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It all started with a chicken…




I am super proud of this guy…by far one of my more successful first attempts at a first time recipe. Which means if I can do it…get excited….you can too. I’ve been wanting to make a home made chicken pot pie since December. One of my room mates Emily made one for our house Christmas celebration which was super delicious and different then the other I’ve had. I found this recipe on allrecies.com and since all the recipes can be reviewed by users, this one promised to be a good one with 5 whopping stars!

This recipe was very much from scratch even down to the poultry seasoning and pie dough that I made. The recipe can be much easier if you decide to buy these things…of course. Instead of buying chicken breasts I bought a whole chicken and decided to roast it in the oven. I decided to make my own poultry seasoning and after looking at a few recipes and realizing that they all had marjoram and I’ve only ever misread marjoram, I decided I would have to improvise. I ended up using a teaspoon of celery salt, thyme, sage, ground nutmeg and garlic powder since that was the gist of all of them.

As for the chicken, I decided to go with the bundt pan method. If you haven’t already given this a try, I highly recommend it. The chicken can go in the center of the pan and of course all the drippings are caught in the bottom of the pan. Add some water to the bottom of the bundt pan, or beer, or apple juice.This time I did water, but I’ve done both beer and apple juice before for some extra flavor. I ended up putting a pie pan under the bundt pan since there is a whole in the center part of the bundt that will cause you some problems if you just put that in without it.

To prepare the bird, you grease him down with a little vegetable oil and then if you want to be just like me and keep you hands clean, use a shopping back to rub on your seasoning. Easy. I threw him in the oven for 20 min at 400 but I had to put some more time on the clock to make sure he was done. The quickest way to check is if you have a meat thermometer, however, you can cut into a thick part of the thigh and make sure the juices run clear. I think it may have take an additional 20 min or so. It might be wise to consult a recipe…but I wasn’t making roasted chicken for dinner :o) Oh wait…I took note, I did 400 degrees for 40 min then down to 375 for 20 min. I’m sure there is a happy medium, but that was my formula for done chicken!
While the bird was in the oven I started on the pie crust. This recipe is awesome and I highly suggest making it for your sweet or savory pies. It couldn’t be easier. I have to say I was super skeptical on the consistency, but it worked out really well. The ingredients are basic: flour, sugar, salt, butter, and ice water. Grab your food processor for this job. The recipe says that you use anywhere from 6 to 8 teaspoons of ice water. When the dough comes together you can stop adding water…which is what I’m demonstrating below. I added 6 and it was just enough. The 2nd time I made the dough I used all 8…so consistency…is not my thing.
 The recipe also says that if you want a flaky crust to knead the dough a bit before wrapping it up and putting it in the refrigerator. Note that this dough is going to be really hard when you pull it out of the refrigerator. It actually freaked me out when I pulled it out. I thought I was going to be terrible not to mention terribly hard to work with since it was so hard. Remember that a good portion of the dough is butter and that butter hardens when it’s in the refrigerator and also helps make the layers of the crust delicious. You’ll see pictures later, but a rolling pin will be your friend when it’s time to work it out.
So, I did all the roasting and pie crust making the night before I made the pot pie. I used this recipe to make the pie with a few modifications…I excluded the peas…yuck…and used celery salt instead of celery seed and salt since, again, I didn’t have any. Honestly, who really keeps this on hand anyways?? So, my first picture below was a work of photographic art…yes, it’s the base of the celery stock that looks just like a rose. Pretty right?! Well…guess who had to pick out the onions because they didn’t read the recipe? This genius. Once again, read the recipe before you start working through it. It won’t hurt anything and save you more time in the long run. But I’m sure you already do this :( You’ll want to put your veggies and chicken (minus the onions) in a pot with water covering them and boil till tender. The onions will be a part of your gravy so those require a 2nd pot. Mistake number two for me is that not only did I forget to separate the onions, but I forgot to add the chicken in with the veggies and water…which is why they are absent. Learn from my mistakes friends….
To make the gravy, you will cook up your onions with the butter and when tender add your flour to thicken up the mix. Your chicken broth and milk will be poured into the mixture and the gravy will need some time to thicken over the heat. It will take about 10 minutes to get to the right consistency. My last picture shows what it looks like when it’s thickened a bit. Your spoon will help out with figuring that out.
As the gravy is thickening up pull your dough out start rolling it out and fitting it into the pan. Remember you’ll need a top and a bottom. I rolled out the bottom round which was impossible to make round, but you can use a knife to clean up the extra pieces and use the extra if you need to patch anything up. I ended up having extra dough so you could do fun things with the top if you wanted to:) I used the rolling pin to wrap the top piece. It was easier to roll it over the top of the pie once the veggies, chicken and gravy were poured in.
Now it’s time to assemble all hard work together…put your chicken veggie mixture in the pan and then pour in the gravy. You’ll have extra so don’t worry about trying to get it all in. I saved the gravy and used it to put on top of my sliced when I ate. Very tasty. Don’t forget to cut the extra dough off the edges and add a few wholes in the top to vent the steam from the pie.
You’ll put it in for 30 min at 425. Make sure to put your pie on a baking pan with sides like I did. Some of the gravy came out so this will save the bottom of your oven.
You will love this pot pie! I ate off of it for lunches and dinners for the next few days and was a very happy girl! And isn’t it pretty?! I used a little retro camera magic on the last photo, but it felt like a retro camera moment…I’m so proud.
Give this one a try friend…you won’t regret it!
Happy cooking and read your recipes before you cook!
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Bacon and Corn Griddle Cakes….MY WAY!



