo crop up randomly, you'll know it was from my 365project album.

This was today's photo.  I was trying to take photos of some of the larger fish in my fish tank, but then the little neon tetras at the bottom caught my eye.  There's a large castle in the center of the tank, and then a much smaller one off to the side.  If you saw the entire tank, you'd know that this is the smaller castle, but it's still quite palatial in tiny neon tetra terms.  I like to think that, as far as the neon tetras are concerned, this is not the poor man's castle--it's just the right size for them.  It's all about keeping things in perspective. 

Welcome, 2013

A new year. A fresh start.