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Saturday, January 28, 2012

Decadent Low Calorie Ice Cream Sandwiches

I was perusing Pinterest again (it's been a few weeks and I've missed a lot!!) and came across this post for cake mix waffles that were made into ice cream sandwiches.  I thought it was BRILLIANT but I didn't re-pin right away and, of course, I couldn't find it again later when I searched for it.

So a quick Google search brought me to the Betty Crocker website and it turns out there's nothing special to these cake batter waffles.  Simply mix the cake batter as directed on the box and prepare in your waffle iron following your waffle iron directions.  It's not rocket science.

I ran to the store and picked up a devil's food cake mix.  The nutrition information shows 160 calories for the mix per serving and there are 10 servings in the box.  So, I started out with the 1600 calorie mix.  Following the directions, I used 1 1/2 cups of water (0 calories) and 3 eggs (210 calories) and instead of 3 tablespoons of oil, I used 3 tablespoons of unsweetened apple sauce (80 calories, instead of the 300 from the oil).  All in all, the cake batter came out to 1900 calories.  

After making all the batter into waffles, I came out with 11 waffles.  That ends up being about 173 calories per waffle.  I took half the waffle (85 calories) and halved it again, so I had two quarters in my hand.

Meanwhile...before I got the 
batch of waffles going I remembered this great idea for banana "ice cream".  Due to the high fat content (considering it's a fruit) of bananas, they make a super 
creamy ice cream-like 
dessert when frozen and blended.  A banana is only about 70 calories for an average sized one.  I used about four frozen ones and only about 1/2 cup skim milk to help it blend more smoothly.  The consistency comes out like perfect soft serve.

                                                I took my two quarters of 
chocolate cake waffles and put about a quarter of a cup of the banana "ice cream" in the center, stuck them back together and popped them back in the freezer so they wouldn't be too terribly gooey for the kids.

All told,  the calories for these fantastic ice cream sandwiches is about 110, which happens to be what Cainan can have for snack.  The boys thought it was "the best dessert ever" and thoroughly enjoyed the treat.  I enjoyed how easy it was to make and how decedent it is considering the calorie count.  You can always add a little peanut butter to the blender when your blending or chocolate or anything else you think goes well with bananas.  

Try it out and let me know what you think.

Wednesday Night Dinners: Chicken Enchilada Casserole

I was craving Mexican food this week and thought enchiladas would make a yummy Wednesday night dinner for Awana.  Of course, traditional enchiladas are not very practical for making and serving in large quantity so I decided to create an enchilada style casserole—something you might also call a Mexican lasagna.  The costs were a little higher this week but still well under a dollar a serving, so I’m pretty happy with that.  The casserole came out well and once again I served salad and oranges alongside with milk or apple juice to drink. 

I noticed when shopping this week that Fred Meyer had their 60oz packs of frozen chicken breast on sale for $8.48 so I went that route for the meat.  I bought two packs.

I bought everything else from Winco and that included: 3 packages of Neufchatel Cheese (a lighter cream cheese),
five packages of taco seasoning,
4 large cans of red enchilada sauce, 2 large containers of sourcream, 3 containers of guacamole, a large container of mild salsa, 8 cans of non-fat refried beans,
2 lb bag of shredded Mexican cheese blend, a package of 80 corn tortillas, two 16 serving bags of iceberg salad mix, 1 large bag of spinach, 10 lbs of oranges, 5 cans of frozen apple juice. 

I also bought some "Fruit Fresh" this trip so I won't be using mine anymore when I have apples or pears to cut up ahead of time (it stops the fruit from turning brown).  All together, I spent $80.88 this week.

I precooked the chicken by dumping it all into a pot with the taco seasoning and Neufchatel cheese.  I let this cook on low for several hours, stirring occasionally, until I had a lovely creamy mixture of seasoned chicken.

