Succulent Chicken Shepherds Pie

In these cooler Fall days, I tend to crave comfort foods more often. Meat dishes, hearty pastas, and savory bean soups make their way onto my dinner menu. My Succulent Chicken Shepherds Pie is a good way to use leftover mashed potatoes and baked or braised chicken. With the addition of my apple cider pan gravy, it’s a Taste of Fall.

Succulent Chicken Shepherd's Pie with cheesy runoff (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Succulent Chicken Shepherd’s Pie with cheesy runoff (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Shepherd’s Pie has a history that began in the late 1700s and early 1800s in Ireland. It was originally known as Cottage Pie and later called Shepherd’s Pie. It’s a “pie” that is traditionally made with lamb or beef as the base, combined with vegetables, topped with mashed potatoes and baked to a golden brown. Meat Pies are slightly different in that they use pastry as a covering instead of the mashed potatoes. Meat Pies date back to 9500BC according to Wikipedia.org and were popular with the Greeks and Romans.

Make the Shepherds Pie without the bubbly cheese topping if you are watching fat and calories (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Make the Shepherds Pie without the bubbly cheese topping if you are watching fat and calories (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

I like to use cooked chicken in my shepherd’s pies. Smoked chicken is another savory option. You can use chunks of cooked meats such as roast beef, turkey breast, pork shoulder or lamb. Ground meats are an easy option. Try cooked ground lamb, beef, turkey, chicken, or pork.

Roasted Chicken with Herbs de Provence (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Roasted Chicken with Herbs de Provence (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Use your favorite diced cooked vegetables such as carrots, peas, onions, mushrooms, green beans, corn, lima beans or tomatoes. You could use leftovers from my TV Dinner Peas and Carrots if you’ve made them recently. No need to pre-cook them so you can skip that step.

Saute the peas and carrots and you have TV Dinner Peas and Carrots!  (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Saute the peas and carrots and you have TV Dinner Peas and Carrots! (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

My filling for this particular recipe includes the chopped chicken as well as cooked peas, carrots, and onions in a sweet and savory apple cider pan gravy. The crowning glory on this dish is the crispy covering of mashed potatoes. You can top the mashed potatoes with shredded cheese, mix the cheese into the potatoes before spreading over the filling, or omit the cheese all together.

Shepherd's Pie with Smoked Chicken and Cheesy Cheddar Crust (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Shepherd’s Pie with Smoked Chicken and Cheesy Cheddar Crust (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

So how to get started? Make a batch of my Easy Mashed Potatoes to start. You’ll need about two cups of mashed potatoes.

Whisk the mashed potatoes to make them light and fluffy (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Whisk the mashed potatoes to make them light and fluffy (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Also, you’ll need to make my apple cider pan gravy. The gravy recipe is included below. I prefer to use apple cider in my gravy rather than the traditional Guinness beer.

Add some apple cider to your pan gravy.  Toigo Orchards is a family-run business with quality products.  (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Add some apple cider to your pan gravy. Toigo Orchards is a family-run business with quality products. (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Have some shredded cheese ready. You can use sharp cheddar or a combo of your favorite cheeses. I like to sprinkle some shredded Parmesan on top of the shredded cheese to crisp it up a bit.

Shredded cheese to top the Shepherd's Pie (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Shredded cheese to top the Shepherd’s Pie (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Dice some onion and carrot. Saute them in some olive oil until the carrot softens and the onion is translucent.

Saute the onions and carrots (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Saute the onions and carrots (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Add some frozen peas and stir.

Add the peas to the carrots and onions (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Add the peas to the carrots and onions (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Add some apple cider pan gravy and simmer a few minutes to warm through.

Simmer the filling for a few minutes (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Simmer the filling for a few minutes (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Pour the filling into the baking dish(es).

Divide the filling amongst your baking dishes (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Divide the filling amongst your baking dishes (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Top with the mashed potatoes.

My Easy Mashed Potatoes make a tasty topping for Shepherd's Pie (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

My Easy Mashed Potatoes make a tasty topping for Shepherd’s Pie (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Mashed potatoes top the Shepherd's Pie filling (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Mashed potatoes top the Shepherd’s Pie filling (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Bake for 20 – 30 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit until the filling is bubbling and the potatoes have browned.

Bake the Shepherd's Pie until the filling is bubbling and the potatoes have browned (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Bake the Shepherd’s Pie until the filling is bubbling and the potatoes have browned (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Remove the Shepherd’s Pie from the oven and top with the shredded cheese.

Top the baked Shepherd's Pie with the shredded cheese (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Top the baked Shepherd’s Pie with the shredded cheese (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Return the Shepherd’s Pie to the oven and broil until the cheese melts and browns a bit.

Broil the Shepherd's Pie until the cheese is browned and bubbly (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Broil the Shepherd’s Pie until the cheese is browned and bubbly (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Remove the Shepherd’s Pie from the oven and let cool a bit before serving.

The cheese is brown and bubbly (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

The cheese is brown and bubbly (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

And serve!

Also, this is my 200th post on A Food Lover’s Delight. Thanks to all of you for continuing to visit and for following my tasty adventures!

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From the kitchen of A Food Lover’s Delight….

