Chicken Pot Pie Bake

Chicken pot pie. I can’t think of many dishes more comfort foody than that. Tucking into a big ol’ bowl of the stuff on a cold day? Nothing better. This is a great way to serve it to a crowd, and you can whip up the majority of it in advance. You know I like anything I can prepare ahead of time and just pop in the oven! Give it a try before the weather heats up… If that EVER happens here in Indiana.

Ingredients: 

For the filling:

  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 large carrots, peeled and sliced 
  • 2 ribs celery, chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp tomato paste
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tbsp minced fresh parsley
  • 2 tsp minced fresh thyme
  • Squeeze of lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup frozen peas (I didn’t have any on hand, but I’d add them)

For the topping:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 6 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut int cubes
  • 1/2 cup Italian blend cheese
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp heavy cream

Directions:

I like to get my prep work done well ahead of time. Chop up your veggies…IMG_3238.JPG

And mince up your fresh herbs…

 And set them aside for later. In a large stockpot, boil the chicken in the chicken broth until cooked through. Remove cooked chicken to a bowl and shred into bite-sized pieces. Pour chicken broth into a liquid measuring cup and set aside. 

Next, make the biscuit topping. Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking sheet with parchment. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper; whisk to blend. Toss the butter cubes into the dry ingredients and work together using 2 forks until a coarse, crumbly mixture forms. Crumble the dough into small (maybe 1/2 inch) pieces on the baking sheet and bake about 12 minutes, until light golden. 

     

Heat the vegetable oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add your veggies and season generously with salt and pepper.  

 Reduce heat and cover, stirring occasionally. When veggies are just about tender, remove cover and add the soy sauce and tomato paste. Cook until veggies are tender and liquid has evaporated, then add to the bowl with the chicken. 

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Once completely melted, whisk in the flour until no lumps remain. Slowly whisk in the reserved broth and milk, then bring to a simmer. Cook until sauce thickens and sticks to your whisk.

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Remove from heat and add your fresh herbs and lemon juice. 

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Add to the bowl with your chicken and veggies (add the peas to the bowl at this point as well).

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Give it all a good mix and season with salt and pepper if needed. Pot filling into a 9×13 inch baking pan…

IMG_3261.JPGAnd scatter the topping over the filling.

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Bake for 13-15 minutes until bubbling and golden brown.

IMG_3264.JPGLet cool slightly before serving. Scoop into a big bowl and warm your soul! 

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Recipe slightly adapted from Annie’s Eats.

Vanilla Chai Cupcakes with Cinnamon Buttercream

When it comes to my prework caffination choices, I have 2 standbys: skinny caramel macchiato with soy milk, and chai tea lattes. So when I stumbled across this recipe on Pinterest, I knew I’d have to try my hand at it. It got buried in my cupcake board, but I recently rediscovered it and made them right away. Oh, am I glad to have made these! A light, spongy vanilla cake gets a kick from a lovely mix of chai spices and topped with a creamy cinnamon frosting. I was a little worried that a cinnamon buttercream would be too spicy and overwhelming, but it was just perfect. If you love a good chai, you’ll love these cupcakes!

Ingredients:

For the chai spice mix:

  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves 
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

For the cupcakes:

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp chai spice mix
  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar

For the frosting:

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups powdered sugar 
  • Remainder of chai spice mix 
  • 1 tbsp cold mix, if needed to thin frosting

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit and prepare a cupcake pan with liners, about 16 per batch. In a small bowl, combine the chai spice mix ingredients. Set aside.  

Next, beat together the butter and sugar in the bowl of your stand mixer on medium-high speed. Lower speed and add the vanilla. Beat in one egg at a time, then stir in the chai spice mix. Add the flour and buttermilk alternately and mix until combined. Finally, add the baking soda and vinegar until completely combined. 

 
Scoop batter into prepared pans, filling liners about 3/4 full. Bake 18-20 minutes, rotating pans halfway through baking. Remove to cooling rack to cool completely.
 

Mmmm, spicy goodness.

While your cupcakes are cooling, let’s whip up the frosting.  In a the bowl of your stand mixer, beat the butter until creamy. On low, mix in the vanilla extract and the rest of the chai spice mix. Slowly beat in the powdered sugar, and gradually increase speed. If the buttercream is too thick add 1-2 tbs of cold milk until the desired consistency is reached. Beat until light and fluffy. Pipe onto cooled cupcakes and garnish with a piece of cinnamon stick.   

 

Recipe adapted from The Culinary Enthusiast.

Chicken Tortilla Casserole Skillet

Remember that one time when I told you I love an easy, fast, flavorful dinner? Aka most recipes I’ve shared with you? 😜 This one is no exception. Minimal prep work, and about 30 minutes til you’ve got dinner on the table. For some reason we always forget about this skillet until I flip through my recipe book, and then go “MAN we should make this more often!” once we’ve eaten. Adjust the seasonings to make it as spicy or mild as you like and serve with a frosty margarita for a fun Mexican night at home!

