Chicken Pot Pie

I’m back on a food network kick and it seems everyone is making chicken pot pie these days.  This dish has never held much appeal for me but the more I watched Barefoot Contessa, The Pioneer Woman and Trisha Yearwood prepare it, the more I wanted to make it.  It just seems like a hug in a dish.  A highly-caloric hug.

I reviewed a couple of recipes and made up a hybrid of sorts.  I pulled out some chicken breasts from the freezer, an onion, the remaining celery from some lentils I had made early in the week, white wine, half and half, and some butter.  I needed only a couple of things from the store: fresh thyme, carrots, chicken bouillon cubes and refrigerated pie dough.  I didn’t make my own crust because I couldn’t stand to think about all of the shortening and butter atop this already cream-based dish and I didn’t feel like pulling out and cleaning my 49lb food processor.   If I don’t have to measure out the fat, it doesn’t exist as far as I’m concerned.

Now, as I was thinking about making this dish, I realized that I didn’t have any ramekins or personal-sized soufflé dishes.  I decided to swing by the home section at Marshalls to see if they had anything inexpensive.  All they had were miniature Le Crueset square baking dishes in red.  While they were reasonably priced, I have mustard-colored Le Crueset and my OCD self would not let me purchase a non-matching color.

I headed over to Big Lots.  On my way into the store, I caught a renegade shopping cart that started careening down the parking lot and towards an unassuming parked vehicle.  I stopped the cart about a foot shy of a big old dent in the side of this car.  As I neared the door to the store, a man waiting in a truck rolled down his window and yelled, “Nice save!”  For my good Samaritan efforts, I thought maybe the baking dish gods would reward me by having the right ramekins in this store.  Nope.  At least I worked off a few calories in the high-speed cart chase.

I recalled Kroger had a nice selection of well-priced baking pans and dishes so I ran in there quickly.  Sold out in the size I needed.  Of course!  I was about to bite the bullet and hit up William Sonoma when I remembered Pier 1.  They had just the thing at just the right price.  Success!

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I primarily used The Pioneer Woman’s recipe from her first cookbook, substituting half and half for heavy cream and fresh thyme for dried.  I also added in peas because they’re cute and tasty and a little cayenne pepper for a kick.  I was pleased with the result but I might consider adding a little bit of dry mustard next time or perhaps some curry powder.  I might also consider a smaller ramekin next time because I feel like I just ate a rock.  Back to Pier 1!

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I did use some smaller disposable pans so I could stick the rest of the recipe in the freezer. Aren’t they precious?

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Y’all eat up,

Sugarlump

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P.S. I sprinkled these dough scraps with cinnamon and sugar and put them in the oven to bake with my pot pie.  It was a sweet little snack!

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Hearty Turkey Chili

I love a hearty chili in the winter.  I do not, however, enjoy the taste/aroma of cumin, which is an ingredient found in most chili so I have come up with my own recipe.  I also tried to make it a little bit healthier than the standard chili by using ground turkey and chicken sausage.

Here’s what you’ll need.  Just about everything.

1 tablespoon olive oil

1lb ground turkey

2 links hot chicken sausage, casings removed

2 cans cannellini beans

1 can diced tomatoes with juice

½ can tomato paste

1 yellow onion, chopped

2 teaspoons garlic, minced

2 stalks celery, chopped

1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped

1 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped

2 cubes/packets beef bouillon

1 cup beer

1 ½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 ½ teaspoons dried oregano

½ teaspoon dried basil

½ teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon ground black pepper

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

½ teaspoon paprika

½ teaspoon white sugar

2 cups chicken broth diluted with 2 cups water

½ cup sour cream

½ cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

This recipe is especially healthy because you also get a workout chopping vegetables.

Chop the celery and put it in a bowl large enough for all of the chopped vegetables.

Then chop the bell pepper.

And then chop the onion.

Fight back the tears.

And then chop the jalapeno, seeds, ribs and all.  This chili is not for sissies.

This photo is slightly blurry because I was still crying from chopping the onion.

Like I said, this chili is not for sissies.

Finally, chop the garlic.

Behold that bowl of healthiness.

Then prepare your ingredients for battle.

I recommend pre-measuring all of your herbs and spices to make the dumping into the pot process go a little smoother.  I would also go ahead and open all of your canned goods and beer.

