Chicken Pot Hand Pies and some other stuff.

I know I’ve been a little absent the past couple of weeks. We took a family vacation down to San Diego, a trip that included a lot of firsts for the girls. First plane ride, Sea World, first wedding, just to name a few! We ran the girls around and exhausted them, but we had a lot of fun! We were flying down to see my college roommate get married, I love the fact that while we don’t talk everyday and haven’t seen each other in 10 years (!!!) we can still get together and have a wonderful time. I’m touched that she thought of us and included us in her beautiful wedding to a wonderful guy. On a side note, when we were roommates in college, we regularly played tricks on each other. I recall one time she put a used toothbrush that SHE FOUND in my backpack. Imagine my horror on finding that in the middle of class when I was innocently reaching for a highlighter. My senior year, while my parents were visiting to watch my dance ensemble performance, my mom gave me some flowers in a rather hideous vase. I’m sorry, Mom, it was so sweet of you to give me flowers in a point shoe shaped vase! This vase became an inside joke between L and I and we ended up hiding it in each others stuff, houses or care packages to each other. I shipped it to her years ago and assumed it was long gone until I found it in my suitcase. Damn it! I know she had help from my husband, I feel so betrayed. Yet I feel so loved that L kept that ugly vase for all these years and moves. It must say something about our relationship or perhaps it speaks more to the lengths we will go to, to get back at one another.

M posing with the vase. If any of you have any dastardly ways I can get this back to her besides in a package please tell me!

Here’s a few of my favorite shots from the trip.

First airplane ride!

Sea World

Wiped!

My view for breakfast the night after the wedding. Amazing!

Of course after you return home from your vacation, you then naturally feel like you need to go on vacation again as you’re stuck washing clothes, unpacking, trying to get back on schedule and a bevy of other things. Not to mention we only had one day to recover before we sent the girls to school! Yes, school, minus commuting time, that is 3 hours all to myself! Squee! Not like I have a problem filling the time, it goes by in an instant! Now I’m subjecting you to shots of the twins on there first day. Bear with me, proud mommy moment!

First Day!

I actually managed to get a few Pinterest recipes done this last week even though we were in California for part of it. So here is an abbreviated version of my weekly pinterest round up. Fall is upon us, so I’ve been craving soups, stews, slow cooked meals and crusty freshly baked bread. Even though the day was warm, I decided to try this slow cooker Sausage, Bean and Pasta stew that I pinned. This link will take you to the pin.  The prep for this stew was super fast and required no precooking, a pet peeve of mine when it comes to slow cooking anything! The only thing I didn’t like about the stew is that is sucked a lot of the flavor out of the sausages, leaving them a little bland. Still I would make it again, it tasted even better the next day.

Yum, fall soup and bread and it’s only 91 degrees outside.

To go with the soup I wanted to make a loaf of bread and I’ve been dying to make some bread in my dutch oven after I saw a person I follow on instagram post pictures of her amazing results.

My instagram version

I pinned the website she used for the recipe and have been waiting for it to cool down a bit. I was also  little intimidated by the recipe because it rises at room temperature for over half a day, which requires a lot of pre-planning on my part. I ended up mixing the dough at 10pm the night before I needed it and baked the next day at 11am and literally pulled the thing out of the oven, threw it on a cooling rack and raced out the door to pick up the girls. Simply So Good blog has several variations on a wonderful recipe. I went with the cranberry, almond and orange route, but substituted in dried cherries which I’ve been really into lately! Here’s my photo progression of a very successful pin!

Only a few ingredients!

Before

After

Mine wasn’t very round because I just plopped it in the pot, but I was going for rustic!

Look it worked!

The bread really was so delicious. The blogger has some wonderful looking variations with add ins like gruyere cheese, lemon zest and rosemary. That savory version would have gone better with the soup, but the husband wanted the other one.

Now finally on to my Chicken Pot Hand Pies. This recipe can really be used to make a standard chicken pot pie, free form hand pies, muffin pan pot pies or whatever else you can dream of. The way I made them today I ended up with some extra filling, which you can use to make more chicken pot pie, freeze for later or perhaps use as a filling for the biscuit muffins I did a few weeks ago. I made a recipe of Martha Stewart’s Pate Brisee recipe, which makes enough dough for two crusts. If you’re making hand pies you may want to make a 1 1/2 times recipe. Feel free to use store bought dough as well!

Comfort food on the go.

