Hope you got to spend some quality time with loved ones and enjoyed good eats on Thanksgiving as we did. It was just last week yet feels like it was eons ago, doesn’t it? We completely stuffed ourselves with roast turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, butternut squash puree with homemade marshmallow fluff topping, roasted root vegetables, brussels sprouts, roasted green beans, cornbread, dinner rolls, salad, cranberry sauce and my favorite – stuffing – also cranberry pear and pumpkin pies. If that wasn’t enough, also made peppermint brookies, for the weekend to go with hot cocoa. I dug into my plate full speed and stuffed myself so quickly that halfway through I had to take a moment of pause.
By 3 PM we were on the couch motionless with our heads tilted back watching the NYC Thanksgiving parade. The larger-than-life floating blimps reminded me that we still have pie. Thankfully, there was room for pie (in very stretchy pajamas) while watching Home Alone with the kids. Do you all remember that movie? It’s hysterical.
Plenty of leftovers made for simple yet stuffed sandwiches and leftover pumpkin pie turned into smoothies with coconut whipped cream. There was no end to the carb fest until Monday, then lunch and dinners got leaner before the frying begins for Chanukah. Ha. It sounds like I’m pulling out a truckload of oil. I kid. Not that much frying, but enough to satisfy these guys over here. I will be sharing a latke (and doughnut) recipe next week.
I did make sure to savor the long weekend before paving through what I knew was going to be an emotionally draining week of school related issues and plenty of paperwork concerning Michael and Ely. I have been working with an advocate to get more school services and non-public school funding (they are in special education) for them and it’s been taking a toll on me … the feeling of not doing enough, not being the best advocate for them that I can be has been rearing its ugly head. It’s moments like this that remind me of the famous quote from Forrest Gump, “life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get” – one of my favorite quotes and coincidentally about one of my favorite foods – so I’m going to roll with the punches and embrace the bittersweet journey for the best.
But then my tour of a special needs school (also this week) and seeing so many children affected with autism didn’t help lighten my heavy heart. Nor did hearing about a senseless shooting a day later at a Regional Center got to me this week. It happened 20 miles away from us, killing 14 people at a holiday party. Regional Centers provides support to individuals with developmental disorders. My prayers are with those who lost loved ones in San Bernardino, CA and everywhere else there have been these tragic shootings. It’s crazy how there are people on this earth who have so much hate, enough to kill so many people. I’m sorry, you guys to be throwing my emotional shit at you, it’s just been one of those weeks. Wish it was always happy-go-lucky behind the blog … sigh.
OK. On a (finally!!) lighter note – I made some chicken pot pie, a comfort food my boys love. I do too, who doesn’t?! But not when it’s heavy on the gravy. I keep it chunky with a good mix of filling; I hope you like it that way do too because there’s a lot of goodness in here. While preparing the filling, I thought a little Chanukah festivity is the antidote to this long week. It was! Imagine the look on their faces when these came out of the oven. They got a chuckle out of my Chanukah pot pies. Michael, especially, he starting singing “if you’re happy and you know it…”! Chicken pot pie makes everyone happy, and if they’re happy, I’m happy.
My older son Jonathan reminded me how it’s been so long since we had chicken pot pie and the times I used to make it for our synagogue congregation meals years ago. (side note: I used to run the kosher kitchen of our synagogue for 3 years, up until my first trimester with my twins… had to learn kashrut law and everything. Think: big lasagna style pans of pot pie to serve 200.). He remembered that I would always make two little ones for him and my now teenage son (a toddler then). How he remembers this stuff is beyond me! Gosh, that was over 10 years ago…way before eating gluten and dairy free. Now that I’ve just dated myself and threw a heavy hardball (ahem) on you I’m going to keep the chicken pot pie short.
Does pot pie really need any description? If you have never tried pot pie now is the time because this stuff is what fall and winter nights is made of.
I should tell you that using Bob’s Red Mill pie crust mix simplifies things greatly; vinegar in the dough will give you the flakiest crust to certainly hearten any gluten and dairy eater and it is lighter than most, allowing plenty of room for latkes.
For some more Chanukah inspiration, check out this sweet potato latke or zucchini parsnip one, these sugar cookies or olive oil cake I made last year and some of my favorites. Or search holiday in the search bar for more recipes.
It only looks time-consuming, but planning ahead will make this comfort food staple fairly quick. Though not a traditional Chanukah food one would expect, it is comforting and delicious for Chanukah, or anytime.
The lighter crust (with the star of David) is with an olive oil wash for my egg-free son Jonathan.
Wishing you a happy and healthy Chanukah to those celebrating Sunday night, and p.s.- thank you for allowing me to share what sits in my heart from time to time.
