Monday, January 31, 2011

Chicks 'n Pot Pie

Hello friends!  This weekend, we ventured into unchartered territory: we made the Pioneer Woman's "Chicken Pot Pie" (p. 126).  Neither of us had attempted a pot pie before.  Confession:  as much as we like to flatter ourselves in thinking we are strong Midwestern women, we were completely squeamish about touching/handling/cutting to pieces a whole fryer chicken.  So...we didn't.  Sorry, Ree.  Before the end of the year, we will touch/handle/cut to pieces a whole fryer chicken.  We promise.

We began with the "Perfect Pie Crust"  (p. 128).  In a bowl we mixed flour, shortening, salt, an egg, cold water and white vinegar.

Then we floured the counter top and rolled out the dough.

A word of advice:  it would be wise to make the pie crust last or have it chilling in the fridge until you're ready to use it.  Otherwise, it will dry out and adhere itself to the counter top.  Not that we've ever done that.  Nope.


Next, Jo sliced celery, onion and carrots.

Lou cut up boneless, skinless chicken breasts.  That's what the pioneers used, right?  This was cooked in olive oil until done.

The chicken was removed from the Dutch oven, and the vegetables were sauteed.  As soon as the onions were clear, we added the chicken back in to the pot.

To create luscious cream gravy found in all good pot pies, we added flour, white wine and bouillon paste. P-Dub's recipe calls for chicken broth and a bouillon cube instead of bouillon paste.  The final touch was 1 cup of heavy cream.  Heavenly.

Then Mr. Fabuful and Uncle He-Man helped us place the pie crust on top of the mixture.  We decided to use the Dutch oven to bake the pot pie because our pie pan wasn't deep enough.  This went into the oven for 30 minutes at 400 degrees.

Thumbs up.


The aftermath:

After a little clean-up, we felt motivated to start in on dessert.  We made "Patsy's Blackberry Cobbler" (p. 212).  First, we whisked flour, sugar and milk together.  Melted butter happily joined the bowl.  This was  poured into Jo's new fancy-pants Le Creuset baking dish.  Things taste better in pretty purple dishes.

Next, we sprinkled blackberries onto the mixture.  Sugar gets to sparkle like jewels on top of this dessert.  Sigh...

In the meantime, Uncle He-Man and Mr. Fabuful were whipping up a fantastic batch of homemade vanilla ice cream to go with the cobbler.  So good!

The final product:  a delectable marriage of tartness and sweetness.


We can't wait for our next P-Dub shin-dig!

Happily Full,

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Pot Roasted to Perfection

We've heard it said the way to a man's heart is through his stomach. Or more specifically, with the "Perfect Pot Roast". Mashed potatoes and gravy don't hurt, either.

Here is our inaugural feast. We started with Ree's "Perfect Pot Roast" (p. 120 of "The Pioneer Woman Cooks") and combined it with her suggested side, "PW's Creamy Mashed Potatoes" (p. 146). Holy Moly! Was it good!

We were excited to start our year with this recipe because it was the perfect excuse to use Lou's 30th birthday gift from Uncle He-Man: a John-Deere-green Dutch oven. She's purty.

Following Ree's recipe, we sauteed the onions and carrots in olive oil and began salivating like Pavlov's dog. We seared the meat on each side. The next step, deglazing, was new to us. After removing the beef, we poured a cup of beef broth in the bottom of the pot and quickly whisked. This helped remove the flavorful bits of meat happily sitting on the bottom. We added the beef and vegetables back into the pot followed by another cup-and-a-half of beef broth. The finishing touches were rosemary and thyme. Do not leave out the rosemary and thyme. They are fab-u-lo-so. Then began a torturous three hours of waiting and pacing the kitchen floor. The Bean was not the only one drooling.

Ree recommends using the Yukon Gold potato variety. And boy, is she right. We love the soft, buttery texture of these po-tates. They have become our new favorites. We prepared the potatoes while we waited. These include butter, cream cheese, half-and-half, butter, seasoned salt, salt, butter and pepper (and did we mention butter?).

Once the pot roast was done, we removed the meat and let Uncle He-Man and Mr. Fabuful start working their magic on the cutting board. As you can see, the vegetables and herbs created a wonderful flavor for the gravy.

We strained the gravy, leaving only the broth. Mr. Fabuful had the great idea to create a roux to put into the broth. He took half a stick of butter (yea!) and added some flour. These were whisked together until the rue turned a light, golden brown. This was added to the broth.

We did not let the fellas eat this like soup. We did instead. Not really. It was time to eat!

Hello, my precious. Kidding aside, this was the best pot roast. Ever. Thanks to Mrs. Drummond.

The only problem with this pot roast... disappears too quickly!

Happily full,

Ode to Pioneer Woman

Hello!  Greetings from the beautiful (and frigid) state of Kansas.  We are cousins, Jo and Louise, and we share a common obsession:  Ree Drummond's book, "The Pioneer Woman Cooks".  We discovered it separately.  Jo learned about it from her lovely mother-in-law.  And Louise, or Lou, stumbled upon it while perusing a local bookstore.  We also really enjoy the movie, "Julie and Julia", and thought it would be fun to do our own hick-ified version!

In the past year, we have started cooking together, along with our special guys.  Jo is married to Mr. Fabulous Wonderful (a nickname earned in college) and has a "Shaun-the-Sheep"-loving son, The Bean.

And Lou is dating the greatest fella she's ever met, known to The Bean as Uncle He-Man.

Uncle He-Man and Mr. Fabuful were college roommates.  After several years of living in various parts of the Midwest, we all ended up in the same area.  Thus began weekend get-togethers, filled with cooking and fun (and weight gain).

Our challenge for 2011 is to cook through "The Pioneer Woman Cooks".  Buckle up!  Here we go!