Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Homemade Chicken Potpie

I grew up on those Banquet chicken potpies from the freezer section that you can actually still get on sale for less than a dollar.  My newly eight year old son (how did that happen???) loves them and would make them for dinner a couple times a week if I let him.  Until I found this recipe on an advertisement for pie crust, I never really cared for any other potpies.  I thought they were loaded with too much chicken, or not enough corn, or were too salty.  I like this recipe because you can customize it to what your family enjoys.  I make the chicken ahead of time so it is already cooked.  If it is a quick weeknight dinner, I also use prepared pie dough.  I made this last night and I timed myself so I could put a preparation time on the recipe.  It took me twenty minutes from the time I lined up my ingredients to the time I got in the oven, and that included feeding the baby in the highchair.  My happy discovery from that experiment was that Jack loves little bits of chicken and green peas.  He just gobbled them up!  Enjoy this family favorite for dinner tonight and take the leftovers, if there are any, to work tomorrow.

Chicken Potpie

1 package refrigerated pie crusts or enough pie dough for two crusts
1/3 cup butter
1/2 small onion, diced
1/3 cup flour
salt & pepper to taste
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
2/3 cup milk
2 - 3 cups shredded chicken
1 1/2 cups frozen corn
1/2 cup frozen green peas

*** These are the amounts of ingredients my family likes.  You can add more or less onion, chicken, corn, and/or peas depending on your family's preferences.  I'm sure turkey and other vegetables would also work in this recipe.  The original recipe calls for mixed vegetables but I can't stand cooked carrots. So corn and peas it is! ***

- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Spray a round pie pan with nonstick spray and place the first pie crust in the bottom of the pan.  If there is excess dough, let it drape over the edges for now.
- In a large saucepan, over medium heat, melt the butter.  Once it is melted, add the onion and let them cook for a couple of minutes until they are soft and fragrant.
- Stir in flour until it is blended.  Immediately after it is all blended, pour the broth and mild into the pan and stir.  As you are stirring, add the salt and pepper to taste.  If you are unsure how much to add, shake a little bit in and taste it.  You can always add more if you need to.
- Keep the mixture over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until it is thickened and bubbly.  This is the point where I always think to myself, "How will I know when it is thick enough?"  The not so helpful answer is that you'll just know.  As long as you don't let it burn, it will turn from broth consistency to more of a gravy consistency.
- Once it has thickened, add your chicken, corn, and peas.  I also retaste at this point to see if I need more salt and/or pepper.
- Pour your mixture into your prepared pie pan and cover with another pie crust.  Using a sharp knife, cut some slits, a fun design, etc. into the top crust and crimp the edges together with the bottom crust.
- Put in the oven and bake for 30-40 minutes, until the top is golden brown.
- It's best to let the potpie stand for a few minutes before you slice into it so it can cool off and set.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Strawberry Cream Cheese Bread


I'm not going to lie to you.  I eat batter.  Lots of it.  I don't care if it has raw eggs and could poison me.  If I'm making chocolate chip cookies and take the time to mix it all together, I guarantee a little bit is going into some Tupperware for me to eat later when the kids go to bed.

This recipe - strawberry cream cheese bread - was one of many pins I pinned this summer.  I know someone who makes strawberry bread that I like but now that I think about it, I don't believe there are any actual strawberries in it.  I think it is just flavored and tinted pink.  I like that this recipe uses fresh berries.  But to be honest, now that I've made it, there is something else about it that I like even more:  the batter.  Holy goodness, this batter is amazing.  It's kind of like cake batter but thicker and more intense.  You need to make this just to taste the batter.

I was worried that the actual bread wouldn't be as good as the batter because I've had that happen in recipes before but this recipe did not disappoint.  I doubled the recipe and made eight mini loaves to give away as gifts and they turned out great.  My almost seven year old son said that we should just keep making this bread but try out different berries in it to see what happens.  Henry, I'm with you on that one!

