Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Best Chicken Pot Pie

The title says it all, people. I've been meaning to post this one for some time but I just got around to making it again for dinner today. So as I sit here eating it, I can't wait any longer to share this recipe. This really is the best chicken pot pie i've had and I sort of want to make it for everyone I know. You can make this in one large dish or smaller single serving sized ones. I like the smaller dishes because you get more crust to filling ratio. If you make too small though, you'll end up needing another roll of pie crust. Here I did 3 small (3.5 inch/8 oz.) ramekins and 2 larger ones (5 inch) and had the perfect amount of dough to do a bottom layer up the sides and a top. Instead of slits on top, you could also use cookie cutters or just a knife to carve out whatever you'd like. Enjoy!

Best Chicken Pot Pie
I don't remember where I originally saw the recipe, but i'll list as soon as I find it!

Large pie serves 4-5, mini pies serve 6Ingredients:2 homemade or store-bought pie crusts (about 9-inch each)
2 cups water
1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 carrots, peeled and cubed
2 ribs celery, sliced
1 medium onion, chopped
2 tablespoons chicken bouillon granules
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup butter
4 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup frozen peas
1 egg
1 tbsp. water

Directions:In 4-quart saucepot combine water, chicken, carrots, celery and onion. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add chicken bouillon, pepper and butter. Dissolve cornstarch and flour into whipping cream and stir into chicken mixture. Simmer 3 minutes, stirring frequently until thickened. Add peas and set aside.
Roll out two 9-inch pie crusts. I roll them out a little thinner to get more out of it. Place bottom crust into six ramekins or one 9-inch pie plate, and shape with your fingers. I like to extend the bottom crust up the sides to the top.
Pour filling into bottom crust. Roll out top crust; cut slits for steam to escape. Cover filling with top crust. Seal crusts and wave edge with your fingers. Whisk egg with water, and brush top crust with egg wash. Place on a foil lined baking sheet and bake in a 400 degree oven for 35-40 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and filling is bubbling. If top crust is browning too quickly, cover loosely with aluminium foil. Let stand 15-20 minutes before serving.
Follow TawnyAlexander on Twitter

Friday, January 27, 2012

Chocolate Tasting

With all the wine influence in and surrounding the bay area, wine tastings are everywhere. Matt and I have mentioned several times that it would be much better if they were chocolate tastings instead. When I spotted a deal for chocolate tasting I was all over it even though I wasn't sure what to expect. Let me just say, it was a lot of fun! Not only did we get to try pure, high quality chocolate, but we learned a lot about it as well. The tasting was done at Alegio Chocolate in Berkeley. We tried about 10 different selections including a plain cocoa bean (not the best tasting thing). I never realized how many flavors there are to chocolate! We learned about some of the things companies do to make chocolate cheaper, like removing the cocoa butter to sell to companies and replacing it with something cheaper, and adding lots of vanilla. We also learned that Michael Pollan and Steve Jobs are/were regulars of Alegio. Not so important, but Matt's read some of Pollan's books so there was a small discussion about them and food quality now days. I would love to eat this kind of chocolate more often, but at about $12 for less than 2 ounces, I think I would go broke pretty fast :) But it's definitely worth it now and then. Afterwards we even decided to go to the store and buy a few different kinds of chocolate and have our own little tasting at home! This was a fun activity for us both and would even be great for Valentine's Day!

some of our goods.. Follow TawnyAlexander on Twitter

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Cinnamon Roll French Toast

Once when we were on a trip, Rylee had to go to the bathroom so we stopped at Black Bear Diner and Matt took Rylee in there to use the restroom. There were a TON of people there and after Matt saw someone's huge plate of food, we knew why. Ever since we've wanted to try the place and last weekend we were finally able to. First of all, we thought the food was really good! Especially for a diner. One of the things on the menu that struck my attention was cinnamon roll french toast. I love french toast. In fact it's my favorite breakfast food. I reallyy wanted to try it but I was in the mood for pancakes, so that's what I got. I'm not able to comment on theirs, but here's my simple homemade version that went over well. Obviously homemade cinnamon rolls would be so much better..but I went the easy route this time.

