Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Culinary Roots

I have a mixture of family roots that influence the way I cook, eat and view life, which is why {I think} what I whip up in the kitchen every week is relatively interesting.

My dad is from Akron, Ohio. This man loves a steak and potatoes like none other (and the same could be said for both of my brothers.)  He likes a plate that is divided three ways: protein, starch and greens. But he has also traveled the world and will try (and enjoy) just about anything - even {gasp} my vegetarian chili.

My grandfather was born in Lockhart, Texas, where many German immigrants settled just south of the state's capital. He loves pork sausage and gravy, beans and greens cooked all day with a ham hock or a thick cut of bacon, and of course a plate of good ol' Texas bar-be-que. {He will also keep the coffee pot  hot and full from 8:00am until 8:00pm - there is absolutely no lack of caffeine at the Kirchhof household.}

My mom is all about down home, hearty and family friendly foods. She'll make chicken and rice casserole all day long and the best beef stroganoff you've ever had. She's the woman in charge of the grill, cole slaw, beans and potato salad, not to mention cobbler or pie to finish.  She's the epitome of a "one woman show" - she can do it all.

Which leads me to: What's for dinner?

{Ah, yes. It all comes full circle.}

Chicken Pot Pie

{Ingredients for: Filling} 

2 tablepoons canola oil
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/3 cup chopped white onion
1 cup chopped carrots
1 1/2 cups cooked green beans
2 1/2 cups reduced-sodium vegetable broth, divided
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 1/2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream
3 bay leaves
1 teaspoon oregano
Freshly ground salt and pepper, to taste

{Ingredients for: Biscuit Topping}
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons white sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup melted butter
1 cup milk

{What to do: Filling}

Pre-heat oven to 400°. Heat oil in a dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion, carrots, celery and bay leaves then season with salt, pepper and oregano. Cook until carrots are tender, about 7 minutes.  Add cooked green beans  and 2 cups of vegetable broth and bring to a boil; reduce heat to a simmer. Mix cornstarch with the remaining 1/2 cup broth; add to the pan and cook, stirring, until the sauce thickens. Turn off the heat and stir in chicken and sour cream. 

{What to do: Biscuit Topping}

In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients then stir in melted butter and milk. 

Drop biscuit topping onto the filling by the spoonful. Bake (without lid) for 30 minutes, then turn on the broiler for a few minutes (without removing the dish) to brown the tops of the biscuits.


These are all ingredients you most likely have in your pantry but just haven't thought to combine into a "one pot" meal. And although milk and butter are key components, this recipe is so much lighter and lower in sodium than if you were to replace the home made biscuit topping with a prepackaged version and the sour cream, vegetable broth and corn starch with a condensed soup.

It's easy to see that my love of hearty, down home cookin' comes from somewhere. I tend to "lighten up" the foods I love from my childhood to fit my current lifestyle, which is basically just trying to form healthy habits without giving up foods I love {or rather trying to maintain energy to keep up with my hectic schedule}.

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