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The Best Pot Pie in the WORLD.

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The Best Pot Pie in the WORLD.

Did you grow up eating those delicious Swanson frozen pot pies? I sure did! We loved those little things. Since last year I thought about trying my hand at a homemade vegetable pot pie. I thought I’d have to adjust a chicken pot pie recipe but then I found Ina Garten’s!

The other day I realized I had most of the ingredients, the weather was cool (a great day to use the oven!), G was planning on getting our Christmas tree… Doesn’t a comforting pot pie sound good on a cold tree-decorating night?

Bea went down for a late nap around 2:30 so I started this baby at 3 thinking I’d be done around 4 or so. Boy was I wrong! Making a pot pie from scratch, at least for me, took 3 HOURS!! (Although there’s no reason I shouldn’t have known since it says it clearly on Ina Garten’s recipe.) In fact, when it didn’t look like it’d be cool enough for the GRUMPY kids I had to make them some pasta RIGHT QUICK since they couldn’t wait.

So, if you feel like trying this I recommend you try it on a lazy Saturday or Sunday afternoon when you don’t have to be anywhere. It’s totally worth it.

To make the pie crust you need:

CRUST INGREDIENTS:
3 c all-purpose flour
1.5 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 c vegetable shortening (yes, Crisco! I think you could use butter instead.)
1/4 lb cold, unsalted butter, diced
1/2-2/3 c ice water
1 egg beaten with 1 TBSP water (do this RIGHT after assembly & before baking)
Flaked sea salt & cracked black pepper (I just had coarse sea salt)

Make the dough first as it needs to chill for at least 30 minutes in the fridge. **NOTE: you can always buy pre-made dough if you are short on time!**

Whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder in a large bowl OR mix in your food processor (I don’t *yet* have a food processor.) Add Crisco (vegetable shortening) & butter and cut with a pastry cutter (or pulse about 10 times if using food processor) until you have pea-sized bits. (Bumps?)

Important: do not overwork the dough! I just started making pie dough for the first time last month and have learned the hard way. I also learned what happens when you *think* you forgot to double the amount of water for a double recipe but you actually didn’t forget. VERY tough dough.

But I digress…

If you’re doing this by hand, add the ice water and knead just enough to make the dough come together. By food processor, the same idea: process JUST until it comes together. Using your hands form a ball, wrap in plastic & refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Now you’re ready to start your filling. You’ll need:

By the way: these vegetables are not set in stone. You can use whatever you have on hand: green beans, broccoli, asparagus tips etc.

FILLING INGREDIENTS:
4 TBSP butter
4 TBSP olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
1 fennel bulb, top & core removed, thinly sliced crosswise
1/2 c all-purpose flour
2-1/2 vegetable stock (or vegetarian chicken flavored bullion)
1 TBSP Pernod, Vermouth or white wine
1 pinch saffron threads (optional)
1-1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
3 TBSP heavy cream
1-1/2 c potatoes, diced (about 1/2 lb)
1-1/2 c carrots, peeled & diced (4 carrots)
1-1/2 c butternut squash, peeled & diced
1 c frozen corn
1/2 c peas

While the dough’s chilling, chop all your vegetables! This is not as bad as it sounds. Though it isn’t good.

Dice your potatoes too. Great news: you don’t need to peel them. But I would give them a quick scrub. Throw them in a pot of water so they don’t turn black.

Now, heat your oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the butter.

Add the onions & fennel, stirring to coat with the fats. Cook for about 10-15 minutes or until translucent. Add flour, lower heat & cook for another 3 minutes stirring to coat evenly.

Now, for the stock, use good vegetable stock OR, in a pinch, as I usually am, I use this:

Add the stock, booze (optional!), saffron, salt & pepper bringing to a boil.

Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the heavy cream & season to taste with more salt & pepper.

