Chicken & Bacon Pot Pie with Sweet Potato Pastry Crust {Gastropost Mission #40 – Part I}

Chicken & Bacon Pot Pie

Our Gastropost Mission this week started as a joke on Facebook, after they asked us to guess the next ______ vs. ______ Mission. Someone guessed Bacon vs. Everything Else, and they loved it so much it became the Mission for the week. I love it! The vs. Missions are my favourite, and I love a themed dinner, so I built my Oscars Dinner Menu around BACON!

I’ve had this Chicken & Bacon Pot Pie pinned for a while now, and was basically just looking for an excuse (and the time) to make it. The creamy chicken and bacon layer also has mushrooms and caramelized onions, and is topped with a sweet potato pastry crust. I used my maple leaf cookie cutter to stamp out little leaves to go on top. Cute, right?

With such a rich entree, I love a crisp green salad to balance everything out, but let’s get real, homemade garlic dressing and more bacon crumbled onto my favourite Caesar Salad can’t be mistaken for health food.

Oscars Dinner

So let’s talk OSCARS! What did everyone think? We loved Reese Witherspoon and Jessica Chastain’s dresses, hated Anne Hathaway’s, loved J-Hud and Adele’s performances, still amazed that the bargain basement beaut herself is still around, love The Channer both on the red carpet with his cutie preggers wife and on stage dancing with Charliiiize, and best of all THIS and THIS.

Chicken & Bacon Pot Pie with Sweet Potato Pastry Crust

Source: slightly adapted from The Runaway Spoon (I added mushrooms and used a rotisserie chicken for the filling)

Ingredients

Filling

8 slices of bacon, sliced into 1/2″ pieces (use kitchen scissors for this)

1 large onion, thinly sliced

1 small package cremini mushrooms, sliced

2 tbsp butter

3 tbsp flour

1 1/2 cups chicken broth

1 1/2 cups milk

pinch nutmeg

1 rotisserie chicken, shredded

coarse salt + freshly ground black pepper

Crust

2 cups flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

5 tbsp butter, cold and cut into cubes

1 cup mashed sweet potato (I baked two sweet potatoes in a 350 oven for an hour)

1 egg

+ buttermilk or milk to brush on top

Directions

  1. In a large frying pan, cook the bacon over medium-high heat until brown and crisp. Use a slotted spoon to remove to a plate lined with a few paper towels. At this point you can reserve the bacon grease to cook with, or discard it and use olive oil, totally up to you. If you use the bacon grease, the filling will obviously be way more smoky and bacony.
  2. In a large saucepan (I used my Le Creuset) heat 2 tbsp bacon grease or olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions to the skillet, and cook until golden brown and caramelized, about 20 minutes depending on your pan, you may need to lower the heat if things get too brown too quickly.
  3. Add the butter to the onions, and when melted, add the flour. Stir until you can’t see the flour anymore. Slowly whisk in the chicken broth and then the milk, stirring constantly, then add the nutmeg and some salt + pepper. Raise the heat to medium high, until the mixture starts to bubble. You can throw the mushrooms in there too. Cook for about 10-15 minutes, until the filling is thick and bubbly, stirring frequently. Add the bacon and shredded chicken and stir to coat. Add the filling to a 2 1/2 quart baking dish and smooth the top. Set aside to cool.
  4. For the pastry crust, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter or a fork, until the butter is the size of peas. In a small bowl, whisk together the mashed sweet potato and egg, then add to the flour/butter mixture. Stir together with a spoon, and use your hands to knead together into a cohesive dough. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for an hour or so.
  5. When you’re ready to bake it, roll out the pastry on a lightly floured counter. Either drape the whole thing over your baking dish and slice a vent in the top OR cut out cute little shapes and arrange them over top. Brush the pastry with buttermilk or milk and sprinkle with coarse salt.
  6. Bake in a 375 oven for 45 minutes until hot and bubbly.
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Baked Sunday Mornings: Vanilla Bean & Milk Chocolate Budino

