Chicken Pot Chicken Pot Chicken Pot Pie

It’s FINALLY FALL, Y’ALL.

Okay, technically I’m writing this post on the last day of summer.  But it’s been cold, rainy, and windy, and I’ve been wearing scarves and sweaters.  As far as I’m concerned, fall has begun, and that means it’s time for comfort food cooking.

Comfort food around this house isn’t as easy as it used to be.  Most of our favorite comfort foods involve cheese, heavy cream, butter, and eggs, which are all off-limits when cooking for my family.  My daughter, Emily, has multiple food allergies.  She can’t eat dairy, eggs, peanuts, or pumpkin.  Peanuts and pumpkin are easy enough to avoid in our own house (in fact, peanuts in any form do not even enter this house), but milk and eggs can be tricky.

I’ve been in the mood for chicken pot pie.  Can you imagine cooking chicken pot pie without milk and/or eggs?  Well, I went for it.  I made up a recipe on the fly using our go-to substitute ingredients, and as with many things I cook these days, I kept my expectations low.  Here’s what I did:

1. I made a basic white sauce using dairy-free margarine, flour, and unsweetened rice milk.  When it started to thicken, I tossed in a chicken bouillon cube and sprinkled in some pepper.

2. Once the sauce had thickened to my liking, I added a couple of cups of shredded chicken and half a bag of frozen mixed veggies and kept on the heat until the sauce was warm.

3. I spread out a Pillsbury pre-made pie crust into a glass pie dish.  Strangely enough, these pie crusts don’t contain dairy OR eggs.

4. I dumped the sauce/chicken/veggie mixture into the pie dish and covered with another crust.

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5. I baked for 20 minutes at 450 degrees F.

The verdict?  My daughter cleaned her plate, if you don’t count the green beans she thinks are evil.  I had to go back for seconds.  My HUSBAND, who never goes back for seconds, especially not when I load up his dinner full of vegetables, went back for seconds.  The best damn pot pie I’ve ever made, and without any dairy or eggs.

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Say something about my dirty stovetop–I dare you.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to get too cocky.  This is a rare victory for me.  *Has traumatizing flashback to the last time I tried to make vegan Alfredo sauce*  It is nice to have a good ol’ comfort food recipe to file away for later use, though.

Earlier this week I also baked a loaf of Dutch Apple Bread.  This one I actually made as a part of Emily’s six-month at home baked milk challenge.  Two months ago, her IgE numbers for casein (milk protein) dipped low enough that her allergist thought she could possibly tolerate baked milk.  When milk is baked, some of the milk proteins bake out. We started out with a baked milk challenge done at the allergist’s office so she could be monitored in case she went into anaphylaxis.  Unfortunately, she failed the challenge; she reacted to the milk, but it was a mild enough reaction that her allergist asked us to give her half of a muffin or slice of bread three times a week to help her body build up a tolerance for the protein.  The muffins and bread must contain a specific amount of milk so she’s getting enough, but not too much, exposure to those proteins.

LONG STORY SHORT…I baked bread.

I started out with this recipe, but I made several modifications.  First, I didn’t make the glaze.  Considering I have to make these things for Emily weekly, I figured she didn’t need all that extra sugar.  I did opt for a light sprinkling of cinnamon and sugar on top.

Second, I omitted the walnuts.  Emily is only a year and a half old, so I’m still cautious about choking hazards.

Third, I added half a teaspoon of cinnamon to the dry ingredients.  Just ’cause.

Lastly, I substituted ground flax for the eggs.

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That brown goop?  That’s “egg.”

THIS BREAD IS SO DAMN DELICIOUS.

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All in all, I feel pretty good about this week’s creations.

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Dough, take two: chicken and dumplings

The first time I ever had chicken and dumplings, I remember thinking the concept of “dumplings” seemed so elaborate.  I just couldn’t wrap my head around the thought of dough being cooked in liquid.

When I encountered a 30-minute Rachael Ray recipe for chicken and dumplings, I thought long and hard about whether or not this was a road I wanted to risk traveling.  If I closed my eyes for one second, I could imagine at least ninety-two things that could go wrong if I were to attempt chicken and dumplings.  Then I envisioned myself in my comfort zone, and just outside of it was a pot of chicken and dumplings calling my name, coaxing me, taunting me.  Okay, chicken and dumplings.  You win.  Count me in.

One of the first steps of the recipe was to saute some veggies in oil and butter–among them, a potato.  Since I’ve had such good luck (note:  that was said in a sarcastic tone) with cooking potatoes, I was thrilled about this (still sarcastic).  The potato held up, though, and was softening pretty nicely without turning into mush.

After I added a quart of chicken broth and the chicken breast pieces, it was time for the dumplings to be born.  I mixed together the ingredients, measured out the first tablespoon, and veryveryvery carefully dropped it into the simmering liquid.  One of those ninety-two things I’d imagined could go wrong was that the dough ball would make contact with the liquid and immediately disperse into a hundred little floating fragments of dough.  All that happened, though, was that the completely intact ball of dough bobbed around in the liquid, finally settled, and started to puff up.  Very anti-climactic, if you ask me.

Since Rachael Ray failed to tell me how to gauge the done-ness of the dumplings, I was quite nervous about serving dumplings that were still doughy inside.  I wasn’t sure if it was normal for their tops to be sticky.  After the max cooking time, they were still sticky so I sucked it up and called my fiance in for dinner.  The dumplings were cooked to perfection and, aside from burning the crap outta my tongue, my attempt at comfort food really hit the spot!

What kinds of things have you made that seemed SO much more complicated than they really were?