Chicken Cranberry Pecan Salad Sandwich

Chicken Cranberry Pecan Salad Sandwich. A perfect combination of flavors for a festive autumn or winter luncheon tray, a picnic, or perhaps just a change from your regular brown bag lunch. Roasted chicken, dried cranberries, toasted pecans, celery, scallions, dijon mustard and mayonnaise combine together as a delicious sandwich filling.

Tasty Chicken Salad with Dried Cranberries, Toasted Pecans, Celery, Scallions, Dijon and Mayo with Lettuce on a Toasted Roll (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Tasty Chicken Salad with Dried Cranberries, Toasted Pecans, Celery, Scallions, Dijon and Mayo with Lettuce on a Toasted Roll (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Cranberries give a sweet and tart flavor to this chicken salad. I bet that you didn’t know that cranberries are a major American crop! Cranberries are also high in antioxidants.

Over the weekend, I roasted a whole chicken. Generally, my husband likes to eat the legs of the chicken and I will have a slice or two of chicken breast. What to do with the leftover cooked chicken? Several options come to mind including a tasty chicken salad sandwich. My usual chicken salad sandwich is more mainstream. This slightly fancier recipe is a bit more festive and just in time for the holidays. You can substitute leftover cooked turkey for the cooked chicken.

Roasted whole chicken (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Roasted whole chicken (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

I diced the cooked chicken into bite-sized pieces. Then, I thinly sliced some scallions and celery. Chopped some toasted pecans. Hydrated some dried cranberries in some warm water, then drained and chopped them. Mixed together all the ingredients with some mayonnaise and a touch of dijon mustard. Seasoned with salt and pepper. Toasted some sandwich rolls. Spread the toasted insides of the rolls with a bit of mayo and placed a lettuce leaf on each roll bottom. Then I scooped the chicken cranberry pecan salad onto the lettuce leaves and topped with each sandwich roll top. Sliced each sandwich in half, and they were ready to eat!

Chicken Cranberry Pecan Salad Sandwich is ready to devour! (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Chicken Cranberry Pecan Salad Sandwich is ready to devour! (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

You could refrigerate the chicken salad for up to two days. Try some pumpernickel bread slices for an open-face sandwich. Put dollops of the chicken salad (minus the lettuce) on top of your favorite crackers for a simple bite-sized appetizer. Make finger sandwiches for a party sandwich tray.

Enjoy!

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

Chicken Cranberry Pecan Salad Sandwich

Ingredients:

2 c diced cooked chicken
1/2 c diced celery
1/2 c dried cranberries, hydrated in water, then drained and chopped
3 T chopped toasted pecans
2 T sliced scallions
1 c mayonnaise (more if you like a creamier chicken salad, less if you don’t)
1 T dijon mustard
salt and pepper, to taste

4 sandwich rolls, toasted
Additional mayonnaise for spreading on rolls
4 whole lettuce leaves, washed and dried

Method:

1. Mix together the diced chicken, celery, cranberries, pecans, and scallions with the mayonnaise and mustard. Season with salt and pepper.
2. Spread the inside of the toasted rolls with some mayonnaise.
3. Place a lettuce leaf on the bottom of each toasted roll.
4. Put a scoop of chicken cranberry pecan salad on each lettuce leaf.
5. Put the roll tops on the chicken salad, and cut each sandwich in half.
6. Serve!

Serves 4 for a tasty lunch. Offer with potato chips or tortilla chips on the side.

Variations: Substitute cooked turkey for the chicken. Swap in toasted walnuts for the pecans. Use dried cherries or apricots instead of the cranberries. Use a honey mustard in place of the dijon. Try Greek yogurt instead of the mayonnaise. Serve scoops of the chicken salad on top of the lettuce leaves without the sandwich rolls for an elegant lunch entree. It’s a great filling for a wrap, too.

Take these whimsical plates with their own curious ants with you on a picnic with your chicken salad sandwiches!

www.afoodloversdelight.com (Copyright Adroit Ideals 2014)

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Seared Scallops over Pumpkin Butternut Squash Puree

Seared Scallops over Pumpkin Butternut Squash Puree. Add some fresh sage, dried cranberries, toasted pecans, crumbled bacon bits, and a lovely Calvados sauce. Serve with a pinot noir or sauvignon blanc wine or hard apple cider. What an exciting combination for a lovely Autumn dinner!

