White Trash (Mix) has got serious street cred

Let’s talk trash. White trash.

Specifically Alton Brown’s white trash.

Alton Brown, you know. The esteemed, witty, sorta snarky science-y chef on Food Network and elsewhere.

So last night I was scouring web sites for hours for cookie recipes.

I’m an excellent cook and foodie and super-discerning recipe reader. Separating the wheat from the chaff — how suitable that saying at this very moment! — takes patience, endurance, persistence and time.

Which, according to the calendar, is tick-tick-ticking! How’d Christmas get so damn close?!?

Now, I don’t wanna throw just any ol’ chunks of sugar to my (adult) son, the only person I gift — invariably from the kitchen — at Christmas.

Then I stumbled upon: White Trash. A decadent delight of sweet ‘n’ salty.

Hmmmmmmmmm, this is different. I’m intrigued. Scour on.

OMG! It’s got serious street cred. People loooove it. Crunchy Chex cereals, nuts, pretzels, M&Ms, all coated in white chocolate.

That’s the core. Tweakings are vast and varied, to understate.

Even folks who don’t care for white chocolate (c’est moi) report they can’t stop eating it! That it’s dangerous to have in the house.

I press onward, eventually landing onto Alton Brown’s recipe.

Wait! The smart ‘n’ sassy Alton Brown’s got a recipe for uber junk food?!? Indeed he has!

I love it!

Well, except for the quantity — 25 servings. I’m treating my son and his familiars, not a militia!

It’s different from annual cookies. Easy to make. Affordable. Ships well. Keeps well.

What’s not to like – save for sugar sugar sugar.

Anyhow, I’m in, venturing into the snacky scene this season.

Since I discovered White Trash randomly via some stranger’s post, I’m gonna pay it forward … with the link to Alton Brown’s recipe and a couple pix.

If you’ve tried this concoction, talk to me, baby. Talk trash. Make it white, make it tasty.

 

trash2

“Dole this stuff out carefully. It is highly habit forming,” warns Alton Brown.

trash1

A snack that’s called “crack.” Will report back on that.

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Senior spuds reincarnate as soup

I say po-tay-to, you say po-tah-to. One day we all say: Whoops! They sprouted!

Such is the fate of my potatoes. All 3 pounds in their unopened plastic bag.

I nearly toss ’em. I admit it. I steer away from food gone south.

sproutedpotatoes

Then, like the twice-baked potato, I think twice. Perhaps they can be salvaged in a soup if they’re not too far gone.

Or I can make a soup and if the flavor’s made hideous by the potatoes, I’ll then toss it then, comforted at least by the salvaging effort.

This original Curried Potato and Vegetable Soup recipe I found at a fav site, SimplyRecipes.com.

However, I tweak considerably, first by excluding a number of vegetables — my goal is to use up the plethora of aged potatoes without creating a batch big enough to feed an army! — then adding heat.

The spuds have become soft, the skins crinkly. I scrub away the sprouts and slice into one. The insides aren’t all mushy — a good sign that they’re still edible. There are a few decayed spots that I simply slice and toss. Yuck.

potatospot

potatospotclose

I dice around 2-1/2 pounds of russets, I think they are but don’t quote me. I love the nutritional peels so leave ’em on. Looking good.

dicedpotatoes

Revitalizing senior spuds

First, 1 white diced onion, 1 diced carrot, 2 cloves minced garlic and cumin seed are sweated in a stock pan with butter.

onion:carrot:cumin

Onions, carrots and cumin seed “breaking a sweat” in a pan, not the gym

Aromatics are added: turmeric, curry powder, dry yellow mustard.

Like I’ve said before and will surely shall again (!), virtually every soup begins with the excellent Better Than Bouillon chicken stock.

IMG_0038

A heaping spoonful into 5 cups of boiling water into the stock pot. Any quality chicken broth from a carton or can would suffice. (Tip: Avoid those salt licks passed off as bouillon cubes!)

