Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Mini Chicken Pot Pies (with homemade flaky crust)


One thing I've had to work on in my new married life is actually taking the time to consider providing food for another human being. I've been cooking meals for myself since I was 13 so thinking about my own dinner is nothing new to me, however, when you have a non-pescatarian hungry man in the house, that's another story.

These chicken pot pies are not only small and cute, they're also delicious and the perfect size for 1-2 servings. When I think of the perfect pot pie, the utmost important factor is the crust. It must be light, flaky, with that melt in your mouth buttery flavor. The filling must be creamy and rich with the perfect balance of vegetables, meat, and herbs; and like any other unbelievably tasty entree, it should fill you with the desire to lick the bowl and pick off the remaining bits of crust on the leftovers (but do so sneakily to avoid suspicion).


Mini Chicken Pot Pies

serves two...or one, depending on how hungry you are

1 raw chicken breast
1 large carrot, cut into small cubes
1 large stalk of celery cut into small cubes
1/2 of a small onion, diced small
1-2 small (russet or red) potatoes, diced small
3 TBS butter (separated)
1 TBS flour
1/4 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup milk or cream
2 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp dried thyme
salt and pepper

(you can add peas or corn as well if you would like, I didn't have any peas in the house at the time)

click here for my go-to Pie crust recipe

Prep:

3.Prepare pie crust (if using) and set aside in fridge.

2.Take chicken breast and put it in a sauce pan, cover with water. Turn on medium heat and boil for about 10-15 min. or until chicken is firm to the touch and has an internal temperature of 165 F. remove chicken breast and when cool, cut into cubes.

3.To cook the potatoes, cut them into bite sized cubes. Place in a sauce pan and cover with water. Boil potatoes until tender (about 10 min). Drain and set aside.

Directions:

1.Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and grease two 10-ounce ramekins with butter or olive oil spray.

2.Roll the pie crust out and use a bowl (slightly larger than the ramekin), trace and cut out 2 circles, using the scraps to make more if needed. Keep the dough circles in the fridge so they stay cold.

3.Melt 1 TBS of butter in a large sauce pan. Add in the diced carrots and cook for 5 minutes. Add in the diced onion and celery and season with a teaspoon of kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper. Cook until the onions are soft and translucent and the carrots are soft (but not too soft).

4.Now add in the remaining 2 TBS of butter and let that melt. Once melted add flour and stir often while it cooks for 2 minutes (or until you smell a nice nutty flavor). Pour in the chicken broth and the milk. Let that simmer, stirring occasionally until thickened 5-8 minutes. Add herbs and stir. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. Let cool slightly before topping with crust.

5.Place the ramekins on a rimmed baking sheet. Evenly divide the diced cooked potatoes into each prepared ramekin. Spoon the cooled pot pie filling evenly over the potatoes, filling the ramekins to the brim. Cover with dough circles and crimp the edges then, with a sharp knife make a couple of slits for ventilation.

6.Slide the tray of pot pies into a preheated 375 degree oven and bake for 20-25 minutes or until the crust is golden. Remove and let them cool for 10 minutes before serving.

*For a glossy top crust, try beating an egg with a tablespoon of water and brush over top before baking.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Mustachio Muffins


I Mustache you a question, do you love pistachios as much as I do?! Yeah, I went there. Seriously though, these things have to be my favorite of the nuts (along with almonds) they're so unique and flavorful and like almonds, they go so well with sweet baked goods and other things...like ice cream!

This is my second baking adventure in the new place, still scoping out suitable food photoshoot places, but I'm getting close.


These muffins have a more cake-like consistency, and as you can see I am still adjusting to our new oven (I baked them 20 degrees below set temp and they still got a wee bit toasted). If you can't find pistachio extract you could always either use almond, or just go without it since the pudding mix has it's own flavoring, it's up to you.


