Monthly Archives: February 2013

Tarteletter med Kylling, Svampe og Asparges (Patty Shells with Chicken, Mushrooms and Asparagus)

It was Tapas Night again this week, and I made Tarteletter med Kylling og Svampe og Asparagus.     OK, so it’s Patty Shells with Chicken,  Mushroom and Asparagus filling, if you insist on a translation.   And according to this website Danes are known to consume 40 million tartaletter (patty shells)  a year.    And I can believe it.   There are also over 100 different filling recipes as well.   I just use one basic recipe, and I will vary it from time to time, but it’s pretty basic.

Personally I love this, and probably could eat it a couple, three, five times a week.  But Mom only made it once in a while and it was a special occasion kind of dish.

The original recipe calls for white asparagus, but my mom made it with mushrooms, so that’s the way I do it as well.  However, she also added Asparagus from time to time as well.   So, it’s up to you.  Gee you could also go wild and add both to it, trust me it tastes wonderful.   And I know this, cause I just did it.

And I use a couple of shortcuts as well.  You can do it this way as well, or make your own sauce.

Basic Recipe.

Puff Pastry Sheets  (I’m using the frozen stuff for this recipe)
Asparagus (optional)

Too basic?   I know, but since I already know how to make it, I don’t need more than that.  But if you like, I’ll share the step by step.

To start with, cook your chicken breasts til they are tender.  Believe it or not a good hour in the pot with some carrots, onions, or leeks and celery to flavour the stock, and just let them simmer.   When the chicken is tender, take them out and chop them up.   Then strain the stock, and reserve a couple of cups for the sauce and freeze the rest, you just got a good base for home made soup.  (nothing like a multi purpose dish).    You can also use a whole chicken, cooked and cut up for this, or even a rotisserie chicken.   I’ve done it all the ways.

For the sauce, you could use canned Mushroom Soup for this (and yes, I’ve used Canned Mushroom soup for this many times, just don’t dilute it,  or just make your own soup.  Or you can do the following.   I believe in options, lots of options.

1 cup chicken broth
1 cup half and half
8 oz sauteed mushrooms, chopped or sliced, you choose
1/4 cup finely chopped onion, sauteed
1 garlic clove, minced, sauteed
1 tablespoon each, butter and olive oil
1/4 cup cornstarch mixed with 1/4 cup chicken broth or be really decadent and
mix 1/4 cup flour or cornstarch with 2 tablespoons butter and stir that in.
2 cups cooked, diced chicken

Saute the sliced mushrooms and onions til they are just cooked through and the onion is softened in a tablespoon of butter and a tablespoon of olive oil.     Add the garlic and saute an additional minute or so, set aside.   I don’t let any of them get brown, you just want them cooked through.

Heat broth and half and half to just under boiling, then add the thickening agent, either the cornstarch and broth or the roux, and stir it in.   Let it come to a low simmer, and let it cook for a couple of minutes to get the raw taste out, then add the mushrooms and onion, continue to let it simmer for a few more minutes.

Then you add the chicken, mushrooms and let it heat up.   At the end add a can of asparagus, and just let it heat through a little.   The asparagus breaks up very easily, so you don’t want to stir it in.

Now for the fun part, the tarts.   I outsmarted myself this time.   I thought, ooh, I can make teeny little bites using the pastry and baking them in my mini tart pans.  Well, let me just show you what happened.

Before baking…

After baking.   Kinda hard to fill those up.   (although I did cut them in half later on, and use the top and bottom to put filling in, hey, life hands you lemons, make lemonade or in this case, tart shells).

So then I went a more labor intensive route.   But the end result, well worth it.

Using a pretty shaped round cookie cutter, I cut out two rounds for each tart.

Then I cut out the center of the second round, and placed it on top of the first round.

You have to kind of noodge the rounds together.  Oh you do need to brush the bottom round with a lightly beaten egg, it helps it to stick together.   I did take out the center cut, and baked them separately.

As you can see, these worked.   I even took more out of the center with a sharp paring knife, cutting very carefully around and prying out that center bit.   Made more room for the filling.   Very important that, the ratio of filling to tart.

These had the chicken, mushroom and asparagus mixture (and the picture is fuzzy, bad picture taking night I guess)

These were the vegetarian ones.   I did the whole kit and caboodle on these.   Made some veggie stock from scratch, simmered a mixture of vegetable stock and cream together and then thickened them with a roux, and added the mushrooms and asparagus.

