Cooler Weather Means It’s Chicken Pot Pie Time

Finished Pie!I’ve made some good chicken pot pies through the years, but the one I made yesterday was so tasty! I will be keeping this recipe to use again. Like other dishes, better quality ingredients mean a better finished product.

My recipe below is one I tweaked from Simply Scratch and it makes enough for two single-crust chicken pot pies. Don’t be afraid of the butter and milk in the recipe. Use low fat milk if you must but please use real butter.

INGREDIENTS:
1 whole chicken (organic preferred) – quick method is to buy a ready made rotisserie chicken.
1 stick of Butter, divided
2 whole Carrots, peeled and diced small
2 Celery Stalks, diced small
4 Cloves of Garlic
1 small Diced Yukon Potato
1 medium Sweet Onion, peeled and diced small
16 oz. bag of Frozen Peas
1/2 cup Frozen Corn
3 cups Chicken Broth, warmed – Use homemade from the Whole Chicken you just made if you can.
1-1/2 cups Whole Milk
1/2 cup Whole Wheat Pastry Flour (use regular Whole Wheat or White if that’s what you’ve got on hand)
2 teaspoons Kosher Salt, more or less to taste
1/2 teaspoons Black Pepper, more or less to taste
1 tablespoon Dried Parsley
1 teaspoon Dried Thyme
1 teaspoon Dried Sage
1 Package store-bought Crust. I used a box from the Immaculate Baking Company or a Homemade Pie Crust recipe.
2 9-inch pie pans or 6 (10-ounce) Ramekins

TO COOK THE CHICKEN: Place the chicken in a large pot and fill with water up high on the chicken. Throw in some salt, pepper and a bay leaf. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to medium. Let cook for about 30 minutes until cooked through. Remove chicken to a cutting board and let cool for a few minutes, then remove all meat and put into a bowl. You may have some extra meat to use for another recipe also.

TO MAKE THE POT PIES: Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and grease pie pans with a little butter or olive oil.

Melt 3 tablespoons of butter in a large Dutch oven.

Add in the diced carrots, onion and celery and cook for 5 minutes. Add in the diced potato and season with a teaspoon of kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper. Cook until the onions are soft and translucent and the carrots are soft {but not too soft}.

Now add in the remaining 5 tablespoons of butter and let that melt. Once melted add in the half cup of flour and stir often while it cooks for 2 minutes.

Pour in the 3 cups of hot chicken broth and the 1-1/2 cups of whole milk. Let that simmer, stirring occasionally until thickened 5-8 minutes.

Next add in the frozen peas, corn, cooked chicken, dried parsley,thyme and sage. Stir. Taste add season further with up to a teaspoon more of salt and a little more black pepper if desired.

Set your two pie plates next to each other and scoop the goo evenly into each pie plate.

Pies - ready for crust

Let them cool down a bit before placing the pie dough over top and crimping the edges. With a sharp knife make slits for ventilation.

Slide the pot pies into a preheated 375 degree oven and bake for 20-25 minutes or until the crust is golden. I like to put foil or a crust guard over my crust so it doesn’t get too dark. That’s personal preference.

Remove and let them cool for 10 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

NOTES: *For a glossy top crust, try beating an egg with a tablespoon of water and brush over top before baking.

Menu for the Week of Oct. 27

Hi all – So this is a day late. Mix and match the days to fit your schedule.

Sunday:

  • Homemade tomato soup (vegetarian) – You can go all out and roast the tomatoes yourself (like in his recipe) or take my short cut and buy fire roasted tomatoes. Get the whole peeled ones in the can (28 oz.). If you like it with more tomato flavor, feel free to add another small can too (14 oz.). The only two things I do to my soup differently is add a pinch of sugar to cut the acidity and if you don’t roast the tomatoes, then cut the olive oil in half.
  • Fresh baked bread – If you have a bread machine, you have to try this bread recipe. It’s super easy and you’ll have homemade soft bread in 1 hour. Sub 1 cup whole wheat flour for 1 of the cups bread flour called for.

Monday:

  • Arroz Con Pollo (Chicken and Yellow Rice) – This is a staple if you live in Tampa. I’ve tried other recipes and this one is good and easy! Serve some black beans and a salad on the side and you’ve got a great meal. Some red sangria would go nicely too.

