Vegetable Beef Pasties

The first time I ordered a pasty, pronounced pah-stee, I asked for a pasty, pronounced paste-ee, you know, like the nipple covers? Well, it was embarrassing, to say the least.

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Anyways, for St Patties day this year, I decided to make some traditional meat pies for dinner. But wait, aren’t pasties Cornish, not Irish? Shut up.

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Any excuse to eat pie for dinner is good enough for me! The flakey pie crust melts in your mouth with every bite and you find yourself going back for fifths seconds.

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Vegetable Beef Pasties

Pie Dough
1 pound pastry flour
10 ounces cold butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
ice water

Filling
1 pound lean, grass fed beef
1 small yellow onion, chopped
4 celery sticks, chopped
2 large carrots, pealed and chopped
1 large russet potato, pealed and chopped
1/2 cup frozen peas
4 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves removed from stem
2 tablespoons butter
salt and pepper

1 egg
pinch salt
splash water

Preheat your oven to 375.

To make the pie dough, cut the butter into small pieces, making sure that it is cold, if it is warm then it will melt into the dough and it won’t be flakey.

Add the flour, butter and salt to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on medium/low until the butter pieces are a little larger than the size of a pea.

Using your thumb and pointer fingers, flatten out the butter chunks to create flakes. Slowly add in ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough forms a ball. Don’t let it get too sticky!

Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it sit in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

For the filling, add 1 tablespoon of butter to large pan, add the beef, sprinkle generously with salt and pepper, add the fresh thyme and cook over medium heat until done.

In another large pan, add the remaining tablespoon of butter and saute the onion, carrots and celery on medium/high heat until the onions are translucent, then add the peas and cook until they are soft.

In a sauce pan, boil the potato chunks until soft, then strain the water out of them.

Add the potatoes and veggies to the meat and set aside.

Remove the dough from the fridge and on a floured surface, roll out the dough to about an 1/8th of an inch thick. Use a large round cookie cutter to make about 12 circles (I had to re-roll the pieces a few times to get 12).

Roll out the circles a little bit more into an oval shape, add a couple of spoonfuls of filling and fold the dough together like a pocket. Pinch the edges together so the dough stays closed while baking.

Mix your egg, pinch of salt and splash of water together to make an egg wash and brush the tops of the dough with it. This will give the dough a crispy and golden look. Use a sharp knife to make a couple of slices in the tops of the dough on each pasty to let the steam escape and bake for about 30 minutes, or until the pasties are golden brown.

Enjoy with a Guinness…or tea

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Fried egg Croque Monsieur

The French really know how to cook/bake. I mean seriously, we can pretty much thank them for the crème de la crème of food: croissants, baguettes, croque monsieurs! What is a croque monsieur, you ask? It’s basically a better version on a grilled cheese. No, it’s grilled cheese on crack, smothered in more cheese.

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I’ve made some pretty decadent grilled cheeses in my day (mushroom and goat cheese with bacon is a must-try!), but this was my first time making a croque monsier.croque3

This sandwich is perfect just the way it is, but I couldn’t stop myself from adding a friend egg to it and boy am I glad I did! Just look at that beautiful yellow yolk engulfed in cheese and tell me you don’t want to eat it.

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Fried Egg Croque Monsieur
*makes 2 sandwiches

2 tablespoons butter, divided
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup whole milk
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt

4 thick slices of french bread
2 cups shredded cheese (gruyere or parmesan are great!), divided
4 slices of havarti cheese
8 slices of ham
2 eggs
Dijon mustard

Preheat oven (or toaster oven) to 400F and toast the bread slices. Line a baking sheet with tin foil and set aside.

Melt 1 tablespoon of butter over medium-high heat and fry both of the eggs, flipping each egg once.

Make your Béchamel sauce: in a small sauce pan, melt remaining tablespoon of butter. When butter starts to bubble, add in the flour and whisk for 2-3 minutes. Next, slowly add in the milk, whisking constantly. Keep your eye on the milk mixture, whisking often to prevent the milk from scorching or boiling over. When the mixture has thickened slightly (about 6-8 minutes), add 1/3 of the shredded cheese, salt, black pepper and nutmeg, whisk together and remove from heat.

To assemble the sandwiches: spread dijon mustard on one of the toasted bread slices, add one slice of havarti, two slices of ham, some shaved cheese, one fried egg, some more shaved cheese, two more slices of ham, one more slice of havarti and top with a toasted bread slice. Do this for both sandwiches.

When both sandwiches are assembled, place them on the foil-lined baking sheet and smother them with your Béchamel sauce. Bake at 400F for 5 minutes, then switch your oven to broil and broil for an additional 3-5 minutes, or until the Béchamel sauce is golden brown and bubbling (it will take a little longer if using a toaster oven).

Remove from oven and enjoy your Fried Egg Croque Monsieur in all of its cheese, gooey goodness!

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Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup

Is there anything better than coming home late from work and having one of your favorite meals already made for you? Why yes there is…when it’s chicken tortilla soup! Now, I don’t want to say that I’m lazy, but let’s be honest: who wants to cook after work? Definitely not me. Half the time I find myself rummaging through half eaten blocks of cheese leftovers because I would rather be malnourished that cook.

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Alas, the “winter” months are still upon us here in Seattle and though I can’t wait for some warmth, I might as well embrace soup season while it’s still here.

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Throw it all in the good ol’ crock pot, turn it on, botta bing botta boom, you’ve got soup.

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Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup

1 pound chicken breast
4 cups chicken broth or stock
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 15 ounce can fire roasted tomatoes with green chiles (Trader Joe’s has it)
1 12 ounce jar fire roasted red and yellow peppers (Trader Joe’s again)
1 cup frozen fire roasted corn (you can also use canned of fresh)
1/4 teaspoon spicy mexican style chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground pepper

Mexican blend shredded cheese
Avocado
Crumbled tortilla chips

Throw everything from the chicken breast to the ground pepper into the slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours (or high for 4).

Before serving, shred the chicken breast with two forks (or you can use small chicken breast pieces to make it easier).

Top with a generous heap of mexican blend shredded cheese, crumbled tortilla chips and avocado. I like to use half of an avocado for 1 bowl of soup, but that’s just my personal preference.

Enjoy with chips, salsa and guacamole and maybe throw in a dos equis ;)

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Grilled PB&J with Bacon

You read that right, grilled peanut butter and jelly with bacon.

pbjGrowing up, pb&j was always my favorite sandwich to get in my lunchbox, probably because that happened maybe once every few months. I’m thankful now, at the ripe age of 23, that my mother sent us off to school with fruits and veggies instead of sugary snacks, but in elementary school, nothing was worse than waiting all morning to eat, only to find a turkey sandwich and carrot sticks. The first time I moved out on my own, I started perfecting my sandwich making craft and thus, the grilled pb&j with bacon was born.

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Grilled PB&J with Bacon

2 slices of thick cut applewood smoked bacon
2 slices of sourdough bread
Real chunky peanut butter (like Trader Joe’s brand or Adam’s)
Real fruit preserves of your choice (I used blueberry from Trader Joe’s)
Butter

Heat a large pan or an electric skillet over medium/high heat and cook the bacon.

While bacon is cooking, spread a huge dollop of PB on one slice of bread and another huge dollop of jelly on the other.

In the same pan/skillet (or a different one if your pan is too small) melt about 1/2 of a tablespoon of butter and grill both slices of bread (on the plain sides) until both are a crispy, golden brown.

Add the bacon to one of the slices of bread, fold them together and you’ve got yourself a Grilled PB&J with Bacon!pjb3

I mean come on, look at that mouth-watering baby!