What to make when you’ve lost your wisdom teeth and cringe at the thought of eating something crunchy…..I’m not sure if you’ve had the same dilema but that’s what has been on my brain recently since getting my wisdom teeth pulled on Friday. I was lucky and didn’t have any swelling or major jaw pain like I hear others struggle with. However, I still have 4 big holes in my mouth that do nothing but collect food when I eat. Talk about frustrating. Mashed potatoes, jello, pudding, ice cream, soup…all wonderful food, but I’m sick of them! I saw this recipe on Pinterest this week and figured I would give them a try for my poor mouth.

Don’t these look fantastic?! That’s what I thought too…a big Hurray for me since I’m not the biggest fan of pancakes. I love the idea of doing something savory sweet for breakfast and this has all of those elements. Pancakes are something I just have to be in the mood for, but these looked ideal at any time of the day, breakfast or dinner. Don’t drool to quickly though…that is just the picture posted from Recipe Girl who has her own story about making these griddle cakes. Mine look a little more noivce…just like me! You’ll see my picture at the end and be super disappointed, but consider it a generous dose of reality for when you make yours. Good luck making them look this awesomely perfect.

I decided to try these for dinner tonight and wasn’t disappointed. I made a few modifications to the recipe because I forgot to grab montery jack cheese from the store and the store didn’t have chives, AND I’m not the biggest fan of corn ( I know…the list of things I’m not a fan of are growing by the posts) but also though that would be a no go for my mouth condition. Here is the recipe and next to it is what I subbed some of the ingredients for:

8 slices bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/3 cup finely chopped sweet onion
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives green onion
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2/3 cup milk
1 large egg, beaten
1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil
1 cup frozen, canned or fresh corn
1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese smoked mozzarella cheese
warm maple syrup, for serving

I have become a huge fan of smoked mozzarella but it’s such a strong flavor that it’s something to be used with consideration. I’ve used it on a few home made and naan pizzas I’ve done recently but it just isn’t quite right. But then again, I stink at making home made pizza memorable so you may not want to take my advice. I love the cheese so much that I’m willing to find recipes that it can be used in! I would LOVE to hear how others are using it and what flavors go well with it so if you know a few, send them my way. I found my round of smoked mozzarella at Fresh and Easy and I’m starting to see it at other grocery stores too. If you ever come across it, just throw it in your cart to try and see what you dream up for how to used it in your normal recipes. It’s just yummy by itself so you won’t regret buying it. For the record, It goes really well in this recipe.

So, the first thing you do is take your bacon and start browning it in the pan…while it’s doing it’s thing, cut up your sweet onion and toss it in the pan. The recipe directions (see below) says to wait till the onion starts to brown, but I say throw it in whenever you want. I didn’t run into any problems with the onions being over done doing it this way. I ran it on medium heat which gave it time brown and me time to start mixing the dry ingredients without getting too ahead of myself.

Your dry ingredients include all purpose flour (I wonder what bread flour would do to this recipe….hmm. I will try and post the outcome. I’m thinking less dense cakes at the end), baking powder, salt, cayenne pepper and green onions. Easy.