Tuesday:

  • Flounder picatta – If you like fish like my family does you will want to keep finding new ways to serve it. This one looks great! Can’t wait to try it out.
  • Green beans – Start with fresh or frozen green beans. If fresh, snap them. Heat a large pan with a lid over medium heat. Drizzle some olive oil once around the pan. Toss the green beans in and saute for a few minutes until lightly browned. Season with some salt and pepper. Add 1 clove fresh minced garlic (or a few shakes of garlic powder). Pour 1/4 cup of water in the pan and cover for 8-10 minutes until the tenderness you like.
  • Have some bread left over from Sunday if you still have some around.

Wednesday:

  • Crockpot Pulled Pork – You can find all kinds of recipes to help you out here. The basic ingredients are one 2 lb. pork roast (tenderloin is usable, but not as good as top loin or boston butt for flavor), 1 onion, 1 bottle of your favorite bbq sauce, 1/2 cup of other liquid: chicken stock, pineapple juice, root beer, beer, etc. Season the meat with salt and pepper, slice the onion and layer it on the bottom of your crock pot, put the meat in, then pour the liquid and at least 1 cup of the bbq sauce in. Save the rest of the sauce for your sandwiches. Cook on low for 8 hours. Here’s a good example.
  • Buns. I like making own from this recipe, but if you get them at the store, I definitely recommend them from the bakery and not from the bread aisle.
  • Pickles
  • French fries (cut up a potato and roast in the oven, or pick up some frozen ones: Alexia or the “Simply” Ore Ida. The old school fries have much more than potatoes, oil and salt in them.)

Thursday:

  • It’s Halloween! Have some left overs, take-out or eat at a neighbor’s house.

Friday:

  • Herbed Turkey Breast – Who needs Thanksgiving to make some turkey? Whole Foods has it on sale this week.
  • Polenta – Lots of recipes out there. For those of us down South, it’s basically a slight variation on grits. Here’s the trick for polenta or grits, you must buy quality corn grits / polenta. Plus quality grits will have a few grams of fiber, so please stay away from the Quaker stuff. Bob’s Red Mill is available in many stores and is a favorite of mine. They even come in a gluten-free or organic variety.
  • Salad
  • Veggie sticks for the kids
  • Homemade balsamic dressing. Once you make your own dressing, you will not want to buy it from the store again. This is all you need (adapted from Emeril): 1/2 cup of good balsamic vinegar, 1/2 cup of extra-virgin olive oil (the light stuff is only for cooking fish and even then you don’t really need it), 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. black pepper, 3 cloves of garlic pressed, 1 tsp. dijon mustard. You can add another dried herb if you’d like. Sometimes I do a couple dashes of basil. Put all ingredients in a shaker / cruet and shake until well blended.

Breakfast Cookies and Muffins!

Here are two recipes that you can make, eat and save some of for later! One is sweet and one savory.

“Oatmeal & Cherry Breakfast Cookies”
Made these today and they were so good! All four of us enjoyed them. The boys kept smiling saying “cookies for breakfast!”
Great served with coffee or milk.
I found the recipe in a book called “Clean Eating for Busy Families” and you can find it here at Edible Phoenix.
With oats, whole wheat flour, fruit, nuts, milk and a little oil, it provides a filling and lasting breakfast at home or on the go. I used raisins instead of cherries, because that’s what I had on hand. The only substitution I may do next time would be to cut the sugar down. It calls for 1 cup of brown sugar. I think you’d be fine with 1/2 or 3/4 cup.

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“Ham & Cheese Muffins”
These are great for breakfast with or without an egg on the side. I’ve got some in the freezer right now and they heat up real quick.
I found this recipe at Weelicious. It’s a great recipe site for families.

Coffee. It All Starts With The Beans

coffeebeans

Good coffee begins with good beans. The owner of Buddy Brew, a local coffee shop in Tampa, taught me the difference between Robusta and Arabica beans. You want to buy and use Arabica beans. Trust me. Guess who uses Robusta? Folgers, Maxwell House and other big, commercial and inexpensive coffee companies. Why? Because the beans are cheaper and they have a higher caffeine content. What’s the biggest downside? 1. It will make you more jittery  2. They’re more acidic, so you’re more prone to stomach aches and 3. You will have a bigger crash after the caffeine wears off. Read the label.

The next important thing is to buy whole beans and grind them yourself. It adds 30 seconds to your process and a lot more flavor. Most coffee websites recommend a burr grinder. You can find an inexpensive one that will last like this one. Blade grinders will work and cost less, but it’s best to grind your beans consistent (and only a burr grinder can do that).

