The Baker Upstairs

9.04.2018

Mini Chicken Pot Pies

Yum
These savory mini chicken pot pies are so incredibly delicious, and adorable to boot!

These savory mini chicken pot pies are so incredibly delicious, and adorable to boot!

Hi friends! I know I don't usually get very personal on this blog, but I was thinking of a story as I was making these delightful mini chicken pot pies, and I thought it was worth sharing. Seven years ago, I was a stay at home mom with a newborn and a four year old. I had graduated from a challenging nursing school program the year before, and I suddenly found myself at home alone all day with nothing to keep my brain stimulated. I had plenty of tasks to do, like changing diapers, washing dishes, nursing the baby, reading to the preschooler, etc., but at times I was starving for contact with adults and the outside world. To make things even more challenging, our finances were very tight at the time, so I didn't have really any budget for luxuries or socializing.

Out of boredom and frustration (and thanks in part to the launch of Pinterest right at the same time) I just started making things. I relearned how to knit and started making baby hats and sweaters for my friends who were expecting. I learned how to cook all of the fancy foods that I couldn't afford to buy at the store, like baguettes and ricotta cheese. I planted a garden and made homemade salsa and pesto from produce that I grew myself. I started hand lettering again (one of my favorite things to do in high school) and made art for my girls' room. I repurposed old clothing into fun new outfits for the kids. I designed Harry Potter t-shirts for the premiere of the last movie. I rekindled my love of photography and took beautiful pictures of my kids (and started taking pictures of my food, which eventually led to this here blog!). I found so much joy in creating, in using my talents, and in finding ways to live a great life even on a shoestring budget. 

These savory mini chicken pot pies are so incredibly delicious, and adorable to boot!

I discovered instagram right around the same time, and I had so much fun posting all of my creations and projects and being able to share them with friends and family. Unexpectedly, though, the reaction I often got was, "You have WAY too much time on your hands," usually said with a snide tone and an eye roll. It really stung, and it made me feel like all of the things I was doing were a waste of time. Objectively, I didn't actually have all that much free time, between a newborn and a very challenging preschooler and a husband who worked 50-60 hour weeks. I was making the choice to spend the time I did have available making my life more beautiful and delicious, and the feedback I was getting was hurtful.

These savory mini chicken pot pies are so incredibly delicious, and adorable to boot!

I was thinking about all of that in the context of these mini chicken pot pies, because this is totally one of those recipes that will make people say, "You have way too much time on your hands!" These babies take a long time to make! They're made completely from scratch, from the pie crust to the filling. It's somewhat tedious to roll out the pie crust and assemble the lattice, and it's definitely more work to make six tiny pies than it is to make one normal size pie. If you're looking for a dinner recipe that can be finished in 30 minutes or less, this is definitely not your dinner! And yet... they are totally delicious, and totally beautiful. Each mini pie is like a work of art. I worked on them on and off all afternoon (between attending my seven year old's doll's birthday party, and helping my eleven year old edit the book she's writing), and I took my time and enjoyed every step of the process. 

These savory mini chicken pot pies are so incredibly delicious, and adorable to boot!

I think that with some time and perspective, I've come to the conclusion that it's okay to be that person who has "too much time on her hands." It's okay to be the one who designs custom labels for her daughter's school supplies, or spends 30 minutes constructing a tiny birthday card for a doll's birthday party. It's okay to plan ahead for back to school pictures and not just take them as we're rushing out the door in the morning. And just as important, it's also okay NOT TO DO ANY OF THOSE THINGS. When I was working full time as a nurse and my husband was in nursing school and I was stretched so, so thin and exhausted all of the time, I didn't have time for anything like that. And now I do! And neither of those situations make me a bad mom or make my life a waste of time.

These savory mini chicken pot pies are so incredibly delicious, and adorable to boot!

