Saturday, October 18, 2014

Sweet Potato Chicken Pot Pie

Who can resist homemade chicken pot pie? A creamy gravy, chicken, and veggie combination topped with a buttery flakey crust is hard to pass up. This dish was made for my dad, who is the king of comfort food. However, I found that making it homemade is not fit for his patience…..or mine – imagine that! 
As I flipped through Bobbie Flay’s Throwdown cookbook based off his popular Food Network show, this recipe particularly caught my attention. I will admit most of the attraction was initially due to the sweet potato crust. Then as I read into the recipe further, my senses missed the Irish cuisine I experienced this summer on my mother daughter trip to Dublin. As most know, the Irish cook with an abundance of potatoes and many meals include some sort of meat pie. 
Feeling confident to accept my first challenge of cooking a completely homemade pot pie along with my Sous-Chef, and with my grocery list at hand, Stephen and I headed to the store to buy the ingredients. Little did we know, dinner wouldn’t come until many hours later…
When we returned from the store, Stephen and I barely had enough space on his tiny apartment kitchen counters to lay out our ingredients. As I started looking for basic cooking equipment, I realized I was in a kitchen that was organized my two guys and I immediately regretted my decision of not going back to my own kitchen to cook. After reluctantly finding the essentials, Stephen began to peel and chop and I started the pie crust.
The pie crust was coming along well until I realized a food processor was not considered an “essential” in a male dominated kitchen. So I turned to the next best thing…a blender. Unfortunately, the blender didn’t get me much of a puree. To make things worse, I completely forgot to add an egg wash to the crust before baking. It goes without saying that my topping didn’t turn out exactly how I imagined it would. Luckily, that didn’t matter because the filling was to die for. All of the flavors mixed perfectly and I loved the added smoky flavor from the Spanish paprika. 
Although my first attempt at a completely homemade chicken pot pie was time consuming and challenging in a tiny and foreign kitchen, I think overall it was a success and was a perfect addition to our first Friday date night in at Stephen’s cozy downtown KC apartment. And I was told it was even better as leftovers! :)


3 ¾ cups of all-purpose flour 
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 cup (or 2 sticks) butter, cut into pieces, cold
2 eggs (one for egg wash)
½ cup whole milk
1 sweet potato, peeled, roasted, pureed
4 tablespoons (or 1/2 stick) butter
1 Spanish onion, peeled and diced
3 cloves of garlic, pressed
1/4 of all-purpose flour
4 cups whole milk, heated
12 ounces of cremini mushrooms, quartered and sautéed
1 turnip, peeled and diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
½ cup red pearl onions
1 cup frozen peas
1 roasted chicken, shredded
2 teaspoons smoked Spanish paprika
¼ cup fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste


  • Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees (F)
  • To make crust, stir flour and salt together in a large bowl and cut in butter with a fork until mixture looks crumbly
  • In a separate bowl stir together 1 egg, milk and sweet potato puree 
  • Pour egg, milk and sweet potato puree mixture into large bowl of flour, salt, and butter and stir
  • Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and knead until the dough just comes together
  • Form dough into 4-6 rounds and flatten slightly (or 1 big round if you are using a casserole dish instead of individual bowls)
  • Wrap in wax paper and refrigerate for 1 hour
  • To make filling, melt butter in a medium sauce pan, add chopped onion and cook until soft, 5 minutes
  • Add garlic and cook for 1 minute
  •  Add flour until deep golden brown
  • Slowly whisk in the hot milk and cook until thickened
  • Reduce heat and cook for 5 minutes, whisking occasionally
  • Sauté cremini mushrooms in a separate sauté pan
  • After the mushrooms are cooked add them to the pot of onion and milk mixture along with your carrots, peas, onions, turnip and chicken. 
  • Season with paprika, salt, and pepper then add in parsley
  • When the veggies soften, transfer the filling to oven-safe individual bowls and top with your crust. Make sure you press the dough around the rim of the bowls to form a seal.
  • Brush the tops with an egg wash and season with salt and pepper. Use a paring knife to make a small slit in the center of the dough.
  • Place the bowls to a cookie sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and filling is bubbly. (If you are using a casserole dish bake for 25-30 minutes)

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Oodles of Noodles

Ever since I experienced authentic Asian cuisine on my study abroad program to China and South Korea I have been addicted to Asian soups. Being that I lived in Lincoln, Nebraska for a few years after the trip, “authentic” Asian cuisine was difficult to find. So instead I decided to research and create my own take on Asian soups! (I hope this blog inspires you to do the same!)

