Classic Herb Chicken Pot Pie

IMG_7336Ever so often we are reminded in Los Angeles that it is still Winter.  It is not Spring, do not pass go, do not expect sunny skies and beach days just yet.  With the chilly, wet weather coming and going all across the nation, we wanted to provide some comfort of home with a soothing yet decadent thrill to your taste buds.  Our classic herb chicken pot pie will be just the trick to thaw your body and warm your spirit.  By preparing some recipe elements a day before, you can erase the idea in your mind that this is too hard to create for you and your loved ones.  So on days that gloom, pull out this recipe and set aside your favorite blanket, because within no time you will be cozied up with both, enjoying your own homemade piece of heaven.

A look into the process…

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Here is the recipe… 

YEILDS

serves 8

INGREDIENTS

Flaky Pie Dough

½ cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces

3 to 4 tablespoons cold water

1¼ cups unbleached all-purpose flour

¼ teaspoon salt

Herb Chicken Filling

6 tablespoons (¾ stick) unsalted butter

1 cup diced onion

½ cup diced celery

6 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour

4 cups homemade chicken stock or canned low-sodium chicken broth

½ cup peeled and diced carrot

1 tablespoon olive oil

10 ounces sliced mushrooms(I use potatoes for yours)

1 pound cooked chicken meat, diced(I roasted the chicken and diced it)

1 cup frozen peas

1 fresh bay leaf

1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives

1½ tablespoons finely chopped fresh Italian parsley

1½ teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme

Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 large egg yolk

2 tablespoons milk or cream

*You can make the chicken and pie crust a day ahead of time*

DIRECTIONS

To make the dough, place the butter pieces in a bowl or on a plate and freeze for at least 20 minutes. Refrigerate the water in a small measuring cup until needed.

Place the flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Process for 10 seconds to blend the ingredients. Add the frozen butter pieces and pulse 6 to 10 times (in 1-second bursts), until the butter and flour mixture looks like crushed crackers and peas.

Immediately transfer the butter-flour mixture to the large bowl. Sprinkle a tablespoon of the cold water over the mixture and “fluff” it, then add another and another, until 3 tablespoons have been added. Continue to fluff and stir 10 to 12 times. It will not be a cohesive dough at this point but a bowl of shaggy crumbs and clumps of dough. Before bringing the dough together, test it for the correct moisture content. Take a handful and squeeze firmly. Open your hand. If the clump falls apart and looks dry, remove any large, moist clumps from the bowl; then add more water, a teaspoon at a time, sprinkling it over the top of the mixture and immediately stirring or mixing it in. Test again before adding any more water. Repeat, if needed. The dough is done when it holds together (even if a few small pieces fall off). If the butter feels soft and squishy, refrigerate before continuing. If the butter is still cold and firm, continue to the next step. (Note: Adding the liquid may also be done on low speed in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment-add three-quarters of the liquid, test for moistness, then add the remaining liquid if needed.)

Turn the dough onto a work surface and knead gently 3 to 6 times. If it won’t come together and looks very dry, return it to the bowl and add another teaspoon or two of water (one at a time), mixing in as above, and try again. Flatten the dough into a 6- or 7-inch disk, wrap in plastic or parchment paper, and refrigerate for 30 minutes. This allows time for the dough to hydrate fully and for the butter to firm up again.

If the dough has been refrigerated for more than 30 minutes, it may be very firm and hard and will crack if you try to roll it. Let it sit on the counter for 10 to 15 minutes until it is malleable but still cold. Dust your work surface generously with flour and set the disk on the flour. Dust the top with flour. Roll, turning the dough, until you’ve got a 14- to 15-inch circle. If at any point the dough becomes warm and sticky, gently fold it into quarters, unfold it onto a baking sheet, and refrigerate for 15 minutes, or until the butter is firm again.

Transfer the circle of pie or tart to a baking sheet and chill until ready to use.

To make the filling, melt the butter over medium heat in a medium saucepan. Add the onion and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 7 minutes, until softened. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the flour. Whisk vigorously to blend the flour with the vegetables and butter. Return to the heat and cook, whisking, for 2 to 3 minutes (do not let the flour brown). Remove the pan from the heat. Add about 1 cup of the stock and whisk until the mixture is smooth and pastelike. This is your only chance to remove any lumps of flour, so whisk thoroughly. Once the paste is smooth, whisk in the remaining stock. Add the carrot. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Fill a large bowl halfway with ice and water. Heat the olive oil in a medium sauté pan over high heat. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring every 2 to 3 minutes, until deep golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes. Add the mushrooms to the filling along with the chicken, peas, chives, parsley, and thyme. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set the saucepan into the bowl of ice water. Stir occasionally until the filling is cool. (Chilling the filling prevents the flaky pastry from melting when it’s placed on top of the pie.) Scrape the filling into the pie pan.

