Sunday, May 31, 2009

Old standbys for a covered dish dinner at church.

Today is fifth Sunday and at our church and that means a covered dish dinner in the fellowship hall after worship service. I almost always prepare a chicken pie. Nearly everyone at my church loves chicken, so I can be sure to come home with an empty dish. This recipe is simple and I doubt it would win any culinary awards, but it is good comfort food!

Easy Crust Chicken Pie

The first thing you need to do is rinse and boil about 4 bone-in chicken breast. You may also use a whole chicken. It's a matter of preference, or a matter of what's in the refrigerator or freezer! Add a little salt to the water and boil until the juice of the chicken runs clear. I boiled mine about 35 minutes. Remove the chicken from the broth and after it cools a bit, remove the chicken from the bone and tear into chunky bite-sized pieces. Layer in a casserole dish. In a saucepan combine a half stick of butter, 1 can cream of chicken soup, 1 1/4 cups of broth, and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, then pour over the chicken.

For the topping, just mix together 1 cup of buttermilk (or regular milk if you don't have buttermilk on hand) and 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons of self rising flour. Spoon this on top of the soup mixture. Bake at 375 degrees until the crust is a pretty golden brown, approximately 15 minutes. You may need to turn the oven on broil the lasts few minutes to achieve a nice color. Enjoy!

Texas Sheet Cake

This dessert goes a long way, so if you have a large crowd to feed, this is perfect. My daughter's favorite cake is chocolate on chocolate. I wish she was here...anyway, this cake has a great texture and is very easy to make. Give it a try!

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine 2 cups of sugar, 2 cups of all purpose flour, and 1/2 tsp. salt. Set aside. In a heavy pan bring 2 sticks butter, 1 cup water, and 4 tablespoons of cocoa to a boil (don't forget to stir). As soon as it boils add the dry ingredients, then add a 1/2 cup of sour cream. Next add 2 eggs and 1 tsp. baking soda. I find a wire whisk incorporates the ingredients very well. Pour into a greased (or spray with non stick spray) jelly roll pan. For you young bakers, a jelly roll pan is typically 10X15X1. They are sometimes called cookie sheets. Now bake this for about 20 minutes. Don't over bake. That would be a tragedy :)

While the cake is baking, prepare the yummy frosting. In a heavy pan, combine two sticks of butter (hey, I never said this cake was low calorie), 6 tablespoons canned milk, and 4 tablespoons of cocoa. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Stir in 1 teaspoon of vanilla and 1 lb of powdered sugar. Pour over the cake as soon as it comes out of the oven.

The cake will need to cool before it is cut. It is easier to cut with a plastic knife. You can get about 30-35 small servings from this cake. Notice the lovely cake plate my daughter gave me for Mother's Day ;) She has great taste! The color variation is my photography, not the frosting. Maybe one day I'll get my Nikon D80 along with some pointers from Heather or Ashley. I can dream...

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Early summer around the house

"Let your home be your parish, your little brood your congregation, your living room a sanctuary, and your knee a sacred altar." Billy Graham

Welcome to my sanctuary! My place of refuge and protection. After all, isn't that what a home should be? I hope you enjoy everyday simple pleasures as much as I do. I truly find joy in creating beauty in my home, and exercising the gift of hospitality. You won't find marble, pristine furnishings, and high end accessories here. But hopefully, you will discover it doesn't take riches to create a life that will bless you, your family, and others.

Recently, we have had a lot of rain. The good news is that all the rain has brought us out of the drought we've been in for several years, and has given us beautiful green grass!

These photographs have not been edited. No photoshop here. They are straight out of my little digital camera. They're not too bad. I had just finished mowing the lawn and snapped some pictures of a few things that make me smile.