Strawberry Cream Cheese Bread

1 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
1 pckg. cream cheese, softened
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon Kosher salt or fine sea salt, whatever you have
1 cup buttermilk
3 cups strawberries, rinsed, dried and chopped (about one pckg from the store)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Spray your baking pan with Pam for Baking or grease and flour it.   Cream the butter, sugar and cream cheese until fluffy (I would recommend using a mixer). Add the eggs one at a time. Mix in vanilla. On low speed, add in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt until just blended.  Add buttermilk and mix until just combined.  Carefully fold in strawberries by hand.  Bake the miniloaves for approximately 40 minutes and the full size loaf for 50-60 minutes. 

*Note – This recipe reflects the fact that I doubled the original one from this website: http://www.thebakerupstairs.com/2013/01/strawberry-cream-cheese-bread.html

I wanted to make sure that I had enough bread to give away as gifts.   Also, I don’t use buttermilk for much so I wanted to use up as much of the carton as I could.  The recipe as written above makes eight mini loaves or two 9x5 loaves.

**Recipe slightly adapted from thebakerupstairs.com

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Lemon Rice Soup

Where I live in Northwest Indiana, any big event you go to at a banquet hall kicks off the meal with lemon rice soup.  This is the part of the meal you look forward to the most.  The chicken might be all gooey on top and weird looking, the potatoes cold, and the bar line long, but a hot bowl of soup with homemade rolls and butter, mmmm.  Somehow, the dining halls get it right.  My husband and I joke that starting in February, we enter “banquet season.”  We have multiple work events a few weeks apart all at the same location.  The very same location with the best soup.  No problem.  Except that about two years ago, event planners started picking the buffet option.  No more lemon rice soup.  Oh, no!

Enter my friend and coworker, Joanie.  She makes homemade soup for lunch all the time and I am forever quizzing her on what she brings.  One day, she walks in with her version of lemon rice soup.  I couldn’t believe how simple it was to throw together.  I also couldn’t believe that I had never thought to make it myself before, especially during banquet “off-season.” 

I hope you enjoy this as much as we do.  There is a lot of to your taste kind of direction in this recipe depending on how thick you like it or how lemony you like it.  I’ll give you my ratios and you can adjust from there.

Lemon Rice Soup

2 big cans cream of chicken soup

1 carton or big can of chicken broth – you will decide how much to use

2 cups prepared rice

Chicken (optional)

2 lemons, juiced

Open the cans of cream of chicken soup and spoon into a big pot (pasta sized, not huge).  Start adding chicken broth and stir to incorporate it. Turn the heat on so that you are heating the soup up as you are mixing it.   I add a cup and then just keep pouring it in until I get it to almost the consistency that I like.  When it is still a little bit too thick still, I add the lemon juice and stir it.  I then decide if I want to add more broth or not.  You can’t mess this up.  It’s really just a personal preference.  At this point, my soup is thinner than I like it at the end.   I add a lot of rice to mine so the rice thickens the soup.  I taste the soup as I’m making it and decide whether or not I need to add more lemon juice or more broth.  I used to add chicken to it as well but we have found that we like it better without it.  If you prefer more meat, add it in.  Once the soup is heated through, it is ready to eat.

This soup stores very well in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks.  I usually make a double batch of it and we eat it for a meal one night and for lunches for the next week or so.
Source: Slightly adapted from Joanie

