Tag Archives: onion

Chicken Pot Pie…sort of…

Ah January, the time of year when everyone tries to eat better, exercise, and hit the gym. Those New Year’s resolution guilt us into at least a few weeks of behaving. While I certainly understand the need for some less decadent options for dinner, with the cold weather and hopefully threat of snow, comfort food still seems necessary. One of my favorite comfort foods on a cold night is chicken pot pie.

There is definitely a debate around chicken pot pie. Sure, there is the Marie Callender’s version that I would beg my mom to buy, which never happened by the way, with the delicious pie crust and succulent burning-hot filling. But, perhaps since I’m from Pennsylvania and not far from Amish country, there is another version that I find far superior. The Amish style chicken pot pie is more like a stew with floury, tender noodles in a rich broth, and it’s delicious.

Of course, for chicken pot pie, you need chicken. I already had a stock to use, so I roasted about 2 lbs boneless chicken breasts with just salt, pepper, a drizzle of olive oil, and some chopped rosemary. Roast at 350 degrees for about 20-30 minutes until cooked through. If you don’t have a stock made, you can make stock with bone-in chicken parts then use the cooked chicken in the pot pie.chickencookwsFor this recipe, you want a rich broth. I had turkey stock from my Thanksgiving turkey, but feel free to use any chicken stock you have or make your own. You’ll need 10 cups chicken stock. To start, heat a stock pot over medium heat with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Chop 1 medium onion, 4 stalks celery, and 4 peeled carrots. Cook in the oil for about 10 minutes until they are all softened and beginning to turn brown. Add 1 cup white wine and deglaze the pan, scrapping up any cooked or browned bits from the pot. Boil for a few minutes then add the stock. Raise the heat and bring to a boil. Add salt and pepper to taste. This is what you’ll use to cook the noodles.olive oilonionscelerycarrotswinestockOn a recent trip to the grocery store, I saw these ready-made chicken pot pie squares from San Giorgio and thought I had to try. The end result was not exactly what I was hoping for, more like an egg noodle than dough, but they were easy. Next time, I’ll make the noodles instead. Either way, you’ll want to add the noodles to the boiling stock to cook. The bagged noodles I found cooked for about 10 minutes, but if you want to do it the right way, make the noodles.pot pie squaresStart with 2 cups flour and 1 teaspoon salt. Add 1 tablespoon shortening or butter, cut up into pieces. Use a fork to combine so you have small pieces of shortening in the flour. Combine 1 egg and 2/3 cup water. Stir into the flour mixture and form a dough. Divide in two and roll half the dough on a floured surface until about 10 inches square. Cut into 2 inch squares. Repeat with the remaining dough. Add to the boiling stock and simmer for about 15 minutes until cooked through and tender.noodles cookedOnce the noodles are cooked, add the cubed chicken. And don’t forget to add all of the juices that are left in the pan from the chicken…delicious! Check the seasoning, and add salt or pepper if needed. Ladle this delicious mixture into big bowls and enjoy! Happy Winter!adding chickenliquid gold

Stuffed Calamari for Dinner!

It’s hard to believe that the holidays are already behind us. I feel like the last month just flew by, from Thanksgiving right through Christmas and now waiting for New Years Eve. I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday filled with friends, family, and of course, great food!ChristmasAfter we hosted 24 for Thanksgiving, we had a pretty simple Christmas Eve dinner with only 11. Being an Italian family, Christmas Eve always meant seafood. Some of you may be familiar with the Feast of the Seven Fishes, an Italian tradition of a big Christmas Eve dinner consisting of, you guessed it, seven fishes. There is some debate as to why seven, but most agree it represents the seven sacraments. Traditionally, dinner included shrimp and white fish, bacala (salted cod) and smelts, and always calamari. Sure, like many, we had fried calamari, but my favorite was always the stuffed calamari. I’ve come to find out that this is a bit unusual, however, both of my grandmothers made it, and they are delicious.

