Monday, November 7, 2011

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner!

Well it's been cold outside lately, and I thought some hearty comfort food would be perfect! 
 I got the inspiration for this super delicious chicken pot pie from my very favorite cook book. Betty Crocker has always been my go to for almost every recipe, but sometimes I like to take them from Betty to Bettie style. This recipe was called the 'Chicken Dinner Pie' in her book. 
My mom and I have been cooking out of her 1960's version since before I can remember. When I moved out she even found me a 1974 version of the book to have as my own! It is a very well loved cook book! I made some changes to the recipe, but it is so delicious! Enjoy! 

2 pie crusts (I bought mine pre-made to save on time)
2 sheets of puff pastry (freezer section! leave out on the counter to defrost while preparing recipe)
4 Tbs butter or margarine
4 Tbs flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp thyme
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup half and half (or cream, whatever you prefer!)
2 cups cubed cooked chicken* 
1/4 lb frozen peas
1 lb frozen sliced carrots
1 medium onion
1 egg
Non Stick Cooking Spray
*I've included how I cooked the chicken, but feel free to prepare it anyway you like!

Start by rolling out your pie crust. I roll mine with a rolling pin to get it a little thinner than it comes pre rolled. Spray your cupcake pan with a nonstick cooking spray. Cut the pie crust into large circles and place them into the pan. This recipe made exactly 14 mini pies and I had a little pie crust dough left over. Set the pie crusts aside while you get the rest ready.

For the peas & carrots, you can use canned, fresh, or frozen. I decided to go with frozen because they were on sale. 
 If you do use frozen, prepare your frozen peas and carrots as instructed on the label. The original recipe called for 1 lb of frozen peas (you can see in the picture above I used the whole lb while cooking), but as I was making the dish I was amazed at how many peas that was. I have a love/hate relationship with peas, and a love/love relationship with carrots, so I only used about 1/4 of the package of peas, and all of the carrots.

After I was done I strained my veggies, and chopped up the carrots into smaller pieces. If we were making a normal sized pie I don't think it would be necessary to cut them up, but since I work in mini size, I needed to miniaturize the carrots!
Chop up your onion, and in a pan with non stick spray cook them for about 2 minutes, until they are almost translucent. 
Next step is the chicken, I cut my chicken into small cubes (about the same size as the carrot pieces) and tossed them into a pan (non stick spray!) and cooked them all the way through with a little salt and pepper. The cooking time goes very quickly, seeing as how they are teeny tiny little pieces of chicken.e
By this point your kitchen should already be smelling delicious! I put my peas, carrots, onions, and chicken all into one bowl and set them aside to make the yummy gravy that goes in the pie! In a bowl, put in your flour, salt, pepper, and thyme in preparation for the next few steps, it makes it a whole lot easier on you!
In a medium/large pot melt the butter, once it is melted add the flour, salt, pepper, thyme and STIR STIR STIR as fast as you can to make sure there are no lumps! Here is what mine looked like after this point:
 Once all the ingredients are incorporated add the chicken broth and cream or half and half (I used half and half in this recipe). Something that is easy to do is to pre measure out all of the ingredients for the gravy because you are working pretty fast to make sure your butter doesn't burn. 
Keep stirring your mixture for about 4 minutes or until it is thick and creamy. You know you are done when you can scrape the bottom of the pot the gravy doesn't fill in that spatula spot right away.
Now add your chicken, peas, carrots, and onions directly into the gravy and stir it all up. Seriously you have to taste it at this point. Delish! If you need to add more salt and pepper, this would be the time to do it!
Use a ladle and fill up your mini pies. This is a good time to preheat your oven. Turn it to 350 degrees, and let it get all warm and toasty while you finish your pies!
Now your going to roll out your puff pastry dough. I add a little flour to the cutting board then lightly roll the puff pastry just to give it a little more stretching room, I rolled it enough to add about an inch in length and width. If you roll it too much though, it will not 'puff' just right, which of course I found out the hard way...
I cut one sheet into nine small squares.
 Wet the edges of the dough and you'll seal your mini pie in. This part gets kind of tricky seeing as how we are working with miniature pies! But try your best to get the puff pastry tucked around the outside of the regular pie crust. It doesn't have to be perfect, but try to get dough touching dough so that it seals up each mini pie. Here is a picture of one finished, and one that I just started:
 Poke some decorative holes in the top of each mini pie, this will also allow all of them to vent, so they don't explode in your oven.
Crimp around the edges of each pie with a fork to finish sealing them up. 