And just to let you know, you can buy the Puff Pastry tart shells already made, just bake them off in a hot oven, 400 degrees, for about 18 minutes or until browned, pull out the little cap, and then place them back in the oven for a few minutes to finish cooking.   While they are baking, heat up a can or two of Cream of Mushroom soup, add a cup or two of cooked chopped chicken, and some sauteed mushrooms or even a can or two of mushrooms.  Heat together and spoon into the baked pastry shells.    Now, how easy is that?  hmmm, and to think I played in the kitchen with the tart shells, and chicken mixture for over an hour, sigh.  But it was good and worth it.

There were a few leftovers, but I’m enjoying them for lunch this week.   Like I said before, I could eat this two, three, five times a week.

Really Easy Chicken Pot Pie

Guess what we had for dinner last night?  Yup, Chicken Pot Pie.   I bet you guessed from the title of this post, didn’t ya?
And of course I did it the easy way, used all kinds of shortcuts.   Well, except for poaching the chicken, but I needed to make some for the freezer anyway.  So I threw a few chicken breasts into the pot, added celery, carrots, onion, black pepper and other seasonings and let them simmer til done.

Awhile back I watched an episode of Paula Dean.  This particular day she had a guest on who apparently makes pies, savoury, sweet, he makes pies, lots and lots of pies, every single day.  Pies are his thing.   What am I leading up to?  He made a chicken pot pie from scratch, roasting the chicken, roasting the vegetables, and putting it all together in such a way that made my mouth water.   And for some reason I keep thinking about Chicken Pot Pie.

But let’s face it, most of us just don’t have either the time or the inclination to do it all that way.   In fact, if you’re like me, a lot of the time, you just want to get dinner on the table, cause you’re hungry and it’s getting late and…
So here’s my Chicken Pot Pie, the really easy way.
 And you can have this in the oven in minutes, and relax while it bakes.   Gives you time to have a nice glass of wine, a nap, bath or just chill out in the back yard while the squirrels yell at you.

Oh wait, that’s my life.

Easy Chicken Pot Pie.  
For this recipe you need a few things, all easy, I promise you.
2 cups, cooked, cut up chicken
1 can Progresso Chicken Pot Pie soup, undiluted
1 can mixed vegetables, drained
1  8 oz can mushrooms
8 oz mushrooms, sautéed
3/4 cup chicken broth mixed with a 2 tablespoons Cornstarch
1 package chicken gravy mix, prepared with ¾ cup water.
1 package prepared pie crust, Pillsbury or your favorite brand.
1 deep dish pie pan
Place one of the prepared pie crusts in a pie plate, set aside.

I actually made this one from scratch cause I only had one piece of prepared pie crust in the freezer.

Mix the chicken, soup, vegetables, mushrooms and chicken broth together. I usually cook it for a few minutes and set aside, let cool or not.

Pour into pie plate on top of the pie crust. Take the other pie crust and place on top, crimping the edges together. Cut a hole in the middle of the pie to vent the steam or make a pretty pattern cutting through the pie crust in a couple of places. Place in a preheated 325 deg. Oven and bake for 50 minutes or until crust has browned and the filling is bubbling.  This makes lots of filling,  you will have enough for the pie and some left over.   And if you’re like my DH, he loves to ladle some more filling in on top of his slice of pie.  Just saying….

*** Or if you’re really in a hurry, fake the pie. Take your pie crusts, roll them out, place on a baking sheet.  Both sheets.
Cut it with a pizza cutter in fourths, then bake it. Both the ‘top’ and the ‘bottom’, in other words, both sheets. While they are  baking, which will take about ten minutes, prepare the filling, cook it on top of the stove til it’s hot, and the sauce has thickened, the same recipe as above, and set aside. To serve, place one of the cooked pie crust slices on a plate, scoop some filling on top, then place the other slice on top of that. Voila, Chicken Pot Pie! And best of all, the bottom crust isn’t soggy.

Or you can bake a sheet of puff pastry, scoring it before you bake it, and do the same thing.

See, told you it was easy.   And better yet, it just plain tastes good.

Now if you will excuse me, it’s time for breakfast lunch and leftover Chicken Pot Pie.

Cream cheese and Maraschino Cherry Pinwheels

Sometimes it’s just plain fun to make something retro.   Well, I think it is.    Cherry Cream Cheese Pinwheels are about as retro as you can get.

