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Monday, October 31, 2011

Peanut Noodle Salad

Sadly, I'm not posting yet about Strawberry Torte. Or any of the other wonderful dishes or adventures from the last week. You see, I left my good camera at my step-son's house. He sent it to me today so shortly I'll be able to share some wonderful photos. For now, though, let's chat about Peanut Noodle Salad. My menu said we were going to have Pork Normandy tonight. Pork with pears in a lovely brandy cream sauce. Had I fixed that tonight it would've been pork with pear flavored rocks in a brandy cream sauce. Not the best use of the last pears from our CSA. So, I pulled out tomorrow's lunch recipe and we had it for dinner.

What did we think? Wow, this was super easy to put together. And, the taste was fantastic. The original recipe from foodtv didn't call for the chicken but I knew I'd have part of one leftover from another meal so it only made sense to use it and turn this into a meal. I got a good serving of my dark pigmented vegetables. And, there's a bit left that we can arm-wrestle over for lunch tomorrow. LOL, I'll probably let Connie win.
One note here - Blogger has changed their format. The new one is lousy. My photos won't load correctly. I can't use colored fonts, change the font type or change the font size. I'll be looking for a new home for my blog. Any ideas fellow foodies?
Peanut Noodle Salad


8 oz rice vermicelli noodles (I used linguine because that's what I had)
6 T fresh lime juice
3 T low-sodium soy sauce
3 T creamy peanut butter
3 T packed dark brown sugar
3 T vegetable oil
1 c roughly chopped chicken breast
1 small red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 c sliced scallions
1/2 c roughly chopped fresh basil (the frost got ours, I used jarred)
1/2 c roughly chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 c roughly chopped fresh mint (ditto frost and jarred)
1/3 c salted roasted peanuts


Whisk together the peanut butter and three tablespoons of the lime juice. Whisk the other dressing ingredients in. Cook and drain the pasta. Toss the pasta with the dressing and the other ingredients. adapted from foodtv

Monday, October 24, 2011

BBQ Bacon Stuffed Meatloaf

It's that time again!  What time?  Secret Recipe Club time.  Each month the participants in the Secret Recipe Club are assigned a blog.  It's up to us to read through it and choose a recipe to try.  We don't have to make it exactly as it's written on the blog but can make it our own.  If you'd like to see all the posts from each week, you can go to Secret Recipe Club.  This month I was assigned Big Bear's Wife.  Well, Big Bear's Wife is better known as Angie.  She's one of our den mothers.  They're actually called hostesses but I think they're more like den mothers.  Den mothers to a bunch of cats.  And, you know what they say about herding cats...  Now, don't get me wrong, I love cats - I just don't like to try and herd them :-)  Angie's an absolute sweetheart to herd us all along.  She tries to make sure we've got our posts in on time and that nobody gets left out or forgotten.  And, for folks like me who are totally technically challenged, she answers a ton of questions.  So, let's just say I was thrilled to get her blog!  As always, I read a ton of recipes and printed those I most wanted to make.  Then, I went back and read through the list again.  And again.  And again.  Finally, I decided to make Garlic Knots.  Delectable little rolls made from refrigerator biscuits.  I even bought the biscuits.  But, I kept looking at the bacon bbq meatloaf.  Then, fate. 

Duane and Becky came in Saturday morning to finish up some planning.  We started chatting about food.  Somehow, the conversation went to the mini-meatloaves my mom used to make.  They were glazed with orange marmalade.  Duane suggested adding some orange zest, crystallized ginger and orange liqueur to kick the flavors up.  About that time, Connie called from the farmers market to see what size shagbark hickory syrup to buy to tide us over for the winter.  Could he please get a pound of ground beef and a pound of ground pork when he was at the grocery?  I was determined to make Mom's meatloaves for dinner.  Sure he could.  Except he misunderstood and got TWO pounds of each. 

