Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Thank You England for the Amazing Pie Crust

When I was in college I leaned how to make pie crust. I thought I had found the best pie crust recipe out there. Then years of cursing following while I struggled to roll out the dough. It was always either too wet or too crumbly. Why couldn't it just roll out easily like it shows on the Food Network?! Was that seriously too much to ask? Not to mention that it took quite awhile to get the perfect consistency of butter before adding in the liquid. For years I have been searching for an easy and delicious pie crust recipe that would solve all of my problems. Well, the search is over!! One night Mike and I were sitting down to watch TV and when we turned it on it was on PBS. It was a cooking show! I didn't know that PBS had cooking shows?! Because we are food lovers and the #1 station watched in our house is Food Network we kept watching. It was a show call Great Britain's Next Great Baker (or something like that). They had several challenges and one was to make a three tiered stacked pie...WHAT?! Didn't they know that you can't stack pie! Well paint me sheepish...they did. Their recipe was very different. Instead of using cold butter and breaking it in to pieces they melted it with water. I had NEVER heard of this before. I thought for sure it was going to be rock hard, you can only get a flakey crust with cold butter. When it came time for judging they kept saying how flakey the curst was...they were picking these pies up with no tin, and they were saying the crust was FLAKEY? I was intrigued. I wasn't very hopeful that it was going to turn out but I had to try. So I went to my faithful Pinterest and started searching for some hot water crust recipes. Not may were found...I guess this wasn't a very popular thing... not a very good sign, if it was as good as they said on TV than EVERYONE would be doing it. I found this recipe and the directions were a little different than how they did it on the show. I used the recipe for the quantities but changed the method. It came together in minutes and was the MOST DELICIOUS crust I have tasted in my life!! I will never make another pie crust in my life! The search is over and I am in LOVE. I have no complaints, it's practically perfect in every way! So with no further adieu, here is the recipe (along with my chicken pot pie recipe).

I have had a few people say that their dough was so sticky that they couldn't roll it out. I have attached a video at the bottom for you to see the process of making the crust. You really need to forget everything you know about making a pie crust when you make this recipe, it goes against everyone that you know to be true. Trust is amazing!

Chicken Pot Pie with Hot Water Crust

This recipe makes two pies (one for baking now and one for freezing and baking later)

For the Pie
frozen peas
frozen corn
1 stick butter
1/2 C. flour
4 C. chicken broth
2 cubes chicken boullion
salt and pepper
olive oil (EVOO)
poultry seasoning (or you can use herbs like sage, parsley, rosemary, oregano)
Chicken (you can cook your own but I like to get a rotisserie chicken and use the meat for the pie and boil the bones and skin for the stock. In this recipe I used left over turkey.)

For the Crust
2 sticks butter
1/2 C. water
2 1/2 C. flour
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. baking powder

Cut the carrots, potatoes, and celery (you can also add onions too, but my husband doesn't like them so I don't usually put them in.) into half moon shapes. I don't usually do an exact count of these veggies, I just cut up enough to fill one sheet tray. You want to cut the veggies thin so that they cook faster. Zig zag down the pan pouring EVOO over the veggies. Season with salt, pepper and poultry seasoning. Toss all the veggies to coat and smooth into a flat layer.
 Bake at 400 degrees F for 15-20 min. until the edges of the potatoes are browned and all the veggies are nice and soft. I do it this way so the amount of time it spends in the oven is greatly reduced. When you take them out of the oven they should look like this.
Next start the gravy. Melt one stick of butter in a small sauce pan over medium heat. When it is melted add 1/2 C. flour. Stir with a whisk for a minute and then add chicken broth and chicken bouillon cubes that have been mashed. Season with salt, pepper and poultry seasoning to taste. Cook until thickened.

Start the pie crust. Put the 2 sticks of butter and 1/2 C. water in a small pot over medium high heat and bring to a boil. Meanwhile add the flour, salt, and baking powder to a large bowl and stir to combine. When the water boils add to the bowl with the flour and stir to combine with a wooden spoon.

