No really I do. Check it out.

The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games, #1)The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was planning on reading this book later on but was prompted by a coworker to start it and I'm so glad I did. Talk about jumping right into the story line! This was such a fast read. I quickly became attached to the characters and was completely taken by surprise by some of the twists and turns the story took. Considering I finished this in 3 days, I suppose it's safe to say that it was really hard to put this down. I'm ready to pick up the next one and root on Katniss!

View all my reviews




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I don’t normally do a “Merry Christmas” blog post because frankly, I would hope that by the time you were done with all of your festivities and got around to hopping on the internet, the whole Christmas thing would be done and over with.

Or at least that’s my excuse I use for not wanting to schedule a nice little Christmas wish to all my readers. Sorry!

Maybe I’ll remember to wish everyone a happy new year.. we’ll see!




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I confess… I haven’t done my Monday Confessions this week because I’ve been more than insanely busy and my confessions could have been a novel.

But seriously, who gets anything done the week before Christmas? I’ve spent the week doing things I wasn’t planning to do. Of those things, let me just say that I had to drive to Charlotte to pick up my husband’s Greek Aunt from the airport on Tuesday night and hands down Charlotte Douglas airport is the worst airport I’ve been in (and I’ve been in a few!) Who builds an airport and then decides that the only services offered outside of security will be a Starbucks kiosk and some little convenience store looking deal with 2 tables outside the door, so inappropriately named something “bistro”. Really? So, this is all you offer those people who, say had to drive 2 hours to get to the stupid airport and had to wait 4 hours for a passenger whose plane got delayed and then spent an hour and a half in immigration? I mean really? My son ate yogurt with granola for dinner! Healthy, yes! But not really all that pleasing or fulfilling for a 5 year old.

Oh well, I survived.

So.. Monday Confessions will continue next week, which should be fun to hear since it will be the Monday after Christmas. And I always have something snarky to say after Christmas!



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I confess…  I got to cross another item off my bucket list (which I'll be sharing again at the end of the year). Myself, my husband and our son went to our first NFL game yesterday to watch the Carolina Panthers lose in the most ridiculous fashion to the Atlanta Falcons. Oh well, not a shocker for this season. But it was a most awesome experience and we're talking about making it to 1 game a year!

I confess... I was able to get control back of all my other blogs that I lost just over a year ago when my old gmail account got hacked! YES!
Now, I'm not sure what to do with some of them. For example, my main blog was Me Myself & Jonna, I also had Kiss My Cache,- which will definitely get updated again,  A Girl and Her Curl , My Little Green Life and Totally Not Gourmet Chef

Looks like I have some work to do


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I’ve been geocaching on and off for a few years and a few years ago I started a blog about it. Well, it turns out that with my bad luck of my old gmail account getting hacked, I couldn’t access my blog. This happened just a little over a year ago and although, as you can see if you clicked the link, the blog is still up and live – I just can’t access it.. at all…


This really saddens me because 1) the name is just too perfect and 2)I can’t think up a name half as cool as that again!

So, yesterday I tried, once again, to get my old gmail account reinstated. This time when I tried, as opposed to the last 8 times, I found there’s an extra step in the process. See, before I would fill out this form trying to recall exact dates that my accounts were set up (fail miserably so I’d guess) and then I’d get notification that I didn’t provide enough accurate information to recover my account. Which is all fine and dandy because I’m all about security (or maybe not since I got hacked), but I found it a little ridiculous that I couldn’t somehow provide more specific information that would still be pretty much only knowledge that the owner of the account would know OTHER than the exact dates I may have set up my gmail, calendar or blogger!

I go through the tyipical form, and I get my notification that I didn’t know enough about my account to get it back BUT… this time, there was a link! And there was a notice that I could contact Google’s Advanced Super Geeks (okay that’s not what it said but that’s what it boils down to) but I’d need to pay a minimal fee of 0.30 cents to do it – because apparently if you’re stealing accounts, you’re not going to want to waste time setting up a Google Checkout and stealing a credit card to use on said Google Checkout to pay the 0.30 cents.

I’m thinking, “Oh, I wonder if after I pay my minimal fee, if I’ll get a chat window with some Googler on the other end?”

I quickly got my answer after finishing my Google Checkout. Nope.

I got a small textbox in which I could explain what my situation is.

I paid 0.30 cents to access a textbox? Yes-sir-ree-bob! Now hopefully my 600 word plea to give me back my account works (yes, I included some valid information aside from begging).

I mean really, I think Kiss My Cache is totally worth 0.30 cents.



