Image

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!
Image

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.