Scoop the ground coffee into your french press. Yes, use a french press. If you’ve never used one before you will thank me. It will taste better than anything you’ve ever had from a drip coffee maker. You can spend a little or a lot. I’d start with one of these from Bodum. You can find them at Target. I have a coffee scoop, but go for about 1 TB spoon per cup of coffee you’re making (8 oz.).

Use filtered water if you can and heat it in a tea kettle. You want it to come to almost boiling, but not quite. Pour over your coffee grounds. Stir a few times around with a long spoon.

Leave cover off while it’s steeping.

Set a timer for 4-5 minutes. Test it it for your preference. Don’t go longer than that or it will get bitter.

Plunge your coffee. Pour into coffee mugs. Enjoy!

And just for fun… if you think this sounds expensive. Let’s pretend you stop by Starbucks at least 3 days a week for coffee. That’s roughly $8 / week x 52= $416. French press = $30. Grinder = $50. Good quality coffee beans = $12 / pound (good for about 14 cups) = $312 / year (you can find less expensive, quality beans too). Total would be $400 / year for more coffee and better tasting than stopping by Starbucks.

Who Doesn’t Like Kale (Chips)?

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You’ve probably heard by now that kale isn’t just good for you, but it’s a “super food.” I like it in smoothies, sautéed, in soups, but one of the easiest and tastiest ways to make it is into kale chips. My two and four year old enjoy them just like they were potato chips, so I bet you will too!

Buy a bunch of kale, rinse, dry off. Tear of the leaves from the stems (discard the stems). Then you want to rip them into potato chip size pieces… not too big, not too small. If they’re too big they will get soggy while baking instead of crisp.

Preheat your oven to 325.

Put them in a pile on a cookie sheet and drizzle or spritz a little olive oil on them (no more than a teaspoon). Sprinkle some salt and just a bit of garlic powder (if you like garlic). Spread them around on the cookie sheet so that they are not overlapping much. Put into oven for 12-15 minutes.

You want to watch them at about 12 minutes. The trick is to get them just until they’re crisp, but before the ends starting getting yellowish / brown. Pull them out, put in a bowl and enjoy!

 

Menu for the week of Oct. 20

Sunday:

  • Baked cod with parmesan crumbs (recipe is for flounder, but I substituted cod tonight)
  • Mashed sweet potatoes (roast and peel, then mix in 1.5 TB real butter, 1 TB maple syrup, a few dashes of cinnamon, a dash of salt and serve). My boys liked them with a few mini marshmallows on top.
  • Green beans with garlic and sun-dried tomatoes (sautee beans in pan with 1 clove of fresh garlic pressed, handful of sun-dried tomatoes chopped and some water to steam, then drizzle a TB of olive oil under the doneness you like)
  • Corn on the cob

Monday:

  • Baked ziti (use any recipe you want, but this Pioneer Woman one is great)
  • Salad

Tuesday:

Wednesday:

  • Leftovers or take-out

Thursday:

Friday:

  • Steak Florentine by Giada
  • Grilled Eggplant salad – if my four-year old will try this and like it, you can too. This one’s also from Giada.
  • Something else the kids will eat

Chicken with Chimichurri

ImageI discovered chimichurri sauce not too long when trying to figure out what to do with a lot of extra parsley in my fridge. Then I found out you could make it with carrot tops too. It’s super fresh tasting and makes grilled meats taste amazing. Definitely roast some potatoes and dip them in it too. You’ll be glad you did!

Carrot top chimichurri – 1 bunch of carrot greens, juice of 1 lemon, 1/4 tsp. salt, dash of pepper, 4 cloves garlic, 1 tsp. dried oregano. Dump all in food proccessor and puree. (You could use cilantro or parsley in addition to the carrot greens depending on the flavor you’re going for. If you go for cilantro, omit the oregano.)

Grilled chicken – boneless skinless breasts (Publix Greenwise or other meat that has not been fed junk food). Filet the chicken pieces and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill on each side for a few minutes until just barley done. Remove from grill and cover with foil to lock in juices. 

Roasted potatoes – These garlic roasted potatoes by Ina Garten are easy and awesome!

Grilled asparagus – drizzle some olive oil over about a pound of asparagus (washed and ends snapped). Then sprinkle some salt, pepper and garlic powder. Now use your hands and rub all to coat. Grill a few minutes per side until slightly browned all around.

Plate and enjoy!

For the kids, I used a sectioned plate with the potatoes and asparagus in their own small piles for eyes, chicken in the shape of a mouth and cut small red pepper rings for the nose. It was a hit! (can’t promise that every time)