Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Mushroom Thyme Pot Pies

Now, to be clear, these were SUPER YUMMY...but...

They were just too much dang work. Even when I wasn't a mom, these would have been too much work in my opinion. I will use the dough in the future for a different pot pie, but I will not be putting in 3 days worth of work for something like this again.
Please note the Picture is not mine. This is the photo from Bon Appetit Magazine that made me want to make them.

Mushroom Thyme Pot Pies

Makes 8 Servings


2¼ cups all-purpose flour

1½ teaspoon kosher salt

½ cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces

1 large egg, beaten to blend

1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar

Mushroom Gravy

2 tablespoons olive oil

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided

1 medium onion, chopped

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 pound crimini mushrooms, stems trimmed, quartered

½ cup dry sherry

4 cups low-sodium chicken broth

¼ cup dried porcini mushrooms

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour


½ fennel bulb, chopped (I used a bit of fennel seed with celery instead)

1 cup red pearl onions, peeled (I just used diced white)

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided

Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper

2 sprigs thyme, plus leaves for serving

8 ounces oyster or maitake mushrooms (I just used crimini)

All-purpose flour (for surface)

1 large egg

Flaky sea salt

Special Equipment

Eight 6-oz. ramekins



Dough – I made this on Monday before I made this dish on Wednesday

Whisk flour and salt in a large bowl. Work in butter with your fingers until only pea-size pieces remain. Combine egg, vinegar, and ⅓ cup ice water in a small bowl and drizzle over flour mixture; quickly work in with your fingers until a shaggy dough forms.

Turn out dough onto a work surface and press together, working just enough to form a smooth ball with no dry spots. Wrap in plastic and chill until very cold, at least 2 hours.

Do Ahead: Dough can be made 3 days ahead. Keep chilled.

Mushroom Gravy – I made this on Sunday before I made this dish on Wednesday

Heat oil and 2 Tbsp. butter in a medium saucepan over medium. Cook onion, stirring occasionally, until very soft, 10–12 minutes. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring often, until color darkens and paste completely coats onion, about 1 minute. Add button mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and any liquid has evaporated, 12–15 minutes. Add sherry and cook until almost completely evaporated, about 5 minutes. Add broth and porcini mushrooms. Bring to a simmer and cook until reduced by half (about 2½ cups), about 1 hour. Strain mushroom broth through a fine-mesh sieve into a medium bowl, pressing down on solids; discard solids.

Heat remaining 3 Tbsp. butter in a large saucepan over medium. Whisk in flour and cook, whisking often, until flour begins to smell nutty, about 4 minutes. Whisking vigorously to prevent lumps, add mushroom broth and increase heat to medium-high. Bring to a simmer and cook 1 minute. Remove from heat.

Do Ahead: Gravy can be made 3 days ahead. Let cool; cover and chill.

Assembly - I assembled them on Tuesday before baking them on Wednesday

Place a rack in middle of oven; preheat to 425°. Combine fennel, onions, 1 Tbsp. butter, and 1 cup water in a small saucepan; season with kosher salt and pepper. Bring to a boil over medium-high, cover, and reduce heat. Simmer until fennel and onions are crisp-tender, 5–8 minutes. Uncover; cook until liquid evaporates, 15–18 minutes. Let cool.

Heat remaining 2 Tbsp. butter in a large skillet over medium. Cook thyme sprigs and mushrooms, tossing occasionally, until mushrooms are browned and tender, 6–8 minutes. Let cool; pluck out thyme.

Divide fennel mixture and mushrooms among ramekins. Spoon gravy over top. Divide dough in half. Working with one at a time, roll out to ¼" thick. Cut out 2 rounds about ½" wider than the diameter of ramekins. Gather up scraps, reroll, and cut out 2 more rounds (for 8 total).

Whisk egg, a pinch of kosher salt, and 1 tsp. water in a small bowl. Brush dough with egg wash; place over ramekins, brushed side down. Press firmly around sides to adhere. Brush tops of dough with egg wash; sprinkle with thyme leaves and sea salt. Set pot pies on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until crusts are golden brown and domed, 25–35 minutes.

