Friday, October 18, 2013

Carmelitas: Better Than Brownies

Look at that gooey deliciousness...

This delicious recipe tastes almost like a brownie, except the middle is filled with soft caramel and chocolate. The crumbly oatmeal and cinnamon crust just melts away into each bite. Yes, as your will see, it does require a little patience to let this cool down before you dig in, but good  things come to those who wait!

1 package of caramel melts (11oz.) (or you can make your own soft caramel-- just use this recipe)
1/2 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup butter, melted
3/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup flour
1 cup rolled oats
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup blend of semi-sweet and dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F. Butter an 8x8 inch square baking pan and set aside.

Mix together melted butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, flour, oats, and baking soda. Pat half of the mixture into the baking pan, and bake in the oven for 10 minutes. While this is happening, combine the caramels and cream in a small saucepan over medium heat until melted into a smooth caramel sauce. Or, if you want to make your own caramel, get started on that now. It will take about half an hour to make, so just be sure you don't forget to take out the crust!

Once the crust is out of the oven, sprinkle your chocolate chips over the top. Pour over your caramel sauce so it evenly covers the crust.

Crumble the remaining oatmeal mixture over the top and return this to the oven and bake it for approximately 15-20 minutes, until edges are golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool completely before serving (I know it's tempting, but if you cut into it while it's still hot it will not hold up at all). You can put it into the fridge for a while to speed things up.

If you want to make a 9x13 amount, simply double the recipe, and also allow more cooking time (mine took about a half hour).

Monday, October 14, 2013

Chicken Pot Pie

In celebration of the oncoming of fall, my husband and I decided that we MUST have Chicken Pot Pie. So last night I made my first homemade one. I was always a fan of the frozen ones when I was little, so I was slightly afraid of attempting to make my own. Well, it's safe to say that this is a million times better than the frozen stuff, not to mention much healthier, and not too difficult to make! I am never turning back.

I recommend making your pastry beforehand--the night before or in the early afternoon--and then all you have to do is roll it out when you are ready to put the pie together.

America fears making real pies...I will have none of  this! It's just two silly pieces of pastry with a filling. Seriously guys, it's really not hard at all. I don't want ANY of you to cheat on this recipe! Real pastry is a necessity of life and its SUPER easy! You can even make it in the food processor--and even a week beforehand. You MUST make your own. It's the only way. What's the point of "making it at home" if you aren't even using ingredients! Pillsbury crust, Cool Whip, and Campbell's soup all have their place--in the trash...Yes I am opinionated, and yes my pie is better than your yucky store-bought one. Just try it!

For the Crust:
 -1 recipe of double-layer pie crust dough (see my Peach Pie Recipe)

For the Filling:
-2 chicken breasts, pan-seared til cooked, and diced
-1 red onion
-5 medium-sized carrots
-2 leeks, washed, quartered and sliced
-3 cloves of garlic
-2 medium-sized potatoes, diced
-1 tsp. dried oregano
-2 tsp. salt
-1 tsp. pepper
-1 stick of butter
-1/4 cup of flour
-1 cup heavy cream
-1 cup chicken stock
-1 tsp. dried basil
-1/4 tsp. mustard powder

First order  of business, of course, is chopping up those vegetables. Make sure you clean the leeks really well--they are always sandy. I sliced mine in half lengthwise and then washed out the layers under the tap. Then, slice them again lengthwise, and then into small pieces.

Then, get yourself a stock pot out, and set it over medium heat. Once hot, add in 4 tablespoons of butter. Once melted and bubbling, add in your onions, carrots, garlic, and leeks. Let this all simmer together for about 5 minutes, then add in a teaspoon each of salt, pepper, and oregano. Add the potatoes and continue simmering.

Once the vegetables are soft and golden, transfer to a bowl and set aside. In the same pot, add another 4 tablespoons of butter. Once it melts, whisk in the flour and 1 teaspoon of salt. After about 1 minute pour in the heavy cream. Whisk until thickened. Pour in the chicken stock next, and then add in all of the vegetables, chicken, and mustard powder and basil. Stir together and cook until thickened. Set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, roll out your bottom pastry and set it into a pie dish or square casserole dish. In order to transfer your rolled-out pastry, I find it easier to  fold the pastry in half and then half again (see below).

Poke all over with a fork and precook in the oven at 375F for 8-10 minutes.

After this, fill the crust with your filling, and sprinkle with the sharp cheddar cheese. lay the top crust over the pie (using the same folding method as before), and press in the edges. Cut a few holes in the top for air flow, and paint the top with egg.

Finally, place the pie in the oven at 400F for about 20 minutes, until golden brown on top. 

 Serve with a smile!