Chicken Pot Pie and Apple Pie Bites for One

For whatever reason, I was craving pot pie yesterday, maybe that has something to do with The Chew and having a show devoted to pies. Curse them and their making me crave certain things.  Luckily, my mother was cooking up a chicken for dinner, so I was able to be a little scavenger and snag a bit of it for my own, personal pot pie (they, apparently, did not have the same cravings that I did).

Isn't that little dish adorable.  Only cost me a buck at Target.

Isn’t that little dish adorable. Only cost me a buck at Target.

I made a very, very basic pie dough of flour, butter, salt and water.  For savory pies, I like my crust very basic so that everything else does the talking.  Now, I didn’t make a full batch, only a half batch since I just wanted the top of my pie.  This meant I had left overs to make my little dessert which I’ll talk about after this.

All warm and inviting.

All warm and inviting.

Inside, I used that cup o’ soup creamy chicken for the gravy, making it over the stove and adding to it, onions, half a potato and some carrots.  In that, I tossed some parsley and rosemary to punch up the spices in the quick soup mix.  It made up pretty thick and creamy for the pie, though I would add some salt and pepper to it next time.  With that, I layered in my chicken breast and a hard boiled egg, much like my grown-up pot pie recipes.  It turned out nicely, though very dense so even my little single serve was a bit much for me.

Cute little slices.  Perfect for dipping, I would think

Cute little slices. Perfect for dipping, I would think

Now onward to dessert.  Like I said, I had some extra dough that I couldn’t bring myself to just toss, and I had one, lonely apple left.  I simple took a cup, cut out little circles and mixed up some apple pie filling with the sliced apple.  They were very small but very nice with just a touch of ice cream, especially when they’re hot.  I don’t always like a super large dessert, so this was perfect.

A little ice cream and we're set.

A little ice cream and we’re set.

All in all, it was a heart meal and didn’t use up too many resources, which I like.  You don’t need to make a big batch of something to make something comforting.


Cupcakes for Two

Sometimes you don’t want to make a butt-load of cupcakes that will eventually go stale because you just can’t eat them fast enough.  Sometimes you just want a small, sweet dessert and that was my goal when I went searching the net for a small batch recipe.  It can be a challenge to take a full batch version and cut it down.  There’s plenty of math to do and it doesn’t always work out well, as I know.  Then again, taking a recipe that makes two and doubling it up to make four doesn’t always go as planned either, which was what I did… because there are four of us in the house.

Before frosting.  Yes, I did drop a few extra chips on top of the batter.

Before frosting. Yes, I did drop a few extra chips on top of the batter.

I found this lovely recipe that even includes a frosting recipe to match the small batch.  It’s a very simple version of a chocolate cupcake and it does, in fact, bake up incredibly well, almost like a brownie cupcake.  I, of course, took the chocolate chip suggestion and turned it around.  I mixed white chocolate chips into the batter to sweeten it up, though the cupcakes certainly didn’t need it to make them taste better.

A thick, delicious chocolate frosting!

A thick, delicious chocolate frosting!

The frosting is also pretty good.  It makes up rather thick (which can be adjusted fairly easily if I wanted to) but it’s too tasty to adjust.  To me, it honestly tastes like brownie mix it’s so rich and decadent and utterly perfect for these little cupcakes.  I wouldn’t make a full batch of the frosting for a cake, per se, but for something small I think it works really well.

Now, when I need something for a night in, I’ve got the recipe on hand.  You can check it out here and make some up yourself!  I highly recommend.

Pudding Mix Cake and Fluffy Frosting

Arguably, I made this before the french toast post, but I was lazy and didn’t get around to posting it until now.  Part of that is that I wasn’t all that thrilled with how it came out.  Sure, it tasted good but there were many things that failed in this recipe and I wouldn’t be doing this project justice if I didn’t post about them.  Therefore, here we go…

It looks pretty good and doesn't taste half bad.

It looks pretty good and doesn’t taste half bad.

I decided to try and make something with pudding mix especially since there were so many posted on Pinterest about cupcakes and cakes made softer from it.  Why not, right?  I grabbed my sugar-free, fat-free cheesecake pudding mix and found myself a recipe.  Beware if you make these without using a box mix (which i didn’t want to use) and make sure everything is in there.  Part of my problem was that I tried to take a cupcake recipe and make a cake out of it.  It just didn’t bake right.