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

Every time I buy a bunch of bananas at the grocery store, I secretly hope that there will be two almost rotten ones left at the end that no one eats.  It doesn't happen a lot, but when it does I'm ready for it.  I realize that there are a lot of banana bread recipes out there.  Most people have one that is an old family classic. My mom has a good one that she made while we were growing up (note to self: get recipe from her recipe binder).  This version is one that I pulled out of a Food Netword magazine a couple of years ago.  It's actually a pick and choose kind of recipe - you pick the main fruit, the mix ins, etc.  This is the combo I like.  In reality, I despise bananas in their raw form.  I just don't get them.  But I love them in banana bread.  Especially with chocolate.  These make great gifts as well, simply wrapped in plastic wrap and tied with some twine or a ribbon.  I make them in mini loaf pans so that we can eat one ourselves and give the rest away.
Chocolate Chip Banana Bread
2 bananas, mashed up - almost rotten is best but I've used fresh as well, you just have to mash longer
1 cup mini chocolate chips
1 1/4 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
2 eggs, whisked
1/2 cup cooled melted butter
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray mini loaf pan with baking spray (I like Pam for baking).  My pan has spots for four loaves and this recipe yields eight.  I bake the first four, respray, and fill and bake again.
Mix together your dry ingredients - the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Then mix together your wet ingredients - eggs, butter, yogurt, and vanilla.  Add the mashed bananas to the wet ingredients and stir.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until everything is just mixed together and uniform.  Pour in the mini chocolate chips and stir. 
Fill the loaf pan about halfway up.  The bread will rise as it is baking.  Bake for 35 minutes.  Enjoy.
I'm sure you can just make one loaf in a regular pan but I haven't tried it.  The original recipe states that it would take about 55 minutes of baking time.
Source: Ever so slightly adapted from the May 2011 Food Network Magazine

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Peanut Butter Chocolate Corn Chip Crack

So this is an old post with a new picture.  I was reading one of my favorite cooking blogs, www.annies-eats.com, and she posted about her most popular posts of the year.  I had never looked at my blog stats like that so I did.  I made the most appalling discovery of the year 2012.  This recipe had the fewest views of any recipe on the site!  That is horrific! That means that only one person, yes one (pathetic), read this recipe this year.  I can only hope that the one lucky person who read it actually made it.  This stuff is seriously addicting.  Just ask anyone who has ever been in the same room as it.

I can understand why no one wanted to make it before.  This is the first picture I took of it and posted:


I know it's a sad little picture but whoever I made it for ate it up before I could grab my camera!

I'm also trying out a new blogging site because I just have too many problems with wordpress.  I know some people love it but I make it do weird things that are not the things I want it to do.  I'll be migrating my recipes over here but if you need one in the meantime, here is the link: www.recipequeen.org.

Here is my previous post about Peanut Butter Chocolate Corn Chip Crack:

I have made this twice in a week and I am lucky that I was even able to get this picture.  I found the recipe at www.cookiemadness.net.  The name of this mixture is really Sweet, Salty, Frito Candy.  I call it Crack because it is crazy good.  When I brought it to girls' night last week as a test recipe, we inhaled this unbelievable mish-mash of ingredients.  I set it out at a family party this weekend and went to get my camera.  I got sidetracked for a few minutes and forgot about it.  By the time I got back to the plate, this is what it looked like.  I knew I should have set a secret stash aside for later!  What was I thinking?  I adapted the recipe just a tiny bit (my notes are in parenthesis).  This is definitely my new go to recipe for something quick, simple and delicious to give as a gift or to make for a gathering.  Don't make this if you are on a diet.  You would have to run for hours to wear this stuff off.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Corn Chip Crack

2 cups pretzels
1 cup Fritos ( I probably used 1 1/2 cups b/c who doesn't love Fritos?)
8 mini peanut butter cups (seriously, only 8?  I used 16 and cut them in half)
1 stick unsalted butter (8 tablespoons)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used a little less the second time so it wasn't as thick)
Optional: Some peanuts for the top (I never used peanuts - no need)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line a 13×9 inch pan with parchment paper and spray with Pam.
Break up pretzels and Fritos with your hands. Dump into pan. Add the cut peanut butter cups.  Mix with your hands.
Place butter in a non-stick saucepan and melt over medium heat. When butter is melted, stir in brown sugar. Bring mixture to a full boil and boil for 1 minute, stirring once or twice. Pour over Frito mixture and bake for 8 minutes.
Remove pan from oven and sprinkle chocolate chips over hot candy. Return to oven for 1 minute to soften chips. Spread softened chocolate chips over bars. Cool at room temperature until you feel the pan is cool enough to be transferred to your refrigerator, then transfer to refrigerator to set the chocolate.  When chocolate is set, lift from pan and break the candy up as you would almond toffee.