Apple Sausage Stuffing

I decided to try out a “new” stuffing – one that was made from fresh bread, herbs and bright flavors like apples and cranberries.  It’s a nice change-up from the old faithful. 

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 French baguettes, chopped into small cubes
  • 3/4 lb. of sausage (approximately 2 large  links), removed from the casing (I like to use one spicy and one mild)
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 3 large stalks of celery, finely chopped
  • 2 Granny Smith apples (with skins), chopped small
  • 2 oz. dried cranberries
  • 1 tbsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh sage, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper

HOW TO MAKE IT

  • Place your bread cubes onto a baking sheet and bake at 300°F for 7-8 minutes
  • Melt 1 stick of butter in a large saute pan and add in the chopped onions, celery and apples
  • Add in the loose sausage meat and saute with the vegetables
  • Saute the vegetables and sausage until the meat is cooked and the vegetables are tender
  • In a large bowl, mix the bread cubes with the beaten eggs
  • Fold in the sauteed vegetables and sausage
  • Pour in 1 cup of chicken broth
    • You basically want to get this mixture to a very moist consistency, but not too wet, if it needs more moisture add in more chicken stock
  • Butter the glass dish you’re going to bake it in and pack the stuffing into the dish
  • Pour some chicken broth on top or put small chunks of melted butter on top
  • Bake at 350° F for 45 mins covered – uncover and broil on low for an additional 5 minutes or until the top is golden and crispy

Chicken Pot Pie

I had actually never tasted this classic comfort food until I made it last night.  I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised.  If you have the time to make the dough, I recommend it – the consensus was that it tastes like a biscuit… so good.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1  1/2 lb. boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 1 bag frozen mixed vegetables (carrots, peas, corn, green beans)
  • 1 large potato, peeled
  • 3/4 cup pearl onions (frozen or fresh)
  • 1/2 sweet onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, whole but smashed
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 tbsp dried parsley
  • 4 cups chicken broth (store-bought or homemade)
  • 1 chicken bouillon cube
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
  • 2/3 cup flour
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Pie crust (you can either use store-bought or homemade*)
  • 1 egg + 1 tbsp water (egg wash for the crust)
*This recipe will yield enough filling for two large pies or 4 individual pies –
if you want to make the large pie, you will need to double the dough recipe*
BAREFOOT CONTESSA’S PIE CRUST
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1  1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening (i.e. Crisco), cubed
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
  • 2/3 – 1/2 cup ice cold water

HOW TO MAKE IT

  • Drizzle olive oil over the chicken breasts and sprinkle with salt and pepper
  • Place them on a baking sheet and bake in the oven at 350°F for 35-40 minutes or until fully cooked
  • While the chicken is cooking, prepare the pie crust if you’re planning on making it yourself
    • Once the chicken is cooked, cut it into bite-size cubes
BAREFOOT CONTESSA’S PIE CRUST
    • Mix the flour, salt and baking powder in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade
    • Toss in the shortening and butter and coat them with the flour
    • Pulse 10 times or until the shortening and butter are about the size of peas
    • While the food processor is running, pour in the ice cold water
    • Process until the dough is moistened and is beginning to clump together
    • Place the dough onto a floured surface and form it into a ball
    • Wrap the dough with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 30 mins
  • Parboil the potato and then cube it – leave the water in the pot and keep the heat on
  • In the same pot, blanch the mixed veggies and pearl onions (if the onions are fresh, boil them for 2-3 minutes with the skin on; then remove the onions, cut the root and the onion should just pop out of the skin)
    • Put the prepared veggies aside for now
  • In a small saucepan, heat the chicken broth and bouillon cube
  • In a large pot or saute pan with high sides, melt the butter and saute the onions and whole garlic cloves
  • Remove the garlic cloves once they’ve become very fragrant and saute the onions over medium-low heat until they’re translucent
  • And the flour while stirring the mixture constantly over low heat – approximately 2 mins
  • Add the hot chicken broth to the flour mixture and whisk over low heat for another minute or until it thickens
  • Add 2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp of pepper and the heavy cream – continue to stir
  • Add in the cubed chicken, mixed vegetables, potatoes, pearl onions, parsley and thyme – stir the mixture well
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER
There are two options for the presentation of this dish…
 