Season with salt and pepper. (I use exclusively Himalayan or sea salt; idolized salt doesn’t hold a candle in flavor or nutrients!)

curriedpotatosoupcook

Curried potato soup in the making

Bring to a boil then simmer about 20 minutes.

I taste-test. While the turmeric — a powerhouse nutrient — and curry provide a warm earthy flavor, what’s lacking is heat. Like seriously lacking, man.

Easily remedied with 2 serrano chilies, seeds ‘n’ all, diced and stirred into the soup.

This soup’s heavy on starch. Because I’m craaaaving protein lately, I toss in a can of chunky white chicken from Costco.

kirklandcannedchicken

Costco rocks!

While I’m a dark-meat girl through ‘n’ through, for soups, white chicken’s sometimes preferred because, like tofu, it absorbs flavors.

Another 15 minutes on a slow simmer to disperse the peppers’ heat. More taste-tests. Bingo! Those 2 lil’ serranos do the trick! The soup’s got balance and an addictive bold enticing flavor that sends me marching back for seconds.

Top with cilantro or parsley. Since I’m a fan of the hearty rustic look, I leaf, I mean leave, on the stems.

The humble aging potato is reborn into deliciousness!

Curried Potato Soup

Allycat’s Curried Potato Soup

Curried Potato Soup 2

Ahhhh, spudsy satisfaction

 

To recount, my starting point is Curried Potato and Vegetable Soup recipe.

And the revised version with tweaks.

Allycat’s Curried Potato Soup

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon dry yellow mustard
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 diced serrano peppers, with seeds
  • 2-1/2 lbs. potatoes, unpeeled, diced
  • 1 heaping tablespoon of Better Than Bouillon
  • 5 cups water
  • A can or two of white chicken or cooked diced chicken (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons salt (pink Himalayan or sea salt)
  • Black pepper to taste
  • Fresh cilantro leaves (or parsley) for garnish

WHAT TO DO

1. In a large pot (6-quart), melt butter over medium heat. Add onion, carrot and cumin seeds. Cook until onions and peppers are soft.

2. Add turmeric, mustard, curry powder and cook for a minute. Add garlic and cook 30 seconds.

3. Add potatoes, chicken stock, chicken, salt, pepper. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to medium to simmer. Simmer uncovered for 20 minutes.

4. Top with chopped cilantro.

Tomato, tomahto, say soup that’s squisito!

 

I say to-ma-to, you say to-mah-to.

But when the soup’s simmering, we agree. Homemade is the way to go!

When the chips are down and you’re feeling blue … when winter’s chill your bones bores through … when you’re dragged down by a cold or flu … hot tomato soup is what to do!

Like chicken noodle, tomato soup is a consummerate comfort food. Paired with a toasted cheese sandwich, does soothing the heart and keeping meat on the bones get much better on a chilly night?

I’m a big fan of tomato soup. Campbell’s rocks! However, am not a fan of the high sugar content. (Actually, have never understood why Campell’s adds so much sugar to its tomato soup save to satisfy the American palate that equates sugar with flavor. Sad.)

So I searched around and found a simple yet so satisfying Roasted Tomato Soup sans sugar on Food Network.

Let’s get cookin’!

1. As luck had it, there were already 2 pounds of cherry tomatoes from Costco in the fridge. They hadn’t made it into salads or smoothies as planned and the skins were beginning to crinkle — the perfect excuse and use for a soup

2 pounds of aging cherry tomatoes

2. Each tomato is sliced in half and laid in a roasting pan coated on the bottom with parchment paper. Foil would also do. Good thing I love to cook cuz slicin’ 2 pounds of little tomatoes gets, well, a little tedious! 🙂

3. On top of the tomatoes are slices of 1 medium white onion. And I weep like a little girl who just lost her best friend.

4. Plus 6 cloves of garlic, peeled. No need to chop. Spot a clove at knife tip?

tomatoes, onion, garlic, olive oil. salt and pepper. Simple!

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Dare the decadence! Talk the torte!

The end is near. 2015 is 11 hours away from being over. I’m not gonna do it. 

The year’s retrospect. I’m not.

Instead, I’m gonna celebrate with … cake!