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This was my first shot at baking home made bread and it turned out so well! I didn't realize bread could be this easy. If I can make it, ANYONE can make it!

I found the recipe via pinterest which let me to The Sisters Cafe. Many thanks to them for sharing this!

Here's the recipe from their website:
Baguette
submitted by Brittany ~ http://www.www.thesisterscafe.com/
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 1/2 Tbs. (2 packages) dry yeast
2 tsp. sugar
3 1/4 cups flour
2 tsp. salt
In a small bowl mix the warm water with the yeast and sugar. Let it sit for about 5 minutes – foam should form on the top.
In a large mixing bowl combine the flour and salt. Gradually add the yeast mixture. Mix until the dough becomes a smooth ball and knead for 5 minutes. (I use my Kitchen Aid with the dough hook)
Cut in half and then shape into 2 baguettes. To make them smooth and pretty, roll each half of dough into rectangle and roll up lengthwise. Pinch the edges to seal and place on lightly greased cookie sheet (or silpat) with seam down. Cover and let it rise for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. With a very sharp knife (I like to use a serrated blade) gently make a slash down the length of each baguette. This will give it that authentic look. Pour water in a cookie sheet and place it on the bottom rack of the oven. Bake the bread for 15 minutes. Half way through, brush the bread with melted butter. **I tried it with olive oil too… it was less crispy and salty. We liked the butter a lot more!


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cupcakes!


My boss celebrated his 13 year anniversary at work today and he loves Mountain Dew. So, once again, pinterest came to the rescue with a recipe for Mountain Dew Cupcakes.

But honestly... it has WAY too many ingredients for my culinary skill level, so I turned to handy-dandy Google and found a much more simple recipe at Nothing But Country!

Here is their recipe!
Mt. Dew Cupcakes
350 degrees
Makes 24 cupcakes
Cupcakes:
1 box lemon cake mix
1 box of instant lemon pudding
4 eggs
1 1/4 cups of mountain dew
1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • Mix cake mix, pudding and eggs well.
  • Add in your oil to the batter and mix for 2 minutes.
  • Slowly pour in your mountain dew soda and mix for another minute.
  • Add to cupcake liners and bake at 350 degrees F for 13-17 minutes (or until toothpick inserted comes out clean)
  • Allow time to cool before frosting.
Frosting:
4 cups Confectioners Sugar
2 sticks of salted butter (room temp)
1/8 cup approx of Mountain Dew
1 tblsp of lemon juice
  • Beat your butter well till smooth, slowly add in 1 cup at a time of confectioners sugar and your lemon juice & mountain dew.
  • Add all of your sugar and check for thickness of the frosting. If it is too thick add a teaspoon at a time of mountain dew till you reach the correct consistency to pipe or frost your cupcakes.
  • Enjoy!!

Let me add, I didn't make the frosting portion I used a whipped vanilla from Duncan Hines, which I think is going to be the reason why I didn't really feel that I had the overwhelming Mountain Dew flavor. Don't get me wrong, they turned out awesome - to me they had a lemon cake/tangy flavor that was great - but I didn't bite into it and say "oh yeah, there's Mountain Dew in here"

So, next time, I'm going to make sure to actually make the frosting as well.



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I confess…  I love the unconditional love dogs give. I think Charles Shultz said it best, "Happiness is a warm puppy"

I confess... I made 2 new recipes this week, which have been or will be shared here. The first was a Tortilla Soup & then my own fresh baked bread. So my real confession here is.... I'm turning into Suzy Homemaker!


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Tortilla Soup II Recipe - Allrecipes.com
Seriously, this turned out great. This was a delicious quick soup with a slight kick.

 I LOVED the fried tortillas as garnish, and I added a little more cilantro as garnish (because I can never get too much cilantro!

I skipped on the green chilies in the can and opted for fresh, chopped.


Here's the recipe from Allrecipes!

Ingredients

  • 4 boneless chicken breast halves, cooked and shredded
  • 2 (14.5 ounce) cans chicken broth
  • 1 (4 ounce) can diced green chiles
  • 1 (10 ounce) can diced tomatoes with green chile peppers
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 4 (10 inch) flour tortillas
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Directions

  1. Combine the chicken broth, green chilies, tomatoes with green chilies, onion, and garlic in a soup pot. Add the shredded chicken. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Reduce heat and simmer for 30-35 minutes.
  2. Add the lime juice, cilantro, cayenne, and cumin. Simmer for 10-15 minutes longer.
  3. Cut the tortillas into 1/2 x 2-inch strips. Fry in hot olive oil in skillet until golden brown; drain on paper towels.
  4. Ladle the soup into bowls. Garnish with shredded Monterey Jack cheese and the tortilla strips.





