Something I found so beautiful!

I genuinely do want to make the world a better place! I hope with this blog you find inspiration and feel my love radiating through the pictures of my food. One thing I love about cooking is I can bless my family with wholesome food that is nutritionally sound and tastes good too! I hope my daughter can come to this blog or take these recipes from my cookbook and remember a loving childhood, filled with laughter and comfort. Food is such an important part of life and meant to be enjoyed! I hope my daughter will think of her mom as a great cook and try some of these recipes with her own family someday.

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Chicken Pot Pie

I love chicken pot pie! The only time I’d ever had it growing up was out of a frozen box…since I don’t feed my family that way, chicken pot pie seemed out of the realm of possibilities for me. For some reason it was so daunting, I don’t know if it was the crusts or what, but it was scary! I finally found a recipe that seemed like something I could tackle and I gave it a shot! I’m so glad I did because it is quite delicious! My husband and daughter gobble it up and I love it because there are always leftovers for lunch the next day and then some. This pot pie does take some prep work and I usually start the whole process sometime in the early afternoon if I want to have it ready by 5:30 pm (we eat super early because Paisley gets hungry). The last time I made this recipe I doubled the filling and my crust recipe and just popped the excess in the freezer. This is such a simple thing to put together if you already have the main components made. Also be sure to pair it with “The Perfect Pie Crust” recipe (see previous post), it’s a match made in Heaven!

Ingredients:
* 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast halves; cubed
* 16 oz. bag frozen peas and carrots
* 1/2 cup sliced celery
* 1 large or 2 small potatoes
* 1/3 cup butter
* 1/3 cup chopped onion
* 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
* 1/2 tsp. course salt
* 1/4 tsp. black pepper
* 1/4 tsp. celery seed (or more if you want, I personally love the flavor)!
* 32 oz. carton chicken stock or broth (reserve 1 3/4 cups chicken broth)
* 2/3 cup milk
* 2 (9-inch) pie crusts

Directions:
Preheat oven to 425F.
In a large pot, combine chicken, carrots, peas, potatoes, and celery. Add the chicken broth and boil for 15 minutes. Remove from heat, drain (reserving 1 3/4 cups chicken broth for filling), and set aside.
Place the bottom crust in the pie pan and dab with a fork a few times. Place in the preheated oven and cook for 5-7 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.
In a large saucepan, cook onions in butter (over medium heat) until soft and translucent. Stir in flour, salt, pepper, and celery seed. Next, slowly stir in chicken broth remains and milk. Simmer over medium-low heat until thick. Remove from heat and combine with the chicken, carrots, peas, and celery mixture.
Bump the oven temperature down to 375F. Place the chicken filling in bottom crust, cover with top crust; sealing the edges and cutting away excess dough. Make several slits in the top to allow the steam to escape.
Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool for 10 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

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Perfect Pie Crust

This is THE pie crust recipe! I was so delighted when I tried this recipe and it worked, you seriously can’t mess it up! If you’re around food sites much or watch the Food Network, then you are probably familiar with Ree Drummond, ” The Pioneer Woman”. She is pretty much my idol and I try and mimic her cooking skills as much as I can. I loved her website even before she was “famous”and when I found out she was getting her own show on Food Network my heart just opened up and sang! She is so down to earth and I love that she lives on a cattle ranch and she makes most everything homemade. I love the style of cooking that she does, it’s so homey, and I love that she “real ingredients”, things that most people have on hand. It’s frustrating when you are skimming through a recipe and it calls for some crazy ingredient that your typical grocery store doesn’t carry. Usually with those recipes I just don’t even attempt them, after all I am a busy, budgeting mama and don’t normally have the time or resources to be driving around town trying to find some ingredient for a recipe that I will probably only use once. I try and keep my recipes down to earth and unintimidating, I feel like Ree does that too, maybe that’s why I like her so much 😉 Anyways, (I tend to get off on tangents occasionally…) this is Ree’s recipe for pie crust. I use this crust with my sweet pies and also my savory pies, like chicken pot pie. It’s so easy, it’s freezable, and it is delicious and flaky! I will never use another pie crust recipe 🙂

Ingredients:
* 1 1/2 cups vegetable shortening (I use Crisco)
* 3 cups all-purpose flour
* 1 egg
* 5 tbsp. cold water
* 1 tbsp. white distilled vinegar
* 1 tsp. salt

Now, before I go any further you may be looking at a certain ingredient on this list and thinking “no way”! Before you toss the recipe, please hear me out! You cannot taste the vinegar at all, I 100% promise! It is truly the secret ingredient to this crust and it is what makes it so flaky and perfect! I was also skeptical at first, but am so so glad I gave it a shot! I promise you that you won’t regret it either!