Chicken Pot Pie (Hand Pies and beyond)

Crust

Pate Brisee recipe via Martha Stewart (you can double this if you want to use all your filling if making hand pies)

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter chilled and cut into small pieces
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water
  1. In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour, salt, and sugar. Add butter, and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal, 8 to 10 seconds.
  2. With machine running, add ice water in a slow, steady stream through feed tube. Pulse until dough holds together without being wet or sticky; be careful not to process more than 30 seconds. To test, squeeze a small amount together: If it is crumbly, add more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time.
  3. Divide dough into two equal balls. Flatten each ball into a disc and wrap in plastic. Transfer to the refrigerator and chill at least 1 hour. Dough may be stored, frozen, up to 1 month.

Filling

  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed (I used 4 small)
  • 2 carrots, peeled and rough chop
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 2 cups of chicken broth
  • 1 boullion cube or like item (I like Better than Boullion)
  • 3-4 cups pre-cooked chicken (I use the breasts from a rotisserie chicken)
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 2 T heavy cream
  • salt and pepper

Put broth in a sauce pan, add boullion and heat to a simmer. Add chopped potatoes and cook until almost tender but still slightly undercooked, 10-15 minutes. In the meantime, melt butter in a large pan over medium heat. Add chopped onions and cook until translucent but not brown, 10-15 minutes. Add flour to onions and butter, stirring constantly, cook for 1-2 minutes, until the raw flour odor goes away. Pour in the broth/potatoes into onion mixture. Cook until mixture thickens and starts to bubble. Season with 1 t of salt and a dash of pepper. Add in 2 T of heavy cream (it adds a wonderful richness, you know in addition to that stick of butter.) Add in carrots, chicken and peas. This makes a chunky filling, you can add more broth if you want. Feel free to throw in your favorite vegetables. Sometimes we throw in edamame or whatever else we have on hand.

1. Onions in butter 2.Broth and potatoes 3.Broth mixed in with onion mixture
4. Finished filling

Take filling off heat and let cool. This is a pretty important step. If you put the hot filling on your pie dough (you know like I did) your dough can become misshapen and tear. If I was more on top of it, I would have pre-made my filling earlier as well as my crust. That way working with colder components, the crust would have baked up a little better.

Preheat you oven to 425 degrees and quickly roll out your dough. You can either make a single large pot pie, free form hand pies (rolling, cutting the dough into rectangles add filling and fold over before sealing) or try one of those handy kitchen gadgets that crap up our kitchens, but actually worked surprisingly well!

1. Cutting pie dough with unnecessary but totally awesome hand pie accoutrement 2. Forming pie
3. Post pressed pie 4.Ready to bake

Lay on your Silpat or cookie sheet lined with parchment, brush the pie with cream or a beaten egg and bake for 15-20 minutes for hand pies or 30 minutes for a single pie.

Voila! You will notice the star shape that was on my pie mold, completely baked out of the pie. My dough and filling were way to warm.

Have a great week!

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Weekly Pinterest Wrap Up, only one day late.

What a busy weekend and it’s only going to get busier this coming week! Last weekend I was finally able to tackle my dining room closet. Do you remember that episode of friends where Chandler breaks into Monica’s storage closet and finds a huge slobby mess? Yes, that’s me. Don’t judge me to harshly.

Ack!

Less than 24 hours later, demoed, spackled, painted and new system up!

Ahh! It’s not even full!

I’m volunteering at our annual church garage sale and I’m using the term garage sale loosely. It’s huge and it takes lots of help to get that thing put together. For me it lets me volunteer a bit for a good cause and it gets me out of the house, which is good for my sanity. Today was my first day and when I came home, I was treated with, “Hey mom, you’ve been gone all day so we’re going to concentrate the whole days emotions in a couple of  hours.” Ugh. The twins are finally in bed and asleep. My husband is on a man date with his brother, something he doesn’t get to do very often. The house is quiet, so enter the click clacking of my laptop keys.

Last week was a busy week for Pinterest inspired recipes. The first was my cauliflower pizza crust, detailed in my last post. Tuesday I took to girls to Mt Tabor park with the ladies and we enjoyed alfresco dining, wine and the Vagabond Opera. Everyone, brought a little something, my friend over at Lula Harp, brought an Israeli couscous salad. I have a history with Israeli couscous. Formally it was a delicious easy meal, then the twins decided it would be a good idea to stick some up there noses. Enter a late night urgent care visit with both girls, oh, and my husband was away on business. I was not pleased, Lula can’t stop laughing about it. I brought some chocolate cake and my pinterest recipe, taco cups. The first time I made the taco cups I misread the directions and made them in full size muffin cups, so they were a little flat. This time I made them in my Demarle mini muffin pan and they turned out wonderful! I topped them with avocado tossed with lime juice, sour cream and cilantro. They were perfect bite sized picnic snacks!