Step 1 was deciding what type of noodles I prefer. There are so many options to choose from – egg noodles, rice noodles, udon noodles, soba noodles, glass noodles, ramen noodles, wonton noodles….the list goes on! Here are my reviews:

Egg noodles- This type of noodles is probably the most popular and familiar Asian noodle here in the US. They are made by blending wheat flour, cornstarch, salt, oil, and of course eggs! You can find egg noodles in many different forms. The most popular American Chinese egg noodle dish is Chow Mein. Personally, I am not a huge fan because they usually leave me too full. But if you are thinking about trying to create your Asian soup, this is a great place to start.

Rice noodles- Rice noodle is primarily made of rice flour but water, tapioca and cornstarch are also added to help improve the transparency and texture. Let me warn you, the chewy texture is not for everyone! Also, be aware this type of noodle usually only takes two minutes or less to cook. If you cook to them longer, they turn into mush. I know this from experience! Personally, I think the rice noodle is a little too bland. If you try it, be sure to add more flavorful ingredients.

Udon noodles- My favorite Asian noodle comes from Japan! The udon noodle has a thick round wheat flour body and is often served in a hot mild broth called kakejiru. The dish is normally topped with some combination of scallions, mushrooms, radishes, shrimp tempura, tofu, or fish cake balls. Udon noodle is pretty soft and easy to break apart so you can get a good combination of broth and noodle in each bite. I highly recommend looking for fresh udon noodles the next time you grocery shop and giving them a try.

Soba noodles- Soba is the Japanese name for buckwheat which is this noodles more prominent ingredient. I haven’t tried cooking the soba noodle myself but considering the health benefits buckwheat provides I think it is next on my list. Buckwheat is very high in fiber and supposedly linked to lowering the risk of high cholesterol and blood pressure.
In South Korea, Soba noodles are commonly found in mul naengmyun which is a traditional cold noodle dish popular in the summer months. The dish is served in a stainless steel bowl to keep its icy broth and is usually topped with refreshing toppings like cucumber and watermelon. I actually tried mul naengmyun in Seoul and I have to say it was surprisingly good! 
Glass noodles- This transparent starch based noodle is also well known as the cellophane noodle. You will see it in many Chinese soups, spring rolls, and it is particularly popular item to throw in hot pots! I am guessing many of my readers are be wondering what a hot pot is and let me tell you it is one of the most entertaining ways to eat.
In China, is it common to enjoy a nice long meal around a hot pot, which is a metal stock pot that is typically sectioned in two, giving you a choice of simmering your raw food in a mild or spicy broth. Typical items to cook in the hot pot include thinly sliced meats, tofu, fish balls, vegetables, and noodles. (And usually cooked in that order) After cooking to perfection, it is common to dip these items in Asian condiments like sesame oil, soy sauce or chili paste. My fondest memory from my study abroad trip is from our first hot pot experience in Hangzhou.

Raman noodles- If you were ever a college student on a tight budget, I know you are familiar with this noodle. This famous noodle soup is typically made from wheat and is flavored with a salty meat-based broth. But where do ramen noodles exactly come from? Though my extensive raman research, the origin is unknown but is commonly believed to be tied to China. The instant raman noodle became famous in 1958 in Japan when it was founded by a man named Momofuku Ando. Believe it or not, there are some better quality raman noodles out there than the ones you probably have in mind and I urge you look for them if are attempting your own creation!