Succulent Chicken Shepherds Pie

Ingredients:

2 T olive oil
1/2 c diced onion
1 c diced carrots
1 c frozen peas
2 cups chopped cooked chicken breast
1 c apple cider pan gravy (recipe below)
2 c Easy Mashed Potatoes
1 c shredded cheese such as sharp cheddar, Monterey Jack, Parmesan, or a combination

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Apple Cider Pan Gravy:

2 T butter
2 T flour
2 c chicken or vegetable broth/stock, can include pan drippings from previously roasted meat
1/2 c apple cider
salt and pepper, to taste

Over low heat, melt the butter in a non-stick chef’s pan. Whisk in the flour and keep whisking a few minutes until the flour and butter combine and cook a bit. Whisk in the broth/stock and apple cider. Simmer until the gravy thickens, whisking periodically to ensure the gravy doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Season with salt and pepper. Makes about 2 cups.

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Method:

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Butter one or more baking dishes. I like to make “individual” Shepherd’s Pies so will use several ramekins.
3. Make the mashed potatoes and the pan gravy and set aside.
4. In a skillet, over medium heat, warm the olive oil.
5. Saute the onion and carrot until soft.
6. Add the peas and stir to warm them.
7. Add the chopped chicken and cook for a few minutes.
8. Add the apple cider pan gravy and simmer the filling for 5 minutes to warm through.
9. Pour the filling into the baking dish(es).
10. Top the filling with dollops of mashed potatoes, smoothing the potatoes a bit to ensure about a half inch thick coverage.
11. Bake the Shepherd’s Pie for 20 – 30 minutes or until the filling is bubbling and the potatoes have browned.
12. Remove the Shepherd’s Pie from the oven and top with the shredded cheese.
13. Return to the oven and broil until the cheese melts and browns slightly.
14. Remove from the oven and let cool for a bit before serving.
15. Either serve the individual ramekins or spoon out onto plates. Enjoy!

Serves 4 as a main course. Offer with a side salad such as my Pretty Pear Salad with Goat Cheese and Cinnamon Pecans or my Special Bittersweet Salad. Both are nice Fall and Winter salads. In keeping with the cider theme, a sparkling cider goes nicely with this dish.

Variations: Use beef, lamb, pork or smoked chicken in this dish. Add your favorite vegetables. Omit the cheese or use fat-free cheese if you are watching your fat and calorie intake. Omit the apple cider if using beef in this dish.

www.afoodloversdelight.com (Copyright Adroit Ideals 2014)

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Pizza Topping Bar

What’s more fun than a “Pick Your Topping Pizza?” If you’re having a party, set out a Pizza Topping Bar and let your guests top their own individual pizza pies. You could bake or grill the pizzas for your guests.

Pepperoni pizza baking in the oven  (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Pepperoni pizza baking in the oven (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Below is a pretty comprehensive list of pizza ingredients that should please most pizza eaters. Buy a selection of toppings, a few different pizza dough flavors, and get that pizza topping bar ready. Rent some grills or have everyone bring their own portable grill. It’s an entertaining outdoor event for the summer and fall!

Pepperoni, red bell pepper, onion, mushroom, black olive, mozzarella, parmesan,  and herbed crust pizza just out of the oven. (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Pepperoni, red bell pepper, onion, mushroom, black olive, mozzarella, parmesan, and herbed crust pizza just out of the oven. (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Here’s my “Pizza Topping Bar” Map. Offer some of my suggested toppings on platters or in bowls with serving utensils. Use a large card table or even the center island in your kitchen. Your guests can start with the pizza pan, add a crust, sauce, cheese, meat or seafood, vegetable or fruit, bake it, and then add a garnish. Have a separate table for napkins rolled around flatware and your assorted beverages. Soft drinks, beer, and wine all go well with pizzas!

PickYourToppingPizzaBarAI

But first, take a look at these enticing photos some of my favorite pizza combos:

Pepperoni Pizza with Extra Cheese!   (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Pepperoni Pizza with Extra Cheese! (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Cremini mushrooms and crispy sauteed prosciutto top a cheesy pizza (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Cremini mushrooms and crispy sauteed prosciutto top a cheesy pizza (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Basil pesto and Margherita Pizza with lots of cheese!  (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Basil pesto and Margherita Pizza with lots of cheese! (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Tomato, mushroom, and broccoli pizza with roasted garlic cloves  (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Tomato, mushroom, and broccoli pizza with roasted garlic cloves (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Hot from the oven: Friday Night Pepperoni and Provolone Pizza (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Hot from the oven: Friday Night Pepperoni and Provolone Pizza (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Broccoli Mushroom Shallot Pizza (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Broccoli Mushroom Shallot Pizza (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Cremini Mushroom and Oven-Roasted Tomato Pizza  (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Cremini Mushroom and Oven-Roasted Tomato Pizza (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Pizza: Duck Confit, Pear, Shallot, Swiss Cheese, Smoked Gouda Cheese on Smoky Flatbread (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Pizza: Duck Confit, Pear, Shallot, Swiss Cheese, Smoked Gouda Cheese on Smoky Flatbread (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Roasted Tomato, Ricotta, Mozzarella, Garlic and Pesto Pizza -- Hot from the oven! (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Roasted Tomato, Ricotta, Mozzarella, Garlic and Pesto Pizza — Hot from the oven! (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