OPTION I – Make it into a classic pie 
    • The filling will be enough to make 2 pies – so either half the recipe, or double the dough
    • Cut the dough ball  in half and roll it out into a circle on a lightly floured surface
    • Drape the dough over the pie dish and press it down against the dish with your fingertips
    • Fill the pie with the chicken filling
    • Roll out the other half of the dough into a circle on a lightly floured surface
    • Cover the pie with this dough and make sure the edges are sealed along the edge of the pie dish
    • Brush the dough with the egg wash and make 3 slits on the top
    • Bake at 375°F for 1 hour  or until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbly – you may want to cover it for part of the time, just check on it while it’s baking to see if it’s getting too brown
OPTION II – Make it into individual pot pies
    • Cut the dough ball  in half and then in half again
    • Roll 1 quarter of the dough out into a circle on a lightly floured surface
    • Place the 1/4 of the chicken filling into an oven-safe bowl or ramekin
    • Brush the edge of the dish with the egg wash – this will prevent the crust from sticking to it
    • Drape the dough over the dish and leave about 1/2 inch hanging over the side – press the dough down against the side of the dish with your fingertips
    • Brush the dough with the egg wash and make 3 slits on the top
    • Repeat this with the remaining filling and dough
    • Bake at 375°F for 1 hour or until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbly

Chicken and Asparagus Wrap

I’m not gonna lie – I pretty much like anything wrapped in puff pastry.  This tasty wrap hits almost all of the food groups and isn’t too bad for you…  

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 lb. – 1  1/2 lb. chicken breast, cut it into 4 pieces and pound it until it’s at most 1/2″ thick – you’re going to be folding these over in 1/2 so they need to be thin enough to do that
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 cloves of garlic, whole but smashed with the heel of your hand
  • 1 large pinch dried thyme
  • 1 large pinch dried sage
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 12 spears of asparagus
  • 4 slices of ham (I like to use proscuitto)
  • 4 slices of sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 sheet Pepperidge Farm puff pastry, defrosted and cut into 4 rectangles
  • 1 egg, beaten + 1 tbsp water (egg wash)
ALTERNATIVE METHOD FOR APPETIZER VERSION 
  • 1 lb. – 1 1/2 lb. chicken breast – cut into approximately 16 pieces, pounded thin
  • Approximately 8 slices of ham, cut in half (I use prosciutto or honey ham)
  • Approximately 8 slices of sharp cheddar cheese, cut in half
  • Approximately spears of 16 asparagus
  • 2 sheets Pepperidge Farm puff pastry, defrosted and cut into 16 pieces
  • Dried thyme and sage for sprinkling
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 egg, beaten + 1 tbsp water (egg wash)

HOW TO MAKE IT

  • Season both sides of the chicken breast with salt and pepper
  • Dredge the chicken in flour and shake off any excess
  • Heat the butter, olive oil, garlic, thyme and sage over medium-low heat in a large frying pan – saute the garlic until it’s very fragrant and begging to brown, then remove
  • Add the chicken breasts and saute for 2 minutes on each side (they will not be cooked through)
  • Set the half-cooked chicken aside in a dish and let it cool
  • Place the asparagus in a bowl of water and put in the microwave for 2 minutes
  •  Lay out your chicken breast and wrap 3 spears of asparagus with ham – place the wrapped asparagus in the middle of the chicken breast and top with the cheese
  • Fold the chicken over so the asparagus, ham and cheese is sandwiched inside and stick a toothpick through it to keep it together
  • Repeat this with the remaining 3 chicken breasts
  • On a lightly floured surface, use your fingertips to spread the puff pastry into the shape you need to wrap it around the chicken breast, while leaving the ends exposed
  • Place the chicken breast on the puff pastry (remove the toothpick) and wrap it with the puff pastry – try to get the seam on the bottom
  • Repeat this with the remaining chicken breasts and then arrange them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (or sprayed with a non-stick cooking spray)
  • Brush the puff pastry with the egg wash
  • Bake at 350°F for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown
ALTERNATIVE METHOD FOR APPETIZER VERSION 
  • Lay out your pieces of pounded raw chicken and sprinkle with salt, pepper, thyme and sage
  • Next, put down the ham, then the cheese and lastly the 2 pieces of asparagus
  • Roll each bundle of raw chicken up and stick a toothpick in it to hold it in place while you prepare the puff pastry
  • Remove the toothpick and place the chicken bundle in the center of the puff pastry; fold the dough over the sides and pinch the ends to seal (basically, wrap it up like a package)
  • Place your chicken “packages” on a parchment paper lined (or greased) baking sheet; brush with the egg wash and bake at 350°F for 25 minutes or until golden brown