Divide dough in to 4 pieces and roll out. The dough will be oily, that is ok,(NOTE: the dough should not be sticky. If you look at the picture the dough has formed a ball and has pulled away from the bowl and the spoon. If the dough is still sticky add more flour. You don't want to add too much flour as it will create a drier, less flakey crust.). You should not need any extra flour to roll out the dough. I had to roll mine out pretty thin to get 4 pie crusts but it worked. Use a piece of parchment paper when you roll them out so you can easily move the crust to the pie dish. When I transfer the crust I take the parchment and turn it upside down and peel the parchment away from the crust. The crust is very forgiving so if it tears you can easily mold it back together.
Next take your chicken (or turkey) and put it on top of the sheet pan of veggies along with your frozen peas and corn. Stir to combine (you can use a bowl to stir everything together, but I am lazy and didn't want another dish to wash) then add to the two pie plates. Add gravy on top of veggie meat mixture and top with another piece of crust. Crimp the edges and poke a hole in the center for the steam to vent. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 30-45 minutes or until crust is golden brown.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Thoughts on a Mother's Day

Today in church our Bishop came in and spoke to the women in Relief Society. He started out by saying that many women have different feelings when it comes to Mother's Day and he would like to hear and have an open and candid conversation about some of the feelings that the women in our ward had. Many women expressed that Mother's Day was a day they dreaded and just wanted to get over with. They have feelings of inadequacy and anxiety. Every year in many wards it is tradition for men to speak on mothers. During these talks they always praise mothers for the hard work, love, and effort that they put in to raising children. Some of the women expressed that these talks made them feel like they weren't doing enough. I know as a women we compare ourselves to other women around us. We compare ourselves to the best part of the women that we see. We see other women at their best and often forget/don't realize that they have their moments too. I know I have struggled with this feeling in other aspects in my life, as I am not yet a mother. Some women expressed how hard Mother's Day was because they weren't able to have children of their own. I am a wall flower and don't mind being that way. I don't comment or share very often in meetings because I am very shy and private. I did however keep having this thought the whole conversation and felt like it needed to be said. So here, in my wall flower way I am expressing it. Whether anyone see's this or not, agrees with it or not, is angry with my perspective I feel like what I have to be said needs to come out.

I feel like I have been on both sides of the pre-motherhood spectrum. I can relate to the women who are saddened by Mother's Day because they are not able to have children. We tried for 3 years to have children and then another 2 trying to adopt. In the early years I wondered what I had done wrong in my life that Heavenly Father wouldn't entrust me with his spirit children. Over those 5 years I learned so much! I learned that Heavenly Father has a plan for each one of us. We can't compare our lives with others because we are all different people. He is our perfect parent and wants us to become the best people we can be. Sometime, in order to grow as a person we have to go through trials and sorrow. Sometimes we need to make mistakes and learn from the heartache that comes from the consequences that follow. Heavenly Father knows this, and knows what is going to benefit us the most. I know this without a doubt in my mind because of the experiences that we went through with adoption.

It took us about a year to get our papers and profile up and ready with our adoption agency. Once our profile was up (over the period of just over a year) we heard from 3 birth mothers. The first was a woman who had two children from a marriage and was pregnant with her third who was not. She had made some mistakes in her life and was struggling to change her circumstances. We talked with her for about 2 months and things were looking good. She let us know that she was considering us and another couple. It was at this point that I started praying that Heavenly Father would direct her little boy to the family that he was meant to be with. I know that when children come to this Earth they are placed with the family they are meant to be with. We didn't want just any baby, we wanted the baby that was meant to be apart of our family. From the conversations we had with her we felt like she might place her baby with us. A few weeks after I started praying about this baby going to the family it was meant to be with we found out that she had lost custody of her two older children. The courts had placed her children in the care of another family to adopt them. She wanted to be able to see all of her children and so she decided to place her baby with the same family as her older children. The second birth mother contacted us a few month later. We talked with her for a couple of weeks and fell in love with her. At our first meeting she told us that she had already decided to place her baby with us. I got to meet most of her family, go to doctors appointments and I grew to care for her and her family quite deeply. Again I continued praying that this baby would go to the family it was meant to be with. It may sound strange that I was doing this after she had already chosen us. Couldn't I tell if it was right or not? The emotions you have while you are going through the adoption process are so strong and many confusing. I knew that I wouldn't be able to tell and that I needed Heavenly Father to guide and direct both the birth mother and myself to make everything work out the way it was meant to. I knew He, and He alone, had a perfect knowledge of what was supposed to happen. After a few months she and her ex-husband decided to get back together. The last birth mother we only had a brief acquaintance. We exchanged several emails and we quickly felt a bond with her. It was during this time that we found out we were expecting.