A few years ago, I was with one of my sisters when she instructed one of my nieces on the fine points of making these little pinwheels.   They’re a “60’s” or maybe even “50’s” type of canape, but oh so much fun to make, and eat.   You can gussy them up or just do them plain.    And no, you don’t use tortillas for these, you use bread.

See, now you’re curious and want to read more…

Mix two 8 oz. packages of cream cheese with one small jar drained chopped maraschino cherries, taste, then decide you need more flavour, so you add some Grand Marnier.   Maybe two teaspoons, mix together, taste and then  you can add some almond extract or some chopped nuts.    It’s all good.   I stuck with just the Grand Marnier this time, but next time, I’m adding toasted, chopped pecans.

Cut a loaf of bread lengthwise, trim off the crust, either before or if you’re like me, after you slice it.

You then take each slice and roll it out with a rolling-pin.  Yup, you want to flatten that bread into submission.  And be prepared, that bread will try to plump back up again, so you’ll probably need to roll it a little more, before you spread the filling on there.

Spread the Maraschino Cream Cheese spread over the bread and roll up.

Just like this.

Wrap them and put them into the fridge for several hours or even better, overnight.    Take out and slice into slices, and arrange on a pretty plate.   Serve and watch people get nostalgic.

I also had fun with one of the rolls, I tried to  make it into a heart shape, and then cut the slices out.

It kinda worked.     I had fun doing it at any rate, so there.   Garnish the plate with a few sprigs of parsley or cilantro or something to make it look cute.   Which I totally spaced doing cause I got a phone call as I was getting ready to leave and whoosh, that thought left.

After all if you can’t have fun with your food, what’s the point of growing up?

Bacon Crackers

I was tossing around ideas on what to make for our Boat Club Potluck this month and narrowed it down to three choices.  However, I didn’t want to make something I’d made before. Cause gee, what’s the fun in that?

So I’m looking in my pantry, searching my freezer and pulling my hair out trying to figure it out.
I had some lovely Hoagie rolls in the freezer, as well as some chicken and then there were the club crackers in the pantry.    Decisions, decisions, decisions.   Sigh…

I kept trying to make those three ingredients go together, but nothing gelled.   We don’t eat Club Crackers that often, but I had heard of this appetizer that incorporates Club Crackers, bacon and Parmesan Cheese.

I mean bacon, where do you go wrong with bacon?

So I decided to make these Bacon and Club Cracker Appetizers.   They’re a little labor intensive cause you have to wrap each one of those crackers with bacon, but OMG, they are so worth it.

You wouldn’t believe how good my kitchen smelled.   I did make extra for tasting purposes only, you understand.    Well, gee, you make a new recipe you have to taste it, doncha?

Here’s the how-to’s:

Unwrap the crackers and place them on a large baking sheet.   I used most of one sleeve.

Then top each one of the crackers with a teaspoon, even a heaping teaspoon of Parmesan cheese.    Then take out  your package or in my case, two packages of thinly sliced bacon.   I’m making these for a crowd.   And as I said, I needed a few extra for tasting purposes.
Cut the package of bacon in half, crosswise, then peel off a slice and wrap the cracker very carefully, making sure that the cheese stays mostly on the cracker and that the bacon folds around it, all around it.  Just like this;

Place on a rack on a backing sheet, then place in 250 degree oven for 2 hours.   YUP,  two hours.   Take out and serve.     Or in my case take out and transport immediately to the party.

And there they are, at least for a few minutes before they were eaten.

If I make them again, I’ll use a leaner bacon, and will also use more cheese, and it will be freshly grated, not the powdery stuff out of the jar.   But, it was fun  to try something new.

February Boat Club Potluck

Since it’s February and Valentines day is just a couple of days away, there was a surfeit of sweet offerings at our February Boat Club Potluck.    Just like last year and the year before.     I thought seriously of making something sweet as well, but decided to just stick with something savoury.   Well mostly savoury.   I made some cream cheese pinwheels as well as Bacon Crackers, which I will detail later.

But for now, here’s the lineup of dishes from this month’s potluck.

Cream Cheese and Maraschino Cherry Pinwheels.  Notice the cute heart shapes in the middle?   I gotta tell you, they weren’t easy to do.

Deviled Eggs, and they were gone before I got a chance to taste one.   (Note to self, make some Deviled Eggs soon.)  OK, now onto the rest.

Cream Cheese and Onion Chutney, sublime together, personally I could just eat the onion chutney by the spoonful.

