I often and jokingly tell people that in my next life, I either want to come back as my husband or one of my dogs because they are all spoiled rotten. I can’t help it. I’m an over-spoiler (new, totally made up word!) and the girls really know how to work me. When I complain to Adam, “Why don’t they ever do that to you?” he flatly replies, “They do but I ignore them. You can’t.” He’s right about that. I’m not very good at it. In fact, I suck at it and apparently everyone in my household knows it. Especially the beagle.
Sienna, the oldest, is the ringleader. She’s the pushy little diva troublemaker. And I think she has secret meetings with the other two, most specifically Bailey since our Springer/Dalmatian mix, Tumpy (a.k.a. Ariel, Bubbles, The Fat Girl), would never betray me.
She might participate in the rewards of their efforts, but she wouldn’t initiate such an instance. I can see Sienna in cahoots with Bailey, a miniature white powder puff who’s known around these parts as the Tongue Terrier-ist (face-licking assaults), carefully explaining to the furry little novice how to elevate doggie manipulation from amateur to a respectable canine art form, whispering in what I imagine to be a Whoopie Goldberg-ish voice, with maybe a slight hint of an Irish accent to play up her coat’s coloring. She would mutter, “Okay, this is what you have to do if you wanna get more treats – have a stare-off. If she resists, get up in her face and paw at her a coupla times. If that doesn’t work right away, go and bark at the door a few minutes after she lets you in, pretending that you need to go out again. That’s like a 50/50 chance, so use it sparingly. And, in case of emergency, pull out the Cute Card. It’s your best bet. Use any one of your favorite moves.” At this point, she would evilly cackle at her brilliance and continue, “Personally, I use the combination ears-cocked high and head side-to-side bit. Works every, single time.”
Now, as far as Adam goes, he, too, benefits from my inherent nature to spoil anything that I love. I wouldn’t say that he intentionally deviously influences me into getting something he wants, but he does have a handful of a few tried and true antics. Like the fact that he no longer even pretends to “look” for something that he has misplaced, which happens all the time with this man. He’ll simply yell, “Honey, where’s my/the [blank]? I can’t find it.” I, of course, want to say, “What are you…four? Where did you put it?” Then, I think better of it, because being a somewhat Absent-Minded Professor (you’ll get no argument from him, by the way, especially after the Pharmacy Incident. He became furious in the supplement and pain reliever aisle, almost to the point of tantrum, when he couldn’t find the dosage information on his One-A-Day multi-vitamin. Go ahead and a take a minute.), there’s no telling where the said item might be. I’m not kidding. Once, he got so mad because he couldn’t find the remote to the television (what is it with men and remotes?). Since I had seen him in the kitchen a few minutes earlier, I had a hunch and opened the Frigidaire. There it was on the second shelf next to the V-8 juice. I have also found his checkbook and the phone in there, too. He shrugs with that easy grin on his face when I extract the chilled item and give him the stink eye. As I hand him the now-found object, he says two words, “Job security.”
Not sure I ever applied for that one.
And, then there are the mornings when he stands in front of the refrigerator and mumbles within earshot, “Hmmm. Wonder what should I have for breakfast?” And it’s said in the most pitiful, helpless way possible. You know what that’s code for? That means he wants me to make him eggs. Scrambled eggs and bacon. Or sausage. He’s been doing that bit for a while. And, yes, it works every, single time, too.
But, in all fairness, the spoiling thing is definitely reciprocated. And he particularly shines when it comes to my birthday. My inner seven-year-old self still loves the whole present thing (present-s…even better!) and I have to say, when it comes to my husband’s gift (gift-s…even better!), he is the bomb dot com. But seeing that I share my September 22nd birthday with Bilbo Baggins, in the spirit of all good hobbits, I am giving you a present in honor of my birthday – one of my favorite foods in the world. Chicken and Biscuits. A chicken pot pie topped with savory biscuits. And folks, it don’t get any better than this. So, Happy (My) Birthday to you!
Chicken and Biscuits
Author: Cheryl Beverage Barnes
Recipe type: Entrees
For the chicken:
- 5 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 2 quarts chicken stock
- 3 peeled garlic cloves
- 1 onion, peeled and quartered
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon rubbed sage
- ¼ teaspoon thyme leaves
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- For the filling:
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 large onion, peeled and diced
- 4 carrots, peeled and small-diced
- 4 celery ribs, small-diced
- 2 Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and small-diced
- ½ cup frozen peas, thawed
For the sauce:
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- ½ cup heavy cream
- ¼ teaspoon thyme leaves
- ⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
- One recipe Buttermilk Biscuits
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a Dutch oven, combine the chicken, stock, garlic, onion, bay leaves, sage and thyme. Season with salt and pepper; bring to a slow boil over medium heat and cook until chicken has cooked through, about 25 to 30 minutes. Remove the chicken and strain the stock (use a fine mesh strainer) into a bowl. Reserve 5 cups of stock and keep hot; discard vegetables. Let the chicken cool.
- Wipe out the Dutch oven and over medium heat, melt the butter with the olive oil. Add the onion, carrots, celery and potatoes; season with salt and pepper and cook until the vegetables are tender-crisp, about 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and add in the peas. Roughly chop the chicken into bite-sized pieces (you should have about 6 cups); add to the pot and set aside while you make the sauce.
- In a large saucepan, heat the butter and olive oil over medium-low. Whisk in the flour and cook, stirring constantly for 1 minute to cook off the raw flour taste. Gradually add the hot chicken stock to the pan, whisking constantly and simmer until the sauce begins to thicken and coats the back of a wooden spoon, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add in the cream, thyme and nutmeg; season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir the sauce into the stew. Pour the mixture into a 13-x-10-x-2 baking dish. Place on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes.
- While that bakes, make the biscuits, adding the garlic powder to the flour mixture. Remove the stew from the oven and top with the biscuits. Brush each biscuit with some of the melted butter and bake until they’re golden brown, about 30 minutes more.
…from the Picture-Perfect kitchen:
Planning: Yes, there are a lot of steps. But the beauty of this stew is that you can totally make it in advance. After you’ve poured the stew in the baking dish, cover tightly and refrigerate overnight. I use my All-Clad Lasagna Pan for this dish. It’s the perfect size and looks nice oven-to-table. You can also make the biscuits in advance, too. Roll out and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Cover well with plastic. Right out of the fridge, you may need to tack on a few more minutes baking time.
Product Purity: Homemade chicken stock is always best, but my store-bought brand is all-natural Kitchen Basics, made without added MSG. Buy whole nutmeg and grate it yourself. The difference is amazing.
Presentation: Although I’m not casserole’s biggest fan (merely from a food styling point-of-view), this one is an exception. It’s a beautiful and stunning presentation with the biscuits on top (I like to use a square cutter for this style) and all the goodies peeking out. For a really special/fancy presentation, make individual servings in a pretty bowl (like the red lion head Emile Henry one in the lead photo) and top each with a round biscuit. Emile Henry is available online and at kitchen specialty stores.