Your next step is to mix in your wet ingredients and cheese. The wet ingredients include milk, one egg (beaten a bit), vegetable oil (mine I dumped in my milk which is why it looks a little funny), and of course your cheese. I mixed all the wet ingredients in then threw a handful of cheese in. I actually think I could have done more then the 1/2 cup suggested so don’t be afraid to add more if you’re a cheese lover. After that you’ll take your onion and bacon mixture and add it to the batter.
I made the mistake of not leaving some of the bacon and onion pieces out because I thought, the more the merrier for what was going in the batter….which was right, but there is something about having that extra bacon mixture for the top….SOOO…I caved and cut up a couple strips of bacon and some more onion to make some more. I did that while I began making the cakes which gave me enough time to finish up the bacon. I actually got lucky and timed it perfectly. The 8 slices was a good amount for the batter but secretly, I say you can’t have enough bacon! Make up the whole package for goodness sake! You can just use the leftovers in  eggs or a grill cheese sandwich.
Back to the recipe….I used a 1/4 cup and my mini spatula to get the size I wanted. I ended up adding some more milk to thinn out the batter. I probably should have added a little more, but I didn’t want them to loose the cake-essence of them…the recipe suggests it too, but add milk to get your batter the consistency you’re wanting. The picture to the right is of my first one…looks okay to me!
That’s basically it. I thought it was a very easy little recipe to throw together and I’m already thinking of the other varieties I could do with this basic flour, egg, salt, baking powder batter. I think this will quite possibly be one of the new recipes on my mental recipe box when thinking about meals for the week.
And to leave you in no more suspense, here is my final product…

 Give these a try and tell me what you think. Next time I may be adventurous and add the corn…but we’ll see. Happy cooking friends!

RECIPE AND DIRECTIONS FROM RECIPE GIRL

bacon and corn griddle cakes

Yield: Eight 4-inch griddle cakes

Prep Time: 25 min

Cook Time: 25 min

These unique pancakes are stuffed with bacon, corn and cheese. A good dose of warm maple syrup makes them a delicious choice for breakfast.

Ingredients:

8 slices bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/3 cup finely chopped sweet onion
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2/3 cup milk
1 large egg, beaten
1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil
1 cup frozen, canned or fresh corn
1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
warm maple syrup, for serving

Directions:

1. In a medium skillet, cook the bacon pieces until they begin to brown. Add the onion and continue to cook until the bacon is crisp and the onion is softened. Scoop out a heaping tablespoon of the bacon mixture for topping the griddle cakes upon serving- and set it aside.

2. While the bacon is cooking, combine the flour, chives, baking powder, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Stir in the milk, egg and oil, just until moistened. Stir in the bacon mixture, corn and cheese. The mixture will be thick. If you’d like the griddle cakes to be slightly thinner than those pictured, add a little more milk to thin out the batter.

3. Heat and grease a griddle or large skillet. Pour a heaping 1/4-cup of the batter onto the griddle and cook until it is golden brown- 3 to 4 minutes per side. Repeat with the remaining batter.

4. Serve stacks of griddle cakes topped with a sprinkle of the reserved bacon/onion and a good dose of warm maple syrup.

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Italian Sausage and Squash Soup


Silky, chunky, sweet, and spicy – this autumnal soup with an Italian accent is full of texture and flavor contrasts, yet is surprisingly simple to make. It’s a spectacular tribute to the season’s abundance of golden butternut squash.” 

Definitely their words…not mine! But it draws you in to the recipe doesn’t it?! My mom made this soup last year from a Cuisine at Home Magazine (It’s a really fun cooking magazine with lots of pictures and tips/tricks and NO ADs! Got to love that. I have not yet bought a subscription but it’s on my magazine bucket list). This is by far my FAVORITE soup I’ve ever had. I get cravings for this soup and have yet to make it for myself. That’s going to change this week :)

My mom gave me the recipe but with all the moving I’ve done in the last few years, I have no idea where it is. So, I decided I would type it here so I can grab it when I need it. The first time she made it she also did a yummy bread. I’ll do a second post for the Cheesy Garlic Bread that goes awesome with this soup and any others that you make this winter soup season.

To begin, this recipe has a tip about working with squash from the magazine….

The size, shape, and density of hard winter squash, like butternut, requires careful knife work. Buy small squash if possible (easier to handle), then peel with a vegetable peeler and cut (carefully) with a sharp, heavy chef’s knife.” 