This year, with the small crowd, we decided to have a smaller menu. We didn’t come close to the seven fishes, but the meal was great. We started with a shrimp butter and mussels for an appetizer, and for the main course, spaghetti and crabs, and, yes, the stuffed calamari. As always, they were a huge hit, and I keep getting requests for the recipe, so here goes.

To make the calamari, you need about 3 pounds cleaned calamari. You want a bulk of it to be the whole tubes, however, the tentacles work great in the stuffing. To make the stuffing, saute 1 medium onion in 1 tablespoon olive oil until soft and golden in color. To the onions, add about 1 cup chopped tentacles. Cook for a few minutes until cooked through. Remove from heat and allow to cool then add about 1 1/2 cups seasoned bread crumbs, 1 tablespoon chopped parsley, and 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste, then stir to combine.sauteed onionstentacleschoppedcookedbreadcrumbsparsleyaddedcheeseTo complete the dish, you also need about 4 cups tomato sauce, toothpicks, and a casserole dish. For the sauce, I used the sauce from the spaghetti and crabs before I added the crab meat. It’s just a simple marinara with basil. sauceYou want to use the largest tubes you have to stuff. Hold them in your hand while you carefully spoon the filling in. Push the filling down so you make room for more. Once full, use a toothpick to seal the edges. Add 2 cups sauce to the casserole dish. Set the stuffed, sealed calamari in the dish in neat rows. Once you’ve stuffed them all, cover the calamari with the remaining sauce. Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 45 minutes until bubbling and cooked through.tubestuffingsealedcompleteready for the ovenI know some are a little nervous when it comes to calamari, but they really are delicious. If you’re willing to try, you won’t be disappointed. We finished off the Christmas Eve meal with another one of my favorites, chocolate chip bread pudding. Even if you’re hesitant with the calamari, you please make the bread pudding. 🙂

Enjoy the rest of the holidays, and a very Happy New Year to you! Here’s to 2016!

Fall Weather and Beef Stroganoff…the Perfect Saturday!

Today was downright cold. Since it was a beautiful morning with leaves slowly falling and the sun shining, I decided to enjoy my breakfast on the deck. It was perfect, except, after a few minutes, I was freezing. Summer is definitely over. But, the cold temperatures made me think of what else…food…and not just any food…comfort food. Yes, not only is fall perfect with falling leaves, warm blankets, and amazing pumpkins, but it’s also the perfect excuse for warm, cozy comfort food like beef stroganoff!falling leaves

To start, cut 2 1/2 lbs. steak into chunks. I used sirloin, but feel free to use whatever cut you like. You want the pieces to be bite size. Salt and pepper the steak. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large saute pan over medium high heat. If you’re like me, you may not have a pan big enough, so feel free to use a stock pot. Once the oil is hot, cook the steak until brown and mostly cooked through, a few minutes on each side. With this large amount, you want to cook the steak in batches, probably about three. Otherwise, the pan will be too full, and the meat will just steam, not brown. As the meat cooks, remove to a bowl.beefolive oilcookingbrowningcookedIn the same pan, add more olive oil if there isn’t any remaining. You want about a tablespoon total. Add 1 large onion, chopped. Cook for about 5 minutes until brown, then add 3 garlic cloves, minced. Cook for another minute, then remove to a bowl.onionsgarliconionsbrowningAdd 2 tablespoons butter to the pan. Once hot, add 1 lb. mushrooms, chopped. Again, you will want to do this in batches so the mushrooms brown. I cooked them in two batches.mushroomscookingalmostdoneOnce the mushrooms are all cooked, add the onions, garlic, and rest of the mushrooms back to the pan. Add 1/2 cup red wine, and deglaze the pan. Boil for a minute while scraping the bottom of the pan. Add 4 tablespoons flour, stir, and cook for another minute. Slowly add 4 cups beef broth, stirring to combine. The mixture will be thick as you start adding the broth. Add 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, 1 tablespoon Worcester sauce, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil and boil for about 5 minutes to combine.wineflourcookingthickeningDijonBefore serving, add 1 tablespoon chopped parsley and 1 cup sour cream. Stir to combine. Boil egg noodles according to package directions, and serve the stroganoff over the noodles.parsleyaddedsour creamdoneI hope you enjoy this comforting meal as much as I did. I can’t wait for more as the fall keep coming!

