Canning Plum Jelly

Well, actually restarted. My mother had a large garden for a number of years in the great state of Ohio. (Best tomatoes are grown in Ohio – IMO). We also had several fruits growing in the yard – strawberries, raspberries and black berries. She made jellies and jams with the fruit and canned the veggies. I recall one bad experiment — she tried to make ketchup. She reduced and reduced – and burned it. Smelled very bad; that batch was thrown away. I’d helped her with the canning process – mostly washing the jars and watching the timer – and keeping my brothers out of the kitchen. Good memories.

I’d been wanting to do some canning and when I saw those plums, I decided to go for it. So I fired up Amazon and ordered jars and tongs. I also ordered the smaller All American Pressure Canner. This one can handle pint and quart jars. You can also use it as a pressure cooker.

Canner

Canner

I’ve always wanted to experiment with the pressure cooker but have been a little afraid of it. This model has a couple of safety features that I liked. As I wrote in my last post, you don’t need the pressure component for jellies and jams – which is good because I’m still working up to using the pressure part.

Using the recipe in the Ball book, here are the steps I used to make 8 pints of Plum Jelly:

canning_book

Ball Book

 

Step 1: Gather the equipment and ingredients. This included purchasing the jars, canner, jar labels, plums, lemons, sugar and pectin. You’ll need a small pan in which to warm the lids and rings and a large pot in which to make the jelly. You should also have tongs, jar holders, oven mitts, paper towels or washcloth, towel (or silicon mat), wire rack, a ladle and funnel.

cannings_equip

Canning Equipment

 

Step 2: Make the juice. Following the juicing steps in my last post. You can do this ahead of time and store the juice in the refrigerator until ready to use – the sooner the fresher tasting.

Step 3: Prepare the jars and lids. First wash them; you can run the jars through a dish washer cycle if you wish. Fill the small pan with about 2 inches of water and add the lids and bands. Set on low heat on back burner – this is just to keep them warm – don’t boil them. Next, put the rack in the canner and fill the canner about half full of water and set on a big burner on high heat. Fill the jars with warm water and set them in the canner – do not let the jars touch. The water should cover the jars.

Prepare jars

Prepare jars

Step 4: Prepare the work area. Not that the other steps aren’t important but this is very important for speed and also safety. I am lucky in that I have a large straight path from from stove burners to the sink to the rest of the counter. So I am able to line up everything. I set  a towel on my counter (you could probably use a silicon mat as well) to hold the filled jars while I put the lids and bands on them. Have ready a paper towel or cloth to wipe the rims after filling and before putting on the lids and bands.

Step 5: Make the Jelly. Add the juice to the large pot and bring to a roiling boil. Add the pectin to the juice – stir to completely dissolve. All the sugar all at once and bring back to a rolling boil. Let boil for about a minute – the jelly should be thickened. Remove from heat.

Step 6: Fill and cap the jars. This is the tricky part for me; I do the jars two at a time. Using jar lifter, pull one jar out of the canner and dump the water out of the jar and back into the canner. Place the jar on the towel for filling. Using a ladle and funnel, fill the jar to within 1/4 inch of the jar rim. I fill a second jar in the same way. Wipe the rims to ensure there is no residue on the rims; if you don’t do this, it’s possible your jar won’t seal and your jelly cannot be stored. Using tongs, lift a lid out of the warming pan and lay on a jar top. Do this for the second jar. Using a oven mitt, hold a jar and put a band on the jar to ‘finger-tight’. This means it is barely tight; this allows excess air to escape during the canning process. Do the same for the second jar. Continue this pattern until you have all 8 jars capped.

Step 7: Process the jars. This is where you will boil the heck out of the jars – by heck I mean any remaining bacteria that could cause your jelly to spoil during storage. Read this for more information on bacteria spoilage. Place each jar back in the canner, again not allowing them to touch. You may have to adjust the amount of water in the canner – just make sure there is about an inch of water covering the top of the jars. Close the canner according to the non-pressurized instructions and bring the heat up to high. After steam begins to come out of the steam vent, start your processing timer. Allow to boil for the amount of time directed by the recipe. This was 15 minutes I believe. Turn off the heat. Again, following the directions in the receipt, remove the canner cover and let the jars sit for 5 minutes.

jars_in_canner

Processing Jars

 

Step 8: Remove the jars from the canner. Using the jar lifters, pull out the jars and set on the wire rack to cool. They should remain untouched for 12 hours.

plum_jelly_jars

Cooling Jars

 

Step 9: Clean up. Let the canner cool completely before emptying — it’s very heavy and hot — this could take a couple of hours. Clean the rest of the equipment and kitchen.