BBQ Chicken Pizza (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

BBQ Chicken Pizza (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Garlic Chicken Pizza with Fingerling Potatoes (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Garlic Chicken Pizza with Fingerling Potatoes (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Scallop & Asparagus Pizza at Patsy's (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Scallop & Asparagus Pizza at Patsy’s (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Pizza Margherita at Patsy's Restaurant. Great with a glass of red wine. (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Pizza Margherita at Patsy’s Restaurant. Great with a glass of red wine. (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

A slice of pepperoni, black olive, and mozzarella pizza!  (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

A slice of pepperoni, black olive, and mozzarella pizza! (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Roasted Tomato and Asparagus Pizza Fresh From the Oven (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Roasted Tomato and Asparagus Pizza Fresh From the Oven (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Pizza smothered in chicken, pesto, and cheese (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Pizza smothered in chicken, pesto, and cheese (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

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You can put almost anything on a pizza. Start out with a selection of pizza doughs for your guests to roll out. Set out a card with a few composed pizza suggestions including:

Sausage and Tomato Pizza: pizza sauce, provolone slices, sausage, chopped tomato

Classic Pepperoni and Mushroom Pizza: pizza sauce, shredded mozzarella, shredded parmesan, pepperoni slices, mushrooms

Tex Mex Tortilla Pizza: refried beans, Monterey Jack and cheddar cheeses, onions, and add pulled chicken. After pizza is baked, add shredded lettuce, tomatoes, jalapeno peppers, avocado, sour cream, salsa

Pizza Margherita: shredded mozzarella, diced tomato, shredded parmesan, basil

Chicken Pesto Pizza: pesto sauce, diced grilled chicken, shredded fontina, pine nuts

Duck Confit Pizza: Swiss cheese, smoked Gouda cheese, duck confit, pear, caramelized shallot

Garlic Chicken Pizza with Fingerling Potatoes: olive oil, roasted garlic cloves, diced grilled chicken, sauteed fingerling potato coins.

Roasted Tomato Ricotta Pesto Pizza: pesto, roasted tomato sauce, ricotta, mozzarella, roasted garlic cloves, parmesan.

Friday Night Pepperoni and Provolone Pizza: Roasted tomato sauce, pepperoni, provolone slices, mozzarella.

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From the kitchen of A Food Lover’s Delight….

Pizza Topping Bar

Set out a selection of these options for your guests to create their own pizza pies.

Pizza Crusts:

Regular pizza dough
Whole wheat pizza dough
Herbed pizza dough
Plain flatbread
Flavored flatbread
Burrito size flour tortilla

Sauces:

Tomato pizza sauce
Roasted tomato sauce
Alfredo sauce
Garlic butter sauce
BBQ sauce
Pesto sauce
Refried beans

Cheeses:

Shredded mozzarella cheese
Fresh mozzarella cheese slices or mini-balls
Shredded parmesan cheese
Shredded cheddar cheese
Shredded Monterey Jack cheese
Shredded smoked Gouda cheese
Ricotta cheese
Goat cheese
Shredded fontina cheese
Sliced Swiss cheese
Sliced provolone cheese
Feta cheese crumbles
Bleu cheese crumbles
Queso Fresco

Meats and Seafood:

Pepperoni
Capicola Ham
Salami
Prosciutto
Diced turkey
Pulled chicken
Diced ham
Sausage
Anchovies
Crispy Bacon
Smoked salmon
Scallops
Duck confit
Escargots

Vegetables and Fruits

Tomato slices
Green or red bell pepper rings
Sliced mushrooms
Sliced garlic
Pineapple chunks
Sliced black olives
Diced or sliced sweet or red onions
Sliced jalapeno peppers
Banana peppers
Chopped spinach
Roasted red peppers
Black beans
Diced tomato
Asparagus tips or spears
Sliced pears
Roasted garlic cloves
Diced or sliced cooked potatoes

Garnishes:

Oregano
Basil
Black pepper
Red pepper flakes
Salsa
Sour cream
Pine nuts
Shredded Lettuce

Method: Start with a pizza crust on a pizza pan. Top with your favorite sauce. Add cheese, meats and seafood, vegetables and fruits. Bake or grill the pizza. Then top with your favorite garnishes. Enjoy!

Feeds a crowd!

www.afoodloversdelight.com (Copyright Adroit Ideals 2014)

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Easy Egg Salad

Easy Egg Salad. One of my absolute favorite sandwich fillings is egg salad. I grew up on egg salad sandwiches. Chopped hard-boiled egg with just a touch of Miracle Whip mixed lightly and spread on wheat toast. Maybe topped with a lettuce leaf or tomato slice before assembling, cutting into triangle-shaped quarters, and serving with crispy potato chips or crunchy carrot sticks.

My Easy Egg Salad on a Potato Roll with Lettuce (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

My Easy Egg Salad on a Potato Roll with Lettuce (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

These days, I prefer to use mayonnaise instead of Miracle Whip in my egg salad. Hellmann’s is my favorite mayonnaise if I don’t have time to make my own. And I’ve tried Greek Yogurt which provides a nice tang that compliments the egg flavor.

