A while back I won the Pioneer Woman Cooks cookbook – very exciting! I don’t check the site all that often, but I am very familiar with the Pioneer Woman. She’s like a slightly less buttery, younger, and less annoying Paula Deen.

All the recipes in the book look great, and none look that complicated. Photos are shown for every recipe and most every step of every recipe (husband: “Oh good! They show you how to cut carrots.”). The only gripe I have with the format is that they oddly decided to put the steps vertically instead of across the page. I tend to want to read across the page, so often this has me skipping from step 3 to step 7 and becoming momentarily confused about how I am supposed to have already blended something together. I think they did it this way to avoid unnecessary white space when some steps have longer sets of directions, but it seems awkward to me and I’d change it if I was the editor for the next reprinting. The outside of the book is lovely though. While I am mildly perturbed that there is an edible flower on the cover (nasturtium) and it does not seem to be in any recipes, I’ll get over it. I’m in the habit of taking dust covers off if books are going to be displayed, and this book is a really gorgeous hardcover. The material of the book is also nicely coated and not just cloth – easy to wipe cooking messes off of!

prettier naked and amongst the flour

There are all sorts of fun little asides in the book, too, which is nice. If you’re not familiar, the Pioneer Woman is a former city girl who fell in love with a cowboy and now lives in the country with him and her children. All a very cute story and the asides are nice, but I don’t know, they eventually get annoying to me. The way we ONLY know her husband as “Marlboro Man,” they way she always waxes poetic about the vast countryside and her hardships of being a cowboy’s wife. Like I get it, but it gets annoying to me after a while. She even has the audacity to include a (beautiful and cool) photo of her shadow doing a “ballet stretch” under the long arch of a rainbow – IS SHE EVEN A BALLERINA?!? [EDIT December 29, 2009: I guess she was. Forgiven.] Perhaps I am overly sensitive to these things. I AM a ballerina, and my hometown is somewhere between city and country (I tend to lean toward wanting to live the more country way). Am I jealous of her lifestyle? Hell yes. Maybe that’s why I’m bitter about her stories. The “I’m homey! And city mouse/country mouse!” just gets to me after a while. But anyway – the recipes are GREAT. Typical home-cooking stuff you’ll go back to again and again.

My hubby was on duty Christmas night and who knows what’d be open for him to eat dinner, so I made him a nice xmas lunch – the Chicken Pot Pie from the cookbook. It was great! Of course as per usual, I modified it a bit both because we were missing ingredients and because I wanted to use some stuff. So, modified from the Pioneer Woman, here’s the recipe.

Chicken Pot Pie
•3 or 4 chicken breast tenderloins
•about 2 cups of carrots, chopped small
•a couple handfuls of winter greens (kale, collards, etc – need to use those CSA greens!)
•frozen peas
(whatever veggies you want, really, but I think carrots and peas are key)
•chicken stock (about 1 can)
•bouillon of some kind (I used my trusty pork soup seasoning)
•about 1 cup of heavy cream
•one pie crust dough (top half) – she has a recipe to make it that I will try eventually, but I happened to have one leftover that broke when making a fruit pie, so I rolled that out and used it
•salt and pepper
•thyme and sage (I used lemon thyme and sage mix from my garden)
•1/2 stick of butter
•1 cup or so of flour
•1 cup or so of heavy cream

Preheat oven to 400°
1. Cut the chicken up small and brown it.
2. Melt the butter in a pan. Once melted, add in the greens, carrots, peas. Cook them over med-low heat until carrots are softened.
3. Add cooked chicken to veggie mix. Stir a cook a minute or so.
4. Add flour to mix and stir. Cook for a bit.
5. Pour in chicken stock and stir. This will make a kind of gravy. Cook for a minute or so and stir.
6. Add in heavy cream and stir. Cook for a minute or so.
7. Add in seasonings – salt, pepper, lemon thyme, sage. Add to taste and make sure it’s salty enough or it just won’t taste good. Cook for a minute or so.
8. Dump it all into a pie plate.
9. Roll out pie crust and place on top of pie plate. Cut a few slits in center for ventilation. Tuck in any excess crust over the sides, as per a normal pie crust.
10. Cook for 20-30 minutes, until pie crust topping is done and golden brown.
11. Cut and enjoy!

I served mine with a slice of Vermont Cheddar on top, cooked kale with cider vinegar and mashed red potatoes (both leftovers) as side dishes. Very good, and hubby enjoyed it! This is pretty much just as easy as the good old soup and Bisquick pot pies I usually make, and definitely a step or two better.