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I confess… I ate entirely too much before Thanksgiving, on Thanksgiving and after Thanksgiving. But it was really good and I felt obligated to at least eat my fair share (and then some). But I did get active afterwards going geocaching for like 2 days.

I confess... I forgot how much I enjoyed geocaching, especially when my kiddo comes along and gets excited. However, note to self (and for other parents of 5 yr olds), when you're reading about the geocache, it's probably not wise to read allowed the details about watching out for spiders, snakes and  giant frogs while on a night cache. Lesson learned.



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Meet Lola

11.27.2011 |

Santa made a super special trip to bring her to the kiddo.



She's pretty awesome.

I would blog about something meaningful and awesome today but I'm entirely too full of EVERYTHING to do ANYTHING...




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It’s always this time of the year that you see bloggers posting about what they are thankful for. I like talking about what I’m thankful for, like how I’m thankful that I’m somewhat agile, because when you’re as big as a klutz as I am, it helps. I could talk about how thankful I am for my husband, my child and my family. You know, the sappy – I love you guys – kinda deal where I reminisce about memories shared between us all and why they mean so much. I could talk about how thankful I am that I live in America and how I can carry my gun (I’m licensed, I’m allowed!) and how thankful I am that we have such amazing men & women in our military to protect our freedoms and rights that we as Americans have. I could talk about how thankful I am that I grew up an Army brat and experienced things abroad and how I wish I could give my son some of those experiences.

I could… but you know what I’m going to talk about?

I’m going to talk about how thankful I am that I get to be thankful every day, not just on thanksgiving (although it does seem like a nice excuse to save them all up!). And I’m thankful that I have the opportunity to realize that I can express my thanks anytime (again, not just one time a year).

So, this is my call to action, I’m going to be more thankful, more often and more vocal about being thankful and you should too!

THANK YOU! (you’re welcome)





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I confess… I’m an emotional person. I instantly react emotionally although with issue relating work I’ve taught myself to stop, think and then react. I need to incorporate that into my personal reactions as well. I will be the first to admit that I’ve said a few things I wish I could take back. Or I’ve over reacted about a situation that really wasn’t that big of a deal before realizing what effect my over reaction would have. I guess if I have to have a flaw (because you know I only have one!) it’s that I’m emotional and sometimes those emotions just can’t be contained. I’ll keep trying but I won’t make any promises.

I confess... I am super stoked about Thanksgiving this year for some reason. Maybe it is because my 5 yr old finally gets really excited about holidays too or maybe it's just because with my concentration on trying to lose weight and eat healthier, I'm looking for any excuse to really not do any of that! Eh, at least I'm honest.



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With my new found love of pinterest also came the realization that I like DIY stuff, I like the idea of DIY stuff but I haven't actually ever done any DIY stuff. I mean I'm really not very crafty at all.

So when I found this pin on how to recycle a t-shirt into a reusable bag I immedietly pinned it into my "projects to do" board and thought "hmm... I may do this someday when I feel crafty".

Well apparently, this pin was for me, because I made it tonight! And it's just as super easy as the pin instructions say it is!

I used a t-shirt that I bought for a fund raiser at my work that I knew I wasn't going to really ever wear again other than to do housework or to sleep in.

And.. here's my tie die t-shirt that with 3 easy steps, turned into my reusable bag...



Check out the links to do this yourself!



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I confess… I’ve been very crappy about Monday Confessions. It’s not that I don’t have anything to confess, it’s that Sunday nights have become my “let’s get ready for the week” night, so I all but forget about my confessions.  I’m going to try to get back into the swing of things.

I confess… now that I’m able to park my van inside our garage, I may cry if I ever have to leave the swagger-wagon out in the cold again. Seriously, I mean the whole idea of now having to carry my bags in the cold or wet weather is really no longer appealing. Done-Deal. I’ve been spoiled. And yes,  this is the first time in my adult life living in my own house that I am able to park my car in a garage permanently.  Until this point, it’s been random moments of luck that our garage has been clean enough to fit a vehicle. But the past is the past baby!

I confess… I love working and being around other adults, but I think my maternal and homely instincts are starting to flood my hormones, trying to tell me how much I’d love to be a stay-at-home mom. I fight off these ideas of grandeur by recalling how I felt on week 10 of my 12 week hiatus from work when my son was born. I remotely remember saying, “If I’m home one more week I might as well start drooling and wearing diapers myself!!” I don’t know, the idea is nice, not sure in real life application it would really work out for me. 