We are fortunate to have access to very fresh organic free-range eggs in my area. Usually, super fresh eggs aren’t the best to hard boil for egg salad as they can be hard to peel. You could wait a few days before using the fresh eggs for a better result.

Whole Foods Market's organic eggs (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Whole Foods Market’s organic eggs (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Egg salad is a super versatile base filling. You can mix in all sorts of additions like olives, pickles, veggies, mustards, etc. I like to add sliced pitted black olives to my egg salad sometimes. Diced avocado adds a luxurious texture to a basic egg salad. I’ve even added halved red grapes, minced chives, diced ham, and chopped pecans to my basic egg salad and served it over a bed of arugula.

Start by carefully placing some eggs in a pan.

Add the eggs to the pan (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Add the eggs to the pan (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Cover the eggs with cold water to about an inch above the top of the eggs.

Cover the eggs with cold water (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Cover the eggs with cold water (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Bring the eggs just to a boil.

Bring the eggs just to a boil (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Bring the eggs just to a boil (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Remove the pan from the heat and cover it. Let the eggs sit for 15 minutes.

Cover the pan and remove from the heat (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Cover the pan and remove from the heat (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

After 15 minutes, remove the eggs with a slotted spoon and place in a colander.

Use a slotted spoon to remove the eggs to a colander (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Use a slotted spoon to remove the eggs to a colander (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Cool the eggs by running cold water over them for several minutes. You could also carefully place them in a bowl of ice water.

Rinse the eggs with cold water until they cool (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Rinse the eggs with cold water until they cool (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Move the eggs to a cutting board and continue to let cool.

Remove the eggs to a cutting board (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Remove the eggs to a cutting board (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Peel the eggs under cold running water. Slice then chop the eggs. Use an egg slicer or just chop them.

Slice the eggs then chop them (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Slice the eggs then chop them (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Chopped Eggs (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Chopped Eggs (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Add some mayo, dijon mustard, salt, and pepper.

Mayonnaise and dijon mustard help bind the egg salad together (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Mayonnaise and dijon mustard help bind the egg salad together (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Add mayo, mustard, salt, and pepper to the chopped eggs. (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Add mayo, mustard, salt, and pepper to the chopped eggs. (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

And stir until combined. At this time you can stir in all sorts of other items. See my suggested list of additions to egg salad below in the recipe.

Mix the egg salad (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Mix the egg salad (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Scoop the egg salad onto your favorite bread. Top with lettuce, and tomato and serve!

Easy Egg Salad Sandwich on a Potato Roll with Lettuce (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Easy Egg Salad Sandwich on a Potato Roll with Lettuce (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Enjoy!

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From the kitchen of A Food Lover’s Delight….

Easy Egg Salad

Ingredients:

6 eggs
1/3 c mayonnaise
1 T dijon mustard (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
lettuce leaves (optional)
tomato slices (optional)
8 slices of your favorite bread, or 4 buns, toasted or plain

Other mix-ins (use one or more):

Finely chopped sweet or dill pickles
Finely chopped Vidalia onion or shallot
Minced pitted kalamata olives
Sliced pitted black olives
Chopped capers
Minced fresh herbs such as thyme, dill, chives, basil, or sage
Diced avocado
Sliced scallions
Grated carrot
Sliced celery
Chopped radish
Chopped cherry tomatoes
Diced red or green bell pepper
Chopped dates
Dried cranberries
Orange or lemon zest
Diced ham or turkey
Crumbled bacon
Diced smoked salmon
Flaked canned tuna
Shredded cheese such as cheddar or parmesan
Chopped almonds or walnuts
Your favorite flavored mustard
Miracle Whip instead of mayonnaise
Thousand Island dressing

Method:

1. Place the eggs in a saucepan and cover with cold water to one inch above the eggs.
2. Bring to a boil over high heat. As soon as the water comes to a full boil, quickly put a lid on the pan and remove the pan from the heat.
3. Set aside for 15 minutes with the lid on the pan.
4. After 15 minutes, rinse the eggs under cold water.
5. When cool enough to handle, peel the eggs.
6. Chop the cooked eggs. I use an egg slicer to help with this process.
7. In a non-metallic bowl, mix the chopped eggs with the mayonnaise, mustard, salt and pepper.
8. Mix in any other items that you wish.
9. Either chill the egg salad for a few hours, or serve immediately, spooning over your favorite plain or toasted bread.

Serves 4 as a sandwich course. Serve on wheat toast with a lettuce leaf and tomato slice! I prefer my egg salad to be chilled when served.

Variations: Mix in any of your favorite additions. For a different presentation for a nice light lunch, serve the egg salad in a hollowed-out tomato, an avocado boat, or over a bed of salad greens. Use fat free mayonnaise or even some Greek Yogurt instead of regular mayonnaise.

My Easy Egg Salad Sandwich!  (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

My Easy Egg Salad Sandwich! (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

www.afoodloversdelight.com (Copyright Adroit Ideals 2014)

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Favorite Fall Dishes

Today is the first day of Fall. The mornings are becoming chilly here in Virginia. It’s that time of year that the days are sunny and dry. Summer vegetables are beginning to wane. Apples are ripening on the trees. Acorns are falling to the ground. The leaves on the trees are beginning to change from green to bright fall colors. And it’s time to make my Favorite Fall Dishes.

