Chicken and Biscuits Pot Pie

I danced around my kitchen singing “I’m So Excited” right before digging into this meal, and it turns out I had very good reasons to do so. This pot pie is unbelievably amazing! This recipe takes time, especially if you roast your own chicken and make your own stock like I did, but believe me, every second is totally worth it.

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The filling is creamy and delicious. The chunks of chicken and vegetables are nice and hearty and the sauce has really nice flavor from all the fresh herbs. What really made the sauce so great though was the homemade stock I made it with. You could definitely use a boxed stock, but you really can taste the difference and making stock is SUPER easy. Just take the leftover bones and whatever’s still stuck to them after pulling most of the meat off a chicken and put them into a big pot with onion, celery, carrots and enough water to cover it all. Add a bit of salt and let it simmer for hours. Strain out the chunks, separate out the fat, and you’ve got a delicious stock to use in soups and sauces.

As delicious as the filling is, the real star of this show is the cheddar chive biscuits. When I tasted the bit of batter left on the spoon after forming the biscuits I said to Greg, “Ooh! This stuff is like liquid gold!” And it only got better once baked. The top got a nice golden brown crust from baking, while the bottom was a bit softer and dumpling-like from poaching in the sauce. The dumpling-biscuits were so soft and moist, and not the least bit tough or dry like biscuits unfortunately can be sometimes. And Oh. My. Gosh! The cheese! I used some aged cheddar that I had leftover from another recipe. Normally I wouldn’t buy expensive cheese to put in a biscuit, but since it was already in the fridge I grated it up and tossed it in the batter. (I have a bad habit of leaving leftover bits of expensive cheese sitting forgotten in some dark corner of the refrigerator until I find them weeks later, covered in mold and completely ruined). The aged cheddar definitely pushed these biscuits over the edge from your run-of-the-mill cheddar biscuits into something that completely blew my mind with their fabulousness.

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This biscuit dough was unlike any dough I’d ever worked with before. It is exceptionally loose. Like so loose you’ll feel like you’re trying to dredge a spoonful of liquid in flour and then form it into a semi-solid biscuit-shaped mass. Fear not! This loose batter is what makes the biscuits so soft and dumpling-like. And I promise, you’ll be able to form biscuits with it. Abstract, free form, but super delicious biscuits.

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Greek Salad with Grilled Chicken

Greg was out of town this week for work so I was on my own for dinner. I usually take this opportunity to make meals with ingredients Greg doesn’t like–like mushrooms and blue cheese. After being out of town myself the previous week and several days of eating hot dogs, cheeseburgers, french fries, pie and s’mores, my body really wanted something clean and healthy, so I decided to go with this simple Greek salad. I made the dressing and and prepared the veggies at the beginning of the week, which made it easy to just grill a chicken breast and assemble my salad each night.

In addition to being tasty and healthy, this recipe is really flexible too. You could easily substitute steak for the chicken, or use a grilled portabello cap for a vegetarian option.

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I made several changes to this recipe, but I’ve included a link to the original below so you can try it without my changes if you’d like. First of all, the original recipe had you add fried white potatoes to the salad, but white potatoes really aren’t very good for you, and the whole point of having a salad for dinner is to eat something healthy, so I left out the potatoes. Also the original recipe suggested adding the dressing to a skillet to warm it up for a bit before dressing the salad. I don’t mind warm meat on top of a salad, but I’d rather have my lettuce be cool and crisp so I skipped the dressing warming step.

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Chicken Piccata

I LOVE Italian food! I love it so much that my dream vacation is to travel to Italy with a pocket full of cash and to just eat until I’m broke. Fortunately for my wallet and my waistline I don’t think my husband would let me take it quite to that extreme if we ever go to Italy again. My favorite place to get Italian recipes here at home is from Food Network chef, Giada de Laurentiis. It was actually her show “Everyday Italian” that first sparked my interest in cooking years ago. Everything she makes looks amazing, and I’ve never tried one of her recipes and not liked it.

This chicken piccata is full of flavor and really quick to put together. I modified the original recipe a little bit by adding artichoke hearts because I love them so much. If you don’t like artichokes, or want to be true to the original Italian dish, you can easily leave them out. I like to serve the chicken with sauteed asparagus or broccolini, but it would be delicious with pasta or polenta too.

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Fesenjan

Fesenjan is a Persian chicken stew made with ground walnuts and pomegranate syrup. It’s a really hearty and filling dish, but it’s actually also really healthy. The stew is rich and creamy, but not from the addition of butter or cream. The broth actually gets its creamy texture from ground walnuts! You simmer ground walnuts, pomegranate molasses and water for half an hour, then use that liquid to braise the chicken.  The stew has a tangy sweetness from the pomegranate molasses, exotic flavors of saffron and turmeric, and a slight crunch from the tiny walnut pieces. This is my favorite kind of dish to make at home. One with techniques and ingredients I’ve never used before that ends up introducing me to a whole new world of deliciousness.

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There’s a lot of strong exotic flavors in this dish and unfortunately not all of them are readily available in all grocery stores. Fortunately, the show where I originally got the recipe provided several alternatives so you can still try fesenjan, even if you’re having trouble finding all the ingredients. First of all, if you can’t get a hold of pomegranate molasses, you can reduce pomegranate juice by 1/3 and use that in place of the molasses. Most grocery stores carry saffron, but the price tag can be a bit of a shock. They aren’t kidding when they say this is the most expensive spice! I have to admit I was a bit reluctant to fork over $17.99 for a measly 0.06 ounces of the stuff but looking back on it now, I’m glad I did. It will keep for a really long time in the pantry and you can get a lot of flavor out of just a small pinch by allowing the strands to bloom in a bit of warm water before adding to the recipe. If you can’t find the saffron or just don’t want to pay for it (which is perfectly reasonable) you can get a similarly exotic flavor by using smoked paprika in its place.

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Grilled Marinated Chicken Breasts with Watermelon Feta Salad

I still had half a watermelon left over from when I made the Watermelon and haloumi salad, and I really wanted to find something new and interesting to do with it, instead of just slicing it and eating it. I’ve been on a bit of a Greek kick lately, and when I found this recipe I knew it’d be the perfect way to finish up the watermelon. The salty feta goes great with watermelon, and with the fresh mint and flavorful grilled chicken, this is a perfect summer dinner.

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This recipe is super easy, and comes together pretty quickly once the chicken’s marinated. One thing I really like about this recipe is that it’s a perfect example of how quick and easy it can be to make your own marinade at home. In mere minutes you can make a delicious marinade made out of real, whole foods and avoid all the preservatives and other mystery ingredients that are found in store bought marinades.

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Chicken Paillard

This recipe has become a weeknight staple at our house because it’s quick, healthy and delicious.  The chicken is pounded relatively thin so it cooks quickly, and the carrot slaw is so easy to make that you can easily assemble it before the chicken finishes cooking.  The chicken is dredged in finely ground hazelnuts, so it has the texture of a breaded chicken breast without the carbs, but with the added flavor of hazelnuts.  At first I wasn’t sure how the very different and strong flavors of the slaw ingredients would come together but they actually work together deliciously.  There’s a nice crunch from the carrots, some tang from the vinegar, sweetness from the orange juice and raisins, and saltiness from the olives.  The slaw compliments the dijon and hazelnuts on the chicken perfectly.  I usually have most of the ingredients in my kitchen already, which makes this an especially quick meal to throw together.

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