Do Ahead: Pot pies (without brushing outside of pastry and topping) can be assembled 1 day ahead. Cover pot pies and extra egg wash separately and chill.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

An Updated Reading List in Preparation for my 34 by 34 List

A few years ago, I called upon my audience to help me come up with the "MUST be read in your Lifetime" Book List. I have recently updated that list to reflect what I have read thus far in my 32+ years. What else needs to be on this list in your opinion? I am not talking about books on the Best Sellers List or anything, I mean books that have impacted your life and that are works of art. Let me know what else I need to read.
For my 4 classics for the 34th year of my life, I am planning on ready Walden, Dracula, Fahrenheit 451, and Watership Down.

Little Cat's Little List of Books
The Adventures of Augie March
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
The Age of Innocence
Alice in Wonderland/Through the Looking Glass
American Gods
Are you There God? It’s Me Margaret
The Art of War
As I Lay Dying
Atlas Shrugged
The Awakening

The Bell Jar
The Best Science Fiction of Isaac Asimov
The Blind Assassin
The Book Thief
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind
Brave New World
Brideshead Revisited
The Bridge of San Juis Rey
Bridget Jones Diary
A Brief History of Time
The Brothers Karamazou

The Call of the Wild
Canterbury Tales
Catch 22
The Catcher in the Rye
Charlotte's Web
The Color Purple
Common Sense
The Confessions of Nat Turner
The Constitution of the USA
The Count of Monte Cristo
Crime and Punishment

Dangerous Liaison
David Copperfield
The Divine Comedy
Doctor Jekyll and Mr Hyde
Doctor Zhivago
Don Quixote
Don't Sweat the Small Stuff

Ender's Game
Everything is Illuminated

Fahrenheit 451
For Whom the Bell Tolls
The Fountainhead
Franny and Zooey

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
The Giver (the subsequent sequels)
The Glass Castle
Gone with the Wind
Grapes of Wrath
Great Expectations
The Great Gatsby
Gulliver’s Travels

The Handmaid’s Tale
Harry Potter Series
Heart of Darkness
His Dark Materials Trilogy
The Historian
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
I, Robot
The Iliad
The Interpretation of Dream by Freud
The Invisible Man

Jane Eyre
Janet Evanovich Mysteries
The Joy Luck Club
The Jungle

The Killer Angels
Kite Runner

Lady Chatterley’s Lover
The Last of the Mohicans
Le Morte d’Arthur
Legends of the Fall
Les Miserable
Life of Pi
The Lion, Witch, and the Wardrobe
Little Women
Look Homeward, Angel
Lord of the Flies
The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit
Madame Bovary
Mein Kampf
The Metamorphosis
Moby Dick
Mrs Dalloway
The Murder on the Orient Express
Naked Lunch
Never Let Me Go
The Odyssey
Oedipus Rex
Of Mice and Men
The Old Man and The Sea
On the Road
One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest
One Hundred Years of Silence
One Thousand and One Arabian Nights
Paradise Lost 
Peter Pan
The Picture of Dorian Grey
The Poisonwood Bible
The Portrait of the Lady
The Postman Always Rings Twice
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie
The Princess Bride
The Red Badge of Courage
The Red Tent
Robinson Crusoe
Saint Joan
The Scarlet Letter
Sirens of Titan
Six Characters in Search of an Author
Sophie’s Choice
Stranger in a Strange Land
Starship Troopers
The Sun Also Rises
A Tale of Two Cities
Things Fall Apart
The Three Musketeers
The Time Machine
To Kill a Mocking Bird
Tom Jones
Treasure Island
The Unbearable Lightness of Being
Uncle Tom’s Cabin
Vanity Fair
Wuthering Heights
Watership Down
War of the Worlds
War and Peace
Waiting for Godot
The Wanderer’s Necklace
The Wind and the Willows
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz Series

Collected Works of Austen Collect Works of Chekhov
Collected Works of Ibsen
Collected Works of Moliere
Collected Works and Sonnets of Shakespeare
Collect Works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Collected Works of Edgar Allen Poe

Monday, November 14, 2016

The Pioneer Woman: PB&J Struesel Muffins

As you might have gathered with the choice of recipes I decide to try, I really like The Pioneer Woman. I think that she is an intelligent, talented woman and I enjoy her blog posts.