Mustachio Muffins

makes about 15 large muffins

1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
3 1/8-ounce package instant pistachio pudding mix
1/2 tsp pistachio extract
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups All-Purpose Flour
1 1/4 cups milk
3/4 cup shelled, coarsely chopped pistachios, separated


Method:

1.Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line the muffin pan with liners and set aside.

2.In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment cream the butter, sugar, and pudding mix until smooth.

3.Add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the side of the bowl as needed. Add the salt, baking powder, and extract.

4.Alternate between adding the milk and the flour, starting and beginning with the flour. Fold in 1/2 cups chopped Pistachios.

5.Spoon the batter into the muffin pan; filling 3/4 of the way to the top.Top each muffin with a few pistachios and bake for 18-20 minutes.

Top with mustaches for a clever disguise.



We also recently added a new member to the Martin family, look for pictures soon!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Fashion Friday: Summer Wishlist


Lately I've been into that "rocker meets fem" style, I love it when you pair a dark colors with feminine pieces such as floral or lace. My friend also introduced me to this site that makes scarf camera straps which I am pretty much obsessed with! What are some of your favorite trends this season?

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11

Furniture Makeovers

I have always been a fan of antique furniture, I think it's always better to buy a piece that has a story to tell. It's neat to think about what was going on during the time period which it was built. This love along with my avid HGTV watching has led to many DIY projects around our new place! We both have never had this much room to work with before, so we're doing our best to fill each space with unique pieces tailored to our tastes and style while still remaining on budget!


This was a table a snagged at a local yard sale. It wasn't in too bad of shape and I loved the detailing on the chairs and the fact that the table was on wheels (which makes for easy food photography convenience). While there was one dark stain on one of the chairs, the rest of the imperfections came out with a good sanding. Because of all the small nooks and crannies, I sanded all of it by hand using #120 to remove the old finish and then a fine grit of #220 to prep the wood for priming.


I'm not gonna lie, it took me a loooong time to sand this set but the results I feel were well worth it. Now we have an awesome table that's the perfect size for our dining room and costs us less than $50.

Cost of table and chairs $25
Minwax wood finish Ebony $5
Minwax fast drying polyurethane $5
Sandpaper $3
Brushes $2
__________________________________________

Total: $40



Above is a computer desk I've had for quite some time now, the backing was of simple bare wood and I felt it needed some spiffing up. At Walmart in the spray paint section they have both magnetic and chalk board paint. With some simple light sanding I was able to paint this in one day (despite having to do multiple coats). Even though I taped off the edges with painters tape, I ran into some trouble when it was time to take it off (is it just me or does this blue tape never does what it's supposed to?). As you can see by the corners it needed some touching up afterwards.


Chalkboard paint $6
Magnetic paint $7
__________________________

Total: $13

With just two products we now have a fun space to hang pictures and write messages.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

THE BEST Chocolate Frosting EVER!!


Well I'm gradually getting into the grove of things since the wedding madness and the big move! Everything is falling into place and slowly coming out of boxes. It's always weird when you know that one part of your life is over and a new phase is beginning but I guess it's a chance to start fresh and discover how you hold up outside of your comfort zone. Until then, I can only do what I do best: eat, and make this orgasmic chocolate frosting! (Did you like that tasty segway or what?)


In case you already couldn't tell by my excessive use of caps, this really is the BEST chocolate frosting ever. Not only is it suuuuper easy to make, it also spreads and pipes really well, which makes it ideal for decorating. Unlike your super dense cream cheese based frostings, this is heavy cream based which creates this rich chocolate whipped texture. One thing you might want to be cautious of is to not leave it out for more than two hours, it might start to separate (plus it's not good to leave dairy based foods out anyway). Other than that, good luck having enough reservation to not eat this entire batch directly from the mixing bowl.

THE BEST Chocolate Frosting... EVER!!

1 cup confectionery sugar
1/2 cup cocoa
1 pint whipping cream
Pinch of salt

Directions:

1.Place whipping cream in mixing bowl. Shift remaining ingredients together and add to cream.

2.Mix in gently, then beat on high until a thick, frosting-like consistency forms.


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