When is a chicken pot pie too much?

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I have no one to blame but myself. I exhausted myself making chicken pot pie. I bought into the easy-breezy style of the tv chef. I watched the episode and stored it away in my old mind, excited for the changes. I have made plenty of chicken pot pies. My previous attempts have resulted in soggy crusts. Not enough filling, too big a pan? Probably all of the above. This chicken pot pie is different. A few more steps. Cream cheese in the pie crust???? I am promised a flaky, bubbly pot pie. Why not?

I will tell you why not. After 700 steps, 50 pans and utensils, the final step is what flabbergasted me. “Put chicken pot pie in freezer for 15 minutes until the dough feels frozen.” If I had room in my freezer for a chicken pot pie, I’d have bought one. I have chopped, stirred, shredded, rolled, chilled, cooled off and grated. For hours. I followed each step with the focus of a dog, waiting for food to drop. I became dehydrated, forced  to drink 10 glasses of water. Now at 3am Hubs and I will be positioning for the bathroom. I still have laundry to do. Knitting? Someday. I have emptied the trash twice and run the dishwasher once. This process has been ongoing for hours.  I am now chilling the filling before I bake it. Hot filling in a cold crust is a no-no.

Why does only the pie dough get to rest for 20 minutes? I have done all the work.  I am heading to the couch with a coffee drip. Wake me in 30.

In lieu of the freezer step, I rolled out the dough and placed it in the pie plate, and the other crust on a cookie sheet, and placed them in the fridge. I call this my work around. I am now measuring all efforts by what needs to be hand washed or placed in the dishwasher. My efforts of rolling out the pie dough fell a little short. A little tug. A little pull. Good enough. The raw dough tastes delish! Crimping is crucial. I don’t want anything boiling over and under the crust. I speak from experience. I fork the crust. I pour the cooled filling from the bowl into the pie pan. Bowl and fork, dishwasher. Cookie sheet. Rolling pin. Hand wash. Damn it. I have to beat an egg to create an egg wash. Spread over top pie crust. Cut slits into crust for venting. What do you do with leftover egg wash? Sometimes I microwave it and then throw it out. I’m too weak. No lunch. Just water. Bowl, spreading thingy, knife, and another fork…..dishwasher. I placed the pie plate on another cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. I just looked up and saw people outside. Walking. Freely. In the warm sunshine. Sigh. A ray of sun has landed on my tablecloth. Crumbs.  Parmesan? When…what…. oh, never mind. Add to laundry…some.day.

Pot pie is in the pre-heated oven. Please say prayers for me.

DONE! It is beautiful. Golden brown and bubbling, just as promised. No soggy top crust, no oozing filling. Will I make this again? Meh. It was delicious, but it’s very time-consuming to prepare. At the end of the day, it’s chicken pot pie, tasty but labor intensive.

 

InstantPot Black Bean Soup

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Black Bean Soup. It’s not pretty, but it’s delicious and filling. This tasted better the next day. I stumbled upon this looking for healthier eats. I managed to make it a little less healthy. It’s a gift. I doubled the sausage and served it with rice. You’re welcome. I plead the Czech Republic. I don’t know if this belongs to any nationality, or if there’s a great story behind it. I’d figure it out and share, but apparently, people don’t want food bloggers to tell stories or have a voice. Meh to you all. Then don’t talk about food or included recipes in your books. Enough said.

Ingredients

1 tbsp olive oil

1 cup coarsely chopped onion

1 tbsp chili powder

1 1/2 tsp ground cumin

1 1/2 tsp dried oregano

2 cups water

2 tbsp. tomato paste

4 cups vegetable or any stock

1  (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes

2 carrots peeled and diced

1 lb. (2 1/2 cups) dried black beans, picked over and rinsed

12 ounces andouille sausage, diced

4 to 6 garlic cloves, minced

2 bay leaves

salt to taste

In a 6 quart InstantPot, heat oil on sauté. Stir in the onions, carrots, tomato paste, chili powder, cumin and oregano. Cook until the onions are soft, stirring frequently. Your kitchen should smell heavenly. Add the diced sausage. Stir to brown for about a minute. The sausage is already fully cooked. I like to add it now for a little color.

Add the water, stock, tomatoes, garlic and bay leaves.  I swirl a little water in the tomato can to get all the tomato goodness. That’s what grandma would do! I wait before I add salt. The sausage is salty. I only add a little salt to the onions when they are softening.

Lock the lid in place. I use the manual setting for 40 minutes. Go have a snack or a cup of coffee. You’ve got 40 minutes to yourself. At the 40 minute mark, allow the pressure to release naturally for 15 minutes. The thing-a-ma-jig should drop and then you can open the lid. Don’t forget to shut off and unplug the InstantPot.

