Smoked Brisket Pot Pie and Horseradish Lemon Cream Brussels Sprouts

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This past month has been insane, and I am so lucky to have such an awesome partner to help out with cooking at home.  It’s been the kind of month where I haven’t had an actual day off in over 3 weeks…not that my days off ever ever really “days off,” but I usually have my Mondays and Tuesdays for running errands, sleeping in at least a little, doing work from home in my pajamas, and getting house stuff done like laundry, cleaning, organizing, and working on my own personal projects like reorganizing my podcasts and iTunes, rather than being at the store.

But, I recently hired a second employee, and officially opened up the shop 7 days a week!  Which, because of my penchant for delayed gratification, I know will eventually lead to more time and freedom for me, as our training progresses and I can slowly hand off to her the parts of my job that take way more time than they should, leaving my own projects as the ones that I can focus on, uninterrupted, from my home office (which is a way sweeter deal now that I live in a home that I absolutely love spending time in, with free delicious tea, coffee, and food whenever I want it!), and whittling my in-store time down to one or two days a week for the to-dos that require me to be in front of my work computer, Z-reports in hand, or actual cones in front of me to catalog.

Anyway, this is a long way of saying that in addition to the temporary time stresses of training a new employee on my days off, family drama, acquiring a new dog, overhauling Yarnia’s class system and hiring new instructors to teach instead of myself (also–will result in much more free time eventually…but way less for now!), I am damn lucky to have a handsome chef in the kitchen to have dinner waiting for me when I get home from work.

Oven roasted Tandoori chicken, saffron rice, steamed veggies with lemon-butter-dill-coriander sauce

Oven roasted Tandoori chicken, saffron rice, steamed veggies with lemon-butter-dill-coriander sauce

That was last week — and he made enough Tandoori drumsticks so that we’d have leftovers for him to make butter chicken with later on in the week!  And he says he doesn’t like to plan ahead.  Ha!  When it comes to savory meats, that is a big fat lie.

marinading drummies

marinading drummies

This week?  Well, we had a smashing, semi-impromptu St. Paddy’s Day barbecue at our place on Sunday afternoon, the result of which was a handsome hunk o’ smoked brisket.  I managed to save a yogurt’s container worth of leftovers before it was annihilated, so that later this week we could make our favorite leftover pot pie that I overheard Jesse suggesting to himself around hour 3 of smoking.


He took care of pot pie filling, as has become our routine, while I whipped up a quick dough in the Cuisinart (just butter, flour, salt, cold water…and rosemary!), and some Brussels sprouts for the side.

He’s made this filling enough at this point that he can pull it off gracefully, from memory.  Some chopped onion, carrot, and celery, sauteed.


Chop up all the leftover meat, whether it be smoked turkey, brisket, what have you.


Add that to the pan, sautee it up, and sprinkle some flour in and mix it around to thicken up the gravy-like sauce that’s about to happen.  Add a little broth (we used beef broth for this one), salt, pepper, and frozen peas…


And then he lets me know it’s time to roll out the dough that’s been chillin’ in the fridge.

Into the pie pan it goes, sealed with a lid of rosemary pie crust.


And out it comes, 50 minutes later.


Now, look at those gorgeous Brussels!


I kept it simple — I wanted to whip these up in the 10 minutes that it took the pie to cool.  Into the skillet: olive oil and butter.


Here’s all the seasoning I used: horseradish, fresh lemon juice, cayenne pepper, and “GOG” — a term Jesse picked up from his favorite Roku cooking show, for ginger/onion/garlic, a huge batch of it he whipped up in the food processor and that we keep in the fridge to start just about every meal we cook in the skillet.

I got a few spoonfuls of GOG sizzling in the skillet, then placed the sprouts all face-down in a single layer, and didn’t touch them, until they had browned.


I sprinkled a chopped shallot over top, and then stirred in some horseradish, cayenne, and lemon juice, along with about a half cup of stock from the freezer (I think this was our smoked turkey stock from when we had our last big smoker feast!).  When the broth had just about absorbed, I added a few splashes of cream, salt, and pepper.


Teamwork, baby.


This Week’s Groceries

(really this month’s groceries — I’ve got some catching up to do!)


Those circled items are shampoo and conditioner — not part of the grocery total!

