Leftover Chicken and Dumplings

Monday was a super busy day. Chris and I both had lots of errands and stuff around the house to do.  I had to tutor at 6:30 and didn’t even think about dinner until about 4:45 when I realized that Bitsy was going to want dinner at 5:30 and I had no plan!

For a few minutes I did the classic kitchen shuffle.  Freezer..fridge…pantry…repeat. Waiting for inspiration to strike.  We had been working hard all day, and it was a crisp early fall day.  I wanted something hearty and delicious. But, I needed something that was relatively quick and didn’t make too much of a mess as I was going out shortly after dinner.

I remembered this amazing Ina Garten recipe I made when Chris and I were dating. It was so good but, as with many of Ina’s recipes, time consuming.   It seemed to take HOURS the last time I made it and that just was not going to happen.

I threw together a bunch of stuff we had on hand and made a pretty darn good replica of Ina’s recipe in time for Bitsy’s dinner time at 5:30. I made it up as I went, so this is not super detailed but here is an approximation.

I did all of this in a deep skillet with a lid, starting on the stove and finishing off in the oven.

First off, preheat your oven to 375*.

Over medium heat, saute a chopped onion in olive oil and a little butter.  While the onions are cooking, partially cook 1-2 potatoes in the microwave (the dish won’t cook long enough to cook them through if you put them in completely raw).

Add thin sliced carrots to the onions and cover so they soften.

We had a leftover roasted chicken on hand.  I cut up everything that was left on it and added it to the skillet.  We also had a ton of leftover veggies that I added.  I did green beans, butternut squash and a little bit of corn.  Peas would work well too, really whatever you have on hand.  When the potatoes finished I rough chopped them into bite sized pieces and added them to the skillet.

Once all of the veggies were in the skillet, I added salt and pepper, skim milk, and some cornstarch to make a sort of gravy-sauce for everything.  We didn’t have any gluten free gravy in the house, but if you do or if you don’t have to eat GF it would be even quicker to just add a little chicken gravy to the skillet.

I just let the whole thing simmer for a couple of minutes while I mixed up dumplings (or maybe they were biscuits?, I don’t know). Again, I didn’t measure here.  But it was about 1.5c of GF flour (or regular if you’re not GF), 1 tsp baking powder, 2 tsps baking soda, an egg, 2 tbsps COLD butter and a sprinkle of salt and pepper in the KitchenAid until combined.  I slowly added cold milk until it was the right consistency to form into balls.  I made it into 5 balls that I smooshed a little bit and added to the skillet.

I put the whole skillet, uncovered, in the oven until the dumpling/biscuits were golden brown. About 10-15 minutes. Then I served it straight from the same skillet.  10603796_10101043462828937_5981130105168110367_n

It was a HUGE hit! I was very pleasantly surprised.  It was more than enough for the 3 of us plus lunches for Chris at work the next couple days.  This may become a staple in our house!

A Door.

Doors are one of Bitsy’s favorite things. Cabinet doors, closet doors, entry doors, lift-the-flap book “doors,” the girl loves to open and close them. She also pronounces every letter in the word and always uses the article “ah d-o-o-r.”

Bitsy’s door obsession may have rubbed off on me, because I’ve been working on some door makeovers for the front of our house.

When we were deciding to buy our house, we really liked the front door color.  It was sort of a dark mauve-y purple.

IMG_2768

Front of the house, pre-updates.

The rail on the front stops was not stained when we moved in, but needed to be.  We chose a dark mahogany stain.  I loved the color, but didn’t love the way it looked next to the mauve-y purple-y paint on the door.  I decided I wanted a truer, deeper purple.  I mean, if we are going to have a purple front door let’s have a PURPLE front door. Go big or go home, my friends! I picked up a bunch of paint chips on a recent trip to Lowe’s and, after Bitsy checked them out, I taped them to the door.

IMG_2685

Carefully considering paint colors.

We looked at the door with the chips at various points throughout the day to see how the different colors looked as the light changed.  Chris and I immediately agreed on an Allen & Roth color named Symphony.  Bitsy agreed too, she just can’t say Symphony quite yet.

She decided to go down super early for a nap today, and then took a SUPER long nap (WIN!).  I was able to get the door prepped and painted while she slept.  I did a quick second coat and put the fixtures back on once Chris was home from work.

IMG_2772

That is a purple door!

A relatively simple and inexpensive change, but I love it! I like having a front door that makes a statement.  Also, it makes it easy to give directions to our house.  “The house on the corner with the purple door” is pretty easy to find!

I’ve also been working on the entry door to the garage all summer.  It had 70+ years worth of paint that I stripped off. Then I stained it, sealed it with polyurethane, replaced a broken window pane and replaced the hardware.  I have to fix up the door frame a bit before I install the “new” door, But, trust me, it looks GOOD! I’m super excited about it!  Follow me on instagram at @JLosWorld to see the progress!

On Not Going Back…Again

I mentioned in a previous post that this has been a tough week.  This was the first week of school for most schools in upstate New York.  Despite sending applications out to dozens of schools and interviewing at a healthy handful, I still don’t have a job as a school counselor.  I wrote about it last year and doubt that I could say it better than I did then.  