Step 10: Checking for proper seal. If you’ve done everything right, you should hear the seal ‘ping’ within a few minutes of removing the jars from the canner. After 12 hours, test the seal by 1) pressing down in the center of the lid – it shouldn’t move and 2) removing the ring and holding the jar up by the lid – it shouldn’t come off the jar. The sealed jars should be labeled with the contents and date of canning and can be stored in a non-refrigerated cabinet and used within a year. If a jar doesn’t seal, you can freeze the product or refrigerate and use within a week. OR you could reprocess the jelly. If you reprocess, you’ll need new lids. I just froze mine.

I also canned apple pie filling (my own recipe) and another recipe from the Ball cook called ‘Apple Pie in a Jar’. Yummy.

apple_pie_in_jar_jars

Apple Pie in A Jar

 

Apple Pie Filling

Apple Pie Filling

I was only able to achieve 50% seals on these first attempts but I am certain I will get better with more practice.

I plan to create an amazing spaghetti sauce and can it next. I’ll have to use the pressurized method with that one.

Happy canning!

 

 

GramCeesHouse Apple Turnovers

I asked you to help me decide what to make this weekend – you said apple turnovers. It would seem easy – some dough and some apples. Not so fast! These require puff pastry dough. So I had to decide — should I make or buy puff pastry? I’d made puff pastry before – not hard but seriously time consuming. So, I opted for the frozen pre-made puff pastry sheets.

Puff Pastry Sheets

Puff Pastry Sheets

Even using these sheets, there are some pitfalls to making turnovers. But it’s not too hard – just follow the recipe and the steps and you’ll get an excellent result. The recipe I followed came from my trusty Joy of Cooking cookbook. Here are the steps I used:

Step 1: Assemble the ingredients. If you’ve been reading my posts, you’ll have noticed this is always my first step. The pastry will have to thaw prior to using – the time it takes to thaw depends on your room temperature.  I removed them from the box and set aside to thaw. Peel the apples and set aside. Toss the apples with the flour, cinnamon, sugar, salt and lemon juice. Put bowl into the refrigerator until needed. TIP: You can make the apple mix ahead of time.

Peeled Apples

Peeled Apples

Lemon

Lemon

Lemon Juice

Lemon Juice

Apple Turnover Filling Ingredients

Apple Turnover Filling Ingredients

Step 2: Prepare the rolling surface. I’m all about quick cleanup. So I cover my surface with plastic wrap. To make it stick, put some water drops on the surface and then cover with the plastic wrap. Sprinkle it with flour to keep the dough from sticking.

Rolling Surface Prep

Rolling Surface Prep

Step 3: Roll the pastry dough into an approximate 10 by 10 square. The frozen dough will have fold marks in it when you lay it out. Using wet fingertips, pinch these edges together and then roll. TIP: Make sure you flour your rolling pin and start slowly – the dough may want to roll up onto your rolling pin. If this happens, just roll it backward until it falls off. Reflour your pin after each pass at the beginning. After a few rolls, the dough won’t stick.

Start Pastry Rolling

Start Pastry Rolling

Rolled Pastry

Rolled Pastry

Step 4: Fill and close. As per the recipe, cut the square into four smaller squares, turn over, put filling into the center, paint two edges with lightly whipped egg, fold and seal with a fork.

Sealed Turnover

Sealed Turnover

Step 5: Ready for baking. Transfer triangle to a baking sheet. Repeat for the other three squares. Cut three small slits the tops. Brush tops with egg white and sprinkle cinnamon and sugar. Put pan into refrigerator.  The pastry needs to be firm when it is put into the oven; cooling it will make it firm again.

TIP: Remove first pastry sheet rolling surface plastic wrap and throw away.

Rolling Cleanup

Rolling Cleanup

Step 6: Repeat Steps 2 – 5 for the other pastry sheet. You will have 8 triangles ready for baking. You’ll notice I use foil lined pans; this makes for easy cooling and pan clean up.

Turnovers Ready for Oven

Turnovers Ready for Oven

Step 7: Bake. I followed the recipe — 15 minutes at 400 and then 15 minutes at 350. I changed the pans top to bottom and bottom to top when I changed the temperature to help keep the bottoms from burning and to give an even top color.

Step 8: Remove and cool. After removing from the oven, transfer the foil sheets (with the turnovers on them) to wire racks to cool. When they are cool enough to handle, remove from the foil to the serving plate.

