Friday, October 17, 2014

An Enjoyable Fall Evening + Homemade Chicken Pot Pie in Puff Pastry Cups Recipe

This week has been so beautiful. The sunrises are unreal shades of bllues, pinks and oranges - colors impossible to capture on film or in paint. A blogger that I follow, who lives in Mexico, is touring New Mexico and she is so taken with the kind of light that we get here. She has posted many photos of the sky with clouds, the sunrise, the sunset, etc. It sort of encourages me to see those things through her lens, as well as my appreciative one.

My classroom is on the second floor of the old part of our building, which has a small courtyard in the middle that is home to three trees. Each morning, during passing periods, I go over to the window, look out over the sky and admire the trees. One is a deep rusty red with twinges of pupley-red on the edges. Another smaller tree is draped in a golden hue with a blush of orange. The third tree, much smaller than the others, has leaves the color of leather with bits that look like they've been dipped in brown paint. At the beginning of the week the trees were fully adorned and the ground was still a deep, rich green. Now the ground is carpeted with the leaves that are falling from the trees. Since they live in a courtyard, the leaves are undisturbed by wind and thus, they do not commingle with each other. I imagine that when I return to school on Monday the trees will be but skeletons and the ground will be a kaleidoscope of of colors that deepen in hue each day.

This week I have also been doing a bit of art. I made a few small pieces to send off to friends who are part of an mail art exchange that I organized. This time I used small pieces of clay board to make Day of the Dead inspired art that is more flashy and blingy that I usually do, but it was so much fun!

The other day Larr noticed that a big ponderosa pine was being cut down in front of a house that he passes on his way to work. As he traveled back home that afternoon he found that the tree was gone and the wood was neatly stacked next to the road. Larr make an inquiry as to whether that wood was available for the taking, and it was, so he filled the SUV with the fragrant wood and had Kohlton go by to fill up his truck as well. The kids, Ellie, Kohlton and Brandon, were happy to help unload the wood and stack it in the back yard so that it will be ready to fuel our evening fires. The scent of the pine was heavy in the air, lingering there all evening. Later that evening we had a fire and used some of the new wood. It is so heavy with fresh pitch that the end of some of the pieces seemed to be boiling.

The stacked wood is so textural and lovely. It reminds me of a display I saw a few years ago at the Cherry Creek Arts Festival. A young man created art by arranging coins of wood in a deep frame. It looked a lot like this stack. Ever since seeing that man's art, I have wanted to make the same thing. This evening I am going to pick out some pieces of wood from the pile and set them aside for such a project. Larr says that I need to let them sit for a few month and that if I tried to cut them now, I would just end up with a gummed up blade.

The art looked a lot like this, but in a frame:

We also had a nice dinner of breaded green beans (which are about as good as french fries)and chicken pot pie in puff pastry cups. I offered the pumpkin spice cake with cinnamon glaze for dessert, but everyone was too full to have any of it. (I have included the chicken pot pie recipe below. It is a keeper.)

As Larr and I enjoyed the fire, the kids and the dog were in the living room, making music. It was fun to see them having fun like that.

I am now onto my next project. I am making a shrine for the contest at Two Hands. I am happy with the progress I am making.

Chicken Pot Pies with Puff Pasteries
via:A Happy Food Dance

1 package puff pastry, thawed
3 chicken breast halves
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon thyme
1 tablespoon rosemary
1 tablespoon pepper
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, chopped
3 medium carrots, chopped
12 ounces cremini mushrooms, stems removed and diced
½ cup flour
½ cup white wine
3 cups chicken stock
½ cup heavy cream
1 cup shelled green peas
1 egg
2 tablespoons water

To roast the chicken, preheat oven to 425 degrees.
On a baking sheet lined with foil, lay breast skin side up and drizzle with olive oil. Season with thyme, rosemary, pepper and salt. Rub the seasonings all over the chicken and under the skin.
Roast chicken for 30-45 minutes, until chicken reaches 165 degrees internally and juices run clear.
Remove chicken, allow to cool, and then shred removing any bones, skin or fat. Do not discard pan drippings, this is full of flavor and will be used for our filling.
In a large saucepan, combine butter and drippings from the roasted chicken. Bring to medium-high heat and add onions, carrots and mushrooms. Cook stirring occasionally until onions are translucent, 3-5 minutes.
Stir in the shredded chicken, then sprinkle the flour over the top and stir again until everything is incorporated, cooking for an additional minute. Deglaze the pan with the white wine, stirring up any bits that have stuck to the bottom of the pan.
Slowly add the chicken broth while continuing to stir, cook until sauce has thickened.
Once it starts to thicken add salt and pepper to taste.
Add the heavy cream, continuing to stir. Let the mixture bubble and thicken, cooking an additional 3 minutes or so. If it seems overly thick, you can add a little more broth slowly.
At this time add your peas and give one more stir.
Pour your filling into the dish size you have chosen. I did 6 - 6" ramekins but you could do one large baking dish.
Roll out the puff pastry just enough to cover, with about 2" excess, your dish. Press the dough against the sides so that it sticks.
Using a knife, cut little vents here and there in the surface of the dough.
Beat egg and water and brush mixture all over the top of the crust (you will have extra egg wash).
Place your dish over top of a baking sheet, these might bubble over a bit and bake for 25-30 minutes or until your crust is golden brown and you filling is bubbly.
If your crust starts too get to brown, you can cover it lightly with foil.

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