Never discount a nice potato, these were so good.  Perfectly cooked.

Corn Pudding, done as only Miss Merle can do.  (She’s a legend locally for her pies)

Bacon Crackers, I will post the how-to’s on these later on in the week.   Surprisingly good.

Meatballs!!!  Sorry, but these are very good. and always a great addition.

Cheese and Crackers, always a good choice.  The crackers are gluten-free, and can be bought at Sam’s Club.  I always have some in my cupboard.  And here at the coast they also stay crunchy for a couple of days, very important.

Jello Carrot Salad, hadn’t had this in years, and had forgotten how good it tastes.   And yes, I know it looks a little ORANGE here, but it was orange.

Octopus Salad.  It looked so artistic in the bowl, and was very tasty.  But then again, I like octopus.    I noticed a few people wandering over and looking at it with wonder.    But it disappeared.

Mac and Cheese, you can never go wrong with this dish.   And it was very good as well.  Only problem, now I want more.  sigh, I guess I’ll just have to make some for myself.

Potato Salad.   I didn’t get a taste of this, it was gone before I got there, but I was told it was very good.   Kathy makes wonderful food.

If this looks familiar, well, it’s not the same as the one on Super Bowl, Jon made a fresh batch of beans.  And I think I caught people almost licking the dish clean.   Very very good.

Cheese Ball, with a jam compote in the middle.  However, I fell in love with the dish it was served in.  Presentation really counts.   Now I need to go and see if I can find something similar.  Thrift stores, here I come.

Quinn made Chicken and it was good as usual.    And it disappeared fast.   I love a good fried chicken, and cheer (inside) when I see him carrying in a bowl full of goodness.

Squash Casserole.  I got a shot just as it was being served.   And managed to score a taste as well.   I don’t think I’d ever had Squash Casserole until I moved south, but really, I wish I’d discovered it sooner.

And now for the Desserts….

Strawberry and Chocolate Eclair.    Does that not look luscious?   And it tasted so good too.   Rich, decadent, yummy.    Perfect for Valentines Day.   (I’m going to get the recipe, well, I’m going to ask for it at any rate, and maybe even make it one day.)

Lemon Tarts made with home made lemon curd.   giggle ,  I love Lemon Tarts, and I did get to taste one.   They were superb.

Key Lime Pie, always a winner, and it disappears fast when it’s offered.

Persimmon Pie.   I had never tried Persimmons, and the pie was very interesting.

Cookies, and don’t they look cute with their little chocolate drops on top?  I didn’t try these, cause I was so full from everything else.

So there you have it, a wrap up of the food we got to eat this month at the Boat Club Potluck.

Super Bowl Wrap Up

I meant to post about the great food we enjoyed this past Sunday, a little sooner than this.  But
Real Life has a habit of getting in the way and tripping me up, sigh.

Just for fun I thought I would show some of the food we enjoyed this year.    If you read my post last year, you know that it was the “Day of the Meat Ball”, four of us had different versions of meatballs.   Really kinda funny if you think about it.

This year I didn’t want a repeat so I made a dip, which you can read about on Monday, the 11th, as well as a pot of Chile Verde.   We love Chile Verde and I have a great SIL who ships me one of the ingredients when I ask, without her, the Verde would not be as good.   So, here’s the wrap-up.

Deviled Eggs, very nice.  Always a hit, they disappear fast every time someone brings them to a party.

Pulled Pork, and Chicken Wings
so good.

Beans, and when Jon makes and brings his beans, well, let me just say, YUM.   He uses artisan bacon, real smoked bacon in it, and well, I could just eat this.

Veggies, and the dip, so nice and garlicky.


My dip, which you can read about on Monday.

Chile Verde


And can’t forget dessert.    There was a date nut bread, bourbon balls and a plate of cookies.   Such a nice way to round out the meal.

And there were also bowls of munchies but I neglected to get a picture of them.   All I can say is I love wasabi peas and nuts and well, had trouble keeping my hand out of that bowl as well.

So that’s the round-up from Super Bowl this year.    At least of the food, I’m sure everyone had a great time watching the commercials as well.

Crepes and Chicken Piccata for Tapas Night

I guess I never grew up all the way, cause I graduated from making mud pies to chicken pies and beyond.  The only difference is that my stuff is pretty much edible these days.    I made some Orange Dream Crepes and some Chicken Piccata bites for Tapas this month.  (OK, so I know it’s now February, this was a busy crazy week)   I was inspired, sorta by a picture I saw in passing of a Crepe and I got that AHA!!!!! moment and then I breathed again.