You may read this account and say that it was coincidence. I know without a doubt that the events that took place were part of a plan. There were lessons that I needed to learn. Many of them came with heartbreak, many of them came after continued prayer. Now that I have these two sweet boys growing inside me I feel like I have a small taste of what it is to be on the other side of motherhood. Pregnancy is hard. More days are hard than easy. I have often wondered how mothers are pregnant and take care of other children. They are SUPER HEROS! It is hard enough to just take care of myself. Going back to what was said today by some of the women in my ward. I know that Heavenly Father has a plan for us. This plan is not easy, the things that are most worth our efforts in this life are often the hardest and most trying to go through. Heavenly Father never asked us to be perfect. He is our perfect parent and he will always be there for all of his children. He asks us as mothers to teach and love his children. He alone knows the plan for each of his children. We need to have faith in him that he we guide us. We will make mistakes and that is OK. He knows and understands that. He just wants us to show our children unconditional love like the love he has for us.

I look at my own mother who has told me on many occasions that she has felt less than adequate. She blamed herself for many of the mistakes her children made. As I think about her I don't think about all of the times she yelled at me growing up, or the times when I got in trouble, I think about all the times that she was there for me when I needed her, about the times when she could have been doing something else but chose to come to another one of my performances that she had heard a thousand times, or the times when I needed someone to talk to and she was there to listen and to hold me. I know my mom, just like everyone else on this Earth, is not perfect but, she is a WONDERFUL mother! She did and continues to do exactly what our Heavenly Father asked her to do, she unconditionally loves her children.

I hope everyone this Mother's Day who is a mother enjoys their day. The day may not be perfect but know that you are doing a great and important work.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Baby Story

We're pregnant!!! After years of treatments and years of adoption out of the blue we got pregnant. This is the full story, for those of you who care. :) 

In November we went on a cruise with my family. I was sick the entire time even though I had a sea sickness patch and was taking my mom's oral medication as well. After we got off the boat in Florida I still didn't feel well. We had a HORRIBLE flight back with lots of turbulence and drama and I thought I was still sick that night when we got home because of that. The next day I had my mom sub because I still didn't feel well. By the end of the night (this was a Tuesday) I thought I was dying because everyone who was on the cruise was A-OK except for me. Before calling the doctor to schedule an appointment to see what was horribly wrong with me I called Mike and very sheepishly asked him to pick up a pregnancy test on the way home. Telling him that I didn't think I really was but wanted to rule it out before I called to schedule an appointment with my doctor. When he got home I took the test. It was pretty late and night and when I took the test the result was positive. If you've ever seen a pregnancy test one line means not pregnant and 2 lines no matter how dark or light means your pregnant. My second line was very light, but after reading the instructions 3 or 4 times I was convinced that I was pregnant (in the years of infertility I learned that you get the best reading first thing in the morning). I was in the bathroom for 30 minutes when Mike walked by to see if I was OK. I showed him the test with tears brimming in my eyes and his reply was classic "The second line seems pretty light. I think we should do a blood test before we get excited." and then he walked away. I stayed in the bathroom for a few more minutes absorbing what I knew to be true as a flood of emotions rushed through my body. I was excited and mad and terrified at the same time. Excited that after waiting so long for a positive pregnancy test and finally getting one, mad because I thought we were meant to adopt and this wasn't what was supposed to happen (I will address this emotion later so you don't think I am completely horrible), and terrified because I hadn't mentally prepared myself to actually be pregnant and all the loveliness that my friends and family members ensured me would ensue.