Decadent rich dark chocolate torte, to be precise. Not a spoonful of flour found! Not a dessert for the faint of heart.

After diligent research of recipes and reviews, I selected this chocolate torte recipe. And easy chocolate ganache instead of the called-for glaze. No regrets! Very easy with minor adjustments & tips below.

Cake

1 cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 to 2 teaspoons espresso powder, optional — didn’t use

1 teaspoon vanilla extract, optional — DO USE! 

3 large eggs

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

Ganache (from another site) 

12 ounces chocolate

1 cup heavy cream

3 tablespoons flavored liqueur, optional
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly grease an 8″ round cake pan; cut a piece of parchment or waxed paper to fit, grease it, and lay it in the bottom of the pan.

To make the cake: Put the chocolate and butter in a microwave-safe bowl, and heat until the butter is melted and the chips are soft. Stir until the chips melt, reheating briefly if necessary. You can also do this over a burner set at very low heat. Transfer the melted chocolate/butter to a mixing bowl.

Stir in the sugar, salt, espresso powder, and vanilla. Espresso enhances chocolate’s flavor much as vanilla does; using 1 teaspoon will simply enhance the flavor, while 2 teaspoons will lend a hint of mocha to the cake.

Add the eggs, beating briefly until smooth. Add the cocoa powder, and mix just to combine.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake the cake for 25 minutes; the top will have formed a thin crust, and it should register at least 200°F on an instant-read thermometer inserted into its center.

Remove it from the oven, and cool it in the pan for 5 minutes.

Loosen the edges of the pan with a table knife or nylon spreader, and turn it out onto a serving plate. The top will now be on the bottom; that’s fine. Also, the edges will crumble a bit, which is also fine. Allow the cake to cool completely before glazing.

Yield: 8″ cake, 8 to 12 servings.

*************

Let us begin!

1. The batter. Dreamy decadent batter! That –hard to believe! — I don’t taste. Not even a pinch off the beaters! What’s wrong with me?! Answer: I make this first thing in my (late) morning. I do NOTNOTNOT like sweets in the morning! 

 Hence I rely on a strictly visual taste-test. It passes with flying (dark) colors! Chosen chocolate: Bittersweet chips by Ghiradelli. Semi-sweet chips are just too sweet. Of course you could mix ‘n’ match to your taste. 

can ya dig the darkness?!

 
2.  Into the oven. Recipe states 375. Too hot. I set mine at 350. Good move. 

Also, after reading reviews, I make sure to generously grease with PAM and parchment-paper the pan AND use an 8-inch cake pan. Not 9-inch! — after posted complaints that the cake was too thin. Mmmmm-mmm, have a look at that black beauty! Have we died and gone to heaven?

torte heading into oven

 
3. Baked around 22 minutes. The edges are crusted and the center jiggly-soft just a skoosh. Some cracking and sinking are normal as it cools so don’t be alarmed. Perfect.

 

torte cooling and cracking but don’t fret, it’s normal

 
4. Flipped onto its serving dish fully intact. Bottom’s up!

 

torte “flips out”

 
5. Now the really fun part. Decorating! I loooove to decorate! 

But first, the ganache. Ganache is a tricky animal. Because it hardens as it cools. Which makes it ideal for pouring or whipping or piping into shapes. So you must tend to its temperature and consistency for your desired purpose.

I don’t like cakes drenched in sugar. Your mileage may vary. (And probably does; I don’t equate sugar and salt with flavor like most Americans do.)

I roll with about a cup of chocolate chips — about 2/3 dark chocolate, the remaining semi-sweet — and whipping cream in a carton. Stir in a saucepan over low heat. 

Stir with mindful eye until it achieves a consistency that’s thick but still pourable. If you pass that point and the ganache hardens, simply reheat on low while stirring so it doesn’t burn! Burnt ganache no good.

Plenty ganache to coat the cake with leftovers!

gimme ganache!

6. Since it’s the recipient’s birthday AND Christmas (sucks for her), I combine candles ‘n’ kisses.

Tips:

* After pouring the ganache, I cool the torte in the fridge so it’ll harden and make slicing easier. 

