Individual Chicken Pot Pies

I have always loved chicken pot pie. Even when I was a young girl I thought it so comforting. I especially loved the gravy. When my children were very young I began to learn how to bake. I bravely made white and wheat bread, homemade cakes and pies. Most attempts turned out pretty badly. I remember once serving company  homemade coconut cake it was so dry, all they could say was how much they admired me for trying. In time my efforts improved. I got to know the look and feel of bread and pie dough and mastered the cake batter. I made the chicken pot pie recipe in the Better Homes and Garden cookbook over and over again until I could make it pretty much perfect. My children have always loved it. To this day if I make a special  dinner they ask for that pot pie. The crust is flakey and crispy. The filling heavenly, with the flavor of fresh sage and thyme baked into the chicken. The tender pieces of chicken, sweet carrot, baby potatoes, and a few fresh peas add even more flavor. I love the idea of making them individual just like the banquet pot pies my Mom used to buy. Only these are oh so much tastier.

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I like to bake my chicken in chicken broth, sprinkled with fresh sage, thyme, kosher salt, and fresh cracked pepper. The broth keeps the chicken very tender and flavorful.

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Chop the vegetables in a small dice. Keeping them the same size for even cooking.

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DSCF6582Sauté the onion and celery together.

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Dice the chicken.

DSCF6589The gravy is made in the in the pan I sauté the onions and carrots in.

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Add all of the cooked vegetables and chicken.

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Pour the filling into the tins.

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Put the crusts on top and egg wash and bake.

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Time to enjoy!

Chicken Pot Pie

Homemade or store bough pie crust

3 cups chicken, diced

Good pinch of fresh thyme and sage, chopped

Kosher salt, to taste

Fresh cracked pepper, to taste

1 cup diced baby potatoes, yellow or red

2/3 cup carrots, diced

1/2 cup celery, diced

1 medium yellow onion, diced

¼ cup fresh or frozen peas

4 tablespoons butter

2 1/4 cups chicken stock or broth

¾ cup whole milk

1/3 cup of all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon ground sage

To prepare the chicken place the breasts into a baking dish add enough broth to generously coat the bottom, but not to cover the chicken. Sprinkle with fresh herbs, salt, and pepper. Bake 350 degree until the temperature reads 160 degrees. Rest chicken for 10 minutes. Boil the potatoes and carrots together until tender, strain and set aside. In a sauté pan melt the butter on medium heat. Add the onion, celery, salt, pepper, and ground sage. Be careful not to brown the onion. Cook until tender about 5 minutes. Add the flour to the pan stir with a whisk. Cook for 1-2 minutes. Add the broth while mixing with a whisk, and then add the milk and whisk to get smooth gravy. Cook until thick and bubbly. Add the chicken, potatoes, carrots, and peas. You may bake the pot pie in a 9 inch pie plate or individual tins. Pour the filling into the tins and top with your prepared dough. Cut a hole or slits in the crust to vent. Egg wash and bake at 400 degrees until golden brown and bubbling. I used only a top crust you may use top and bottom crust. You can also top with prepared puff pastry.

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Apple Pie and Pittsburg

Apples from Trax Farm

I have been dreaming of baking an apple pie for several weeks now. The fall chill in the air just seems to beg for the oven to be lit. My husband, Joe and I planned a quick getaway last weekend to Pittsburg. He was born in Pittsburg and grew up in the boro of Castle Shannon. I decided to wait on my pie so I could purchase the apples from a farmers market nearby. Trax Farm has so many different kinds of apples. Joe’s Mom Helen always made her apple pie with star apples. I was going to look for those apples to make my pie just like his mom’s. Unfortunately they had no star apples. Since there were so many different kinds of apples I decided to use a variety of apples for my pie. I chose Jonathan, ginger gold, golden delicious, Jonagold, and granny smith. I loaded up my bag and paid. It was cool enough in the car that they wouldn’t spoil for the few days we were visiting. We had such a great time sight seeing and visiting Joe’s old neighborhood. We even made it to the Steelers game on Sunday due to the generosity of an old college buddy of Joe’s who lives in Pittsburg. I was so excited on our return home to make my apple pie. I waited till the next day and rolled up my selves. I relived our trip in my mind as I prepared the pie. When Joe came home from work that day we enjoyed a piece after our dinner. It was so delicious! I’m sure it was all those different apples and the fact that they came from Pittsburg of course!

