Wednesday, September 21, 2011

crock-pot roasted chicken & chicken pot pie

I am headed to LA on Friday to visit my older brother and sister in law. I haven't been to California since I was about 9 years old and I got one of those shirts from the San Diego zoo that changes colors in the sun (can't believe that is the first thing that comes to mind). Lucky for me, my older brother shares the same passion for food and travel as I do so I am doing no research on the who, what, when, where because I know he will already have the best spots picked out. Any Los Angeles restaurant suggestions? One of my guilty pleasures is celebrity gossip so I am trying to decide which celebrities I am hoping to see. I don't want to get my hopes up but worst (maybe best depending on the celeb) case scenario I can go watch Mario Lopez from Saved by the Bell interview celebs at the Grove Mall. 

So this chicken pot pie is absolutely delicious. This past Sunday I decided to roast my own chicken for the first time. I usually buy rotisserie chickens from the grocery store on Sundays because they are only $5 that day (saving me $2 whole dollars). I happily realized that roasting your own chicken results in a much moister, flavorful chicken than the store bought version and it's about the same price. All I did was clean the chicken, cut up some veggies, rub the chicken in garlic and spices and threw it in a covered crock-pot on high for 6 hours. Easy enough. I had all intentions of taking pictures of the finished chicken but it was so tender that it fell apart when I went to pick it up from the crock-pot. Not the worst problem to have. The chicken was juicy, tender and flavorful...perfect to use in a chicken pot pie or eat alone with some BBQ sauce. 

If you wanted to throw these chicken pot pies together quickly then you could use a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store or boil some chicken and then shred it to replace the crock-pot roasted chicken in this recipe. These individual chicken pot pies are a great way to serve and store this dish because everyone gets the same amount of crust (my favorite part) and the crust doesn't get soggy if you decide to cover them and reheat them as leftovers. I have always been intimidated by chicken pot pie because it has a wrap for being very unhealthy and time-consuming but this chicken pot pie comes together in about an hour and is filled with lots of chicken and veggies. 

Chicken Pot Pie
Serves 6

for the crock-pot whole roasted chicken:
3 1/2- 4 1/2 pound chicken
2 onions, diced
4 c. baby carrots
4 celery stalks, cut into 3 inch pieces
4 garlic gloves; minced
1 lemon, quartered

4 tsp salt
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp black pepper

To make the crock-pot roasted chicken, pull guts out of the middle of the chicken and rinse chicken with water and dry with paper towels. Combine salt, paprika, cayenne pepper, thyme and black pepper together in a bowl. Rub the minced garlic onto the outside and inside of the chicken. Then evenly rub the chicken with the spice mix. Lay the carrots, celery and onions in the bottom of the crockpot and place chicken on top of the veggies. Cover the crock-pot and cook chicken on high for about 6 hours.

for the chicken pot pie:

pie dough
1/2 c. all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
12 tsp unsalted cold butter; cut into 1/4 inch pieces
3 tbsp ice cold water

1 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped fine
10 baby carrots cut into 1/4 inch pieces
2 celery ribs cut into 1/4 inch pieces
4 tbsp butter
1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 1/2 c. milk

2 lbs of chicken meat, shredded
2 c. chicken broth (you can use the broth from the crockpot roasted chicken)

1/2 tsp thyme
2 tbsp white wine
1/2 c. peas
3 tbsp minced fresh parsley

Preheat the oven to 400°F. 

To make the chicken pot pie start with the pie dough. Add the cold butter and flour to a food processor and combine until the butter pieces are the size of peas. Put the butter/flour mixture into a separate bowl and add the 3 tbsp of water until the dough begins to stick together. Shape the dough into a 4 inch wide disk, cover the disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Over medium-high heat, heat oil in an medium pot. Add onions, carrots and celery and saute in the oil for 10 minutes or until tender. Set veggies aside in a bowl. Heat the butter over medium-high heat in the now empty pot on the stove. When the foaming subsides; add flour and cook for 1 minute. Whisk in the chicken broth, milk and thyme. Bring to a simmer and continue to simmer until sauce fully thickens; about 1 minute. Stir in the wine.

Shred the chicken and add it to the bowl with the tender veggies. Pour the butter/flour/chicken broth mixture over the shredded chicken and veggie mixture. Stir this mixture together, add parsley, salt and pepper to taste and pour into serving bowls.

Remove the pie dough from the fridge and roll it out on a floured surface until 1/8 inch thick. Place your serving dish on the dough upside down and cut dough 1/2 inches larger than the size of the ramekins.