See what I mean?  Fate.  I was meant to make this meatloaf.  Yes, indeed.  Now, I changed the recipe more than a bit.  I used oatmeal instead of bread.  Healthier.  In an ocean of fat, every little bit of healthy helps.  And, I used half pork and half beef.  And, I added onion and barbecue sauce.  And, I used gruyere instead of cheddar.  So, for those of you who are purists and say a recipe should be made the first time as printed, fine, be that way.  I much prefer to make it my own. 

What did we think?  YUM.  Major YUM!  The photos of the meatloaf when cut and served were awful because it totally fell apart.  But, let me tell you, it tasted wonderful!!

Thank you so much, Angie :-)  We loved your BBQ Bacon Stuffed Meatloaf!  Click on the recipe name to see Angie's post.

BBQ Bacon Stuffed Meatloaf


8 oz fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 large onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 T olive oil
6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/2 - 1 c oatmeal
1/2 c 1% milk
2 eggs
1/4 c fresh parsley, chopped
2 T barbecue rub
1/2 t salt and freshly ground pepper
1 lb ground beef
1 lb ground pork
1 1/2 c shredded cheese (cheddar, gruyere, whatever!)
1/4 c barbecue sauce


Saute the mushrooms, onion and garlic in the olive oil.  When they're softened, remove them from the heat.  Gently mix the ground beef, ground pork, sauteed vegetables, oatmeal, milk, eggs, parsley and salt and pepper.  Put 2/3 of the mixture in a 9x5 loaf pan.  Make a deep well in the center.  Put the shredded cheese and bacon in the well then top with the bbq sauce. 

Cover with the other 1/3 of the meat mixture and seal well.  Bake at 350 for about 90 minutes or until done.  After baking for about 60 minutes, glaze with some more bbq sauce. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Fall into Butternut Squash

The folks at Marzetti were kind enough to send me a coupon good for a bottle of their Simply Dressed salad dressing.  I'm typically a make your own kinda gal.  But, free is free.  And, I loved the idea that these weren't loaded with preservatives like most of them.  We headed to the grocery on the way home from work to figure out what kind of dressing appealed to us.  Then, I'd figure out a recipe.  I loved the selection:  Greek Feta, Blue Cheese, Ginger Sesame, Champagne, Cole Slaw, Pomegranate, Strawberry Balsamic, Caesar and Balsamic.  What to choose?  Ah, the manager's special was Ginger Sesame for 99 cents.  The others were $3.99.  Ok, now we'll buy two.  I've always been a fan of Marzetti's Blue Cheese dressing so that was the other choice.  Homeward.

Let me interrupt and tell you what happened on the way home...  As we go into our car, Connie asked if I'd heard the woman yelling at the bank kitty-corner across the street.  No, I hadn't but I did see a gal walloping the heck out of a car with her purse.  I pulled out my phone to call 911 just as the guy dragged the gal into the car.  They headed out of the bank parking lot and went north.  We followed and managed to get the license plate.  The car stopped at the first stop sign but ignored the second.  At that point, the gal tried to open the passenger door.  Then, the car turned down a side street.  Oops, a cul de sac.  The car roared into a driveway and the gal bailed out.  He then hit her with the car.  Not hard enough to knock her down but hard enough to jostle her.  He pulled out of the driveway and headed east toward a major road.  By this time I'd given the operator all the info - license plate, address where she was dropped off and direction the vehicle was heading.  We headed home - WHEW!

Well, after all that excitement it was time to fix dinner.  I saw a butternut squash on the counter and my mind went to the roasted butternut squash and sweet potatoes with blue cheese.  How about doing a version of that?  Super simple.

What did we think?  Amazing.  And so incredibly easy.  I may make it again for dinner tonight.  The dressing was perfect with the nuts and butternut squash.  It was much thinner than the homemade blue cheese dressing that I make which meant that it coated everything beautifully.  The flavors played really well together too. 

Fall into Butternut Squash


one small butternut squash
1/3 - 1/2 c chopped pecans
1 t olive oil
1-2 T Marzetti's Simply Dressed Blue Cheese Dressing


Cut a couple of slits in the squash to allow the steam to escape.  Put it in the microwave for about three minutes.  Once the squash comes out of the microwave, allow it to cool a few minutes before handling it.  I love the photo of the stuff that escaped through the slits!