I also asked my mom if she had any tips or tricks when making this recipe. She suggested that if you don’t have a hand blender and need to use a regular blender  that you should take their suggestion about doing the blending in batches seriously! Only fill the blender half full for each batch or you are likely to decorate your kitchen ceiling and counter top with a beautiful butternut squash color. She also recommended that you put a towel over the top of the blender in case any soup seeps out of the top. The heat of the soup causes funny things to happen in that blender so less is more when blending your batches.

Enjoy!!!

Italian Sausage & Squash Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 lb bulk Italian sausage
  • 1 1/2 cups onion, diced
  • 2 T garlic minced
  • 1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded, cut into 1 inch chunks (about 1.5 lbs)
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tsp ground dried sage
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 cups baby spinach, packed
  • 3 T. Brandy
  • salt and pepper to taste

Brown sausage in 1 T of oil in a skillet over medium-high heat until cooked through. Drain on a paper towel-lined plate; set aside

Sweat onion and garlic in 1 T. oil in a large pot over medium heat until soft, 5 min. Increase heat to medium-high, add squash and pepper flakes, and saute 5 min.

Stir in broth and water, bring to a boil and simmer until squash is very soft, about 10 min. Puree soup with a hand blender (or in batches in a standard blender), then add bell pepper, cream, sage, and sugar; simmer until bell pepper is tender, about 5 min. Stir in spinach, brandy, and sausage, and simmer until spinach wilts and sausage is heated through, about 2 min; season with salt and pepper.

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My turn…Sweet and Spicy Buffalo Wings


 

So, I decided it was a good idea to give these babies a try since I offered the recipe in my last post. Can’t know if they are good if I don’t at least try them.

So, tonight was my trial run…(see recipe from last post) . I donned my cute apron (yes I made it!), a sassy smile and got to work. (That may have actually been a pinched smile….threw my back out this morning and was feeling the pain!)

I took an awesome picture of all the ingredients, but it didn’t save on my phone…so here’s the run down of what I used: 2.3lbs of chicken wings, Louisiana hot sauce (didn’t even know they sold it but thanks to Fresh and Easy, I was educated), butter, honey, pinch of cayenne pepper, ground pepper and garlic salt. The recipe calls for 6 pounds of chicken wings but since I was just making these for myself I figured 2 lbs was plenty. I decided to half the recipe for the sauce but I could have halved that as well and had plenty. Here’s a run down of how it all went.

Step 1: Seasoning the wings…I decided to season the wings with a little salt and pepper…mostly because that’s what I feel you’re suppose to do. I don’t actually know if this helped or hindered the flavor. The recipe suggests that you grill the wings, but I don’t have a grill, so deep frying was the easier solution for me.

Step 2: Making the Sauce….I decided to do 3/4 butter, 3/4 cup hot sauce, and 1/2 cup honey and vegetable oil for the frying…these were all added together in my sauce pan along with the pinches of seasoning. They simmered together for 10 min while I began deep frying the wings.

 

Step 3: Frying the Wings…I set my temperature at 6 on the stove since that’s the warmest it could get. I figured the hotter the better! So I dropped the wings in and heard them cracking and popping. Before I knew it they were golden brown and I was proud of myself for how they were coming out.

HOWEVER, I was getting ready to take a bite into one and a little voice in my head sounding a lot like Alton Brown said something like…”Check the temperature of your oil. You want to make sure that it cooks the chicken all the way through which can be the toughest part of making fried chicken.” THANK GOODNESS that voice of Alton Brown…or the Holy Spirit…chimed into my cooking. I cut it the wing close to the bone and sure enough it was golden brown, but pinky pink on the inside. Fail for Jessica. I pulled the other wing out of the oil and decided to check that one as well…strike two. Bummer.

I decided to do a little research on the internet to get a better idea of cooking temperature and how long I should expect it to take to cook and crisp the wing. Thanks to OC Chef.com I did a quick 101 course on deep frying chicken wings. This site said it should take 8 to 10 minutes to cook up and that the oil should be at 375 degrees. I don’t have a thermometer anymore so I decided to crank my heat down from a 6 to a 4 and see how it went. The next wings cooked up in the 8 to 10 min time frame and were cooked all the way through…praise the Lord! I was back in business!

 I put them in batches of 4 or 5 and that seemed to be just the right amount for the pot I chose to use. Too many more and they would have been crowded. I found that a few of them stuck together in my first batch so after I dropped in the second batch I made sure to put the tongs in there to separate them a bit.