* I use a sharp long unserrated knife and press firmly; do not saw. Dip knife into hot water and wipe dry after EVERY cut.

* This baby’s rich rich rich so cut pieces small! There’s 16 here. Verdict: These are keeper recipes.

Feast … with your eyes!

if tortes could talk, this one would say Merry Christmas AND Happy Birthday!

Snowballs from the oven. Has the world gone mad?!

Yes it has. Yet let us bake nonetheless!

Baking. Gets no more basic than Betty Crocker sometimes. 

After disappointment with a cookie recipe — unfortunately Christmas cookies for my son — at one site, I returned to ol’ Betts for another batch. Earmarked for the food-demo gals and guys at Costco. 

So sorry my son got the bleh batch with the bleh recipe! Won’t happen again.

Mexican wedding cakes. Russian tea cakes. Snowballs. Call them what you will, they’re a well-liked popular cookie, except among folks who can’t eat or don’t like nuts. And so seasonal! We here in cental Arizona did not get the white Christmas promised us repeatedly by the forecasters. 

Wouldn’t it be something to be continuously wrong or bad at your job and STILL get paid?!

Snowballs. Really, they’re shortbread in a ball. Rich buttery shortbread with sugar, vanilla and finely-chopped nuts.

Some folks use walnuts or almonds. I stick with pecans. They’re traditional. Plus have a meatier and richer flavor than walnuts and (certainly) almonds, thereby nicely complementing the buttery shortbread.

Here’s the recipe and Russian tea cakes from ol’ gal Betty:

Ingredients

1 cup butter or margarine, softened

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 1/4 cups Gold Medal™ all-purpose flour

3/4 cup finely chopped nuts

1/4 teaspoon salt

Powdered sugar

Directions

Heat oven to 400ºF. (Note: seemed too hot to me so I went with 350)

Mix butter, 1/2 cup powdered sugar and the vanilla in large bowl. Stir in flour, nuts and salt until dough holds together.

Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Place about 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until set but not brown. Remove from cookie sheet. Cool slightly on wire rack.

Roll warm cookies in powdered sugar; cool on wire rack. Roll in powdered sugar again.

Now the best and completely calories-free part: Pics!

The raw dough with pecans very finely chopped. That’s key IMHO. Enables through mixing and a nutty flavor in every bite.

 

snowballs dough at the start

 
Size matters. Snowballs rolled into the size of golfballs are the preference of some. I prefer those slightly bigger than, say, a walnut shell. These cookies do not spread so what you roll is what you’ll get.  

Also, the thick bigger balls increase the chance of burning on the bottom (since, as I said, they don’t spread). Even when rolled small, I need to keep an eye out since my oven bakes hot; hence I rotate the cookie sheets at the halfway mark.

raw snowballs heading into oven

 
Oops! I forgot to photograph the balls fresh outta the oven! Oh well. Here they come in their snowy finest.

This is a good place to mention why I didn’t like the first recipe for the batch that unfortunately was mailed to my son. It did not call for a SECOND rolling in powdered sugar.

It was the critical flaw.

The secret to a successful snowball is this: 

(1) Roll them the first time in powdered sugar while still warm, about 5 minutes out of the oven. This ensures a coating that will stick. If you wait until they’ve cooled, you’ve, we’ll, screwed up!

(2) Roll them in powdered sugar a second time anytime after they’re fully cooled. This second roll creates a fluffy snow that sticks.

a white christmas after all!

Now, like I said, these were for the Costco demo gals and guys. I know some “well.” In my town, they’re always so nice and friendly and their smiles lift my spirit so these are a merry token of my appreciation and gratitude. 

Hence into each baggie went two snowballs and two kisses made of chocolate. How they got delivered is a secret between me and Santa ;-).

 

snowballs and kisses in a bag

 
 The batch readied for delivery by a (not-too-secret) secret Santa. Since one of the Costco demo gals can’t eat gluten (genuinely, separate from the gluten-free trend of the times), she gets extra kisses and a cinnamon votive candle.  🙂 

a buncha snowballs in bags

 

A Lickety-Split (Peas) Soup? Yes Please!