Seared Scallops over Pumpkin Butternut Squash Puree in a Calvados Butter Sauce. Topped with Dried Cranberries, Toasted Pecans, Crumbled Bacon, and Sage Chiffonade (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Seared Scallops over Pumpkin Butternut Squash Puree in a Calvados Butter Sauce. Topped with Dried Cranberries, Toasted Pecans, Crumbled Bacon, and Sage Chiffonade (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

My husband purchased some fresh scallops recently at our local Costco. Wow, can anyone tell me why scallops and shrimp are so expensive these days? The cost was about $1 per scallop by the time I pulled the 15 “whole” scallops out of the 7 “pieces” that were left. Ridiculous. But a treat nevertheless.

I like to use a pumpkin puree in this dish, along with the butternut squash puree. You can buy frozen or fresh butternut squash puree. Or you can make your own by cooking peeled and seeded diced squash until tender. Puree with a hand blender or in a regular blender before heating. I have a Bamix hand blender that produces very silky purees. Additionally, I use a Cuisinart hand blender for a more rustic-looking puree.

Whole Foods Market carries a nice pumpkin puree and also an organic version (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Whole Foods Market carries a nice pumpkin puree and also an organic version (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Whole Foods Market carries a nice canned pumpkin puree and also an organic version. Calvados is an apple brandy from France. You can substitute regular brandy in this dish.

Calvados is an apple brandy that is made in France (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Calvados is an apple brandy that is made in France (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Rinse the scallops well and then put them into a bowl of ice and water and set aside.

Rinse the scallops well in a bowl of icy water (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Rinse the scallops well in a bowl of icy water (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Mix together pumpkin and butternut squash purees in a pan.

Mix together the butternut squash puree and the pumpkin puree (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Mix together the butternut squash puree and the pumpkin puree (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Stir and warm the puree.

Stir and warm the butternut squash and pumpkin puree (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Stir and warm the butternut squash and pumpkin puree (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Add some seafood stock to the puree for some depth.

Add some seafood stock to the puree (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Add some seafood stock to the puree (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

When the puree has warmed through, add some fresh finely chopped sage, grated nutmeg, and ground cinnamon. Stir in some butter, season with salt and pepper, and then keep warm.

Add some fresh sage, grated nutmeg, and cinnamon (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Add some fresh sage, grated nutmeg, and cinnamon (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

In a sauce pan, melt some butter. Add some seafood stock and bring to a simmer. Add some Calvados and honey and let simmer until the sauce reduces somewhat. Set aside and keep warm.

Simmer the Calvados sauce until it reduces a bit and thickens (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Simmer the Calvados sauce until it reduces a bit and thickens (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

In a non-stick pan, melt some butter over medium heat.

Melt some butter in a pan (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Melt some butter in a pan (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Rinse, drain, and then dry the scallops with some paper towels. Sprinkle a bit of salt on the scallops. Sear the scallops in the butter on each side until they are golden brown. Remove the scallops to a plate and keep warm.

Sear the scallops in butter on each side until browned (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Sear the scallops in butter on each side until browned (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Transfer the Calvados sauce to the scallops pan. Heat through.

Add the Calvados sauce to the scallops pan (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Add the Calvados sauce to the scallops pan (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Return the scallops to the pan and simmer the scallops for a minute in the Calvados sauce.

Warm the scallops in the Calvados sauce (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Warm the scallops in the Calvados sauce (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

To plate, spoon some of the pumpkin butternut squash puree amongst your serving dishes.

Spoon some butternut squash and pumpkin puree into a serving dish (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Spoon some butternut squash and pumpkin puree into a serving dish (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Arrange the scallops over the puree. Ladle some of the Calvados sauce over the scallops.

Arrange the seared scallops on top of the butternut squash and pumpkin puree (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Arrange the seared scallops on top of the butternut squash and pumpkin puree (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Garnish the scallops with the toasted pecans, dried cranberries, fresh sage, and crumbled bacon.

Seared scallops over pumpkin butternut squash puree draped with Calvados sauce and garnished with toasted pecans, dried cranberries, fresh chopped sage, and crispy crumbled bacon (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Seared scallops over pumpkin butternut squash puree draped with Calvados sauce and garnished with toasted pecans, dried cranberries, fresh chopped sage, and crispy crumbled bacon (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

And enjoy!