The next morning I took the second test in the box and the line was darker. This just affirmed what I already knew. I showed Mike and again, classic response "I'll believe it when I see it." Now do not think that my husband is horrible and that he wasn't excited. We have gotten our hopes up in the past just to have them crushed so I didn't blame him for wanting to be sure. Later that day I called my doctors office to set up an appointment to get my blood taken. They told me that if I had gotten a positive test that I was pregnant and there wasn't any need for a blood test. I told her that we still wanted one and she told me to just stop in at the ER and they would take my blood there. That night we went in and got my blood taken. They took my blood and 10 minutes later gave us a paper that said POSITIVE! We both couldn't believe everything that was happening. We had been talking with a birth mother about adopting her twin boys who were due in March. We loved her and things were looking good. We thought this was how our family was going to begin. Heavenly Father knew better and knew her boys were meant for another couple and that some of our own were on their way. Mike was so happy but disappointed because he so wanted twins. 

I called in a set up my appointment and on December 18th we went in to see them for the first time. My cycles are long so they thought I was two weeks further along. We met with my nurse practitioner and we talked for a long time before she sent us down to the imaging center on the floor below. She told us that after we had the ultrasound we could leave unless something was wrong or we were having twins, and then she laughed. We went down to the imaging center and were let into a room. The lab tech tried the external ultrasound first (which never has worked on me) and for the briefest of moments we saw a glimpse of what looked like to little blobs. I was stunned and wondered if I was the only one who saw that. She then told me that she wasn't going to be able to get a good enough look and we would have to do the "other" ultrasound. She let me use the bathroom and on my way out she asked if there were any twins in our family. I WAS SHOCKED and immediately blurted out "NO!" before I left the room. I walked to the restroom in a daze and as I was washing my hands thought of my brother who has twin girls and Mike's sister who had twin boys. I came back in and Mike and the lab tech were talking about the twins in our families, so she already knew I lied. We then got to see our little guys for the first time.

Pretty cute for blobs and gummy bears ;)

I left stunned. I was shaking for a good two hours. What are the chances… pretty slim I came to find out. Our twins are identical which is a crazy thing that happens in a fraction of pregnancies. They are not hereditary and are caused by one fertilized egg splitting in to two identical parts. We then went up to see my nurse practitioner again who was stunned and promised that she didn't jinx us. She then told us the high risk of miscarriage in twin pregnancies and to wait it out until 12 weeks. That is why we have waited to tell anyone. We only told close family and friends who we would have told about the miscarriage if it happened anyway. 

We told both families the next week on Christmas Day. We face timed Mike's family who we sent a copy of the ultrasound to and watched them open it up. My sister-in-laws response was the best. She said "its a baby!… wait….that's Madison's name at the top…Madison's pregnant…with twins?!" Tears and joy ensued. Later that day we told my family. We had brunch at my brother's house and were hoping that everyone would be there. One brother was not able to make it, so we decided to wait until dinner. Everyone was supposed to be at my parents house at 3:00. My oldest brother fell asleep and didn't get there until the dinner was ready at 5. The second they walked in the door we sent a text message to everyone with the ultrasound picture saying "look carefully". Well at the same moment my dad started saying the blessing on the food. So in the middle of the prayer you can hear everyone's phones chiming. After the prayer my brother Miles looked at his phone and looked at me with his eyes opened and pointed to me and then to his phone. Which I nodded in response to. He then showed Kristy his phone and she came over and hugged me to which everyone got out their phone's to see what was going on. My parents, thinking they knew the secret, didn't check their phones, so when there was word of twins they were shocked. 

Because having twins qualifies you as a high risk pregnancy I have to go in every two weeks, which is just fine by me. I get to see my little cuties more often and make sure they are still ok. The first trimester is so nerve wracking! You can't feel them and you have now idea how they are doing. Here are some pictures from other ultra sounds.

10 weeks. They were having a little chat sessions. They are already best buds.

13 weeks. This was the first time that I had an ultrasound on one of the portable machines and the pictures are not as nice. But we go to see them moving and bending their now fully formed legs.