Colorful Fall Leaves (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Colorful Fall Leaves (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Fall, or Autumn, is the favorite season for many. What are the alluring fragrances of Fall? Cinnamon, nutmeg, mulled ciders, baked apple and pumpkin pies, cool crisp air and even burning leaves.

For me, Fall means simmering soups and stews on the stove, luscious pies baking in the oven, sweet and savory salads made with Fall fruits and vegetables, and braised and roasted meats.

Here’s a compilation of some of my recipes that “fall” right into the cooler weather.

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From the kitchen of A Food Lover’s Delight….

The Food Lover’s Favorite Fall Dishes

Cinnamon Pecans are a simple snack that can start your Happy Hour or hang around to be nibbled during the day.

Cinnamon Pecans (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Cinnamon Pecans (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

My Fig Almond Cheese Nibbles are elegant and so easy to make, your guests will be impressed. Fresh figs are a favorite fall fruit, as are dried figs.

Simple Amuse Bouche: Laughing Cow Cheese, Fig Jam, Toasted Sliced Almonds on Mini-Toasts (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Simple Amuse Bouche: Laughing Cow Cheese, Fig Jam, Toasted Sliced Almonds on Mini-Toasts (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Hubby’s Chicken Liver Pate is a sumptuous treat at our house, usually enjoyed during the fall and winter months. Inexpensive to make, be sure to whip up a large batch. Freezes well, too.

It's a party with Hubby's Chicken Liver Pate and a nice crusty baguette.  Add some red wine and you're on a roll!  (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

It’s a party with Hubby’s Chicken Liver Pate and a nice crusty baguette. Add some red wine and you’re on a roll! (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Last winter, I came up with this savory and slightly sweet appetizer for chilly evenings. Stuffed Mushroom Caps with Brie Ham and Dried Cranberries are a hit with friends and family.

Serve my Stuffed Mushroom Caps with Brie, Ham and Dried Cranberries at your next party!  (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Serve my Stuffed Mushroom Caps with Brie, Ham and Dried Cranberries at your next party! (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Velvety Butternut Squash Soup is a very elegant and easy dish for a dinner party or a casual Saturday lunch with friends. Top with some thinly sliced fresh sage leaves from your garden.

Butternut Squash Soup with Sage Chiffonade (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Butternut Squash Soup with Sage Chiffonade (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

A favorite savory fall soup is my Wild Mushroom Soup with Sherry. Goes great with some crusty bread.

Wild Mushroom Soup.  Garnished with chopped chives and sliced mushrooms and a splash of sherry! (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Wild Mushroom Soup. Garnished with chopped chives and sliced mushrooms and a splash of sherry! (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

My Baked Onion Thyme Soup spends an additional few minutes in the oven to melt Swiss cheese over a toasty crouton.

Baked Onion Thyme Soup, ready for a spoon! (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Baked Onion Thyme Soup, ready for a spoon! (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Not for the faint-hearted, my Spicy Bean Soup with Andouille Sausage adds a kick to your Fall dinner menu.

Spicy Bean Soup with Andouille Sausage makes a great meal on a cold night (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Spicy Bean Soup with Andouille Sausage makes a great meal on a cold night (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

The Food Lover’s Special Bittersweet Salad features radicchio, celery, and carrots as some of the nice fall salad vegetables that are available in your grocer’s produce section.

Bittersweet Salad and some great ambiance! (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Bittersweet Salad and some great ambiance! (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

If you are a beet lover like I am, my Roasted Beet Salad with Goat Cheese and Pine Nuts is a gorgeous addition to your fall menu.

Roasted Beet Salad is a year-round accompaniment to your meal.  (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Roasted Beet Salad is a year-round accompaniment to your meal. (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

My Pretty Pear Salad with Goat Cheese and Cinnamon Pecans takes advantage of those luscious ripe pears that are arriving at farmers’ markets this time of year.

Pear and Goat Cheese Salad with Cinnamon Pecans (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Pear and Goat Cheese Salad with Cinnamon Pecans (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

My Wild Rice Salad with Dried Cranberries and Apricots can be served hot or cold. I prefer it to be served chilled alongside sliced turkey breast or a grilled chicken breast.

Serve my Wild Rice Salad as a side to Chicken or Turkey for a tasty meal (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Serve my Wild Rice Salad as a side to Chicken or Turkey for a tasty meal (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

One of my absolute favorite fall pasta dishes is my Butternut Squash Ravioli in a Calvados Cream Sauce. It features all of those favorite fall flavors including Calvados which is an apple brandy.

Butternut Squash Ravioli with Calvados Cream Sauce (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Butternut Squash Ravioli with Calvados Cream Sauce (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Another hearty pasta dish for the cooler evenings, my Sausage, Mushroom and Shallot Lasagna is rich with flavor.