Press the dough onto the top of the ramekins and seal the edges. Cut vents in the pie dough and bake until the pie dough is golden brown and the filling is bubbly, about 20-30 minutes for ramekin sized pot pies.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

oatmeal cookie chunk ice cream

Believe me when I tell you this is the best ice cream ever. My favorite ice cream flavor is Ben & Jerry's Oatmeal Cookie Chunk Ice Cream with sweet cream cinnamon ice cream with oatmeal cookie chunks and fudge. After moving to Charlotte from Raleigh last year I quickly learned that this ice cream flavor was going to be impossible to find. Having lived in Charlotte for over a year now, I had to get my fix somehow. The sweet cream cinnamon base alone is so rich, creamy and sweet that it would make me happy with no add-ins but throw in crispy, chewy oatmeal cookies and it is one of my all-time favorite desserts. And because I had full control of the amount of cookie chunks, I loaded them in so I wouldn't have to dig through the ice cream to find them like I do in a Ben & Jerry's pint. I also took the semi-homemade approach with this ice cream and baked Betty Crocker's oatmeal cookies because before I was an avid baker these were my favorite cookies to bake and sometimes still are. If you want to take the 100% homemade approach, these oatmeal cookies would also work perfectly. I decided to omit the chocolate chunks but included it in the recipe so you have the option. The cinnamon sweet cream ice cream base would be great on top of any apple, berry or pumpkin pie too.

Oh and bad news, I bought the waffle bowl so I don't have a recipe for it. I bought it from my favorite frozen yogurt store, Yoforia, and they charge by the ounce making this waffle bowl less than $1. I looked like a total wierdo only buying a waffle bowl (at 10am) but the yoforia guy was so nice about it and even offered to punch my loyalty card for it.  I would love to get a waffle cone maker, it was such a treat and a perfect way to serve ice cream. If only my small kitchen could fit all the unnecessary kitchen appliances I want. 

Oatmeal Cookie Chunk Ice Cream 
makes about 1 quart

2 c. heavy cream
1 c. whole milk
2 eggs
3/4 c. sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
9 oatmeal cookies, broken into small pieces
1/2 c. milk chocolate chunks (optional)

Mix the milk and cream together in a pan over medium-low heat. Heat the milk mixture for 10 minutes or until it reaches 140°F and then remove it from the heat. In a bowl, beat the eggs until lighter in color and fluffy. Add the sugar to the egg mixture very slowly. Then slowly whisk the milk mixture into the egg & sugar mixture to temper the eggs. If you added the milk to the egg mixture quickly then the hot milk would cook the eggs and you would have scrambled eggs, you don't want that! Now add the the entire egg/sugar/milk mixture into a pot and heat over medium-low heat for 15 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove mixture from the heat and pour it into a clean bowl and refrigerate the mixture for 1 hour. Stir in the cinnamon and freeze the ice cream according to your ice cream maker's manufacturer instructions. I added half of the cold oatmeal cookie pieces into the ice cream mixture 5 minutes before it was done mixing and then folded in the rest after removing the ice cream from the ice cream maker.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

red beans & rice

Have you ever had red beans and rice? This weekend I asked one of my friends if she wanted to come over and have red beans and rice or go out to dinner. She quickly responded saying she wanted to go out to eat. Fine with me but she was missing out. Once we got to the restaurant I asked her if she didn't like red beans and rice and she told me she had never heard of red beans and rice. She said asking her if she wanted red beans and rice for dinner was like her asking me if I wanted black eyed peas with a side of white rice for dinner. Um I'd pass on that offer so I completely understand why she denied my invitation. But red beans and rice tastes so much better than it sounds!

Red beans and rice was a dish that my mom made all the time when I was growing up. It was an easy, quick crock pot meal that made the entire house smell absolutely delicious and tasted as good as it smelled. It is still really hot in NC but I was excited to break out the crock pot for my first fall crock pot meal.  Red beans and rice is a Creole dish that originated from Louisiana and was served on Mondays in order to use up the meat left over from Sunday dinner. Throw some spices, beans, sausage and veggies into a crock pot and 8 hours later you have a warm, filling meal. The biggest decision you have to make when making these red beans is if you want the beans to be soupy or thicker. If you want it soupy then keep the top on the crock pot all the way up until serving. If you want thick red beans (pictured), leave the top off the crock pot for the last hour of cooking. You can also cook these beans in a regular pot on low heat for the same length of time. 

