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  • Jennifer Stewart

a season for dancing

Updated: Oct 6

I once auditioned for the New York City Rockettes. I barely made the cut off for height requirements...5’6 was the shortest they would go. And well, I was 5’6. I was living in Chicago, 22 years old, and forever dreamed of being a professional Rockette dancer. To this day it remains the most mortifying experience of my life. Auditioning in a room with a ton of professional dancers, all standing 5’10 and 5’11, is extremely intimating. They give you a 2-minute dance clip to learn in 2 minutes. It wasn’t a hard combo, but that’s how they weeded folks out. I remember crying so hard after I left. Not just because I didn’t make it, but because I was embarrassed. I looked like I had never danced in my whole life. And that broke me.


I started out as a clog dancer when I was 10. Performing for festivals, local fairs and competing in Midwest Dance Competitions. I was a clog dancer for six years and loved every minute of it. In college I was introduced to Martha Graham... and she forever changed me. I began to love strange and abstract. The weirder it was, the more I loved it. Perhaps it was the performance of it all. The smiles, the costumes and the exhaustion that came with it. Dance made my heart happy for so long.


In the season of dancing and Hot Dishes...Chicken Pot Pies, and Chili's, and Pumpkins and all the things. I recently made a recipe from the Magnolia Cookbook that will have you dancing like a Rockette!! Johanna Gaines' Chicken Pot Pie recipe. A fantastic fall dish made on a Sunday could not have been a better decision for me. I didn’t have the Cream of Chicken Soup she called for, so I added a little sour cream instead and it was perfect. ENJOY!







CHICKEN POT PIE

By: Magnolia Table – Joanna Gaines



Ingredients


· Nonstick cooking spray, for the pan

· 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) salted butter

· 1/4 small white onion, finely chopped (optional)

· 4 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice

· 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

· 8 cups (64 ounces) chicken broth, store-bought or homemade

· Two 22.6-ounce cans condensed cream of chicken soup (Or 1 Cup of Sour Cream)

· 4 cups shredded meat from 1 store-bought rotisserie chicken

· 1 cup frozen peas

· Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

· Two 8-ounce tubes refrigerated crescent – (I used the Grand Biscuits Instead)


Instructions


1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Spray a 9- by 13-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.

2. In a large soup pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the onion (if using) and sauté until tender and translucent, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the carrots and cook until slightly softened, about 4 minutes. Stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute, stirring often and scraping the bottom of the pot.

3. Whisk in the chicken broth and continue whisking until the flour is fully incorporated. Stir in the chicken soup. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a gentle boil. Simmer for 5 minutes.

4. Remove from the heat and stir in the shredded chicken and frozen peas. Taste and season if necessary with salt and pepper. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish.

5. Open one can of crescent dough and unroll the contents onto a surface. Press the perforations together inside each rectangle to make a single rectangle. Set it on top of the stew in the pan, flush against one long side; it will cover about two-thirds of the surface. Open the second can of crescent dough and unroll the contents onto a surface. Set aside half of the dough. Press the perforations together inside the two remaining rectangles to make one long rectangle. Place it on the uncovered part of the stew, easing it into the space without overlapping it with the dough that is already there. Tuck the corners and edges in if necessary. The dough should fit pretty neatly on top without needing to crimp the edges (if desired, form small crescent rolls with the remaining dough and bake them separately).

6. 6. Bake until the crust is nicely browned and the stew is bubbling around the edges, 15 to 20 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes.




In the last few months, I’ve been showing my daughter some of my old dance moves. A little ballet... a little jazz mixed with some pom pom routines from high school... and even some clogging. She is my little 2 year old dancer, and I cannot tell you how much that fills my heart. We have dance offs in the living room, we dance down the street, we dance at the Farmers Market and in the midst of these dance moves, she is singing too. So, I couldn't resist this weeks blog pairing... Elton John’s, Tiny Dancer. This song could not go any better with this beautiful Chicken Pot Pie and my little dancing queen. What joy to share in this beautiful art form with my daughter and this song!!








When I was in college, I got a scholarship for performing a solo dance to the band BelaFleck and Flecktones. The story that went with it was part of a series of the Seven Deadly Sins and my sin was Gluttony. My costume had a Hula Hoop sewn into the bottom of it. I loved the story telling behind it. The strange and hilarious moves that brought the audience in... in an attempt to make them feel gluttonous as well. Dance, in my opinion, is the most beautiful art form. And whether you’re a Rockette, Bob Fosse, a Pom Pom Girl at a high school football game, or just a sweet two-year-old spinning around in your living room, it makes you feel all the feels. Pure Joy. And that is priceless.


 



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