Cajun Chicken Stew for Lunch this Week

Most weekends, I try to get ready for the week’s meals. Sometimes that means getting ingredients to try something new…sometimes it means making sure I just have lettuce for salads…and sometimes it means making sure I have enough cash for the cafe at work. 🙂 But usually I make something that I can easily bring with me all week. This week, I picked a good one…Cajun chicken stew.

The stew itself was very easy to make. It’s a rich, spicy sauce with big chunks of chicken, onions, and peppers. The roux for the sauce is cooked for a while, getting a rich brown color and deep flavor. Served over rice, this recipe from Gourmet Magazine was perfect reheated this week.

To start, cut up 4 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast. You want to cut the chicken into bite size chunks. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a heavy bottom pot or dutch oven over medium high heat. Sprinkle the chicken with 2 teaspoons salt, then cook in 4 batches until browned all over, about 5 minutes per batch. Transfer to a large bowl.chickencubesolive oilcookingcookedbowl of chickenIn the same pot, you’ll make the roux, which is really just fat and flour cooked together that’s used for a thickener and flavor. You’ll need 1/4 cup olive oil. You could use the fat that’s left in the pot, and add extra to reach 1/4 cup. When I made this, though, there were some small pieces of chicken that burnt to the bottom, so I ended up cleaning the pot and starting with new oil. Heat the oil over medium low heat. Add 1/2 cup flour to the fat. Stir to combine, then cook for 10 to 20 minutes until the color of milk chocolate. The recipe I had said not to stir, only to scrape back and forth, but I’ll admit it, I stirred, and it still came out great.flour and oillight rouxdarkermilk chocolateOnce the roux is the color of milk chocolate, add 1 chopped onion, 1 chopped green bell pepper, and 1 chopped celery rib. Cook until soft, about 8 minutes, stirring often. Add 3 cups water to the mixture, stir to combine, and bring to a boil. The roux will start out not looking very smooth or combined, but as it heats and comes to a boil, it will come together.veggiescookingboilingAdd chicken and any juices from the bowl, reduce the heat, and simmer partially covered for about 30 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through. Finally, stir in 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper or more if you can handle it. I can’t!adding chickencoveredTo serve, just scoop the chicken, vegetables, and delicious sauce over rice. And, as I said, it reheats in the microwave beautifully, making it just perfect as my lunch this week! 🙂donerice

This Weather has Me Thinking about Fall…and Pie (or at least Crab Quiche)!

CrustOk, ok, I know, that headline sounds kind of crazy, but we’ve been having an absolutely amazing summer in the Philadelphia area.  The temperature hasn’t been too warm, and, more importantly, the humidity has been low.  I have absolutely loved it, but now, as kids are starting to go back to school, and the unofficial end of summer is just days away, my mind is already on fall.  Of course, it could be because fall is my number one favorite time of the year.  I love the cold chill in the air, the cozy sweaters, the festive holidays, the leaves changing and crunching under your feet, and, of course, the food.  Actually, I just always love the food, but I digress.

Dishing Up MarylandFor me, nothing says fall like pie.  Call me crazy, and I may be alone here, but for some reason during the fall I think about the holidays and Thanksgiving, and, well, Thanksgiving’s all about the pies.  Anyway, since it is August for a few more days, and I can’t really be jumping into pumpkin pie just yet, I thought instead I’d talk about one of my go-to breakfast items, especially in the summer, crab quiche.

For anything crab, as many of my friends from Baltimore repeatedly tell me, you have to turn to Maryland.  And so, for crab quiche, I turn to Dishing Up Maryland, a great cookbook that talks about the different areas in Maryland and the different specialties.  I’ve modified the crab and Gruyere quiche recipe just a bit, but it’s definitely a winner.