Vanilla Bean & Chocolate Budino

 I just checked to see the date of my last Baked Sunday Mornings recipe, and it was these Heartland Turtle Bars at the end of August. AUGUST! Six months ago! Unacceptable. Of course looking back, I can now see this coincided with the beginning of a big project at work (still ongoing!), which has made it a little more difficult to take on extra baking projects unless they are quick and easy, something which these Baked recipes have a tendency to be the opposite of. In any regard, there are only seven recipes left from Baked Explorations, and I’m going to make it a priority to bake them all!

First up is this Vanilla Bean & Milk Chocolate Budino (which is just a snazzier way of saying pudding). Coincidentally, I just made another two-layer pudding last month for a Gastropost mission, the theme of which was ONE POT. This is not something the Baked recipes are known for either, and sure enough this uses a saucepan and three bowls to get where you’re going. Weirdly enough, when I opened one of the jars this morning after chilling overnight, the milk chocolate pudding doesn’t seem to have set properly, so I’m not sure what went wrong there.

I’m sure they still taste great, and we’ll find out tonight when my friends come over to watch the Oscars! Can’t wait!

You can find the recipe here!

More Baked Sunday Mornings here!

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Final Report: Joy the Baker Cookbook Project

As promised, here’s the final report from our Joy the Baker Cookbook Project. Danielle and I each picked our five favourite recipes, plus our least favourite, and the three recipes we’ve each made a bunch of times and keep coming back to. Read on to find out what they were!

Recipes Baked

Total: 100 (Danielle – 50/ Robyn – 48 / Dani & Byn Together – 2)

*This took from March 5, 2012 – February 2, 2013, just under a year

Top 10 Recipes

Danielle’s Top 5

1. Banana Coconut Cream Pie

Banana Coconut Cream Pie

2. Toasted Coconut Dutch Baby with Banana & Pineapple

Toasted Coconut Dutch Baby

3. Simple Vanilla Cupcakes

Simple Vanilla Cupcakes

4. Cheddar Chive & Jalapeno Biscuits

Jalapeno Cheddar Chive Biscuits

5. Cream Cheese Pound Cake

Cream Cheese Pound Cake

Robyn’s Top 5

1. Chocolate Cookies & Cream Pudding

Chocolate Cookies & Cream Pudding

2. Giant Mint Chocolate Chip Marshmallow Cubes

Mint Chocolate Chip Marshmallows

3. Peach Cobbler Muffins

Peach Cobbler Muffins

4. Honey Whole Wheat Pound Cake

Honey Whole Wheat Pound Cake

5. Chocolate Bundt Cake with Chocolate Sour Cream Glaze

Chocolate Bundt Cake

Least Favourite

To keep it real, we’re going to let you know our least favourites. In both of these cases, we each had one sip of these and poured the rest down the drain :(

Danielle – Toasted Oat Smoothie / Robyn – Pineapple Malt Milkshake

Forever Recipes

There’s a handful of recipes that both of us have made from the book, and keep coming back to over and over again. I’m calling these forever recipes, because I know they’ll be on heavy rotation for years to come!

1. Cheddar, Chive & Jalapeno Biscuits – both Dani and I have made these multiple times. They go well with chili and stew, and make a great vehicle for a breakfast sandwich with a fried egg and turkey bacon! They freeze well, so you can make the whole batch and store them in the freezer.

2. Chocolate Cookies & Cream Pudding – we both LOVE this. Danielle has made it two or three times too.

3. Simple Vanilla Cupcakes – everyone needs a go-to vanilla cupcake recipe, and this can be yours. The recipe makes an even dozen, but is easily halved or doubled depending on your baking project

Still to Bake

There are few things that Danielle made that I still want to make, and vice versa, here they are:

Danielle: Honey Whole Wheat Pound Cake, Peach Cobbler Muffins

Robyn: Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies, Chocolate & Salty Peanut Butter Ice Cream, Banana Rum Cake with Brown Butter Frosting,  Cream Cheese Pound Cake, Chocolate Peanut Butter Whoopie Pies

Well that’s it everybody! Thanks for reading and thanks to all our family, friends and co-workers for eating all this stuff. We hear Joy’s working on her second book, so we’ll see how we feel about doing this all again when that one comes out!