While it's cooling, chop the pecans and toast them in a small skillet in the olive oil.  Peel, seed and chop the squash. 

Toss it with the pecans

and blue cheese dressing. 


Marzetti's Simply Dressed Blue Cheese Dressing was provided to me as part of the Foodbuzz Tastemakers Program.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Glazed Meatloaf and Creamed Corn

Saturday was one of those days.  I worked and worked and worked and barely made a dent.  We're going to be fighting the forces of evil in a week so I had that to contend with in addition to all of the other work.  There were two highlights to the day.  First was a visit with Duane and Becky in the morning.  Second was a visit to the Benjamin Harrison House for the latest version of Victorian Villians. 

Let's start with the latter first.  The Benjamin Harrison House has a series of plays a couple of times a year.  They're typically mysteries of some sort.  For those of you in the Indianapolis area, I HIGHLY recommend them.  They're quite well done and very reasonably priced.  The house itself is well worth the visit.  Ben was our 23rd president and the only one from Indiana.  My great-grandparents lived kitty-corner from him and were friends.  So, I grew up hearing about the house.  While we were waiting for the festivities to begin, we chatted with a delightful lady who works for the Indiana department that handles historical markers.  We're the nuts who stop to read each and every one of them.  How much fun it was to discover that we can actually download a list of all of them AND some additional background info on each.  Well, the evening was full of visits from notable guests like Jack the Ripper, Belle Gunness, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Lizzie Borden and a host of other despicable characters.  We absolutely loved the show.

As for the visit with Duane and Becky, it was delightful as always.  He's a wealth of knowledge about cooking, having spent a great deal of his adult life in the restaurant business.  He said something that is oh, so true.  A great cook is an artist while a great baker is a scientist. There's a reason I made it through high school chemistry etc.  Thank you Lee Ann for all the tutoring!  BTW - Lee now teaches chemistry to college kids.  I know.  I totally lucked out to have her for one of my best buds in high school :-)  I know this is shocking, but we did spend some of our time together chatting about food.  I know.  Go Figure.  The conversation came around to mini-meatloaves my Mom used to make when I was a kid.  Glazed with orange marmalade.  They were the bomb.  Duane suggested mixing a bit of orange zest, orange liqueur and crystallized ginger into the glaze.  Oh, yeah.  Connie was doing the grocery shopping and happened to call while they were there.  Ummm, could you please also get a pound of ground beef and a pound of ground pork. 

Now, I wish the end result was as good as the story.  Sadly, it wasn't.  I couldn't find Mom's recipe.  And, I wanted to add a bit of pizazz so mixed in some shagbark hickory syrup and some Chinese five spice powder.  The meatloaves were good, but not great.  A three on a scale of one to five. 

The corn, however, was a different story.  Corn chowder is the one thing Connie just can't get down his throat.  He's not particularly fond of corn in any way, shape or form.  I love it so he eats plenty of it - probably more than he'd care.  Our grandson, Bradley, visited Friday evening and his dad had said one of the few vegetables he'd actually eat was corn.  Out came a can of corn.  Three-quarters of it was left.  What to do.  I wanted homemade creamed corn.  I'd never made it and had never even seen a recipe for it.  So, I made up my own.  Truth be told here, I really expected Connie to take a bite and say thanks but no thanks.  He inhaled the corn.  So did I.  In fact, if I didn't have a huge bag of broccoli to finish up, we'd be having it for dinner again.  Yum!