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Apple Pie

Double crust pastry

8 cups apples, different varieties of baking apples. Peeled and sliced.

2-3 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice

1 ¼ cups granulated sugar

3 heaping tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

¼ teaspoon ground cardamom

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced

2 tablespoons of whole milk

Prepare your favorite pastry crust chill for a least 1 hour or purchase a ready-made crust. Peel and slice the apples. Toss the apples with the lemon juice. Add the sugar and spices and mix with a spoon until evenly coated. Roll out the bottom crust and fill with the apple filling. Dot the top of the pie with diced unsalted butter. Roll out the top crust and place on top of the apples. Crimp the edges. Brush the top crust with while milk, and then cut slits in the top of crust to make a vent. Bake in a pre-heat 375 degree oven for 50-60 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. Serve warm or cool and refrigerate and serve cold.

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Key Lime Pie

Key lime
Key Lime Pie

This tart and creamy pie has become a family favorite over the last few years. It seems even when I have a guest who doesn’t think they will like it, I’m able to win them over.  It is so creamy and the graham cracker crust gives it a nice crunch. Just serve a small piece it is a rich dessert.

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Key lime pie
Key Lime pie

Key Lime Pie

Graham cracker crust:

1 ½ cup graham cracker crumbs

¼ cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup butter, melted

Crush the graham cracker to crumbs. I used a zip lock bag and a rolling pin. You could also use a food processor. Put the crumbs in a bowl, mix the sugar into the crumbs and pour the melted butter over the crumb and sugar mixture. Mix with your hands to coat all the crumbs with the butter. Press crumbs into a 9” pie dish that you have ever so lightly buttered. Bake 10-12 minutes, just till golden.

Filling:

2 eggs plus 1 egg yolk at room temperature

1 14oz can sweetened condensed milk

½ cup lime juice

Grated zest of one lime

Beat the eggs for 2 minutes, then slowly pour the condensed milk into the beaten eggs and continue mixing another 3 minutes. Add the lime juice and zest. Mix for 1more minute. Bake 350 for 15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. Top with freshly whipped cream.

Topping:

Serve with fresh whipped cream and a sprinkle of lime zest

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Blueberry Pie

I just love baking homemade pie. It is such a satisfying feeling. When I slip the pie into the oven I can barely wait for the sweet aroma to permeate the air throughout my home. My favorite summer pie is blueberry. I’ve been patiently waiting for that little container full of blueberries that say Hammonton, NJ I love that they are local. I wouldn’t dare bake my pie without these fresh berries, and I’d never bake this pie any other time of year. I’m day dreaming in the cold winter months of baking the pie. It’s the anticipation that makes it even sweeter on that first bite. I will be sharing this pie with my Mother-in-law Helen. She is turning 89 years young on the 23rd of June. I happen to know that she too loves blueberry pie.

Fresh blueberries
Fresh blueberries

 

Fresh blueberries, freshly squeezed lemon juice, Lemon zest, pure cane sugar, cornstarch, salt.
Fresh blueberries, freshly squeezed lemon juice, lemon zest, pure cane sugar, cornstarch, salt.

 

Roll pie crust.
Roll pie crust.

 

Pour filling into prepared crust.
Pour filling into prepared crust. Slip little bits of unsalted butter into the blueberry mixture.

 

Brush on milk and sprinkle with sugar.
Brush on milk and sprinkle with sugar.

 

 

Let pie cool completely. Refrigerate for several hours before serving.
Let pie cool completely. Refrigerate for several hours before serving.

Blueberry Pie

4 heaping cups fresh blueberries

1 ½ teaspoons fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

¾ cup of pure cane sugar, or granulated sugar

4 tablespoons cornstarch

¼ teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces

Place washed berries in a large bowl. In a small bowl, stir sugar, lemon juice and zest, cornstarch, and salt. Combine the mixture with the blueberries stirring gently to coat. Pour the blueberry mixture into a prepared pastry crust. Tuck dots of cold butter into the berries. Top with your 2nd crust. Flute the edges of the pie. Cut a hole in the center for an air vent. Then cut slits in the top of the pie around the circle. Refrigerate the pie for 30 minutes. Please don’t skip this step; it gives you a flakier crust. Use whole milk with a pastry brush to wash the top of the crust. Sprinkle with sugar. Bake in a 375 degree oven until the crust is golden and the pie is bubbling in the center. About 50-60 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Cool completely. I cool my pie for 3-4 hours before cutting into the pie. After cooling my pie I refrigerate it overnight. I love it ice cold. You can serve the pie room temperature as well.

