Sunday, October 9, 2011

Chicken Pot Pie

Today was a beautiful, warm day, but now that we're entering the chillier months, it's time for some warm dinner recipes!

I have never had chicken pot pie before, but when I saw a recipe for it on this blog, I decided I had to give it a try. It is actually a lot of work, not that any of the work is complicated, but there are several elements of this dish that have to be made (namely the veggies, the sauce, and the crust). I went with a different crust than the one in the original recipe because I am trying to avoid using butter/margarine-y things. The crust did not taste bad, but it didn't quite make enough to go over the whole pie.

The chicken pot pie itself was extremely good. The recipe is quite filling and makes a lot, so depending on the amount of people you're feeding, it can be dinner for a few nights (or dinner and then lunch the next day). I'm definitely going to make it again (though I might try a different crust recipe, or just double the recipe to make more crust), but not for a while. I'll save it for a day when I have a lot of time to work on dinner.

The other thing is that the original recipe has the pie split up into individual servings. I would have loved to try that, but I do not own mini soup crocks and the ramekins I have are really too small to be a full serving. But if you do have mini soup crocks and/or big enough ramekins, I would definitely give the individual serving thing a try!

Chicken Pot Pie
Adapted from here.

For the filling:
3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 large russet potato, peeled and diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 red bell pepper, diced
8 oz. button mushrooms, sliced
½ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
Dash of salt and pepper
3-4 chicken cutlets (I prefer thinly sliced)
1-2 cups frozen peas and carrots

For the sauce:
8 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 cup all-purpose flour
2½ cups chicken broth (I made this using chicken consomme boiled in water)
Dash of hot sauce (optional if you like your food to have a little kick. I used the hot sauce this time, but I think I will leave it out next time only because I don't like my food to be spicy)
Dash of salt and pepper


Cook the chicken cutlets on 350 F for about 25 minutes. I drizzled some olive oil on top of them so they wouldn't dry out (I also covered them in tin foil).

In a large skillet, saute the onion and potato in olive oil for about five minutes. Add the garlic, pepper, and mushrooms and saute for another 15 minutes or so. Cut the cooked cutlets into bite-size pieces. Turn off the fire and add the chicken pieces and the frozen peas and carrots to the pan. Add the red pepper flakes, and sprinkle in salt and pepper to taste.

Next, make the sauce:

Over a medium flame, whisk together the flour and oil. Add in the chicken broth and mix until thick. Add the hot sauce (if using), salt, and pepper. Pour and stir into the chicken and vegetable mixture.

Now, for the crust. Here is the original recipe. Before making the crust, preheat the oven to 375 F.


3/4 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup white unbleached flour
1/4 cup canola oil
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup cold water

Mix the flours together, and then add everything else (I did not freeze anything, even though it said to in the recipe). Roll or flatten out to desired size and thickness and add to the top of the pie. Ideally, the crust should come up over the sides of the baking dish, like a pie crust would. (My crust did not make enough for me to do this.) I would recommend possible doubling this recipe, depending on the size of the pan you are using to bake the chicken pot pie.

Bake on 375 F for 20-25 minutes, and enjoy!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Nostalgia: Cornbread

So I know the name of this blog is Dinner Diaries, but I thought we would start with breakfast. After all, breakfast is the most important meal of the day! Okay, I don't know if that is really scientifically true, but I did read somewhere (scroll to the section called "Does When You Eat Matter as much as What You Eat?") that people who skip breakfast tend to overdo it on the calories later on in the day to make up for their lack of calories in the morning. Besides, I don't know about you, but there is no way I can get anything productive done on an empty stomach.

When I was in summer camp, my favorite breakfast by far was cornbread. It would come hot and steaming to our tables in paper fast-food trays, and we would attack those trays as soon as they touched the table surface. Or rather, everyone else would attack the trays. I was always bad at attacking trays of anything--I was (er, still am) too prim and cautious in crowds. Dowsing my rescued piece of cornbread in syrup (rescued from the sweaty fingers of other children waiting to snatch it, of course), I would sigh, for all was well in the world for at least the two minutes it would take me to eat up.