I'm sharing these mini pot pies because I love them, and they're completely delicious, and I think it's fun to be able to make things completely from scratch, without using processed foods. And I just happened to have several hours yesterday afternoon with nothing super pressing to do, and thus had time to create something beautiful for dinner. However, you do you! If you're looking for an equally delicious but much less time consuming pot pie recipe, this biscuit pot pie is quick and easy and always tastes delicious. (Just sub in a bag of frozen mixed vegetables for the uncooked vegetables, and it will be in the oven in no time!) I definitely think the world would be a better place if we could find more occasions to lift each other up instead of tearing each other down. So if you're a from-scratch homemade pot pie person like me, more power to you! And if you're a "pull the pot pie out of the box and microwave on high for 6 minutes" person, well, I've been there too (and it was delicious). I think we can all agree that no matter how much time you have on your hands, at least some of it should be spent eating pot pie. :)

These savory mini chicken pot pies are so incredibly delicious, and adorable to boot!
Mini Chicken Pot Pies

for the crust:
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup cold butter
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vinegar

for the filling:
2 small potatoes, peeled and diced
1 cup chopped carrots
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 pound chicken breast, cut into small pieces
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup milk
1 cup chicken broth
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
3/4 cup frozen peas
1 egg
1 tablespoon water

To make the pie crust, in a medium bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, mix together the flour and salt. Grate the cold butter into the flour mixture, and cut in using a pastry blender or the paddle attachment, until the pieces of butter are no larger than pea sized. Add the buttermilk, and mix until the dough just starts to come together. Turn out onto a floured surface and gently work into a ball, handling as little as possible. Divide the dough in half and shape into discs. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least twenty minutes, or until ready to use.

Add the potatoes, carrots, and celery to a small pot, and add water to cover. Bring the water to a simmer and cook 10-15 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender. Drain and set aside. While the vegetables are cooking, heat one tablespoon of butter over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook until lightly browned. Add the second tablespoon of butter, then stir in the flour and cook until golden. Slowly add the chicken broth, followed by the milk, whisking constantly and adding a little at a time to form a smooth sauce. Stir in salt, pepper, and frozen peas and cook until heated through. Stir the cooked vegetables into the chicken mixture and let cool for 10-15 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350. Roll out half of the pie crust into a large rectangle, then cut into six large circles using a bowl. Press each circle into the well of a jumbo muffin tin. Scoop the filling into each well of the muffin tin, filling to the top. Roll out the remaining pie crust into a large rectangle, and cut into thin strips. Weave the strips into a lattice (this is an excellent tutorial, if you haven't done a lattice crust before). Press down on the lattice gently to stick the pieces to each other. Using a 4 inch cookie cutter, cut 6 circles out of the lattice. Place a lattice top on each mini pie, and fold or crimp the edges together. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and water. Brush the egg mixture over the top of the crust, spreading evenly. Bake 50-60 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbling and thick. Let cool before serving.
These savory mini chicken pot pies are so incredibly delicious, and adorable to boot!

9.01.2018

Bacon Mac and Cheese

Yum
This savory bacon mac and cheese is super cheesy and packed with crisp bacon pieces. It's a delicious and hearty dinner!

This savory bacon mac and cheese is super cheesy and packed with crisp bacon pieces. It's a delicious and hearty dinner!

Hey everyone! It's International Bacon Day today, which means it's time to celebrate! It's hard to think of a food that isn't improved by adding bacon. Burgers? Check! Pasta? Check! Salad? Check! Donuts? Check! Bacon just makes everything better. One of my favorite ways to eat bacon is in this glorious and luxurious bacon mac and cheese. It's full of tender macaroni noodles, crisp bacon, and a silky smooth cheese sauce that is worth every calorie. It's topped with a buttery cracker topping, then baked to perfection. My whole family loves this mac and cheese and requests it constantly!

I think the secret to the perfectly smooth cheese sauce is the addition of processed cheese. I normally don't cook with American cheese or Velveeta (okay, maybe I did once), but I happened to have a few slices left over in the fridge from my kids' grilled cheese sandwiches earlier in the week, and I decided to throw them into the cheese sauce on a whim. Once all three cheeses melted together, it was perfectly smooth and thick and lovely. You can definitely substitute other cheeses for the cheddar and colby jack (I usually just use whatever I have on hand) but the combination of sharp cheddar and creamy colby jack was pretty fantastic! 