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

Seared Scallops over Pumpkin Butternut Squash Puree

Ingredients:

8 large fresh scallops, rinsed well, sand removed
pinch of salt
2 T butter

1 c pumpkin puree
1 c butternut squash puree
1/4 c seafood stock/broth
2 T butter
1 t ground cinnamon
1 t grated fresh nutmeg
1 t finely chopped fresh sage
salt and pepper, to taste

1 T butter
2 c seafood stock/broth or chicken stock/broth
1 T Calvados or apple brandy
1 T honey

Garnish:
1 T dried cranberries (optional: hydrate dried cranberries in 1/2 c water, drain)
2 T chopped toasted pecans
1 T fresh sage, finely chopped
2 T crumbled crispy bacon

Method:

1. Rinse the scallops in cold water to remove sand and debris. Set scallops aside in a bowl filled with ice water until ready to use.
2. In a medium saucepan, heat the pumpkin and butternut squash purees. Add the seafood stock, cinnamon, nutmeg and sage and cook over medium low heat. Add 2T butter and stir until butter is melted. Season with salt and pepper. Keep warm over low heat.
3. In a medium saucepan, over low heat, melt the 1 T butter. Add the seafood stock and let simmer a few minutes over medium heat. Add the Calvados and the honey and stir. Let the sauce reduce and thicken a bit. Set aside and keep warm.
4. Rinse and drain the scallops and pat them dry with paper towels. Sprinkle each scallop with some salt.
5. In a non-stick saute pan, melt 2 T butter for the scallops. Sear the scallops on each side until golden brown. Do not overcook the scallops or they will become tough. Remove the scallops from the pan to a plate and keep warm.
6. Add the Calvados sauce to the scallops pan and bring to a simmer. Return the scallops to the pan. Warm through.
7. To plate, divide the spiced pumpkin butternut squash puree amongst your serving dishes. Divide the scallops amongst the serving dishes and arrange on top of the puree. Ladle some of the Calvados sauce over the scallops.
8. To garnish, sprinkle the cranberries, pecans, sage, and bacon over the scallops and puree.
9. Serve and enjoy!

Serves 2 as a main course with 4 scallops each, serves 4 as a light fish course with 2 scallops each, or serves 8 as an appetizer or amuse bouche with one scallop each. Serve with a sauvignon blanc or a pinot noir wine. Hard apple cider is a good choice for this dish. As a salad accompaniment, my Roasted Beet Salad with Goat Cheese and Pine Nuts or my Pretty Pear Salad with Goat Cheese and Cinnamon Pecans pair well with this dish.

Variations: This recipe works well with seared shrimp or even a seared piece of white fish. Alternately, use a seared cooked boneless chicken breast and swap out the seafood stock for some chicken stock. Substitute regular brandy for the Calvados. Omit the nuts if anyone has nut allergies. You could substitute raisins or currants for the dried cranberries. And you could add a touch of cream to the pumpkin butternut squash puree for additional decadence.

Get your own best-selling hand blender in assorted colors at Amazon.com.

Or order my favorite Bamix hand blender from Amazon.com.

www.afoodloversdelight.com (Copyright Adroit Ideals 2014)

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How to Make Croutons

Do you know how to make croutons? This is a super simple “recipe” but one for which I’ve received a number of requests. Nothing’s better than a fresh green salad or a bowl of steaming tomato soup with a few crispy croutons topping it.

A field greens salad with bleu cheese crumbles and crispy croutons (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

A field greens salad with bleu cheese crumbles and crispy croutons (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Croutons are an easy way to get some “crusty bread” taste to your salads. Crispy croutons go right along with my recent posting on Eating Healthier as you can get just a taste and crunch of bread without all the calories. I love to throw a few croutons on my favorite hot soups as well. It’s a great way to use up leftover slices of bread from a larger loaf.

A green salad with crispy croutons, glass of wine, and a fire in the fireplace (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

A green salad with crispy croutons, glass of wine, and a fire in the fireplace (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Use your favorite bread. Pumpernickel bread, French baguette, and crusty Italian breads are all good choices. You can use cornbread, pumpkin bread, brioche, and other sweeter breads for croutons on your fruit salads.

A selection of breads fresh from the oven (Photo Credit:  wholefoodsmarket.com)

A selection of breads fresh from the oven (Photo Credit: wholefoodsmarket.com)

Once, I made some croutons out of cinnamon raisin bread. I used them on my Pretty Pear Salad with Goat Cheese instead of using the cinnamon pecans and also topped my Velvety Butternut Squash Soup.

I like to use “day old” or slightly dried out bread for my croutons. The bread in these photos below is from a loaf of Whole Foods Market‘s ciabatta bread. We had some leftover slices from a spaghetti and meat sauce dinner earlier in the week.

