Friday, February 4, 2011

Food For Thought

Like the rest of the country ... I'm done with being cold!  I'm ready to be able to pop out to the mailbox and not feel like little icy knives are piercing any bare skin that happens to be showing.  I'm ready to not have three layers of clothes on just to keep the goosebumps at bay.  I'm ready to not do three times the laundry due to the the three extra layers I just referred to.  I'm ready to not be fooled by the beautiful blue sky and sunshine only to be shocked back to reality by the artic blast when I get out of the van.  I'm ready to not have to bundle up the kids in coats, gloves, boots and hats ... just to go feed the neighbor's cat.  I'm ready to be warm.

And even though our little groundhog pal didn't see his shadow ... we still have several more weeks of chilly, willy cold to try to enjoy.  So we might as well make the best of it!

One of the perks of this cold weather is the delight of serving up some lovely comfort dishes.  I do love to serve my family steaming hot casseroles and savory, homemade delights on these cold winter evenings.  It almost makes up for the frost on the windows and the drip, drip, drip of the faucets so the pipes don't freeze.  Almost.

Here are a few comfort food that I put together recently ... hot, creamy and delicious!  And so much better than store-bought!

Homemade Chicken Pot-Pie
(This recipe was modified from a "Lighten Up" recipe from Food Network magazine - Jan/Feb 2011.)


1 cup flour
1/4 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
4 T. butter, cold and cut into small pieces
1 large egg, separated
2 1/2 T. milk

2 small potatoes
4 1/2 cups chicken broth
5 medium carrots, cut into chunks
2 T. olive oil
3 T. flour
3 stalks celery, sliced
7-8 chicken tenders, cooked
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup frozen peas
Kosher salt and pepper

To prepare the crust, pulse the dry crust ingredients in a food processor until well mixed.  Add the butter and pulse until the butter is incorporated into the flour.  Beat the egg yolk and milk together in a small bowl and then add to the flour mixture.  Pulse until the dough forms a ball.  Gather the dough, form it into a small disc, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about one hour.

The crust ready to chill.

Bake the potatoes next.  I pricked their skin a few times with a fork and then popped them in the microwave for 5 minutes until they were soft.  Let them cool a few minutes and then chop them into bite-sized pieces.

In a medium sized pot, bring the chicken broth to a boil.  Add carrots and cook for about 2 minutes.  Set this aside.

In a large pot, heat the olive oil and add the onion. Cook for about 10 minutes until they are soft.  Sprinkle in the 3 T. flour and stir.  Let this cook for about 3 minutes.  Add the milk and whisk until smooth.  Next add the celery, potato pieces and broth mixture (with the carrots).  Let this simmer together for about 15 minutes and let the sauce thicken.  Remove from the heat and add the chicken, sour cream and peas.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

The filling waiting for the crust.

Transfer the filling mixture to a greased 2 quart casserole.  (Just FYI ... I had filling left over that I put in some tupperware to add to left-overs.)

Dust the counter top with flour and roll out the crust.  You want the dough to be a little larger than the casserole dish.  Mine was not a perfect circle and the edges were rough ... but still delicious!

The crust rolled and ready.

Beat the egg whites you set aside and then brush the surface of the dough with the egg white.  Next sprinkle the crust with salt and pepper.  Carefully lay the crust on the top of the casserole dish and press the edges against the dish.

Chicken Pot-Pie ready for the oven.

Place the casserole dish on a cookie sheet (a MUST!!) and bake at 425 degrees for 20-25 minutes, or until the crust is a golden brown.

 Golden brown and ready to be served.

Move over Marie Calendar!  This was delish!

Ready to be devoured!

Homemade Apple Sauce
(This was a hodge-podge recipe of what I had on hand.)

4-5 apples of your choice (I used a mixture of Honey Crisp and Granny Smith.)
1/4 cup sugar
1 T. lemon juice
1 T. cinnamon

Core and cut apples ... I love my handy Pampered Chef tool for this job.  Cut the slices into bite-sized pieces.

I love the colors of these apples.

Pop all the ingredients in a medium pot and set to simmer.  Over the next 20 minutes, the apples with soften and breakdown.  With a little help from you and your potato masher, you will have a delicious pot of hot, homemade, chunky apple sauce.  Yum!

I love the TASTE of these apples!

Double-Cheese Macaroni
(This recipe was modified from Taste of Home Magazine, Dec/Jan 2009.)

8 oz. package noodles (I used a half-box of small shells.)
1 1/2 cups cottage cheese
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper
1/4 t. powdered garlic
1 cup half & half
1 cup milk
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup dry bread crumbs (I used italian herb bread crumbs.)

Cook noodles according to directions.  Place cottage cheese in a food processor and pulse until smooth and creamy.  Set aside.

In a large pot, melt butter.  Stir in flour, salt, pepper and garlic powder.  Whisk until smooth.  Gradually add the milk and half & half and whisk well.  Bring this to a boil.  Cook and stir for about 3 minutes until  sauce is thickened.

Drain noodles and add to the white sauce.  Stir well.  Add the cottage cheese and cheddar cheese and mix well.  Transfer the noodles to a greased 9x13 casserole dish.  Sprinkle the top with bread crumbs and bake on a cookie sheet at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until bubbly.

Mom-tested and Kid-approved!

So much better than the mac-n-"cheese" from the blue box!

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