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Leftover Turkey Pot Pie

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All right, I have a new favorite way to use up leftover smoked turkey…and leftover pretty much anything now, I imagine.  Jesse had smoked a big breast of turkey for my family Thanksgiving last weekend, and for days we danced around its leftovers, reheating only the side dishes, until we finally found an evening where we were both free, and in a delicious feat of teamwork, came up with this.

It was so incredible that I actually got angry when I discovered that he ate the last slice in the middle of the night (after real Thanksgiving, no less!  This man’s appetite is insane!), the one I was planning to bring for lunch on Black Friday…a very long day for me.  But it was so awesomely easy to make, he promised me we’d make more.

I used a lazy version of this pie crust recipe, and I say lazy because I don’t spend too much energy trying to keep the butter in pea-size chunks, I don’t refrigerate it for as long as I’m supposed to, and I don’t even own Saran Wrap.  But it always works out anyway, which deters me from ever trying any harder than that.  Basically, I took her ingredient ratios, mixed everything together, tried not to overwork it, and stuck it in the fridge for about half an hour while Jesse finished making the filling.

It still rolled out easily, molded to the pie pan perfectly, sealed tight around the filling and never broke, and sliced through easily when it was time to serve.  And it was even still pretty flaky!  Maybe not croissant-flaky, but flaky enough for me.

So then for the filling, we referenced this recipe from another one of my fave food blogs, but of course we
were starting with some pretty incredible home-smoked turkey which I think helped the cause.  It starts with a mirepoix — sauteeing diced carrots, onions, and celery in a healthy dose of butter, then after a few minutes, adding the turkey, which we had also chopped up pretty fine.

Here, instead of making a roux the traditional way, by melting butter, stirring in flour, and then thinning it with milk, you just sprinkle the flour right over this whole deal, which feels relievingly simple, and still left no clumps.  We mixed up some veggie bullion in a glass cup of hot water to make a quick-and-easy broth (I haven’t roasted a chicken in weeks so I didn’t have any homemade on hand), added that with a little wine, and then the 3/4 cup of half and half.  (Both being coffee drinkers, we always have a gigantic carton of this in the fridge, so I tend to use it in the place of whipping cream in most recipes.  It’s rich enough, believe me.)

We added some frozen peas for that traditional pot pie look, and fresh sage that we had in the fridge, let it all come to a boil, and sure enough, it thickened up just like it was supposed to.  And tasted so amazing, we could have hovered right there over the stove, eating it all with a wooden spoon.

But we restrained ourselves, and instead poured it into the pie pan, where I had already rolled out half the crust and pressed it into the bottom.  I rolled out the second half, laid it on top of the filling, and sealed all around the edges, making cute little pie ruffles (my glass pie pan has these imprints built in, so all you gotta do is press).  This baked for almost an hour at 400 degrees before the crust was brown enough for Jesse’s discerning eye, and barely lasted 24 hours before it was gone entirely.

This Week’s Groceries

* None!  Thanksgiving leftovers aaaaall weeeeek looooong.


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This was not a huge cooking week.  Between having my fridge full of leftovers after my mom’s visit last weekend, being cooked a delicious dinner (below) by two of our friends Tuesday evening, barbecuing with more friends on Wednesday for dinner, and wanting to clean out the fridge for the coming weekend, when we’re gonna head out to the Salmon River for Kate’s 3rd Annual B-Day in the Woods, I haven’t been too focused on coming up with elaborate meals.

But Elizabeth has been! This is the meal she whipped up for the four of us on a lovely summer Tuesday evening in their backyard.

So, last night was kind of a leftovers night.  I came home from work starving, and before I could even run around the corner to Grocery Outlet to stock up on camping food for the weekend, I threw on some rigatoni pasta to boil.

Jesse has been moving in slowly, bringing over the most absurd odds and ends to gradually mark his territory in the new house: his backgammon board and travel Yahtzee, his bike (that was a biggie), and most recently, a half gallon of whole milk (Jesse is the only person I’ve ever met who unabashedly purchases milk “in the red carton”), some Raisin Bran, two packages of cheapo looking cookies, and a jar of pasta sauce that he had doctored up last week with a bunch of veggies and meat.

I knew this sauce must be on its last legs by now and he wouldn’t be getting to it before this weekend, so once the remainder of that box of pasta had been all cooked up and drained…

I heated up the sauce, throwing in nearly half a bag of spinach leaves to give it a little more veggie power.