This one was a simple recipe, and while it was very rich, I will make it again in the future. I think though that only one half an English Muffin is needed per adult, unless they have a very sweet tooth.

1/2 stick Cold Salted Butter
1/2 cup Flour
1/2 cup Brown Sugar
2 Tablespoons Oats (Quick Or Old-fashioned)
Dash Of Salt
4 whole Whole Wheat English Muffins
1/4 cup Peanut Butter
1/4 cup Jelly Or Jam Of Your Choice
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. In a bowl, use a pastry cutter to cut together the butter, flour, brown sugar, oats, and salt until the mixture is slightly crumbly. Sprinkle in a couple of tablespoons of water if it seems too dry.
Split the muffins and spread on a thin layer of peanut butter, followed by jelly. Sprinkle the streusel topping evenly over the 8 muffins and pop it in the oven for 10 minutes. Turn up the heat to 350 and bake for another couple of minutes or until slightly golden on top.

Monday, October 31, 2016

What I actually "needed" in my hospital bag

Hello all,

Well, Miniski has entered the world and the first 3 months have gone swimmingly. Seriously. We have a baby with the best temperament ever. He only cried when something was wrong for the first 2 months (he likes to let us know more things now, though I suppose his "hey I'm over here cry" is more of a whine then a cry), he started sleeping well a month in, and he latched while in recovery and our breastfeeding relationship has been solid and mostly pain free.

Looking back on my birth experience and story, I see how incredibly fortunate I was. I got everything I wanted in my birth plan: 
I had my husband in the operating room with me.
I had my family (blood, step, and inlaws) in the room before going into surgery, but they cleared out right when they needed to.
My Anesthesiologist was an old pro and got me numb quickly and calmly.
The nursing team assisting my doctor was skilled, comforting, and supportive.
My Baby was delivered by my doctor.
I had a planned C-Section as it was the safest way for Baby and I to get through the process
I had skin to skin in recovery and Baby managed to latch while we were there.
My husband and I named our son based on what name he looked like, not the names we loved.

Then while we were in mother/baby, the nursing staff was stellar and knowledgeable.

A lacation consultent stopped by everyday to see how we were doing. When it was looking like baby would most likely be losig 10% of his body weight, we started supplementing via the Five French Technique per the suggestion of our night nurse Jenn who brough us all the things to do so and taught us how BEFORE I got stressed out about the verdict that baby losing so much weight. I am forever grateful to Nurse Jenn's thinking ahead on this.

So here is what I found that I needed from my original list. Obviously, this might not  be what YOU need in your hospital bag, but now I have a reference for the *next* time.

Hospital Bags
Robe <Nope, we had a thermostat in the room so I was a comfortable as could be>
2 sets of loose lounge Pants <I lived in a hospital gown the 2 of the 4 days, so one pair was really enough, though it was nice to have a back up in case of bleeding through>
2 Easy Nursing PJ blouse <Again, the hospital gown was awesome so only one of these was necessary>
Nursing Tanks - 2 <Now that I have a vague idea of how to breast feed, I would use these, but when I was learning to over the 4 days in the hospital, these weren't used as they just seemed to get in my way. granted, I pretty much just hung out naked when it was just Husband and I>
Nursing Bra - 1 <specifically sleeping nursing bra, and I should have had two or three. I pretty much lived in the one I had and my lounge pants>
Warm Socks (with slip protection) - 2 <These were used, not for warmth, but for germ protectors on my feet. It was warm enough in my room, but my slippers didn't fit my (even more) swollen feet>
Slippers - 1 <didn't use as they were moccasin style and didn't fit my swollen feet>
Black maternity pants and blouse - for possible Photos and for going home <this was a good idea, both for the photos, but also for feeling like a looked a LITTLE slimmer in the coming home photos and blended into the background>
Comfy Cardigan (for use in hospital and going home) <This was used as I am prone to feeling comforted with something wrapped around me. Fortunately, I packed a light one so that it wasn't too hot>
Cozy Scarf (for use in hospital and going home) <didn't need due to thermostat and SUMMER>
Slip on Shoes (for going home) <Fortunately, I packed Flip Flops which I used all the time thank to fat feet>
Absorbing Panties aka Depends (dignity is left at the door after another person enters the world via you) - <Didn't need as the hospital provided me with MEGA PADS>
Granny Panties to hold in the pads - <these were also provided by my hospital and actually held up the mega pads as well as being comfy, though I can understand someone not liking them and want their own version of granny panties>
Pillow (in a colored pillow case) <yes, this was great because it felt a little like home>
Front Opening Fleece/sweater/jacket (for use in hospital) <didn't need due to in room thermostat>

