Category Archives: Family

Project 52.3 – Chicken Hot Pie

January 30, 2017

Behind seems to be my common trend this past week or so.  Life gets busy, things get piled on, and other things get buried in that pile.  Sorry, friends!  I’m back though and I have week 3 AND week 4 of project 52!  SO, first things first.

After week two’s semi lack luster recipe, I felt that I Heart Naptime needed a second shot to prove itself to you, my dear readers.  With that being said, I decided to turn a few more pages until I saw Chicken Hot Pie.  Is there anything better on a dreary day than comfort food?  I think not.  This recipe delivers full on “granny” style comfort food on a working woman time crunch… you’ll even have those extra 2 minutes to make cute pie crust cut outs for the top. I promise.

Jamielyn Nye’s Chicken Hot Pie (from I Heart Naptime)

4 cups chicken stock (confession- I did 2 cups chicken stock and 2 cups vegetable stock)
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed
1 cup diced potatoes ( I cheated here and got a can of sliced potatoes. SHHH don’t tell)
1 cup chopped carrots
1/2 cup frozen green peas
1/2 cup sliced celery
2- 9 in unbaked pie crusts (Confession again – I only used one. It’s what we had. OOPS!)
1/2 stick of butter
3/4 cup chopped yellow onion
1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup half and half
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp fresh thyme

1. Preheat oven to 425.
2. In a medium saucepan, bring the stock to a boil over high heat.  Add the chicken, potatoes, celery, carrots, and peas and boil for 12-15 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through and vegetables are tender.  Remove from heat and reserve 1 to 1 and 1/2 cups stock for the filling.  drain the excess stock and set the chicken and vegetables aside.
3. While the vegetables are cooking, place one pie crust in a 9 inch pie plan and pierce the bottom with a fork a few times.  Bake for 5 minutes.  (I skipped this step, as I only had 1 crust.)
4. In a large skillet. melt butter over medium heat.  Add the onion and cook 2-3 minutes, or until soft and translucent.  Slowly stir in the flour until smooth, and cook until lightly golden.  Slowly whisk in the half and half and 1/2 cup of the reserved stock.  Stir in salt, pepper, and thyme.  Simmer over medium-low heat for a couple of minutes, or until it has thickened slightly.  Remove from heat and add the chicken and vegetables.  Add more of reserved stock if needed and additional seasoning to taste.
5. Remove the piecrust from the oven and reduce oven to 400 degrees.  Pour the chicken filling into the bottom crust.  Cover with top crust, seal the edges, and make five small slits in the top of the pie to allow steam to escape.
6. Bake the pie for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

*For a lattice crust, use a pizza cutter to make 1 inch strips.  Then weave across the top.*

52:2 – Baked Chicken Taquitos

January 17, 2017

I’m a little late on week 2 of my Project 52 Cook Book Quest, so you’ll have to forgive me for that.  Week 2 took me into a newer cookbook on the shelf- The I Heart Naptime Cookbook from Jamielyn Nye.  It’s a super cute premise: easy and tasty recipes that you can make in less than an hour (aka… nap time!)   I want to note that this book is adorable and also has some cute DIY’s in there for us mommies of young ones.  I also want to note that I have loved several of the recipes that I’ve made, especially the baked goods-  Apple Snickerdoodle Muffins, anyone?

But this recipe, just wasn’t a winner for me.  Ya’ll, I wanted to love this recipe.  I REALLY wanted to love it because I felt like it would be really great to take as leftovers…. but, I just didn’t.  Don’t get me wrong, it was alright- but for me, personally, I felt it was just a little one note.  HOWEVER, The tiny human???  He thought they were the bomb-diggety, so that counts for something, right?

I think I might try it again and sub in ranch dressing for the sour cream portion to see if that adds any dimension to the dish.