Now boil the potatoes in salted water for 10 minutes. When they are fork tender (but not mushy!) lift out with slotted spoon (save the water!) and add the hard veg (i.e. carrots, squash) and boil for 5 minutes. Drain well. Add the potatoes and all other vegetables (including parsley) to the sauce and stir to combine.

You are finally ready to assemble your pie!

In my typical fashion, I didn’t even think about what dish I’d actually bake these in until I was ready to put the whole kit & kaboodle into a dish. D’OH!

I ended up using 2 small casserole dishes (for personal pot pies) and 1 medium sized casserole dish. I have no idea why I don’t have photos of the assembly. It might be due to two small children clamoring for food, any food, while I assembled them.

Bake on a cookie sheet for 1 hour or until top is lightly browned and filling is bubbling.

Oh yummmmmmmmmm!!!!

Still life with pot pie.

5.0 from 1 reviews

The Best Pot Pie in the WORLD.
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

Serves: 4
 

Traditional comfort food for cozy nights at home!
Ingredients
  • CRUST INGREDIENTS:
  • 3 c all-purpose flour
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ c vegetable shortening (yes, Crisco! I think you could use butter instead.)
  • ¼ lb cold, unsalted butter, diced
  • ½-2/3 c ice water
  • 1 egg beaten with 1 TBSP water (do this RIGHT after assembly & before baking)
  • Flaked sea salt & cracked black pepper (I just had coarse sea salt)
  • FILLING INGREDIENTS:
  • 4 TBSP butter
  • 4 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 fennel bulb, top & core removed, thinly sliced crosswise
  • ½ c all-purpose flour
  • 2-1/2 vegetable stock (or vegetarian chicken flavored bullion)
  • 1 TBSP Pernod, Vermouth or white wine
  • 1 pinch saffron threads (optional)
  • 1-1/2 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 3 TBSP heavy cream
  • 1-1/2 c potatoes, diced (about ½ lb)
  • 1-1/2 c carrots, peeled & diced (4 carrots)
  • 1-1/2 c butternut squash, peeled & diced
  • 1 c frozen corn
  • ½ c peas

Instructions
  1. Make the dough first as it needs to chill for at least 30 minutes in the fridge.
  2. Whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder in a large bowl OR mix in your food processor. Add Crisco (vegetable shortening) & butter and cut with a pastry cutter (or pulse about 10 times if using food processor) until you have pea-sized bits.
  3. Important: do not overwork the dough!
  4. If you’re doing this by hand, add the ice water and knead just enough to make the dough come together. By food processor, the same idea: process JUST until it comes together. Using your hands form a ball, wrap in plastic & refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  5. While the dough’s chilling, chop all your vegetables!
  6. Dice your potatoes too. Great news: you don’t need to peel them. But I would give them a quick scrub. Throw them in a pot of water so they don’t turn black.
  7. Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the butter.
  8. Add the onions & fennel, stirring to coat with the fats. Cook for about 10-15 minutes or until translucent, stirring occasionally. Add flour, lower heat & cook for another 3 minutes stirring to coat evenly.
  9. Add the stock, booze (optional!), saffron, salt & pepper bringing to a boil.
  10. Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the heavy cream & season to taste with more salt & pepper.
  11. Boil the potatoes in salted water for 10 minutes. When they are fork tender (but not mushy) lift out with slotted spoon (save the water!) and add the hard veg (i.e. carrots, squash) and boil for 5 minutes. Drain well.
  12. Add the potatoes and all other vegetables (including parsley) to the sauce and stir to combine.
  13. Preheat oven to 375.
  14. Assemble pie: add vegetable filling to casserole dish (you can use 1 large one or 4 small ones or really whatever you want). Roll out dough and cut to fit the top of your casserole with enough left over to cover the lip of the dish. Brush pie crust with the egg wash before placing in oven.
  15. Bake on a cookie sheet for about an hour or until crust is golden brown & filling is bubbling.

Notes
If you are short on time you can always buy pre-made dough. Also, if you really hate Crisco, just replace that amount with more butter.

