Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Chicken Pot Pie

Chicken Pot Pie

2 lg boneless, skinless chicken breasts or leftover roasted chickenevoo
1 med. onion
1 stalk celery, diced small
2 med. carrots, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 lg. potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 cup frozen peas
salt and pepper
1 tsp. dried thyme or 3 sprigs fresh
1 bay leaf
1 sprig fresh rosemary or 1/2 tsp. dried
corn starch or flour

Put potatoes in a small pot, cover with water and cook through. Drain water and add peas to potatoes. If cooking chicken for this recipe, season with salt and pepper and sear in skillet with evoo over med hi heat until browned lightly on each side. Remove chicken, cover with foil and finish cooking in 400 degree oven. Add water to chicken skillet (about 2 cups) and use wooden spoon to deglaze. Set broth aside. If using leftover chicken, place in a small pot with about 1 tblsp. evoo, salt and pepper, and 2 cups water. Bring to a simmer. Meanwhile, sautee all veggies in 2 tblsp. evoo with herbs and bay leaf, salt and pepper until veggies begin to get tender. Sprinkle 1 tblsp. flour over veggies and cook about a min. Add chicken (with its broth) to pot with veggies and simmer until thick and bubbly. If using fresh chicken, shred or chop before adding to pot. Poor entire chicken/veggie mixture into greased deep pie plate or casserole. Top with buscuit crust. (recipe follows) Bake at 450 until golden brown. Let Stand 5 min. before serving.

Biscuit Crust
1/3 cup shortening
1 3/4 cup flour
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
3/4 cup milk

Cut shortening into flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix until size of small peas. Add milk ( a little at a time) and mix until combined and dough begins to form a ball. (I find I usually need just shy of 3/4 cup. Too much milk will make dough sticky, not enough will make it too dry.) Gather dough and knead on floured surface ten times. Roll out to 9in. round and place over pot pie. Cut shapes in top, if desired. Brush with milk or a beaten egg and bake until golden brown. *NOTE: you may also use a regular pie crust if you like--it's just as good!!

Fruit Compote

This is a great, light dessert! It's served here with a baked cinnamon pastry, but is great just plain ol' over vanilla ice cream!!

Mixed Berry Compote
1 bag frozen blueberries, strawberries, and raspberriescorn starch
1 lemon or lime
2-3 tblsp. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
pinch of salt

Cook berries in small pot on med. heat until thawed completely. Mix about 2 tblsp. cornstarch with equal amount of cold water until completely dissolved. Poor into berries, add sugar. Let simmer on med. low until slightly thickened and bubbly. Remove from heat and add vanilla and a squeeze of fresh lemon or lime (about a tblsp.) Serve over vanilla ice cream. Yield:4-6 servings

Basic Bread Dough

Sorry it's been a while! It's difficult to jot down recipes quickly because I've grown accustomed to cooking "off the cuff". I have tons of ideas, so bear with me! :) I'd like to do a series on yeast breads (which, if you know me at all, you know I am OBSESSED with!!), and will start with a basic yeast dough. This can be used for dinner rolls, loaves, pizza, stromboli, calzones, cinnamon rolls, and much, much more!! I like to make dough from scratch, because it's cheaper, sometimes healthier, and many times it tastes better. Tip: make a full batch or two, take the portion(s) you need, and freeze the rest either in the portions you want to bake or in one big lump. It keeps so well, and tastes fresh and wonderful going from freezer to oven (or toaster oven) to table!


2 1/2 tsp. quick rise dry active yeast1 cup warm water (120ish degrees)
3 tblsp. veg. or olive oil, plus extra for drizzle
2 tsp. sugar or honey
1 tsp. salt
Approx. 3 cups flour, plus extra for handling

It's good to "feel" out your dough. Start with the yeast in a mixing bowl. Add the warm water, oil sugar or honey and let everything dissolve together. Begin adding flour. (This can be done in a mixer, but I prefer to mix by hand, adding the flour a cup or half a cup at a time.) After mixing in about half the flour, add the salt. Mix in the rest of the flour, and when dough can be handled without sticking too badly, begin kneading by hand until soft and elastic, about 12-15 times. Let it rest for 1/2 hour or more. (For pizza, it can be 5-10 min.) Punch it down, knead and let it rest again, if you have the time. After the second rise, form it into whatever you want (loaf, rolls, etc.) and bake in 450 deg. oven until golden brown.