Sure, there’s the cold … the long dark nights … turning on the furnace for the first time … the hibernation.

Yet, for me, it’s when the hearty homemade soup appears on the scene that winter c’est arrivé.

No winter soup arrives before its time. For that timing, I trust my biology, my gut, knowingness, intuition. I trust my bones, my inner farmer’s almanac, the flow of the seasons.

That first pot of a hearty soup — invariably split pea or lentil with a ham bone, the all-important, all-imperative, integral ham bone — announces:

Yes. The corner from autumn into winter is turned.

I eat foods and drink craft ales with the season. That’s what you should know about me. For this post. 🙂

Now.

The cold season brings out my inner German hausfrau. Earthy nourishing soups are my strength. Pasta, not at bit! Wasn’t Italian in the last 4 lifetimes, at least!

I do peruse soup recipes online for ideas, inspirations or guidelines for amounts. However, generally I just create by intuition and gut and body needs/cravings.

A couple days ago, the green light went off announcing: “It’s time. You can make the soup now.”

Kinda like being in labor and heading to the hospital only far less painful!

The twist:

It was 9 o’clock at night. I’d eaten little to nothing all day. I needed food. Good food. And I needed it fast.

I’d planned on using the crockpot.

Then I thought again about my mother.

She and I had a fucking toxic relationship. I’ve tons of issues unresolved. I’ll say that straight out.

AND she was a good cook. One of my fondest memories is her making lentil soup from scratch. With the ham bone. Always the ham bone. I remember her stirring the big pot on the stovetop and lentil soup simmering eternally, seemingly.

I didn’t want leftovers or to freeze half a batch. I get bored eating the same foods, even a yummy soup, after three days.

So my aim: Three Days of Soup. Starting Now.

Now to the meat of the matter.

A. My soups always begin with Better than Bouillon. A genuine chicken stock in a jar. (There’s also a beef.) I could rave forever about the product! I shall n-e-v-e-r return to bouillon salt cubes.

My super soup starter

My super soup starter

B. Bring 5 cups of water to a boil. Add a heaping tablespoon of Better Than Bouillon chicken base.

C. Five simple ingredients plus spices. That’s all it took for my Easy-Peasy Split Pea Soup.

Five simple ingredients plus spices

Five simple ingredients plus spices

1. 1/2 pound of dried split peas. Typically half a bag. Or 1 cup. Note: **Split peas do not need to be soaked.**

2. 2 celery stalks, diced.

3. 2 carrots, diced.

4. 1/2 large white onion, diced. Guesstimate 1 cup. I loooove onion so am generous with the root vegetable. If you’re not, dice to taste.

5. 1 pound ham hocks. Mine were smoked. Use less (or none) to taste.

6. 2 bay leaves, salt, pepper.

Slide all into the pan with 5 cups of chicken stock. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for around 90 minutes.

easy split pea soup  ready to roll

easy split pea soup
ready to roll

Check and stir often. Split peas absorb water as they cook and thicken into a paste. So do keep an eye on the water and replenish accordingly. Cook until the peas turn soft. Don’t be mislead into thinking that they’re cooked just because the mixture’s thick.

Some folks prefer pea soup the consistency of white school paste. Not I. I like a slightly-watery thick. So around 2-3 cups of water added intermittently achieved desired consistency.

D. My Easy-Peasy Split Peas-y Soup was infused with a nice hammy smokey salty flavor. So bear that in mind when you add seasonings before cooking.

Normally I slice hock meat into the soup. However, mine were rich in flavor and fat that I decided to instead use them for a second batch. Soon, very soon.

EZ split pea soup

EZ split pea soup

E. Partnered with a grilled cheese, a nourishing and warming supper that’s lickety-split (peas) too!

Easy split pea soup + grilled cheese = easy supper

Easy split pea soup + grilled cheese = easy supper

Pop by for poppers!

Poppers were pledged so poppers it shall be!

