Hungry for Harvest – Chicken pot pie

I decided that I would start a little feature on my blog called Hungry for Harvest. I’ll post occasional, easy recipes that are a hit at harvest time. And my first one was a doozy!

I’ve never made homemade pot pies before. I don’t mind the one I buy at the store, and I always thought homemade ones were time consuming and difficult. I was wrong. And they are delicious!

The best part? Less than 15 minutes from start to in the oven. Can’t beat that during harvest season! (And I bet it would freeze amazing, too!)

Here’s my ingredients:

  • Two refrigerator pie crusts (go ahead, make your own, I’m just not that good)
  • Chicken breasts, cooked, cut up and seasoned to your liking
  • Frozen bag of mixed veggies (whatever you like)
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • Heavy whipping cream (milk, half-and-half, all work)

I sprayed a glass pie plate with olive oil, and then laid out one pie crust.

In a pan, I heated the chicken, soup, veggies and cream. Mix thoroughly.

Dish into the pie plate, top with second crust.

Pinch together the two pie crusts. I then pressed the edges with a fork. Slice four slices in the crust, about an inch from the edge.

Cook in the oven at 375 for about 25 minutes, or until crust is golden.

chicken pot pie slice

Not the cleanest photo, but that’s real harvest cooking right there.

Stand back as the herd devours supper.

Four and twenty chickens...baked in a pie.

Four and twenty chickens…baked in a pie.

Knephla (Knefla) soup – retake

A little while back I posted a recipe for Knephla soup with a home-made broth. I thought I’d revisit this post, but take a few new pictures (and I used a ready-made broth, for time). Check it out, and be sure to share!

Knephla soup is simply a dough-based soup. Super easy to make, especially with a simple broth. Today I used 2 32 oz. containers of chicken broth and one can of cream of potato soup.

Ingredients:

  • 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp. salt (to your taste)
  • package frozen veggies (again, to your taste)
  • 3 chicken breasts, browned and chopped (you can also use ready-cooked chicken)

To make knephla dough, simply add the flour, egg and water and mix until a dough ball forms. You know the dough is done, when it doesn’t stick to the side of your mixer. If the dough is dry (flaky in the bowl), add a touch of water…if it’s wet (sticky mess), add a touch of flour. When adding to the dough, do so in small amounts. It doesn’t take much to get it to just the right consistency.

I love chopping celery. Well, anything, really.

I love chopping celery. Well, anything, really.

To the broth above, add in the vegetables (you could also use fresh carrots, celery, potatoes, whatever you’d like…I just happen to have a bag of frozen handy) and the chicken.

To make it faster tonight, I used pre-cooked chicken.

To make it faster tonight, I used pre-cooked chicken.

Bring the broth with all your goodies in it to a boil.

Roll dough into strips, then cut the knephla into small pieces. (I usually cut it directly into the kettle.)

Roll dough into strips, then cut the knephla into small pieces. (I usually cut it directly into the kettle.)

To make the actual knephla, tear off a chunk of dough and roll it into a strip. Think about half the width of a paper towel roll. Take your kitchen scissors (or your kids’ scissors…washed) and cut small pieces off the strip, directly into the broth. They may sink right away (unless you have a ton of stuff in your kettle, like veggies, meat, etc.), but they’ll float when the dough has cooked through (about 2-3 minutes). Keep cutting and rolling and cutting and rolling, until all the dough is in your pot.

My knephla always looks a bit more like stew, than soup.

My knephla always looks a bit more like stew, than soup.

Simmer for 10-15 minutes.

Yum! A delicious bowl of knephla soup, ready for supper!

Yum! A delicious bowl of knephla soup, ready for supper!

Enjoy!

Table Talk Contributor

Val’s Farm-ous Lasagna

When I think about my hours spent in the kitchen on the farm, my first instinct is to grab my lasagna pan. Whenever we work cattle, have a crew out to help or need to work together on a project, I know that I can never go wrong with the cheesy, meaty greatness that is my “Farm-ous Lasagna.”

So here it is…AND I have a crew to feed it to today!

This is what we’re doing:

This is corn that has been chopped and will be used this winter to feed our cattle. We have a crew of 7 here today to help us get our feed ready!

This is corn that has been chopped and will be used this winter to feed our cattle. We have a crew of 7 here today to help us get our feed ready!