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I confess... I'm a little late on my Monday Confessions, only because we're jammed packed with stuff to do to get ready for a small weekend getaway. I'm totally in need of an adult weekend away from everything, to just take some time to be silly, let go and to be with the friends that we moved back here to be with.

I confess... The weather is awesome. So many people are complaining of how cold it is and I'm excited! I can't wait to pull out the boots, the sweaters and the jackets!


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I confess... I could eat my body weight in "Cheesy Doodles". This goes against any common sense or any diet I've ever tried to follow, but frankly it doesn't even matter. They are cheesy, air-filled yummie-ness!

I confess... I am totally and completely hooked on Stephen King's Dark Tower Series books. I'm doing a BzzCampain for John Grisham's new book The Litigators, and for doing so I received a free copy of his previous book The Confession and I totally mean to read it but I just can't seem to break apart from my King series.

PS: follow me on twitter: @tattooedmommie

A few weeks ago my husband had mentioned that he had started reading a few coupon blogs and he was interested in seeing how we could do at it.

I have to admit, at first, I wasn't really interested in it. I kept thinking about all the time and effort it would take to clip, sort and organize all these coupons. But I decided to give it a shot and see how it goes.

Granted, I'm still new to all of this, but just getting a savings of over $13 on one of our grocery bills today was a nice feeling.  I haven't fallen wayside and gone totally extreme couponing or anything but it is very addicting. I'm curious to see how good I can get at this!

More to come on my adventures in couponing!




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I confess...  I love my new house. It's everything that I've wanted in my prior two houses

I confess... I'm exhausted still from moving and I see no relief for at least another 3 week.

I confess... I just don't have the confessions in me right now...

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I confess... I'm moving into our new house this weekend. I'm tired, I'm sore and I've got nothing to blog about other than the fact that I have some really great friends that took time out of their Labor Day weekend to help us.

(yes, this is Monday Confessions on Sunday... because scheduling blogs just isn't in my schedule right now)

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I confess... That I hope that landscaping never is a profession I must do. From our adventures of throwing mulch this weekend I've realized that a few things. First, I'm extremely clumsy with a shovel. Second, that my 5 year old son has more back strength than any of us. and Third, although it really felt good to see the efforts of our labor taking shape, if it weren't my personal house that I was doing this at, I wouldn't have been even the tiniest bit interested.

I confess...  That I'm still having issues about wearing my hair naturally curly all the time. It is easier most of the time, but seriously, I think I'm addicted to my flat  iron.


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I confess... My mother amazes me. I've always admired her for her strength but I never really knew how strong she could really be until the last few years. My mother has overcome many obstacles in her life that would have floored many others. I hope that I have the strength, will power and drive that she has. I probably don't tell her enough but honestly, our relationship has never been better and I can't imagine not having her in my life. Mom, I'm so proud of you!

I confess...  I love being a mom to a kindergartner. My son is growing up so fast that it almost seems unreal, but I'm loving every minute of it (okay, that's a lie, not every minute is great.. but it's easy to look back and forget the bad stuff). I want to make more of an effort to take advantage of our time together because I'm starting to understand the realization that one day my son will want nothing to do with me. I do find that in the past I've kind of put things off with him thinking "we can always do that another time".. well, that may not be the case so I need to do now. That's my new motto... do now.



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I confess... I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Yes, I'm Mormon. I haven't been to church since we moved back to SC, but only because I'm in a different ward than I would be when we move into the new house and frankly, I'm tired of all the shuffle. I don't outwardly tell everyone this because to me, religion is a totally personal thing. Plus, I always get the "WHAT? You don't look Mormon!" thing. Oh and FYI, I am the only wife to my husband so don't ask... wrong group.

I confess... Scooby Doo fruit snacks are the best of all fruit snacks. And having a 5 year old boy, we've tried a lot of them! Don't ask why, I can't really explain it. Even if they are made by the same company, they have the best flavor and texture out of all of them. They aren't too gummy and stick to your teeth but they aren't so hard that they are like chewing on tires. Yes, my husband & I have had many the conversations analyzing fruit snacks. 



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Quick Black Beans & Rice from Allrecipes.com


Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 (15 ounce) can black beans, undrained
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can stewed tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked instant brown rice

*See below for my substitutions



Directions

  1. In large saucepan, heat oil over medium-high. Add onion, cook and stir until tender. Add beans, tomatoes, oregano and garlic powder. Bring to a boil; stir in rice. Cover; reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat; let stand 5 minutes before serving.

