Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Pot Pies & Pasties VS. Popcorn & Pretzels and Other Thanksgiving To Do's

Well, November is coming to a close.  Thanksgiving is upon us and NaNoWriMo is almost behind us. It has been a pretty wild month for me!  That being said, I did not get to do the casserole and snack post that I was thinking of doing for the NaNo-ers, but I will save that post for another time.  I wish all participants a triumphant success!

Now with Thanksgiving, most of us have many leftovers and just reheating them (as is) gets really boring really fast, so we have to get creative with them or risk letting them go to waste.  Well, here are a couple of recipes that may serve that purpose for you.  I have given you the any-time-of-year version of the recipes, but added instructions on substituting the chicken for turkey (where applicable).  I am also including some non-meat recipe ideas, because there are other things besides turkey left on the table after Thanksgiving dinner is eaten.

If you would like some really great looking recipe ideas for some vegetarian dishes to serve on Thanksgiving, I highly recommend checking out this series at Martha Stewart's site.  These dishes look delicious!

Ok, let's start with the pot pie, since I just made it for the first time this weekend and I'm really excited about it!  Now, there is nothing fancy about this pot pie, it is just a classic comfort food to warm your body and soul during this cold weather season.  Enjoy!

Chicken (or Turkey) Pot Pie

2-3 boneless skinless chicken breasts (or about a pound of leftover turkey)
1 sm bag of frozen mixed vegetables (I used a carrot, corn, green bean, pea mix, but feel free to use whatever your favorite veggie mix is)
1 rib of celery (chopped)
5 1/2 Tbls. of butter
1/2 c of white onion (chopped)
1/3 c flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. celery salt
1/4 tsp. ground pepper
1 3/4 c chicken broth
2/3 c of milk
1 box of refrigerated pie crust (or feel free to make your own, as long as it is enough to make 2 crusts)

Ok, the first thing you gotta do is preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  In a medium saucepan, combine the chicken, veggies, and celery, then put in just enough water to cover the ingredients.  ***If you are using leftover turkey instead of chicken, then leave it out, just cook the veggies until tender*** Bring to a boil and let it boil for about 15-20 minutes.  Remove from heat, drain off the water, and place the chicken/veggie mixture into a bowl and set to the side.

In the same pan on the same burner, turn the heat to medium and put in the butter.  After the butter is melted, toss in the onions and cook those until they are soft.  OMG that smells so good!  Ok, so after the onions are done, stir in the flour, salt, celery salt, and pepper.  Now, keep stirring (this is important or you will get lumps) and SLOWLY add in the broth and milk.  Stir it until it starts to thicken, then turn the heat to low and let it simmer for a couple of minutes until it is the desired consistency, then turn off the burner.

Alright, at this point, you have a choice to make: you can either make one 9" pie or you can use a couple of aluminum loaf pans and have 2 personal pot pies.  I personally like the personal pie thing, because I don't like the idea of "slicing" a piece out of a whole pie and risk all the good stuff falling/oozing out on its way to my plate.  Plus, there is something about a small little pocket of warm goodness that is all your own that adds to the "comfort" part of comfort food.  But that is just my opinion.

If you chose to do a whole pie, that's great.  You can either by the roll out pie crust and put it in a pie pan, or an even easier route to go would be to got the 2-pack frozen pie shells and let them thaw.  Pull them apart, use one for the bottom part of the pie, fill it with chicken mixture first, then pour the onion gravy mixture on top, then pull the other crust out of the pan it came in, and lay it over the filling and seal.  Slit holes in the top, place on a baking sheet, and bake for 35 minutes.  Let it cool for 10-15 minutes, then enjoy.

If you chose the bread loafs, it is pretty much the same.  Unroll the 2 refrigerated pie crusts.  Cut one of the round crusts in half and use a rolling pin to widen the narrowest part of each half, this is so the crust fits pretty nicely in the rectangular bread loaf pans.  Get your loaf pans and place one of the halves in the bottom of each pan, stretching and shaping the dough to line the bottom and sides of the pan up to the lip.  Put half of the chicken/vegging mixture into each loaf pan, then half of the onion gravy over each pie.  Roll out the other pie crust and cut in in half.  Lay each half over each of the pies and pinch the crust all around the edges until sealed. Take a steak knife and make a slit in about six or seven places scattered evenly over the pie crust top.  Place the two loaves onto a baking sheet (in case of over spill) and bake for 35-40 minutes or until the crust is nicely browned.  When it is finished, pull them out (leaving them on the cooking tray) and let them set up for about 10 minutes.  It took another ten minutes after I cracked the crust for them to cool down enough for me to be able to eat them, so be careful - they are piping hot!