Give this ugly beauty a stir. I like to use my immersion blender and give it a quick whirl. You don’t have to. I like the blended look. First, take out the bay leaves. You don’t want to whirl those into your soup. This soup thickens as it cools. You can serve it with guacamole, sour cream, salsa, a little cheese…..dress it up if you’d like. I tend to only put a dollop of sour cream on it. I serve it over some rice. Yep. Dinner in a bowl. I find making it the day before allows all the flavors to become friends. Most soups taste better the next day.

After it cools, I freeze lunch size portions. I also freeze some rice. YES! You can freeze rice. Together, this makes a great lunch. It’s filling and won’t slop around your lunch box. I brought it to work, and people came to see what was smelling so good in the microwave!

Here is the original recipe! Enjoy!

 

 

Flatbread Pizza with Spinach, Caramelized Onions, and Feta!

I was looking for something a little different and quick. I had almost forgotten this recipe. It’s simple and takes just a little planning. The most time-consuming part is caramelizing the onions. This is what rotisserie chickens were made for!

Knosh and Knit: the world according to Nora

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I know I have posted this before. This recipe absolutely deserves to be revisited. What do you make when you don’t feel like cooking? THIS! You can eat in 30 minutes.The hardest part is caramelizing the onions. If you can thinly slice onions and turn on a burner, you are almost done! If you are good at planning (not particularly, thank you) you can make the onions the night before and then put them in the fridge. You can do this while cleaning up dinner dishes, or throwing in some laundry. It will take about 15-20 minutes. Pour olive oil in a hot pan, place thinly sliced onions into pan. Sprinkle salt on onions. Stir. Stir. Stir. When the onions start to soften, put a lid on the pan and lower the heat a little. Check them after 5 minutes. They should start to brown. Cook until they are as brown…

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Strawberry Spinach Salad with Candied Pecans

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It’s important to use the best quality product of each season. Right now we have an abundance of juicy strawberries. This salad uses some of my favorite ingredients. What is life without an aged balsamic? . Throw in some creamy goat cheese and spinach and you will have my full attention! It’s simple and has something for everyone. A little sweet, a little savory and lots of flavor.

Traditional balsamic vinegar is always labelled Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale and carries a D.O.P. (“Denominazione di Origine Protetta”) stamp — a European Union certification that guarantees an ingredient’s quality, production, and place of origin. You don’t cook with this aged balsamic. You drizzle this syrup over foods like fresh strawberries. It enhances the flavors of foods. You can even put it on vanilla ice cream. Buy the good stuff. It’s expensive but a little goes a long way.

Candied Pecans

2 tbsp butter

1 cup pecan halves

2 tbsp brown sugar

Melt the butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Toss in the pecans and brown sugar. Sir to coat the pecans. Cook over medium heat until the sugar begins to caramelize. It takes about 3 minutes. Don’t walk away! It’s easy to burn the pecans. Stay with the 3 minute time frame. It’s better they are a little under done than burnt. Spread out the pecans on wax or parchment paper and cool. Go ahead. Sample a FEW! They are sweet, but not too sweet.

Salad

6 ounces of baby spinach leaves

1 1/2 cups sliced strawberries, stems removed (or more!)

Small log of plain goat cheese, sliced (or more!!)

Balsamic vinegar

Olive oil

salt and pepper

In a large bowl, place the spinach, strawberries, goat cheese and pecans. Drizzle some balsamic and olive oil over salad. Add a pinch of salt and pepper. Toss gently. Wait until right before you want to serve this salad, before you add the dressing.  You can add more strawberries or goat cheese if you’d like. It’s a salad! Go crazy!

Happy Summer!

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Here’s the original recipe

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They tell me it’s summer. As I walk the countless steps through the kitchen, I pass a chair with a rainbow of blue coats, piled on its’ back. Such a burden to carry the weight of the weather on your rails. My fleece jacket is backpack ready for the icy air in our antiquated building. My spring coat is warmth from the damp, early morning air. Train station approved. My long raincoat is ready for a tempestuous Northeast storm. A warranty from a rainy, long ago college graduation. My blue coats.

They tell me it’s summer.

Turkey in the morning, turkey in the evening, turkey at supper time….

 

If you are reading this, you have survived 2016 successfully! Good for you. Did you make an resolutions? Didn’t think so. Every Sunday I get deep and introspective. I thought today would be even more so, but it was not. I am glad to see 2016 go, but nervous about 2017. I don’t think we should put pressure on the new year. It’s up to us to be successful and happy. Is it about choosing a small safe world or taking risk and chance in a big scary world? Meh. I’d rather think about cooking food for the ones that I love.

I found this Turkey Chili recipe in the Washington Post. This is a Sarah Moulton recipe. She was the host of one of the Food Network’s first shows. I loved watching her awkward knife skills, being a lefty. Every time I say “impeccably clean hands” I think of her. What? You don’t use that phrase? You should! It reminds me to keep washing my hands to avoid cross-contamination. She was a great teacher, and I learned many things from her. She’s moved on from the Food Network to PBS and is still cooking and writing about cooking.

