Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Chicken Pot Pie with Peppery Chive Biscuits

So, back to our dinner party from the other night.  Yesterday I posted our dessert, Cream Cheese Stuffed Pumpkin Roll and today I will share with you our yummy fall dinner.  As I stated earlier, this meal is a perfect make ahead meal.  It's special enough to share with friends but easy enough to keep your sanity while entertaining, and we all know keeping our sanity is a good thing.  This recipe calls for a 9x13 pan but I think it would be really cute to cook up in individual crocks if you had them.  The ingredient list is fairly lengthy but most of it is stuff I already had in my pantry.  That said, this is definitely a meal you want to make when you have a little extra time to devote to your dinner, but trust me it will be worth the wait.  The biscuits alone are enough to send you right into a foodie frenzy!  
Chicken Pot Pie with Peppery Chive Biscuits
from Joy the Baker (<- pretty much the coolest chick on the internets)

For the Biscuits:

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/2 to 1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper (depending on how spicy you like your biscuits)
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
1/4 cup (2 ounces) unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
4 ounces (half of a brick) cream cheese, cold (I used low fat)
3/4 cup buttermilk, cold

For the Filling:

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cups whole milk (I used skim)
4 ounces (half of a brick) cream cheese
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
3 cups shredded chicken meat (I used a rotisserie chicken)
2 tablespoons butter or olive oil (I used olive oil)
1 small onion, diced
1 small garlic clove, minced
1 1/2 cup thinly diced carrots
1 cup diced zucchini (optional)
1 1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed

Start by making the biscuits.  In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, sugar, black pepper, and chopped chives.

Add butter and cream cheese to the dry ingredients.  Use your fingers to quickly incorporate the fat into the flour.  Break up the butter and cream cheese with your fingers until some of the fat is the size of oat flakes and some of the fat is the size of small pebbles.  Always remember, less is more in these situations - if you over work your dough, the biscuits will turn out tough.
See the little chunks of butter?  That's good!
Make a small well in the center of the fat and flour mixture.  Add the buttermilk.  
Can I just go swimming in there?
Using a fork, combine the wet and dry ingredients.  Try to moisten all of the flour bits with the liquid.  
Dump the shaggy biscuit dough onto a lightly floured work surface.  Knead together until dough forms a disk about 1 1/2 inches thick.
Don't worry about making it look perfect, the less you handle it, the better!
Use a round, 1 1/2-inch biscuit cutter (I used a drinking glass that was about 2 1/2 inches and it made the perfect amount) to cut biscuits.  Gather the dough scraps, knead for a few turns, and cut out more biscuits until no dough remains.  I got 12 biscuits.  Refrigerate the biscuits until ready to bake.  

Next, make the filling.  Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Dice onion, garlic, carrots, zucchini (if using), and thaw the frozen peas.  Set aside.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter.  Whisk in the flour.  Mixture will be very thick.  Heat for 1 minute.  
Looks weird but stick with it.
Turn to low and add the chicken stock.  Whisk until no flour bits remain. Whisk in the milk and add the cream cheese.  Heat over medium low heat, stirring often, until cream cheese melts and the mixture is the consistency of warm, thick pudding (mine was a bit thinner, I'm assuming from the skim milk).  
Add chicken, lemon, and nutmeg.  Stir.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  
Remove mixture from heat and set aside.
In a skillet over medium heat, melt butter (or olive oil, if using).  Add onions and saute until translucent, about 3 minutes.  Add minced garlic and saute for one minute more.  Add carrots, zucchini, and peas.  Cook for  about 3 minutes.  The vegetables will not be entirely cooked through but they will continue to cook in the oven.  
Remove from heat and add vegetable mixture to the creamy chicken mixture.  Stir to combine.

Spoon filling into a 9×13-inch pan.  Remove the biscuits from the fridge and place them on top of the filling.  Brush the tops of the biscuits with heavy cream, buttermilk, or egg wash.
Bake for 20-23 minutes, or until biscuits are puffed and golden, and the sides of the pot pie are bubbling.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before serving.

