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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Chicken Salad With Apricots

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These delicious tea sandwiches are the favorite at every tea party I have hosted to date. The chicken is baked with fresh herbs and chicken stock, which boosts the flavor and tenderness of the chicken. The red onion and celery are tradition flavors. The surprise ingredient of dried apricots gives a sweet note and makes this chicken salad unique. I learned the recipe by making it over and over again at the Mulberry Tea Room where I worked several years ago. I have many of the recipes stuck in my head. I enjoy using them for tea parties and special lunches. I never measure ingredients, I go by sight.  The chicken is topped with fresh chopped thyme, sage, kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper. Chicken stock is poured over, but not covering the chicken and then baked. I chop some red onion and a stalk or two of celery, then grab a handful of dried apricots from the bag and chop 4 or 5 of them. When the chicken is finished baking, it rests for a few minutes, then chopped and cut into a small dice. Then toss the onion, celery, and apricots with the chicken to see if the amounts look balanced. I generally add less onion then celery. I don’t want to overpower the other ingredients. I then add a tablespoon of the stock that the chicken was cooked in, and give it a toss. Add the mayonnaise now a few tablespoons at a time. You want it to be coated nicely but not too heavy. Adjust your seasoning of salt and pepper to taste. For the tea sandwiches you will want thin bread. I like using white and wheat. The bread should buttered with room temperature butter, then heap a big spoonful of the chicken salad in the middle of the buttered bread and smooth it out. I like to cut the sandwiches into triangles; rectangles would be nice as well. They look so pretty on a serving platter. The crusts don’t usually go to waste; anyone helping with the cutting of the sandwiches gets to snacking and sharing with whoever’s hanging around. There always some left over salad hanging out between the crusts.

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Chicken Salad with Apricots

4 skinless boneless chicken breasts

½ -3/4 cup chicken stock

Fresh sage and thyme, chopped, enough to sprinkle over the chicken

Kosher salt and Fresh cracked pepper to taste

1 small red onion, chopped finely

2 stalks of celery, chopped finely

4-5 dried apricots, chopped

3-4 tablespoons of mayonnaise

Place the chicken in a baking dish. Top with chopped herbs, kosher salt, fresh cracked pepper, and chicken stock. Bake the chicken at 350 degrees till the internal temperature is 160 degrees. Remove from the oven, cover with foil and rest 10 minutes. Chop the onion, celery, and apricots. When the chicken is cool enough to handle cut it into a small dice. In a medium bowl add the chicken, onion, celery, apricots, 1 tablespoon of the chicken stock, and mayonnaise. Toss to coat evenly; adjust the seasoning of the salt and pepper to your taste.

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Sweet Corn

The 4th of July is quickly approaching; I’m already dreaming of my favorite sautéed corn. I know it will have to be on the menu. Local corn is now popping up at the farmers market near my home. This sauté tastes so sweet, with fresh corn, zucchini, red peppers, shallots, fresh thyme, and fresh basil. It’s delightful! I’ve made this many times, even in the winter with frozen corn, it still tastes amazing. I served the corn sauté at my Christmas dinner a few years ago; my sister-in-law said “anyone that can make corn taste that good can cook.” I was pretty happy to serve something everyone truly enjoyed. So, year round fresh or frozen, this corn sauté is always welcome on my family table.

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4 Ears fresh corn on the cob, remove corn from cob, frozen corn may be used

2 Medium shallots, chopped

1 large red bell pepper, diced

2 small zucchini, diced

3 Tablespoons olive oil

1 Tablespoon butter

4 Sprigs of fresh thyme, remove from stems

5 fresh basil leaves, julienned

Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper

In a large skillet over medium heat melt the tablespoon of butter and add the olive oil. Add the shallot and cook 3 minutes, add the red pepper, and fresh thyme leaves cook 4 minutes, add the zucchini, salt and pepper cook until tender 4-5 minutes. Add the corn removed from the cob cook 4-5 minutes more. Finish with a sprinkling of fresh basil and salt and pepper to taste.