And I’ll be sure to explain it more later.

But for now, here’s the recipe:

Val’s Farm-ous Lasagna

Ingredients:

  • ground beef, browned (I use 1 1/2 pounds of meat, but not everyone likes their lasagna THAT meaty, use your discretion.)
  • 1 can pasta sauce
  • 4 cups shredded cheese of your choosing (I prefer the pizza mix, because it melts so yummy!)
  • 1 22 oz. container cottage cheese (I use low-fat…which is almost laughable because of the amount of cheese in my lasagna, but I didn’t ask your opinion, now did I? :) )
  • lasagna noodles, about 12, depending on your pan size, cooked al dente’ and drained/rinsed

1) Add pasta sauce and browned hamburger together in a skillet. I make sure it’s all warmed together before layering my lasagna.

This is how I start my lasagna, with a layer of sauce.

This is how I start my lasagna, with a layer of sauce.

2) Layer your lasagna: I always start with a base of sauce/burger mixture at the bottom, then a layer of noodles, then a layer of sauce again, cottage cheese and shredded cheese. Continue layering, ending with shredded cheese that covers the whole pan. (I use one package of cheese in the layering, and one package just for the topping…I like cheese.) Like this:

3) Bake at 350* for about 30 minutes, or until you notice the sauce in the lasagna starts boiling.

Can we say, "YUM!"

Can we say, “YUM!”

4) Enjoy! And perhaps consider hitting the gym for a little extra time tonight. The beauty of this recipe? If possible, it tastes even better as leftovers. Unfortunately, it’s been a year or two since my boys left us any leftovers!

* I am participating in Indiana’s Family of Farmers Table Talk Series and received a gift in exchange for my participation.

Table Talk Contributor

German Knephla Soup with made-from-scratch broth

Let me tell you, I’ve always been amazed at people that can make meals from scratch. Somehow, the thought of just throwing stuff together and hoping that it turns out has always terrified me…but that’s not so much the case any longer.

You see, I have four boys – and aside from one on a very special diet – they will eat anything. And lots of anything. Lots and LOTS of anything.

Scooter and his older/younger brothers. He's the one in the football gear.

Scooter and his older/younger brothers. He’s the one in the football gear.

Yesterday I started what was to be supper last night, but Boss Man surprised me by having put something in the oven for supper already. So I saved it for today (which actually made it healthier).

This post is actually two recipes in one, so be sure you read all the way to the end, you don’t want to miss it!

Soup base

  • 1 soup bone (in this case, I used a whole half-smoked turkey, you can use a beef bone, ham bone, chicken, etc – leave the trim meat on it…whatever type of base you want to make)
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • celery salt, approx. 1 tsp. (you can also just use 3-4 stalks of celery)
  • couple shakes of pepper (I apparently have inherited my Grandmother’s gift of measurement)
  • 3 bay leaves

Put all together into a stock pot or kettle with water. I filled my kettle about 2/3 full of water. It depends on how strong you want your broth, how much you’re going to need for the final recipe, etc. Turn the temp up to medium and bring it to a boil. Keep it boiling for 30-45 minutes. The longer it cooks, the more flavor you’ll draw out. As the meat starts to fall off, you’ll know when it’s about done.

Getting ready to make my broth.

Getting ready to make my broth.

When the broth is to your flavor desire, take out the bone and discard. I always leave the meat in for my soup. (It usually doesn’t have much flavor left, but adds to the texture.)

Notice how most of the meat has fallen off? I picked a little more off as I was pulling out the bones.

Notice how most of the meat has fallen off? I picked a little more off as I was pulling out the bones.

Warning – chicken will cook faster than a beef or ham bone. You’ll want to be sure to get all the bones out! (Lesson learned the hard way.)

If you’re making soup that day, just add your other ingredients and enjoy! If your soup-making day is a little ways off, place the broth in the fridge and let it cool. If you let it cool first, all the fat will harden at the top, making it easy to skim off.

If you’re soup seems to be lacking a little something, you can easily play with it, by adding a little extra chicken bouillon, beef bouillon, etc.

Now, on to the good part:

Knephla Soup

Knephla soup is simply a dough-based soup. Super easy to make, especially with the broth above.