Glazed Meatloaf and Creamed Corn


for the meatloaf:
1/2 lb ground beef
1/2 lb ground pork
2 eggs
1/2 - 1 c oatmeal
1 t Chinese Five spice powder
1/4 c shagbark hickory syrup
1/2 c milk
1 medium onion, finely diced

for the glaze:
1/2 c peach amaretto jelly (or marmalade or another jelly)
1 T crystallized ginger, finely minced
1 T peach schnapps (or a liqueur that goes with your marmalade or jelly)
orange zest (omitted since we were out of oranges)

for the creamed corn:
1 T butter
1 T flour
1/2 c cream
1/2 c grated gruyere
1 can corn, drained
salt and pepper


for the glaze:
Melt the jelly in a small saucepan and add in the other ingredients.

for the meatloaf:

Mix the ingredients gently and put the meatloaf into a 9x5 loaf pan.  Bake at 375 for an hour or until a thermometer registers 170.   While the meatloaf is baking, drizzle the glaze over it.

for the corn:

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan.  Stir in the flour and allow it to cook for a few minutes.  Don't let it get brown.  While it's cooking, grate a bit of nutmeg into the mixture.  Slowly add the cream.  Cook until the mixture is thickened.  Stir in the gruyere.  Once the sauce is smooth, add the corn.  Heat through and serve.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Bourbon Bramble and Bradley's (sort of) Mojito's

We all have our idiosyncrasies, preferences and quirks. Some of them can be traced back to an old family story, or a vague memory. But, did you ever see one unfold in front of you and know that the child will be scarred for life (even if in a good way)?

Connie’s eldest, David, came for a surprise visit - well, a surprise for Connie. David had the idea and I happily joined in. Connie and I had an invitation to a party and I kept stalling and stalling, telling Connie that the onions that should've taken no more than 25-30 minutes to caramelize were just taking forever.  He was being very patient and said it was ok to be late. Then, I thought Connie caught me when he saw the onions that I was supposedly sautéing were turned down almost all the way. I feigned amazement that I'd made such a mistake.  He still had no clue. He lives in his own little world, but as he says, it’s OK, they know him there.  Actually, I once found a notepad that said just that and bought it for him!

Anyway, a knock on the door and Connie was getting Annie her 7:00 treat so I went to the front door.  David and I hushed Bradley and walked him down the front hall and sent him into the kitchen. Happy, happy happy! We all headed outside so David and I could run to the grocery.  Grampy and Bradley chased around the car for awhile, Bradley giggling at the top of his lungs most of the time - well other than when he was trying to sneak up on Grampy.  David and I were off to the grocery.  While we were gone, Connie and Bradley proceeded to cause havoc in the house. We won't describe what was once my family room floor...  Once we got back, it was time for a cocktail. Bradley was fascinated by the whole process and we'd given him the muddler to carry around.  So, Connie decided Bradley needed one of his own.

He took Bradley out to the herb garden, showed him the mint, picked it, and brought him back inside. They put the mint in the cocktail shaker, added some simple syrup (2:1, as always) and Connie had Bradley muddle. Now, that was a photo I'm sorry to have missed!!!  Cocktaill shaker on the floor, three-year old doubled up over it, muddling for dear life.  They poured the mixture into a little pony glass and added some tonic water. Connie wanted to give it a kick, a flavor other than straight soda.

So, three or four trips to the garden and innumerable refills later, it was time for bed. At 9 AM the next morning Bradley finally woke Grampy up and his first question was, “Hey Grampy, can we go get more mint?” “No, not yet.” At least six times later there’s Bradley, picking mint leaves and showing them to Grampy, can we go make more of that drink?

They never did have more, however Connie sent him home with three or four big sprigs of mint. Bradley complained to his Dad that they don’t have the other stuff to make the drinks. Poor David had to promise Bradley that they could easily make the stuff.

Anyway, years from now, Bradley may have a Mojito, or something close to it, and remember, but not quite. It won’t ever taste the same as Grampy’s tonic water (with no liquor, of course) Mojito. He’ll vaguely wonder what is wrong and probably never figure it out. That is one of the roles of grandparents, to hopelessly mess up their grandchildren’s sense of taste! Mission accomplished!

So, what was the drink that precipitated all of this? A Bourbon Bramble. Since I couldn't really prepare for David's arrival other than figuring out what we were going to have, dinner wasn't ready. But, I had done some research and found some fall cocktails from Saveur.  David loves to browse through our liquor cabinet and we love to indulge him with a fun drink.  When we go visit them in Columbus, I always take at least one meal and often two.  And, I typically come prepared with a new cocktail too. 

