Thursday, May 29, 2008

Easy Peasy Chicken Pot Pie

Mention comfort food and chicken pot pie immediately comes to my mind. When it comes to homemade chicken pot pie I grew up on biscuit topped chicken pot pie, which happens to not be my favorite, so it was quite a few years before I decided to make my own. I love a flaky buttery pie crust outside to surround the vegetables, tender chicken and creamy filling. I can never decide which part I like better though, the crust or the filling. It's okay to like them equally though isn't it?

I am a firm believer that I should make most everything from scratch atleast once. Notice, I said most everything. I came up with Easy Peasy Chicken Pot Pie totally off the cuff one day a couple years back and it was so good and so easy peasy, pun intended that I just haven't seen the need to mess with a good thing. If my Big, Bad Dad aka Mr. Picky Eater, who happens to be a huge chicken pot pie fan likes my easy peasy version enough to request it I must be doing something right.

Chicken Pot Pie

Easy Peasy Chicken Pot Pie

1 package deep-dish pie crust (2 crusts)
1 can condensed cream of chicken soup
1 can mixed vegetables
1/2 cup milk
2 chicken breasts, cooked and cubed

Preheat oven as instructed on pie crust package. In a medium bowl, mix together soup, mixed vegetables, milk, and chicken. Stir until combined. Pour into pie crust. Place second crust on top. Pinch edges together. Cut several slits in center of crust.

Bake as directed for double crust pie, or until crust is golden brown.

*You may find that you need more or even a little less milk - some brands of mixed vegetables seem to have more liquid than others. Just make sure your filling is pouring consistency but not runny. I highly recommend placing the pie on a baking sheet before baking to avoid having the ingredients bubble over into the oven. Talk about a mess!

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Sunday, May 18, 2008

Good Tastin' and Good Lookin'

I'm pulling one from the archives with this recipe. Ask me why I haven't shared these muffins with y'all yet and I couldn't tell you, let alone could I explain why I haven't baked them since that first time way back when. Perhaps it's my curiousity and endless search for something better that's kept them from being a repeat. I love a good blueberry muffin. The sweetness mixed with the slight tartness of the blueberries. Paired with a cup of coffee you've got the perfect breakfast, but accompanied by a glass of milk you've also got a great afternoon snack.

I haven't eaten these blueberry muffins in a long while, but I don't know off hand of anyway they could be improved upon, unless you add a sprinkling of struesel on top, but that would take away from the picture perfectness of these "Really Good Blueberry Muffins". Maybe it's the baker in me paired with the blogger in me, but I find eminent satisfaction in those times when I bake something that is not only delicious but also makes you say, "Wow, that looks good!" And, I think this is one of those recipes.

Unfortunately, I have no idea the original source. But, I'm thinking I may have possibly gotten the recipe from The Ultimate Muffin Book, I can't swear to it though. Regardless, if you like blueberry muffins, give these a try.

blueberry muffins

Really Good Blueberry Muffins

1/2 c. (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1/2 c. packed brown sugar
3/4 c. milk
1 egg
1 3/4 c. flour
1 tsp cinnamon
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 c. blueberries
2 Tbsp flour

Sift together (1 3/4 cup) flour, cinnamon, baking powder and salt, set aside. Cream together butter and sugars. Beat in egg and milk until smooth. Add sifted dry ingredients and mix just until moist. Lightly toss blueberries with 2 Tbsp flour, and gently fold into batter. Fill well-greased or paper lined muffin tins nearly full.

Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.

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Oven Roasted Parmesan Asparagus

During my foray into the world of asparagus I was quickly smitten. I love vegetables, even as a kid I was never one that had to be forced to eat my veggies. I am admittedly a bit picky about which ones, and especially the preparation of said vegetables. For example, green beans. I love them, and eat them usually atleast once a week. Growing up, my grandfather always planted an adundance of them in his garden, so my grandmother regularly snapped and cooked fresh beans. Toward the end of their growing season she would even can them so we had plenty to last through the winter. The whole family loved them. Me? I ate them, only what was put on my plate the first go round, but when my Big Bad Dad cooked, I'd gladly go back for seconds on the green beans. Why? Because his green beans came from a can! Oh what shame my family must have felt. To this day I still pick canned green beans over fresh.