Enjoy the goodness that is chicken pot pie!
This recipe is definitely a keeper and one that I plan to repeat many times over the years, thank you Joy the Baker!

Hope you are all having a great week!


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Rollin' In the Pumpkin

Last Sunday we were lucky enough to have some friends over for dinner (check out The Sweet Art!), which gave me the perfect excuse to spend most of the day in the kitchen.  I love Sundays where there is no rush and I can pour a little extra love into my cooking/baking endeavors.  I have learned that when we are entertaining it is best for me to prepare as much ahead of time as possible.  While I wish I were that person who can chitchat in the kitchen while measuring and mixing and end up with a fabulous meal, that just isn't me.  So rather than stress myself out, I just choose recipes that can be made ahead of time with minimal last minute assembly required.  I mentioned in an earlier post that I recently started using Pinterest, cue menu for dinner party.
I decided on a hearty chicken pot pie followed by a pumpkin roll for dessert, swoon!  I will save the chicken pot pie recipe for tomorrow because right now all I have on my mind is that roll of spiced pumpkin goodness studded with chopped walnuts and stuffed with vanilla cream cheese frosting.  This was my first attempt at making any kind of "roll" dessert and I think it turned out pretty well.   
Cream Cheese Stuffed Pumpkin Roll
from Mel's Kitchen Cafe

1 cup sugar
3/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3 eggs
2/3 cup mashed (canned) pumpkin
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 15x10-inch jelly roll pan.  Cut wax paper to fit the bottom of the pan and leave an inch overhang on each of the short ends of the pan. Lightly grease the wax paper and sides of the jelly roll pan.
Mix the sugar, flour, salt, soda, cinnamon, eggs and pumpkin in a large bowl and pour mixture over the waxed paper.
Sprinkle the walnuts, if using, on top of the mixture. (I did this but a lot of my walnuts stuck to my tea towel so next time I will probably mix the nuts into the batter.)
Bake for 14-15 minutes until edges pull away from the sides of the pan and center is done.

Lay a large, clean dishtowel on the counter top (it is best to use a dishtowel without any texture – a tea towel or similar towel works best). Spread a thick dusting of powdered sugar all over the towel.
When the cake comes out of the oven, turn the pan upside down on the powdered sugar-laden towel so the wax paper is on the top (helps if your husband is around to help you lift off the piping hot pan!).
Gently peel off the wax paper, being careful not to tear the roll.
Starting at one of the short ends, roll the pumpkin cake up with the towel to cool.
While the roll is cooling, mix the cream cheese, butter, vanilla, and powdered sugar together until it is light and creamy. Once the roll is cool, unroll and with an offset spatula, carefully spread filling in an even layer over the cake.

 (Spread all the way to the edges, I left space because I thought it would ooze out but it doesn't)

Roll it up without the towel and place in the refrigerator (covered with plastic wrap or wax paper) for about an hour before serving. 
I dusted mine with additional powdered sugar before serving.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Golden Butternut Squash Soup

I guess I've been on a soup kick lately but with the changing weather it just feels right.  In the past two weeks, I've made corn chowder, Greg made his famous chili (he's still deciding if he wants to share the recipe, har-umphh!), and last night I made this delicious butternut squash soup.  We originally had this soup a couple of years ago around Thanksgiving when we were back in Ohio.  We had driven all day and were told not to ruin our appetites with crappy fast food and we were oh-so-delightfully rewarded with this creamy soup, plus slices of toasted baguette with melted gruyere cheese on top.  I didn't have the ingredients for the bread component last night but I highly recommend doing it since it really completes the meal.  
Golden Butternut Squash Soup
from Cooking Light (recipe for toasts included in link)


2 tablespoons butter
5 cups (1/2-inch) cubed peeled butternut squash (about 1 1/2 pounds)
2 cups (1/2-inch) cubed peeled russet potato (about 12 ounces)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups sliced leek (about 2 medium)
4 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1 cup half-and-half
Chives for garnish, optional but delicious

Melt butter in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add squash, potato, salt, and pepper to pan; sauté 3 minutes. Add leek; sauté 1 minute.
Stir in broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes or until potato is tender, stirring occasionally.
Place half of potato mixture in a blender. Remove center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure blender lid on blender. Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid (to avoid splatters). Blend until smooth. Pour into a large bowl. Repeat procedure with remaining potato mixture. (I used our immersion blender - if you like making soup these things are the bomb). 

