Rustic Skillet Pot Pie

Well, guess who has returned to the blogosphere! I sincerely did not intend to take such a long hiatus, but it seems my life got full again over the past few months. I hope all of you had a wonderful holiday and shared it with those nearest and dearest to your hearts.

My husband and I actually went out for Thanksgiving dinner, something we haven’t done in 10 years. With both of our hectic schedules, we decided to truly take the day off and let someone else do the cooking this year. Sadly, no Turkey Day leftovers, but also no big mess in the kitchen to clean up.

I still managed to bake a pumpkin pie and have cranberries patiently waiting in my fridge to be turned into homemade sauce. And I finally attempted my first skillet pot pie, which in this version I made with leftover grilled chicken, but it would also work beautifully with leftover turkey.

The pie crust comes from a recipe I received when I took a pie crust class at Nothing To It Cooking School, a local culinary center. As much as I’d like to share the recipe with you, I don’t feel that I can as it may be proprietary and I don’t have permission to publish it. But you can certainly find basic pie crust recipes online or find frozen crusts at the grocery store.

Finally, I failed to take a group photo of all of the ingredients. See what happens when you neglect your blog too long, you forget how to do things. I’ll get my act together, I swear!

Anyway, enjoy this rustic dish and my thanks to all of you who continue to follow The Skillet.

Ingredients
2 Pie Crusts
6 Tbs. Butter
1/2 cup chopped Onion
1 cup chopped Carrots
1 cup chopped Celery
1/3 cup All-Purpose Flour
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/4 tsp. Pepper
1 3/4 cup Chicken Broth
1/2 cup Heavy Cream
2 1/2 cups cooked Chicken or Turkey, cut into bite-size pieces

If using a cast iron skillet, heat oven to 400 degrees and remove all racks, except one on the lowest rung. If using a glass, ceramic or aluminum pie pan, then heat oven to 425 degrees. One thing I learned at the pie crust class is to always cook pies on the lowest rack in your oven.

In a deep cast iron skillet or 2-quart saucepan, melt butter and saute onions, carrots and celery together until soft.

In a deep cast iron skillet or 2-quart saucepan, melt butter and saute onions, carrots and celery together until soft.

Add flour, salt and pepper.

Add flour, salt and pepper.

Combine thoroughly until dry ingredients coat vegetables.

Combine thoroughly until dry ingredients coat vegetables.

Stir in chicken broth.

Stir in chicken broth.

Add heavy cream.

Add heavy cream.

Combine thoroughly.

Combine thoroughly.

Add chicken or turkey.

Add chicken or turkey.

Combine thoroughly into creamy veggie sauce.

Combine thoroughly into creamy veggie sauce.

Place one crust in 10-inch cast iron skillet or 9-inch pie pan. Spoon filling into skillet.

Place one crust in 10-inch cast iron skillet or 9-inch pie pan. Spoon filling into skillet. Place the second crust on top, seal edges, and cut a few vents.

Bake 30-40 minutes until crust becomes golden brown.

Bake 30-40 minutes until crust becomes golden brown.

Let it rest for 5-10 minutes, then serve. I am thankful for my skillets and plentiful food.

Let it rest for 5-10 minutes, then serve. I am thankful for my skillets and plentiful food.

Strawberry Rhubarb Cobbler

Inspired by some of the summer dish responses (mixed berry cobbler) to the recent cookbook giveaway and my own craving for strawberry rhubarb pie, I decided to compromise and make a strawberry rhubarb cobbler. I practically squealed when this came out of the oven. I was so excited to try it and it smelled divine.

I must confess that cobblers are not my forte. The pastry part usually comes out a bit on the gooey side, which means I used too much liquid in the filling.

But I am happy to say that this particular cobbler came out perfectly. It’s simple, tasty – a little tart, a little sweet – and may have become my new summer favorite.

Strawberry Rhubarb CobblerFruit Filling Ingredients
3 cups Rhubarb stalks, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 1/2 cups Strawberries, stemmed and sliced
1 cup white Sugar
2 Tbsps. quick cooking Tapioca
1 tsp. Orange zest

Place the cut rhubarb in a bowl.

Place the cut rhubarb in a bowl.

Add the strawberry slices.

Add the strawberry slices.

Next, add the sugar.

Next, add the sugar.

Add tapioca.

Add tapioca.

And the orange zest.

And the orange zest.

Combine ingredients.

Combine ingredients.