Let's get back on track though shall we? On to the asparagus, oh those green stalks of deliciousness. I'm taking full advantage of the fact that we're in the height of asparagus season right now, buying it everytime I see it on sale, which is pretty regularly as of late. Asparagus has such a pure and crisp flavor that you really should keep the preparation simple. It doesn't need to be weighed down with lots of spices and seasoning. I think it's at it's best lightly coated in a little olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper, and roasted or grilled to perfection.

I grabbed a pound not too long ago while shopping and headed to allrecipes for a recipe I could use strictly as a guide for cooking temperature and length. Twenty minutes later, we were eating some seriously delicious oven roasted parmesan asparagus.

Parmesan Roasted Asparagus

Oven Roasted Parmesan Asparagus

1 pound thin asparagus spears
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 ounce shaved Parmesan cheese
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, or to taste (I omitted this and it was totally NOT missed)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C).

Place asparagus on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, and toss to coat. Arrange asparagus spears in a single layer. Spread Parmesan cheese over asparagus, and season with freshly ground black pepper.

Bake 12 to 15 minutes in the preheated oven, until cheese is melted and asparagus is tender but crisp. Serve immediately on warm plates, sprinkling with balsamic vinegar to taste, if desired.

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Saturday, May 17, 2008

Culinarily Obsessed Pizza Kitchen Open For Business

Everybody loves pizza right? Seriously, I don't think I know a single person who doesn't admit they love pizza. Even the picky eaters I know enjoy cheese pizza at the very least. Me? I can't say I enjoy cheese pizza, but I love it pretty much any other way. Top it with every meat you can think of, I'm in. Just pepperoni? I'm not shy to grab the first slice. You're offering up a supreme? Yum-o!

I'm a Carolina girl through and through so I know nothing of that whole NY vs Chicago thing, but give me a slice of each and I'll gladly do a taste test. My most favoritest kind though is hands down barbeque chicken pizza. I can't be sure but I think the famed California Pizza Kitchen may be to credit for the delicious creation. That's definitely where I tried and fell in love with the stuff. But since I live not so close to a CPK and the only one remotely local is in the mall, which everyone knows is a dangerous place for a woman, I figured it best to star making my own. I haven't tried my version next to the CPK version of barbeque chicken pizza, but from my mouth-watering memories my version tastes pretty darn close. The best part? Besides that I'm saving money and potentially serious credit card debt, my Barbeque Chicken Pizza is easy peasy.

Somehow even with my serious cookbook addiction I didn't know that California Pizza Kitchen had their own cookbook, but turns out they do. You can preview excerpts of the book on Amazon, so if you love pizza go check out what mouthwatering recipes you can make at home from The CPK Cookbook. And it turns out they've got a new cookbook geared toward family cooking due out in August called California Pizza Kitchen Family Cookbook

bbq chicken pizza ingredients
The ingredients

bbq chicken pizza
Going in the oven!

bbq chicken pizza
Can we dig in already?

BBQ Chicken Pizza

1 pre-made pizza dough (I suggest Pillsbury in with the refrigerated canned biscuits)
1/4 c bottled barbeque sauce (more or less to suit your taste)
1/2 of small thinly sliced onion
pre-cooked chicken, cut into bite size chunks
1-1 1/2 c shredded italian blend or pizza cheese

Preheat oven according to dough directions. Grease or spray pan with non-stick spray. Flatten dough into pan, pinching up slight edges. Spread barbeque sauce evenly onto dough using just enough for a thin layer, be careful not to go all the way to edge of dough. Spread chicken pieces evenly over sauced dough, top with cheese. Scatter onion over cheese. Bake according to dough package instructions. Allow to cool slightly before serving.

Ok, did I just use two Rachael Rayisms in one post? And I'm not even a fan! That should tell you how much I love this pizza.

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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Wordless Wednesday - It's Naptime

Wordless Wednesday - The Naptime Edition lol

knocked out

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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Nutty for Cookies

soft & chewy peanut butter cookies 003

With my ginormous sweet tooth I love, love, love cookies. The choco-holic in me tends toward chocolate chip cookies, especially MY chocolate chip cookies. My Big Bad Dad aka Mr. Picky Eater on the other hand is a sucker for peanut butter cookies. He doesn't have nearly the sweet tooth that I have, but when there's peanut butter cookies in the house he can't walk by the jar without eating one.