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Quarterly Report: Joy the Baker Cookbook {Q4}

We’re done! My baking soul-sister and I have worked our way through 100 recipes from the Joy the Baker Cookbook! That’s a lot of butter and sugar, my friends! Tomorrow we’ll talk about our Top 10, our least favourites (!) and three forever recipes, but for today, here’s a quick look what happened in Q4.

Recipes Baked in Q4

Total: 25 (Danielle – 12 / Robyn – 13)

*This took from November 21st – February 2nd, just over two months

You can click over to our Joy the Baker page to see what we baked; we did a draft for the last quarter, and full disclosure, we did not make three things as we do not care for seaweed, lavender or the coffee/lemon combo!

Favourite from Q4

Danielle: Orange Gingerbread Squares

Orange Gingerbread Cake

Perfect for the holiday season, this square was very hydrated and had a great spice combination.  I didn’t cover it with cream cheese frosting but I’m sure it would have taken it to another level!

Robyn: Chocolate Hazelnut Spread with Orange Cream Cheese Grilled Sandwiches

Nutella & Orange Grilled Cheese

This treat was bonkers awesome, even though I’m not a huge fan of the chocolate/orange combo. It was even more special because I took a special trip to Harbord Bakery to pick up a loaf of challah and, like, there are no words to explain it’s deliciousness.

Tune in tomorrow to see our Top 10 recipes from the book!

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3rd Blog-iversary!!!

Planet Byn turns 3 today! Time to pause for the cause, and take a moment to look back on the past year of blogging and highlight the most viewed posts, my favourite posts, fun foodie experiences {new!} and some goals and exciting things coming up for Year 4.

 Top 5 Most Viewed Posts:

  1. School Bus Birthday Cake – I was expecting this as my blog stats show me that people visit Planet Byn daily to check out that post. Who knew School Bus cakes were so popular?
  2. Slutty Brownies – No doubt! Everyone loves these! More on them below.
  3. Lemon Meringue Cookies – These were in the Top 5 last year as well.
  4. Easter Candy Bark & Homemade Cream Eggs – The weirdest thing about this is that the blog that Easter Candy Bark comes from has disappeared into the blogosphere. Where did you go Lindsey?
  5. Joy the Baker Cookbook Project – Presented without comment, 100 recipes from Joy’s 1st cookbook. More on this below!

My Favourite 5 Posts from the last year:

  1. Slutty Brownies (+ Chaste Brownies, Peanut Butter Slutty Brownies and Slutty Blondies {not blogged}) – Just got obsessed with this phenomenon this year after seeing these on What’s Gaby Cooking, then realizing she was Jessica Simpson’s personal chef. Making another version this weekend: Slutty Cheesecake Brownies!
  2. Rainbow Birthday Cake – I just loved the way this cake turned out for my niece Charlotte’s 5th Birthday!
  3. Honey Wheat Bread – My first time baking loaves of bread and they turned out perfectly.
  4. Air-Popped Microwave Popcorn – This is a game-changer right here. Thanks Joel!
  5. Peach Margaritas – Had some trouble this summer making boozy (Susan) cocktails with fresh fruit that didn’t really work out (Rhubarb Margs & Cherry Mojitos). Finally hit the jackpost with these! Sippable summery goodness!