Turnovers Cooling

Turnovers Cooling

With this batch I had one ‘ugly’ triangle – the dough kept splitting when I folded it. But it still tasted great.

Thanks for helping me decide to make apple turnovers today.

Enjoy!

The Onion Dill Rye Quest

How can I make an authentic rye bread with those onion and dill undertones? That is what I asked myself after sampling a loaf made by a local commercial bakery. It was caramel colored, soft crusted, denser than white but just a touch sweet – and the onion and dill flavor of course. So far I’ve made two attempts — the second coming close. Here are the steps I took:

Loaf One – Hearty German Rye

I bought my bag of rye flour and on the back was a recipe for a hearty German style loaf. I thought, OK I’ll try it and add my modifications. The original recipe is here.  I halved it, didn’t have any gluten or caraway and added 1 tsp. dill and 1/2 cut of onions.

Step 1: Assemble the ingredients.

ger_rye_ing

Hearty German Rye Ingredients

In the right side of the photo, you’ll notice a container. I keep all my baking products in containers and zip lock bags. This keeps things organized and deters bugs. In the left side of the photo, notice the bread machine container. I always pull the container out of the machine to add the ingredients; it helps keep the machine clean.

baking_storage

Baking storage

Step 2: Fill the container and bake. I put the dry ingredients into the container – making a hill in the center with the flour. Next, put the wet ingredients (except the yeast and water) around the sides of the flour hill. Dissolve the yeast in the very warm water in a measuring cup and let it stand for a minute. Make a well in the flour hill and pour the yeast water into the well. Let it set for a minute; this lets the yeast start working. Carefully carry the container over to the machine and snap it into place.

bread_machine

Bread Machine

Set the machine to a light crust and start the machine. Three hours later – your bread is done.

Step 3: Remove and cool the bread. Take the container out of the machine and invert over a wire rack. Let cool.

germ_rye_out

Bread on cooling rack

The machine’s kneading arm remains in the bottom of the loaf. I’m not sure if all bread machines do this — this is an old machine and I haven’t explored newer models. Removing it unfortunately leaves a hole in the loaf at that location. I usually rub some butter on the top crust.

Step 4: Cut and bag. Using a bread knife, cut the bread into slices. You may want to just tear it apart – that’s up to you. I like to use mine for sandwiches. If you have too much, bread freezes well. TIP: I slice, then freeze so I can take out just as many as I need at a time.

germ_rye_cut

Cut bread with butter

So, how was it you ask. Hmm, not so good. The color and denseness ware excellent. However, it had (to me) a strange taste – I couldn’t taste any dill and where was that rye flavor? I’m sorry to say I threw this loaf away.

Loaf Two – Basic Rye with Onion and Dill

After the failure described above, I did some research – seems that the actual flavor for which I searched was produced by caraway seeds. Who knew? So, off to the store I went and bought some caraway seeds. I’m not a fan of seeds in bread – that’s just me. The store didn’t have any ground caraway. So, then I go to my local department store and look for a spice grinder. (You’d think I’d have one huh?) They didn’t have one — but they did have a mortar and pestle.

mortar_pestle

Mortar and Pestle

Ok, I thought, I can grind them myself the old fashioned way. Big mistake! I got a blister and didn’t get much grind. So I decided to use the seeds as is and see if it results in the proper flavor. I’ll get a real spice grinder next time I’m at a larger department or kitchen store.

Step 1: Assemble the ingredients. I used my trust Joy of Cooking cookbook and found the Dill Bread recipe in the Yeast breads section. Cottage cheese – in bread – who knew? I changed the bread ratio to 2 cups white and 1 cup rye. I also added 4 tsp of gluten.

rye_ingred

Basic rye bread ingredients 1

rye_ingred_2

Basic rye bread ingredients 2

rye_yeast

Dissolving yeast in warm water

Step 2: Assemble and bake. This step is exactly the same as Step 2 above.

Step 3: Remove and Cool. Again, same steps as above.

rye_out

Remove rye bread from machine

rye_cut

Slice basic rye bread

This time the flavor came very close to my ideal and it wasn’t quite dense enough. Unfortunately the hole from the bread machine arm cost me some slices in the middle. The dill isn’t as sharp as I’d like and I’m not a fan of the seeds. So, I’ll be looking for a spice grinder and perhaps I’ll be able to find some fresh dill.  I’ll increase the ratio of rye to white flour as well. That will be my next attempt.

I’ve decided to make croutons with the slices that weren’t whole due to the machine arm. I’ll write about that in another post.