 

SOURCE: Slightly adapted from Ina Garten

Grilled Corn with Cotija

Just before I got married I had an early mid-life crisis and flew down to South America for a few months. The traveling changed my life for the better. Besides doing without a lot of things I thought I needed, long bus rides gave me time to STOP. Working as an animation producer just prior had not helped me learn to deal with stress and a racing mind. These 8 hour bus rides gave me time to stare out the window – which was a good thing. Was there an actual physiological change that occurred? I DO think so! For the first time in years I felt calm & relaxed. I wasn’t thinking about what I “should” be doing with my free time. Sometimes at the various bus stops vendors would hop on to sell food. A plastic baggie of coconut water, chips (homemade??) or maize (what you call corn) on the cob. The corn (called “elote”) was always my first choice! A large ear of corn in foil, open the foil to find a nice hunk of white cheese and a wedge of lime. Yum yum yum!!

This summer I started making my version of elote.

I really don’t measure when I make this! You can adjust amounts to your liking.

INGREDIENTS:
- corn on the cob
- cotija cheese (or feta if you can’t find cotija)
- 1 lime cut into sections
- chili powder
- salt & pepper
- OPTIONAL: crema mexicana

It’s pretty simple. I shucked the corn, brushed it with olive oil & grilled for a few minutes, turning as it browned. Next time I’m going to peel back the husk & tie it with twine so that the husk can be used as a handle. Of course, you have to remove the silk regardless.

Now, this is optional: drizzle either crema Mexicana or smear with mayonnaise. Or skip this step altogether…I like this step because it is the glue that sticks all the tasty things you are about to drop onto the corn.

Dust with salt and chili powder over each ear (to your liking.)

Crumble cotija cheese over the corn. Cojita is a dry crumbly white cheese sort of like feta. Substitute feta if you can’t find cojita near you.

Serve with lime wedges. YUM!

 

Grilled Corn with Cotija
Author: 
Recipe type: Side
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

 

An extra special side for late summer cookouts!
Ingredients
  • corn on the cob, shucked
  • olive oil
  • OPTIONAL: Crema Mexicana or Mayonnaise
  • salt
  • chili powder
  • cotija cheese
  • lime wedges

Instructions
  1. Brush olive oil over shucked corn.
  2. Grill till darkened on all sides.
  3. Drizzle either crema Mexicana or mayonnaise over corn.
  4. Dust with salt & chili powder.
  5. Crumble cotija cheese over corn.
  6. Serve with lime wedges!

Notes
Try this: Peel husk back withOUT removing it, tie together with twine. Remove silk threads. Brush with olive oil & grill until darkened. You can now use the husk as a handle when eating! I’m going to try this next time…

 

Mediterranean Salad

Back from vakay with a longggg to do list. What the heck! Let me get you this yummy salad how-to – still good for those end of summer picnics & BBQ’s. I’m making it tomorrow for the last “Jazz on the Lawn” concert.

I ate something like this in July when I was up at Three Rivers swooning over the hard won success of my dear friend Chris Lynch & her writing partner Meg Howrey. You see, they not only sold their international thriller City of Dark Magic to Penguin Publishing, but they also got the thumbs up for the sequel! Go Lynchie & Meg!!! Two smart broads!

We ate this at a dinner party up there. I couldn’t get enough of this. Neen and I had been wandering aimlessly around Sequoia National Park all day and arrived late & ravenous. How polite of us. With Nina’s help, I tried to replicate it when I got home and I’m please with the result! This salad is so satisfying, tasty & hearty. It’s REALLY easy to make. The most time-consuming part is boiling the grain which takes about 45 mins.

Here’s all you need:

Salad:
1 1/2 c uncooked wheat berries or barley (barley is cheaper & easier to find but I was out)
8 oz feta (depending how much you like)
1/3 c sliced sun-dried tomatoes
1/4 c sliced kalamata olives
parsley to taste
1 avocado

Dressing:
1/4 c olive oil
2-3 TBSP balsamic vinegar
salt
pepper
1/4 c fresh squeezed orange juice (about half an orange)

First, cook your grain according to package directions. You can do this a day ahead and chill in the fridge. Just be sure to drain thoroughly first.