Ingredients:

  • 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp. salt (to your taste)
  • package frozen veggies (again, to your taste)
  • 3 chicken breasts, browned and chopped

To make knephla dough, simply add the flour, egg and water and mix until a dough ball forms. You know the dough is done, when it doesn’t stick to the side of your mixer. If the dough is dry (flaky in the bowl), add a touch of water…if it’s wet (sticky mess), add a touch of flour. When adding to the dough, do so in small amounts. It doesn’t take much to get it to just the right consistency.

To the broth above, add in the vegetables (you could also use fresh carrots, celery, potatoes, whatever you’d like…I just happen to have a bag of frozen handy) and the chicken. (I cheated this time and used some chopped ham that we had leftover. The smoked turkey tastes a lot like ham, so it was an easy add in. With the salty ham, I skipped salt in the broth, so that it wasn’t too salty in the end.)

Bring the broth with all your goodies in it to a boil.

To make the actual knephla, tear off a chunk of dough and roll it into a strip. Think about half the width of a paper towel roll. Take your kitchen scissors (or your kids’ scissors…washed) and cut small pieces off the strip, directly into the broth. They may sink right away (unless you have a ton of stuff in your kettle, like veggies, meat, etc.), but they’ll float when the dough has cooked through (about 2-3 minutes). Keep cutting and rolling and cutting and rolling, until all the dough is in your pot.

Simmer for 10-15 minutes.

Enjoy!

German Knephla Soup - No matter how you spell it, it all ends up the same...GONE!

German Knephla Soup – No matter how you spell it, it all ends up the same…GONE!

 

Starting the day right

With the changes made to the school lunch program, our school lunch menu now offers cereal, toast, juice and milk for breakfast. No meat/meat alternative protein source.

So I stumbled across a recipe that will make our mornings start off on a great note, and will hopefully help tide my kids over until lunch. It was simple, easy and best-of-all, a great breakfast option.

Check it out:

Baked Eggs

First, I started off with a muffin tin, cooking spray, and eggs.

Muffin tin, eggs and cooking spray.

Spray down your muffin tin, crack an egg in each spot.

I added a little salt and pepper, so that I controlled the amount they used!

Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes (until done).

Voila! Done!

Let them cool (or eat right away!), slide out of the pan, place in freezer bags and pop them in the freezer.

I put 4 in a bag, 2 for Scooter, 1 for Big Bro and 1 for EJ.

I can now grab a bag, microwave it for 30-45 seconds, throw it on an English muffin, serve with a slice of toast or just simply let them eat as is. Simple, easy and a great source of protein in the morning…and we all know how important breakfast is, right?

Well, at least most of us.

School Lunch and Obesity: Part 2

Over the weekend I shared my thoughts on the school lunch issue. For those that may not know what I’m referring to, the USDA has put into place guidelines that school must follow in order to qualify for funding through the free and reduced-price meals program. Those guidelines include:

So, where is my problem? My first response was an emotional one. I don’t believe some of the guidelines are fair and they definitely don’t take into consideration the different needs and requirements for different students. We don’t expect our children to all learn the same, so why do we expect them to eat the same?

First of all, let’s look at the meat/meat alternative issue. I have yet to meet anyone that has ever dealt with nutrition/weight loss issues that has not learned the importance of protein in your diet. According to dietary guidelines and a discussion with a dietician, my 105-pound, 5′ 1″ 8-year-old needs about 58 grams of protein per day. To clarify, “From the ages of 4 to 6, he needs 0.5 g per lb., decreasing to 0.45 g per pound between 7 and 14 years of age. Depending on his weight and daily calorie intake during these years, he may need to consume between 7 and 15 percent of his total calories as protein.” Read more: http://www.livestrong.com/article/519852-what-percentage-of-protein-do-children-need-each-day/#ixzz26vHPnKoF

He will receive roughly 14 grams through the school. (There are approximately 7 grams of protein per ounce of meat, and the school lunch will serve 1.5-2 oz.) That’s a lot to make up in the course of his meals at home.

And that’s not the only catch with protein. Animal protein and plant-based protein are two different things. For the essential amino acids, animal protein is a “complete” protein, meaning that it provides all that you need. Plant-based protein is “incomplete”, needing two to make one complete protein. It’s not a difference in how the body breaks it down, just how it’s used. If you aren’t using animal proteins, you just need more to get your essential amino acids. (Sound complicated? It is. Which is why I can’t even begin to understand why we would try to make this a one-size-fits-all type of diet. Our bodies don’t work that way.)