Happy baking!

Crock a Chuck Roast

In my previous post Crock a Roast, I used a top round roast. Although the techniques used to make the roast were OK, the meat itself came out tough. A coworker who had done butchering work in a past life recommended I use either a chuck roast or bottom round – with chuck roast being preferred. The top round is too lean for the way I’m cooking it but the chuck roast has good marbling throughout.

While I’m not an avid fan of fat – I decided to try the chuck roast. Am I glad I did! It turned out beautifully. Here are the steps:

  • Step 1: Chop the vegetables. Today I used carrots, Vidalia onions and potatoes. Put them into the crockpot. TIP: Vegetables go into the bottom of the crockpot – meat goes on top.
    Vegetables ready for crockpot

    Vegetables ready for crockpot

    Vegetables in crockpot

    Vegetables in crockpot

  • Step 2: Season the roast. I prefer to keep it simple and let the flavor of the meat shine through. I use salt, pepper and garlic power. I oil the roast and then rub the combined seasonings on the meat prior to putting it into the pan to sear.
Chuck roast rub

Chuck roast rub

  • Step 3: Sear the roast. Select a pan into which the roast just fits; this helps sear the edges. Heat the pan and add the meat. Let it cook for about 3 minutes on each side. Make sure you sear the sides and ends as well. You will have a nice brown color on all sides when you are finished. TIP: Use a large meat fork to hold the roast up to sear the edges.
Begin Searing Chuck Roast

Begin Searing Chuck Roast

Seared Chuck Roast

Seared Chuck Roast

Seared Chuck Roast ready for Crockpot

Seared Chuck Roast ready for Crockpot

  • Step 4: Add liquid and cook. Add 1 cup of lower sodium beef broth to the crockpot and place the roast on top of the veggies in the crockpot. Set the temp to low and the timer for 6 hours.
Crockpot liquid for chuck roast

Crockpot liquid for chuck roast

Chuck roast atop vegetables in crockpot

Chuck roast atop vegetables in crockpot

  • Step 5: Make the gravy. About twenty minutes before the roast is done, gather the ingredients for the gravy. This gravy is actually called ‘Quick Brown Sauce’ from the Joy of Cooking cookbook. I leave out the wine and port which gives me a sweeter gravy – you can adjust as you want. I use the cooking liquid from the crockpot as the broth base for my sauce. When the crockpot is done, remove the roast and veggies to a large serving dish and pour the cooking liquid into a measuring cup – you need about 2 cups for the gravy.
Joy of Cooking Cookbook

Joy of Cooking Cookbook

Gravy Seasonings

Gravy Seasonings

The ingredients are flour, sugar, butter, onions, olive oil and thyme. The recipe calls for vegetable oil; I prefer olive oil. In the picture you see 2 cups of the cooking liquid from the crockpot.

  • Step 6: Following the recipe (I halved it), you will make a roux on the stove. Melt the butter and cook the onions for about 3 minutes, add the flour and cook until it is brownish – about 5 minutes. Whisk in the cooking liquid and cook until it thickens. Strain out the onions if you wish. Because I halved the recipe and left out some liquid, I had to adjust the amount of flour until the gravy was as thick as I liked.
Boiling the gravy base

Boiling the gravy base

Strained gravy base

Strained gravy base

Gravy aka Quick Brown Sauce

Gravy aka Quick Brown Sauce

  • Step 7: Serve. TIP: I didn’t eat this at all this day – I packed it into individual lunch containers for the freezer. It made 9 servings so I estimate it would save me about $90 by eating this for lunches at work instead of going out.
Chuck roast and gravy ready to serve

Chuck roast and gravy ready to serve

Some alternatives to my method:

  • Substitute other vegetables – I use celery instead of potatoes. In that case, serve with a side of noodles or make mashed potatoes
  • Use the cooking liquid as-is instead of making a gravy
  • Use store bought gravy instead of the cooking liquid

Let me know how you do on this…

Crock Chicken Pot

If you’ve been reading my posts, you know that I’m a big crock pot fan. Making good use of a crock pot and a freezer can be a life saver for a working mom. There’s just something great about coming in the house after a busy day to the smell of something good cooking – especially in the winter (if you live in a cold climate you know what I mean). This recipe makes ten good size portions in a full crockpot.

Here are the steps I use to make what I call ‘Crock Chicken Pot’. TIP: You can also make this in a covered casserole dish in the oven if you want.