Slice your bread into cubes with a serrated bread knife (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Slice your bread into cubes with a serrated bread knife (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Using a serrated bread knife, just slice the bread into 1 to 1/2 inch cubes. Keep the crust on the bread for a crunchier taste or remove it for a cleaner look. In keeping with my “healthier eating” goals, I don’t use butter or oil to make these croutons. I just bake them plain.

Just dice the bread and spread out on a foil-lined baking pan. If you really want a buttery flavor to your croutons, spray them lightly with a butter-flavored cooking spray, or brush them lightly with melted butter. I find that using the butter or oil will keep the croutons from staying crispy and they will spoil quickly.

Spread the bread cubes on a baking pan (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Spread the bread cubes on a baking pan (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Bake the croutons at 350 degrees Fahrenheit just until they turn a nice golden brown.

Brown the bread cubes in the oven (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Brown the bread cubes in the oven (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Remove the pan from the oven and let the croutons cool.

Crispy Croutons fresh from the oven for your soups and salads (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Crispy Croutons fresh from the oven for your soups and salads (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

The crispy croutons will keep in an airtight container or Ziploc bag in the refrigerator or freezer for a month…if they last that long.

Of course, you can add some dried herbs to the container for herb-flavored croutons. Or you could add some garlic powder for garlicky croutons. Just toss the seasoning and the croutons together a bit before storing. I personally like my croutons plain so they just add a nice crunch to my salad, and don’t compete with my herby dressings.

Try your croutons on a few of my salads! My favorite salad for croutons is my Hubby’s Caesar Salad followed closely by my Chicken BLT Salad. Also, my His-and-Hers Steak Salads would benefit from a sprinkling of crispy baguette croutons!

My husband's Caesar dressing on a salad of Romaine lettuce, shredded Parmesan, and toasted baguette croutons (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

My husband’s Caesar dressing on a salad of Romaine lettuce, shredded Parmesan, and toasted baguette croutons (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Try these croutons on soups such as my Tomato Basil Soup and my Creamy Broccoli Soup with Cheddar and Bits of Ham.

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

How to Make Croutons

Ingredients:

Several slices of day-old bread, sliced 1/2 to 1 inch thick

Method:

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Slice the bread with a serrated bread knife into 1/2 inch or one inch cubes.
3. Spread the bread cubes out onto a foil lined baking sheet.
4. Bake the bread cubes, stirring once or twice, until the cubes are golden brown.
5. Remove the baking sheet with the croutons from the oven, and let the croutons cool.
6. Store the croutons in an air-tight container or a Ziploc bag in the refrigerator or freezer for up to a month. You don’t have to “thaw” out the croutons prior to use. They will come to room temperature quickly.
7. Sprinkle on a salad and enjoy!

Makes about 2 cups of croutons depending on the size of your bread slices.

Variations: Add some garlic powder or dried herbs to the croutons and stir before storing in the refrigerator or freezer. If you really do want a buttery taste to your croutons, you can lightly spray them with a butter-based cooking spray prior to baking them.

Get your own serrated bread knife from Amazon.com:

www.afoodloversdelight.com (Copyright Adroit Ideals 2014)

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Shredded Buffalo Tacos

Savory Shredded Buffalo Tacos. Every now and then, my local Whole Foods Market carries a buffalo shoulder roast. On my latest shopping trip, I was able to find TWO buffalo roasts on sale. Each was about 2 pounds. Normally, I would make the roast with mashed potatoes and gravy. Being the Tex Mex food lover that I am, I thought that making Shredded Buffalo Tacos would be a good use for one of the roasts. And they were some of the best tacos I ever ate!

Shredded Buffalo Taco with Monterey Jack Cheese, Shredded Lettuce, and Diced Ripe Tomato (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Shredded Buffalo Taco with Monterey Jack Cheese, Shredded Lettuce, and Diced Ripe Tomato (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

As I’ve already mentioned, my husband and I like to eat healthier options when available. We love to eat shredded meat in tacos. Buffalo, or bison, is a leaner meat than beef. Why not braise and shred the meat for a taco feast?

Make some fixin’s to go along with the shredded buffalo tacos. Shred some Monterey Jack cheese. Chop up some lettuce. Dice some tomatoes and add some chopped cilantro. Make some of My Favorite Guacamole and set out some sour cream.