Speaking of beer…

I don’t drink beer so I made a special trip to Whole Foods nearby where they sell beer by the bottle instead of by the 6-24 pack.  I went and picked out Sam Adams’ Octoberfest and headed to the register.  The young guy at the register asked me if that was all.  I said yes.  He then kind of smirked at me and asked if I wanted him to open my beer for me.  I said no.  He didn’t know what to make of me.   I don’t either.

As it was time for me to prepare the beer to be poured into the pot, I realized that I don’t own a bottle opener.  I have an electric wine opener, but nothing to open this pesky bottle of beer.  I looked to see if my can opener had the grooves in it like some of them do to open a bottle.  Nope.  I searched all around my utensil drawer for something that might work.  Nothing.  I dug around in my tool box and tried using a screwdriver.  Not happening.  I was about to give up hope when I remembered I had a paint can opener from the last time I bought paint at Home Depot.  Wouldn’t you know that the other end of the paint can opener is a bottle opener?  I’m a little late to the party on this realization, but at least I was able to open that darn bottle of beer.

Ok, back to business.  Unpack the meat.  This means you must remove the raw chicken sausage from the casing.  I promise, it will be worth it in the end.

Heat up the olive oil and then throw the ground turkey and the chicken sausage into a large stock pot to brown it up real good.

Here’s what it will look like.  Yum!

Not.

I promise it gets better from here.

Throw in the beans…

The diced tomatoes…

The tomato paste…

All of those glorious vegetables that you chopped for hours…

The seasonings…

The tabasco sauce…

The Worcestershire sauce…

The be-ah….

Some of the chicken broth and water…

And by now your pot should be very full.

Put the lid on and let her go for 2-3 hours on medium-low heat, stirring occasionally and adding chicken broth and or water.

When it’s done, it should look like this.

Yum!

Serve it up with a nice, healthy dollop of sour cream and a sprinkling of cheese.

Y’all eat up,

Sugarlump

Here’s a more compact version without all of my helpful commentary:

Hearty Turkey Chili

Serves 6

1 tablespoon olive oil

1lb ground turkey

2 links hot chicken sausage, casings removed

2 cans cannellini beans

1 can diced tomatoes with juice

½ can tomato paste

1 yellow onion, chopped

2 teaspoons garlic, minced

2 stalks celery, chopped

1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped

1 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped

2 cubes/packets beef bouillon

1 cup beer

1 ½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 ½ teaspoons dried oregano

½ teaspoon dried basil

½ teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon ground black pepper

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

½ teaspoon paprika

½ teaspoon white sugar

2 cups chicken broth diluted with 2 cups water

½ cup sour cream

½ cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Chop and pre-measure all ingredients.

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.  Once oil is hot, break up ground turkey and chicken sausage in pot and cook until browned.

Add rest of ingredients to pot and stir.  Cover and simmer over medium-low heat for 2-3 hours, adding 1 cup of chicken broth mixture and stirring every 20-30 minutes.

Remove from heat and serve with a dollop of sour cream and shredded sharp cheddar cheese.

The Garden: Progress Report #7

My first year gardening with Papa has been a bittersweet one.  I began the season excited about finding the Partridge head beans in the deep freeze and eager to learn from Papa.  While I have learned a lot from Papa, … Continue reading

Search Terms

WordPress has some pretty spiffy features that allow you to track and analyze your wordpress.com site.   You can see how many page views you’ve had that day and the past few weeks in bar chart format.  You can see where your page has been viewed from across the globe.  You can see which of your posts were viewed and how many times, which links people clicked on from your site and how people arrived at your site.  You can see what you had for breakfast everyday for the past month, where all of your high school friends live and how many pairs of shoes you’ve owned over the course of your life.

Just kidding on that last bit.

I think.

There is really an incredible amount of data that could probably be analyzed to develop a complex strategy for getting more page views, but I just like to look at it and take it all in.  After that, I don’t do a whole lot with it.

While I always check my page views when I sign in, I think my favorite feature to check out is the box of search engine terms.

Now, many of these make sense such as “old cookbooks” or “sister birthday” because I have dedicated entire posts to these topics.  Others, not so much.