Step 1: Assemble your ingredients

  • Fresh Vegetables. I use Celery, Carrot and Onion
  • Cream of Chicken and Mushroom soup. 3 regular size cans. I use Campbell’s Healthy request most of the time.
  • Seasonings. I use .5 teaspoon each white pepper, rosemary, sage and thyme. Adjust to taste.
  • Chicken. 3 – 4 pounds of skinless, boneless chicken breasts. Thawed or Frozen.

Step 2: Cut the vegetables into inch thick pieces. veggie_bowl Set aside. TIP: Cut the veggies and mix the sauce the night before. Save the mixture in a zip lock bag. In the morning just dump it into the crockpot.

Step 3: Make the sauce.

  • Empty three cans of soup into the crockpot. You could also use Cream of Celery. Adjust the type of soup used according to your taste. TIP: Save money by buying the family size cans if they are available. soup
  • Add seasonings and stir. seasonings

Step 4: Assemble in the crockpot. The sauce is on the bottom, then add the veggies and finally the chicken. all_in_crock

Step 5: Cook. If you used frozen chicken, set the timer to 6 hours on high. If you used thawed chicken, you can set it to 4 hours on high. TIP: If this needs to cook the entire work day, set it to 8 hours on low for either frozen or thawed chicken. I bought the crockpot with the keep warm feature in case I don’t make it home in exactly 8 hours (who does?). crock_setting

Step 6: Serve. I usually make a big pot of rice to serve with this dish. You could use noodles also. TIP: You could make the rice/noodles the night before and just warm in the microwave to serve. I freeze leftover rice/noodles for future use with this recipe.

Leftovers! As this makes more than one meal, you can portion and freeze for lunches or even faster dinners. This cooks beautifully in the microwave at work. freezer_bowls For this recipe, I save about $80 for work lunches vs going out.

Enjoy!

How to Apple Pie

When cooking, I try my best to keep the kitchen clean as I work. As we go through the steps, I’ll highlight my ‘keeping it clean’ tips.
The cookbook I use most is Joy of Cooking.   joy_o_cooking  The current edition (found in the link) is the 75th edition. I use the one my mother gave me for Christmas many years ago. It’s stained and a bit lopsided. My mother is gone now and the book has her writing in it – I always think of her when I’m using it. I use the Apple Pie II recipe. When making an apple pie, you can either put the apples into bake raw or precook them. The Apple Pie II recipe is the one from my edition using precooked apples. I like it because the apples don’t shrink during baking so the top crust sits right on top of the apples instead of having an air gap between them.

Step 1 – Peel, core and slice the apples into a large bowl.  As the recipe says – don’t cut these too thin or they’ll get mushy.   raw_slices

Tip: you can do this ahead of time — just put the apples into a zip lock bag and sprinkle some lemon juice over them to keep them from browning. When precooking the apples, browning doesn’t matter but your kids might want to sneak a slice before you can make the pie. (I always cut more than needed for the pie itself)

Step 2 – Assemble your ingredients. For the seasonings, I measure them out into a small bowl. ready_seasonings  If you’re looking at the recipe, you’ll notice I use nutmeg and a touch of cloves in addition to the cinnamon. You can add your seasonings to taste; be careful not to overpower the cinnamon.

Step 3 – Cook the filling. You’ll melt butter in your pan and add the apples. The recipe says to let them cook for about 7 minutes. I prefer a slightly crunchier apple so I only let them cook about 3 minutes. Then add your sugar and seasonings. Let this boil (stirring) until the syrup is thick. To test if the syrup is done, use a wooden spoon and let it drip back into the pan. syrup_drip_1 syrup_drip_2

When the drip is thick and slow, it is ready.

Step 4 – Cool the apple mix. TIP: To keep this from being a hard clean up, I put foil onto a baking sheet and spread the apple mix out to cool. Put the sheet onto a wire rack so the mix will cool faster. cooked_cool The apples will take about 15 minutes to cool.

Step 5: Prepare to bake.