Stir in half-and-half. Cover and keep warm.  Top each serving with about 1 teaspoon chives. Garnish with freshly ground black pepper, if desired.
On a side note, I joined Pinterest today and it is just as addicting as everyone said it would be!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Cinnamon-Streusel Coffeecake

I have been reading King Arthur Flour's blog, Bakers' Banter for a couple of years now and I absolutely love it.  The contributors are extremely talented and knowledgeable (getting to bake all day + write about it = dream job!), yet the recipes are very accessible.  They include little tidbits about baking but don't smack you in the face with it - it's like being in the kitchen with a good friend, where you simply pick up new techniques by working with them, plus it's a lot of fun!  Oh, and if you ask a question in the comments section they give great feedback, always a nice touch. 
So, when I decided late Sunday afternoon that I wanted to make a coffeecake for Greg to bring to work I went directly to their website and after a quick search, came up with the perfect recipe.  Believe it or not, I have never made a cinnamon coffeecake before yesterday, and this one will be hard to beat.  Greg always has a group meeting on Monday and honestly, who couldn't use a little sweet treat to get the week started right?
Cinnamon-Streusel Coffeecake
from King Arthur Flour

Streusel Topping

1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon salt (if you use unsalted butter)
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
6 tablespoons butter, melted


1 cup brown sugar, light or dark
1 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder (did not use since it was just to add color)


3/4 cup butter
1 teaspoon salt (1 ¼ teaspoons if you use unsalted butter)
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 large eggs
3/4 cup sour cream or plain yogurt (I used yogurt)
1 1/4 cups milk (anything from skim to whole, I used skim)
3 3/4 cups flour

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9" x 13" pan.  

Topping - In a medium bowl whisk together the sugar, salt, flour, and cinnamon. Add the melted butter, using a fork to blend until combined. Set the topping aside.  Note: I would be tempted to decrease the amount of topping as mine seemed to make a bit too much and a lot of it fell off when I took it out of the pan.
Filling - Mix together the brown sugar, cinnamon, and cocoa powder, if using.  Set it aside.  Note: Next time I might add some chopped pecans to give it an extra crunch.
Cake - In a large bowl, beat together the butter, salt, sugars, baking powder, and vanilla until well combined and smooth, then add eggs one at a time, mixing well between each addition.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the sour cream or yogurt and milk until well combined. Don't worry about getting out all the lumps.  Add the flour to the butter mixture alternately with the milk/sour cream mixture, beating gently to combine.

Pour/spread half the batter (a scant 3 cups) into the prepared pan, if you have a kitchen scale half of the batter weighs about 28 ounces.   Then sprinkle the filling evenly over the batter and top with remaining cake batter.  Use a knife to gently swirl filling throughout the cake, as if making a marble cake.  Finally, sprinkle topping over the entire cake.  

Bake the cake until it's a dark golden brown around the edges; medium-golden with no light patches showing on top, and a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 55 to 60 minutes. When pressed gently in the middle, the cake should spring back.  Note: Mine took around 70 minutes and my topping never got really golden but I'm glad I stopped when I did or else I think my cake would have dried out.  (I'm starting to wonder if my oven is off because most of my baking requires extra time added on at the end...)

Remove the cake from the oven and allow it to cool for 20 minutes before cutting and serving. Serve cake right from the pan.  You can also cover the unbaked cake with plastic wrap and pop it in the oven (after removing plastic wrap!) the next day if you want yummy breakfast smells, just add a few more minutes since the cake will start out cold.  Definitely considering this for the holidays!

Other than the fact that this cake is delicious, I also like it because it makes makes 24 servings, which makes it perfect to share with a group.  
What is your favorite weekend breakfast treat?  Next on my list are cinnamon rolls, anyone have the perfect recipe?