Baked Chicken Taquitos
Serves 6

PREP 20 min
COOK 13-15 min
TOTAL 33-35 min

“Weekends were made for taquitos. They are the perfect appetizer or dinner, and are always devoured very quickly. Sour cream, salsa, chicken, and fresh cilantro come together in these amazing homemade taquitos. You’ll never resort to store-bought ones again. Serve these up as a main dish or cut them in half for party appetizers. We top ours with Favorite Homemade Salsa or The Best Guacamole.” ~Jamielyn Nye


½ (8-ounce) package cream cheese, at room temperature
¼ cup sour cream
¼ cup Favorite Homemade Salsa or salsa of your choice (recipe below)
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon ground cumin
¾ cup shredded Monterey Jack or pepper Jack cheese
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
2½  cups shredded cooked chicken (I like to use a rotisserie chicken)
Salt and black pepper
12 (6-inch) flour tortillas Extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing
The Best Guacamole (recipe below)


1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.

2. In a medium bowl, combine the cream cheese, sour cream, salsa, garlic powder, and cumin. Stir in the shredded cheese, cilantro, and chicken. Season with salt and pepper.

3. Place about 3 tablespoons of the cream cheese mixture in the center of a tortilla and roll up the tortilla. Place the tortilla seam side down on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat until all the tortillas are filled. Lightly brush the tortillas with olive oil and bake for 13 to 15 minutes, or until lightly browned. Serve while hot.

FREEZER TIP Place unbaked taquitos flat in a zip-top bag and freeze. When ready to eat, thaw, brush with olive oil, and bake according to the directions in the recipe.

Ease of Preparation: 4 out of 5
Taste: 3 out of 5
Visual: 4 out of 5
Final Verdict: Tweak it and try again

Stuffed Summer Squash

August 5, 2016


Wow.  It’s been a little while, hasn’t it?  Life over here has been BUSY busy, and we’ve all been enjoying our summer days.  There’s a certain relaxed feel to the day when you truly have nothing to DO and nowhere to be.  The little guy and I have been soaking up some sun, and lately, cruising around to some local farmers’ markets. (Since I kill everything I plant. It’s really sad.)

Last week, we picked up some summer squash and zucchini to turn into a delicious summer supper.  This recipe doubled as a “2 for 1” meal because it made so much filling that I was able to repurpose it later in the week for a pasta dish!  Husband and toddler approved, healthy but delicious, and on the table in 30- Now that’s MY kind of summer supper!

Stuffed Summer Squash Boats

4 zucchini or yellow summer squash, cut lengthwise
1 cup tri-colored bell peppers, diced fine
1 cup baby Bella mushrooms, diced
2 tbsp minced garlic
1 cup chopped frozen spinach
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 lb ground turkey
1/2 cup panko
1/2 cup grated manchego cheese
1 tbsp adobo seasoning

In a medium skillet, saute peppers and mushrooms for approximately 5 minutes until adding spinach.  Saute an additional 3 minutes and add garlic along with Dijon mustard.  Stir and saute over low for an additional 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

Meanwhile, in a large, high-sided skillet, sprinkle ground turkey with adobo seasoning, and brown the meat.  Drain and mix with vegetable mixture.

Hollow out your centers of your zucchini or squash and spoon turkey mixture into the boats.
Combine the panko with grated manchego cheese and enough olive oil to make the texture of wet sand.   Sprinkle atop squash boats and roast for 15 minutes at 400 degrees.

Happy Eating!

In a high-sided pan, melt 3 tbsp butter and mix in 3 tbsp flour, stirring and cooking down for 2-3 minutes until slightly golden brown.  add in 1/2 cup milk and 2/3 cup grated cheese until a creamy sauce forms.  (if it seems runny, add cheese…too thick, add milk.)  Add in your left over turkey mixture and stir.  Toss with pasta!

AHDN: At Home Date Night

February 2, 2016

When you have a life with littles, sometimes “date night” can be few and far between.  With baby sitters and broken routines, cries for mama and good night kisses…well, sometimes is it just plain hard!  To help alleviate some of the pressure, but also keep our time as just us, Mr. Twice Around and I have started implementing AT HOME DATE NIGHT, or AHDN as we call it.  The thought is that once munka is in bed, we have the rest of the evening to ourselves and can enjoy a “date” together.  No phones, no distractions – just time shared together.