These obviously shrunk down to invisibility instantly, so I also made a little nest in my bowl with another handful, over which I ladled the pasta and sauce, mixed together.  (Oh, and I also threw in the last of some sliced gouda that is still delicious, but probably not soft enough anymore to use on sandwiches.)

Next?  I knew I’d probably cry if I came back from camping and that entire gargantuan bag of baby bok choy that’s been sitting in my crisper since my venture to Fubonn had gone bad.  Here, I kept it simple.  I chopped off the stems, rinsed off the leaves, and sauteed the entire bag of bok choy in some coconut oil.  I threw in the last of a package of TJ’s chicken nuggets too, going along with the theme of using up odds and ends to turn this meal into something a little more interesting.

Once that had all cooked down a little, I poured in the remainder of an Asian dressing I had made the other night when we had Matt and Erika over — I had made a soba noodle salad with my go-to peanut sauce, but reduced the amount of peanut butter by about half so it wouldn’t be as thick and creamy as I’ve made for the last two festivals…I was getting kind of sick of that version.  But, I ended up with the perfect amount left over to give this dish a little flavor and kick.  And then of course, I topped it off with the last of my Thai chili peanuts from TJ’s.

This Week’s Groceries

Note: I have been doing woefully bad at sticking to a budget this month.  I think it’s a weird combination of every single weekend being a festival that we’re prepping like 13 meals’ worth of food for at once, adjusting to Jesse being around and the fact that he eats about 3x as much as me but we haven’t really had a conversation about how the next phase of our life together is going to mesh with this blog, and that I now live 3 blocks away from the Grocery Outlet, which is so insanely cheap, but also imparts a scarcity complex of buy-this-now-because-it-may-never-be-as-cheap-again-ever-in-the-world.  Thus, I end up coming home with muffin-flavored oatmeal and 1-gallon jars of pickles when I was really just trying to pick up some tortillas and cheese.  I need to rein this back in.

Grocery Outlet 8/24

  • Triple chocolate trail mix: $3.99
  • Spinach tortillas: $2.99
  • Sliced provolone cheese: $1.99
  • Bag of plums: $2.99
  • TastyBites rice biryani (x2): $2.18
  • TastyBites aloo mutter (x2): $2.18
  • TastyBites chana masala (x2): $2.18 — best camping food ever!!
  • Albacore tuna: $1.49 — in a packet instead of a can.  Looks like twice as much in volume but easier to deal with the garbage out on the trail, I think.
  • Bag of carrots: $1.49
  • Bell peppers (x4): $2.00
  • Watermelon: $4.99 — we’re going to make an amazing adaptation of Sunset Magazine’s watermelon jalapeno salad for Kate’s birthday cocktail this weekend!  It involves hiking out to camp with an entire watermelon in our frame pack.
  • Maple streusel instant oatmeal: $0.99
  • Sweet pepper pesto: $1.29 — the perfect condiment to put on tortillas with cheese and hard boiled eggs and sliced peppers for a camping lunch, no?
  • Artichoke pasta sauce: $1.99 — No plan for this, but I couldn’t resist.  So crazy cheap!!
  • Avocado: $0.99
  • 4 limes: $0.80

TOTAL: $37.70

REMAINING FOR THE MONTH: -$46.29 — uh oh.  I really went over this month.  Okay, let’s work from the pantry, Linds!



Fancy Grilled Cheese and Tom Kah Soup

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I’ve gotten into a nice little tradition these past few mellow months of going in to work late on Sunday afternoons after busy and plan-filled weekends, not having any social commitments on Sunday evening, and just staying late and finishing up whatever I need to before coming home for a night with myself to listen to Radiolab, do my dishes, and eat an easy meal of leftovers in some form.

Tonight, it was a reheated bowl of some delicious Tom Kah soup I’d made earlier in the week, with chicken and napa cabbage, an entire sliced yellow onion, and fresh crimini mushrooms.

Balanced with a culinarily incgonruous, but nevertheless delicious gourmet grilled cheese sandwich: fancy cheese left over from my birthday party, fresh tomato, and red onion grilled inside of my homemade herb-parmesan bread from this week, stuffed with some amazing homemade sauerkraut gifted to me by a friend.

For garnish/dessert: the rest of the tomato sliced, with nicoise olive salt and a drizzle of balsamic, and the very last of my fruit for this week — a trooper of a grapefruit.