It’s hard to believe another year has come and gone. 2018 was both challenging and extremely fulfilling. As a family we experienced many new firsts- most notably buying a new home which we have partially remodeled- and have big plans for the future with. Healthwise, I personally, along with those in my family, had quite a tough year. However, the last few weeks have brought wonderful news and positive health for the times ahead. Professionally….well…..I certainly did not focus on this blog and make time for it as I thought I would. I apologize to those reading this. I know it’s been quite a while since my last post. BUT…. ISN’T THAT WHAT THE NEW YEAR IS ALL ABOUT? New chapters, new beginnings. A blank slate to start anew. And that’s what I plan to do here. Instead of running from myself (and this blog), I’m vowing right now to share my struggles, my good days and bad, the times when being a mom is the best feeling in the world, and those days where my 3 girls make me want to catch the next train to anywhere lol. I promise it’ll be worth the read….I have so many new and exciting recipes, ideas, stories, and anecdotes to share. So come along for the ride. Let’s start with what no one would dare put as a New Years Day recipe. Nope it’s not a detox soup or skinny smoothie. It’s carbs, and fat, and comfort food. It won’t help you lose that extra 10 lbs you say you want to (or in my case the 5 that I gained this holiday lol) but it’s a comforting meal to share with those we love on a cold day at home, relishing in this new year before us (or nursing you hang over at 4pm in the afternoon lol).
Wishing you and yours a Happy, Healthy, Peaceful, and Prosperous 2019!!
Note: Many people don’t heat heartily on New Years Day, for various reasons….some of my past reasons have been too full from the night before, too hung over, or the infamous “I’m starting my new diet TODAY”. Newsflash: Since having kids, I noticed that none of these reasons were good ones, so I eat what I want. That doesn’t mean I pig out, it just means that I view this day as another holiday, one to be thankful for and enjoy a beautiful homemade meal with those around me. Shown below are 3 recipes for a starter, main dish, and desert I love. They may not exactly all fit together….fin fact….it’s a bit of a global tour….but when the main dish is one which includes carbs, a cream like sauce, and veggies, it’s hard to pick a light starter that isn’t a duplicate. As for dessert, well, I don’t typically indulge in dessert so when I make it, I make what I like lol.
Note 2: If you are a wine drinker like me, I like to pair the chicken pot pie with the same wine I cook with- typically a dry white such as a Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc. Stay away from sweets such as reisling or chardonnay if you can- I find they don’t make the Pot Pie dough as enjoyable. If you are like my husband and loathe whites, try aerating your red. I’m a picky red drinker and like mainly Cabernet Sauvignon, which I feel goes with everything.
Starter: Mediterranean Platter
Want to know the best part about this recipe? It’s almost all (gasp!!) store-bought! The only thing I personally prefer to store made items, is my hummus, upon which I faithfully use Ina Garten’s hummus recipe (with an extra dash or two of hot sauce). For this particular starter, I’ll stick with plain hummus, although I usually mix it up by adding roasted red peppers or artichokes (separately NOT together lol)
Homemade hummus (store-bought is totally fine too)
Stuffed grape leaves
Fresh, warm, pita bread cut into triangles
Feta cheese ( whole or crumbled. I’ll leave that up to you- based on how you want to serve it)
Cherry tomatoes (these are optional- if they’re out of season or too acidic, don’t worry about it)
Mixed salted nuts ( I typically use a mixture of almonds & cashews)
Pitted Kalamata Olives
Tabbouleh Salad ( although this is a simple one to make, I usually opt for the quicker store-bought one…shhhhhh don’t tell my husband lol)
Freshly sliced lemon, whole oregano & rosemary (for garnish)
Using whatever piece of serveware you like best, [I love either a large rustic wooden cheese board or white porcelain square one] gently arrange the ingredients and simply place out for eating.
Main: Chicken Pot Pie
For the pie dough:
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour (plus more for dusting the work surface)
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup (aka 2 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into cubes
6 tablespoons ice water (you may need more to reach the proper consistency)
2 tablespoons shredded [mild] cheddar cheese
For the filling:
1.5 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 cups low sodium organic chicken broth
1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil (can be subsituted with another oil such as avocado)
1 white onion, diced
3 carrots, peeled and diced
3 celery ribs, diced
3/4 cup frozen peas, thawed
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups milk
3 tablespoons dry white wine
A few dashes of your favorite hot sauce
3 tablespoons dry sherry
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced
- Make the pie dough: Using a food processor, mix the flour, salt, and sugar until combined. Add the butter and pulse, until just combined (do not over mix). Pulse in the cheddar and then the ice water. Go slowly when adding the water, as to not make the dough too dry or watery. Ideally, you want the dough to be wet to the touch, but clear the sides of the bowl. Form dough into a ball, split in 2, and flatten into 2 disks. Refrigerate the dough for at least 1 hour.
- Cook the bottom part of your pie: Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees and adjust the oven rack to a lower-middle position. Next, take out 1 disk of the pie dough, flour your work surface, and roll out the dough with a rolling pin until you have enough to cover a 9″ pie plate. Place fitted dough in pan, and trim excess if necessary. (You can also crimp the edges to make a neat presentation) Next, lightly prick the dough using a fork, and blind bake* the crust until just beginning to brown, about 20-25 minutes.
- Place the boneless, skinless chicken breasts and all of the broth in a medium size dutch oven (a stockpot would work just fine too), cover, bring to a boil, and simmer for about 10 minutes or until cooked through. Transfer the chicken to a bowl, and when cooled, shred. Reserve the chicken broth in a measuring cup.
- Increase the heat to high and heat the vegetable oil in the now empty pot. Once warmed and shimmering, add the onion, carrots, & celery, season with salt & pepper, and saute for until tender, about 5 minutes. Next, add the white wine and cook another minute or two until alcohol cooks off. Then transfer the vegetables to the same bowl as the chicken.
- Using the same pan, heat the butter on medium-high heat. Once melted and foam subsides, add the flour, whisking constantly until incorporated for about 1 minute. Be careful and do not burn the roux.
- Whisk in the reserved chicken broth, followed by the milk, and minced thyme. Steadily whisk until fully incorporated and not lumpy. Bring this mixture to a simmer, and continue to simmer until thickening, about 1 minute. Once completed, season with salt, pepper, and stir in the sherry.
- Pour the sauce over the chicken & vegetables, add in the peas and parsley, and stir to mix. Season again if necessary with salt and pepper. Add a few dashes of hot sauce until the taste is to your liking (for me it’s usually about 4-6 dashes).
- Pour mixture into the pie crust and top with remaining dough. Don’t forget to cut slits in the top to allow air to escape. Bake at 400 degrees for about 25-30 minutes, or until the top is golden brown. Serve hot.
*If you aren’t familiar with the term “blind bake” this refers to cooking a pie crust before filling it. Typically the crust is covered with foil or parchment paper and filled about 2/3 of the way with pie weights ( I don’t own pie weights, so I use either dried beans or rice). For more info about this cooking technique, check out this brief article from King Arthur Flour: https://blog.kingarthurflour.com/2015/11/23/blind-bake-pie-crust/
Dessert: Mini Tiramisu Trifles
Delicious dessert: check! Cute individual trifle glasses: check!
Not gonna lie though: this recipe is not mine. I have tried my hand multiple times at tiramisu, and have gotten pretty decent at it, but right now I just wanted an easy recipe to follow myself. Here’s one I LOVE from a fellow blogger: https://www.lifeloveandsugar.com/2017/01/13/mini-tiramisu-trifles/