Wednesday morning I headed up to the church with my prepared chicken and the rest of the ingredients to assemble the casserole.  I started by pouring some enchilada sauce in the bottom of my two pans, which had been generously sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.  And then I added a layer of the chicken mixture on top.

I covered the chicken layer with tortillas, some of which I cut in half or quarters to make sure I had a nice even covering.

I put another coating of enchilada sauce over these.

I combined all the refried beans with a little bit of taco seasoning I had on hand from previous recipes.  You can skip this step as there is plenty of spice in the casserole already.
I spread the beans evenly over the tortillas/enchilada sauce and added another layer of tortillas.
Finally, I topped this last layer of tortillas with enchilada sauce and shredded cheese.  Covered them with some plastic wrap and packed them in the fridge until evening.

About an hour before serving, I put the casseroles in a 350 degree oven and let them bake while I prepared the salad mixes, cut the oranges and got all the condiments out and ready.

It's hard to tell from the pictures but one pan is slightly larger than the other.  I pre-cut the casserole so I would know this time exactly how many servings I had (I usually take a best estimate based on how many we served, how much is left over, how much I think the pan holds, etc.).  I got 50 servings out of the large pan and 40 out of the smaller pan, making a total of 90 servings.  

 The total for this week is $.90 a serving.  Again, that includes the salad, oranges and beverages, too.  Pretty economical. 

Once, again, I added up all the calories in the ingredients I used and divided those by 90 as well.  This recipe came out to be 165 calories a serving.  Of course, once you start adding sour cream and guacamole the calorie count can quickly climb.

It would be very easy to make in a smaller family size portion as well.  Just take some left over chicken and mix it with a little taco seasoning and a few tablespoons of cream cheese.  Follow the same layering directions with enchilada sauce, tortillas and beans.  Bake for 20-30 minutes and enjoy! 

Monday, January 23, 2012

We're People First

I’m a little behind updating the blog this week, partly from being sick and having sick kids at home and partly because I was out of town Friday and Saturday in order to attend my first Partner’s in Policymaking class in Salem.

I had good intentions of working on some entries and other various tasks while I was in Salem but once class began, those all went out the window.  This weekend was life-changing for me and the 29 other participants that were present.  It will also be life-changing for my family and community.

I don’t know exactly how much to share (there was just too much information presented for me to disseminate all at once).  And I don’t want to run readers off by constantly posting “soap box” sermons on disability in America.  I think I will start with just a few simple ideas that I’ve already begun to share with those closest to me.

The most immediate and easiest change I’m going to make for myself is using “People First” language.  You may think it’s only semantics or that it doesn’t really matter but after spending some time hearing about it and really meditating on it, I think it makes a profound difference.

Language is powerful.  The things we say to people stay with them and can do more damage or good than even our actions, at times.  People who have a disability are NOT their disability; they are people first..  They are people who HAVE a disability—they are not disabled. 

Can you see how that is different? 

Do you see how a child might react differently if they hear all their life that they have a disability rather than they ARE disabled? 

If you have cancer, do you go around telling people you’re cancerous?  If you wear glasses do you tell people your myopic?  More likely than not, you would indicate that have cancer or that you need glasses to help you see more clearly.  

I’m am consciously rearranging my words to make sure I don’t refer to the disabled in our town or the autistic kid next door.  I’m going to make sure I talk about my friend's kids who have autism or some other disability. 

It’s a simple change in our everyday language and it can make a profound difference in the life of someone who has a disability but isn’t defined by that disability.  Can you join me in making this change?

If you’d like to learn a little more about how our society views disability and making positive changes in the lives of those who experience a disability, I encourage you to visit some of the sites listed below.     