A slice of Sausage, Mushroom and Shallot Lasagna! (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

A slice of Sausage, Mushroom and Shallot Lasagna! (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Pesto is a great way to use that final harvest of basil from your garden. My Garlic Chicken Pesto Pasta features pesto. You can also buy premade pesto in your grocer’s refrigerated section.

Garlic Chicken over Linguine with Basil Pesto and Pine Nuts (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Garlic Chicken over Linguine with Basil Pesto and Pine Nuts (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Chicken Rosemary Rigatoni is a simple weeknight dinner main course. Use fresh rosemary from your garden, or use dried for a similar result.

Chicken Rosemary Rigatoni warms the heart on a cold evening (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Chicken Rosemary Rigatoni warms the heart on a cold evening (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

A light and tasty fall dish, my Hearty Grilled Fish over White Bean Stew is just begging to be served with a big slice of garlic toast.

Grilled Fish Fillet over White Bean Stew (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Grilled Fish Fillet over White Bean Stew (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Sauteed Scallops and Confetti Vegetables over Carrot Parsnip Puree offers a solution for “what to do with parsnips” and incorporates carrots in the base puree for some sweetness and color.

Seared scallops with confetti vegetables over carrot-parsnip puree (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Seared scallops with confetti vegetables over carrot-parsnip puree (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Scallops are a favorite dish at my house. My Seared Scallops and Shallots over Mashed Potatoes with Grainy Mustard Sauce and Real Bacon Bits loudly proclaim that Fall is here to stay!

Seared Scallops over Mashed Potatoes (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Seared Scallops over Mashed Potatoes (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

When I was growing up, my Mom’s Stuffed Bell Peppers were one of the first signs that cooler weather was going to stick around for a while. Mom made these stuffed peppers regularly in the cooler weather. I make them now, sometimes serving alone with mashed potatoes, or sometimes serving over a bed of rice. Either way, they taste like “home.”

Stuffed Peppers with Mashed Potatoes (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Stuffed Peppers with Mashed Potatoes (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

My Bacon-Topped Meatloaf also grew out of a recipe that originated in my mom’s recipe box. Leftover meatloaf can stuff sandwiches for a homey Fall lunch at work or school.

My Crazy Bacon-Topped Meatloaf is a wild and crazy dish!  (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

My Crazy Bacon-Topped Meatloaf is a wild and crazy dish! (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Once in a while, we are able to get fresh venison at our local Whole Foods. My Venison Stew is a fragrant, aromatic, rich way to use venison and root vegetables. You could use beef instead of venison with a similar result.

The venison stew is ready to plate!  (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

The venison stew is ready to plate! (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

There’s nothing like my Stuffed Pork Chops to announce that Fall has arrived. Easy to make, and finished in the oven, my pork chops feature sage as a lovely fall herb.

Baked Stuffed Pork Chops with Sage served with Chive Mashed Potatoes and Peas (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Baked Stuffed Pork Chops with Sage served with Chive Mashed Potatoes and Peas (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Chicken Pesto Pizza is another way to use that basil pesto. Try it for your usual Friday Night Pizza!

Chicken Pesto Pizza combines two of my favorite flavors! (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Chicken Pesto Pizza combines two of my favorite flavors! (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Root vegetables, such as potatoes, can Fall-ify (is that a word?) your pizza! Try my Garlic Chicken Pizza with Fingerling Potatoes for a different type of pizza.

Garlic Chicken Pizza with Fingerling Potatoes (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Garlic Chicken Pizza with Fingerling Potatoes (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

For me, dates also signify Fall. My Buttery Orzo Pasta with Dates, Shallots and Red Bell Pepper is a simple side dish that can accompany roasted chicken, seared pork chops, or a as a savory bed for piece of grilled salmon or tuna.

Buttery Orzo Pasta with Dates, Shallots and Red Bell Pepper serves as a bed for Grilled Tuna with Orange Ginger Sauce (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Buttery Orzo Pasta with Dates, Shallots and Red Bell Pepper serves as a bed for Grilled Tuna with Orange Ginger Sauce (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

What to do with all those tomatoes at the end of the season? My Roasted Tomatoes are a great solutions that freeze well.

Roasted Tomatoes are a simple way to use garden tomatoes that are past their prime (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Roasted Tomatoes are a simple way to use garden tomatoes that are past their prime (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

There’s no better way to enjoy fall root vegetables than my Roasted Vegetables dish. Roast potatoes, beets, carrots, parsnips, turnips…you name it! Serve along with roasted meat for a hearty Sunday dinner.

Smoked Chicken Legs with Roasted Vegetables (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Smoked Chicken Legs with Roasted Vegetables (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

One of my favorite side dishes, although I don’t indulge in them often, are my Sinful Potatoes au Gratin. Super rich and creamy, these potatoes go well with a grilled steak or chicken or even as a main dish on their own.

Roast Chicken and Potatoes au Gratin (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Roast Chicken and Potatoes au Gratin (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

What’s more indicative of Fall than Truffles? Not everyone can afford fresh truffles. A simple addition to mashed potatoes is truffle oil. Try my Truffled Mashed Potatoes for an earthy Fall side dish.