The only real RULES that we have for AHDN are as follows:
1) Real clothes (with the occasional exception for PJ’s- when appropriate)
2) No cell phones
3) It has to be more than a Netflix binge on the couch

This past week was my turn to plan, so I decided on a kicked up version of dinner and a movie.

Act 1- Dinner.  Stone ground Mustard Chicken Thighs with a Brussel Sprout Gratin and White Wine

Act 2- Cozy Movie Time with snacks,  Tomato Cheese Crackers, prosciutto, grapes, brownie bites, and of course, champagne.

Now, the thing that really makes this ‘not your average movie night’ for us is the location of our movie.  Typically, we only have 1 TV in our home, and that is in our main living area.  We like it that way.  We prefer it that way. BUT- it makes it fun to bring out our second TV from storage and create a new ambiance for movie watching.  I decided that for date night, I’d set up our TV and Apple TV in our bedroom, and that we’d watch the movie from the comfort of our cozy bed, stacked high with extra pillows and cushions.  Add a tray for our snacks, and we were all set!

Stay tuned for more AHDN ideas!

Pizza Pot Pie

September 14, 2015

  What could possibly be better than a pizza after a long day?
What could possibly be more comforting than an individual pot pie, just for you?

How about… the combination of the two- Pizza Pot Pies.

When I originally mentioned these to Mr. Twice Around, he didn’t seem thrilled, and I’ll admit, he TURNED UP HIS NOSE at the idea. I told him to just wait… that this was a brilliant idea… and he would see! I wasn’t 100% convinced myself, but I figured… It seemed like an okay idea, and we always have plan b in the fridge if all else fails.

Little did I know… that from that moment on…I’d be asked to make these 3 times a week, every week. It has been a few years, and still I know that once the crispness of fall air hits, it’s game on! I can no longer ask the question “What do you want to eat this week?” without hearing “PIZZA POT PIES!” Luckily, they are JUST that good, and really easy. As a bonus, this one is super fun for the family-  you can put in whatever toppings you usually like on your pizza and get creative every time!

 Here’s our go-to favorite. It makes 4- we eat 2 the next day for lunch…if they last that long!

You’ll need:

1 pillsbury pizza crust- we prefer thin crust

1 can of tomato sauce

1 pack of sliced pepperoni – you won’t use all of it!

1 cup of precooked sausage crumbles (Jimmy Dean- we use turkey sausage)

1 small can of sliced black olives

1 green pepper, sliced/ diced

2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

1 red onion- sliced

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Take your pizza dough out of it’s canister roll, and unroll your dough on a flat cutting board and cut out circles around your ramekins to top .  

Divide your sauce among 4 ramekins. Divide the pepperoni, sausage, olives, green pepper, and onion among the 4 ramekins, and mix with a spoon. Top with 1/2 cup of shredded mozzarella. 

Top with a crust round.

Poke a few holes in the crust dough with a fork, and pop those babies into the oven for about 13 – 15 minutes. 

I usually put them on a baking tray just so its easier to take them all in and out of the oven. Take them out and really poke a decent “vent” in it and give them a few minutes so you don’t burn the roof of your mouth- believe me, it’s been done, and it’s not fun to eat with a blister on the roof of your mouth.  It’s hard, but you should definitely wait! 

Then, when you can’t wait any longer, dive in to rustic pizza goodness.  Each saucy, cheesy topping filled bite leaves us coming back for more all fall and winter long, and with endless combinations, it never gets boring! 


June 19, 2015

IMG_0668When I was a little girl, I had tons of doll babies.  Each one unique, special, and named- I had triplet babies, babies that looked real, babies that could crawl, and one little baby doll (A Magic Nursery baby, for all my 90’s friends!) that was a preemie, and well, my favorite.  (Oh if only my 9 year old heart could have known then…)  I had babies, babies, babies…and as I grew, I always thought that I’d be a momma to many.  A baby for both hips, and one wrapped around my leg, toddling along.  That was my picture of my perfect mommy life. Continue reading

Tiny Wonder- A Birth Story

May 2, 2015

It has taken me 9 months to share this story, though it is perfectly ingrained in my mind.  For so long, it has still been too much; too overwhelming to relive in detail and in word…too raw, too
intimate.  But today, today feels like the day because you looked at me and said “mama”.  At 9 months, my tiny wonder has all but caught up, and my heart can finally forgive myself and my body for its misgivings.  And so, here is the story of the grand arrival of one tiny wonder.