Crab and OnionsFirst, the pie crust.  There are instructions in the recipe for making a pie crust, but I always use my tried and true recipe from my great Aunt Angie. She made the best pies! Maybe one of these days I’ll share that with you. 🙂 But feel free to use any pie crust recipe you like, or just pick up one from the refrigerator section of your grocery store.  I won’t tell.  You’ll need to line a greased 9 inch pie plate with the pie dough.  But the important part for this recipe is the filling.

This is where I mainly differ from the recipe.  The recipe calls for 1/3 cup onion, raw.  For me, I think the raw onions, even after being cooked in the quiche, are too overpowering.  Instead, saute 1/2 cup sweet onion, chopped, with 1 garlic clove, peeled and chopped, until the onions are soft and have some color.  I usually do this the night before, then just keep them in the refrigerator.  Sprinkle the onions and garlic over the dough with 1 lb lump crabmeat, and 4 oz. shredded Gruyere cheese.  You can Swisssubstitute Swiss if you can’t find Gruyere, and usually get the block and just shred it in the food processor.  Then, whisk 4 eggs with 1 cup 1/2 and 1/2, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg.  Carefully pour this mixture over the quiche.  I put the pie plate on a cookie sheet and put it right next to the oven before I pour, just to minimize my transfer time and the chances of me making a huge mess.

Bake the quiche at 400 degrees for 40-45 minutes, until golden.  Definitely let it cool a bit before you cut into it, maybe 10-15 minutes, so that it doesn’t run.

No matter what you’re making this Labor Day weekend, or if you’re not making a thing, I hope you have some time to yourself to enjoy the end to the summer!  Happy Labor Day!

Using Up the Harvest…Sauteed Zucchini and Summer Squash

Zucchini and Summer SquashIt seems like you wait forever to get the first harvest from the garden, but then when you do, it just keeps coming and coming.  That’s what seems to be happening right now with my zucchini and summer squash, but I’m not complaining…YET! I’ve been harvesting these two for a few weeks, and they have been delicious.  And while I’m sure later in the summer, when I’m sick of them, I’ll be pulling out my trusty zucchini bread recipe, right now I’m enjoying them one of my favorite ways…a simple saute with onions in butter and olive oil.

ChoppedWhen harvesting zucchini and squash, I like to catch them before they get too big.  Now, that’s not to say that I haven’t had gigantic ones in the past…and I know some of my coworkers can attest to that as I always brought in the extras to them.  But, when I’m on top of things, I like to harvest when they are no more than 10 inches.  I find that they aren’t as watery, and their flavor is more intense.  However, if you weren’t paying attention, or, as I’ve done almost every year, there is one that hides under some leaves and you find it when it’s two feet long, just cut it in half and scoop out the seeds before chopping.  When they are that big, you want to avoid the seeds.

OnionsFor this recipe, I used 2 zucchini and 1 summer squash, all about 10 inches long.  Simply cut off the stems, and chop them.  I like to quarter then and slice them into about 1/4-1/2 inch slices.  You’ll also want to chop 1 small red onion and mince (or use the garlic press) 3 cloves of garlic.

Heat 2 tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat.  Once the butter is melted and the oil is hot, add the onion.  Cook for a few minutes until they start to get some Finishedcolor, then add the garlic.  I don’t like to add the garlic too early, because it can burn easily.  And when garlic burns, it has a horrible taste.  After just about 1 minute, add the sliced zucchini and squash.  Stir everything around, and let them cook down.  You’ll want to stir periodically, but it will take about 10 minutes for them to soften and get a little bit of color.  Add some salt (I used about 1/2 teaspoon salt) and pepper (about 1/2 teaspoon pepper as well), and stir to combine.

This is a great side dish in the summer when the vegetables are fresh, and It really is a simple recipe.  However, it really brings out the flavor of the vegetables.  Enjoy!