Partners in Policy Making - Free online training & curriculum on advocacy
Oregon Disability Network - Sign up for free to stay informed about issues affecting the disability community in Oregon

Wednesday Night Dinners: Shepherd's Pie

This last week for the Awana dinner I made a shepherd’s pie.  I think it was the most favored dish out of everything I’ve made so far.  I know it was my personal favorite.  As usual, I didn’t follow a recipe, just a general idea of what goes into a shepherd’s pie and how it should taste.  I’ve been trying to decide if I should just provide the details of what I did, which made 80 servings and you can adjust the recipe accordingly, or if I should try to re-create a recipe for a smaller portion based on what I did. I think I will do both, in that I will post all the ingredients I bought this week and how I made the pies, then I will post a recipe I’ve found that’s similar to what I made.  Hope you all enjoy!

This week I spent $59.00 and we had approximately 80 servings.  That comes out to $0.74 per serving.  Again, I still had flour left from buying it several weeks ago and we still had salad dressing for the salad, too.

I don’t usually go way out of my way to hit sales or use coupons, but I am very conscious of how I spend the church’s money and try to get the best value.  I noticed this week that Safeway had 93% lean ground beef at the unheard of price of $2.49 a pound.  I bought two value packs, which came to just over 9 lbs of hamburger (and I was very happy about the lower fat content, too!).  I bought the rest of the groceries at Winco.  Here’s what I bought:

9 lbs of hamburger
3 lbs of mushrooms
2 boxes (2 packets in each box) of onion soup mix
3 32 oz containers of beef broth
3 13.75 oz boxes of Potato Flakes
2 16 oz bags frozen peas
1 16 serving package of iceburg salad mix
Family size package of spinach
8 lbs of apples
1 gallon 1% milk
4 cans frozen apple juice concentrate

Wednesday morning I headed up to the 
church and started mincing mushrooms.   
I know not everyone likes mushrooms, so I used my food chopper to chop them really small so it wouldn’t be obvious that they were in there.  I LOVE the way mushrooms and beef taste together so I figured chopping them up small and mixing them in with the ground beef would be yummy and most people wouldn’t notice that it was full of mushrooms.

I got the beef and mushrooms browning on the stove along with some salt and LOTS of black pepper.  About halfway through the browning, I put in all four packets of onion soup mix. 

Once all the meat was browned, I used about 1 ½ cups of flour that a sprinkled over the mixture and mixed in really well.  Once all the liquid from the meat and mushrooms was absorbed by the flour and there was a paste like consistency, I added 64 oz of beef broth, stirring until everything came together and I had a nice gravy and meat mixture.  I also had a few small dashes of Worcestershire sauce I had on hand.  Then, in went all the frozen peas.

I poured this mixture into two large, deep baking trays.  I used the remaining container of beef broth to make some of the instance mashed potatoes.  I was trying to avoid using any dairy because we have some regular partakers who can’t have dairy and I didn’t want them excluded this week.  You may or may not know, that instant potatoes can be made with any kind of liquid as long as you follow the directions for amount of liquid used.  I boiled some water, added the potatoes and instead of using milk, used beef broth.  I didn’t have enough beef broth to make all the potatoes, but I still had a whole 48 oz can of chicken broth I purchased for the chicken pot pie a couple weeks ago but didn't use.  So, I used the chicken broth to make the rest of the potatoes. 

The mashed potatoes got spread on top of the meat mixture and the trays went into a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.   

I did the math for all the ingredients I used and divided it by 80, making this recipe about 160 calories per serving…that’s really amazing to me.  I did the math twice just be sure I calculated everything correctly. 

I mixed the bagged salad and spinach together to serve with the shepherd pie, and sliced all the apples since I always like to provide a fruit too.  For drinks we served the gallon of 1% milk and made all four containers of frozen apple juice.
This was actually very easy to make and extremely tasty.  You can try following the recipe I used and just dividing it down to a smaller family size, or you can try this recipe and let me know how it comes out.

2 lb. extra-lean ground beef
8 oz mushrooms, finely chopped
1 packet onion soup mix
1/4 cup flour
3 cups frozen vegetables of your choice (carrots, corn, green beans, peas)
2 1/2  cups fat-free reduced-sodium beef broth
1 Tbspn Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper to taste
4 cups mashed potatoes (left over or instant)

Brown meat on stove top, adding mushrooms and onion soup mix halfway through.  Continue cooking together until meat is completely browned. 

