06 February 2010

Lighter Chicken Pot Pie

I don't own ramekins. I know I should, but I don't. A few years ago, a friend of mine asked to borrow the 6 gorgeous ramekins I had stocked away in the cabinet of kitchen-crap-gathering-dust, and then she moved away rather abruptly and I wasn't able to get them back before a trail of Palouse dust gathered behind her U-Haul.


When the middle of winter blahs take over, I start craving chicken pot pie, and oddly enough, I start thinking about those ramekins. Since my two-person household can rarely finish off a massive chicken pot pie casserole, I've always wanted to make something like this. Since there's no crying over spilled milk (get it? the linked blog is aglassofmilk? I crack myself up), I went ahead and made a whole casserole.

The lucky part is that it was eaten within minutes....the whole thing. The recipe is yet another I adapted from Eating Well, and for convenience purposes (seriously, I had a stack of papers whining at me from my office desk, conveniently located within view of my kitchen--GRADE ME! GRADE ME!), I topped the casserole with store-bought buttermilk biscuits. My heart always flutters when I pop one of those tubes open--it's like Prince Albert in a can. It may be healthier and tastier to follow the homemade biscuit recipe in the original recipe, but as the Pioneer Woman might say about cutting corners on a busy night, it's really the only right thing to do.

Chicken Potpie Casserole
(original recipe at Eating Well)

3 teaspoons canola oil, divided
1 cup frozen pearl onions, thawed
1 cup peeled baby carrots
10 ounces cremini mushrooms, halved*
2 1/2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth, divided
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 1/2 cups diced cooked chicken
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream**
1/4 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper, to taste

1. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onions and carrots; cook, stirring, until golden brown and tender, about 7 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.
2. Heat the remaining 2 teaspoons oil in the pan over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring often, until browned and their liquid has evaporated, 5 to 7 minutes. Return the onions and carrots to the pan. Add 2 cups broth and bring to a boil; reduce heat to a simmer. Mix cornstarch with the remaining 1/2 cup broth; add to the pan and cook, stirring, until the sauce thickens. Stir in chicken (or turkey), peas, sour cream, salt and pepper. Transfer the filling to a 2-quart baking dish.
3. Top with biscuits and bake the potpie until the topping is golden and the filling is bubbling, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

*I used baby bella mushrooms because it's what I had on hand
**I substituted fat free sour cream and it didn't make much difference in consistency

The Naughty Blogger's Southwestern Salad

I've been a little absent from the blogosphere as of late, but in lieu of the usual "teaching is taking over my faculties" excuse, I'll just admit it: I've been naughty. If you all were my animals, you'd be standing by the front door with a leash in your mouth and soft eyes pleading for attention.

I haven't been naughty in the kitchen, however, and in my attempt to eat more healthfully during the winter months, I've been darn successful. When I eat fresh and healthy, I have more energy to grade, prepare for lecture, read, and every now and then, BLOG!! Here's hoping that energy keeps on coming.

I have a lot to catch up on this blog, so I'll start with one of my favorite light dinners, adapted from Eating Well. The original recipe called for beef, but I've used everything from leftover shredded chicken and ground chicken, to my favorite, ground turkey. I've listed the specific brand/type of ingredient where necessary, but it's pretty versatile. I had some feta to use up, and my husband prefers cheddar to top, but the saltiness of the feta is a lot like queso fresco (and in this neck of the woods, feta is a lot cheaper).

Southwestern Ground Turkey Salad
(adapted from Eating Well's Tex-Mex Taco Salad)

1/2 cup + 2 tbsp. Muir Glen Black Bean and Corn Salsa
1/4 cup fat-free sour cream
1 tsp. canola oil
1 yellow onion (preferably sweet), diced
1 large clove garlic, minced
1-14.5 oz. can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 lb. ground turkey
2 plum tomatoes, chopped
2 tsp. cumin
2 tsp. chili powder
Fresh ground black pepper, to taste
Large handful chopped, organic cilantro
Small head organic romaine lettuce, shredded
Garden of Eatin Blue Corn Tortilla Chips
Crumbled feta to top (optional)


1. Mix salsa and sour cream together in a small bowl, and set aside. Heat oil over medium heat and add onion and garlic; cook until fragrant and then add ground turkey. Once cooked through, add tomatoes, spices and kidney beans. Cook until tomatoes are tender. Remove from heat.

2. Add some of the salsa-sour cream mixture and the chopped cilantro to turkey mixture, up to 1/2 cup. Toss salad greens with the remaining salsa-sour cream mixture and arrange among 2-3 plates. Top with meat mixture and arrange tortilla chips around the plates. Sprinkle with feta and enjoy!