"Bosco Sticks" Variation (pictured)
After the 2nd rise, take dinner roll sized portions of dough, and wrap it around mozzarella string cheese sticks. Bake at 450 until golden brown (use a stone if you have one, if not, use a regular baking sheet). brush with melted butter immediately and sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese. YUM!!!!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Youth Pastor's Wife!

Creating inexpensive, healthful and delicious meals is a goal I strive for every day. Thankfully, I have a very encouraging (and hungry) houseful to "practice" on! As you may have guessed, my husband is the youth pastor of our church, and being part of a busy ministry gives plenty of opportunity to try new recipes and food creations! My sweet mom-in-law (the Preacher's Wife) has inspired me to share some of these recipes, so here I am! Trying to find foods that satisfy the need for "comfort" foods while keeping things fresh and healthy and maintaining a low budget can be a challenge sometimes, not to mention pleasing a 3 yr. old and a 1 yr. old at the same time! However, it is definitely NOT impossible!! Using staples from the pantry combined with simple fresh ingredients, even the kids are happy with dinner...most of the time! :) Our church youth group is a great bunch of "judges" for recipes, so I'll post some of their favorites, as well! My goal in general concerning this blog is to share my passion for food and cooking for my family. Thanks for visiting!

Simple Chicken Minestrone

So, it was about 4 degrees out yesterday! BRRRR!!!! I decided if ever there was a "soup" night, it was now! My hubby and I agreed that the same ol' chicken tortilla soup, chicken noodle, chili...those wouldn't cut it. I knew something brothy and HEARTY was what we needed, so I went to work on this one, and it was comfort in a bowl!! I recommend serving this with a nice, crusty bread to soak up all the herby broth at the end. It also would be great with spicy italian sausage in substitution for the chicken. Tweak it to your liking and enjoy!

extra virgin olive oil
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
seasoned salt
fresh cracked black pepper
4 tsp. dried basil, (1/2 for chicken, 1/2 for soup)
2 tsp. dried thyme (1/2 for chicken, 1/2 for soup)
2 tsp. garlic powder
1 large onion
2 med. carrots
2 stalks celery
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 med. red bell pepper, or 1/2 large
1 med. green bell pepper, or 1/2 large
1 bay leaf
32 oz. chicken stock
(1) 15 oz. can crushed tomatoes
(1) 15 oz. can cannelini beans
1 1/2 cups (dried) ditilini pasta

Heat 3 tblsp. olive oil over med. hi heat in large skillet. Season chicken with seasoned salt, pepper, garlic, basil, and thyme. Sear on both sides, then add about a cup of water and turn heat down to med. Meanwhile, dice onions, celery, peppers, carrots to about the same size. Add all veggies and garlic to about 3 tblsp. olive oil over med. heat in large stock pot. Season with salt and pepper, and cook veggies until they begin getting tender. Add bay leaf, basil, and thyme to pot. ( Be sure if water in chicken skillet evaporates, you keep adding water as needed) When veggies are cooked through, add all chicken stock to the pot, along with the can of crushed tomatoes. Let soup simmer while cooking pasta in separate pot (so all liquid from soup is not absorbed) until just shy of aldente. Drain and rinse beans and add to soup. Take chicken out and chop into small, bitesized pieces. Add to soup. Add a few ladels of pasta water to soup until desired consistency is reached. Add cooked pasta to soup, along with fresh parsley. Serve with a sprinkle of fresh parmesan on top of soup, and crusty bread to sop! Enjoy :)