Many things have changed in the past year.  We’ve been living in our house for almost a full year.  Bitsy is walking, talking and being a toddler.  I had the privilege to work for a short-term maternity leave at a local high school in May and June.  Chris’ schedule has changed and he now has a semi-normal schedule.  I am now home with Bitsy full-time until I get a full-time job.  I am hopeful that something will come along.  Last year at this time, I hadn’t even had any interviews.  This year, I have had a few.  I’m hoping that the tide is turning and something will come along soon.

Keeping Busy!

This has been a tough week for me.  I’ll share more on specifics later.  I have been working hard to stay very, very busy to keep my mind off of the not so great things this week.

Here are some things I’ve worked on:

Ok, technically this was last week, but I still like it a lot! My parents took some old windows out at their house and I snagged them for repurposing.  I painted it and modge-podged some free printables I found onto some of the windows, then  I attached 4 hooks for bath towels.  I hung it on the wall of our bathroom with 4 L-brackets so it wouldn’t budge.  It adds some personality to our sort of blah bathroom!

IMG_2645

 

Bitsy’s Auntie Emily handed down this dresser to her.  Emily got it as an infant and has used it since.  She got some well deserved new furniture and gave this dresser to Bitsy.  After a few years of regular use, it was not in the best condition.  I decided to update it and turn it into a dress-up station for the playroom.  I cut out the interior drawer hardware (except for the bottom drawer) and painted the entire thing.  I chose a deep purple for the outside of the dresser, bright yellow for the inside, and a pop of pink on the sides of the drawers.  I sprayed the old gold drawer pulls a glossy black.  The drawer holds dress-up accessories and, once I buy a tension rod for it, the main part will hold bigger dress up pieces on hangers.

 IMG_2654

IMG_2655

Once I brought the dress up station into the playroom, I had to do some rearranging.  I moved out the toys that Bitsy has outgrown and moved around the things she does play with. I tried to group like toys together, ie. the kitchen, dolls and other “playing house” toys in one part, Little People and toy animals together, and a cozy reading nook.  I also tried to keep most things within her reach so she could choose what to play with.  She’s spent quite a bit of time in her playroom since this change, so I think she likes it! 

IMG_2661 IMG_2658

IMG_2657

 The total cost for all of these projects was under $20!  The only things I had to purchase were the hooks on the repurposed window and a tension rod for the dress-up station!

In addition to these projects, I’ve been cleaning and organizing a ton.  Our den has been sorely neglected, so I’ve been working on making it a more user friendly space.  I’ve also been cleaning and storing clothing and toys that Bitsy has outgrown. Unfortunately, I know that cold weather is inevitable.  I’ve also got some weatherproofing on my to-do list in hopes that our energy costs will be even lower this year! 

The first week of September is not my favorite (at least not when I’m unemployed).  These projects have been perfect to distract me and keep my mind off of the not-so-great things going on!

On Going Gluten Free

Today marks 9 months since I completely cut out gluten!

What was meant to be a quick experiment to avoid a new medication turned into quite the lifestyle change for our family.  Long story short, I was sick throughout most of my pregnancy with Bitsy. Everyone chalked it up to the fact that I was pregnant.  After Bitsy was born, instead of getting better, I got worse.  I went through months of appointments with specialists, none of whom could provide any answers or relief.  My good friend Cameron is a dietician.  One day, she suggested I eliminate gluten for a week to see if any of my symptoms improved.  

Within days of cutting gluten completely out of my diet, I started to feel better.  WIthin weeks, all of my symptoms had improved. Now, 9 months later, all of my symptoms are better.  I had been constantly weak and fatigued, suffering from frequent migraines and joint pain, and worst of all, terrible GI symptoms.  Except for 2 instances when I accidentally “glutened” myself, I have not had any of these symptoms since December!  

I have been very fortunate to have some great resources at my fingertips to help me with this transition.  

My friend Amanda has been gluten free for years.  She has a great blog, and has written tips about gluten and being gluten free here

Amanda also told me about a great app to use when shopping.  The ShopWell App has a scanning function where you can scan barcodes right in the store.  When setting up the app you program any food restrictions you have.  The app isn’t just for gluten, so it is handy for anyone who has family members with allergies or sensitivities.  This App was a real game changer for Chris and I.  If we were unsure about a product, we used to spend so much time googling to figure out if it contained gluten.  Now all we have to do is scan the barcode!  

A nurse at my primary care doctor’s office was psyched to hear how much better I was doing sans gluten.  She recommended reading Wheat Belly.  I was so glad that I did.  In the book, Dr. Davis does a great job of making medical issues easy to understand and digest (pun intended).  Wheat Belly explains why more people are developing wheat/gluten intolerances and how eating wheat and gluten effect our body systems.  It’s a great read, if you’ve ever considered going gluten free I’d recommend it!  

It’s important to note that while going gluten free is trendy right now, it is NOT a weight loss plan.  When I decided to cut out gluten, I spoke about it at length with my primary care doctor.  While I haven’t been diagnosed with celiac, my doctor definitely thinks I have a sensitivity to all things gluten.  Symptoms that I have had for years, are gone now.  I am nine months into this change, and I plan on keeping it up for a while!