Double crust pastry

2/3 cup solid shortening, very cold

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

6-8 tablespoons ice cold water

*For a sweet crust add 2 tablespoons superfine granulated sugar

In a medium bowl stir the flour and salt with a whisk. Add the shortening and cut in using a pastry blender till the mixture resembles tiny peas. Add the ice cold water 1 tablespoon at a time mixing with a fork until the dough starts to form a ball. Take the dough out of the bowl and knead just to form a disc. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 1 hour.

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Beef and Guinness Pot Pie

DSCF2305I remember when my Grandmother lived with us for a time; she and Mom prepared what they called steak pie. It was chunks of beef, onion and a little gravy. The crust was plain and something was in the middle of the pie as a vent. I really can’t remember what it was but I’m thinking it was a shot glass. Is that possible? I don’t remember if I even liked the pie. I suppose I was just too young. I just remember Mom and Grandma in the kitchen together and preparing this meal. I have no way of knowing the recipe that was used Mom had no recipe box that I’ve ever known. But I remember the pie being served and want to bring it to my family table and remember these two special ladies whom I miss and love very deeply. I love pot pie and thought this was a great way of recreating Grandmas pie. To make the gravy extra rich and special I’ll add Guinness Stout Beer. I took all the flavors I love from my beef stew, deleted a few ingredients, added just a few new ingredients, to change up the taste and it’s now Beef and Guinness Pot Pie. The Guinness gives the gravy such a depth of flavor here. Out of the oven this pie is rich and delicious with a flaky crust. I have a feeling Mom and Grandma would just love it.

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Beef and Guinness Pot Pie

2lbs. chuck stewing beef, cut in 2” pieces

3-4 tablespoons all-purpose flour

3 tablespoons olive oil

Salt

Pepper

2 large onions, cut in half then cut in half again, then cut into thick slices

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 cups carrots cut into 2” chunks

5 thyme sprigs, leaves removed

2 bay leaves

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

2 teaspoons sugar

1 ½ cups beef stock

1 cup Guinness stout beer

1 short crust pastry or puff pastry

Season the meat with salt and pepper. Coat the meat with flour. You could use a zip lock bag for this.

In a heavy bottomed pot heat 1 ½ tablespoons of the olive oil Brown the meat in batches. You will need to add a little more oil for each batch up to 2 tablespoons total. Remove each batch to a plate. Add 1 more tablespoon of oil cook the onion 5 minutes. Add the garlic cook 1-2 minutes more. Add the meat back to the pot. Add Worcestershire sauce, sugar, 2 bay leaves, thyme leaves. Give this a good stir. Add the Guinness stout beer and beef broth; add just a pinch more salt and pepper. Give a good stir. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and cook 1 ½ hours till beef is tender. Remove the lid and simmer 1 hour to let the gravy thicken. Store this filling for your pie overnight in the refrigerator. This will allow the flavors to develop. Next day reheat the beef mixture. Prepare your short crust or puff pastry. Fill a 9 inch pie pan with the beef mixture. Top with the crust. Make a few cuts in the crust to vent. Bake in a 400 degree oven 20-30 minutes till golden.

Note: You could also add mushrooms. Cook them 5-8 minutes remove to a plate, and then cook the onion and garlic.

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Creamy Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin Pie
Pumpkin Pie

I work with a really sweet lady named Joyce. We have become really good friends over the last seven years; her birthday was a little over a week ago. Joyce had passed a comment at work that she didn’t want birthday cake this year she just wanted a pumpkin pie. I instantly was dreaming of that yummy creamy, spicy pumpkin pie I love to bake for Thanksgiving. Joyce and our dear friend Danny, and I always get together and celebrate each others birthdays. I would have no problem surprising our birthday girl with the pie. While I’m at it I thought I’ll make two, I have to have one to taste to make sure it’s just right!  I met Joyce in the parking lot before we went in and surprised her with the pie. I loved seeing the smile on her face. It’s so fun to surprise people! I’m sure she never thought her wish for pie instead of cake would come true. We all had a lovely dinner and gave Joyce gifts to celebrate her birthday. When I saw Joyce at work that week she told me she really loved the pie. Well so did my husband, son, and I. Our pie was gone in 24 hours I guess we love pumpkin pie! This will be one of the creamiest pumpkin pies you’ve ever had and the spices put it over the top.