Red Beans & Rice
serves 4-6

1 pound of small red beans
1 onion, diced
1 green pepper, diced
3 tsp olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp creole seasoning (I used Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning)
1 tsp dried thyme
5 hot sausage links, sliced
4 c. chicken stock 
1 tbsp worcestershire 
3 bay leaves
2 tsp red wine vinegar

3 c. of cooked rice

Soak the beans in water overnight or for 8 hours to get the gas out of them. Drain the beans and rinse them with water. 

Saute onion, green pepper and olive oil in a pan until golden brown. Add garlic and saute for 1 minute. Add the drained beans, the veggie garlic mixture, creole seasoning, thyme, sausage, chicken stop, worcestershire, bay leaves and red wine vinegar to the crock pot and turn on high for about 8 hours or until the beans are tender. Serve with rice. 

Sunday, September 11, 2011

raspberry preserve filled sandwich cookies (spitzbuebe)

I feel like these 24x24 party posts are never ending but maybe it's because I have lost some of my enthusiasm because it's been over two weeks since I made these cookies. Thank god for pictures because they are an instant reminder as to how good these cookies really were. These buttery shortbread cookies filled with thick, sweet raspberry preserves are a Switzerland favorite known as Spitzbuebe. As part of my 24x24 party, these were my boyfriends favorite cookie. I think it might be because he was the one that had to stuff all these cookies with preserves but he insisted his opinion was purely based on taste. I didn't use the traditional zig zag edged cookie cutter for these cookies because I just couldn't resist using a small heart cookie cutter I recently bought. These cookies would make great gifts using customized center cutouts based on the occasion, like hearts and the initials of the couple getting married or a christmas tree for the holiday season.

Raspberry Preserve filled Sandwich Cookies (Spitzbuebe)
recipe from: Saveur

3 sticks of butter, softened
1 1/2 c. confectioners sugar
3 eggs yolks
3 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. raspberry preserves (you can use any preserve flavor you want; just don't use jam)
extra confectioners sugar for dusting (optional)

Preheat the oven to 325°F. 

Beat butter sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer on low speed. Increase speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy. Add yolks one at a time, beating until smooth after each addition. Reduce speed to low and add flour 1/2 c. at a time. Scrape down sides of the bowl and give the dough one last stir. Transfer the dough onto a large plate and cover with plastic wrap and press the dough into a rectangle. Cover dough and plate with plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour. 

Divide chilled dough into 6 pieces. rewrap 5 individual pieces and keep them chilled while working with the first piece. On a floured surface, roll the dough into a 9 inch square. Using a 3 inch round cookie cutter, cut out 9 circles of dough and transfer them to a parchment paper lined baking sheet about 1 inch apart. Repeat process with remaining chilled dough pieces. But for 3 of the 6 dough pieces, use a 1 1/4 inch cookie cutter to cut a hole in the center of the circle for the tops of the cookies. Bake cookies for 15 minutes or until edges begin to golden slightly. Let cookies cool completely. 

Put preserves in a small pot and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer until thickened, it should take about 8 minutes. Transfer preserves to a bowl and let them cool. Once cookies and preserves have cooled, spread a spoonful of preserves in between each cookie sandwich. Then fill a piping bag with preserves and fill each cut out hole with a more preserves.  You can sprinkle the filled cookies with powdered sugar to finish these off. 

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

dulce de leche cookies

When I discovered the trick to perfect, cheap dulce de leche I couldn't wait to try it out. Peel off the label on a can of sweet condensed milk and simmer in hot water for a few hours. Once the can has completely cooled, pop the can open and you get this wonderful thick caramel that could pretty much make anything taste delicious. Dulce de leche is popular in Latin American countries and is used as the filling in alfajores aka dulce de leche cookies. Alfajores are chewy, buttery sandwich cookies filled with rich dulce de leche. Sprinkle the dulce de leche filling edges with fleur de sel for the perfect sweet and salty combination. I made a plate of non-salted cookies and a plate of salted for my 24x24 party (click link to see these cookies) so everyone could decide which ones they liked best. My vote goes to the salted version but I'm a sucker for any sweet/salty combo. 

Alfajores/Dulce de Leche Cookies
makes 20 cookie sandwiches; recipe adapted from BakingBites

for the dulce de leche:
1 can of sweet condensed milk

Remove the label from the can and place the can in a pot filled with water about 2 inches above the top of the can. Bring water to a boil and then turn heat to low and let simmer for 3 1/2 hours. After 3 1/2 hours, turn the burner off and let the can cool in the water for an hour and then remove the can from the water. Open the can and ta-da... thick, creamy, rich dulce de leche!

for the cookies:
2 c. all-purpose flour 
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 c. butter, softened
1 c. granulated sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
fleur de sel

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. 