Jalapeño poppers are the perfect party food. They’re fun to make and to eat! And fun to pronounce! You try. Say “poppers” without smiling!

I whipped these up for the gang at the saloon as a token of gratitude on Thanksgiving. I wanted light ‘n’ lively figuring everyone’s tummies would be heavy with holiday fare.

Let’s get real. Light jalapeño poppers are an oxymoron!

I drew from this recipe for “Light(er) Jalapeño Poppers” at Gimme Some Oven. Love the site!

I double the recipe to produce 40 jalapeño halves for the saloon patrons. That’ll be reflected in my recipe posted at the end. If you’re not feeding a crowd, merely halve it.

I use the whipped “low-calorie” cream cheese to cut calories & richness. Haha, as if! Truth told, you’d never know by taste or texture.

So let’s get … poppin’!

1. I use turkey bacon to keep these poppers “slim.” Yeah, right!

turkey bacon. because every calorie counts in a popper!

Turkey bacon. Because every calorie counts in a popper!

2. Turkey bacon doesn’t crisp up and crumble like regular bacon. So I dice before pan-frying. Makes things easier later.

diced raw turkey bacon

Diced raw turkey bacon

Pan-fried turkey bacon. 'Tis Thanksgiving after all!

Pan-fried turkey bacon. ‘Tis Thanksgiving after all!


3. 20 jalapeño peppers. Aren’t they beautiful? Plus not pricey!

bootiful!

bootiful!

4. Peppers sliced in half.

peppers overfloweth off my little cutting board

peppers overfloweth off my little cutting board

5. Remove membrane and seeds. The heat lies there. Now, I don’t find jalapeños all that hot so am fine with leaving bits of seeds or membrane.

cleanedjalapeno

6. Jalapeños are small and split easily. I discover this trick to minimize tearing. Clean the insides starting at the top, where the knife’s pointing.

start here to deseed

start here to deseed

5. Now the filling, oh the decadently fatty filling!

You’re gazing upon 2 tubs of reduced-fat cream cheese {hahaha! can’t get over the oxymoron!} … 1 jalapeño, seeds ‘n’ all, diced to bring a lil’ heat … diced turkey bacon … minced garlic … shredded sharp cheddar cheese … chili powder for a smidge more contrast and sharpness. Sidenote: Things do whip up more easily using the soft whipped cream cheese compared to regular blocks.

popper filling

popper filling

6. Filling the poppers. I started with a spoon. Frankly, it was a pain. So I used my best natural tool: my hands. It’s like working with very sticky cookie dough but doable if like me you’re very skilled with your hands. Otherwise, simply stick with the spoon.

Oops, I deleted that pic! Oh well, you’ll get the idea with the next.

7. A true popper has a crunchy coating and is fried.

Now, I do not like fried foods. Neither do I own or want a fryer. The beauty of the baked popper is it DOES trim the fat. For what that’s worth in a snack steeped in cheeseS. Plural.

I consider the crunch mandatory. I’m a fan of panko, a favoritism cultivated in my decade in Japan. However, you could certainly use regular bread crumbs. I’ve seen recipes using crushed saltines (eh, too salty), cornflakes (eh, too sweet). Your call.

The topping of panko and parmesan cheese are mixed in a bowl:

poppers topping

poppers topping


Into the oven they go:

into the oven

into the oven

8. My oven cooks unevenly and I didn’t want the panko-parmesan to burn. So I bake the poppers sans topping for 5 minutes, just until the filling begins to soften and cook. I pull them out, lavishly sprinkle on the crumbs and slide ’em back in.

The recipe calls for baking 15-20 minutes. I couldn’t say but it sounds about right. Because my oven cooks fast and unevenly, I just keep a close eye and nose on ’em.

9. Feast your eyes upon pe-pe-pe-pe-perfect pop-pop-pop-pop poppers!

jalapenosbaked

Gimme gooey greens!

Gimme gooey greens!

ALLYCAT’S POPPERS FOR 40

8 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled
16 ounces whipped cream cheese
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. chili powder
Dash of salt and pepper
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
20 jalapeños, halved lengthwise, seeds removed; for heat, leave some in

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil.