So part of the problem is that our stove is dying and the other part is probably the recipe.  It sunk in the middle despite passing the ‘stick’ test and cooking the right about of time.  Such things happen and yes, it did taste good, but my favorite part was the ‘frosting’ which I used for the french toast meal posted a few days ago.

Not a bad cake but it needs some work.

Not a bad cake but it needs some work.

All it consists of is a package of sugar-free pudding mix (I used lemon), lite whipped topping and a cup of milk (less milk if you want something thicker), mix and let it set up.  It isn’t as thick as a lot of frosting and I’d rather eat it as a fluffy pudding than frosting.  As such, it didn’t serve the poor cake at all.

But you live and your learn.  I’ll work on the pudding mix cake recipe because I think I can make it work but the so called frosting is a keeper if only because I like it with my french toast and on its own.

Lemon Whipped Cinnamon Toast

My mouth has tasted something divine and I’m so very happy my desperate need for dinner and experimentation worked out!  I blame Elementary (which is filling my time before Sherlock is back on).  It makes my brain work.

Being grocery day, I had to make due with what was there, which happened to be enough eggs for french toast and a tub of this lemon pudding whipped concoction I made up as a sort of frosting for a cake I made earlier (post coming for that).  My brain put two and two together, coupled with a love of stuffed french toast from restaurants and voila!  I created something purely fluffy and almost guilt free.  How?  Let me tell you.  (Can you tell I’m very pleased with myself?)

Doesn't it look yummy and so guilty?!

Doesn’t it look yummy and so guilty?!

I made up a cinnamon french toast, pretty basic but I kept the cinnamon and sugar mix down so it was just a hint of it.  Then, for the filling, I followed a frosting recipe I found that didn’t turn out quite right.  Instead, I had this fluffy pudding thing.  Basically, it’s a package of lemon pudding mix (I can’t remember if I grabbed sugar-free or not), lite whipped cream and a cup of 2% milk.  Pudding is pretty low-cal (unless you eat a whole batch) and whipped topping isn’t all that bad for you either.  Mixed up and placed in the frig, it isn’t as frosting-like as I’d have hoped and I have plans to perfect it but as it was, it was utterly delicious, fluffy pudding.  That, I figured might taste good as a filling for a cinnamon toast sandwich.

I took about a large tablespoon of my lemon fluff for each half, then sprinkled the top with powdered sugar instead of syrup.  With the subtle cinnamon sugar toast, it was perfection!  It wasn’t too sugary which happens with french toast and syrup.  I’m excited to try out different flavors of pudding mix in the whipped topping.

I’m never going back to regular french toast again.

On The Go Soup

No, this isn’t a genius post but I realized that sometimes, you just need ideas for those quick, at work lunches where you don’t want to pack a lunchbag…. Or you hit the snooze one too many times, didn’t make anything the day before and have to grab and run.  With that in mind, I might try to do some posts like this here or there as I find good quickie lunches.  I know I’d appreciate tips and tricks for it.  More heads and always better than one, especially with food.

This time around, I gave Lipton’s Cup of Soup a shot.  They’re just quick little packets of dried soup you can make in a mug (convenient for those stuck at desks and already have a mug hanging around) with some water and a microwave.  I had the cream of chicken one which is alright.  No, it isn’t mind blowing good as some chicken stews that I’ve had (and need to recreate) but in a pinch, it isn’t bad.

I would suggest, however, that you add some crackers to it.  Cheez-its are my choice because they have a nice flavor, decently salted and crumble up really nicely.  Saltines would work but these little packets really need a punch of flavor somewhere.  For kids, if you’re traveling, I’d throw in goldfish…actually, as an adult, I’d do it to!

In short, invest in a little box or two just in case.  You never know when you need it.

Comforting Rosemary and Thyme Bread

It’s been an interesting week, what with Paczki Day/Mardi Gras/Fat Tuesday and V-day all in one week.  This means that baking was at a low since goodies were at an all time high.  My mother got the cookie/cupcake bug and a paczki is good enough for a month, really.  On the cooking side, well, I just had no inspiration and it happens but it means that a weekly post was left to the last minute.

It looks very old world!  I love it!

It looks very old world! I love it!

I decided on a bread for today.  The house has been sorely absent of homemade bread for a while (sometime my family likes on a weekly basis) and I’ve been dying to try a crusty bread or something like it.  So I dug out my official Game of Thrones cookbook (which if you don’t own and love period recipes, you need to!) and flipped open the crusty white bread recipe for some tips.  I didn’t go off of that recipe per se, but it was rather helpful.