 Ingredients: 

  • 1 boneless, skinless chicken breast, diced
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp cayenne powder
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth 
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can sweet corn
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 cups broken tortilla chips
  • 1/2 cup salsa 
  • 1/4 cup cheddar Jack cheese

Directions:

First, take your chips…

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And smash them to bits. Great exercise for getting rid of frustrations. 😉

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Next, season your chicken with salt and pepper. Heat a teaspoon of the oil in a medium, oven safe skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the chicken til golden brown, then remove from skillet and set aside.

Add the remaining 2 teaspoons of oil to the skillet. Toss in your garlic, cayenne, and salt, cooking until fragrant.  Add the broth and scrape up the browned bits, then bring to a simmer.

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Stir in about half the broken chips…

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And add the salsa, beans, corn, and cheese. 

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Nestle the chicken pieces back into the broth and cook over medium low heat until cooked through.

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Top with the remaining chips and sprinkle with some more cheese.

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Stick under your broiler for a couple of minutes until golden brown, bubbly, and awesome.

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Dig in! Splendid with a margarita on the rocks. 😄

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Recipe adapted from Branny Boils Over.

Restaurant Review: Bluebeard

One thing that definitely goes by the wayside when you become a parent? Dinners out at nice restaurants. Bluebeard has been on my short list of places to try for a loooong time now, and one chilly December evening we finally got the opportunity to go. Located in the Fletcher Place neighborhood just south of downtown, Bluebeard opened 3 years ago and Indy foodies have been raving ever since. Cuisine is described as modern American and many ingredients are locally sourced; the menu changes nightly to reflect the specials and seasonally inspired dishes. There was a brief scandal involving seating issues and accusations of corporate snobbery, but folks seem to have forgiven them. It certainly hasn’t hurt business! When we arrived, we were told there was about a 30 minute wait so we walked down to Chilly Waters for a quick beer. When we were called back, the hostess told us she’d actually waited a little longer to call us so we didn’t have to chug our drinks. How nice is that?  The restaurant looks pretty small from the outside, but off the main entrance/small seating area there is a larger back room.

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Let me just say, I LOVED the ambiance of this place. Dimly lit, but not so dark you needed your phone to see the menu… Wood accents everywhere… And of course, plenty of Vonnegut references amidst the books, vintage typewriters, and artwork. Mark fits right in here, dontcha think? 😍 The servers are a little hipster but extremely knowledgable in regards to their menu, and very friendly.

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Naturally we started with cocktails (Vonnegut-themed monikers abound here as well). I’d read about the Bee’s Knees in Indianapolis Monthly a while back and wasn’t disappointed- a smooth concoction of gin, lemon, sugar, and local honey. I could see Gatsby himself enjoying one of these on a warm West Egg evening. Mark had a Kilgore Trout, a sweet and spicy rum drink. 

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Along with drinks, we ordered up a cheese plate. Bluebeard offers constantly rotating cheese and charcuterie selections served with fresh dipping/spreading sauces and bread made at in-house bakery Amelia’s. Guys, I could write an article on the bread alone. Crispy crust, soft inner baguette…  I’m drooling at the memory. The cheese was equally delicious. We opted for trillium, a creamy-salty spread; black swamp, a mild Gouda; and pata de mulo, a hearty manchego. 

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I’d love to try a charcuterie board next time. Hell, I could probably just make a meal out of charcuterie and cheese and of course, the bread. Mmmm. 

But then, I’d miss out on the main courses. The entrees are divided up into small, medium, and large categories, with smalls meant to be more of a larger appetizer, medium a tradional entree size, and large is meant to be shared. With that in mind, we chose a small and a large, considered adding a medium, then opted to save room for dessert. Priorities. 😉 The small dish we ordered was the cassoulet featuring duck confit and Italian sausage.

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Puff pastry, rutabaga, roasted tomato and flageolet beans were the supporting players. Rich, a little spicy… A perfect little stew for a cold wonter’s night.  For the large dish, Mark surprised me by choosing a pasta option- a pappardelle with pork belly and mushroom ragout.

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Isn’t it beautiful?! And my hubby, Mr. “It’s a waste to order pasta in a restaurant”, declared this the most delicious thing he’s ever eaten. That’s saying something! Ginger, pickled carrots, and cilantro mingled with the ragout and tomato sauce just perfectly. 

And then, there was dessert. After much debate, we finally settled on the espresso gelato.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/6e6/67857438/files/2014/12/img_3354.jpg*Insert Homer Simpson drool sound here.* Chocolate and coffee flavors with fresh cream on top? Yes. A thousand times, yes. The cocoa nibs on top added a nice little bit of texture and kept it from just feeling like a fancy pudding cup. 😊 

Everything we tried was absolutely superb. Watching neighboring tables’ dishes come out and subsequent reactions, I don’t think anyone came away disappointed with their choices. Our only regret was not having room to try the scallops… Our neighbor’s order looked tantalizingly tasty. Everything, from drinks to dessert, strikes a perfect balance on your taste buds. I can’t recommend Bluebeard more highly! Perfect for date nights, small groups, and your favorite foodie friends. 

Bluebeard serves lunch Mon-Fri 11 am- 2 pm; dinner Mon-Sat 5 pm- 11 pm; and a limited dinner menu Sun 5 pm- 10 pm. Located at 653 Virginia Avenue, Indianapolis, IN 46203.