Cinnamon Roll French Toast

1 can of 8 cinnamon rolls (or homemade)
2 eggs
scant 1/4 c. milk

Bake cinnamon rolls according to package directions.
Meanwhile, mix together eggs and milk in a shallow dish.
When cinnamon rolls are finished, dip in egg mixture then place in preheated and buttered skillet or griddle. Cook on each side until golden brown.

Microwave cup of icing (included in cinnamon rolls) about 10 sec. or until just pourable. How long you heat it will determine how thick the icing will be. The top 2 photos it was heated slightly longer than the last one so you can see the difference.
Serve with drizzled icing and maple syrup.

*The canned cinnamon rolls have a little bit of a hard crust on them so the egg mixture doesn't soak up so well. I'm thinking homemade, or atleast a softer roll, would work a lot better, although this way still tasted really good! Follow TawnyAlexander on Twitter

Friday, January 20, 2012

Blueberry Pecan Coconut Breakfast Quinoa

I'm always looking for new ways to use quinoa. I don't have many recipes with it yet that we really like and i'm even more limited since Matt doesn't like it cold. I haven't got his opinion on this one yet because he hasn't tried it, but he doesn't care much for coconut so I don't know how it's going to go over. And he says he isn't picky... :) I'm going to be honest..I don't love quinoa. It's good, but in most cases I find it pretty bland. But i'm reallly trying to love it seeing how it's all the rage these days. With that said, I thought this was a good one. As soon as I made it I had a few bowls. This is the first time I tried a breakfast version and I kept thinking it should be oatmeal. You could use whatever fruit/nuts you wanted, these are just what I happened to have. I have another breakfast recipe that hopefully i'll be posting next week, if all goes well, that i've been dying to try all week!
Blueberry Pecan Coconut Breakfast Quinoa
Beantown Baker

2 cups milk
1 cup uncooked quinoa
pinch salt
2-3 Tbsp dark brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup fresh blueberries
1/2 cup chopped, toasted pecans
1/4 cup toasted unsweetened coconut

Bring milk to a boil in a small saucepan. Milk will boil and bubble over very quickly, so keep an eye on it. Add quinoa and salt, and return to a boil. Reduce heat to low, and simmer, covered, until three-quarters of the milk has been absorbed, about 15 minutes. Stir in brown sugar and cinnamon. Cook, covered, until almost all the milk has been absorbed, about 5 minutes. Stir in blueberries, nuts, and coconut. Cook until warmed through, about one minute more. Follow TawnyAlexander on Twitter

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Brownie Covered Oreos

I started writing this post last week, but I had the flu at the time. Thinking about food with the flu is not a good idea and i'll just leave it at that. Sometimes you want something simple and easy without having to make the same usuals, and that's what I liked about this. By no means are oreos and brownies a new dessert, but it is a new way (to me atleast) of going about it which made it fun and gave me some ideas of other things to try. I used the red winter oreos which would also look good for Valentine's day!

Brownie Covered Oreos
Picky Palate

1 Box Brownie mix
1 Package Oreos
White chocolate, melted for drizzle

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare brownie batter according to package directions. Leave in mixing bowl. Dip Oreos in brownie batter then place in bottom of cupcake tin that has been generously sprayed with cooking spray. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until brownies are cooked through. As soon as you remove, take a plastic knife and run along edges.
2. Let cool for 5 minutes, remove, drizzle with melted white chocolate. Follow TawnyAlexander on Twitter

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

Happy 7 months to Landon! That's just crazy. I swear we just brought him home! He's been crawling and pulling himself up on everything (including me!) So in honor of him, I give to you his new favorite cookie. I'm kidding! He doesn't eat cookies. He hardly even touches baby food! Really though, I have a line up of things to be posted, but as soon as I tried these they immediately made their way to the top of the list. They are dangerously good. They're big and rich and every pb and chocolate lover's dream cookie come true. Not only is it chocked full of pb cups, but the batter is also made up of peanut butter and chocolate. Double whammy. I can already see this one being on next year's "top" list.

Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Cookies
Annie's Eats

Yield: 16 large cookies
1½ cups plus 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
6 tbsp. Dutch-process cocoa
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. coarse salt
¾ stick (6 tbsp.) unsalted butter, at room temperature
¼ cup plus 2 tbsp. creamy peanut butter
½ cup sugar
½ cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tbsp. milk
2 cups coarsely chopped peanut butter cups, divided

Preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Line baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter, peanut butter, and sugars. Beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 1-2 minutes. Add in the egg, vanilla extract, and milk. Blend until smooth. With the mixer on low speed, mix in the dry ingredients just until incorporated. Add in 1½ cups of the chopped peanut butter cups and fold in gently with a spatula.
Use a large dough scoop (about 3 tablespoons) to drop rounds of dough onto the baking sheets, spacing 2-3 inches apart. Gently press a few pieces of the reserved peanut butter cups into the top of each of the dough balls. Bake 12-14 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through baking. They will be very soft but will firm up after cooling. Let cool on the baking sheets about 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.
Follow TawnyAlexander on Twitter

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Baked Chicken Pesto with Quinoa

As promised, here's a recipe to help out with your new year's resolution. Lately i've had a VERY needy baby on my hands, so the only things i've been cooking are things that are quick that I can do in the small amount of time that he allows me to do anything without him. Even naps haven't been going so good lately. Help. I NEED nap time! It's also a little frustrating since I actually do like to cook that i'm not having the time i'd like to spend doing it (among a ton of other things i'd like to do). That's ok though. I just have to remind myself that one day i'll be wishing he was begging for my attention. Like I said, it's easy. Doesn't get much easier than dumping some pesto and cheese on chicken and tossing it in the oven. Alternately, you could serve this with rice or noodles, by itself, or whatever else you see fitting.

Baked Chicken Pesto with Quinoa
Kalyn's Kitchen

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
salt and fresh ground black pepper for seasoning chicken
1/2 cup basil pesto
2 oz. (1/2 cup) grated low-fat mozzarella cheese

1 c. quinoa
2 c. water
Preheat oven to 375F. Trim all visible fat and tendons from chicken pieces, then cut each chicken breast lengthwise into 2 or 3 pieces. Spray a 9" x 12" baking dish with non-stick spray, then spread 1/4 cup basil pesto over the bottom of the dish. Lay chicken strips over the pesto, then spread 1/4 cup more basil pesto over the chicken.
Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and bake the chicken for 25-30 minutes.
In the meantime, prepare your quinoa according to package directions.
When chicken is barely cooked through, remove foil and sprinkle chicken with 1/2 cup grated mozzarella cheese. Put dish back into the oven without foil and cook 5 minutes more, just until cheese is melted. Broil for an additional 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Spoon juices over chicken and quinoa (or whatever else you might be serving with it). Follow TawnyAlexander on Twitter

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Faves from the past- 2010

Happy New Year!! Last Year (I guess it wouldn't be "last" year anymore!) I didn't do a roundup post of favorites from the year. I did a lot of baking since i started the blog to the end of 2010 and a lot of those recipes are my "staples." So I thought i'd do a quick shout out to my good ol standbys from 2010.

In chronological order..

Dark Chocolate Chunk Cookies- When I want to make a reliable chocolate based cookie, this is it.

Smore's Cookie Bars- One of my all time favorites. I could eat the whole pan myself.

Easy Peanut Butter Marshmallow Topped Krispie Treats- These are rich and decadent, everyone will love them!

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread- I like to make these in a mini muffin pan. They freeze great for quick little snacks.

New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookies- I'm a chocolate chip cookie LOVER. And this is probably my favorite recipe yet. Just make sure to plan ahead as it does require some resting time.

Big Apple Baked Pancake For 2- Easy and a great way to use up lots of eggs.

Ham and Cheese Pretzel Bites- I don't often make these mainly because I like to stick with quick things since I have 2 little ones who need constant attention, but we love them.

Toffee Roca Cookies- Like a broken record.. here's another really good cookie that's quick and easy, not to mention really tasty.

Steak Gorgonzola Alfredo- Matt's favorite OG dish made at home! This is one of our go-to's for when we have company.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bars- I find something to make these for every year.

There's a lot of other really good ones as well, but these are some that I keep coming back to. Follow TawnyAlexander on Twitter