Grilled Filet Mignon Steak with Truffled Mashed Red Potatoes (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Grilled Filet Mignon Steak with Truffled Mashed Red Potatoes (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

My Cranberry Compote with Cinnamon and Calvados goes well with a Thanksgiving meal. Also, I like to make it in the Fall to accompany roasted chicken or pork.

Cranberry Compote with Cinnamon and Calvados (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Cranberry Compote with Cinnamon and Calvados (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Very Berry Crumble is a homey Fall dish that’s easier to make than a from-scratch pie. Substitute apples or pears for the berries.

Very Berry Crumble -- a crispy warm dessert for a chilly evening!  (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Very Berry Crumble — a crispy warm dessert for a chilly evening! (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

And what to do with all that zucchini? My Savory Zucchini Bread, slathered with butter or cream cheese (my favorite is Honey Nut cream cheese) or eaten plain, is versatile for breakfast or dessert. And it freezes well.

A Slice of Savory Zucchini Bread with Honey Nut Cream Cheese (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

A Slice of Savory Zucchini Bread with Honey Nut Cream Cheese (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

My favorite Fall salad dressing is my Roasted Walnut Oil Dressing. Try it on baby greens, or alongside crudites for dipping.

Salad of orange cherry tomatoes, carrots, and Bibb lettuce with Roasted Walnut Oil Dressing (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Salad of orange cherry tomatoes, carrots, and Bibb lettuce with Roasted Walnut Oil Dressing (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Last Fall, my husband created his Autumn Cherry Pie Cocktail for me. It tastes just like a cherry pie!

Hubby's Autumn Cherry Pie Cocktail!  (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Hubby’s Autumn Cherry Pie Cocktail! (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

I hope that these recipes taste like Fall to you! Let me know what you think.

www.afoodloversdelight.com (Copyright Adroit Ideals 2014)

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Baked Onion Thyme Soup

It’s an early autumn type of day here in Virginia. We’ve been lucky to have several days like this in a row. Cooler days and cooler nights usually bring on the color changes in the leaves on the trees. And I will pull out my favorite list of hearty soups. My Baked Onion Thyme Soup is one of my all time favorites.

Baked Onion Thyme Soup crowned with a Toasted Crouton with Melted Swiss Cheese (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Baked Onion Thyme Soup crowned with a Toasted Crouton with Melted Swiss Cheese (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

I’d mentioned in my recent Eating Healthier posting that eating soup can help you lose weight. Soup fills you up and goes great with a salad or half sandwich. Check out my other favorite soups in my recipes file.

I have enjoyed some very favorite tasty onion soups at Petit Pois Restaurant in Charlottesville, Virginia, Bistro Vivant in McLean, Virginia, and even Morton’s the Steakhouse in Reston, Virginia. The Morton’s Five Onion Soup is very rich, thick, and potent. French bistros Petit Pois‘ and Bistro Vivant‘s onion soups are lighter and more elegant. I like both styles.

Morton's Five Onion Soup (Photo Credit: FoodSpotting.com)

Morton’s Five Onion Soup (Photo Credit: FoodSpotting.com)

French Onion Soup at Petit Pois Restaurant in Charlottesville, VA (Photo Credit: c-ville.com)

French Onion Soup at Petit Pois Restaurant in Charlottesville, VA (Photo Credit: c-ville.com)

When I was in college, during my last semester before graduation, I remember a professor readying us for interviews for jobs in the real world. He said that the worst dish that a candidate could order during a job interview meal is onion soup! It’s all the gooey cheese and stringy onions, and it’s drippy. Eating onion soup could make for a messy interview. And of course, on my first job interview, the hiring manager took me to lunch at Joe Theismann’s Restaurant at the (now closed) Falls Church, Virginia location and suggested the baked onion soup! Luckily, I declined in favor of another dish.

The baked onion soup at Joe Theismann's restaurant (Photo Courtesy TripAdvisor.com)

The baked onion soup at Joe Theismann’s restaurant (Photo Courtesy TripAdvisor.com)

Interesting, and a sidebar to this article, I did end up meeting Joe Theismann himself on an evening flight to Pittsburgh from Washington, DC in the late 1990s. He was working for ESPN at the time having retired from Washington’s Super Bowl winning football team. Back before 9/11, it was a bit simpler to fly. I thought I recognized him while sitting in the waiting area at the gate. Soon, we boarded the flight. He was sitting in my same row, but across the aisle by the window. After we ascended to cruising altitude, I motioned to the young flight attendant and asked her who is the passenger sitting over there. She said, “Joe Theismann?” but she incorrectly pronounced his name as “thees-man.” I asked if she knew who he was. She shook her head and said no. I told her he was a Super Bowl winning quarterback for the Washington Redskins! She and the other young flight attendants took turns walking by and looking at Mr. Theismann. It was comical.

When the flight landed, and his seat mate had moved out into the aisle ahead of us, I reached out my hand, and said, “Wonderful to meet you, Mr. Theismann!” He smiled and shook my hand. He had a heck of a strong handshake. As we departed from the plane, I told him about this same onion soup story and he laughed. We made small talk until someone met him at the seating area, and we parted ways. I did frequent his restaurant pretty often in Falls Church, VA with coworkers after I got my first job!

