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“There is nothing better on a cold wintry day than a properly made pot pie.”
Craig Claiborne

my husband is currently studying for the bar exam, and i am typically gone from home for about 60 hours a week with my job and the commute. this being said, my husband is also usually the cook of our home, and during his tenure at law school would typically prepare a fabulous dinner to have waiting for me during study breaks. well–the bar is a different beast, and he doesn’t have time to prepare wonderful dinners during the few weeks he’s getting ready for the bar. in fact, he doesn’t even have time to find himself something to eat, which breaks my heart a little. i’m the kind of person who is always worried that people won’t have enough to eat.

my husband is also a chemical-phobe. which, is a good thing, i think. it facilitates many lovely trips to the sunday market, outings to natural food grocery stores, and all-in-all makes for delicious dinners at home. on another note, my husband loves pot pies, but refuses to eat prepared/frozen packaged ones. so my challenge lately has been to come up with a number of foods that my husband can warm up to eat while studying throughout the day. the fact that we’ve recently given up our microwave (to make room for an apple green kitchenaid stand mixer!) complicates matters a bit.

i have a bit of an obsession with small bake ware. i have a number of individually-sized casserole dishes which have been an absolute god-send. i’ve been preparing miniature meals of all sorts–mexican-inspired filled with turkey, black beans, corn and cheddar cheese. pasta bakes that are topped with fresh mozzarella. but i’ve been itching to use my new miniature pie dishes (also apple green!) that were a recent gift from my mother-in-law. so i went about planning chicken pot-pies.

i maybe should have done some internet research, but i couldn’t let go of the idea of topping the pies with puff pastry. so what i came up with is a super-easy and quick pot-pie method that anyone can pull off. if i can do it, you can too! it’s a good excuse, if you need one, to purchase these adorable pie dishes. this method will probably be forever known (in my home) as the bar-exam pot pie method.

bar exam chicken pot pies

2 chicken breasts-cubed

1/2 a large yellow onion-diced

salt, pepper, rosemary, thyme, celery seed

4 cloves of garlic-minced

2 medium yellow potatoes-cubed

1.5 cups of frozen peas and carrots

half a bottle of heavy cream

canola and olive oil

puff pastry

1. cube and boil potatoes until they are soft, but still keep a firm shape

2. heat up a large frying pan with oils. once the pan is hot, add onions and garlic, and potatoes. season with salt, and spices. then add chicken.

3. once the chicken is almost cooked through, add in the peas and carrots. let the mixture cook together for a little bit, then add the cream. let the cream warm up and bubble before removing the pan from heat.

4. measure puff pastry circles to match the top of your pie dishes.

5. ladle chicken filling into pie dishes. if you’re hungry now, pop one in the oven following the directions for baking your puff pastry. otherwise, let them cool, then wrap and move to fridge.

6. for eating later, bring the pies up to room temperature.  warm up pies at 300 degrees to allow the centers to warm, then up to 450 to bake the puff pastry.

the pies keep well–though the puff pastry puffs up less with each day they sit in the fridge. but they still taste delicious, and the puff pastry texture works with the pies regardless.

i asked my husband what he thought, and he requested another batch–so they must not be too bad! i cheat a bit–i purchased frozen puff pastry dough instead of making my own. next time i am thinking of making pie dough for the top. my mother has a wonderful recipe for quiche dough that is beautiful with savory quiche. it’s certainly not low calorie–but certainly is healthier than frozen pot pies, and fairly easy/quick to make. having only a single layer of dough helps with the caloric intake as well.

plus–they are just so fun! who doesn’t like individually sized food? it’s a bit of an obsession of mine, and i love cupcakes, miniature bundt cakes, and all those kinds of things. particularly since the tools and accouterments for making individually sized foods are so cute!

my husband says the pies are perfect for studying–that he pops one into the oven and it cooks while he studies. it’s ready for him just in time for a much needed break. they are small, but hearty–and fuel his walk to his class in the afternoon (about three miles and 40 mins). pot pies remind him of his childhood winters. they’re warm, and keep him warm in the warming–but still cool–air of late winter, while we all wait for spring to arrive.  and it’s cheesy–but he says the secret ingredient is love.

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