* I substituted cilantro for the dried oregano, 3 cloves of garlic (minced) for the garlic powder, and I used instant white rice instead of brown (only because I didn't have brown handy).

This turned out awesome, we had this as a side dish with grilled chipotle chicken, but I could totally see this being a full course meal if you add some sliced precooked sausage to it!

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The AT in 46 days!

8.01.2011 |

Jennifer Davis hiked ran the entire 2,181 miles of the Appalachian Trail in 46 days, 11 hours and 20 minutes, raising the bar for the speed record by about 22 hours.

I first must say, that is absolutely incredible. She averaged something like 47 miles a day. She obviously is in great condition and really did pull off quite a feat!

My dream is to just complete the Appalachian Trail, whether section hiking or somehow managing a thru hike, at a much slower speed of course.

Actually, my real goal right now is to get back hiking ANYTHING at this point! I haven't hiked in months due to our moving debacle. So, I guess I should aim for that at first.

Anyway, congratulations to Jennifer Davis and her new speed record!



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I confess... that I would love to take a weekend away to go backpacking with just my husband. I feel like it's been so long since we've had "us" time that it's almost pathetic. FYI, my Greek father-in-law who I love just as dearly as my own parents has lived with us since our first anniversary. Although he takes summer's off to go back to Greece, it's still just not the same. But I wouldn't change it in the world... but I would just ask for a few more "me" and "us" moments.

I confess... that when I promised my son that we could get a dog (note, I said dog, he says puppy), when we move into the new house that it was probably more for me than for him. I really miss having an animal-pet (kid-pets and husband-pets are a plenty) around the house. Now, how to spring it on him that a potty trained younger dog is still a puppy is my next big gig.



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I confess... I haven't gone to the gym in over 2 weeks and I'm totally feeling it. I had such a good routine and habit formed and now.. gone! And the hard part now is actually going back the first day. Must. Get. Motivated.

I confess... I'm totally and utterly addicted to reality television. It's not that I have to watch it, it's just that when I start, I can't stop.

I confess... I'm starting to understand why my religion means so much to me. That's a good thing.



PS: follow me on twitter: @tattooedmommie


I confess... I have been totally spoiled by HD TV. I have a hard time watching even my favorite movies anymore (i.e., Christmas Vacation, Kill Bill, etc) in the original formatting. So disappointing.

I confess... I get a little jealous of all the places my husband gets to experience during his business travels. I'm a military brat and traveling is in my blood.

I confess... I have been impatient all my life but my 5 year old truly tests me to the point of breaking my sanity. I am not the most patient mother known to man, but I'm trying.

PS: follow me on twitter: @tattooedmommie

When you get bored of your regular chicken on the grill, try the great marinade of Shoyu (or Soy Sauce) Chicken!

Ingredients
  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger root
  • 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon ground paprika (optional)
  • 5 pounds skinless chicken thighs

Directions

  1. Whisk together the soy sauce, brown sugar, water, garlic, onion, ginger, black pepper, oregano, red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper, and paprika in a large glass or ceramic bowl. Add the chicken thighs, and toss to evenly coat. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and marinate the chicken in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
  2. Preheat an outdoor grill for medium heat, and lightly oil the grate.
  1. Remove the chicken thighs from the marinade. Discard the remaining marinade. Grill the chicken thighs on the preheated grill until cooked through, about 15 minutes per side.

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Because what says "feel good food" more than  Creamy Chicken Pot Pie? That's right.. nothin!

It's fast, it's yummie and even my 5 year old loved it!

I randomly found this recipe on AllRecipes and decided to give it a go. When I bought the tube of Philadelphia Savory Garlic Cooking Creme, I found the recipe was actually one that was included on the tub!

Creamy Chicken Pot Pie from AllRecipes.com (and from Philadelphia Creme Cheese)

Ingredients

  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 2 cups frozen mixed vegetables (carrots, corn, green beans, peas), thawed, drained
  • 1 (10 ounce) tub PHILADELPHIA Savory Garlic Cooking Creme
  • 1/2 (14.1 ounce) package ready-to-use refrigerated pie crust


Directions

  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Cook and stir chicken in large nonstick skillet on medium heat 5 to 6 min. or until chicken is lightly browned. Add vegetables; cook 1 to 2 min. or until heated through. Stir in cooking creme; spoon into 9-inch pie plate.
  3. Cover with crust; seal and flute edge. Cut several slits in crust. Place pie plate on baking sheet.
  1. Bake 25 to 30 min. or until golden brown.


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