Today was my 16 week appointment where I met with a specialist that only studies multiples. We were able to get a very clear shot of what their gender is. ( I don't know why all of the pictures are flipped. They look right on my computer and I don't know how to fix them.) We are so excited that we are starting our family with boys! I can't wait to meet them and I feel so honored that I get to be their mom. We have waited and prayed for this moment for so long, not to be pregnant but to be able to be parents. We prayed very long and hard before deciding to adopt and when we did we knew it was the right path. That is why I was a little angry when I first found out. We went through so much heartbreak and talked with multiple birth mothers about adopting their children. It is hard to get to know someone and open up about personal parts of your life to a complete stranger. I wondered why we had to go through all of that when we were going to end up pregnant. I pondered and prayed for days before I realized that not only did I learn and grow from our experiences but we weren't spending thousands of dollars on medical procedures. I know our Heavenly Father lives and that he loves us and has a plan for each one of us. I have been able to look back and see his hand in guiding and leading us to this point. He knew what he was doing, he asked us to be patient and have faith. During that time Mike and I grew closer as a couple and became eternal friends. He started preparing us for the huge responsibility of having twins. He knows me and knows that I am a planner and when I feel overwhelmed I get a little crazy. He was encouraging me to prepare and start thinking about my future as a mother. This pregnancy is nothing short of a miracle. The odds of getting pregnant after so many years is very slight and the odds of having identical twins is again very slight. I am so grateful to so many of you for your support and your love through everything. I have felt so blessed to have so many people praying for us and for our family. I have said many times but I truly believe that the children that enter a family are meant to be there. Our boys have been waiting for the right time to come in to our family. I know there will be hard times ahead but I am comforted to know that no matter what these two boys will be apart of our family for eternity. 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014


We were SO lucky to escape the cold in November and go on our first cruise. We left the Friday before Thanksgiving to fly to Florida and left the next day to board the Carnival Liberty. We had a lot of fun! We went with some of the most fun people we know! My brother Merlin and his family and my mom and dad.

Our first stop on out cruise was a private island in the Bahamas called Half Moon Kay. This was by far the most relaxing stop because all there was to do was relax on the beach. There wasn't a port for the boat to dock at so we dropped anchor and took little boats to the island.
 On the way to the island.
 As we got closer to the island the water got more beautiful.
 Our boat from the island.

 Mike and Tanner entered a hairy chest contest. Mike should have won… but it turned out to be more about humiliation than hairy chests.
Tanner was the first eliminated, but he did his 3 chest hairs proud.

Our next stop was St. Thomas. We took a "tour" (which is just a taxi ride) around the island and got to see some pretty awesome views.

I'm not going to lie… my face did not look like this on our ride. I though I was going to die multiple times. I am just glad that I didn't have to drive around the island. Crazy fast driving on narrow roads.

Next we went to Puerto Rico. I wish we could have spent more time here. There was so much to see and we only got a few glimpses at some of these amazing places.
 Our first stop was a garden preserve which was pretty cool… I have more pictures but they are mostly of flowers. These people are much cooler than flowers.
 Our next stop was a tower.

 My mom's face is pretty priceless. I can't remember why she was making that face… maybe the heights?
 Crazy big bug.

 This is the place that I REALLY wanted to spend some time at but we only got 20 minutes. This was at the fort.
 Iguanas were everywhere… it was neat.

 Mike tried the Puerto Rican dish called Mufungo and loved it.
Syd the budding photographer too a picture of the cruise ship in my sunglasses.

Our last stop was Grand Turk. This is a tiny island. Everything is imported. We took a Segway tour of the island and it was HILARIOUS. It went something like this, "this is Jon's house", "this used to be a park before the hurricane", "this is a bar", "this is a church", "this is another bar". Yep, pretty awesome. I was petrified of using the Segways because EVERY small machine that I use I crash or mess up in some way. I was a Segway MASTER! That's right I ate my words after awhile and decided that I want to own a Segway one day.
 The water wasn't the best, but I guess it had lots of creatures… that's right… I spent most of my time on the beach and not in the water. 
 Me rocking the Segway.

We had some good times on the boat too. I spent most of my time in the bedroom because I wasn't feeling well but I was able to get out a few times and experience some new things. I had my first massage, watched a "dive-in-movie" on the lido deck by the pool, ate some good food, and did yoga. Doing yoga while on a rocky boat is pretty awesome. It adds a whole new level to balance.

When we got back to Florida my parents caught a flight home and the rest of us went to Key Largo for a couple of days. The resort was beautiful, even if it was a man made beach and the pool was awesome. We took a drive down to Key West and had some fish (Mike was so happy) and real Key Lime pie. 

It was such a great vacation and there were so many firsts for both Mike and me.