Fun Foodie Experiences/Projects:

  1. Meeting Deb from Smitten Kitchen – Well it goes without saying that this was one of my life highlights from 2012. Deb leaving a comment for me on that post is just the icing on the cake!
  2. Toronto Treat Tour – Danielle came to visit in the summer, and we had a pretty epic diabetes inducing day eating our way through Toronto’s best brunch, cupcakes, macarons, pie, doughnuts, ice cream, pizza and more doughnuts. All the more special to do it with my Sugary Goop co-podcaster!
  3. Gastropost – This has been a game-changer in so many ways. Not only is it fun to complete the missions every week, but it’s also given me the chance to appear in the National Post, make cookies for Chuck, and meet some amazing new friends, all of whom are just as obsessed with food as I am!
  4. Joy the Baker Cookbook Project – More on this next week, but Danielle and I baked our way through 100 recipes in the Joy the Baker Cookbook. This was a fun project, because truly, when do you ever bake every recipe of a cookbook? We found some forever recipes though, and we’ll tell you about them week.
  5. Meeting Gail Simmons from Top Chef – This is something I didn’t actually blog about, but when Gail’s book was released last Spring, I got the chance to meet her at a signing in Yorkville. (Haven’t talked about how I’m obsessed with Gail for a while, but here’s a refresher!). We chatted about Montreal eats, bagels, and chocolate and peanut butter. She’s so nice, friendly and pretty, and way teenier in person! Her book is great by the way, if you were ever wondering how she ended up on Top Chef.

Now let’s re-visit my goals from last year:

– Take a photography class (at minimum the one for Canon DSLRs at Henry’s)

Yup, still need to take those classes, but when I have time and daylight, I’ve been trying to have a little more patience in getting a good shot. These are some of my faves.

– Continue working with yeast! Actually make some bread :)

Another successful year! Whole Wheat Garlic Knots, Honey Yeast Rolls and Honey Wheat Bread. I’m no longer afraid of yeast, so this is coming off the goal list.

– HOMEMADE MARSHMALLOWS! My dream last summer was to have a S’mores party where we roasted homemade marshmallows on my condo balcony and then proceeded inside to a buffet of homemade graham crackers and a variety of toppings (milk chocolate, peanut butter, nutella, dulce de leche, etc). This WILL happen summer 2012.

Alright, so yes, homemade marshmallows, I made them a few times (vanilla, mint chip and Bailey’s). The problem is that when you try to roast a homemade mallow, they liquefy pretty instantly and it just turns into mess. I will take the win though for finally triumphing over these.

– Homemade ice cream. My co-worker got me an ice cream maker last summer and I never used it. This is another summer 2012 mission.

I ended up tossing that old ice cream maker and buying a new one, and made this Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ice cream. But I kind of ended up having a Ross moment (Phoebe: You don’t like ice cream? Ross: IT’S TOO COLD!). I’m just not an ice cream person (or a dog person for that matter). But then I made some more for my brother and sister-in-law and they LOVED it, so I’m still in the ice cream game. I get weirdly hypnotized watching it churn.

Finally, the BIG NEWS for 2013:

Planet Byn is currently undergoing a makeover! I’m working with Cory from Zesty Blog Consulting, and the new design should be ready in the next few weeks!

…and…

I’ll be attending the 1st Annual Food Bloggers of Canada Conference this April! Yeah! Super excited to meet fellow bloggers, and learn about everything from food photography to recipe development and so much more.

I always conclude with a big huge thank you to everyone for reading and commenting (and those like my friend Katy in Ottawa who doesn’t comment but lets me know months later that she made something I posted and her family loved it :)

It’s going to be another great year and I, for one, can’t wait to get started!

Previous Blog-iversaries:

1st

2nd

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Milk Chocolate & Peanut Butter Pudding {Gastropost Mission #36}

One Pot Pudding

This Gastropost Mission was all about one-pot meals, and we were challenged to put an international twist on everything. I’ve already made lots of chili, stew and even soup since Christmas, so instead I started thinking about one-pot desserts instead. At first I was stumped, but then the most obvious answer popped into my mind. PUDDING!