Whether you start eating it from one side or you start in the middle, it is so good!  And don't forget, this is a fantastic way to get rid of those turkey leftovers this Thanksgiving!  Just substitute the chicken for turkey and you got yourself a turkey pot pie.

Not sure what to do with the rest of the leftovers?  I like mixing them all together over a toasted piece of bread, like a super duper open-faced turkey I suppose.  Or just slap the leftovers between the top and bottom parts of the brown and serve rolls that everyone was too full to eat, that's good too.  Well, another thing you can do is make a sandwich/pie.  Now stick with me here.  It's like a sandwich, but it is in a to-go pastry pocket.  Or as the British call them - pasties.  Recipes for pasties vary depending on the filling used, but all in all, a pasty was originally created with whatever food was available and stuffed into a pastry.  So, why not leftovers?  This one is great for vegetarians and omnivores alike.  Yes, it's much like a pot pie - only you can hold it in your hand, and you can also freeze these then reheat them in the oven or microwave.  Awesome!

Thanksgiving Pasty

Pie crust
Flour for dusting/rolling out dough
Leftovers: (turkey, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce, green bean casserole, etc.)
1 egg (beaten)
Shredded Monterey Jack cheese (optional)

First off, preheat the oven to 375 degrees, and roll out the pie dough onto a lightly floured surface.  Using a bowl or any other round template that is about 5-6 inches in diameter, cut out as many circles as you can (about 3 maybe 4).  Set the disks to the side, gather up the left over dough and repeat the process until you cannot make any more.   Put some parchment paper onto a baking sheet and go get whatever leftovers that you want to use out of the fridge.

Now you have some decisions to make.  Pick out the ingredients you want and pack about 1/4 cup's worth onto one side of each pastry disk.  Be careful not to use too much because you don't want to overfill the pastry.  Brush on a little water around the edge of the pastry disk so that it will seal better (don't over moisten) then fold the dough over the filling to make half a circle.  Pinch the edges together to seal it.  Feel free to roll up the edges together old school traditional style.  Make the edges fancy if you like.  Check out some of these examples on Google Images of different pasty styles.

Cornish Pasty pic from Wikipedia
Put the pasties onto the baking sheet then pierce the top of each one a couple of times with a fork to help it vent so that the pie does not explode.  Brush the tops with the egg wash and bake for about 25 minutes or until golden.  Pull them out and let stand for about 5 minutes or so. You can also warm up the leftover gravy or pull out some chilled cranberry sauce to serve on the side for dipping if you want to.

This recipe is full of freedom, so use your creativity to come up with interesting combinations, let the kids go wild and enjoy yourselves.

Need more ideas for what to do with you Thanksgiving leftovers?  There are fantastic ideas all over the net. Like pastas, salads, sandwiches, breads, waffles, hash, enchiladas, and a plethora of soups, amongst many other tasty combinations.  So go look some of them up then get creative with what you find.

I have yet to make up a recipe using leftover cranberries.  Mostly because I just haven't gotten a chance to fiddle around with the ingredient, but I would love to try some stuff out this holiday season. In the mean time, I wanted to share with you a recipe submitted to Country Living by Cheryl Slocum called Cranberry Turnovers.  Holy schmoli ravioli these look amazing!  I plan on trying this recipe out the morning after Thanksgiving, or sometime that weekend because they look too good not to try!

Photo by Kana Okada
So whether you are doing a traditional Thanksgiving Day meal, or an alternative one, remember, if the dogs eat the turkey, the stuffing falls on the floor, or all the rolls get burned and you think your meal is ruined - you can still have a great holiday by having a good old fashioned Snoopy popcorn Thanksgiving with sides of jelly beans, toast, and pretzel stix.

Thank you for joining me here.  I have much to be thankful for.  I wish you and yours a very happy Thanksgiving Day.  Be safe and stay warm!

1 comment:

  1. I like the idea of those pasties. I usually make turkey tetrazzini with leftovers, if we have any. I think Brad's gonna cook a turkey just for us so we can have leftovers. And don't forget to save the bones and carcass to make your own turkey stock!! Its super easy and so delicious!