What did we all think?  Really good.  This is a keeper and a make again.  It's easy to put together and the flavors just really dance on your tongue.  Next time, I'll buy some blackberries and make a festive skewer, but that's the only change I'd make.

Bourbon Bramble


1 oz bourbon
1 oz elderflower liqueur
1/2 oz creme de cassis
splash of lemon juice


Mix in a cocktail shaker filled with ice.  Shake, shake, shake until it's too cold to hold.  Strain into rocks glasses filled with ice.  We'd love to muddle a couple of raspberries into the drink too...  Remember to kiss the one you love!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Sundried Tomato and Feta Turkey Meatloaf

One of the disadvantages of shopping at Sam's Club is the massive quantities of food you get.  Take the ground turkey, for example.  Two containers with over two pounds of turkey in each.  You're pretty much committed to eating ground turkey for the week.  Or freezing some of the turkey.  Now, if I can figure out dishes that are different enough, I'm happy to eat the same protein several times during a week.  Such was the case with the ground turkey.  The first dish we made was turkey pie.  That was scrumptious.  Second was the turkey burgers with brie, bacon and cranberry compote.  This was the third dish.  Now, what you need to realize is that we eat leftovers for lunch.  I almost always make enough for at least one lunch in addition to our dinner.  So, we had a LOT of ground turkey from that one package. 

This particular recipe was courtesy of Gina the Tooth.  Never heard of her?  It's Giada De Laurentis.  Connie thinks she is GORGEOUS - which she is - but he still calls her Gina the Tooth.  Whatever we call her, she's an incredibly talented cook.  I've never tried one of her recipes that was anything other than wonderful - at least that's my recollection.  I do try my best to block out the bad stuff! 

What did we think?  Very flavorful and moist and wonderful.  It was wonderful the first night and made great meatloaf sandwiches for lunch.  This recipe is a keeper!!

Sun-dried Tomato and Feta Turkey Meatloaf


1/2 c plain bread crumbs
1/3 c chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
1/4 c chopped oil packed sun dried tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 T milk
1/2 c crumbled feta cheese
1 1/2 t kosher salt
1 t freshly ground black pepper
1 lb ground turkey


While you're putting the meat loaf together, preheat your oven to 375.  You'll want to use the middle rack for cooking.

Use a large bowl to combine the ingredients other than the turkey.

Gently fold in the turkey.  Make sure you combine the ingredients well but don't overwork the mixture.  Put it in a 9x5 loaf pan, coated with cooking spray.  Bake for 45 minutes or until the internal temperature measures 165.

Adapted from Food Network, Giada De Laurentiis

Monday, October 10, 2011

James Beard's Onion Canapes

Well, one good thing came from going to the theatre this last weekend.  That would be these canapes.  We budget our entertainment dollars pretty darned well and passed up a couple of shows at Theatre on the Square (sorry Ron!) to see I Love to Eat at the Indiana Repertory Theatre.  It was a one-man show about James Beard.  While the fellow who played James Beard did a good job, neither of us enjoyed the play very much.  It'd gotten great reviews so we were very excited to go.  Instead of enjoying James Beard, we walked out thinking what a self-absorbed, vain and difficult man he must've been.  And, we were both very ready for the show to end. 

During the show, there were two recipes referenced:  these canapes and his perfect hamburgers.  That recipe is in his American Cookery cookbook which I've owned for more years than I can count.  I've read the cookbook but have yet to make anything from it. But, these intrigued me.  Onion, bread, mayo and parsley.  Four pretty pedestrian ingredients turned into a fancy canape.  Ok, I'll bite. 

Off to the internet I went.  On the first page I saw Jolene Ketzenberger's article from the Indianapolis Star.  Perfect.  Jolene is a great food writer.  She's a lot of fun to read and I typically like things she's liked.  We've run into Jolene or she and her husband, John, enough times that she recognizes Connie and me.  She took the recipe directly from the Beard cookbook where it was first published.  As I recall it was called Entertainment and was his first. 