I dig the cute little criss-cross pattern that you see on almost all peanut butter cookies, but I don't like that crumbly texture that many peanut butter cookie recipes yield. So, long ago I decided that if they're going to be the much requested cookie around our house I need to find a recipe that suits me. After numerous tries, all of which were edible, some I considered promising even, but most of which weren't worth blogging or making a second time, I found the one.

From the tempting dessert cookbook Caprial's Desserts I tried and loved Caprial's mom's peanut butter cookie recipe. The cookies are sweet, soft and chewy. They're totally F-A-B-U-L-O-U-S I tell ya. The only change I made was to add a cup of peanut butter chips, which for us is a must in any peanut butter cookie.

I've been making these cookies for some time now, several years probably, and have been meaning to blog them, but slacked off and never did. My apologies for depriving you lovely readers of such delicious cookies. And my thanks to Marco for prodding me for this recipe, thus prompting me to get off my butt and share it with everything.

Doubley Peanut Buttery Peanut Butter Cookies

1 cup cold unsalted butter, diced
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup peanut butter (NOT natural and I prefer chunky)
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup peanut butter chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease or line baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Place the butter and both sugars in the bowl of a mixer and beat on high, scraping down the sides of the bowl often, until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. With the mixer on low, add the eggs and vanilla, then add the peanut butter and mix well. Add the flour, baking soda, and salt and mix on low until all ingredients are incorporated. Increase the speed to medium and mix just until the dough is smooth. Stir in peanut butter chips.

Using a tablespoon or a small ice cream scoop, form the dough into 1/2 inch balls and place on the prepared pan. Flatten dough balls with a fork. Bake just until golden brown about 10 minutes. Let the cookies cool for about 5 minutes on the pan, then transfer to a rack and let cool completely.

Yield: approximately 48 cookies

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Saturday, May 10, 2008

Whaddya Know Joe

Sloppy Joes

Growing up I loved Sloppy Joes. But what kid doesn't? The sweet, tangy, and sometimes extremely messy sandwiches were a rare treat around our house so when I did get to eat them, they were all the better. Since I'm the sometimes meal planner these days I try to sneak in much loved treats like Sloppy Joes. And, since I'm a big fan of searching out simple and highly rated recipes on Allrecipes I decided to skip the store-bought stuff and seek out a from-scratch recipe there when I got a recent craving.

As with most recipes on the site, there were several variations so I chose the one that sounded like it would suit me and the Big Bad Dad aka my Picky Eater best, which was Sloppy Joes II. I made slight changes to the recipe. After I got everything into the pan it just didn't seem to have enough juice for my liking, so I ended up using a total of 1 cup of ketchup and adding a half cup of water. We didn't really notice the flavor of the bell pepper, which was fine it didn't seem to be lacking because of it, but next time I'll either omit the pepper or make sure I just cut it into bigger chunks. These homemade Sloppy Joes were a little sweeter than the store-bought stuff, so if you think you might not be too keen on that I would suggest cutting back on the brown sugar a bit or adding a little extra mustard.

I always remember eating potato chips with Sloppy Joes growing up, and for some reason Ruffles stick out in my mind - don't ask because I really couldn't tell you why. Maybe I just prefer Ruffles to regular chips? Or not even Ruffles, Wavy Lays, yes, it's the Wavy Lays I prefer. But that's so beyond my point. I decided to take a healthier route but still wanted to serve some form of potato, so I seasoned and roasted some Russets.

MmmMmmm dinner was so good that night!

Sloppy Joes

1 pound lean ground beef
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped green bell pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon prepared yellow mustard
1 cup ketchup
3 teaspoons brown sugar
1/2 cup water
salt & pepper to taste

In a medium skillet over medium heat, brown the ground beef, onion, and green pepper; drain off liquids.

Stir in the garlic powder, mustard, ketchup, brown sugar, and water; mix thoroughly. Reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Oven Roasted Potatoes

1 lb Russet potatoes, but into 1 inch cubes
Olive oil
seasoned salt to taste
sea salt to taste

Preheat oven to 425. Drizzle cubed potatoes with just enough oil to coat. Toast to coat evenly and place on non-stick baking sheet, sprinkle with salts and pepper.

Roast for 30-40 minutes or until tender and golden brown.

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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Wordless Wednesday

Wordless Wednesday

Tail Chaser

Nuff Said!

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