Taco Fixin's: Shredded Monterey Jack, Shredded Lettuce, Diced Tomato with Cilantro, and Guacamole (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Taco Fixin’s: Shredded Monterey Jack, Shredded Lettuce, Diced Tomato with Cilantro, and Guacamole (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

I started out by seasoning the roast with salt and pepper. Then, after melting some butter in a dutch oven, I seared and browned it on all sides. I removed the roast from the dutch oven and let it sit a few minutes while I added some chopped onion, carrot, and bell pepper to the dutch oven.

Buffalo Roast, Browned and Ready to Braise with Celery, Carrot, Onion and Green Bell Pepper (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Buffalo Roast, Browned and Ready to Braise with Celery, Carrot, Onion and Green Bell Pepper (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

I returned the roast to the pan. Added some beef stock and some water along with some diced tomatoes, chili powder and cumin. Let that all simmer for a few hours while the meat was breaking down. Continued to add more water or broth since buffalo is leaner than beef, and stirred so the meat would not burn. When the meat was soft and falling apart, I shredded the meat with a fork and set aside.

Making Shredded Buffalo Taco Meat (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Making Shredded Buffalo Taco Meat (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Sauteed some chopped onion in a skillet in some olive oil. Added the shredded buffalo meat and some canned tomatoes and green chiles.

Shredded Buffalo Taco Meat (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Shredded Buffalo Taco Meat (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Warmed it all through until all the liquid evaporated, and SERVED with the fixin’s. The shredded buffalo meat taco filling works well on my Tex Mex Buffet — put in the “taco meat” section!

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

Shredded Buffalo Tacos

Ingredients:

2 – 3 lb buffalo roast
salt and pepper
2 T butter
1 T olive oil
2 medium onions, peeled and chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 bell pepper, cored, seeded, and chopped
1 (14 oz) can diced tomatoes
2 T chili powder
1 T cumin
8 c chicken or beef stock/broth
2 c water

1 T olive oil
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
2 cans (14 oz each) tomatoes and green chiles

For the fixin’s:

12 fajita sized flour tortillas, warmed in the oven
3 c shredded Monterey Jack cheese
3 medium tomatoes, chopped
3 c shredded lettuce
1 c sour cream
2 c guacamole
Your favorite taco sauces

Method:

1. Season all sides of the buffalo roast with salt and pepper.
2. In a large dutch oven, on a stove burner, melt the butter and oil over medium high heat, but not so hot that the butter and oil start to smoke.
3. Add the buffalo roast and quickly sear all sides until browned but not cooked through.
4. Remove the roast to a holding plate.
5. Add the chopped onion, carrot, and bell pepper to the dutch oven.
6. Saute the vegetables over medium heat until they soften slightly.
7. Return the buffalo roast to the dutch oven.
8. Add the diced tomatoes, chili powder, cumin, beef or chicken stock/broth, and 1 cup of water.
9. Bring the mixture to a boil.
10. Reduce heat to low.
11. Cover and let simmer for 3 – 4 hours until the meat begins to fall apart, stirring occasionally so it doesn’t burn. The vegetables will likely break down to almost nothing. Add the additional cup of water and more stock/broth if the mixture starts to get too dry before the meat breaks down.
12. While the meat is breaking down during the cooking process, use two forks to shred the meat even further.
13. When the meat is completely shredded, set it aside, covered and keep warm. You could also stop at this step and let the meat rest overnight in the refrigerator.
14. To ready the meat for tacos, warm the olive oil in a non-stick pan over medium heat.
15. Saute the onions in the olive oil until softened.
16. Add the shredded buffalo meat to the onions and stir to combine.
17. Add the canned tomatoes and green chiles to the buffalo mixture, stir, and simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated. Season with additional salt and pepper to your liking.
18. Serve and enjoy!

Makes 12 shredded buffalo tacos. Serve with the fixin’s and some warmed refried beans on the side. This dish pairs nicely with some red sangria and your favorite Mexican beer.

Variations: You could use a beef roast if you cannot find a buffalo roast in your area. You could omit the tomatoes and green chiles but I think it adds just the right amount of heat. If you happen to have leftovers or don’t want to use all of the meat in tacos, before adding the tomatoes and green chiles, you can use the shredded buffalo meat as a filling for enchiladas or you can add some barbecue sauce and serve on a bun for a tasty sandwich. I have even added shredded buffalo meat to my favorite Mac and Cheese recipe for a decadent meal.

And here’s my Tex Mex Buffet and Taco Bar map just in case you’re throwing a party!

TexMexBuffetTacoBarLayout

www.afoodloversdelight.com (Copyright Adroit Ideals 2014)

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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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