Add flour, stirring until completely mixed in.  Slowly add broth and Worcestershire sauce, stirring until mixture begins to thicken.  Add frozen vegetables and salt and pepper to taste.

Pour beef mixture into 9 x 13 inch baking dish.  Cover with mashed potatoes. 

Bake in 350 degree oven for 20 minutes.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Low Calorie Macaroni and Cheese

I want to make a clarification from my last blog post.  Cainan joins us for each Wednesday night dinner, as he's an active participant in Awana Clubs.  Most of these meals are not low calorie but I always provide an alternative for Cainan or change the portion ratio (more salad and oranges, less lasagna, for example).  

I thought I would include the recipe I use for Cainan's macaroni and cheese.  

You may have read my previous entries on 
Shirataki noodles.  If you're doing a noodle dish, they are the best low calorie replacement you can find.  But I have yet to find them in elbow macaroni shape--only fettuccine or spaghetti.  For a small serving you could use regular pasta.  A 3/4 cup serving of cooked elbows is 145 calories.  Personally, I use the Shirataki fettuccine and cut them up into smaller pieces.  Two servings of these noodles is 40 calories.  BIG difference.
Whether you use Shirataki noodles or traditional pasta, here's the low calorie sauce to go over the top. 

Low Calorie Cheese Sauce
(2 Servings) 40 calories/serving
1 Wedge Laughing Cow Low Calorie Cheese (any variety you'd like).
1 slice nonfat American Cheese
1 Tablespoon nonfat milk

Melt the three ingredients together and add the pasta.  I find the microwave makes this a pretty quick and easy recipe. 

Wednesday Night Dinners: Lasagna And Mac & Cheese

This last Wednesday night I did not completely scratch cook.  I know--you're all shocked.  But it was still tasty and provided a nice meal at a reasonable cost.  In the fall, I had  a lasagna and mac & cheese night that went over very well.  I decided it would be a meal we would definitely repeat.  A few weeks later a saw Stouffer's lasagnas on sale for $9.98 a piece so I bought three more and kept them in the freezer until this last Wednesday. Last time I used Kirkland lasagnas at $12.99 a piece.  I have to say, of the two, I prefer the Kirkland, but Stouffer's has a big following and the Stouffer's lasagna went over well.

Because I also try to always provide a vegetarian option, I made macaroni and cheese to go along with the lasagna.  It's easy to make and very inexpensive.  Again, I'm more of a sight and taste cook so I didn't follow any specific recipe but I'll tell you the basics of what I did and provide you with a recipe on a smaller scale that's basically the same thing.

Macaroni and cheese is very simple to scratch make.  It takes some boiled pasta and a cheese sauce.  The cheese sauce starts out as a bechemel, which is your basic butter, flour and milk mixture that is the base of many sauces.  Melt your butter, add in a littler flour until it absorbs the butter 
but is still light in color, then add in milk to 
the desired thickness.  From there, you can 
add in whatever spices or ingredients you 
choose to bring your sauce together.  This time I added some garlic powder and cumin, along with salt and pepper, plus lots of sharp cheddar cheese.  Simply pour the sauce over the pasta to enjoy, or add some cheese on top and bake it in the oven for a while (that's what I did).  I also chose to use shells this time instead of elbow macaroni.  I like how the cheese sauce fills in the crevices on the shells.

All told, including the $30.00 I spent previously on those three lasagnas, I spent $57.46.  This made 70 servings between the two entrees, as well as a salad, orange slices, milk and juice to go with.  That comes to .82 a serving.  It's a little higher than usual, but that's due to the store bought lasagna's instead of scratch made ones.  And again, we still had salad dressing, butter and flour left over from previous dinners so I didn't have to buy those this week.  