I’ve adapted the recipe a little. Her recipe is here.

Turkey Chili

1 cup finely chopped onion

¼ cup vegetable oil, plus more for brushing tortillas

1 tbsp. minced garlic

2 pounds ground turkey or chicken

1 tbsp. chili powder

2 tsp. ground cumin

¼ to ½ tsp. cayenne pepper

½ tsp. kosher salt, or more to taste

Four (or more) 6” corn tortillas

¼ cup all-purpose flour

3 cups chicken stock (store-bought works well)

2  15-ounce cans of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

1   5-oz. can of chopped green chilies

2/3 cup sour cream or plain yogurt

2 tbsp. lime juice

¾ cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

Heat oven to 375 degrees

Combine the onion and oil in a large sauce pan over medium heat; cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Increase the heat to high; add the ground turkey or chicken, the chili powder, cumin, cayenne pepper (to taste) and the ½ teaspoon of salt; cook for about 6 minutes, breaking up the meat, or until it is no longer pink.

Reduce the heat under the skillet to medium, then add the flour; cook for 3 minutes, stirring. Pour in the broth, stirring. I would put 2 cups of chicken stock in at first. I like my soup thick. If you want the soup thinner you can add more stock. Once the mixture starts bubbling, stir in the beans and green chilies. I like to mash one of the cans of beans. It helps thicken the soup. Reduce the heat to medium-low; cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the sour cream, lime juice (to taste) and season lightly with salt. Stir in about ½ cup of cheese and stir until melted. You can either add the rest now, or sprinkle it on top of your bowl.

Taste the soup. I found that I had to put a little more cumin and chili powder, as well as salt in it. It’s better to add, since you cannot take out spices once they are added.

Now for my favorite part of the soup, the tortilla toppings! On a parchment paper lined baking sheet, place tortillas in a single layer. Brush vegetable oil on the tortillas. Sprinkle salt over them. Put in the oven, on the middle rack for about 15 minutes You want the tortillas to crisp up and brown lightly. Watch them so they don’t burn. Your home will smell wonderful. Take them out of the oven to cool. If you have a rolling pin, you can crush the tortillas with it, making them into coarse crumbs or tear them into small chunks. I prefer the chunks. Of course.

Add the tortillas to the pan and let the soup bubble around them for 2 minutes. Spoon into bowl. Sniff and smell. Lower spoon into bowl, lift to mouth. Smile. It’s delicious!

NOTE: I like to make this soup the day before I plan on serving it. The flavors develop more when you wait. You can, of course, serve it immediately. Your leftovers will be fantastic!

 

Oh yay! Thanksgiving is here!

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Thanksgiving is here and you are in a panic! I can see it in your eyes…hear it in your breathing. You’ve got your kids coming home from college, in-laws staying for days, friends “stopping by.” Not only do you have to prepare a FEAST on Thursday, but there are the meals before and after that need to be planned. Oh, you didn’t think of that? Lucky for you, I have a few recipes that are easy. You can use disguised poultry for some of these meals. Don’t worry that you’re having turkey on Thursday. If you make my Tortellini sausage soup, you can use turkey or chicken sausage. Don’t tell anyone. Serve with some hot rolls (store-bought this time) and everyone will be happy! You can make this today and serve it tonight or tomorrow as your guests roll in. A hot pot on the stove makes a happy guest.

Another crowd pleaser, with disguised poultry, is my chicken enchiladas. Make it in the morning and serve it later. Buy the rotisserie chicken in the grocery store. No one will be the wiser. You have enough to do this week. This meal is quick and delicious. It can be mild or as spicy as you’d like. If anyone asks what’s in it, change the subject! “Look, is that snow?” or “I see deer in the yard!”

You’re tired and ready to collapse. You can prep a nice breakfast the night before if you make my breakfast souffle. A little bit of work at night makes for an easy breakfast in the morning. If you want to get fancy, buy some challah bread and make French Toast. You can make it and keep it warm in the oven while people wake up and stroll to the table. See, it’s easy! Check your syrup supply. Buy the bacon too!

Let me give you a few words of advice. ASK FOR HELP. I should listen to myself. You don’t have to do everything perfectly or yourself. If people ask if they can bring something, repeat after me, “Yes!” Do your best, not Martha Stewart’s best.  The holidays are about being with your family or friends, the people you care about. Everything else falls in place. Relax. Laugh. Eat. Create your own traditions.

Make a schedule of what needs to be done and when. While one thing cooks, another is prepared. Planning makes it easy.

One more thing, check your toilet paper stash. Oh, and coffee. Make sure you have enough coffee. You will make it through this week and have many happy memories-unless you run out of toilet paper!!

The holi-daze are here whether you like it or not. It won’t be long before you are suffering from frugal fatigue or host-traumatic stress disorder or making silly resolutions you will not keep. Enjoy the small moments.

Happy Thanksgiving…..breathe!!