Cover and let macerate for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Cover and let macerate for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Strawberry Rhubarb CobblerCrust Ingredients
2 Tbsps. white Sugar
1 cup all purpose Flour
1 1/2 tsps. Baking Powder
1/4 tsp.  Salt
1/4 cup Butter
1/4 cup Milk
1 Egg, lightly beaten

Combine sugar, flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl.

Combine sugar, flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl.

Cut up the butter and add to flour mixture.

Cut up the butter and add to flour mixture.

Work the butter into the flour mixture with a pastry blender or fork until it looks crumbly.

Work the butter into the flour mixture with a pastry blender or fork until it looks crumbly.

Add the milk and egg.

Add the milk and egg.

Combine until the dough is just softened.

Combine until the dough is just softened.

Pour the fruit mixture into a  10-inch cast iron skillet or 2-quart casserole dish.

Pour the fruit mixture into a 10-inch cast iron skillet or 2-quart casserole dish.

Spoon the dough over the top of the fruit mixture.

Spoon the dough over the top of the fruit mixture.

Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes until the crust is golden brown.

Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes until the crust is golden brown.

Serve warm with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. Enjoy!

Serve warm with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. Enjoy!

To make homemade whipped cream, visit my post on the Upside Down Cranberry Rumpkin Cake for the recipe.

Herb-Crusted Chicken Breasts with Simple Pasta

Another crazy work week has passed and not much cooking has happened in my skillet lately. My poor blog is feeling neglected. And now I’m off for the weekend to a dog trial in Northern California, so like the Santana song so aptly puts it – my house is empty and my pots are cold. What can I say – life keeps moving and I’m trying to keep up!

So, before I pack up all my doggy stuff and head over the Sierras, I am leaving you with a simple and delicious herb-crusted chicken recipe, baked in my skillet of course, and served with a side of a delicious bow-tie pasta with tomatoes. It is surprisingly easy to make, packed full of flavor and tastes just as good when cold.

Hope you all have a great weekend. Maybe next week won’t be so crazy…

IMG_7193Ingredients
1/2 cup dry Bread Crumbs
2 tsps. dried Thyme
2 tsps. dried Basil
2 tsps. dried Oregano
1/2 cup All-Purpose Flour
2 Whole Eggs
1/4 cup Water
3-4 boneless, skinless Chicken Breasts

In a large mixing bowl, combine bread crumbs with herbs.

In a large mixing bowl, combine bread crumbs with herbs.

Mix well.

Mix well.

IMG_7197

Place flour in a shallow bowl. I used a pie pan.

In another bowl, combine the water and eggs.

In another bowl, combine the water and eggs.

Place the chicken breasts in the flour and dust completely.

Place the chicken breast in the flour and dust completely.

Next, coat the breasts with the egg mixture.

Next, coat the breast with the egg mixture.

Finally, coat the breasts with the herb mixture.

Finally, coat the breast with the herb mixture.

Place the breast in a skillet or baking dish coated with cooking spray.

Place the breast in a skillet or baking dish coated with cooking spray.

Repeat the process for all of the chicken breasts.

Repeat the process for all of the chicken breasts.

Bake in a 375-degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes until the internal temperature is 165 degrees.

Bake in a 375-degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes until the internal temperature is 165 degrees.

While the chicken breasts are baking, make the pasta.

IMG_7207Ingredients
2 Tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped fresh Basil
1/8 cup Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
1 Garlic Clove, minced
1/2 tsp Salt
1/8 – 1/4 tsp crushed Red Pepper Flakes
1/4 tsp Black Pepper
1/2 pound Bow-Tie Pasta
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan Cheese

Cut the tomatoes in half and gently squeeze the juice into a bowl.

Cut the tomatoes in half and gently squeeze the juice into a bowl.

Chop the tomatoes and add to the juice.

Chop the tomatoes and add to the juice.

Add the chopped basil, olive oil, garlic, salt, red pepper flakes and black pepper.

Add the chopped basil, olive oil, garlic, salt, red pepper flakes and black pepper.

Combine and let rest at room temperature for 15 minutes.

Combine and let rest at room temperature for 15 minutes.

While the tomato mixture is gelling with all those good flavors, prepare the bow-tie pasta as directed on the package.

Add to the tomato mixture and combine well. Add the Parmesan cheese.

Add to the tomato mixture and combine well. Add the Parmesan cheese.

Serve with the herb-crusted chicken breast. Enjoy!

Serve with the herb-crusted chicken breast. Enjoy!

