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We crave comfort food these days

Our poor economy is uppermost in our minds these days. Everyone's feeling the shock of higher grocery prices - you run into the store for a few basic items and wonder where the $50 went!

Many articles are written about ways to slash our food bills.

Almost always first on the list is not to do impulse buying - it can play havoc with a budget. Shop with a list. I keep a market list handy and as I run out of things, I jot them down. I even go a step further - I make the list with the layout of the market in mind so that I simply go up and down the aisles and down my list. Watch the sales and coupons but buy only what you normally would use.

Here's a thought I just read about - stores often place expensive foods at eye level, so look up and down for similar, cheaper items.

And stay out of the center of the market as much as possible. Stay away from the processed foods and shop in the periphery of the store - produce, dairy, meat and bakery sections.

In times like these most of us begin to crave comfort foods. And just what is comfort food? They say it is a matter of taste. Comfort foods may remind us of some pleasant time of childhood or they may represent the things we were denied as kids. They are part of everyone's life. And they seem to have one thing in common - they are a bit old-fashioned and they are satisfying, cheering and soothing.

And chicken pot pies are certainly on many lists as being a favorite comfort food.

SAVORY-CRUST

CHICKEN PIE

Crust:

8 ounces sour cream

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 egg

1 cup flour

1 teaspoon each baking

powder, salt and dried sage



In a mixing bowl, beat sour cream, butter and egg. Add flour, baking powder, salt and sage; mix well. Spread into the bottom and up the sides of an ungreased 10-inch pie pan.



Filling:

1 cup each chopped potatoes,

leeks, carrots and celery

1 cup peas

1/2 cup sliced fresh

mushrooms

2 tablespoons butter

2 cups cubed cooked chicken

1 can cream of chicken soup,

undiluted

1/2 cup shredded

cheddar cheese



Sauté vegetables in butter over medium heat until crisp-tender. Add chicken and soup; mix well. Spoon into the crust. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake in preheated 400-degree oven 30-35 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes. Spoon out individual servings to 6-8.

- from COUNTRY

CHICKEN cook book



Often a teaspoon of dried thyme, rosemary and basil are added to the chicken mixture.

And here's another variation for the crust -



Cheese Crust:

21/2 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces, room temperature

8-ounce package cream cheese, cut into pieces, room temperature



Mix flour and salt in processor; add butter and cheese and blend until moist clumps form. Shape dough into 6-inch-long log. Wrap; chill while making chicken filling.

Cut prepared dough cross-wise into six equal pieces. Roll out pieces to 7-inch rounds on lightly floured surface. Divide filling among six 2-cup soufflé dishes. Cover each dish with 1 dough round. Press overhang to side of dish to adhere.

Brush top of each dough round with egg glaze; cut three slits in each for steam to escape. Bake pies in preheated 350-degree oven until crust is golden brown, about 45 minutes.

- from my files



To give your pies a rich, brown color when baked, glaze before putting into the oven with a mixture of an egg, well-beaten with a little water and brushed onto the pastry.



CHICKEN-AND-CORN PIES WITH CORNBREAD CRUST

1 (10-ounce) can

enchilada sauce

1 (10-ounce) can Mexican

diced tomatoes, drained

2 cups frozen whole

kernel corn

l teaspoon chili powder

3 cups chopped cooked

chicken



Stir enchilada sauce, tomatoes, corn and chili powder together in a saucepan over medium heat until combined; cook, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes. Stir in chicken.



Cornbread Crust:

1 package Jiffy

Cornbread Mix

2/3 cup milk

1 egg

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 cup shredded Mexican four-cheese blend, divided



Whisk cornbread mix, milk, egg and oil together; add 3/4 cup cheese and mix until blended.

Pour chicken mixture into five lightly greased ramekins. Spoon cornbread mixture over top. Sprinkle evenly with remaining 1/4 cup cheese. Put ramekins onto cookie sheets. Bake in preheated 375-degree oven for 30 minutes or until golden and bubbly.

Serve to five with sour cream.

- recipe from SOUTHERN LIVING magazine



This one's very easy.



CHICKEN POT PIE

- in a 9-inch pie plate, mix 1 cup cubed cooked chicken, 1 cup frozen mixed vegetables, thawed, 1 can cream of potato soup, pepper to taste, and 1/4 cup milk. In a bowl, mix 1/2 cup milk, 1 egg and 1 cup baking mix. Pour over chicken mixture. Bake in preheated 400-degree oven 30 minutes, or until golden. Serves four.

- recipe from my files



Chicken pies came to America with the first settlers as part of what one historian called, the "cultural baggage." The Americans used a much deeper dish and called the creation a "Pot Pie." The term "pot pie" first appeared in print in this country in 1792. Then in 1951, the Swanson Company offered the first frozen fully prepared entrée - the Chicken Pot Pie.

That became a mainstay in my house when my children were growing up - every time my husband and I went out for dinner, my children would get a Swanson Chicken Pot Pie for their dinner.

There's no denying the comfort when your spoon first breaks the shiny, golden crust. Then there's the heady aroma of chicken as the chunks cuddle beside tender veggies in a creamy herb sauce.

Such comfort that first bite is sure to bring.





Marian Platt can be reached at 683-4691 or via e-mail at

mlplatt@olypen.com.

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