Sunday, November 14, 2010

When your Garden Dies... Basil Mint Pesto is Born

I have experimented with a few versions of basil pesto recipes and I think I have just struck gold with my latest rendition. The recent shift to cool weather has taken a toll on my little balcony herb garden. The basil is beginning to look sad, and the parsley is virtually non-existent. Today I pulled off the last green leaves from my basil plant and had under a cup, so I combined it with about 1/4 a cup of mint leaves. This resulted in a bright, fresh flavor that tops any store-bought version, and it takes less than 10 minutes to prepare!

In a food processor, add:
3/4 cup of packed basil leaves
1/4 cup of mint leaves
3 tablespoons of toasted almonds (I toasted raw almonds in a pan on the stovetop for about 5 minutes)
1/2 cup of freshly grated parmesan cheese
1/3 cup of olive oil
1 clove of garlic
salt and pepper to taste

And it's as simple as that! Tastes great on bread, sandwiches, pizza, pasta. I plan to use it on spaghetti squash that I will prepare for dinner tonight! Stay tuned for that unique recipe...

Sunday, November 7, 2010

A Lighter Chicken Pot Pie

As a kid, I loved those frozen Marie Calendars Chicken Pot Pies. As an adult, those things go straight to my ass. At 1,000 calories per pie, it just isn't worth the pleasure anymore. But with my first taste of DC's crisp Fall weather, the warm comforting taste of chicken pot pie has been seeping back into my memory. After reading several recipes online, I came up with this light version of chicken pot pie. It has all the rich, comforting flavors of the original, but is only 388 calories per serving. Feel free to switch out the suggested veggies for any of your favorites. This recipe yields a whopping 8 servings, so if you are a single girl like me, try to control your urge to devour the whole thing, and you can have a pot pie feast everyday for a week!

3 cups of fat free chicken broth
1 1/2 cups of frozen peas (thawed)
1 cup frozen broccoli (thawed)
1 cup frozen pearl onions (thawed)
1 cup mushrooms
1 medium baking potato (peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes)
1 medium sweet potato (peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes)
1/2 lbs of chicken breast (cut into bite sized pieces)
2/3 cups of flour
1 1/2 cups of nonfat milk
1 sheet of frozen puff pastry (thawed)
1 1/2 teaspoons of salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons of fresh thyme
2 tablespoons of fresh parsley

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prep vegetables.

Bring chicken broth to a boil in a large pot or dutch oven. Turn down heat to simmer, add all of the vegetables (through sweet potato) and simmer for 6 minutes. Add chicken breast pieces and cook for 5 more minutes. Spoon out vegetables and chicken into a large bowl, leaving just the broth in the pot.

In a medium bowl, whisk together milk and flour until smooth. Add the flour mixture to the pot of chicken broth over low heat. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring often. Add the chicken and vegetable mixture back into the pot with the broth/flour/milk. Stir in the salt, pepper, thyme and parsley and simmer for 3 minutes.
Roll out the puff pastry with a little flour to keep from sticking to the surface. Be sure it is rolled out to fit over an 11 x 7 1/2 inch backing dish. Poor entire mixture from pot into an 11 x 7 1/2 inch baking dish. Carefully lay the puff pastry over the baking dish. Cut several small slits in the puff pastry to allow steam to escape. Cover a large baking sheet with foil, place the pot pie on top (keeps your oven clean). Bake in the oven for 15-17 minutes or until pastry is browned.