Mother-Daughter Cream of Potato Soup with Dumplings

As a child, I loved my mother’s cream of potato soup. Whenever I was sick, that’s what I wanted to make me feel better, along with a hot cup of tea with cream and sugar. As a child, I didn’t realize how bland my mother’s soup tasted as it was very basic…milk, butter, onions, potatoes and a little seasoning. As I grew up and began to expand my palate, I decided to experiment with her very basic soup and make it my own. Today’s rendition is packed with flavor and lots of goodies like carrots, red onion, turkey sausage, and dumplings. No matter how much I change what I put in her soup, I still keep the basic foundation. And every time I make it, I always remember my childhood cravings and how good my mom’s soup continues to make me feel.

Soup Ingredients
1 Potato, peeled and diced
1 cup sliced Carrots
1/2 cup Red Onion, chopped
6 – 7 oz. Turkey Sausage, diced
2 1/2 cups Milk (okay to use low-fat to make this a leaner soup)
1 cup Chicken Broth
2 Tbsps. Butter
2 Tbsps. Flour
1 tsp. Salt
1/2 tsp. Pepper

Dumplings Ingredients
2/3 cups Bisquick baking mix (use the HeartSmart variety)
3 Tbsps. low-fat milk

First, make the roux, which is a thickening agent of equal parts fat and flour.

In a small saucepan, melt 2 Tbsps. of butter.

To the melted butter, add 2 Tbsps of flour, the salt and pepper.

Combine to get a thick, bubbly, gooey mixture.

Add 1/2 cup of milk to the roux and stir continuously over low heat until completely combined.

In a Dutch oven, add 2 cups of milk, 1 cup of chicken broth, and the roux mixture. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, but be careful not to scorch the milk.

Once the milky mixture is boiling, add the potatoes, carrots and red onion.

Cover the Dutch oven and let the soup simmer over medium heat for about 15 minutes until potatoes are cooked through.

While the potatoes are cooking, saute the turkey sausage in a cast iron skillet until they are slightly brown and heated through.

You also have time to make the dumpling dough by mixing 2/3 cups of Bisquick mix with 3 Tbsps. of milk until a soft dough forms (forgot to take a picture of the dough).

Once the potatoes are cooked, add the turkey sausage to the soup.

Form teaspoon-sized dumplings and drop them into the soup. Cook uncovered for 10 minutes, then cover and cook for another 10 minutes.

Serve hot with a couple of plump dumplings. Invite your mom or daughter to join you…or the whole family for that matter. Enjoy!

Fell off the Wagon Caramel Apple Crisp

Yep. It’s true. My hubby and I fell off the low-glycemic wagon…again. I conducted another fridge and pantry purge over the weekend, trying to use up some ingredients and foods that I simply didn’t want to go to waste. There is nothing that I hate more than throwing away perfectly good food.

I had some tart Granny Smith apples in the fridge and a jar of sugar-free caramel sauce so I decided to make a twist on an old-fashioned apple crisp. Let me tell you, this dish tastes great and spreads a wonderful aroma throughout the house. My husband and I couldn’t wait for it to bake.

So here’s a dish for the fall and to celebrate the end of the election season, whether you are happy with the outcomes or not. The bleeping craziness is over. No more phone calls and campaigners ringing door bells, no more political flyers hung on my door and jamming my mailbox, and no more nasty campaign ads on TV. I think a little sweetness is in order, don’t you?

Ingredients
Apple Mixture:
5 Granny Smith apples, peeled and sliced
1/4 cup Orange Juice
1/2 cup Sugar
1 12-oz. jar Sugar-Free Caramel Sauce

Topping:
1 1/4 cups Brown Sugar
1 1/4 cups Oats
1 cup Flour
1/2 cup Butter, softened or slightly melted
1 tsp. Cinnamon
1 tsp. Nutmeg

Mix the apples with the orange juice and sugar in a bowl.

Spread the apple mixture in a 10-inch cast iron skillet or small baking dish.

Slowly heat up the jar of caramel sauce over low heat. Stir constantly until it becomes creamy. Don’t warm it at too high a heat or it will scorch. Don’t microwave it either as the same problem can happen.

Drizzle the caramel sauce over the apple mixture.

For the topping, place the brown sugar in a bowl.

Add the oats…

Flour…

and the butter.

Add the spices and combine all ingredients to get crumbly pea-sized bits of topping.

Spread the topping over the caramel apple mixture.

Bake at 350 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes until bubbly, the apples are cooked through and the topping begins to brown.