Here is a good sampling of search terms that have led people to the Sugarlump:

  • Birdhouse in tree
  • Cat shoes
  • Fried chicken using Crisco all vegetable shortening
  • Sweet potato experiment
  • Scarlett’s birthday
  • Planting pot with dirt
  • My cat Gus
  • Men who love flower gardens
  • Love old cookbooks
  • Sugar sayings
  • Taller sister
  • Dirt rocks
  • Sugar and scared child
  • Growing roman beans
  • Drought sugar 2012
  • Annie Ruby’s café tomato
  • Strawberry one pot biscuit
  • Infant possum
  • My cheetah print chair
  • Dramatic clouds
  • Forced to wear aprons
  • Two people tap dancing
  • Qtip addiction
  • Minnie mouse canopy bed
  • Is Eugene a southern name

Although WordPress doesn’t calculate this statistic for me, I have taken it upon myself to do some extensive trigonometry and differential calculus to determine that in 35.87242% of these searches, the Sugarlump was a relevant result.

Obviously, the result was intriguing enough for 64.1276% to click on the Sugarlump even though I haven’t had anything to share about infant possums or Minnie mouse canopy beds.

Yet.

I would like to thank all of the search algorithms out there for providing me a good laugh on a regular basis and for sending some completely unprepared, soon-to-be baffled souls to the Sugarlump.

Y’all come back,

Sugarlump

P.S.  Various versions of “eugene sugarlump” and “sugarlump eugene” are by far the most popular search terms.  I don’t know what to make of this just yet.  I’ll let you know after I do some more long division.

The Garden: Progress Report #4

This past weekend, I went back to Kentucky to see my extended family.  And, of course, I had to check on the garden to see how it was coming along. It’s not drastically different from the last report.  The garden … Continue reading

The Garden: Progress Report #3

I visited the garden at the end of last week to check on its progress.  I had shown up to my grandparents’ house in a cotton summer dress so I changed into a white Hanes t-shirt, athletic shorts and my Crocs to go around to the garden.  This was Papa’s response to my outfit:

“That’s a mighty casual outfit to garden in.”

I didn’t really know what to make of this comment considering I viewed gardening as a very casual event and thus thought I had dressed appropriately.

After many hours of reflection, I believe Papa thought perhaps that I should be wearing full pants and boots to minimize bug-bites and such.

That’s all I can come up with.  I really don’t think Papa thought I should be wearing anything formal for gardening.

ANYWAY…

Things are moving along nicely and looking a little less patchy than they did on my last visit.

The romaine lettuce had taken a turn for the worse.  Some animal had nearly demolished it.

The beets are huge! Or at least much larger than last time.

Papa has caged his tomatoes as the plants started to shoot up.

A few of the plants even have baby tomatoes!

I don’t know why I’m so excited about this.  I don’t even like tomatoes.  But I guess it shows that the garden is growing so I do like that.

The onions haven’t changed much.

The cabbage looks beautiful.  Too bad I don’t like cabbage.  Why can’t the animals eat this instead of the good stuff??

My brussel sprout plants are looking big and leafy!  I think we’re supposed to cut these leaves off once the plants start to sprout…the sprouts.   I’d better figure that out soon.

Here are all of the beans that Papa planted.  In the middle and right rows are the pole beans:  speckled limas, half-runners, and partridge heads(!). On the left we have poor house beans, which are heirlooms and have been in the family for generations.  They are bush beans.

I got word from Papa a few days ago that the poor house beans were devoured by some groundhogs.  Poor, poor house beans.

This is a photo I took pre-massacre.

Papa had found some patridge head seed in the deep freeze from 1997 (literally) and he wasn’t sure that they would come up so he planted as many as 8 in a hill (he normally does 3).

Oh boy did they come up!  So much so, in fact, that I had to thin them so the plants produce well.  This broke my heart to pull up perfectly good bean plants, but I guess if it means more actual beans, it’s worth it.  It still made me sad.

Here are the roma beans.  They have filled out considerably.  They were looking a little patchy last time.

Even though the bean plants look small, it was time to stick ‘em!

So Papa brought some bamboo sticks down from the barn.

And we worked down the rows making little teepees for the beans.  I think it looks real purty.

I stepped back to admire our handywork and then I heard a “hhhmppppflllll.”

Oh hello there.  Our supervisor was pleased with our work as well.

After the sticks were in place, Papa gave me the job of thinning the beans (if there were more than 3 plants around each stick) and then mounding up the dirt at the base of the sticks to tuck in the beans.

This was the first time I had used a hoe. Pretty handy tool if you ask me.

Above are some of the partridge head casualties of the thinning.  Sad.

Here is the finished product.  Not too shabby.

Now let’s get some beans growing!

Y’all come back!

Sugarlump