Snuggle in...winter is's all about warm fires and hot pot pies

Chicken Pot Pie, Turkey Pot Pie...Ham Pot Pie.   It doesn't matter which kind it is, I do love making and eating all sorts of pot pies.  It seems that between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I get so focused on the main menus for those 2 days, that I don't have time to consider what we will eat in between the festivities.   

I do love that I now live in the land of Yankee Magazine. I read each issue from cover to cover. I've picked up a variety of regional dishes that I would like to try out in our new kitchen.  At this time of year, this area of the country is filled with cozy meals to help locals stay warm and toasty through the snow covered months ahead. New Englanders have finished plucking the last of the tomatoes, carrots, and cabbages from the soil, meticulously stacked the last of the winter wood pile, and stored the last of the fallen apples from the many apples trees.  Wisps of wood burning smoke begin to look like white velvet ribbons dangling above each country home. Yankee Magazine often highlights recipes that have been catching my eye and landing on our dinner table on these cold evenings...pot pies being the latest...

I've realized that Pot Pies are not only delicious and versatile but a great way to handle meal planning during the busy holiday season.  The base of the pie, or stew,  can be made ahead of time as well as the biscuits too.  After making the pot pie mixture and letting it cool down on the stove top, I then froze it.   Then, I made the biscuits and froze them just before they would be popped into the oven.

This is a terrific way of breaking up the repetition of  leftover ham or turkey from Thanksgiving instead of eating the same holiday meal over and over for the next 3-4 days afterwards.  Over the long Christmas break, well into January, with the kids home from college, I can pull out this dinner when the thought of turkey or ham begins to sound tempting again.

The buttermilk biscuits are super easy to pull together.  This recipe has sharp cheddar cheese and scallions to add a little savory zing to the pot pies.  Once thawed, scoop some of the pot pie mixture into a bowl, top it with the thawed biscuits and after 20 minutes in the oven a lovely cozy meal is ready for the table.  

If you see Chester and Polly in the photos, sitting in a warm sunny spot or as close as they can get to the fireplace, I'll divulge a little secret.  Christmas is going to be generous to these two this year.  Chester loves to go out walking in the snow with us.  But, he doesn't make it very far because his tiny feet get too cold.  He looks up at us with that adorable but pitiful face and then we end up carrying him back home. Some sturdy little pup shoes are ordered and on there way here.  It'll be interesting to see if he will wear them and if they will allow him to be able to walk a little longer in the woods.  I'm a bit skeptical about our success with doggie "boots" but...we'll see.

A wonderful morning hike after Thanksgiving feasting

Polly is also in for a Christmas treat.  When she isn't edging closer and closer to the fireplace, she is trying to sit directly on top of my hands as I type on the computer.  The warmth of the computer and the movement of my fingers on the keyboard are making a nice massage location for her. This is driving me quite batty, so a nice soft deep bed is on its way.  I'm going to place it as close as I dare near the fire so that she can burrow deep inside.  We'll see how that goes as well as the pup snow shoes.  Two iffy outcomes for sure...

After the wallop of cold temperatures last year just as we were arriving to New Hampshire, it has been the mildest of winters so far.  Last year, Thanksgiving dropped 10 inches of snow within a day turning the serene late fall landscape into one of a winter white paradise. Snow boots are still waiting to be pulled out and our heaviest of down coats are waiting their turn as well.

I've only just recently snipped the last of my herb garden.  I still have some mint and marjoram growing nicely outside having survived the few bouts of frost so far.

The day after Thanksgiving, a group of us hiked along the trails of our Mink Hills behind the farmhouse. Mushrooms were still growing and thriving as thin beams of sun rays streamed through the leafless trees in the woods making beautiful patterns on the pine needle blanketed forest floor.

Such a wonderfully fun, crazy, and busy time of year. I'm doing a bit of writing and photography for the New Hampshire Magazine.  Yankee Magazine is entertaining the use of some of my photography as well as suggesting photo shoots for me.  Baby steps.

I've just returned from an assignment at the historic Mount Washington Resort up in the White Mountains and I am so thrilled to highlight our stay there.

...oh, and I must not forget...I have to place the order for my Christmas goose!  I cannot get these holiday lyrics out of my head...

Christmas is coming,
The goose is getting fat
Please put a penny
In the old man's hat.
If you haven't got a penny,
A ha'penny will do, 
If you haven't got a ha'penny,
Then God bless you!

Cheddar Scallion Biscuit Topped Pot Pies

Ingredients for the filling:

3 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
3 medium carrots, peeled and diced
1/2 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and diced
4 tablespoons salted butter
1 celery rib, diced
1 medium-size yellow onion, diced
1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
1 cup chopped white button mushrooms
5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley
3 cups chopped cooked chicken, white and dark meat (or turkey!  or ham!)
1/3 cup sweet peas (frozen is fine)

First, make the filling: In a medium-size saucepan over high heat, bring chicken broth to a boil. Add carrots and squash. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until vegetables are tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Drain vegetables, reserving broth. Set aside.
Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add celery, onion, and salt; cook until golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook until they release most of their liquid, 5 to 7 minutes. Add flour and cook, stirring, about 2 minutes. Add milk slowly, whisking as you go; then add reserved broth, whisking until smooth. Cook, stirring often, until sauce thickens, 8 to 10 minutes. Season with pepper. Add parsley, chicken, reserved vegetables, and peas. Divide filling evenly among 6 ramekins or other 8- to 10-ounce ovenproof bowls, leaving about a half-inch at the top for biscuits. If you have extra filling, put it in another ramekin.

For the biscuits:
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for work surface
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon table salt
5 tablespoons cold salted butter, cut into small cubes
2/3 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
2 scallions (green onions), green parts only, thinly sliced
1 large egg
2/3 cup buttermilk
Milk (for brushing biscuits)

Preheat oven to 425°F. Make the biscuits: In a large bowl, whisk flour with baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Use your fingers to smear the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal, with plenty of lumps. Stir in cheddar and scallions. In a medium-size bowl, whisk together egg and buttermilk; then add to flour mixture. Stir with a fork until a shaggy dough forms.

Divide dough into 2 balls. On a lightly floured counter, press dough out to a half-inch thickness. Using a biscuit cutter or the floured rim of a glass, cut out 2- to 3-inch rounds. Gather dough again as needed and press out again. Repeat with second ball.

Divide biscuits among ramekins, overlapping as necessary. Brush tops with milk, and set ramekins on a baking sheet lined with foil. Bake until crust is nicely browned and filling is bubbling, about 20 minutes.

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