Serve with ice cream – the sugar-free variety if you have it. Enjoy!

Upside-Down Cranberry Rumpkin Skillet Cake

So here it is. My absolute favorite cake…period. This luscious cake has everything I love…cranberries, pumpkin, toasted walnuts and, the secret ingredient, rum. It provides an autumnal dance of flavors in every bite – tartness from the cranberries, sweetness from the pumpkin, and a sugary rum topping that puts a big smile on my face. It’s great as a coffee cake, holiday dessert or afternoon snack. I found the recipe years ago in Sunset magazine. During the holiday season, I stock up on bags of cranberries (which I keep in my freezer) and cans of pumpkin so I can have this yummy cake whenever the mood strikes me. (And yes, there is a bottle of Captain Morgan hiding in my pantry…but it’s only for cooking, I swear.)

I bake this in my cast iron skillet, but you can also use a 9-inch cake pan.

Ingredients
1/4 cup Butter, plus more for skillet or pan
1/2 cup firmly packed Light Brown Sugar
1 1/3 cups Cranberries (If using frozen cranberries, measure while frozen, then thaw before using.)
2/3 cup coarsely chopped Toasted Walnuts (To toast walnuts, bake in a 350-degree oven until golden brown, 7 to 10 minutes.)
1 Tbsp. Rum
2 large Eggs
1 cup canned Pumpkin
1/3 cup Canola or Vegetable Oil
1 cup Granulated Sugar
1 1/2 cups All-Purpose Flour
1 1/2 tsp. Baking Powder
1 tsp. Cinnamon
1/4 tsp. Salt
Lightly sweetened soft Whipped Cream (recipe at end)
Parchment Paper

First, toast the walnuts as directed above. Keep the oven on at 350-degrees and butter your skillet or pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.

Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat.

Whisk in brown sugar until blended.

Remove from heat and whisk in rum until a smooth sauce forms. Oooh, you can smell the rummy goodness.

Pour the mixture over the parchment-lined skillet or pan, evenly covering the bottom.

Combine the toasted walnuts and cranberries in a bowl.

Arrange them evenly over the rum sauce.

In a large bowl, add the eggs, pumpkin, oil and sugar.

Beat with a mixer until smooth.

In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.

Add the flour mixture to the pumpkin mixture…

and combine into a thick, smooth batter.

Spread the batter evenly over the cranberries and walnuts…

until completely covered.

Bake in a 350-degree oven for 35-45 minutes until a skewer or knife in the center comes out clean. Transfer skillet or pan to a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes.

Once cool, run a thin-bladed knife around the edges.

Invert cake onto a serving platter or plate. Remove pan and parchment, and let cool for at least 20 minutes. Serve slightly warm with whipped cream.

While your cake is in the oven, make the whipped cream. It is incredibly easy to make homemade whipped cream and you can control its sweetness and flavor. Refrigerate it once made.

Ingredients
1 cup Heavy Whipping Cream
1/4 cup Sugar
1 tsp. Vanilla

Pour the whipping cream in a bowl. With a mixer, beat it until it just starts to stiffen.

Add the sugar and vanilla.

Beat at medium speed until peaks form.

Peaky whipped cream goodness.

Spoon a dollop on top of a slice of upside-down cranberry rumpkin cake. Happy Fall! (I dare you to not eat the whole cake in one sitting.)

Tomato and Cheese Skillet Focaccia

Fall puts me in “nesting” mode, bustling around like a little squirrel preparing my humble abode for winter. I spent the weekend being very domestic – cleaning the house, sprucing up the flower beds and trimming overgrown shrubs. Even though I’m fighting a head cold, it just felt good to be outside in the October sun, enjoying what is probably the last few weeks of warm weather before Old Man Winter settles in.

I also find myself craving to bake…a lot. I love to bake, especially in my skillet, and am always amazed at its versatility. I can bake anything in it – from bread to cake to casseroles – and they always turn out beautifully. (Stay tuned for a future post on my absolute favorite fall cake, also baked in my skillet). So, as I was in a cleansing mode, discovering items in my fridge and pantry that need to be used so I can make room for other things, I decided to bake a tomato and cheese focaccia.

If you don’t have a skillet, you can bake this in a 10-inch cake pan, deep dish pizza pan or springform pan.