What did we think?  Amazingly good.  I wish I'd had the time to make my own mayonnaise.  Next time, I will.  But, even with Hellman's Olive Oil Mayo, these were really good.  And, they were pretty too.  Now, will I add them to the party list?  Nope, too much work for 150 people.  For a small dinner party, absolutely.  One other thing I'd do differently is to use a straight-sided cutter.  I used one with little scallops on the edges and had to tear the bread to finish it.  I was trying to find the smallest round I could so we didn't spend too many calories on appetizers rather than dinner. 

James Beard's Onion Canapes

Challa bread or another firm white bread
Mayonnaise - homemade or otherwise - just don't use salad dressing...
White onion, very thinly sliced
Parsley, finely chopped

Cut the bread into very thin slices.  Cut out rounds. 

Slather the rounds with mayonnaise. 

Top half of the slices with a slice of onion. 

Remove rings so that each onion slice just fits onto the bread round.  Top the onion slices with bread rounds - mayonnaise side in.  Coat the edges of each canape with mayonnaise then roll them in the chopped parsley.  Refrigerate for at least an hour prior to serving.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Olio Santo

My guess is that this weekend will be the best weather of the fall in Indianapolis.  The sky has been that gorgeous clear blue you only seem to get in the fall.  And, the temperature has been perfect.  Warm during the day and a tad brisk at night.  I suppose I'd get tired of "perfect" weather all the time, but I'd like to try it for a month or two :-) 

Saturday morning we went to the farmer's market and picked up Annie's lamb treats for the winter.  Terry Knudsen who owns Viking Lamb has his two little guys sell the dog treats.  They're saving the money for college.  We've not seen the kids for several weeks because they've had football on Saturday mornings.  So, it was really nice to get to see one of them yesterday. 

Then, all too soon, it was time for me to dig into my desk.  I'd done pretty much everything I could do from home early in the morning but I was to the point I needed both computer screens.  Ok, so let me rant here for a moment.  When I first started working all those years ago, we had typewriters. My first computer was a dumb terminal on my desk at the bank.  Everyone thought I was nuts because I created form letters for my clients and had to go to the computer room five floors up to pick them up.  That was back in the day when I was a commercial loan officer.  Man, am I ever glad those days are gone!  Now, here I am with a computer at home that's got room for all my food photos, has full access to my desktop at work and can access any of the programs I use on the cloud.  And, I'm griping because I don't have two monitors.  As my beloved husband would say, Get over it!

Last night, we went to see, "I Love to Eat."  It's a one-man play about James Beard.  Showtime was 8:00.  That meant that dinner needed to be quick.  I had a couple of the little steaks from the Omaha Steak starter pack (what a bargain - it was about $1 a serving and we've enjoyed the stuff for months!) and I'd bought white corn and tomatoes at the market.  And, I had some white button mushrooms to make lacquered mushrooms.  My menu had called for steak au poivre.  But, on our way to the market, I was leafing through Everyday Grilling and found a recipe for Florentine T-bone with Spinach.  The sidebar had a recipe for Olio Santo - holy oil.  I love a pat of butter on a good steak, but have never tried olive oil.  Until last night.  I spooned a bit on and added the rosemary and garlic cloves.  It looked ok.  In fact, it looked rather pretty.  Then, I took a bite.  Love it.  OMG.  Love it.  The Olio Santo and the steak do a cha cha cha together.  Oh la la.

Olio Santo


1/3 c extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, smashed
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
1/2 t red pepper flakes


Combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan. 

Heat them gently for five minutes.  Remove the pan from the heat and allow the oil to cool to room temperature.  Spoon a couple of teaspoons over each steak.

adapted from Meals in Minutes, Everyday Grilling

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Turkey, Is It Pot Pie or Shepherd's Pie?