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Directions:
In a large bowl with a pastry cutter, gradually work the shortening into the flour for about 3 to 4 minutes; until it resembles a course meal. In a small bowl, beat an egg with a fork and then add it into the flour/shortening mixture. Add the cold water, the vinegar, and the salt to the bowl. Stir together gently until all ingredients are incorporated. Separate the dough in half and form 2 uniform balls. Now, place each dough ball into its own gallon zipper bag and flatten each ball slightly (while in the bag), this will make for easier rolling later on.
Place your flattened dough bag in the freezer until you need it, or if you’re going to use it the same day, still chill it in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes.

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When you’re ready to use the crust, let it thaw for 15 minutes (if from the freezer) if you’re using it from the fridge you can roll it out immediately. On a floured surface, roll out the dough to 1/2 inch in diameter larger than your pie plate. Place it in your pie plate and continue on with your baking adventure, knowing that you have just conquered the “elusive pie crust”!

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Beef Enchiladas

Ingredients:
* 1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef ( I normally use 93% for most of my beef recipes, although I use about 80% when making burgers)
* taco seasoning packet (or you can make your own if you prefer)
* 3 cups shredded cheddar cheese
* 1 10 oz. can red enchilada sauce (I use mild, but you can use whatever degree of spicy ness you prefer)
* 3/4 cups of water
* 8 whole wheat tortillas; the wheat have more substance to them, so they hold up a lot more than regular flour tortillas or even corn

Directions:
Preheat your oven to 375F. and spray an 8×11 baking dish with nonstick cooking spray; set aside. Brown your ground beef, drain the fat, and return meat to the pan. Add about half a packet of the taco seasonings and 3/4 cups of water. Stir this mixture and turn to high heat, once it reaches a boil turn the heat down to low and let simmer for about 5 minutes.
Now we are going to start building the enchiladas! Start with one tortilla; place a good scoop of meat down the center and a good helping of cheese alongside the meat. Roll up the tortilla (lengthwise) and place in your prepared pan; with the seam side down. Continue this way until you have used up all the tortillas.
Next, open your can of enchilada sauce and pour the whole can right over all the rolled up tortillas in the pan. Top with the rest of your grated cheese and place uncovered in your preheated oven. Bake for 15-20 min or until bubbly and the edges start to get a bit crispy. Let the enchiladas sit in the pan for about 5 min before serving, this will make them easier to remove.

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Shepherd’s Pie aka Cottage Pie

Good Sunday Morning!
I’m sorry I have been absent for a few days! We just bought our first home and so in the next week or so we’ll start the process of moving! We’re not going too far, but far enough and no one ever likes to move! Right now, I’m trying to get a bit creative on the cooking front and use up what we have in our fridge/freezer and cupboards! The less food I have to move the better! I made this last Thursday and just have been running since Friday on that I haven’t had a chance to post it. Shepherd’s pie is originally made with lamb instead of beef, so this technically is called “Cottage Pie”, both names are cute! Growing up, my mom just always called it Shepherd’s Pie, even though she used beef, so that’s what I have continued to do also.

Ingredients:
* 1 1/2 lbs ground round beef
* 1 onion chopped
* 1-2 cups vegetables – chopped carrots, corn, peas
* 1 1/2 – 2 lbs potatoes (3 big ones)
* 8 tablespoons butter (1 stick)
* 1/2 cup milk
* 1/2 – 1 cup beef broth
* 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
* Salt, pepper, other seasonings of your choice

Directions:
Peel and quarter potatoes, boil in salted water until tender (about 20 minutes). While the potatoes are cooking, melt 4 Tablespoons butter (1/2 a stick) in large frying pan. Sauté onions in butter until tender over medium heat (10 mins). If you are adding vegetables, add them according to cooking time. Put any carrots in with the onions. Add corn or peas either at the end of the cooking of the onions, or after the meat has initially cooked.
Add ground beef and sautĂ© until no longer pink. Add salt and pepper. Add Worcestershire sauce. Add some garlic and a bit of onion powder if it needs a bit more flavor. Add half a cup of beef broth and cook, uncovered, over low heat for 10 minutes, adding more beef broth as necessary to keep moist. I used about 3/4 of a cup of beef broth, as I didn’t want it to get dry.
Mash potatoes, add butter, milk, and salt and pepper. I just make my normal mashed potatoes and they always turn out yummy!
Place beef and onions in baking dish. Distribute mashed potatoes on top. Rough up with a fork so that there are peaks that will brown nicely. Sprinkle the top with paprika just for a bit of extra flavor and some color.
Cook in 400 degree oven until bubbling and brown (about 30 minutes). If your dish is very full, I would suggest placing a cookie sheet under it to catch any excess pie if it bubbles over. Its much easier and less tedious to clean a cookie sheet than the bottom of your oven! Broil for last few minutes to achieve a nice golden brown color.