Deseed jalapeños.

In a bowl, stir cream cheese, shredded cheese, bacon bits, garlic, seasonings.

In a separate bowl, mix panko and parmesan cheese.

Spoon or hand-fill filling into each jalapeño.

Bake about 5 minutes until cheese begins to warm and soften.

Remove from oven. Sprinkle on panko-parmesan mixture. Return to oven.

Bake about 15 minutes or until topping is toasty golden brown.

Serve immediately. Or later. People love poppers piping hot or lukewarm!

C is for crockpot, chicken pot pie & comfort

Comfort food.

You know what I’m talkin’ about. Food that nourishes the soul and body. Food that warms and sticks to the bones in the cold without leaving you feeling heavy like you’ve just eaten half a buffalo.

Chicken pot pie.

Ahh, that lovely creamy steamy nutritional comfort food. Your mom most likely prepared it for you like mine did for me and my sister and their mothers before them ad infinitum.

Chicken pot pie is an ultimate and ubiquitous comfort food. And as fattening as hell!

When my body speaks, I listen — most of the time. It speaks loudly, precisely, sometimes sternly, in the midst of current health issues.

The other day my body and soul announced: chicken pot pie — sans the pastry.

And thus it came to pass.

At no other time during the year does my crockpot get the rigorous workout that it does through autumn and winter! My crockpot’s my go-to cooking tool, hand’s down.

Speaking of hands: chicken legs. Alas, I slightly jump ahead.

My aim was to create a crockpot chicken pot pie that’s low in fat. Haha, you laugh (ROFL). No, REALLY!

I’ll give you a moment to pick yourself up off the floor, dust yourself off and show you how.

Note: I completely winged it — no pun intended — with chicken and veggies my body was craving. You can easily beef up — again, no pun intended — reduce, remove and tweak to your taste.

Allycat’s Low-Fat (No, Really!) Crockpot Chicken Pot Pie

1 lb. chicken – I use (3) legs ’cause I love dark meat and marrow
4-5 cups chicken broth — strictly Better than Bouillon … because it so is!! Cubes begone forever!!
1/2 white onion, chopped
1 large rib celery, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 cup mushrooms, chopped — I used crimini
1/2 cup peas — I used frozen
1/2 large sweet potato, chopped — I left nutritional skin on
1/2 red pepper, chopped — for color and loaded with Vitamin C

Is that fastidious prep work or what?!

Is that fastidious prep work or what?!


Into the crockpot it all went along with:

1 tsp. thyme
2 bay leaves
Salt & pepper

Ready to roil 'n' roll

Ready to roil ‘n’ roll

Cooked on high for about 4 hours.

As you can see, it’s absolutely lovely and edible as a soup:

Chicken Veggie Soup before it gets "fattened up"

Chicken Veggie Soup before it gets “fattened up”

Buuuuut! It was that comforting creaminess I was after. Since I eat precious little dairy, the riddle was how to create it without milk.

Cornstarch to the rescue!

Cornstarch is a great thickener and in this case preferred over a roux as I didn’t want the added calories of butter.

My slurry:

1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon half-and-half
Stir to form a paste

stewslurry

Two keys in a slurry:

(a) add cold liquid to cornstarch. Be it water, broth, wine, milk, it must be cold. I used half-and-half — from my supply for the morning coffee — as a tiny indulgence in milky creaminess.

(b) the ratio of slurry to the dish being thickened.

After researching online, I went with the 1:1 ratio of cornstarch to liquid to 1 cup of dish (stew, soup, stir-fry, whatever).

To a cup of my chicken soup mere steps away from pot pie, I slowly stirred in the slurry. The thickening was instant!

In about 10 seconds — yes, just that fast! — I had a warming thick creamy chicken pot pie like mom used to serve without the fat and dairy:

Crockpot Chicken Pot Pie sans pastry, fat or dairy

Crockpot Chicken Pot Pie sans pastry, fat or dairy

Chicken pot pie comfort? You’re clucking right!!