Yum in a cup!

Another Pinterest recipe wasn’t really a specific recipe as much as a lovely looking picture, this one to be exact.

How amazing does this look? (photo by Proud Italian Cook)

I picked up some Walla Walla sweet onions from the farmers market and grilled them then and doctored them up ala Proud Italian Cook with some basalmic, and Gorgonzola. Delicious!

The last recipe I got off Pinterst months ago and have changed it around to suit my needs. Last Wednesday we were greeted by a dreary gray day and I was struck with a yearning for Fall. I know, it’s not even August yet, but I’m so ready for pumpkins, colder weather, apples, cinnamon…

So I was inspired to whip up my Baked Potato soup. It’s so comforting and the whole family just slurps it up!

Top with your favorite baked potato fixings. I like cheddar cheese, green onions and turkey bacon.

Baked Potato Soup

  •  6-8 gold potatoes varied sizes (peeled and cubed)
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1 onion (chopped)
  • 4 cloves of garlic (chopped)
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup half and half
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • toppings of your choice

In a large stock pot or dutch oven, melt butter and cook onions and garlic until softened. Add potatoes and chicken stock, cover and simmer until potatoes are soft, about 30 minutes. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup to desired consistency. Pour in the milk and cream and mix to combine. Salt and pepper to taste, you can also add a dash of cayenne pepper if you like some heat! Heat through and serve with toppings of your choice!

An immersion blender makes this so easy. I also like to precook and cut all my toppings ahead of time and serve them in the storage dish for an informal dinner.

Hope you all have a wonderful week!

Muffin Tin Lasagnas

Lately, I have been a bit enamored with my muffin pan, just a bit. I’ve discovered that anything shaped like a cupcake is a big hit with my twins. They think they’re getting cupcakes for dinner and that’s fine with me. If you’re familiar with Pinterest, you’ll know that muffin tin meals have been widely circulated. This recipe is very flexible so you can adapt to suit all tastes and diets.

ImageThese are the bare basics of ingredients, but feel free to use your own sauce and add ins. I like to use cooked Italian sausage and spinach as well. Pork sausage has more fat, but tends to give you a more flavorful lasagna. I have used turkey and chicken sausages as well with good results.

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I used my Demarle muffin pan, so I didn’t need to grease, but if you are using a metal pan, be sure to prep your pan with cooking spray! Place the gyoza (round) or wonton (square) wrappers in your pan. Next comes your sauce.

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See look how easy this is! Layer in your ricotta, meat and spinach.

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CHEESE! Then repeat, layer another wrapper and all your fillings. I like to use a mix of mozzarella and parmesan on the top. There are enough wrappers in your package to make two batches of lasagna. I like to freeze the second set so I have a second dinner later. If using a Demarle tray you can pop out the lasagnas once frozen and place in a ziploc bag, if using a metal tin, I would suggest leaving it in the freezer. I hope you have two muffin tins!

Bake at 350 for 25 minutes or until browned. If baking from frozen you will need to add at least 5 more minutes.

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Feel free to go nuts with this recipe, this is just a starting point for whatever you can come up with. My friend and fellow blogger, Lula Harp, used egg plant instead of gyoza wrappers with equally delicious results. I’m actually looking forward to the summer zucchini season. I try to keep my eye on those pesky zucchini, but some always escape me and grow too big. I’m going to slice some of those oversize squash thinly and use them as noodles. Anyway I can sneak some vegetables into my kids diet is a win in my book! I hope you enjoy the recipe!

Muffin Tin Lasagna

  • 1 package gyoza or wonton wrappers
  • 1 16 oz container ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup pasta sauce
  • 1 cup (or more if you like) grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese (for top)
  • 1 lb cooked sausage
  • 1 cup cooked spinach
  • salt and pepper to taste

Layer wrapper, sauce, ricotta, meat/spinach then mozzarella in your muffin pan. Repeat, topping with parmesan. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes. You will have enough ingredients to make two trays. Freeze for later or bake both for a crowd. These reheat nicely!

Who La La