It took me a while to get my 2lbs of wings cooked up because it did take 8 to 10 min a batch. If I had any more then the 2lbs I would have been frustrated. Eventually they were done…this picture demonstrates my “MMMMM yummy” face :)

Step 4: TOSSING THE WINGS…. I decided to toss them in the sauce but then finish them up in the oven since it had taken so long for them to finish frying and the first batch was getting cooler. The oven ideas was not in the recipe because they grilled them, but remember, I’m an experimental cook and SOMETIMES I have success! I used a bowl and tongs to get the tossing going. SIDE NOTE…I really wanted to be like one of those amazing chefs who can toss things in a bowl instead of stirring….but I was pretty sure I was going to look like I had killed someone when wing sauce splattered all over me during a incredibly dumb tossing move that landed the wings all over me and the floor. Sometimes my desire to be a professional chef is outweighed by my God given intelligence and common sense. I can just see my room mates walking in  to me flat on the floor because I had REALLY thrown out my back when I attempted to execute the tossing mix move…ugh. All that to say, the tongs worked beautifully!!
I used only part of the sauce on them since I was putting them in oven. I figured I would take them out and toss them in the rest of the sauce before digging in. Once the wings were coated, I put them on a foil lined baking sheet and put them in the oven at 400 degrees for 5 min. That ended up being not quite enough time for them to look the way I was hoping, so I left them in for another 5 min….total of 10 min. Here’s what they looked like when I took them out! Golden delicious :) I had extra sauce which I used to pour over them. I plated them and added my little cup of blue cheese dressing and dug in. TA DA!!!
So, how did they turn out?!?!
AWESOME! I was so very proud of the way that they looked and tasted. They definitely smelled and had the typical buffalo wing taste yet, the honey gave them a whole new flavor that I really wasn’t expecting. When you first taste the sauce you’ll get the sweet of the honey on the front, but as it sits on your tongue you get the kick of the hot sauce. It was a very tasty balance and the blue cheese dressing complemented everything very well. You’ll notice my glass of water in the picture, which is definitely recommended.  I assume most wing eaters would prefer a beer with their wings and IF I liked beer (I know….weird palate again..) I would have indulged.
Now that I can highly recommend this recipe, here’s what I would do differently next time.
1. I would probably use a bigger pan. It took a long time for all those wings to cook when I was doing 5 at a time. I could have also used my deep fryer to get the job done easier.
2. I would have waited to start the sauce when I was dropping my last wings. It was done way too early and though this didn’t seem to affect the taste or consistency of the sauce, the timing was off. I’m still trying to learn timing in cooking so it’s good that I make notes of these things :)
FAILURES:
1. I messed up the oil temperature…if you have a thermometor, use it. That would keep me from playing the guessing game. The above mentioned website gave a tip you can try to use to make sure the temperature is just right…they say to drop in a small piece of bread. If it takes the bread 60 seconds to get golden brown, then your oil is the right temperature! I didn’t try this because I had no bread on hand, but I will in the future.
SUCESSES
1. Sauce turned out great! Very happy with the Louisiana hot sauce I found at Fresh and Easy. In this case the cheaper brand served me well!
2. Deep frying was a good idea! I don’t think I would have appreciated them as much if they had not gotten the crispy coating on them. I’ll do it this way every time, though I would also like to try baking them and see if the results are similar.
2. Halving the recipe for the wing sauce was great for 2.3lbs of wings. There was plenty for everything I wanted to use it for. I had extra when I was all done, but it’s always easier to have more sauce then not enough. I saved the little bit I had left and thought it might be good next time I grill up shrimp or chicken. We’ll see if it sits in my fridge or if I use it!

3. Checking the wings for pinkness! Can’t say enough about how I’m glad I checked it. Life is too busy for me to be giving myself food poisoning!
4. Had good tunes playing to keep me company!  Thanks to Spotify to keep me entertained. I had some fun singing along to songs while I waited for the wings to finish frying up. If you don’t have a cooking buddy, I recommend bringing in some tunes :)
In conclusion…I highly recommend these to you and encourage you to tell me how your version of these go! I would say this is a perfect recipe for a novice cook and you’ll be guaranteed tasty results. If you have any more tips and tricks, I’ll happily hear them! Thanks for reading and happy buffalo winging :)
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