Have a great weekend you guys!
- 2 bone-in,
skin-onchicken breast halves (about 12 ounces each), or leftover cooked chicken breast
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt plus 1½ teaspoons for filling
- 1 teaspoon crushed black pepper plus 1 teaspoon for filling
- 3 tablespoons grape seed oil
- 2 medium
- 5 carrots, peeled and sliced ¼ inch thick
- 4 celery
stalks,sliced ¼ inch thick
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
- ⅓ cup plus 1 tablespoon organic white rice flour
- 2½ cups unsweetened coconut milk
- 1 package (10 ounces) frozen peas, thawed
- 1 package pie crust mix (I use Bob’s Red Mill GF Pie Crust Mix)
- 1½ sticks (6 oz) non-dairy soy free butter (I use Earth Balance soy free spread), quartered and chilled
- 4 oz organic palm shortening (I use Spectrum Organics), cut into chunks and chilled
- 1½ teaspoon distilled white vinegar
- 7 tablespoons (3 oz) ice water
- 2 egg yolks and 1 teaspoon coconut milk for egg wash (egg free: grape seed oil)
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (204 C).
- For the chicken:
- Place chicken on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper; season with 2 teaspoons kosher salt and 1 teaspoon black pepper. Roast 35-40 minutes. Leave oven on. Let cool slightly; discard skin and bones or use leftover chicken. Shred meat, and set aside.
- For the filling:
- While chicken is roasting, heat 3 tablespoons oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, and cook until softened. Season with remaining kosher salt and pepper. Add carrots, celery, and thyme; cook until carrots and celery are tender, about 10 minutes. Add flour, and cook, stirring for 1-2 minutes, or until flour has been combined into the vegetables. Gradually add coconut milk, stirring until smooth. Cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture comes to a simmer and thickens, about 2 minutes.
- Remove from heat; stir in frozen peas and shredded chicken; taste to see if additional salt or pepper is needed. Pour filling into small oven-safe ramekins (I used 5-8 oz sized le
creusetand 2-12 oz sized). Set aside. Place a rimmed baking sheet into the lower part of the heated oven (or use the same one you roasted the chicken on set with a clean parchment paper).
- For the crust: combine pie crust flour mix with chilled non-dairy butter and palm shortening using a hand-held pastry cutter until pieces resemble the size of blueberries. Add vinegar, then half of the ice water, working it into the dough. Add remaining ice water and continue to work into the dough pressing the pastry cutter into any dry areas until dough looks compressed (if needed, see my pumpkin pie recipe for a visual of this) No chilling time is needed. Using your (clean) hands, form the dough into a ball and place on a piece of parchment or wax paper. Press it down to form a disk about 2 inches thick, dust with white rice flour or tapioca starch (I find other flours to be grainy) then place another sheet of parchment (or wax) paper over the dough and roll out to about a 10X12 inch sheet, ¼-1/8 inch thick. Using a paring knife, cut out 5-inch squares; gently lift up a square and place over the filled ramekin (if it has become too soft, chill for 5 minutes before setting on filled ramekins). While holding the hanging crust, slice off about ½ inch off each end diagonally to resemble a pentagon shape. Lift dough slightly and press all around ramekin. For Hannukah themed top: using the tip of a sharp knife, cut a Hanukkah dreidel or star of David, or any design you like in the middle of the crust. Or simply cut in a 1-inch line or two in the middle to release any trapped air. Using a fork, lightly indent all around the edges. Gather trimmings to form another disc and roll out remaining crusts tops. Repeat until completed.
- Note: For my two larger ramekins I cut 6 x 6-inch squares and trimmed the corners as well. I also had just a tiny tablespoon sized ball of dough left that I rolled out to form the letters for “chai”, which means “life” to place on top of two of them.
- Whisk egg yolks and teaspoon of coconut milk in a small bowl then liberally brush on crusts.For
egg freeoption: brush crust gently with oil. Carefully place all the ramekins on the baking sheet heating in the oven. Bake until golden and bubbling, 25-30 minutes. Let potpiecool 10 minutes before serving.
- Some Notes:
- The baking sheet will catch any bubbling drips that may make a mess of your oven.
- Since 2 of my smaller ramekins broke during our move I used 2 larger sized ramekins, as noted above, to yield 7. It will make 8 if using the smaller-sized and 6 larger sized.
- If making for 3 or 4, freeze remaining to make again.
- To make ahead:
- The filling can be made and refrigerated up to 2 days in advance, or frozen up to a month.
Pre-bakedcrust can also be made the day before or frozen up to a month. I don’t recommend filling the ramekins, topping with crust and then freezing them because the filling will still remain frozen by the time the crust thaws out and doesn’t cook evenly.
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