It has been an ambition of mine for a long time to recreate that delicious summer camp cornbread. I finally took the plunge this morning. My husband took the day off from work to take care of a few things, and while he was out getting a hair cut, I decided to surprise him with breakfast. This recipe was incredibly easy to prepare, and I am not some cooking/baking guru who always has obscure ingredients in my kitchen and thinks everyone else does as well. I really did have everything right on hand!

I also liked that this recipe did not call for a lot of sugar and only called for one egg. It also did not call for any butter.

The cornbread came out sweet and was just the right amount of crumbly that cornbread ought to be. It was a touch grainier than I would have liked, but it was so close to being perfect that I am not sure I would change a thing in the recipe. Nothing will ever measure up to summer camp cornbread though, I'm afraid.

Golden-Sweet Cornbread
(Recipe from here.)


1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1/3 cup sugar (the recipe calls for 2/3 cup but I felt that 1/3 cup was enough)
1 teaspoon salt (I put in a little less)
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 egg
1 cup milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil (I used olive oil)


Preheat oven to 400 degrees f
Grease a 9" pan (I used an 8" because that's what I had)
In a large mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients (flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt, baking powder)
Add in wet ingredients (egg, milk, oil) and stir until combined (but don't over-mix. I have learned that with baking, if you over-mix batter, the thing you are baking comes out too thick and heavy)
Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean (I baked mine for 22 minutes and it was perfect, but different ovens may be more or less powerful)
Serve with pure maple syrup, and enjoy!

Hello And Welcome

Hello, and welcome to Dinner Diaries!

I have kept other blogs in the past--ones that have basically been spaces for me to think, create, dabble in literary forms, and otherwise ramble. Dinner Diaries, however, has a specific purpose in that it is a place for me to record what my family likes to eat.

My family currently consists of my husband and myself, and our parents and siblings (and grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc.). My husband and I got married three months ago (in June) and one of the first things I learned about being a married woman is that I suddenly have to start making real dinners on a consistent basis. Now, I am sure there are married people out there who will say they never make real dinners, or that my husband should do some cooking, or that I'm being really old-fashioned. Or they'll laugh and say, "Ha ha ha! Yeah...I thought that too. You'll get over it."

Well, I don't want to get over it. And I don't mind being old-fashioned. In fact, we've both been told we're a very 50's-esque couple. Wholesome and all that. (And, by the way, my husband definitely does his share of the cooking--especially because many nights I am in graduate school and come back too late to make dinner.) Because the truth is, I like cooking. I enjoy it. I did not realize how much I enjoyed it until I found myself having to do it all the time. Most importantly, I enjoy feeling in control of what my husband and I ingest on an almost-daily basis. There is so much junk out there that people eat, but we don't have to eat that stuff. Yeah, it's easier and quicker to pop some frozen meal into the microwave and then, voila! Dinner! But it is so much more rewarding to create your own dinner, not to mention I feel so much better about myself when I know I'm not eating chemicals and overly-processed foods.

I'm not a health nut, but at the same time, I am starting to become more conscious about what my husband and I eat. And I feel so good because of it.
Hence the purpose of this blog. I've been trying to come with/find different not-too-unhealthy recipes for dinner so that we have a variety and don't get too bored eating the same things. I think part of what will make healthier eating more enticing will be proving how you can eat healthily and still have a wide array of tasty meals to look forward to after a long day. Yet, it is easy to lose track of recipes, and I have way too many corners of my apartment and my computer where delectable recipes are hiding. Therefore, I will attempt to record as many recipes as I can on this blog, as well as my (or our) thoughts about each one. Many recipes will be dinner recipes, but not all! And I will most definitely have posts about baking escapades, as well.

Not every recipe here will be healthy to perfection, but the focus will be on limiting processed-foods, cutting back on fats and sugar (when appropriate), and creating meals that are easy to make at home. The recipes will always be Kosher, as well.

Feel free to share your own thoughts, comments, and/or recipes--I am always interested in learning about eating healthily and could always use new recipes (if you would like to email me, my email is in my profile).

Enjoy, and happy cooking!