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Broken Tradition

KidsWe are a family of traditions. Every Christmas certain things need to happen or the planet spins out of orbit.

It starts Christmas Eve with an old chipped gingerbread man plate that we’ve had since my ex and I got married. Even though the plate is chipped, the kids still insist on putting cookies on it so that Santa will have something delicious waiting for him upon arrival.

Carrots are also left on the front lawn for the reindeer because they too need refueling after a long cold journey from the North Pole. And if it’s a year when I happen to have oats in the cabinet, they get a handful of those too.

Around 3am on Christmas morning you can usually find me in the kitchen cutting cinnamon roll dough because they need a final rise before the kiddos get up. So there I usually stand, in my jammies complete with apron tied overtop, rolling and cutting the sweet dough stuffed with cinnamon and butter.

Once the pans are filled, I crawl back into bed hoping for another solid four hours of sleep that never comes because the kids are usually awake shortly after my head hits the pillow.

And then the torture starts. This too is a tradition. Before we tear into the gifts, Mom makes everyone sit down to have a proper breakfast complete with the cinnamon rolls, homemade quiche, fruit salad and juice. Oh, and coffee. Copious amounts of coffee due to the 3am cinnamon roll wakeup call.

No one likes this tradition of having breakfast before opening gifts because of that whole delayed gratification thing. Even though Mom lets them open their Christmas stockings during breakfast, the kids are certain I’ve formed this tradition to make them miserable.

But the truth of the matter is that I created this tradition for them because when they become adults they will understand that the best part of the holiday is the time spent together. I also hope by then they appreciate how much work it takes to make those damn cinnamon rolls.

But this year tradition breaks and new traditions form.

This will be my first year waking up without my kids on Christmas morning. It’s not my year to have them.

This is not something I thought about as much as I should’ve during the divorce process. Maybe the mind skips certain things when it can’t handle the stress.

And there are no oats in the closet this year which I guess is just as well.

No one will be waking me up at 4am asking if it’s time to go downstairs yet.

There will be no cinnamon roll dough stuck underneath my wedding band that I always forget to take off while baking.

No one will be subject to my mandatory Christmas breakfast before the gifts are torn open this year.

All the traditions are broken or at the very least modified. Because I can still do some of the traditions with my kids when I see them afterwards, but it won’t be the same.

And I’m starting to wonder if  Christmas and all of the other major holidays on the days that I don’t have my kids, are those going to be the years that I just skip the whole thing? Sleep the day away hoping that the time passes swiftly? Or maybe that this is just awful right now because it’s the first year?

I don’t know. All I know is that this year is tough. And that the chipped gingerbread man plate tucked safely away in a box feels like it’s shattered on the floor right now and I’m standing barefoot in the midst.

In The Kitchen With Kris, Chicken Pot Pies and Brownies

Kris Jenner Chicken Pot PiesSo are you ready to dig into Kris Jenner’s cookbook In The Kitchen With Kris? Let’s see if this cookbook is as awful as the Amazon reviews says it is, shall we?

As I mentioned yesterday, there are seventy-one recipes in this book. There are also some personal anecdotes sprinkled in along the way that might be meaningful to you if you follow the family or their show. I do not, but I still read the entire book because I felt that it might shed light on the cook and quite frankly if people read A Beautiful Bite solely for the recipes and ignored my personal story, I’d probably feel a little insulted. So yes, I read the entire book.

Now, I thought I might be in trouble when I read the first recipe. It was for Cream of Wheat. Like the kind that comes in the box with the instructions already printed on it. When I first saw that I thought I might be doomed and that the reviews might be justified. And then the second recipe was for clarified butter.

If the next recipe had called for an Easy Bake Oven I might not have been surprised.

But you can’t judge a book but its cover or even by just two of its recipes, so I skipped ahead a bit and settled on two recipes that seemed like a good choice for tonight’s supper. Chicken pot pies and good old fashioned brownies. Foods my kids would surely eat on this cold and blustery day.

Kris Jenner Chicken Pot PieChicken pot pie is complete comfort food when made right. Too many times I’ve had a lackluster pie filled with canned veggies and wallpaper paste consistency sauce. Making a good flavorful pie takes a bit of work and this recipe took a heck of a lot of work. Like so much work that I was cutting a sweat at one point. Where was the ease of that first Cream of Wheat recipe?

Kris Jenner Chicken Pot PieFirst, there’s a bunch of different veggies in this recipe. Leeks, fennel, zucchini, carrots, shallots, asparagus and peas. Well, there would’ve been peas if I followed the recipe exactly, but peas are not my cup of tea. So they did not make the cut.

I spent a lot of time chopping, blanching and sautéing . Kris loves her veggies for sure. And not your typical veggies either. I can’t ever remember putting asparagus or zucchini in a pot pie. And fennel? As if. That just doesn’t sound right. But still, I put it in because even though I’ve never prepared it that way doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be good.