Oh, one word on serving size...the store bought lasagna's size they are 12 servings.  I actually get 16 out of them.  I don't need such a huge serving, especially with the additional sides.  I cut the trays of lasagna 4x4 instead of 3x4.

Below is a pretty close approximation to my Mac & Cheese recipe:
  • 8 ounces elbow macaroni
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
  1. In a large pot with boiling salted water, cook macaroni until al denti.  Drain and set aside.
  2. In a medium sauce pan over medium heat melt butter.  Stir in flour until fully incorporated in butter.  Add milk and stir until thick and bubbly, about 3-5 minutes.  Add cheese and stir until completely melted and sauce is smooth.
  3. Remove sauce from heat and stir in macaroni until completely coated in sauce.  Pour into greased 2 quart casserole dish.  Sprinkle with additional cheese or cracker crumbs if desired.  Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.  Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

When it Rains it Pours...

This is just another short post, with a link to an unbelievable story that just occurred in the last week.

When you have a child that has a life altering medical diagnosis, you tend to isolate--your life revolves around caring for that child. In our isolation, I think we also become sheltered. We are surrounded by those who know our story, or who share common ground with us.

As our younger son, who does not have any medical issues, has entered school and I've been emerging from our world of isolation into the mainstream, I'm really beginning to get a feel for how many people who are not directly affected by disability view those who have disabilities. It's shocking to say the least, and this mother's story shocks me to my core...

Friday, January 13, 2012

A Two Year Old With a Gambling Problem--She Should Meet Cainan!

Today I'm passing on a video created to raise awareness for those in our society who were not born as "typical" children but share the same dreams that they do.  This is one of those times when I came across a video regarding something right in line with whats been on my mind lately. 

Recently, I was privy to a conversation between friends discussing eugenics.  I tried to ignore most of it and stay absorbed in the book I was reading.  But when the conversation turned to how the human race as a whole was getting weaker because we coddle our sick and crippled and allow them to live and propagate, I had to leave.  It was safer than throttling the apathetic idiot who was speaking.  However, I was deeply, deeply hurt and angry.

There's a million things I could say--a million ways I could try and justify the lives of those who are not "typical".  I'm not going to.  There's not enough room on this blog and it almost seems futile to try to get through to people who are so oblivious to the real purpose and beauty of life.

Regardless of your views on "typical" and "non-typical" people, please watch the video and pass it on if you are so moved.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Families For Community Blog: Finding Hope

Today I'm just passing on a link to the Families For Communities Blog.  If you're a parent of a special needs child then I encourage you check out this website and "Friend" them on facebook.  The site is designed as an online support community for families of children with special needs and the Facebook page is a great place to share and find common ground with other parents.

Check out the blog here:

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Melting Snowman Cookies - Shortcuts and Cheats (Kinda)

I know--two postings in two days; it's crazy for me!  But I actually have a spare moment while the boys are napping and Joe is glued to his Golden Eye Reloaded game and I figured I could quickly share this easy
cheat for melting snowman 
cookies.  I have seen these
all over Pinterest (here's a 
link to some directions at Crazy Domestic) and they're super 
 cute but I already had a plethora of ideas for Christmas treats this year.  I decided I'd save them for the January Awana bake sale at church, since snowmen are still relevant for January.

As it turned out, I did not know I would be in complete body-shut-down-hibernation-after-Christmas-recovery-mode the week of the January Awana bake sale.  I realized yesterday I needed to make these cookies for the sale today...and I didn't want to.  I normally LOVE baking and creating yummy treats for the bake sales, but I was dreading it yesterday. 
I decided I had to go to the grocery store, at least for the marshmallows, and maybe a bag of sugar cookie mix because I didn't think I had a scratch batch in me.  Then it occurred to me that my very favorite sugar cookies are the cake-like ones they sell at the grocery stores that are super moist and have that really nasty sweet frosting on top--yeah, I love those...

