Thursday, April 17, 2014

Healthier Chicken Pot Pie

I have a confession to make: I drank THREE cokes yesterday. I just really love fizzy drinks but my general rule of thumb is to have no more than 1 or 2 a WEEK. I failed miserably yesterday. Oops! And I could definitely feel it yesterday when I was trying to do on skates sprints and my body just wasn't wanting to go. Being healthy is just SO hard sometimes. I digress.

Especially around this time of year though, I try to eat much healthier. I start craving veggies more and so much is in season that you can get an abundance of watermelon and zucchini for pretty cheap at the market.

I started making this Chicken Pot Pie recipe a few years ago and it's become a staple in my house. The nice thing about this lightened up recipe is that it has NO butter, very little flour (3 tablespoons as opposed to 2 cups), and it's fast and east to make!

2 medium chicken breasts
1/2 cup cooking wine
2 1/2 cups of water
2 cubes of chicken bouillon
6 ounces of fat free evaporated milk
3 tablespoons of flour (use whole wheat flour to make it a bit healthier)
1 roll of phyllo dough
1 1/2 tablespoons of parsley
1 bag of frozen vegetables (you can also use fresh but if you're me, you're making this dish when you're feeling extra lazy)

Pre-Heat oven to 375° F
1) In a medium skillet, combine water, cooking wine, chicken bouillon, and chicken. Bring to a rolling boil and then lower heat to a simmer. Simmer until the chicken is fully cooked (165° F).
2) Remove chicken from the skillet. Save 2/3 cup of the leftover broth for later. 
3) Once it has cooled down a bit, shred chicken and set aside. Don't forget my easy chicken shredding tip!
4) In your same skillet on low low heat, combine the saved broth, flour, and fat free evaporated milk. Cook on low until the sauce thickens which should only take a couple minutes.
5) Once the sauce is thick, add in the parsley, shredded chicken, and frozen veggies. Cook for an additional 3 or 4 minutes until everything is nicely combined.
6) In either 1 greased pie dish or several smaller greased ramekins, line the bottom of your dish(es) with about 4 layers of phyllo dough.
7) Pour mixture into pan(s) evenly and then top with an additional 3-4 layers of phyllo dough. Lightly spray the tops of the pies with cooking spray.
8) Bake pie(s) for 12 minutes or until the phyllo dough begins to turn golden brown.
9) Let cool and ENJOY!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Mini Apple Pies!

Aren't these beautiful!? And they taste even better than they look. I'm honored to be featuring this recipe today with Lauren over at A Touch of Southern Grace. Lauren and I went to high school together in Nashville and I can attest to the fact that she is the epitome of southern grace! Her blog is wonderful and you should definitely check it out!

I had SO much fun making these pies and I can't wait to make them for an actual party as opposed to a Sunday snack for myself. Hah! The recipe for these amazing mini pies can be found over on her blog. I even used my fancy wedding china for the first time just for this recipe. Go check it out!!

Linking up with Buns in My Oven

Monday, April 14, 2014

Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes

This is a recipe that I'm truly proud of. First because it was my first real step in overcoming my fear of baking and second because I actually experimented with it and it ended up SUPER tasty. So, I'm pretty excited to share this recipe today. So excited, in fact, that I felt the above gif was just absolutely necessary. You're welcome. Oh, and I should also warn you that this post is FULL of pictures. I couldn't cut any of the deliciousness out. I just couldn't.
Behold the Strawberry Shortcake Cupcake with homemade whipped cream frosting and a strawberry on top. Isn't it beautiful??
These cupcakes were inspired solely by the strawberry. A few weeks ago I was walking past a candy and pastry shop downtown and saw chocolate dipped strawberries cut in the shape of a rose. I thought this was the best thing ever and instantly knew that I NEEDED to incorporate that into a recipe somehow. And thus, the strawberry shortcake cupcakes. I love them so much.

For the cupcakes I used a classic sponge cake recipe from the Joy of Cooking cookbook, adapted.

Ingredients for cupcakes:
6 large eggs, yolks and white separated in 2 different bowls.
1 cup cake flour, sifted
I cup white sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons water
2/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
zest of 1 lemon
Ingredients for Whipped Cream Frosting:
3 cups heavy whipping cream
5 tablespoons white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Instructions for cupcakes:
Preheat oven to 350° F
1) Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt and then set aside.
2) Using a stand mixer, beat the egg yolk and 2/3 cup of the sugar on high until the mixture becomes  fluffy and thick.
3) With a whisk, beat in the lemon zest, vanilla extract, and water into the egg and sugar mixture. Set aside.
4) In a different bowl, using the whisk attachment of the stand mixer, whisk the egg whites until they begin to foam.
5) Add the cream of tartar to the egg whites and continue beating until soft peaks form. Slowly add 1/3 cup of sugar while continuing to beat the egg whites. Continue to beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks and have a bit of a shine to them.
6) Take your flour mixture and gradually sift it over the egg yolk mixture and fold it all together gently.
7) Once it is thoroughly mixed together, begin to fold in the egg whites mixture in a similar fashion: gradually and gently. Only mix the batter enough so that it is thoroughly combined but do not over mix it.
8) Pour your batter evenly into cupcake liners. I wanted mine rather large so I filled the cups up almost to the top.
9) Bake for about 15 minutes. You'll know the cupcakes are done once you can place a toothpick in the center and it comes out clean. Let cool.
Instructions for Whipped Cream Frosting:
1) Chill metal bowl and whisk of mixer in the freezer for 5 minutes.
2) Whisk heavy whipping cream on medium-high speed until the cream begins to thicken.
3) Gradually add the sugar while continuing to mix on medium.
4) Mix until the mixture forms stiff peaks and has the thick consistency that you want. I wanted mine extra thick and stiff so that it would stand up on the cupcakes nicely. 
Keep refrigerated until you're ready to put it on your cupcakes.
Finally, spoon (or pipe) a generous serving of whipped cream on each cupcake and top with a strawberry and ENJOY! I may or may not have "taste tested" several of these. You know, to make sure that they were good enough for you guys. It happened.

Thanks to this guy for helping me get through the challenges of baking. He stayed by my side the whole time.
Linking up with Buns in My Oven, and Treasure Tromp

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Walk in the Park

A couple weeks ago I had the pleasure of photographing a good friend of mine from high school and her adorable family. I wanted to share a few of the photos. I already can't wait to take more photos of them when their new addition arrives!!