Step 1. Make it from scratch. Sure you could go through the local drive-thru and get a “meal” for $5, but do you know what you’re really eating? Making meals from scratch saves so much money (especially if you use the same ingredients for multiple dishes) and allows you to know what’s really in your food.
Step 2. Use seasonal foods. Having a CSA this year not only completely enlightened me to the time of year (and temperature) that lettuce grows but forced me to cook focusing on seasonal ingredients. It removed the temptation to buy berries in the fall because they “looked good” at the grocery store and instead taught me how to creatively use 5 lbs. of potatoes because they’re spouting like wildflowers potatoes in season. Plus, by doing this I’ve discovered that the same “food” has a completely different taste when it was just picked yesterday versus last week and then shipped on a large truck across the country.
Step 3. Don’t worry about being perfect. Find out you’re missing a spice at the last minute? Realize too late that your oven cooks unevenly? No worries. Google always seems to have a solution…and most people who don’t see the original recipe you’re following don’t even know or realize that “something’s missing.” With this recipe, I made this pie crust and clearly cut it too big for the bowls. Not to worry; I adjusted my thinking to say I gave it a “rustic look” and in the end, the extra crust was the perfect “dipper” to scoop-up the last bits of pot pie!
I know many of you reading already love to cook and aren’t afraid of experimenting in the kitchen. But if you have some hesitations, I’d like to tell you that a “pot pie” is the perfect meal to start with. There are so many variations on this known comfort dish that what you put (or don’t put) in it, will be perfect. You can cook it in a pie dish, but putting it in individual (heat safe) bowls not only makes it look more impressive but is also SO much easier when dealing with misshaped pie crusts and masking imperfections.
And the best part? The ingredients in this dish are all incredibly inexpensive. You can easily add last-night’s leftover chicken to the dish or as I did, throw-in a few green peppers that were on their last days to ensure they didn’t go to waste.
This meal is not only claimed to be a “comfort meal” because of its warmth and heartiness, but because it welcomes you to make mistakes, improvise with ingredients and feed a family without sweating over the bill.
Vegetable Pot Pie with Homemade Crust
Pie crust adapted from Food Network
For the crust:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
3 tbs. cold butter, cut into pieces
2 tbs. milk
For the filling:
4 small red potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 cup carrots, chopped
1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced
1/2 green pepper, chopped (optional)
3 tbs. whole wheat flour
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup frozen corn
fresh or ground thyme, to taste
salt and pepper, to taste
1. Start by preparing the crust. (The original directions have you do this in a food processor which I don’t have; if I did, I would definitely use it here). Mix together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add the butter slowly and beat (or pulse) together until butter pieces are about the size of peas. Beat the egg and milk in a bowl then add to the mixture. Mix (or pulse) together until the dough sticks together (it may still be a little crumbly). Pour dough onto a lightly floured surface and gather into a ball. Lightly flatten then cover in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
2. After dough has chilled, make the filling. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and potatoes and cook about 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and carrots and cook 2-5 minutes, until vegetables begin to soften but do not begin to brown.
3. Sprinkle flour over vegetables and cook 1 minute. Add the wine and cook about 5 minutes, until the wine has evaporated. Add the milk, lower the heat, and simmer until in thickens about 3-5 minutes.
4. Stir in peas, corn, thyme, salt and pepper. Transfer to pie dish or oven safe bowls. Roll the dough out and cover filling; don’t worry if it falls over the edge. Cut small slits into crust. Bake about 25-30 minutes, until crust is golden brown. Serve and enjoy!
~What is your favorite comfort meal?