(first, a little back story…)
My husband and I were told we would have a long and difficult road ahead of us to have
children.  I have a chronic disorder, which impacted our chances.  We had gone through all of the genetic testing, talked to my team of specialists, and had been TTC for nearly a year.  All signs pointed to 3 years, lots of tears, and lots of treatments and interventions.  We were prepared for that.  It was a difficult road, but we were mentally ready to take those steps to start our family.  Until, we didn’t have to… and those 2 little pink lines.. followed by 2 more little pink lines (just to be sure!) showed up and changed our course in the best way imaginable.  The pregnancy itself was pretty straightforward, and we had no real issues until week 29 when I received the unfortunate news that I had gestational diabetes, and would need to take 4 shots of insulin each day… and give up the waffles and nutella for breakfast. (In retrospect, I probably should have given those up, regardless!)  Still- no real concerns, which made everything that follows, all that more surprising.

On Friday, July 25th, 2014, we drove up to my in-law’s house.  My husband and I were so excited because the next day was our baby shower to celebrate the upcoming arrival of our baby boy that was due in September.  My sister in law, Paige, was having the party at her house.

Saturday arrived and it was party time!  So many people came to shower us with love.  “Aunt D” even brought brand new baby Vera.  Paige had decorated beautifully- fresh flowers, pom-poms, paper lanterns, and stars…even a special banner with rocket ships to match Henry’s room.  It was so pretty and so special.  She even pulled out my mother’s rocking chair as the seat of honor.  (A huge deal, since my mother passed away several years ago)  My mother in law made an incredible diaper cake, and we had a photographer there to capture all of the
moments.  (Little  did I know how thankful I would be for those shots!)  That night, we came back to my in-law’s to relax.  When we went to bed, everything was normal.  I woke up at
about 1:30am with a coughing fit, and we moved to the bedroom upstairs.  I was a tiny bit uncomfortable, but just figured that the baby was in a funny spot, so back to bed I went!

When I woke up at 5:30am, I knew something was off.  There was a bit more pain, and a bit of pink sent me tailspinning with near hysteria.  I was so scared that my peanut was in trouble and not okay.  DH was a rock star- he called my OB and we decided we should go to the hospital just to be safe.  I cried and prated the whole way there;  prayed my baby would  be alright, and that Jesus would hold us safely in his hands.

When we got to the Reading Hospital, we were whisked into a room to get checked out.  “Breathe” I remember telling myself.  “It’s probably nothing… just first time mom jitters.”


We got checked out and I heard the terrifying words, “You are at 4cm and are contracting.  This is active labor- you’re going upstairs to delivery.”

I’d like to say that I had an eloquent moment of grace and serenity upon hearing these words and accepting my reality, however, it wasn’t quite so serene.  As it turns out, my first words in
response were “oh, shit!” followed by a flood of tears.  That’s more my style in moments of extremely scary and surprising news.  Anyway, there were lots of tears.  Tears because it was too soon, tears because neither of us could possibly be ready for this, and tears because my sweet baby was so small and so fragile.  I was terrified that we would lose him, despite every monitor showing that he was perfectly fine and not in any distress.

Once more, we were whisked to another room, and I was given LOTS of medication to help thing and to try and slow things down.  I refused an epidural.  That first hour or so is a bit of a blur, but family arrived and we met with more of the doctors.  By that time, I had progressed to 7cm.  Not good.  We thought for sure that our little one was determined to arrive that morning, but
everything finally slowed down a bit, and I was able to breathe for the first time all morning.  That is, until they told us that we wouldn’t be leaving without a baby…however long that might be.

Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday were a waiting game.  Our peanut would decide it was time to arrive, and then would change his mind.  I would have about an hour or two of strong, active contractions that would then fade out to nothing.  I was on bed rest, and for the first 36 hours, wasn’t allowed to eat.  It wasn’t very pleasant.  My room was a revolving door of doctors, nurses, social workers, visitors, and NICU staff that tried to prepare us for the worst…while showing as much optimism as they could muster.  I prayed for my sweet boy constantly.  I prayed he;d be okay, that he would be big and strong, and that we wouldn’t lose him.  I prayed that he’d come out breathing and crying.  I prayed that I’d be strong enough to face whatever challenges were ahead of us.

Finally on Tuesday evening, I was allowed to shower, and well, that set things quickly into motion.  I would have one contraction that wouldn’t be so bad, and then it would be followed by others that would make me want to cry.  Sometimes one would come on so strong that they would stress out the baby.  One in particular was horrific and caused his heart rate to drop.  All at once, 10 people flooded the room, rolled me over, gave me oxygen, and began to prep a table full of equipment.  It was completely terrifying, but short-lived.  Still, I refused the epidural.  “I got this far without it- I don’t want it.”… DH took my hand and asked why I was refusing.  “I’m afraid of what it could possibly do to him”, I confessed. “He’s just so little… I don’t want to hurt  him.”  And that was the end of the discussion. No epidural.

Around 9am, it was about time to get ready for the big arrival.  I was scared.  Dr. Yerram (not my doctor or even CLOSE to my favorite person) broke the last of my water and had me do a
practice push.  I had no idea what I was doing.  I hadn’t been to classes yet, I’d never done this
before, and everything just seemed foreign.  It was discouraging, and the doctor’s approach made me feel weak, incompetent, and like I was failing as a mother already.  It is hard to push when you don’t know how- it is even harder when you are afraid of what it could do.  I was afraid it would hurt my tiny baby if I pushed too hard.  What if I pushed and dislocated his tiny arm or shoulder?  What if I pushed and broke his nose?  What if he went into distress and was stuck and we couldn’t get him out in time?  My mind was racing.

Somehow it finally all blurred together…her nagging, the nurses, the 10 other people in the room, my fears… everything blurred until all I could hear were the words of encouragement from my husband, the pounding of my heart, and one clear thought: “Get my baby boy here.”

Out he came at 10:55am on Wednesday, July 30th, 2014.  They brought him to me for a brief
moment before rushing him off to the NICU, and he was absolutely perfect.  4 pounds, 8 ounces of pure miracle.  He wailed right away (much to my relief) and opened one tiny eye to peek at me.  And in that moment when his tiny face met mine, I knew life would never be the same ever again.  He was here, he was mine, he was perfect, and he was okay.  He was okay.  Thank God, he was okay.

I didn’t get to hold my tiny wonder until the next day, which was extremely hard to wait for.  I needed him with me- needed his little heart by mine, so he’d know that I was his momma and that he was safe for now and for always.  Sue, (one of our amazing NICU nurses) handed him to me for the very first time, and he cuddled right on in.  It was as though his little body said “oh, there you are…I’ve been expecting you.”  And it was love…big, fat, miraculous love.


Rocky Road Brownies- Bonus!

July 4, 2014



Who doesn’t love a brownie?  I have such amazing memories of my sweet Gramma Buffy’s brownies being at every holiday growing up, and while I can never fully replicate her delicious bites of gold, I’ve taken a stab at a new favorite for our get togethers.  Best of all- it starts with a box!  Brownies, marshmallows, chocolate chunks, and peanuts… in about 30 minutes.  Kids, dessert doesn’t get easier than this…

1. Start off with your favorite boxed brownie mix, and prepare as directed.
2.  Bake as directed, minus 3 to 5 minutes of cook time. (set timer.)
3.  Top mostly cooked brownies with mini marshmallows, chocolate chunks, and peanuts.
4. Return to oven for the remaining 3-5 minutes.
5. Enjoy gooey, delicious, sweet, and salty Rocky Road Brownies.