This savory bacon mac and cheese is super cheesy and packed with crisp bacon pieces. It's a delicious and hearty dinner!
Bacon Mac and Cheese

for the mac and cheese:
8 slices bacon, cooked and chopped
1/2 pound macaroni noodles
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups milk
3/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
3/4 cup shredded colby jack cheese
4 slices American cheese, cut into pieces
1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

for the topping:
1/2 cup crushed Ritz crackers
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 teaspoon parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 350. Cook the noodles according to the package directions, then drain. While the pasta is cooking, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk together to form a paste. Cook 3-4 minutes, until golden. Slowly add the milk, whisking constantly. Bring the mixture to a simmer, whisking frequently, until thickened. Remove from heat and stir in the cheese, mustard, salt, and pepper, until the cheese is melted and the sauce is smooth. Stir in the cooked noodles and about 2/3 of the chopped bacon. Pour the macaroni mixture into a 9 x 9 baking dish. In a small bowl, mix together the crushed crackers, butter, and parmesan. Sprinkle the cracker mixture over the macaroni, then top with the remaining chopped bacon. Bake 15 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbling and the topping is golden brown.
This savory bacon mac and cheese is super cheesy and packed with crisp bacon pieces. It's a delicious and hearty dinner!

For more bacon deliciousness, be sure to check out the posts below from my Celebrating Food blogging friends:


Cheesy Bacon Meatball Bites from Ashlee Marie
Bacon Wrapped Scallops from Savory Experiments
Bacon Egg Salad Sandwiches from Real Mom Kitchen
Instant Pot Bacon Cheddar Egg Casserole from 365 Days of Slow Cooking
Bacon Breakfast Casserole from Creations by Kara
Bacon and Spinach Egg Muffins from My Mommy Style

and even more delicious bacon recipes from The Baker Upstairs:

8.22.2018

Peach Buttermilk Cake

Yum
This sweet and delicious peach buttermilk cake is the perfect way to showcase that gorgeous fresh summer fruit!

This sweet and delicious peach buttermilk cake is the perfect way to showcase that gorgeous fresh summer fruit!

Hello friends! It's Eat a Peach Day today, so of course the only logical thing to do is to eat your peaches in cake form. This peach buttermilk cake is one of my favorite desserts, and it's perfect for this time of year, when fresh peaches are abundant and delicious. The cake itself is light and tender, and perfectly sweetened, and the fresh peaches on top add delicious flavor and keep the cake moist. This is one of those desserts that is super easy to make, but so pretty that it's perfect for entertaining, or bringing to a baby shower or potluck. 

This sweet and delicious peach buttermilk cake is the perfect way to showcase that gorgeous fresh summer fruit!

I make another version of this cake using fresh strawberries, and I can never decide which is my favorite. They're both so delicious! This is totally my go-to dessert when I have friends coming over for dinner and can't think of anything to make. It's super easy, always gets rave reviews, and it's popular with both kids and adults. I like to serve it with vanilla ice cream or fresh whipped cream on the side, and it's so, so good!

This sweet and delicious peach buttermilk cake is the perfect way to showcase that gorgeous fresh summer fruit!
Peach Buttermilk Cake

1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1 cup plus two tablespoons sugar, separated
1 large egg
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 peaches, peeled and pitted, sliced thinly

Preheat the oven to 350. Grease a 9 or 10 inch pie pan or cake pan, and set aside. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl and set aside. In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the butter and one cup of sugar until creamy. Stir in the egg, buttermilk, and vanilla, until well combined. Gradually add the flour mixture, and mix until just combined. Spread the batter in the prepared pan. Arrange the sliced peaches on top of the cake batter, and sprinkle with remaining two tablespoons of sugar. Bake 10 minutes, then reduce temperature to 325 and bake for another 50-60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean.
This sweet and delicious peach buttermilk cake is the perfect way to showcase that gorgeous fresh summer fruit!

For more peach-related awesomeness, be sure to check out these fantastic recipes from my Celebrating Food blogging friends:

23 juicy peach recipes, perfect for celebrating National Eat a Peach Day!

Peaches and Cream Overnight Oats from Pretty Providence
Southern Peach Pie from Savory Experiments
Peach Lemonade from Real Mom Kitchen
Easiest Way to Peel Peaches from 365 Days of Slow Cooking
Mason Jar Peach and Raspberry Cobbler from Premeditated Leftovers
Peach Muffins from My Mommy Style
Almond Peach Bread from An Italian in My Kitchen
Peach Coffee Cake from Simply Stacie

and even more delicious peach recipes from The Baker Upstairs:

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