Friday, October 28, 2011

Old-fashioned Meat Pie

There's something about the brisk days of Fall that make certain cozy things irresistibly attractive. Scarves, riding boots, flannel. And, for me, carbs. A savory pie is a great way to capture all of that desired coziness in a single dinner in a no-fuss way (especially if you use store-bought pastry ... just this once ... it will be our secret, I promise).

This is one of those recipes to which you could really make endless variations. Use different meats, ratchet up the spices, add lots of veggies. But for this particular take I went the classic french route: meat and potatoes in a pie crust. What could possibly be wrong with that?

Another bonus is that a meat pie is one of those coveted meals that actually gets better the longer it sits in your fridge (to a point of course). Though I am willing to bet that leftovers of this won't stick around for too long. Happy Autumn!

Old-fashioned Meat Pie adapted from All Recipes

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1 lb ground beef
1 lb ground pork
1 cup mashed potatoes
salt and pepper

pie crust pastry for top and bottom
1 egg, beaten

1. Preheat the oven to 375 F.

2. Heat oil in pan over medium heat; add onions and cook until they turn translucent. Add beef and pork. Liberally salt and pepper and cook until brown (about 7-10 minutes). Stir as necessary.

3. Combine onion/meat mixture and mashed potatoes in a large bowl. Salt and pepper again.

4. Line the bottom of your pie plate with one of your pie crusts. Trim around the edge with a knife. Fill with the meat mixture.

5. Cover with the other pie crust. Trim the edges again and crimp with a fork or your fingers. Brush the top crust with your egg and make 4 slits for steam to escape.

6. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the crust is golden brown.

If you're feeling up to it, use a fun cookie-cutter to make shapes out of the extra dough and place on top of your pie. You can also use ramekins to make smaller meat pies (cook for about 25-30 minutes).

Friday, October 21, 2011

Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Pumpkins

If I had to pick my single favorite candy, it would be impossible. But, if I could pick a top 3 without distinguishing among them it would be (in no particular order) peanut m&ms; crunchie bars; and Reese's peanut butter cups. I can't image making the first two at home (though I suppose it would be possible ...), so when I saw this post, I knew I had to give homemade Reese's cups a try. Yum!

I decided to make pumpkins and owls (could they be any cuter?), but you could do any fun shape you have. They are no-bake, so the hardest part is melting the chocolate and dipping the shapes inside. Next time I won't roll the dough out as thin because, even though I froze them, the pumpkins went a little limp when dunked in the melted chocolate and it was admittedly a little frustrating.

Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Pumpkins (adapted, barely, from miss make)

1 cup creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup butter, softened
2 cups confectioner's sugar

1/2 bag semi-sweet chocolate
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp milk or half & half

1. Mix together peanut butter, butter, and confectioner's sugar until fully combined.

2. Roll the dough to between 1/4 - 1/2 inch thickness. Cut shapes and re-roll dough as needed.

3. Place shapes in the freezer. In a double-boiler, melt the chocolate and stir in butter and milk. Using a fork, dip the peanut butter shapes until coated and place on parchment paper to harden.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Chicken Casserole

There are times when life is really tough. But usually, at some point, it begins to return to normal - to the life you think of yourself as having. And even though you are scared and part of you feels it's only a matter of time until the other shoe drops, you know it isn't great to walk around afraid all the time. So you let your guard down and allow yourself to start feeling normal again. But sometimes, life becomes tough all over again and being taken off guard can make it seem even harder than the first go-round.

Most of you know that my husband has been dealing with some pretty serious health issues over the last year and while he is doing much better, this last week was difficult. Even though we knew with our heads that it was a minor step back, it felt in our hearts like we were back at square one. Which is a really scary place to be.

During these times, we tend to crave things that are familiar. Things that have never let us down. We hug each other, rely on our families, and eat comfort food.

And this recipe is one of those foods for us. It is not terribly healthy or fussy, and is one of Tom's grandmother's recipes. It is best enjoyed surrounded by the ones you love most.

Chicken Casserole
1 full chicken (about 2 cups)
1 lb frozen broccoli
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp curry powder
1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup cornflake crumbs

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Cook the chicken (or you can purchase a rotisserie chicken and make this step a *snap*). Pull apart into bite-sized chunks.

2. Put broccoli into the bottom of casserole dish. Cover broccoli with chicken pieces.

3. In a small bowl mix soup, mayo, lemon juice, curry powder and cheese, until fully combined. Spoon over the chicken. Sprinkle with cornflake crumbs.

4. Cover and bake for 1 hr. 20 minutes. The casserole should be bubbly.