Now drain & chill the barley. You don’t want it hot when you combine your ingredients.

NOTE: I didn’t really measure anything. I just added ingredients and tasted. That’s partly why this is such a simple salad – you can add more of things you like or have.

Combine ingredients in a large bowl.

Stir to combine and add dressing ingredients.

Here’s a rough approximation of the dressing amounts:

1/4 c olive oil
juice of half an orange
2-3 TBSP balsamic vinegar
salt & pepper to taste

Whisk together dressing ingredients. Drizzle about half that on salad & stir to coat thoroughly. Taste & adjust, adding more dressing if needed. I don’t like a puddle of dressing at the bottom of my salad so I start light & add more. The barley will absorb the dressing but I liked this as leftovers for up to 3 days.

Don’t let Maddie’s excitement fool you. She didn’t dig this.

Jazz on the Lawn
Rogelio Mitchell & Friends
Sunday, August 26
5-7PM
Bring a picnic/blanket and/or low chairs!

 

 

5.0 from 1 reviews

Mediterranean Barley Salad
Author: 
Recipe type: Salad
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

Serves: 4-6
 

Savory, satisfying salad. Perfect for cookouts & side dishes or as a main with some leafy greens!
Ingredients
  • Salad:
  • 1-1/2 c uncooked barley
  • 8 oz feta (depending how much you like)
  • ⅓ c sliced sun-dried tomatoes
  • ¼ c sliced kalamata olives
  • parsley to taste
  • 1 avocado
  • Dressing:
  • ¼ c olive oil
  • 2-3 TBSP balsamic vinegar
  • salt
  • pepper
  • ¼ c fresh squeezed orange juice (about half an orange)

Instructions
  1. Cook barley according to package directions. Drain & chill in refrigerator.
  2. Combine all salad ingredients in a large bowl.
  3. Whisk together the dressing ingredients in a small bowl.
  4. Drizzle about half the dressing over the salad & stir to coat ingredients.
  5. Taste salad & adjust to your tastes including adding more dressing as needed.
  6. Serve with sliced avocado.

Notes
Salad will keep in refrigerator for 2-3 days. Wheat berries or faro make great substitutions for the barley!

Taco Cups

 

Some nights you get home with ravenous kids – there is no time to chop/assemble & bake or even to boil pasta water. This is the dinner for THAT night!

I saw it on Pinterest a few months ago.

So far, about 50% of the recipes I’ve tried from Pinterest have convinced me that it’s the PHOTOGRAPHY that is good, not the necessarily the recipe.

Now I’m a little more careful about reading the recipe before trying it. It’s got to taste good.

This one was a pleasant surprise! Taco cups in won-ton wrappers. This is seriously the easiest, quickest dinner to throw together.

You need:

(I tried it with vegetarian ground “meat” but I didn’t care for it so ignore that in the photo!)

and

INGREDIENTS:
- won ton wrappers
- refried beans
- shredded Mexican blend cheese (or cheddar etc.)

OPTIONAL:
- jalapeños
- taco sauce
- diced tomatoes
- diced onions

Preheat oven to 350.

Fill muffin tin with won ton wrappers.

Spoon refried beans into won ton wrapper.

Add any toppings you like. I tried some with meat substitute but nobody liked it so I stopped. I also put shredded cheese on half of them since M hates melted cheese.

Yesterday I made them with 1 sliced jalapeño (jarred) on each of mine. I then sprinkled taco sauce on top of that. Yes, that thick nasty taco sauce you get at Ralph’s. I don’t care!! I love it!! Spicy ketchup!!

Bake for 5-7 minutes. Won tons should be getting browned at the edges. Once you figure out how your oven works (I use the toaster oven to avoid heating up the house in the summer!) you can decide how many minutes.