Assemble the pie crust ingredients.
Assemble the pie crust ingredients.
Whisk the flour,and salt together.
Whisk the flour,and salt together.
Add the butter and shortening. Cut in with a pastry blender.
Add the butter and shortening. Cut in with a pastry blender.
It should look like this. Now with a fork slowly add water and the dough will start to stick together and form a ball. You may not need all the water.
It should look like this. Now with a fork slowly add water and the dough will start to stick together and form a ball. You may not need all the water.
Wrap the dough and refrigerate 1-1 1/2 hours.
Wrap the dough and refrigerate 1-1 1/2 hours.
Roll out the dough on a floured board.
Roll out the dough on a floured board.
Put the crust in the pie plate and crimp the edges.
Put the crust in the pie plate and crimp the edges.

Pie crust

Yields double crust

12 oz. Flour, 1 ½ cups

½ Teaspoon salt

4oz. Ice cold butter in cubes, 1 stick butter

4oz. Ice cold solid shortening, ½ cup, I use Crisco

2-4oz. Ice cold water

In a medium size bowl add the flour and the salt. Whisk together with a wire whisk to incorporate the flour and the salt. Add the ice cold butter, and shortening. Cut in with a pastry blender till pea size pieces appear. Add 1 tablespoon of the water at a time into the flour butter mixture. Only use enough water to bring the dough together into a ball. Shape the dough into 2 discs. I used the entire dough for my pie. I have a large pie plate and I like to have lots of dough to work with. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1-1 1/2hours. Remove from plastic, flour a large cutting board or your counter top. Dust the rolling pin and roll out the dough it should fit your pie pan with at least 2 inches hanging over. Trim up the dough around the pie plate tuck it under all the way around and crimp the edges. Place the pie crust in the refrigerator for 20 minutes to get it cold again. This will help you get a flaky crust. Add your filling.

 

Assemble your ingredients for the filling.
Assemble your ingredients for the filling.
Beat egg with a whisk.
Beat egg with a whisk.
Add the evaporated milk, milk or cream which ever your using. Whisk together.
Add the evaporated milk, milk or cream which ever your using. Whisk together.
Add the spices and salt. whisk again.
Add the spices and salt. whisk again.
Add the pumpkin puree and whisk to combine all ingredients.
Add the pumpkin puree and whisk to combine all ingredients.
Pour filling into prepared crust. Bake at 425 degrees for 10 minutes. Then lower the temperature to 350 degrees and bake 50-55 minutes longer.
Pour filling into prepared crust. Bake at 425 degrees for 10 minutes. Then lower the temperature to 350 degrees and bake 50-55 minutes longer.
Serve the pie with fresh whipped cream and just a little sifting of ground cinnamon.
Serve the pie with fresh whipped cream and just a little sifting of ground cinnamon.

Pumpkin Pie filling

2 Extra-large eggs

1 1/3 Evaporated milk, 1  12 oz can

½ Cup whole milk, or heavy cream

2/3 Cup granulated sugar

1/3 Cup light brown sugar, lightly packed

1 ½ Teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 Teaspoon ground ginger

1/8 Teaspoon ground cloves

1/8 Teaspoon ground nutmeg

 1/8 Teaspoon ground cardamom

½ Teaspoon salt

2 Cups solid packed pumpkin, I use Libby’s

In a large bowl beat eggs with a wire whisk. Add the evaporated milk and the milk, or heavy cream whisk gently together. Add the sugar, spices, and salt whisk gently. Add the pumpkin and whisk again to combine all ingredients together. Pour into your prepared pie crust. Bake at 425 degrees for the first 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350 degrees and bake for 40-55 minutes. Cool on a wire rack completely. Refrigerate the pie for 3-4 hours before serving. I serve the pie with whipped cream with a sprinkle of sifted cinnamon.

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