I’ve made homemade pudding before, and depending on the recipe it is not a one pot affair. I’m thinking of one recipe in particular that uses a pot, two bowls, and a strainer, and is delicious but annoying. This recipe from Bon Appetit uses one pot and that’s IT. Even with two flavours, you just need to give the pot a quick rinse between batches and you’re back in the game. Instead of using egg yolks to thicken, it uses cornstarch, which eliminates the whole straining step. I think this took me less than half an hour to make, and you’re basically left with a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup pudding.

Milk Chocolate & Peanut Butter Pudding

Source: Bon Appetit

Ingredients

Peanut Butter Pudding

1/2 cup sugar

5 tsp cornstarch

1/8 tsp salt

1 3/4 cups milk (I used 2%)

1/2 cup whipping cream

1/2 cup smooth natural peanut butter

1 tsp vanilla

Milk Chocolate Pudding

6 tbsp sugar

2 tbsp cornstarch

2 tbsp cocoa powder

pinch salt

1 1/2 cups milk

1/2 cup whipping cream

4 oz milk chocolate, chopped

1 tsp vanilla extract

+ whipped cream and sprinkles for topping, if you like

Directions

  1. For the peanut butter pudding, whisk the sugar, cornstarch and salt together in a medium sized saucepan. Slowly add the milk and cream, whisking continuously, then bring to a boil over medium-high heat, and whisk again until thick, about 30 seconds. Add the peanut butter and whisk until it boils again, then whisk for 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Divide into 6 little bowls, cups or jars and chill while you make the chocolate pudding. Rinse pot.
  2. For the milk chocolate pudding, whisk the sugar, cornstarch, cocoa powder and salt together in the saucepan. Slowly add the milk and cream, whisking continuously, then bring to a boil over medium-high heat, and whisk again until thick, about 30 seconds. Add the chocolate and whisk until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is boiling again, about 1 – 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Pour over peanut butter pudding. Add a little piece of plastic wrap to the top of each pudding, unless you like pudding skin. Chill for about two hours.
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Cranberry Orange Loaf with Crumble Topping {Gastropost Mission #34}

Cranberry Orange Loaf

I think battle missions are my favourite Gastropost missions! Strawberry vs. Cherry, Basil vs. Mint, Coffee vs. Tea, and now an epic battle of winter fruit: Pomegranate vs. Cranberry. It’s a easy choice for me:

Sorry pomegranate, but no matter how many Gastroposters tell me you’re easy to open – you’re still just so high maintenance. Cranberry is the winter fruit for me! It pairs so well with citrus, and I love it in this Cranberry Orange Loaf with a sweet crumble topping.

Can you really bake with pomegranate seeds anyway? If I had more time, I would have tried it out, but I wasn’t really that interested. I love the burst of juice you get when biting into a cranberry. Not to mention there’s no prep involved besides opening a package. Pomegrante just can’t beat that!

Cranberry Orange Loaf with Crumble Topping

Source: Joy the Baker

Ingredients

Loaf

2 cups flour

1 cup sugar

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, cut into cubes, at room temperature

1 egg

3/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

1 tbsp orange zest

1/2 tbsp vanilla

1 cup cranberries (fresh or frozen)

Crumble

2 tbsp butter, room temperature

1/4 cup flour

1 1/2 tbsp sugar

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/8 tsp salt

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 and spray a loaf pan with non-stick spray. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the butter and with clean hands, work the butter into the flour mixture (I find this oddly therapeutic).
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg, orange juice, orange zest and vanilla. Add to the dry ingredients and stir together to combine. Fold in the cranberries and pour the batter into the loaf pan.
  3. To make the crumble, combine all ingredients in a small bowl and with a fork or your fingers, combine ingredients together until crumbly. Sprinkle on top of the loaf.
  4. Bake for about an hour, maybe a little more, until a skewer inserted comes out clean.
  5. When cool, make a glaze by mixing a cup or so of icing sugar with a splash or two of milk until nice and smooth. Drizzle over top!
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