Something I tell my kids all of the time. Just because you haven’t tried it before doesn’t mean you won’t like it. Sometimes you’ve got to walk the talk.

Kris Jenner Chicken Pot PieThis recipe also calls for a homemade herbed pie crust. No Pillsbury pie crust for Kris Jenner! One thing I found odd was that her recipe calls for putting the egg wash on both sides of the crust. Top and bottom. I have no idea why one would need to do that, but I followed the instructions. I was committed.

Kris Jenner Chicken Pot Pies and LeelaInto the oven the pies went. I was a little nervous that the kids wouldn’t like this recipe because of the zucchini and the fennel. Fennel is a rather adult taste and not all kids like it. I actually do enjoy fennel, but was also unsure I’d like it in a chicken pie.

After about a half of an hour the house started to smell rather incredible. And slowly each kid came into the kitchen to see what was cooking. When I pulled the pies out of the oven, there were many oohs and aahs. I have to admit, they were rather grand looking.

Kris Jenner Chicken Pot PiesBut looks aren’t everything. You can have a beautiful looking pie and it can taste like hell. Been there, tasted that. So let’s start by evaluating the crust. This crust recipe called for all butter. I prefer to make my pie dough with a mixture of part butter and part Crisco. I’ve found that that combo produces the flakiest crust.

Kris Jenner Chicken Pot PiesBut Kris’s crust? It was beautifully flaky. You can totally see how flaky it is in my images. And the tarragon in the crust was a nice touch. Just the right amount so that you could taste it but it didn’t overtake the dish.

Kris Jenner Chicken Pot PiesAnd how about the filling? I will give you my adult perspective first and then I’ll tell you what the kids thought…

First, the sauce was exactly as it should be. Rich and creamy. Not gloopy and paste-like. The addition of brandy made this dish a little extra special and definitely appealed to my adult palate. But do you want to know what the real star of the show was? The damn fennel. Go figure. It made the dish.

Now the kids, they were divided. All liked the pies and ate up their dinner, but each kid was into or not into certain veggies. One loved the zucchini while another thought that the omission of potatoes and addition of wild card veggies like asparagus and zucchini was chicken pot pie blasphemy.

But they all agreed that the crust was killer. Each one was picking off crusty bits from the bowls and all looked indignant when I took the bowls away. Chipping off crust with your fingernails is far from civilized dinner table behavior. Ahem.

Kris Jenner BrowniesOn to dessert! I chose Kris’s brownies because hello chocolate! As we all know, I adore chocolate. So this was a sort of no-brainer for me. But I will tell you this, I am super fussy about brownies. If it doesn’t taste like heaven I won’t waste the calories. And while my kids are happy with Betty Crocker from the box, I am definitely not.

My all-time favorite brownie recipe hails from Boston, MA. Rosie’s Bakery makes a brownie called a chocolate orgasm. It is perfection. Nothing else has ever compared and that’s the recipe I judge all brownies against.

Kris Jenner BrowniesAs I was making Kris’s recipe, I thought that it was going to be WAY too sweet. Like sickeningly. Besides two cups of sugar, the recipe calls for two cups of chocolate chips. And in case you are wondering, that was an entire bag of Nestle Morsels. As I spread the batter into the pan I got a glob on my finger which I instinctively licked off.

Hmmmm, this tastes pretty fruit loopin’ good, I thought. Truth be told, I scraped a lot less batter out of that bowl than I should’ve. And then I licked the spatula once I was done with the bowl. So much for it being too sweet.

Kris Jenner BrowniesI showed a crap ton of restraint by allowing those brownies to cool completely. And the only reason I did that was because the kids were home and I wanted to set a good example. But once those brownies were cool, I sliced them into large fudgy squares and placed them in the corner of my kitchen. Far from eyesight because it isn’t right to eat brownies before dinner. Or for dinner which is what I wanted to do.

They were the bee’s knees. I’m not saying they are better than Rosie’s, but it’s ridiculously close. Kris can cook brownies for me any day of the week.

I will say this, I highly doubt Kris or her family indulges in these brownies very often because HOLY FATTENING! There’s no way they could keep their hourglass shape if they did.

But for you and me? Game on! These are especially perfect for that time of the month when you need ALL OF THE CHOCOLATE! I will for now on call these Period Brownies because that time of the month I will want these. Period.

So that wraps up this installment of Kooking with Kris. Two solid recipes that clearly the Amazon reviewers haven’t tried because if they had, they might’ve written something a lot more positive. Because Lord knows I’m a picky girl and these two recipes are worth cooking.

But that doesn’t mean I’m telling you to run out and buy the book. Two successful recipes out of seventy-one is not enough evidence yet that it’s a cookbook worth investing in. Let’s see what happens in a few days when I try a few other recipes, shall we?

This is not a sponsored post. There is an affiliate link in this post for Kris’s book.