Joe Theismann during his NFL days (Photo Credit: National Football League)

Joe Theismann during his NFL days (Photo Credit: National Football League)

Now where were we? Oh yes, onion soup! This soup is simple to make. And what’s better than a slowly simmering soup on a chilly day? Your house will smell magnificent.

One of the most important ingredients in a soup is the broth or stock that is used as the base. You can use beef, chicken, veal, or vegetable broth/stock in this soup.

Vegetable Stock (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Vegetable Stock (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Veal Stock (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Veal Stock (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

The next important ingredient for onion soup: Onions! Use a combination of your favorite onions.

Use a selection of onions in this soup (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Use a selection of onions in this soup (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

The star herb in this onion thyme soup is thyme. You can use either dried thyme of a few sprigs of fresh thyme. Just remember to remove the sprigs of thyme from the soup before serving!

Thyme from my garden (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Thyme from my garden (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

To make this onion thyme soup, start out with some thinly sliced onions. You can use red, white or yellow onions, sweet onions, shallots, or a combination of whatever you have on hand. I used a yellow onion and a sweet onion for this recipe. You can chop the onions if you plan to puree the soup. You can use thicker sliced onions and then halve the rings.

Thinly slice the onions (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Thinly slice the onions (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Melt some butter in some olive oil in a soup pot. Add the onions.

Put the sliced onions in a soup pot with some melted butter and olive oil (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Put the sliced onions in a soup pot with some melted butter and olive oil (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Over low heat, sweat the onions until they are soft and slightly browned.

Sweat the onions (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Sweat the onions (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Add some flour and mix it around. Sprinkle in some dried or fresh thyme leaves. Pour in some chicken, veal, beef, or vegetable broth/stock. I like to use either veal or vegetable broth/stock. Sometimes, I make my own beef stock when I have leftover beef bones. You can also add some white or red wine for a rich flavor.

Add some broth or stock and some wine to the soup and let simmer (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Add some broth or stock and some wine to the soup and let simmer (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Stir and let the soup simmer over low heat for about an hour.

Simmer the onion thyme soup  (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Simmer the onion thyme soup (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

When the soup is ready, you could pour the soup into a large container and refrigerate overnight so the flavors can become more intense. Or if ready to eat, ladle the soup into oven-proof bowls.

Ladle the soup into oven-proof bowls (Photo Credit:  Adroit Ideals)

Ladle the soup into oven-proof bowls (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Toast a few slices of baguette to make large croutons. Float a toasted crouton on top of the soup in each bowl.

Float a toasted crouton in the soup (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Float a toasted crouton in the soup (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Top each crouton with a slice of Swiss cheese.

Top each toasted crouton with a slice of Swiss cheese (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Top each toasted crouton with a slice of Swiss cheese (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Bake in a 350 degree Fahrenheit oven for 15 minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbly. You may wish to turn on the broiler for a few minutes to brown the cheese slightly.

Bake the soup and then broil if the cheese hasn't melted (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Bake the soup and then broil if the cheese hasn’t melted (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Remove the bowls from the oven.

Baked Onion Thyme Soup, ready for a spoon! (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Baked Onion Thyme Soup, ready for a spoon! (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Let cool for a few minutes, and serve!

+++++++

From the kitchen of A Food Lover’s Delight….

Baked Onion Thyme Soup

Ingredients:

3 onions
1 T butter
2 T olive oil
1 T flour
8 c stock/broth (can use vegetable, chicken, beef, veal)
1 t dried thyme leaves or 4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 c dry red or white wine, optional
1 t sugar, optional
salt and pepper, to taste
4 slices crusty baguette
4 slices Swiss cheese

Method:

1. Toast the baguette slices under your oven broiler to make toasted croutons. Set aside.
2. After toasting the croutons, set your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
3. Thinly slice the onions and separate the onion slices into rings.
4. Warm some olive oil in a soup pot over medium low heat. Melt the butter in the olive oil.
5. Add the onion rings and sweat them until they are soft and slightly caramelized.
6. Add the flour to the onions and stir. Let cook for a minute.
7. Add the broth/stock, thyme and optional wine and sugar.
8. Simmer the soup, uncovered, for an hour over low heat, stirring occasionally. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
9. When the soup is ready, ladle into it ovenproof bowls.
10. Float a toasted crouton on each bowl of soup.
11. Top each crouton with a slice of Swiss cheese.
12. Bake the soup in the oven proof bowls for 15 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly.
13. If the cheese hasn’t browned, place under the broiler for a few minutes.
14. Remove the soup bowls from the oven, let cool a bit, and serve!

Serves 4 as a main course or 8 as a soup course.

Variations: Select a combination of onions for use in this soup. You can add fresh or roasted garlic cloves for a different flavor. Use whichever broth/stock is your favorite. Beef broth will make the soup richer than chicken or vegetable stock. Omit the toasted crouton and the Swiss cheese if you are watching your caloric and fat intake. You can omit the wine. This soup is better when the flavors get a chance to intensify in the refrigerator overnight. If you want to serve the soup plain, just ladle in to the bowls and don’t top with the crouton and the cheese. It’s aromatic and satisfying by itself!

Get your own oven proof soup bowls:

www.afoodloversdelight.com (Copyright Adroit Ideals 2014)

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