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt and set aside. In a separate larger bowl,  cream together butter and sugar until light and creamy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture until dough comes together. Shape dough into 3/4 inch balls and press down with a large spoon. Bake cookies for 11 minutes or until the edges just begin to brown. Cool on a wire rack and spoon about 1 tbsp of dulce de leche into the middle of two cookies. Optional, sprinkle dulce de leche filling edges with fleur de sel. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

hokey pokey ice cream

My junior year of college I studied abroad in Australia and on my way back home I stopped in New Zealand for a week. I visited Auckland and Keri Keri on the North Island and in between visiting glow worm caves and sand-boarding (where you lay on a boogie board and slide down a huge sand dune), I discovered hokey pokey ice cream. My favorite dessert from my Foodbuzz 24x24 party was this hokey pokey ice cream. Hokey pokey is a sponge toffee or honeycomb that has a unique flavor and texture. Made with golden syrup, sugar and baking soda it makes for a pretty cool science experiment when you watch the baking soda do it's thing in the golden syrup/sugar mixture. When you add the baking soda to the hot golden syrup/sugar mixture it froths up and creates air pockets in the hokey pokey that give it that sponge toffee texture. Adding this crunchy, sweet candy to homemade vanilla ice cream reminds me why those New Zealand Kiwi's love this ice cream flavor so much. And if you are considering substituting the golden syrup for honey because they look similar, the golden syrup has a much stronger flavor and really makes this hokey pokey taste exactly like it did in New Zealand. 

Hokey Pokey Ice Cream
makes 1.5 qts of ice cream

for the hokey pokey:
1 c. granulated sugar
7 tbsp golden syrup (pic; I found it in the baking section of the grocery store)
3 tsp baking soda

Heavily grease a large, shallow pan and set aside. 

In a medium sized pot, bring sugar and golden syrup to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Once the mixture starts boiling, turn to very low heat and simmer for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. After 4 minutes or until the mixture is a golden brown color, remove the mixture from the heat and stir in the baking soda. Stir mixture quickly until it froths up and quickly pour it into the greased pan. Let the hokey pokey cool. Once it has cooled, you can place it in a ziploc bag and use a rolling pin to break it into pieces or break it by hand. Store in an airtight container.

for the vanilla ice cream:
1 c. whole milk
3/4 c. granulated sugar
2 c. heavy cream
1 tbsp vanilla extract 

In a medium bowl, whisk together milk and sugar until the sugar is dissolved. Stir in the heavy cream and vanilla. Cover and refrigerate 1 to 2 hours or overnight. To finish the ice cream, freeze the ice cream according to your ice cream maker's manufacturer instructions. I added the hokey pokey pieces into the ice cream mixture 5 minutes before it was done mixing but it may be different depending on your ice cream maker.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

s'mores cookies

I mentioned last week I couldn't get enough of this s'more craze, I had to have s'more! I bookmarked these cookies Jenny from Picky Palate created long before I ever started this blog and I think these were the perfect representation of USA in a cookie for my Foodbuzz 24x24 party. Hershey's bars, toasty marshmallows, and graham cracker pieces stuffed into a thick, chewy chocolate chip cookie bring me back to the days I spent roasting s'mores over a fire at camp when I was a kid.

S'mores Cookies
makes 18 cookies; recipe adapted from Picky-Palate 

2 sticks of butter, softened
1 c. packed brown sugar
1 c. granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tbsp vanilla
4 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 c. mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
18 fun-size Hershey's bars, broken into smaller pieces
3 full honey graham crackers; broken into small pieces
1 c. mini marshmallows 

Preheat the oven to 350°F. 

With a mixer, cream together butter and both sugars in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla until combined. In a separate bowl, stir together flour, salt and baking soda. Add flour mixture to butter and sugar mixture and mix until combined. Fold in chocolate chips. I used a muffin top pan to make these cookies. If you are using a muffin top pan, measure 1/4 c. of cookie dough into each muffin top pan cup. Press the dough down and stick Hershey's bar pieces, graham cracker pieces and mini marshmallows into the top of the dough. Bake cookies for 11-13 minutes or until edges of cookies turn golden brown. 

I found my muffin top pan at Sur La Table but if you can't find one or choose not to use one then line a baking sheet with parchment paper, press the cookies down slightly and add the s'mores toppings. 
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