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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.


I happened upon this little gem (don’t even remember how) the other day and joined. So hello to all you others! So every time I post a CSA-involved recipe or whatever now, I’m going to link back there. Now if only I could manage to take better food pics. My kitchen really doesn’t have great lighting for it, which certainly isn’t helped by the fact that this stuff is usually done at night. Oh well. Trust me, if I share a recipe, it’s good!
I’m going to get this week’s CSA stuff tomorrow after work (partner wasn’t able to pick it up today), but I have stuff to share anyway. I am STILL drowning in tomatoes (and this week’s CSA declared that it is “the year of the tomato” at Even’ Star Farms – so uhhhh more to come), and I think I’ve perfected my tomato sauce recipe. While this one is good, I have a variation…

Picture 12Jennah’s EVEN BETTER Fresh Summer Tomato Sauce

1. Cut the tops off a bunch of tomatoes. Paste tomatoes or roma preferred, but throwing in a few slicing tomatoes, grapes, or cherries is good.

2. Throw them in a large pot of boiling water. Boil until the skins start to peel back. Then spoon out tomatoes and put them in a bowl of ice water.

3. Once cooled enough to handle, remove skins by squeezing tomatoes into a blender. Puree tomatoes, discard skins.

4. Chop up (throw in blender or by hand) a handful of oregano and basil. A little lemon balm too, if you have it.

5. Put it all in a sauce pan and add some olive oil. Also a small amount of white wine, if you have it. Also add to taste: sugar, salt and a bit of pepper.

6. Add tomato paste and stir (without the paste, it tends to be too runny and won’t stick to any noodles). Depending on how thick you want your sauce, you may want more of less paste. (I like a bit more.) Cook on med-low covered until it starts to bubble, then turn it all the way down to low for about 10 minutes uncovered. Stir occasionally (you’ll need to mix in that paste once it starts to warm up).

5. Enjoy! It’s best after being in the fridge for a day or so, but also great right away. And I have quite a few bags in the freezer for winter as well.

Picture 13Simple Squash Fritters

These are SO GOOD. My husband wasn’t quite as excited as I was about them, but he really enjoyed them too (he doesn’t get excited easily – possibly I do). This is a great way to use a ton of squash. Kids would love them too, trust me. Sorry – you are forewarned that I don’t really measure in the recipe. It’s based on this recipe, but modified a little.

1. Roughly slice up some squash and stew/boil until soft. No need to peel. Once soft, strain/drain and puree the squash. Put a pan of oil (I used vegetable oil) on med-high to start it getting warm.

Picture 142. Mix in the following ingredients to taste (you can taste as you go) until you get a slightly un-firm batter. I am listing the ingredients from MOST to LEAST: squash puree, corn meal, flour, sugar, salt (just a touch), baking powder (just a touch).(Ignore the random herb leaf in my pic.)

3.Put small spoonfulls (maybe quarter size) into the hot oil. They don’t need to be covered all the way. Once the start to turn golden brown, flip them over. Once done, put them on a paper towel/rack to dry/drain. It only takes a minute or so for each batch to fry.

4. Enjoy! Soooo good. THe outside is crispy and the inside is gooey/bready with the sweetness of the sugar and squash. Yum! This would probably also be good with various winter squashes or other veggies – zucchini, eggplant maybe?

Oven-Dried Tomatoes
Picture 16
I also dried some tomatoes. There are a ton of recipes out there for this, but the time was WAY off on all I looked at. They took FOREVER and still aren’t totally dry (they were very ripe/juicy – I head from others on Twitter that theirs too way longer than they thought, too), but I figure instead of storing them, I’ll just use them up over the next week or so. I cut them thin, sprayed them with olive oil and sprinkled salt and pepper. Put them in the oven on 200° for probably about 6 or 7 hours total (3 last night, then covered and left them sitting out today, then a few more hours tonight). They’re very good. They taste like seasoned sun-dried tomatoes. This might be good to do with sub-par grocery store tomatoes in the winter.

So allllll that, and I still have this many tomatoes left! Plus I have a bag from the neighbors’ that I will force upon my CSA sharer, plus I have more coming from the CSA tomorrow.

Picture 17

And you know, I might be going crazy, because it almost seems as if the tomatoes are MAKING FACES AT ME!! This is clearly bad.

The tomatoes are mocking me.

The tomatoes are mocking me.


@jennahw on twitter!


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