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The Best Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting

This cake is to die for! If you’re looking for a deep chocolate layered cake with a creamy chocolatey filling, then this is the cake for you! This recipe calls for brewed black coffee, don’t let that deter you! Even people who are not “coffee drinkers” can’t even tell there is coffee in the cake, it’s mainly for moisture and believe me, you want a moist chocolate cake 🙂 Warning: you may not be able to control yourself and having it sit in your fridge can be a hazard to your waistline…. You’ve been warned! 😉

Cake Ingredients:
* 3/4 cups cocoa powder
* 2 cups granulated sugar
* 1 3/4 cups cake flour (or you can use all-purpose if that’s what you have on hand)
* 2 tsp. baking soda
* 1 tsp. baking powder
* 1 tsp. kosher salt
* 2 eggs
* 1 cup buttermilk
* 1 cup strong black coffee
* 1/2 cup vegetable oil
* 2 tsp. vanilla extract

Frosting Ingredients:
* 1/2 cup shortening
* 1/2 cup salted butter, at room temperature
* 4 ounces softened cream cheese
* 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
* 3/4 cups cocoa powder
* 1 – 1 1/2 pounds confectioner’s sugar (powdered sugar)
* 3-4 tbsp. warm water

Cake Directions:
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans or one 13 x 9-inch baking dish. Set aside.
Combine the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in your mixer. Add eggs, buttermilk, coffee, oil, and vanilla. Beat on medium speed about 2 minutes; the batter will be thin. Pour batter into prepared pan(s).
Bake in your preheated oven for 30-35 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.

Frosting Directions:
In the bowl of your stand mixer, add the butter, shortening, cream cheese, and vanilla. Cream until smooth, but don’t overbeat. Add in the cocoa powder and 1 pound of the confectioner’s sugar. Then, add in 1-2 tbsp. of water until the frosting easily mixes.
Continue adding confectioner’s sugar and/or water until your frosting reaches the desired consistency and sweetness. If you want a softer frosting; add more water and less sugar. If you want a frosting that is stiffer and will easily pipe; do less water and more sugar.

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Browned Butter Blueberry Muffins

Muffin Ingredients:
* 7 tbsp. unsalted butter
* 1/3 cup buttermilk (or regular milk is fine too)
* 1 large egg
* 1 large egg yolk
* 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
* 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
* 3/4 cups granulated sugar
* 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
* 3/4 tsp. salt
* 2 cups fresh blueberries ( frozen berries are fine if they are thawed and drained prior to use)

Topping Ingredients:
* 3 tbsp. very cold unsalted butter
* 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
* 3 tbsp. granulated sugar

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375F and line a muffin tray with muffin wrappers or non-stick cooking spray.

For the muffins:
Melt the 7 tbsp. of butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Don’t stir right away, but keep an eye on it. After its done crackling for the most part, it should be a medium brown color and smell a little nutty, then you know it’s done. Remove the pan from the heat right away and transfer the butter to a bowl to cool.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk, egg, egg yolk, and vanilla until thoroughly incorporated. Stir in the browned butter at this point.
In a separate bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add the milk mixture to the flour mixture all at once and stir gently. Carefully fold in the berries, and divide the batter equally among your muffin cups. Let this sit while you mix up the streusel topping to put on top, before placing them in the oven.
Streusel topping:
Combine all three ingredients in a bowl and rub together with your fingers until the mixture is crumbly and resembles little pebbles. Sprinkle evenly over the muffin batter cups, you can go heavy on the streusel topping, the muffins can handle it!
Place your muffin pan in the preheated oven and bake for 20-22 minutes, until golden brown and passes the “toothpick test”. Cool the muffins in the pan for 15 minutes before removing them, serve warm with a big slab of butter!

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Notes: This recipe freezes well, just place the cooled muffins on a baking sheet and freeze for 1 hour. After the hour, transfer the muffins to a resealable freezer bag, these can be stored for up to 3 months. To thaw, just pop in the microwave for 10-15 seconds.