Last step is to beat up one egg in a bowl, and use your egg wash to brush on top of each pie. This helps give a beautiful golden crust! 
Pop them in the oven for 25 minutes. 
 Once they come out of the oven, let them cool for about 10 minutes and then eat away!!! If you want to freeze these, let them cool for about 2 hours before you package them up, it will help them hold their shape while they freeze.
Seriously, how good do these look?? 
It's a good hearty meal, and perfect for this time of year! Hope everyone is staying warm!!

Well hello there delicious chicken pie... Don't mind if I do!
cupcake bettie

Monday, October 31, 2011

OMG Potatoes!

Yes. They are that good.

Recently I bought a big bag of potatoes, and wasn't quite sure what I wanted to do with them. I browsed through some cook books, and at first I thought twice baked potatoes, or mashed potatoes... but then I remembered one of my favorite dishes that I haven't had in quite a while! Cheesy potatoes au gratin! My mom makes this dish with ham in it, so I thought I would make a tiny version of this yummy cheesy dish! It took me about an hour to make this, and it is completely worth every minute (I'm eating one of these as I'm typing, and its SO good!) The ham caramelizes around the cheesy potatoes, and the panko bread crumbs on top almost remind me of home made mac and cheese! What could be better? Makes about 20 cheesy cups of goodness.

6 medium sized baking potatoes
2 packages of sliced deli honey ham
4 cups cheddar cheese
1/4 cup butter
2 cups whole milk 
2 cloves of garlic (chopped or crushed)
1 TBS flour
Panko Bread crumbs
Non Stick Spray

First start by cleaning your potatoes. I find when I buy them in a bag they are still pretty dirty. You can wash them with warm water and a washcloth to get all the crud off. 
Then peel your potatoes. I like to take my cutting board over my sink with all of my potatoes on it, then put an empty 'garbage' bowl in the sink to put all my scraps in that I will throw away later. Seriously helps with keeping things clean. 
Once all of your potatoes are peeled, slice them into thin slices, the thinner the slice, the less cook time it will take, but don't get too crazy that your struggling to not slice your finger off... not worth a lost digit. Once you have them sliced into thin potato chip like slices, chop them into little pieces. Mine ended up being around 1/2" x 1/2" I was pretty sloppy about it, and didn't really worry about keeping it consistent, if you have killer knife skills, please, have at it!
 I sprayed my cupcake pan with non stick spray then took individual slices of lunch meat ham in each cup. The recipe makes about 20 cheesy cups, so you don't have to do two full trays worth. 
 Take the rest of the ham and chop it up into about the same size pieces as your potatoes. Mix the potatoes and the ham together and fill each cup. You can pack the potatoes in pretty well, just fill them all the way to the top of the cup. You can see in the picture here (click on it to make it larger) that my potato sizes are all over the place.
Next take your butter and garlic and melt them together in a medium sized pot. I used frozen crushed garlic. I love this stuff. You keep it in your freezer, and each block is about 1 clove of garlic. (They make it in other herbs as well, so if you don't have the fresh stuff on hand, its just right in your freezer not taking up much space at all! Oh, and they stack!) 

 Melt the two together, and using a whisk, cook on medium heat for about two minutes. Don't judge my scratched up pan, a dumb guy I used to date used forks on my non stick pans... Needless to say we didn't date for long. Hehe.
Once they are melted and happy together, and smelling delicious, add 1 TBS of flour and whisk your little heart away until they are mixed completely together and bubbly.
Add your milk, and two cups of cheddar cheese. Turn your heat to low, and keep whisking until it is one yummy cheesy sauce. This is the time to add salt & pepper to taste. Make sure you taste it, its quite delicious!
Now that your sauce is done, ladle it over each cup, and fill it to the top. You may have to use a kitchen knife to poke the air out of each cup, allowing it to fill completely. Tuck the edges of the ham into the cup.
Bake for 25-30 minutes at 350 degrees. Here is what it looks like after 25 minutes. 
 At this point, take them out of the oven, and divide up the remaining two cups of cheddar cheese on top of each cup. Top with panko bread crumbs.
Pop them back in the oven for 15 minutes, and presto! Delicious cheesy ham and potato cups of heaven! Use a kitchen knife to glide around each cup to remove it from the pan. You can eat them as soon as they are cool enough that they won't torch your tongue, or pop them in the fridge for an hour before pulling them all out to freeze.
These are pretty darn easy to make, and ridiculously tasty. Seriously. I ate three.