Pineapple Juice <yes because I love it and crave it even when I am not preggers/delivered. It supposedly helps with clogged ducts with breast feeding, but I don't think that was a thing for me at the time>
Applesauce <didn't have, didn't miss>
Dry Cereal <didn't pack didn't miss because I had GRANOLA BARS which were super helpful for both husband and I>
Hard Candy <I have a couple dum dums (my fave lollipops) and they were welcome>
Gift for Husband <I gave him a 6 pack of not your father's root beer at the hospital which he had one of at the hospital and enjoyed the rest later at home. I later gifted him with Bluetooth headphones for while he was out working in the yard. He appreciated that I thought of him, and gift giving is one of my love languages so I think he felt the extra love knowing what it means to me to give a gift>

Toiletries & Makeup (light and natural): usual stuff
Only needed a brush, Shampoo Conditioner, tooth brush, tooth paste, and deodorant. Didn't bother with makeup (though some women might want to)

Tech Kit:
DSLR, Batteries, Battery Charger, SD Card - <My DSLR is dated and the iPhone ended up taking a clearer picture, but if it had been a newer model, then this would have been used more>
Kindle, Kindle Charger - <Not as needed since I have an iphone, but was nice to use for youtube, email, internet since I don't like having my phone near my head (or baby's!) more than necessary thanks to brain cancer from cellular waves>
Headphones - <yes, I was bunked with my husband and we though we slept when baby slept, I sometimes needed a relaxation you tube video in order to fall asleep>
Cell Phone, Cell Phone Charger - <I put it on airplane mode with WiFi active most of the weekend to keep the cellular waves away from my son's brain as well as mine. Also I figured anyone who wanted/needed to stop by, would know to contact my Husband, the person who didn't just have major surgery>
Music Device, Bluetooth Speaker - <Didn't bring, but I sort of wish we had for listening to music on our phones or something like that>
Notepad and Pen - <yes, but I like making notes and lists on real paper. I kept a list of people to write thank you cards to after they stopped by with a present or something. I think thank you notes are important so I found that useful.>

<<Addition: Thank you cards, address book, and stamps. These are important to me, so I am happy I though to bring them. I then had the cards written for any gifts or visits I thought deserved a card be fore I left the hospital and the real work started.>>

Mommy After Delivery Kit:
Gum - <didn't bring, kinda wish I had some for a quick freshen up for when guests came by.>
Wisps (Disposable toothbrush) - <see above>
Nursing pads - <didn't need as my milk didn't come in until the day I went home from the hospital
Sanitizer - <hospital had a dispenser of it at the door, so didn't need>
Sea Bands - <never felt like I would have needed these>
Nipple Butter - <didn't bring, got some of the GOOD stuff from the lactation consultant/nurses (I asked a few of them so I went home with 4 mini tubes)>
Tums - <didn't need, but was glad to have it as husband needed them after some cafeteria food
Stool Softener pills - <forgot to bring. I can't remember, but I think the hospital provided these for me>
Spray Bottle - <didn't need, also hospital provided>
Witch Hazel - <didn't need>
MAXI pads - <Hospital provided>
Flushable wipes - didn't bring, but would have been nice.
Prenatal Vitamins - I forgot to bring these, but should have
Handheld Back Massager (with batteries) - YES, even if you are have a C section. Being bed bound makes for some crazy back pains sometimes. As I understand it, this would be extra awesome during labor.