Preheat the oven to 275°F and position an oven rack in the center. Brush the edge of the pie pan with a thin film of water. Transfer the dough to the pan, roll the edges to form a thick rope along the edge of the pan, then crimp or form a decorative border as desired. Any leftover pie dough can be used to make decorative designs, such as a chicken, on top of the piecrust. In a small bowl, beat the egg yolk with the milk and use a pastry brush to lightly glaze the surface of the pie. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until the filling is bubbling and the crust is golden brown and crisp. Transfer to a rack and let cool for 15 to 20 minutes. Serve hot, spooning the pie into wide, shallow bowls.

ENJOY!

Just Juice It: The Green Giant

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I am not sure when the obsession with juices began, but it is a worthy addiction that led us to a recent purchase of a Breville juicer for the Pleasant Pantry headquarters.  Now when we cringe at the idea of tossing out any extra produce after recipes, we have a reason to save it for our latest liquid concoctions.  Knowing that all juice isn’t the healthiest for us, we wanted to start off with an easy green elixir.  Simple to make and fun in the process; it doesn’t hurt that it is tasty and a way to get some much needed nutrients into our life. 

Before and after…

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What you will need:

2 bunches of kale

1 romaine lettuce bunch

1 bunch of celery

2 gala apples

1 lemon

1/2 cucumber

1/2 a bunch of parsley

1 stick of ginger (add in slowly, to taste)

Throw in your Breville juicer and viola, tasty green juice! Enjoy!

Hot Spinach & Artichoke Dip

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With the Super Bowl behind us, and the excuse to make ridiculously fattening foods acceptable now just a faded memory, it is difficult to get one particular snack out of our nostalgic thoughts – hot spinach & artichoke dip.  Cheesy, rich, and textured with moist bits of artichoke hearts swirled in a glorious green bed of spinach and garlic, we at the Pleasant Pantry would like to honor the memory of this party-crowd pleaser. We won’t promote eating this decadent dish regularly, but if you didn’t get a chance to make it this past weekend, we are completely okay with you breaking out the ingredients and finding out for yourself what true happiness is all about… 

I literally count down the days before every holiday because it signals the time when I can make this dip… well being honest, any particular reason to make Spinach & Artichoke dip I will willingly oblige to get in the kitchen and whip up a batch.  It reminds me of family, good friends, happy times and home. – Jenet

Here is the process…

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This is the recipe… 

INGREDIENTS

1 1/2 cups part-skim mozzarella cheese

1 1/2 cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese

1/2 cup Romano cheese

1/4 cup fat free sour cream

1/4 cup mayonnaise

8 ounce fat free cream cheese, softened

14 ounces artichoke hearts, drained and chopped

3 garlic gloves minced

10 ounce package chopped spinach, thawed, drained and squeezed dry

1/4 tsp black pepper

1 Tbs salt

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350°. Combine 1 cup mozzarella and 1 cup parmesan and 1/2 cup romano cheeses with all other ingredients in a large bowl; stir until well blended. Spoon mixture into a 1 1/2-quart baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining cheeses on top. Bake for 30 minutes or until bubbly and golden brown.

Serve with tortilla chips, crackers or celery.

Indulge and enjoy!

Deliciously Baked Mac & Cheese

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There are times when nothing sounds better than indulging in good old fashioned comfort food; something warm & gooey (odds are fattening and therefor delicious).  Since we closed out the month of January with super foods, healthy choices and awareness of smarter eating options, we thought we deserved one day of decadence. We bring you a way to pat yourself on the back – delightfully rich macaroni and cheese.  Warm up the stove, throw some good cheese together with soft elbow pasta and thank us later for the inspiration. And feel free to invite us over for the leftovers!

This is such a comforting meal and a real crowd pleaser! You can never go wrong with this dish. You can make this and keep for several days in the fridge, which is nice when you start craving it days later!  Also the possibilities are endless when it comes to experimenting with various cheeses to use. I love to try new ones that can add a different dimension to the flavor! – Amy

A look into the process… 

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Here is the recipe… 

INGREDIENTS

2 quarts water

2 tsp salt (for water)

2 cups elbow macaroni

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/8 tsp pepper

1/4 cup butter

1 tsp dry mustard

1 tsp salt

2 cups milk

2 cups grated cheddar cheese

2 cups grated gruyere cheese

1/4 cup chopped sweet pepper (optional)

 

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Put water in a large sauce pot, add salt and bring to boil. Add macaronis all at once and stir. Return water to a boil and then simmer until tender, about 4-5 minutes. Do not overcook. Drain.

In a separate saucepan, melt butter and then remove from heat. Stir in flour, salt, pepper and dry mustard. When mixture is smooth, gradually add milk, stirring until there are no lumps of flour remaining. Return saucepan to heat and cook over moderately high heat, stirring constantly until mixture comes to boil and thickens slightly. Add green pepper, if desired, and simmer for a minute longer.

Stir 1 1/2 cups of grated cheddar cheese with the drained macaroni and milk & flour mixture and place in baking dish.  Pour extra shredded cheese on top.

Place dish in oven for 20 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Remove from oven and serve. Enjoy!

 

VARIATIONS

Use shells instead of elbow pasta.

Add breadcrumbs with rosemary to the top for extra texture.