Overly Domesticated

Ok, I almost hate to admit it, but yes, I just made a chicken pot pie from scratch (and yes, I can hear the derogatory 1950's "how to be a good housewife" quotes streaming through my head now), but I'm really proud of this one, and wanted to share. My hubby loves chicken pot pies, so to be nice, one day I just threw together what I thought would be in one, and I just went for it. It turned out pretty well, so I have made them a couple times since. Now the reason for this post is that I found myself without a key ingredient, and so I had to improvise. It might be jumping the gun a bit to brag about this solution already, since the pie has yet to be consumed, but I'm confident it will turn out great!

So I was missing a pie crust- an obvious essential of chicken pot PIE; and rather than being SEVERELY overly domesticated and making a pie crust from scratch, I scrapped the bottom layer crust (don't need the extra carbs anyway) and replaced the top crust with croutons! They're garlic cheddar flavor too, so I'm thinking they'll add a little pizazz to the dish.

So here's what you'll need to make the whole thing, start to finish:

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, diced
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 4 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • 2 tbs flour
  • 2 tbs fresh chopped rosemary and thyme
  • 1 cup frozen mixed veggies (carrots, green beans, corn- all come in the bag together)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 bag croutons
Heat a medium skillet over medium heat, add chicken, onion and garlic with about 1/4 cup of the chicken broth; saute until the chicken is cooked through; whisk in the flour to form a paste, then add the rest of the chicken broth, the herbs, the veggies, and then salt. Simmer for about 10 minutes until the mixture has thickened up (add a bit more broth if it gets too thick- it should be about the consistency of your favorite hearty chili).

Pour the mix into a pie dish, then sprinkle the croutons on top to form a crust. Cover and let sit for at least 2 hours- this will give the croutons a chance to soak up the moisture from the mix. Then bake, covered, at 375 for about 25 minutes- take off the foil for the last 5 minutes to give the croutons a chance to get crusty again. You can make this ahead and refrigerate after putting the croutons on- this will add to your cook time though, as the dish will be colder to begin with. Bottom line, just keep an eye on it- it should bubble up through the croutons a bit, letting you know it's nice and hot!


Parchment Meals

Ok, this is a trick I learned eating out at restaurants and reading cookbooks. Parchment paper meals are super easy and delish, and make for next-to-nothing clean up. You can cook pretty much anything this way, and the pouch you make out of the parchment paper allows the food inside to steam up very nicely- with all ingredients blending as they cook.

One idea is a type of Greek meal (seen above from Everyday Food Magazine)- lay out a large piece of parchment paper on the counter, and toss on a chicken breast, some artichoke hearts (chopped), some red onion, kalamata olives, and tomatoes- top it off with a drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper and feta cheese, fold up the sides, and crimp them together so the pouch remains closed. Set the pouch in a baking dish with sides (so that if any of the juices run out, they'll be caught and not dirty up the oven), place in the oven- preheated to about 375, and let cook for about 25 minutes. Depending on your oven, it may take longer, but feel free to check it after about 20 minutes to see how the chicken is doing- you be the judge on time. Once the chicken is finished, just empty the pouch onto your plate and eat up!

Seriously, you can cook any meal you dream up this way; some other ideas are:
  • Tuna steak with chopped jalapeno, soy sauce, chopped fresh ginger, garlic and snow peas;

  • Any kind of white fish with julienne veggies (onions, carrots, celery)- maybe some rosemary and thyme sprinkled on top

  • Mexican flare- chicken breast with sliced bell peppers and onions, chopped jalapeno, and sprinkle generously with garlic salt, chili powder, and cumin powder- top off with cilantro and sour cream when it's finished