I made Crepes, two ways, and let me tell you,  I had adventures in the kitchen, sigh.  It really wasn’t my day.  But I persevered and got through it.

For starters I had spotted a box of Gluten Free pancake mix in the store last week, and decided to use them as a base for some crepes.   I knew I had a couple of people coming who eat gluten-free, and thought it would be nice to offer that to them.   The mix I found is by Maple Grove Farms, and they are delicious, but they don’t lend themselves to crepes very easily.   They puff up way too much.     As I said before I had adventures.   I was trying to mix the egg and milk together and decided to get out my little immersion blender and use the whisk attachment on it, well, the bowl was a little shallow and I ended up with a tidal wave of egg and milk all over the counter, the floor, dripping down the cabinets and on me.  So, I ended up having to add more of both to the mix.    Got that cleaned up and then I discovered that the gluten-free pancakes/crepes need to be cooked a little differently than regular pancakes.   A lower heat and longer cooking time, otherwise they just burn and stick and make a heck of a mess.    Oh well, they did taste good.    Oh and did I mention, they puffed up really well?

I also made standard crepes, the recipe is below, and they did turn out well.   I’ve made crepes this way for just about forever, and never had a fail yet.   Because I don’t put sugar in them, they are suitable for savoury fillings as well.
Basic Crepes

2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1 cup flour
3 tablespoons melted butter

Whisk it all together and let sit for about ten minutes, then heat your pan and spray with some non stick spray.  Pour about 1/4 cup of batter into pan, and then pick up the pan and spread the batter out by tilting the pan and rotating it in a circular motion, making sure you don’t tip it over.

This spreads out the very thin batter.  Let cook for about a minute or so or until the top looks dry, then flip over and cook the other side.   Remove the cooked crêpe to a pan and continue until all the batter is used.   I got about a dozen crepes I think out of this.   I didn’t want really big ones, cause, gee it is Tapas and it should be finger type food.

Make the crepes, and either  layer them on wax paper or just fold them into quarters right away, either way works.  The reason for the wax paper, it keeps them from sticking to each other when you finally get ready to put them together.    And Saturday, I had adventures in the kitchen. sigh.

I first came up with this filling some years ago.   It tastes rich and decadent and wonderful, but really isn’t that fattening.  And it’s kinda good for you as well.
8 oz. Cream Cheese (low-fat works well here
2  small containers of Orange flavoured Yoghurt, the 5 oz size
1 cup confectioners sugar (start with a half cup and then add more to taste)
2 tablespoons Grand Marnier (more if you like, to taste
10 oz. can Mandarin Oranges (drained, reserve the syrup for something else)  or two fresh mandarin oranges, sectioned and with membrane removed

Whisk it all together and then fold in one can (  mandarin oranges or fresh orange sections would be awesome as well.   Reserve a couple of pieces for decorations.   Garnish with fresh mint leaves.
Serve with a spoon so your guests can just put it together however they wish.   This is yummy.

I also made Chicken Picatta, but made it into small bite size pieces.    And there I had adventures as well.

I was being so careful, I didn’t want a mess, just wanted to sauté the chicken in pieces, put them aside, make the sauce and serve it.   So, I put the seasoned flour in a ziploc bag, shook the chicken breast pieces to coat them and proceeded to sauté them in small batches in some butter and olive oil.   Well, wouldn’t you just know it, I put the bag, the plastic bag, full of flour and a couple of chicken pieces right on top of a hot burner, and proceeded to get flour all over my newly cleaned stove, the just washed floor and myself.   Cause my first response to jerk the bag off of the burner and of course it was TOO LATE!!!  it had melted already.    Luckily for me, I only had a couple of pieces of chicken in the bag, but there was more than enough flour.   Did you know that flour seems to expand exponentially when it hits the air and stove top and floor?    By the time I got that mess sorted out, I’d managed to scorch the couple of pieces of chicken in the pan.   Which my dog was very grateful for, cause she got to eat them.   But I got the mess cleaned up, and it all worked out.
It did leave me wondering if maybe someone had set up a Candid Camera somewhere in the kitchen and the proceeded to sabotage stuff.   Oh, well, if you can’t have the occasional adventure, life just gets dull.

So there you have my latest adventures, sigh.