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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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!

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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.

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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! 

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 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!

Playroom Transformation part 1

 

When we bought our house, I knew that the downstairs bedroom would become Bitsy’s playroom.  I wanted her to have a space for her toys and books that was NOT in my living room.  The previous owner’s son had used the 
room as his bedroom.  He was a teenager and it showed in the condition of the room.  The walls were dark orange and covered in holes.

 

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Dark orange walls…not good! This is after spackling, you can see some of the places where I had to repair holes.

 

 

Throughout the winter, the room was a catch-all.  It was a disaster.  I told Chris that I wanted it to be at least painted before Bitsy’s first birthday.  It didn’t need to be completely finished, but the orange had to be gone.  We spent a lot of time organizing things to clear out the room.  Then we had to really scrub before it could be painted.  Apparently, the young man who used to occupy the room was a smoker.  There was a fine (and gross!) film on the walls and ceilings that we had to wipe down.  One Sunday, Chris devoted the day to painting over the gross orange.

 

tada! we had an extra gallon of the grey that we used throughout the first floor.  what a relief to have grey instead of orange!

tada! we had an extra gallon of the grey that we used throughout the first floor. what a relief to have grey instead of orange!

 

Even just that simple color change made a huge difference.  There are great windows in the room but it still felt really dark with the dark color.  The neutral grey brightened things way up.

I was so happy that the orange was gone, but I still had big plans for the walls.  I had all sorts of ideas for a custom mural and bookshelf.  A few days later, I began to tackle the mural during naptime.

More on that later though!

Bitsy’s First Birthday–Safari Themed Birthday Party

 

 

 

Bitsy’s first birthday party was last weekend.  We had a ton of fun.  We decided to have the party at 3 o’clock–safely after both of her naps so she would be well rested.  We just served light snacks and cupcakes to a small crowd (about 15 people) of our family.    Her favorite toys are a variety of giraffes, monkeys and other safari animals so we did a safari theme for the party.

Over the past couple of months I have been checking sales at Target, Walmart, the Dollar Store and Price Chopper to pick up food and decorations.  Those bargains combined with things we already had helped to make the party budget friendly.  The biggest expense was the food, but even that wasn’t terrible.  We stuck with snacks that would keep and we would eat if there were leftovers.  I also decided to go with cupcakes rather than a big sheet cake.  Since I am gluten free I didn’t want to have a giant cake leftover in the house.  About half of the two dozen cupcakes were eaten at the party and most of the rest were sent home with our guests.

Here are some pictures from the day:

 

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I found these adorable 1st Birthday animal plates and napkins on clearance at Walmart. I displayed plastic cutlery and some of the plates in a picnic basket we already had. I thought it looked like something one might take on safari.

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Trail Mix in a safari animal bucket that was on Easter clearance at Target.

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These cheetah buckets were on clearance too. I took index cards and wrote safari themed names for the snacks.

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Who doesn’t love ants on a log?

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I framed up this super cute scrapbook paper to make a sign to show people where all the drinks were.

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We had iced tea with lemon ice cubes, lemonade with frozen strawberries, water and soda. Easy peasy!

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Bitsy’s Auntie Em is a phenomenal baker. We kept the flavors simple since it was Bitsy’s first time eating cake. Just vanilla cake with vanilla frosting. She had giraffe spots and zebra or tiger stripes to the frosting. I found small plastic safari animals that she used as toppers as well.

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We moved her booster seat from a regular chair to one of our breakfast bar stools and decorated it to make a throne fit for a first bite of cake.

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The three of us ready to party!

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She had a blast hamming it up for all of our guests!