There is always that tenuous moment when you present new food to the kids. It definitely helps if they haven’t snacked since lunchtime though.

She LOVED them!

Bea didn’t like them until I broke hers up. I don’t think she has enough back teeth to really chew them. Now she loves them! (Bea not pictured.)

M thinks she has long black hair when she wears this hat.

 

Taco Cups
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

 

10 minute dinner – great for kids!
Ingredients
  • won ton wrappers
  • refried beans (I use a can)
  • shredded Mexican blend cheese

Instructions
  1. Preheat toaster oven (or real oven) to 350.
  2. Line muffin tin with won ton wrappers.
  3. Spoon beans into won ton wrappers.
  4. Sprinkle shredded cheese & any other fillings you like on top.
  5. Bake for 5-7 minutes.

Notes
You can make as many or few as you like. M ate 5 or 6. Additional topping ideas: – jalapeño slices – taco sauce – diced tomatoes – diced onions

 

pasta with sautéed broccoli & tomatoes

You know those nights you’re so sick of serving pasta with jar sauce? Yet, you know you’ll still be serving pasta out of some weakness of character? This is the recipe for you!

Our friend, Liana, made this over vacation. It’s the perfect meal for a large crowd – especially a large crowd who just hiked for several hours at altitude carrying toddlers. When we got home she threw this together & everyone loved it!

It’s so easy & satisfying.

You need:

INGREDIENTS:
2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb dried pasta (I used whole wheat)
1 head broccoli, cut into small pieces (I use the stems too – peeled & sliced)
1 can diced tomatoes
a couple of handfuls of baby spinach
salt & pepper to taste
fresh parmesan cheese
OPTIONAL: crushed red pepper to taste

Heat water in large pot for pasta. When water has started boiling, add salt & pasta.

Heat your oil in a large skillet. I only have a medium sized skillet. But if I had a large one, that’s what I would’ve used!

Add garlic & cook for about a minute, stirring occasionally.

Add broccoli & stir to coat with oil.

Cover & lower heat to medium-low. Cook for 7-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Test a piece of broccoli – it should be just tender but still have some crunch.

Remove lid & add tomatoes. This will give it some “juice” too!

Top with a couple of handfuls of spinach, stir to combine & turn heat up to medium.

Meanwhile, cocktail hour Legos.

When spinach has just barely wilted, remove from heat.

When pasta is done, drain & drizzle with olive oil to keep it from sticking.

In a large bowl or pot, combine pasta & veggies. Adjust salt & pepper to taste.

Serve with sprinkled parmesan cheese!

Either my kids loved this or they were starving to death.

All gone!

pasta with sautéed broccoli & tomatoes
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

Serves: 4-6
 

Quick & tasty pasta/veggie dish sure to please a big crowd!
Ingredients
  • 2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lb dried pasta (I used whole wheat)
  • 1 head broccoli, cut into small pieces (I use the stems too – peeled & sliced)
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • a couple of handfuls of baby spinach
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • fresh parmesan cheese
  • OPTIONAL: crushed red pepper to taste

Instructions
  1. Heat water in large pot for pasta. When water has started boiling, add salt & pasta.
  2. Heat your oil in a large skillet. I only have a medium sized skillet. But if I had a large one, that’s what I would’ve used!
  3. Add garlic & cook for about a minute, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add broccoli & stir to coat with oil.
  5. Cover & lower heat to medium-low. Cook for 7-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Test a piece of broccoli – it should be just tender but still have some crunch.
  6. Remove lid & add tomatoes. This will give it some “juice” too!
  7. Top with a couple of handfuls of spinach, stir to combine & turn heat up to medium.
  8. When spinach has just barely wilted, remove from heat.
  9. When pasta is done, drain & drizzle with olive oil to keep it from sticking.
  10. In a large bowl or pot, combine pasta & veggies. Adjust salt & pepper to taste.
  11. Serve with sprinkled parmesan cheese and/or crushed red pepper if you like it!

 



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