Ingredients
1 package Active Dry Yeast
3/4 cup warm Water (105 degrees to 115 degrees F)
2 cups All-Purpose Flour
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/4 cup Olive Oil, divided
1 tsp. Italian Seasoning
6-8 oil-packed, Sun-dried Tomatoes, well-drained and finely chopped
1/2 cup (2 oz.) shredded Provolone Cheese
1/4 cup (1 oz.) grated Parmesan Cheese

Dissolve the yeast in warm water and let it stand for 5 minutes.

Combine flour and salt in a bowl.

Add yeast mixture to dry ingredients

and three Tbsps. of olive oil.

Combine until a ball of dough forms.

On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough for about 6 to 10 minutes, until it is smooth and elastic.

Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl. Turn once to lightly oil the dough.

Cover the bowl with a clean dish towel and let it sit for 30 minutes in a warm area, like a sunlit countertop or near a warm oven.

Once the dough has risen to twice its size

get out all of your aggressions and punch it down. See, baking can be very therapeutic.

Generously oil all surfaces of a skillet or baking dish.

Press the dough into the skillet and brush with remaining Tbsp. of oil.

Sprinkle the Italian seasoning over the top.

Add the finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes, leaving an inch from the edge.

Add the cheeses.

Cover the skillet with a dish towel and let sit for 15 minutes in a warm place. Apparently, focaccia dough likes to hibernate.

Bake in a 425-degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown. Place the skillet on a wire rack to cool.

Once completely cooled, remove from the skillet and serve. Now I can settle down in comfort for the winter.

Foolproof Chili and Skillet Cornbread

Ahhh…fall is just around the corner – this Saturday marks the official start of my favorite season. So what better way to celebrate than with two of my favorite autumnal dishes – chili and cornbread (the two just go together, don’t they?). Now I must confess that I stole this chili recipe from one of my husband’s employees, who stole it from his mom, who won a few cooking awards with it. I was never much of a chili fan until I tried this recipe. Now, I am hooked. What I love most about this recipe is that it isn’t super hot (although you can ratchet up the heat if you want), but it has tons of flavor, includes ground beef and Italian sausage, black beans, and the secret ingredient – fresh corn cut from the cob. It is impossible to mess up this chili (thus the name) and it cooks well in a crock pot in case you want to serve it at potlucks, as a dip with tortilla chips, or tailgating. The cornbread is simple, yet divine, moist and fluffy like a cake. Baking it in a cast iron skillet just makes it that much extra special. Give it a try…and here’s to chilly mornings and turning leaves.

Skillet Cornbread ingredientsSkillet Cornbread Ingredients
1/2 cup Butter, melted
2 Eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups Milk
1 cup Sugar
1 cup Cornmeal
1 1/2 cups All-Purpose Flour
2 tsp. Baking Powder
1/2 tsp. Salt

Whisk together the melted butter, eggs and milk in a bowl.

In a separate bowl, sift together all of the dry ingredients.

Make sure dry ingredients are fully combined.

Add the dry mix, one cup at a time, to the wet ingredients and stir.

Until dry and wet ingredients are completely combined.

Pour batter into a lightly greased cast iron skillet. I placed a cookie sheet underneath to make it easier to carry and to catch any spills – not that I’m a clutz or anything, because I’m not. Really.

Bake in a 350-degree oven for 35 minutes or until a toothpick placed in the center comes out clean. Your cornbread should be lightly golden brown. Check out those edges. I love you cast iron skillet!

Notice how moist and fluffy!

While your cornbread is baking, prepare your chili.

Foolproof Chili Ingredients
1 lb. Ground Beef
1 lb. Ground Italian Sausage, mild (choose hot if you want more heat)
1 10 oz. can RoTel Diced Tomatoes and Green Chilies, mild (or hot, if you like it spicy!)
1 6 oz. can Tomato Paste
1 15.5 oz can each of Black Beans and Red Kidney Beans
1-2 Bell Peppers (I like red and yellow), chopped
1 Jalapeno, chopped (add two, if you can stand the heat in the kitchen)
Fresh Corn cut from 3 corn cobs
1 Tbsp. each of Garlic Salt, Chili Powder, Ground Cumin, Oregano

In a Dutch oven, brown the ground beef and Italian sausage.

Once the meat is browned, add the RoTel tomatoes and tomato paste.

Add the beans.

Then the peppers.

Now the fresh corn.

Mix all ingredients well.

Finally, add all of the spices and herbs and stir into chili.

Cover the Dutch oven with a lid and let the chili simmer for 30 minutes until hot.

Serve with a hearty slice of Skillet Cornbread.