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Saturday, January 7, 2012

Wednesday Night Dinners - Chicken Pot Pie

I hope everyone had a great Christmas and New Year's Day.  I obviously took a bit of a break and have not posted any entries for a couple weeks.  I know I've been remiss, so I thought I kick off the new year with a nice big one and one that's been requested now several l times.

As I've mentioned before, on Wednesday nights I have taken on a ministry of preparing dinner for those who come to church and Awanas.  It has been so exciting for me--something I'm extremely grateful I get to do.  I know when I was working full time, I dreaded Wednesday nights!  

After working all day, I'd have to rush home, hope Joe had gotten the boys fed and they were all done eating, grab all their Awana stuff and review verses with them in the car while I tried to drive through somewhere and eat on the way to church.  We'd usually arrive within a minute or two of starting time (or a minute or two after) and then I'd escort the boys to their classes, make sure Cainan did his verses and finally collapse somewhere while I waited for church to be over.  What I would have given to just go directly to church with the kids, sit down to a nice meal, enjoying their company and practicing their verses with them at the table while we ate.  And now I get to do that for everyone else!!! It is such a blessing to my heart!

The meals have been very successful.  Most people enjoy the cooking and I'm often asked for my recipes--that's not always easy because a lot of my cooking is by feel and taste, though most are based on a favorite recipe in my repertoire.  Also, since I'm often the one doing the shopping for the meals, I'm acutely aware of the cost and do my best to keep it low for the church's sake (they buy all the materials--I just do the cooking).  What I've found is that I routinely make enough for around 75-85 servings and the cost is often way less than a dollar per person.  I'm pretty happy with this cost per serving, especially knowing it's all good, homemade, food (with the exception of the occasional frozen lasagna).

Since the recipes have been requested and because my Facebook friends often comment on my statuses that I post about feeding 75 people for 40 bucks, I've decided to post my Wednesday night dinners each week, along with the cost for each one.  I hope you'll enjoy the recipes and get some great, economical ideas for providing yummy food for your family!

This last week, I made one of our family's and friends' 
favorites.  It was originally a copycat recipe for Marie Calendar's Chicken Pot Pie, though I make some slight variations for our dietary needs.  I knew the church had some leftover turkey from the Christmas dinner and I thought this would be a good way to use it up.  I did all my shopping at Winco this week and I did not use any coupons.  I spent a total of $40.42.  This did not include a turkey breast that the church already had but figure in maybe another $15 for that, as well as another $4-$5 
for salad dressing that was also already on hand.  For a grand total of just under $60.00 we fed at least 75 people (I'm not usually able to keep an accurate count because I'm too busy serving and a lot of people come
back for seconds or thirds).  There was a little left over and I'd say it's safe to say there were 80 servings total.  That makes the whole dinner approximately $0.73 per serving!

The dinner consisted of a turkey pot pie as well as a veggie pot pie (I always include some vegetarian option each week and quite a few people end up eating it whether they are vegetarians or not), along with a green salad and orange quarters (I always include a fruit every week, too), with milk or apple juice to drink. 

Here is the Chicken Pot Pie recipe with notes for the variations I made to create the veggie pot pie.  Enjoy!

Chicken Pot Pie:
Makes 10 servings (approximately 300 calories per serving)

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoons salt
2 egg yolks
3 tablespoons ice water
2/3 cups cold butter

1 cup sliced carrots
1 cup sliced celery
2 cups frozen peas
1 cup chopped white onion
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (or turkey)
4 tablespoons butter
5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 ½ cups chicken broth
2/3 cup milk (skim is fine)
½ teaspoon salt
Dash pepper
1 egg, beaten

 Prepare the crust by sifting together the flour and salt in a medium bowl.  Put yolks and ice water into depression in center of flour.  Slice the butter into tablespoon-size portions and add it into the flour depression.
Cut the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.  When all the flour is moistened, use your hands to finish combining, ensuring the chunks of butter are well blended in.  Roll the dough into a ball, cover in plastic wrap and chill for at least an hour.   (Note: For an easier method to make the dough, I use my food processor.  Put all the ingredients except the ice water in the processor.  Pulse until the mixture resembles course crumbs.  Slowly drizzle ice water in as you continue to pulse.  Continue just until the dough comes together and forms a ball.  So much easier than cutting the butter in by hand!).

 When the dough has chilled, preheat the oven to 425° F.  Steam the carrots and celery for 5 minutes in a steamer.  Add the onions and continue to steam for an additional 10-12 minutes or until the carrots are tender.

Prepare the chicken by poaching the breasts in lightly salted boiling water for 8-10 minutes (Note: You can skip this step by using already cooked poultry--a great use for leftovers!).

 In a separate large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat, add the flour and whisk together until smooth.  Add the chicken broth and milk and continue stirring over high heat until the mixture comes to a boil.  Cook for an additional minute or so until thick, then reduce heat to low.

Cut the poached chicken into large bite-size chunks and add them to the sauce.  Add the salt and a dash of pepper.

 Add the steamed vegetables and peas to the sauce and simmer the mixture over medium/low heat for 4 to 5 minutes.

 As the filling simmers, roll out the dough on a floured surface.  Use the dish/es you plan to bake the pie/s in as a guide for cutting dough.  The filling will fit four 16 oz casserole dishes.  Cut the dough about a half-inch larger then the dish (Note: I use a 9x13 sheet pan, or if I'm feeling fancy, I'll use ramekins for individual servings--the choice is up to you).

Spoon the chicken and vegetable filling into each dish and cover with the dough, sealing the edges.  Brush some beaten egg or butter on the dough of each pie (optional).

Bake the pies for 30 to 45 minutes or until the top crust is light brown (Note: you may want to put pies on a cookie sheet to avoid any messes from the filling boiling over--it occasionally happens).

Veggie Variation: To make the veggie pot pie I created for the Awana dinner, I used vegetable broth instead of chicken broth.  To replace the poultry, I used 1 1/2 cups chopped broccoli and a cup of chopped parsnips.  Steam
these just as the directions called for steaming the other veggies.  Add to the filling during the same step the other veggies are added.  The parsnips add a very sweet flavor to this pie and it was super yummy!

Note: Regarding calories in this dish; I let Cainan eat this but just remove the majority of the the crust in his serving because that's where the majority of the calories are.  Just to give you a more accurate idea; the filling has approximately 125 calories per serving and the crust is about 180 per serving.

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