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Meatloaf with brown gravy

Meatloaf with brown gravy.
Meatloaf with brown gravy

Most families have their own favorite meatloaf recipe. I have been working on a meatloaf recipe for a while now. I’ve wanted a change from the one I’d always used. I want a moist flavorful bite and it would have to have gravy instead of the ketchup and brown sugar mixture I used to put on top. I took out the milk and bread crumbs so I needed to replace the liquid and the binder. I decided to try oatmeal as the binder, beef stock, and some tomato sauce as the liquid. In olive oil I saute chopped shallots, and fresh minced garlic. Then I add fresh thyme leaves to release their flavor. I also add freshly chopped flat leaf parsley in the mixing stage. With a small amount of the juices from the cooked meatloaf I make delicious brown gravy. This meatloaf is pure comfort food. I serve it with mash potatoes, and fresh green beans. The perfect dinner for hungry guests.

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Meat Loaf with brown gravy

2/3 lb. ground pork

2/3 lb. ground veal

1 lb. ground beef

2-4 large shallots, chopped

1 large clove garlic, minced

3-4 thyme sprigs

1 teaspoon olive oil

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

½ cup tomato sauce

½ cup beef stock

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1 cup old fashioned oats

1 bunch fresh parsley, chopped

Salt and Pepper

Gravy:

1 tablespoon fat from baked meatloaf

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

2 tablespoons flour

2 cups beef stock

Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven 350 degrees

Heat a skillet over medium heat. Chop the shallot, mince the garlic, and remove the thyme leaves from the stems. Run your knife through the thyme. Add the shallot to the skillet cook 3 minutes. Then add the thyme and garlic cook 1-2 minutes. You don’t want to burn the garlic. Set aside. In a large bowl gently break apart your meat. Add the shallot mixture, eggs, tomato sauce, beef stock, Worcestershire sauce, oats, salt and pepper, and fresh parsley. Gently mix just to incorporate the ingredients. In a 9×13” Pyrex glass dish.  Turn the meat mixture out into the center and shape the meat in a loaf. Bake 50 minutes or till your meat thermometer reads 180 degrees. Remove the meat loaf from the baking dish to a plate and cover it with foil. Scrape the fat and bits in the baking dish; remove all but 1 tablespoon of the fat. Place the baking dish over a burner on medium low. Add 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter to the fat whisk in the flour this will make a roux. Cook till smooth and bubbly about 2 minutes. Raise heat to medium high whisk in the flour scraping up all the bites from the bottom of the pan bring to a boil and then lower heat to medium low and let simmer, stir with whisk cook about 5 minutes more. Strain the gravy and sever over or on the side of the meatloaf.

If you are a fan of mushrooms, sauté 1 1/2 cups of Baby Bella mushrooms in 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter. Cook about 8 minutes stirring once. add to the gravy and serve over the meatloaf.

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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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Janet’s Beef Stew

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November’s here and there’s a  chill in the air today. I’m remembering the yummy comfort food dinners I made for my kids when they were young. One of their favorites was their Grandmother Janet’s beef stew. We made this stew together on one of her visits to Washington, State where we lived at the time. I have used this recipe ever since that day with just a few tweaks of my own. One of the magic ingredients in this stew is the fresh lemon juice. It gives the stew a fresh flavor. The beef, onion, garlic, fresh thyme, and Worcestershire sauce are mingling together in the pot. Then I add a big squeeze of half a fresh lemon. When the lemon juice hits the bottom of the pan the fragrance makes you instantly hungry. When I’m really craving a heartier dish, I omit the quartered potatoes and mash potatoes and top them with the stew and yummy gravy. I serve homemade biscuits with soft butter to dip in the gravy. I’m making this stew today and cherishing those memories of the past.