<<Addition: A BACK SCRATCHER. this was a life saver for me.>>

Dad Hospital Bag:
Wallet/ID - duh
Cell Phone Charger, Cell Phone - duh
A Change of clothes (with button down shirt for skin to skin) - Should have though this through and had him bring more since he stayed the whole 4 days with me and baby was having a great time spitting up
A set of Pjs in case of sleep - again he stayed all 4 days so 2 sets would have been better. I ended up (with help from my auntie) sending him home for a meal, a beer, shower, and prepping the home for baby (aka diapers) on Sunday (the 3rd day). He needed to get out. He was getting some major cabin fever. So keep that in mind when packing your partner's bag. He might just need to visit the land of the not in the hospital for a couple hours one day.
Pillow (colored Case) - better quality pillow than a hospital pillow, easy to recognize and felt comforting
Blanket - the hospital provided him with one, but I was happy to have my fuzzy Doctor Who blanket as it made me feel like I was in a comfortable place
Change for vending machine - there weren't any close. It was more money for the cafeteria/I always ordered more food than I needed so I had a snack for him

iPad charger, iPad - he used it a few times
Book to pass time - HAH what time?
Bible - had it on his phone
Ibuprofen - YES he had a headache and body aches from sleep deprivation and the bed thing so these were a good idea
Water bottles - good idea, though the nurses stand had a great water dispenser, so really he just needed a reusable one
Pre made gift bags for nurses/nurses station - YES, I made 2 and gave one to the night crew the first day I was there and the other to the day crew on the morning of my 3rd day so all the nurses serving me had a chance to get some noms. THEY LOVEd IT! I put these together a month before I was due after a quick trip to the dollar store. If you think about it, do this.                                        
Extra bag for gifts/hospital free bees - YUP, I also rather craftily slowly emptied the bassinet of items like the newborn diapers, wipes, and pacis etc so that they refilled it the 2nd night Iwas there. Worth it
Who to call/text list - I ended up prepping an email with everyone on a blind cc that we wanted to let know and then filled in the specifics: Name, Date, Time, Length, Weight, and Picture. Be warned though. About 10 minutes after we sent out the email, the picture and info was posted on Facebook by 3 people who weren't at the birth. Perhaps I should have written a request saying that we would like to announce it on Facebook. I ended up asking the people to adjust the posts to not include his middle name was all, expressing my desire to protect his privacy while I could.
Cash for valet - it is free valet (no tipping!) at our hospital so wasn't needed
Dopp kit: Usual stuff 

Baby Hospital Bag
Car seat - duh
Go home outfits (2 in case of accident) - didn't do anything crazy for this like some people might want to. We just a couple pairs of pants/shorts and then the shirt the hospital provided (they provided 2) and a little T-shirt that we had received as a hand me down.
Cozy hat - hospital provided
Romper - NOPE, because of belly button tag
Socks/booties - didn't use because summer
Nail mittens - didn't use and still don't
Finger nail clippers - I brought them but didn't need them until he was about 6 days old.
Receiving blanket - Hospital provided
Book for photo/to read to baby - YES bring all the things for this. I also filled in things while I was sitting in my hospital bed, unable to get up, and couldn't sleep
Diaper Bag: We didn't need any of this as the hospital either provided it or it wasn't something needed for a 4 day old child in the hospital. Though this is a good reference for later on.
Diapers - Hospital Provides.
Butt paste - Didn't need anyway
Wipes - Hospital Provides.
Extra outfit - Hospital Provides a shirt.
2 burp clothes - Hospital Provides.
Stuffed animal  - Baby doesn't know the difference yet.
Changing pad - Hospital Provides.
Pacifier - Hospital Provides.
Nursing cover - as mentioned before, I was just topless the whole time. Or I used the receiving blanket if I thought it necessary. Or I just used feeding baby as an excuse to kick people out.
Swaddle blanket - Hospital Provides.
Baby lotion - Didn't need anyway
Breast pump - I started pumping while I was in the hospital. Next time, I will start even earlier with the colostrum. Hospital Provides.
Pump bottles - Hospital Provides.

Paper Work File:
Hospital Admission Forms - I preregistered my birth online
Driver's License - duh
OB Contact Info - yes
Pediatrician Contact Info - yes
Copy of Social Security Card - yes, though I just had my actual one
Copy of Insurance Card - yes, though I just had my actual one
Copy of Driver's License - yes, though I just had my actual one as noted above
Paperwork for Baby's birth certificate, Social Security Number, and Insurance - Birth certificate paperwork came from the hospital, the Social Security Number paperwork also came from the hospital, and the Insurance just needed to be handled in 30 days from the day he was born so I handled that when I got home.
Insurance phone number to let them know I am leaving for maternity leave aka first day out of office call - I did do this.