Wonton noodles- This Cantonese noodle is most popular in Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand. It is usually served in hot soup with shrimp wontons and leafy vegetables. Kailan known as Chinese kale is traditionally added however this vegetable is very hard to find in the US. I tried this dish in Beijing and have been looking for it on every Asian restaurant menu ever since. If you ever come across it, do yourself a favor and try it.   
Step 2 was finding the perfect broth. If you look, most grocery stores sell a few different Asian style broths. Trader Joe’s has a miso ginger broth and most Hy-Vee’s carry a Pacific soup starter base called Chicken Pho. These pre-packed broths are a good starting point. For my more adventurous readers, I urge you to create your own Asian broth and share your findings with me. I am always looking for something new to try! Here is my favorite Kakejiru recipe:

1 cup dashi soup stock
 ½ - 1 tablespoon soy sauce
 1 tablespoon rice wine -Mirin or Sake
 1 teaspoon sugar
 Salt to taste

Mix and heat
 * This recipe only makes about 1 cup so double if you are cooking for two :) 

Step 3 was the fun part – adding the protein and veggies! The healthiest method is to simply steam your meat and veggies in your broth. I would suggest cooking your noodles separately and adding them at the end. Don’t know what to add? Get ideas from my list below:
-Chicken, beef shrimp, tofu, eggs, mushrooms, tomatoes, green onions, cucumber, carrots, radish, asparagus, broccoli, bean sprouts, bell peppers, sugar snap peas, onion, celery, napa cabbage, bok choy, water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, jalapeno, cilantro, ginger, garlic, lime
I know many of friends and family have also had the opportunity to experience authentic Asian cuisine. I would love to hear from you! Share your favorite dish or recipes with me by commenting below.

Traveling Dinner Party

Today is my 25th birthday.
My wonderful parents gifted me a beautiful new dinnerware set from Tag|HomeDecor that of course matches my yellow, navy and grey apartment theme!
Having a fancy dish set of 8 makes me anxious to host a dinner party. I am thinking of coordinating a traveling dinner party. One house for drinks and appetizers, one for soup and salad, one for the main course, and the last for dessert (and more cocktails of course)!
Any of my KC friends interested?

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Epicurean Essentials

Everyone knows half of the fun of cooking is the cooking equipment.

If you are an experienced cook, you know that much of your time is spent chopping. If you have used plastic or traditional wood cutting boards before, you know that it is not very long until you have to replace them... until now. Ladies and gentleman, let me introduce you to epicurean cutting boards.

Epicurean has an entire line of cutting boards. My favorite is the kitchen series 14.5" x 11.25" slate. It is the perfect size, and it is made with a unique blend of hard and soft woods. The food-safe, resin finish will easily withstand rigorous and daily kitchen use. The best part is - they don’t dull your knife!

I am also a huge fan of epicurean gourmet utensils. They are comprised of the same materials as their cutting boards – blended wood fibers - with high heat resistant, nylon ends. A full set includes a ladle, spoon, sauté tool, medium and large turners, pasta server, and a slotted spoon. Three of the best benefits of these utensils are that they are eco-friendly, dishwasher safe, and heat resistant up to 350 degrees! Mine are the perfect addition to my “red” kitchen.

Get your epicurean products here and thank me later! :)

Fall Inspired Crockpot

My first blog post is inspired by my favorite season - FALL!

As the temperature starts to dip and the leaves begin to change color, it is hard not to crave fall’s freshest farmers market produce like squash, apples, pears, and sweet potatoes.

How have I not mentioned pumpkin in this post? You can’t walk into grocery stores like Hen House or Trader Joe's without practically drowning in endless pumpkin products. As overwhelming as it is, I’ll admit, I get a little bit giddy when the pumpkin spice latte comes back around.  

Another unavoidable fall occurrence is my family's trip to Peck’s Farm, which is located in Spring Green, Wisconsin. ( Of course, my mom brought me a few of my favorite items from the farm on her last visit. One in particular is found in this recipe. Can you guess what it is?

You guessed it...the butternut squash! While exploring butternut squash recipes on Pinterest, I discovered a similar crockpot meal but added my own spin. Hope you enjoy the recipe and this boot and scarf weather as much as me! :)

1 butternut squash, cubed
1 sweet onion, sliced
2 bosc pears, sliced
1 cup fresh cranberries
4-5 raw chicken breasts
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup apple cider
3 bay leaves
½ table soon garlic powder
1 tablespoon cinnamon
Salt and pepper to taste


Place squash in the bottom of the crockpot

Mix together onion, pears and cranberries and pour ½ on top

Add bay leaves

Layer raw chicken breasts on top of the bay leaves

Add remaining ½ of onion, pear and cranberry mixture

Evenly pour chicken broth and apple cider on top of ingredients

Sprinkle garlic powder, cinnamon, salt and pepper on top

Cook on high for 2 hours