Overcoming Pie Crust

Chicken Pot Pie Success!

I have always been terrible at making pie crusts. I usually end up with a very ugly, dry, but holding the contents of my pie together. This past Thanksgiving I even bought pie crust and ended up with a mess.

My grandma loves chicken pot pies so I set out on a mission this week to conquer my nemesis. I’ll admit, I didn’t have great expectations.

The dreaded pie crust… I don’t know if it was my newfound recipe or God feeling bad for me, but here are my tips.

  1. Start your day by making the pie crusts. Then move onto the pot pie filling
  2. Don’t skip the shortening.
  3. Make one of your pie crust rounds slightly larger and use this as the bottom crust.
  4. Freeze your wrapped pie crust rounds if you only have 30 minutes, otherwise refrigerate for 2 hours.
  5. As you are placing your bottom crust into your pie plate, push the dough gently down towards the bottom. This will help keep your crust from shrinking.
  6. When you are sealing your top and bottom crusts, instead of trimming off all the excess, fold it under to make an extra thick edge. This will help the fluting hold its shape and minimize shrinking/filling spillage.
INGREDIENTS
  • 2  1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening or lard
  • 1/2 cup cold butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup ice water
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  1. Whisk together the flour, salt and sugar in a medium bowl. With a pastry cutter, cut the shortening and butter into the flour mixture until the mixture resembles coarse meal, with pea sized pieces of butter.
  2. Lightly beat the egg, then add it to the water and vinegar. Add the water to the dry ingredients and mix just until the dough comes together. If too sticky, add flour by the Tablespoon. Divide in half, then form into 2 discs. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate or freeze until cold.

Chicken Pot Pie Recipe

I decided to go with pre-cooked rotisserie chicken for my filling to make life a bit simpler.

Ingredients
  • 2 cups cooked, chunked chicken
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup celery, diced
  • 1/3 cup onion, diced
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 3/4 cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup milk
  • 12 ounces frozen peas and carrots 
  • 2 9 inch unbaked pie crusts
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

  2.  Add onions, celery and butter to the saucepan and cook for a few minutes, until soft and translucent. Stir in the flour, salt, pepper and garlic powder.

  3. Slowly stir in the chicken stock and milk. Simmer over medium-low heat until thick.

  4. Add the chicken to the pot along with the frozen vegetables. Taste and season with more salt, pepper, or garlic powder if needed. **Note, your roux or cream sauce will be quite salty on its own. Once you add the veggies and chicken, this will mellow out the salt.

  5. Roll out bottom (larger) pie crust round to a least 12″ for a 9″ pie plate. Fold in half, then in half again and transfer to pie plate. Unfold to cover plate and gently press the pie crust dough toward the bottom of the plate. Pour mixture into bottom pie crust. Cover with top crust, seal edges, and cut away excess dough. Make a few small slits in the top crust to allow steam to escape.

  6. Bake for 30- 35 minutes, or until pastry is golden brown and filling is bubbly. Cover the edges of the pie crust with tin foil too prevent over browning.

  7. Cool for at least 15-20 minutes before serving to allow your filling to set up.

If you are still reading – IT WORKED! I made pie crust and a delicious pot pie. I am so proud and everyone loved it. I will definitely make this again, but we will see if I am brave enough to tackle my pie love – French Silk Pie.

Soy Sauce Anyone?

When Takeout Isn’t an Option

I love Chinese takeout, but there isn’t a great option near me. So, I make my own! Or as best as this American with a Scandinavian heritage can muster. I prefer Jasmine rice for the base of my dishes and here is a secret – add extra water. To achiever fluffier rice I add around 1/2 cup extra water or 1 part rice to 2 parts water. The next key is that when the rice is still wet, but just starts to stick to the bottom of the pan TURN OFF THE HEAT and put on the lid. This allows the rice to absorb the extra water without half of your rice sticking to the bottom of the pan. Give it a fluff after 5-10 minutes and you will have achieved fluffy rice.

Mongolian beef is one of my favorite dishes, but making it at home takes some time. Last night I opted for Korean Beef that utilized ground beef vs steak slices. It was easy, fast and delicious.

Korean Beef Recipe

Ingredients
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • ⅓ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp. sesame oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 bunch green onions, thinly sliced
  1. Whisk together brown sugar, soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, and ground ginger in a small bowl. Set aside.
  2.  In a large skillet over medium-high heat, brown and crumble the lean ground beef until no longer pink. Drain if necessary. Add diced bell pepper and saute for 2-3 minutes. Stir in soy sauce mixture, allowing to simmer until most of the liquid has reduced, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes.
  3. Serve immediately over steamed rice. Top with thinly sliced green onions.

Honey Garlic Chicken With Broccoli

Tonight I still had Asian cuisine on the brain so we went for a honey garlic chicken with roasted broccoli over rice. I prefer roasted vegetables, so I start by chopping my head of broccoli into bite size pieces and toss them in olive oil, salt and pepper. I place the broccoli on a rimmed baking sheet and set it aside while I work on my chicken. Before we dive in on the steps, here is what you need.

  • 1-2 tablespoons oil
  • 2 cups broccoli florets (or 1 head)
  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth or water
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 egg, stirred
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Prep your sauce by mixing the soy sauce, broth, honey and garlic. Microwave for 30 seconds, then stir. Set aside.
  2. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Next heat 1-2 Tablespoons of oil in your pan, enough to coat the bottom, medium heat should be plenty to warm things up. I like to use sunflower oil as it is good for high heat.
  4. Once my chicken is cut into bite size pieces, I toss it in the cornstarch. Then I add my egg and make sure all the pieces are coated. With the oil hot, place the chicken pieces in the pan. I usually do this in two rounds so as not to overcrowd the pan. You want the pieces to be lightly brown on each side, then transfer them to an oven safe baking dish. It’s ok if they are not cooked through.
  5. When all of your chicken has been sauted, pour the sauce over your chicken. Give it a good stir, then put your chicken and pan of broccoli in the oven for 30 minutes.
  6. While your oven is going, make the rice.
  7. After 30 minutes, mix your chicken and broccoli. Serve over rice.