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Janet’s Brown Stew

2lb. boneless beef chuck, cut into 1”cubes

¼ cup flour to dreg the meat, optional

4 cups hot water

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 large onion, ½ chopped and half sliced in half

2 bay leaves

Fresh thyme, 3 sprigs

2 tsp. Salt

½ tsp. pepper

6 carrots, sliced into rounds

4 potatoes, diced

Canola oil, as needed to brown meat

In a heavy saucepan, brown meat in canola oil. I like to dreg the meat in flour with salt and pepper this is optional. You don’t want to crowd the meat the browning is very important to the flavor of the stew. Do the meat in batches and set aside. Add chopped onion cook 4-5 minutes till tender and then add the garlic cook 1-2 minutes. Add the meat back to the saucepan, bay leaves, fresh thyme leaves, Worcestershire, salt, and pepper, and lemon juice. Add the potatoes and carrots. bring to a boil, lower heat to a simmer after the boil. simmer 3-4 hours. If you want a thicker gravy use 2 tablespoons of cornstarch mixed with a little water. Stir the cornstarch mixture into the stew then boil for 1 minute. Serve with biscuits or crusty bread.

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Mincemeat over Pappardelle

Mincemeat over pappardelle.
Mincemeat over pappardelle.

Mincemeat was a meal my Mom made when I was a young girl. It was a good cheap meal to feed a big family like ours. I always thought it was rather bland, but my Mom and Dad loved it so much we had it as a regular meal. I have never made this meal for my own family it just never appealed to me. I thought it would be fun to reinvent it. The ingredients in my Mom’s mincemeat were chopped onion and ground beef. I remember her serving it over egg noodles, my sister remembers mash potatoes.  The noodles appeal more to me for this dish so I’m going with them. I decided to saute the onion separately from the meat. Mom always put the onion and meat together in a frying pan. I added kosher salt, pepper, and pulled the leaves off of fresh thyme and sprinkled them over thickly sliced onion, and let the onions caramelize a bit. I cooked the ground beef separately, then drained the fat from the meat and added some Worcestershire sauce, concentrated tomato paste, kosher salt and black pepper. To make a sauce I stirred in a little flour and some beef stock. It’s was really looking good at this point! I combined the meat and onion then let it simmer for 20 minutes for the flavors to marry. I then served it over the egg noodles and grated a little cheese over top. I thought the presentation was really nice. It tasted delicious, a dish you would serve on a cold day with a piece of buttered bread. If my Mom and Dad could taste my remake I just bet they would have loved it.

Saute onion with kosher salt, Pepper, and fresh thyme.
Saute onion with kosher salt, Pepper, and fresh thyme.
Fry the ground beef. The drain off the fat. Return to the pan add Worcestershire sauce, concentrated tomato paste, salt, pepper. Stir in flour tossing well with the meat. Slowly add the beef broth to make a gravy.
Fry the ground beef. The drain off the fat. Return to the pan add Worcestershire sauce, concentrated tomato paste, salt, pepper. Stir in flour tossing well with the meat. Slowly add the beef broth to make a gravy.
Cook your pappardelle.
Cook your pappardelle.
Serve with freshly grated cheese.
Serve with freshly grated cheese.

Enjoy!

Minced Meat

1 lb. ground beef 85/15

1 large onion, slice thickly and then cut in half

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon concentrated tomato paste

Fresh thyme, 5 sprigs

1 tablespoon flour

1 ¼ cups beef stock

Salt and pepper, to taste

Egg pappardelle

1 tablespoon butter

Parmigiano Reggiano, grated

In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle thyme leaves over the onion. Cook onion until it is brown. Transfer to a bowl. Using the same skillet cook the ground beef. Drain off the fat. Add the onion to the pan with the meat. Stir Worcestershire sauce, and concentrated tomato paste into meat mixture. Add flour, stir into the meat mixture and then slowly add your stock in let cook till it’s thick and bubbly. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper. Serve over the egg pappardelle and sprinkle freshly grated cheese over top. Cook the pappardelle according to the package direction. Add 1 tablespoon butter to the cooked noodles, season with salt and pepper.

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