Ah, that is the question, isn't it.  Pot Pie has a crust on top, Shepherd's Pie has mashed potatoes on top.  So, do hash browns qualify it as one or the other?  Hmmm.  Whatever response you give is correct.  You could call this strawberry ice cream and I'd still think it was wonderful.  Cuisine at Home certainly hit a home run with this dish.  That's one magazine I'll bet most of you haven't heard of.  It's the magazine of the Cooking Club of America.  One of those oh, what the heck things I did many years ago.  I didn't join the life member deal but did the annual and got the usual ration of junque.  A magnet, scratch paper etc.  Cheesy.  Then, I found out I really liked the magazine because a lot of the recipes were quite good. So, I've been a member ever since.  This last issue I must've cut out 90% of the recipes.  But this one went into a stack of one.  Make now.  I couldn't get it out of my mind. 

The recipe went together very easily.  As usual, I made a couple of changes.  For starters, the package of ground turkey was two and a half pounds.  The recipe called for one and a half.  I could a) use extra turkey and increase most of the other ingredients or b) freeze the rest of the turkey only to take it out in a couple of years when it's nice and frostbitten and toss it.  Yup, I used it.  The same held true with the tomato paste.  Somewhere in the freezer I have a bag with little tablespoon sized dollops of tomato paste.  Somewhere is the operative word.  Besides, tomato paste tastes great and is good for you.  Enough of an excuse for me to use the whole six ounce can.  I also pre-cooked the vegetables so that they didn't have to have a separate round in the oven prior to getting topped with the hash browns and cheese.  There's something about a klutz and a hot baking dish and trying to mound has browns on a casserole that just told me following the recipe was not the optimal idea in this case.  So, there you have it.  As usual, I did it my way :-)

What did we think?  This is old-fashioned diner food.  True comfort food.  It was fantastic the first night and equally good for lunch the next day.  I gave a couple of freezer bags of it to Auntie Deb and took a couple more to the office for a day I don't have leftovers for lunch.  The additional tomato paste made the flavor that much richer.  I'll make it exactly the same way next time.

Turkey Pie


2 1/2 lb ground turkey
olive oil
1 1/2 c diced onion
1 1/2 c diced carrot
1 1/2 c diced celery
1 T garlic, minced
1 T fresh thyme, minced
3 T flour
2 T tomato paste
1 can diced tomatoes, not drained
1 c chicken broth
1 c red wine
1 T Worcestershire sauce
1 T Dijon mustard
1 c frozen green peas
salt and pepper
8 c frozen shredded hash browns
4 T unsalted butter, melted
1 c shredded Cheddar cheese


Brown and drain the turkey.  Set it aside.  You'll note from the photos that I browned the turkey at the same time I sauteed the veggies.  It's always a trade-off between time and pots and pans to wash...  Time won.

Heat another tablespoon of oil in a large sauce pan and saute the carrots and onions and celery.  Add the garlic and thyme and let them get all happy together for about a minute.

Add the tomato paste and flour.  Now, remember I wound up adding the whole can of tomato paste I didn't want little tomato paste cubes wandering around my freezer and I love the stuff.  I'll absolutely do it again next time because it added a level of complexity to the flavor that was delicious.  The recipe called for cooking the tomato paste for about a minute.  That time needs to be about doubled to take the edge off the paste.
Next, you're going to stir in the diced tomatoes, chicken broth, wine, Worcestershire and Dijon mustard.  Let the mixture come to a boil, then reduce the heat and add in the turkey and the peas.  Pour it into a 9x13 baking dish.
Now comes the really fun part.  You top it with frozen hash brown potatoes.  Depends on how much of a potato layer you want.  I had about 3/4 of a bag of shredded hash browns.  I wanted them out of my freezer before freezer burn ruined them, so I used all of them.  
Last, but not least.   Shredded cheddar goes on the hash browns.  The recipe calls for white cheddar.  I buy Cracker Barrel Extra Sharp Cheddar.  It's yellow.  Get over it. 
I know, I sound really cranky tonight, don't I.  Well, that's what you get when my brain break from writing a Social Security class is blogging about a wonderful turkey pie I had over a week ago...  I'd really like some of this now :-)

Look how wonderful and gooey that cheese is.  Oh, and the casserole. Fabulous!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Chicken Mushroom Pot Pie

Let's chat for a bit about making a recipe the first time exactly as it's written versus adapting it to your taste and ingredient availability.  You can probably tell which side of the argument I fall on just from that comment.  There are those who believe it is insulting to the writer of the recipe to make changes the first time through. Then, there are those of us who believe a recipe is a suggestion.  I substitute freely.  Now, that being said, there are recipes like La Brea Tar Pit Chicken Wings that I make exactly as the recipe says.  Baked goods typically fall into that category.  On the other end of the scale, there are recipes like Wolfgang Puck's Chicken Pot Pie that cause ruminations about multiple combinations.  This recipe is the result of one of those.