Hope everyone is having a fantastic week!
cupcake bettie

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Grandma Kit's Spaghetti Casserole

This week I'm doing an easy recipe, simply because I want to carve a pumpkin!!! So cheap and easy it is! My lovely cat Rocco helped me carve my pumpkin... what a helpful little man.
 Of course I carved a cupcake, what else would you expect from a cupcake gal like myself?

This recipe is from my Grandma Kit. She used to make this for my family when I was a little kid living in Los Angeles. Here is my favorite picture of her, I keep this one on my fridge!
When we moved to Redmond, Washington, my brother and I were begging for Grandma's Spaghetti Casserole! So my mom braved the recipe, and she made it for us. We also asked for Grandma's beef stew, but mom stopped making it for us, because it was never as good as Grandma's... (I'm sure it was delicious mom! Sorry!) But spaghetti casserole became the easy-peasy-go-to-dish, that everyone loved. So three generations of women, making some delicious easy spaghetti caserole, each of us changing it a little along the way... So here I am putting my cupcake twist on it. I couldn't resist!

1 box of Spaghetti noodles
1 can of your favorite Spaghetti Sauce
1 can of chili (I used turkey chili this time because it was on sale)
1 can of whole black olives
1/2-1 block of cheddar cheese
Parmesan cheese
Non Stick Spray
1 big ole pot
So to start, bring about 6-8 cups of water (I don't measure, I just fill up the pot so my noodles have enough room to do their thing while cooking) to a boil. I add salt while boiling to season my noodles, probably about a teaspoon or so. Boil your noodles as it says on the package, mine went for 11 minutes. This is how full I filled the pot.
 While your noodles are boiling you can get your other ingredients ready. I shred the cheese into a bowl. Now you can go and get the pre-shredded kind, that saves a little elbow work, but I feel slightly accomplished after shredding my cheese (Plus I just buy whatever is cheapest or on sale). Here I used about 3/4 a brick of cheese, but you can use more if you want! Never too much cheese in my book!
After you are done slice your olives. I go about 4-5 slices per olive, I'm not really picky with it, I just slice away without really paying attention. 
 Now here comes the hard part. Open your can of chili and jar of sauce, then turn your oven to 350 degrees on bake. Phew that was rough! hehe.
 Once your pasta is done cooking, strain it, then put it back into your big ole pot.
 Put the entire can of chili, the entire bottle of pasta sauce, and all of your chopped up olives right into the pot. 
 Give it a good stir, and you are ready to prep your cupcake trays! I spray the trays with non stick spray, then we are ready to start filling the trays!
 Now with the sauce in the pot, all the good stuff will sink to the bottom, but don't worry, we'll get it all in there! I used a fork to put the spaghetti into the cupcake trays. 
 I'd fork in a little spaghetti, then use a spoon to put in some of the sauce in the bottom of the pot. Fill up the cup, and don't worry about it being a flat 'spaghetti cupcake'. They can over fill a little with spaghetti, as it will all bake down into a more flat cup. When they are all full, spoon the rest of the good saucy stuff down in the bottom of the pan on top of each spaghetti cup.

This is how many of the cups I was able to fill with the entire pot of spaghetti.
Top each one with the shredded cheddar cheese, then sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. They are done and ready to go into the oven! I put mine in at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. The spaghetti is already cooked, so you are just waiting on the cheese to bubble and get all golden and yummy.
Once they are done, let them cool just enough that they are still warm (this helps them hold their shape) then pop them out and eat them! I freeze mine, so that I can have lots of meals later on!
The recipe that has been passed down has always just been baked in a large caserole dish, but I thought this would be a good way to make multiple meals and be able to freeze them without having to freeze the entire casserole! 

YUM!!! Hope you enjoy the family recipe!
Until next time!

cupcake bettie