  • Put your bottom crust in the pie dish. TIP: Smooth the dough against the sides and make sure there is some dough above/over the edge all the way around.
  • Preheat the oven. TIP: The recipe says to preheat at the beginning. Since I’m not Ms. Speedy, I find this wastes a lot of energy. If you preheat at this point, you should be ready to pop the pie into the oven when the preheat is finished.
  • Prepare the topping. This isn’t in the recipe. Separate an egg, reserving the white into bowl. Make some cinnamon and sugar mix. TIP: I make about a cup of this and keep it in a container. It’s awesome on buttered toast for breakfast too.
  • When the apples are cooler (they’ll still be a bit warm – that’s OK), put them into crust in the pie pan. TIP: To make the transfer from the sheet into the crust easy and clean, pick up the edges of the foil lengthways and funnel the apples into the crust. You won’t spill any and the baking sheet just need a quick rinse (or not).
  • Put the top crust onto the pie. You should have an even amount of dough overhanging the edges all the way around. Now fold the top edge under the bottom overhang and pinch all the way around. The recipe says to put water on the edge before doing this — I usually don’t. You can then make a decorate edge using a fork to press it down all around or you can crimp it (pinching with thumb and two fingers).
  • Put the glaze on. I do this because it makes the top shiny and I like the extra pop of sugar and cinnamon. Using a brush, brush the egg white over the whole top and then sprinkle with the cinnamon and sugar mix.

Step 6: Bake. I use a pie crust protector during the baking period. I have a metal one but you can make one out of foil.

Step 7: Cool. The pie has to cool for at least 4 hours. This allows the syrup to ‘set’. This is what keeps the pie from spilling out when you cut a slice. Put the pie on a wire rack to cool.

Step 8: Enjoy

The last TIP: I cut individual slices and freeze them. They are so good for lunch at work — just pop in the microwave for about 30 seconds and viola Pie!

Crock A Roast

Here are the steps I use to crockpot a roast:

  1. Chop the veggies
    carrot_cel_save        frozen_vadalia I usually clean and chop a bunch of veggies at one time – this saves time during the week. I put the carrots and celery I’m not using right away in a plastic tub with water. The second pic is frozen valdalia onions. When they are in season, I chop pounds of them, wrap them in individual plastic packets and then double bag them in freezer bags. They are great for use in cooking – not in raw preps. CLEAN UP TIP: I use a plastic bag to collect all the prep trash as I work — easy to throw away and keeps the kitchen clean! prep_trash
  2. Put the veggies into the crock pot – they need to go on the bottom. Don’t plug the crock in yet. veg_crock
  3. Next make a marinade for the meat (you could do this before chopping the veggies if you wish). roast_marinade For this marinade I use garlic powder, nutmeg, torn up bay leaves, salt, pepper and olive oil. Rinse the roast and pat dry. Put the roast into the marinade and coat all sides of the roast.
  4. Sear the roast on all sides. Heat the pan until drops of water sizzle away and then put the roast in – make sure you watch it and turn it to another side after it gets a nice color – don’t burn it. roast_sear2 
  5. Put the roast atop the veggies in the crock roast_veg_crock
  6. Add some liquid. Here is where I cheat :) . I use a can of Campbell’s Chunky Soup with another half can of water. Imparts alot of flavor without much fat!chunky_soup
  7. Put the lid on the crockpot and set to Low for 6 hours. roast_crock_time
  8. Remove the roast and let it rest for about 15 minutes. In the meantime, transfer the veggies and broth into a large serving dish.
  9. Slice the roast as you wish and place atop the veggies and broth.
  10. Serve with your favorite starch – mashed potatoes, noodles or stuffing. Note: if you used potatoes in the crockpot, you won’t need a side starch.

Enjoy

Day of Pie

I love to bake; once in a while a spending an entire day cooking and baking. On this day, three pies was the goal. I cut them into lunch size portions and freeze them for work day lunches. Here they are:

IMAG0002

From left – Chicken, shepard’s, and apple.

I used pre-made crusts (I’m not crazy :) ). For the chicken (my own receipe)  I poached and diced up two pounds of skinless, boneless breasts. For the sauce I used one can each of cream of chicken and cream of mushroom and added some diced celery, carrots, onions and frozen peas. I added some rosemary, thyme, sage, nutmeg and salt and pepper. Bake and viola! Chicken pie.

I’m very much enjoying nutmeg these days.

For the shepard’s I followed a recipe from Dec 12 issue of Martha Stewart Living magazine. It’s actually a beef stew. I used beef filet. It’s covered with a combo of mashed carrots and potatoes. Yummy. However, the mash didn’t freeze and thaw very well for lunch. In the future I’ll probably just bake the stew and take a piece of bread with it for lunch.

The apple pie is based on my favorite cook book – The Joy of Cooking. I do like the crust to be more flavorful – so before baking, I brush the top with egg white and then sprinkle sugar and cinnamon on top. You can’t really tell from this picture but it makes the top shiny.

Here’s my freezer awaiting the new arrivals:

IMAG0003

I estimate each portion saves me about $10 a day for lunch at work. Nice and good