Early in the weekend I make my menu for the week.  I typically ask Connie if there's anything he's hungry for.  Most weeks there isn't.  This week he wanted something baked.  Maybe lasagna or ziti.  Oh, how about chicken pot pie, he says.  Ok, that's easy enough to do.  Is it ok if it's chicken mushroom pot pie instead of traditional?  Sure.  That'd be great, he says.  So, a mix of mushrooms goes on the grocery list.  And a rotisserie chicken.  And, a bag of frozen pearl onions.  Then, I looked at my original post and started thinking how I wanted to change the recipe.  Parmesan or gruyere instead of cheddar.  Tarragon instead of chives and thyme.  White wine and gruyere added into the sauce. 

An aside here.  There are so many other possible combinations.  Saltimbocca with sage and some ham added in.  Curry and lemon juice.  Red wine instead of white.  Swiss cheese and a different white wine with peas and carrots and mushrooms.  Pork and potatoes and carrots with rose.  One of those dishes where you can make lists of meats, vegetables, cheeses, wines and herbs and combine to your heart's content.

What did we think?  My tongue is still dancing.  The flavor combination was wonderful.  Connie wanted a bottom crust.  I didn't but made one for him.  Next time, I'll cut the pastry recipe by 2/3rd's and just top the pot pie.  I find the bottom crust to be gooey no matter how well the top is baked.

Chicken Mushroom Pot Pie


You can see I was thinking about adding asparagus too...

For the pastry:

2 c flour
1 T snipped fresh tarragon
6 oz unsalted butter
1 c shredded gruyere cheese
2 large egg yolks
6 T heavy cream

For the chicken and mushrooms:

1/2 chicken
8 oz sliced white button mushrooms
3 shitakes
6 cremini
2 portabella
olive oil
8 oz frozen pearl onions

for the sauce:
6 T unsalted butter
1/4 c flour
1/2 c white wine
1 c chicken broth
1 c shredded gruyere
1/2 c heavy cream
1 t minced fresh tarragon


for the pastry:

Put the flour into a large bowl.  Cut the butter into slices about 1/4" thick.  Put the butter into the flour and cut it in.  I prefer to do this by hand because I have more control over the size of the butter.  You need to have pea-sized pieces of butter.  Add the cheese and tarragon and mix it gently.  Whisk the egg yolks with 5 T of the cream.  Add that to the flour mixture and mix.  If the dough comes together easily, you don't have to add the other tablespoon of cream.  If it doesn't add the cream.  Refrigerate the dough until you're ready to use it.

For the chicken and vegetables:

Use half of a rotisserie chicken.  Cube the meat.  Chop the mushrooms then saute them in about a tablespoon of olive oil.  Add pearl onions.  Set the filling mixture aside.

For the sauce:

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan.  Stir in the flour and allow it to cook on medium heat for about five minutes.  Slowly stir in the white wine then the chicken broth.  Stir regularly until the mixture is thickened.  Stir in the cheese, cream and tarragon. 

Time to put the pot pie together:

Mix the chicken, mushrooms and onions with the cheese sauce.  Roll out the crust. 

You have two choices here.  I prefer just a top crust.  Connie likes a bottom and top crust.  So, roll whichever you want.  Either line a casserole with a bottom crust

then pour in the chicken mixture or just pour in the chicken mixture.  

Cover it with the top crust.  Crimp the edges.  Bake at 400 for  45-60 minutes or until the top crust is browned and the filling is bubbling.

Thanks to Wolfgang Puck for his wonderful chicken pot pie recipe.  I'm loving all the variations I'm coming up with!