It occurred to me, if they happened to sell ones with white frosting, I could just use those and put the melting marshmallow on top and decorate from there.  Luck was with me.  They did have white frosted ones and even though they were covered in sprinkles, I bought them anyway ($2.66 for 10).  The only other things I had to purchase were the 
marshmallows (.98 a bag) and some black frosting ($2.07) because I'm not good at making black.  I have other frosting colors at home, and even if I didn't, I think I could have brought myself to mix a small batch of milk and powdered sugar together with a little food coloring.

I got home and scraped off the sprinkles.  They came off pretty easily and with a little swipe of my finger I re-spread the frosting eliminating the little sprinkle stains left behind. 


Following the directions I found on Pinterest, I pre-melted the marshmallows and stuck them on the cookies.  

A little black frosting piped on, along with orange for a nose and blue for some buttons finished them off.  It literally took me 10 minutes.  

I am a bit disappointed that I only provided 10--usually I would make a lot more.  There's no doubt that if I had made them from scratch my dollar would have gone a lot further.  $2.66 for 10 cookies did kind of hurt my feelings and this time around I just didn't have the budget for two boxes of them (yes, $5.00 is out my budget range right now).  Even so, I recognize that .26 a cookie is pretty good and using them as such a shortcut was worth sharing with everyone.   

If you're not a baker or just don't feel like baking, but you DO feel like providing some super cute cookies, give these a try!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Wednesday Night Dinners - Chicken Pot Pie

I hope everyone had a great Christmas and New Year's Day.  I obviously took a bit of a break and have not posted any entries for a couple weeks.  I know I've been remiss, so I thought I kick off the new year with a nice big one and one that's been requested now several l times.

As I've mentioned before, on Wednesday nights I have taken on a ministry of preparing dinner for those who come to church and Awanas.  It has been so exciting for me--something I'm extremely grateful I get to do.  I know when I was working full time, I dreaded Wednesday nights!  

After working all day, I'd have to rush home, hope Joe had gotten the boys fed and they were all done eating, grab all their Awana stuff and review verses with them in the car while I tried to drive through somewhere and eat on the way to church.  We'd usually arrive within a minute or two of starting time (or a minute or two after) and then I'd escort the boys to their classes, make sure Cainan did his verses and finally collapse somewhere while I waited for church to be over.  What I would have given to just go directly to church with the kids, sit down to a nice meal, enjoying their company and practicing their verses with them at the table while we ate.  And now I get to do that for everyone else!!! It is such a blessing to my heart!

The meals have been very successful.  Most people enjoy the cooking and I'm often asked for my recipes--that's not always easy because a lot of my cooking is by feel and taste, though most are based on a favorite recipe in my repertoire.  Also, since I'm often the one doing the shopping for the meals, I'm acutely aware of the cost and do my best to keep it low for the church's sake (they buy all the materials--I just do the cooking).  What I've found is that I routinely make enough for around 75-85 servings and the cost is often way less than a dollar per person.  I'm pretty happy with this cost per serving, especially knowing it's all good, homemade, food (with the exception of the occasional frozen lasagna).

Since the recipes have been requested and because my Facebook friends often comment on my statuses that I post about feeding 75 people for 40 bucks, I've decided to post my Wednesday night dinners each week, along with the cost for each one.  I hope you'll enjoy the recipes and get some great, economical ideas for providing yummy food for your family!

This last week, I made one of our family's and friends' 
favorites.  It was originally a copycat recipe for Marie Calendar's Chicken Pot Pie, though I make some slight variations for our dietary needs.  I knew the church had some leftover turkey from the Christmas dinner and I thought this would be a good way to use it up.  I did all my shopping at Winco this week and I did not use any coupons.  I spent a total of $40.42.  This did not include a turkey breast that the church already had but figure in maybe another $15 for that, as well as another $4-$5 
for salad dressing that was also already on hand.  For a grand total of just under $60.00 we fed at least 75 people (I'm not usually able to keep an accurate count because I'm too busy serving and a lot of people come
back for seconds or thirds).  There was a little left over and I'd say it's safe to say there were 80 servings total.  That makes the whole dinner approximately $0.73 per serving!