Let’s look at the calorie requirements. According to Mayo Clinic (and we work closely with a team of dietitians from Mayo through George’s disorder), children Scooter’s age require 1,200 to 2,000 calories per day, depending on growth and activity level. I would guess that would be plenty sufficient for EJ, since he’s 5 and on the smaller side of the scale. But it won’t touch Scooter’s needs. Not even close.

The requirements for increased vegetable choices, lower sodium intake, etc. Yay! I’m all for those types of changes. Let’s offer our children more, expand their palates, show them how great a well-balanced meal can be! Yes, yes and yes! I will be one of the biggest supporters of these types of changes…but the rest, well, the rest leaves me hungry for more information. And leaves my children just plain hungry.

There are a few comments that were left that I would like to respond to here. The first is the remark that I have the option to pack a lunch for my child, if I feel that the school lunch is inadequate in any way. And although that is true, I shouldn’t have to resort to those types of measures daily, just so that my child is fed enough to make it through the day.

But let’s say that I DID pack my son’s lunch each day. How does that make things better for the child that doesn’t have a parent at home to pack a lunch, or the funds to purchase an extra serving. Shouldn’t we be protecting those that cannot protect themselves? Isn’t that the purpose of living in this country that we call home? Should I just sit back and let things take its course because I’m fortunate enough to be able to provide whatever meal my children request at school? Is that the right attitude?

Second of all, a comment was made about children needing to pick up the proper eating habits at a young age, so those habits can continue on into adulthood. And I agree 100%. Expand our children’s minds, give them more options, require that fruits/vegetables and other foods are consumed before offering seconds. I’m all for any/all of those types of changes. Serve my child beets, different types of greens, oranges, etc. Please!

I grew up in a house where food was not always plentiful. There wasn’t an open-cupboard policy and we sometimes relied on other means to put food on the table, whether it be hunting and butchering our own, garden staples, foodstamps or commodities. My mother canned all sorts of things, including sausage and chicken. We would butcher as many as 500 chickens in the fall, partly to fill our pantry and partly to sell to others. (It’s part of the reason that I still, to this day, cannot handle raw chicken. Seriously.)

My children do not know what it’s like to not have the option of more food. And I think that it helps in the long run. They do not stuff themselves because they don’t know when the next good meal will be. They know that when they are hungry they can eat, and so they eat a reasonable amount and they eat sensibly. But I know they are the exception, not the rule.

Are there improvements I can make when it comes to meals and choices for my children? Certainly. And I’m working on them regularly. Yet having my children come home hungry enough that they are willing to grab whatever is nearest and stuff themselves with it? Well, that doesn’t seem like the right lesson to teach. I’m just grateful that I’m here to intervene.

But what about those that aren’t so fortunate?

If you check out my first blog post in this series, the bottom has links from people that have weighed in on this issue. It’s important, not just for our children, but for their futures as well. Any other comments/questions? I will continue to write about/address these issues as we work through these changes as a family. I’d love to hear your take.

Hunk of Meat Monday – Cheesy Chicken Hashbrowns

I had part of a bag of hashbrowns leftover this weekend, so I decided to throw some stuff together and it turned out to be such a big hit, that I thought I would share it with you!

Cheesy Chicken Hashbrowns

Ingredients:

  • package of frozen hashbrowns
  • shredded chicken (I used the Schwan’s Philly Style Chicken, but you could even use the fajita meat, leftover chicken, etc.)
  • shredded cheese
  • butter

Simply start the hashbrowns the way you normally would.

Start off with a little bit of butter in the bottom of a skillet. After it’s melted, throw your hasbrowns in and cook as you normally would.

Split the pan in two, and cook (heat-through) your chicken on one side.

When the hashbrowns are just about done, flip them over, so they take up only half the pan. Throw your chicken in on the empty half and let it cook (or reheat, whatever it may be).

When chicken is cooked-through, combine the two.

When the chicken is heated through, combine the two halves together and cook until done. (Crispy, not-so-crispy…whatever your preference for hashbrowns.)

Top with cheese. Why? Because there is nothing that isn’t better with cheese…well, except maybe ice cream…maybe.

Top with cheese. Serve, enjoy! Super simple, but oh, so good! You could also add in onions, peppers, mushrooms, etc.

Super simple meal, easy way to use leftovers!