My recipe started out with the basic ‘farm’ recipe we use for white bread.  I like it because I can do it off the top of my head and have made it successfully more times than I can count on my hands and toes.  It’s a great, fluffy base and I know what it tastes like so I know how to play with it.  Thankfully, the yeast was behaving (I had some bad yeast for a while and boy does it make a difference!) so I had this lovely, fluffy dough.

Nice and fluffy and full of rosemary and thyme goodness!

Nice and fluffy and full of rosemary and thyme goodness!

I added a good palmful of rosemary and thyme into the mix because I really like those flavors with a good strawberry jam or just butter.  It adds a little something to the usual white bread.  On top of it, I thought I’d play with some lemon juice to punch it up and put about a teaspoon in before the flour.  I like it.  It’s subtle and there’s a little something else to the flavor than just the herbs.  I wouldn’t add more unless you’re going for a lemony flavor bread (which sounds fun by the way).

The tip, per the book, to the lovely crust was to place a baking dish under the pan with your dough while it bakes to crust it up.  It works pretty well, though my oven bakes a LOT faster than their suggested time, so I almost ended up with blade loaves.  I grabbed them out just in time.  The result, because I didn’t use their recipe, was a lovely, semi-hard crust (which works for my family.  I adore a good, thick crust, but they don’t).  The inside was still the fluffy white bread I know from the farm.

The trick is dusty with flour before baking, I think it makes it look rustic.

The trick is dusty with flour before baking, I think it makes it look rustic.

On the plus side, it does look rather impressive on a plate and if you’re entertaining, isn’t that half the battle?

The Recipe:

1 -2 tablespoons of dry, active yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1/4 cup warm milk
1-2 tablespoons sugar and honey (about one of each or two of one)
1 egg
4 tablespoons butter
pinch of salt
rosemary and thyme to taste
1 teaspoon lemon juice
flour enough to make dough

Mix up your yeast, water, milk, sugar and honey and set in warm place to foam.  Then mix in egg, butter (melted), salt, herbs, lemon juice.  Once mixed, add in flour little at a time.  I usually find that 3-4 cups works out.  Knead lightly until dough is formed.  Then, in separate, buttered/greased bowl, place dough in warm place to rise until dough its size.  Punch down and split into loaves.  Grease and dust the baking sheet with butter and flour.  With a sharp knife, split the top of the loaves (I like ‘X’s’).  Let rise again for 20-40 minutes.  Bake in moderate to hot oven with baking dish of water (approx. 2 cups) below it.  When crust is brown and sounds hollow to tap on it, then your bread is finished!  Enjoy with whatever toppings you like!

What I Call Yummy Chicken

I’m so proud of myself here and it isn’t all that big of an accomplishment, not really but here it is:  I managed, without a recipe, to create an utterly delicious seasoned chicken breast for dinner.  This is big considering where I was a year ago and the fact that I felt confident enough with my seasoning abilities to go out, walk around the produce section and make it up as I went based on flavors that I knew, made me feel like a chef.  I am not, of course, but it’s nice to know that I threw it all together and it ended up tasting very, very good.

Look at it sizzling!

Look at it sizzling!

It’s pretty basic really.  I just fried up some chicken on the stove top but I liked my spice mix.  I mixed together a little poultry seasoning (it had a few spices that I didn’t have separately), parsley, basel, rosemary, and thyme until it smelled like something I wanted to eat.  I often chose my balance based on smell.  In the frying pan, I melted a good amount of butter with some garlic powder.  Rubbed into the breast was a light sprinkle of Italian seasoning because why not?

Then into the pan went the spices, mixed that into the butter and garlic already there and then added one, small, diced onion (relative to your meat).  Then went in the chicken, making sure I spooned some of the mix onto the top of the chicken and sprinkled some kosher salt.  Halfway through I remembered that there was some EVOO in the cupboard (which would have helped in the beginning) and added just a splash of that.  At the end, I decided to be odd and tossed in a little diced tomato.

Very proud of this right here!

Very proud of this right here!

However it worked out, the taste took to the chicken quite well and it was incredibly tender and juicy.  I don’t know if that was the amount of butter I fried it in or what but I’ll take it.  Next time, I’d like to experiment with some heat but I’m still figuring out what flavors of heat I like and what flavors just leave a bad after taste.

To all this I had some homemade creamed corn, the sort we use on the Firestone Farm at Greenfield Village.  All of this (I had most of the spices already but not the produce or meat) came under $8 and I had plenty of leftovers.  Cheaper than most eat-out places and so much better for you.