The dinner consisted of a turkey pot pie as well as a veggie pot pie (I always include some vegetarian option each week and quite a few people end up eating it whether they are vegetarians or not), along with a green salad and orange quarters (I always include a fruit every week, too), with milk or apple juice to drink. 

Here is the Chicken Pot Pie recipe with notes for the variations I made to create the veggie pot pie.  Enjoy!

Chicken Pot Pie:
Makes 10 servings (approximately 300 calories per serving)

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoons salt
2 egg yolks
3 tablespoons ice water
2/3 cups cold butter

1 cup sliced carrots
1 cup sliced celery
2 cups frozen peas
1 cup chopped white onion
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (or turkey)
4 tablespoons butter
5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 ½ cups chicken broth
2/3 cup milk (skim is fine)
½ teaspoon salt
Dash pepper
1 egg, beaten

 Prepare the crust by sifting together the flour and salt in a medium bowl.  Put yolks and ice water into depression in center of flour.  Slice the butter into tablespoon-size portions and add it into the flour depression.
Cut the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.  When all the flour is moistened, use your hands to finish combining, ensuring the chunks of butter are well blended in.  Roll the dough into a ball, cover in plastic wrap and chill for at least an hour.   (Note: For an easier method to make the dough, I use my food processor.  Put all the ingredients except the ice water in the processor.  Pulse until the mixture resembles course crumbs.  Slowly drizzle ice water in as you continue to pulse.  Continue just until the dough comes together and forms a ball.  So much easier than cutting the butter in by hand!).

 When the dough has chilled, preheat the oven to 425° F.  Steam the carrots and celery for 5 minutes in a steamer.  Add the onions and continue to steam for an additional 10-12 minutes or until the carrots are tender.

Prepare the chicken by poaching the breasts in lightly salted boiling water for 8-10 minutes (Note: You can skip this step by using already cooked poultry--a great use for leftovers!).

 In a separate large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat, add the flour and whisk together until smooth.  Add the chicken broth and milk and continue stirring over high heat until the mixture comes to a boil.  Cook for an additional minute or so until thick, then reduce heat to low.

Cut the poached chicken into large bite-size chunks and add them to the sauce.  Add the salt and a dash of pepper.

 Add the steamed vegetables and peas to the sauce and simmer the mixture over medium/low heat for 4 to 5 minutes.

 As the filling simmers, roll out the dough on a floured surface.  Use the dish/es you plan to bake the pie/s in as a guide for cutting dough.  The filling will fit four 16 oz casserole dishes.  Cut the dough about a half-inch larger then the dish (Note: I use a 9x13 sheet pan, or if I'm feeling fancy, I'll use ramekins for individual servings--the choice is up to you).

Spoon the chicken and vegetable filling into each dish and cover with the dough, sealing the edges.  Brush some beaten egg or butter on the dough of each pie (optional).

Bake the pies for 30 to 45 minutes or until the top crust is light brown (Note: you may want to put pies on a cookie sheet to avoid any messes from the filling boiling over--it occasionally happens).

Veggie Variation: To make the veggie pot pie I created for the Awana dinner, I used vegetable broth instead of chicken broth.  To replace the poultry, I used 1 1/2 cups chopped broccoli and a cup of chopped parsnips.  Steam
these just as the directions called for steaming the other veggies.  Add to the filling during the same step the other veggies are added.  The parsnips add a very sweet flavor to this pie and it was super yummy!

Note: Regarding calories in this dish; I let Cainan eat this but just remove the majority of the the crust in his serving because that's where the majority of the calories are.  Just to give you a more accurate idea; the filling has approximately 125 calories per serving and the crust is about 180 per serving.