Friday, February 3, 2012

Cooking Creations: Potato and Chicken Pockets

Potato and Chicken Pockets for the Potluck

I love any and all gatherings that involve food.  One of my favorites though is the church potluck.  Members of the congregation bring forth a bounty of their best dishes.  They include chocolate pies, cheesy macaroni, and my my all of those salads.  Tried and true recipes prepared by folks who have often times been cooking for longer than I have been alive.  My stomach is growling just thinking about it.

My first adult contribution to a potluck was at the annual Pisgah Baptist Church picnic.  I decided to make a dessert, and I had all of the ingredients to make banana bread.  It came out looking exactly like I imagined and I left it to cool.  It wasn’t until minutes before we had to leave that I discovered I had mixed up the baking powder and baking soda.  Too prideful to show up empty handed, I sliced the bread up and covered it with a blizzard of powdered sugar.  Thankfully no one asked me what I had prepared for the meal.  Sorry to anyone who is just finding out who made that awful stuff that you had the misfortune to meet back in ’07. 

I have since been a bit uneasy about cooking for a potluck.  Granted I am a much more attentive and talented cook now, but my banana bread blunder still looms large in my memory.  Often I have taken the no-cook approach and arrived with a veggie tray or fruit salad.  That sounds pretty silly considering the more challenging menus I prepare for us at home, parties and catering jobs.  Now with Classic Creations Cooks starting to take off, it is time I face my potluck food fears. 

Today we had our first church potluck since moving here to Fulton.  This, in my skewed view, was my chance to make up for past food transgressions.  I made a recipe of my own invention:  Potato and Chicken Pockets.  These half moon pouches of creamy mashed potatoes, shredded chicken, and mild scallions would please even the pickiest palette.  As I prepared each little pocket, I prayed that my dish would be well receive because I was bringing my best. An empty plate and a few questions about the tender crust after the meal helped solidify this recipe’s place in my repertoire and a hopeful future for potluck contributions. 

Potato and Chicken Pockets  makes 38 pockets

1 cup shredded white meat chicken
2 cups mashed potatoes
¼ cup finely chopped scallions
Homemade pie crust, enough for 3 bottom crusts (I use a part wheat recipe)
1 egg, lightly beaten

medium bowl
large spatula
rolling pin
2 inch round cookie cutter
small bowl of water
pastry brush
greased baking sheets

1.   Preheat oven to 375. 

2.  In a bowl, mix the first three ingredients for filling.  Set aside. 

3.  Flour work surface and roll out the crust to 1/8 inch thick.  Cut out as many circles as possible. Remove and combine crust scraps to make more pockets.

4.  Place a rounded teaspoon of filling onto each circle, slightly off center.  Dampen fingers with water and fold each circle completely enclosing filling.

5.  Place pockets onto baking sheets.  Coat each pocket with an egg wash using pastry brush.

6.  Bake for 18 minutes or until golden on top.  Plate and serve

Note:  Pockets are best served warm, but are ok room temp.  They can be prepared in advance, frozen, and reheated in the oven.

Learning Everything Tip:
Pastry dough tends to dry if left out for long periods of time.  If your crust seems to be drying, place a lightly dampened paper towel over it.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Creating the Ultimate Pro/Con List: Orville Redenbacher Pop-Up Bowls

Creating the Ultimate Pro/Con List:  Orville Redenbacher Pop-Up Bowls

Every year there are always commercials that stick in our brains, good, bad and ugly.  Last year one of the most memorable, unfortunate as it may be, was an Orville Redenbacher ad where Cris Angel was the guest star.  The average Joe couple was astounded as Angel ripped the top off of a popcorn bag to form a “bowl”.  To this consumer, it was one of least appealing commercials ever.
            After seeing the ad more times than I would have preferred, it did make me a bit curious (that’s where they get you, by irritating you with repetition, wearing you into retail submission).  So, after receiving a coupon in the mail, I decided to try Orville Redenbacher’s Pop-Up Bowls.


-Well known brand that has been around since 1965.  Hardworking founder who has had many great popcorn products through the year, even if his marketing team made one of the –ready the rim-shot – corniest commercials in snack food history

-The “bag bowl” did work as long as you followed the opening instructions exactly

-No dishes necessary

-Smaller portions in bag.  For me that is kind of a good thing.  Less temptation


-The regular price on the 6 pack of popcorn is $5.67.  A bit pricey compared to other brands whose popcorn contains the same ingredients

-After following the bag’s instructions, popcorn was half burnt with a lot of unpopped kernels

-“Bag bowl” had plastic-wrap on two sides.  I really don’t like putting plastic in the microwave.

-Popcorn was greasy, not light

Smaller portions with a lot of burned kernels.  I promise, I followed the instructions    

For us, this will probably be the first and last time that we buy this product. 

  Learning Everything Facts:       

Orville Redenbacher, whose first successes came from fertilizer, loved popcorn from childhood.  Redenbacher changed the popcorn business forever through hybridization techniques and keen business sense. 



An Introduction of Sorts

Since I started my company last year, I have dreamed of starting a blog.  In all truth I dream of having a multi-faceted company with a blog,website, products, services, fan club, magazine.... but, in snapping back to reality, I realized a blog would be a good start.  One step at a time.

It started out great.   I went to a class on blogging and learned all kinds of marketing and writing tips.  The instructor even encouraged us to set up our blogger account right then, and I did.  I was on a learning high after that class, so excited about all of the possibilities and what could come.  Then, I realized I had to write my first post.

Now, make no mistake, I have hundreds and hundreds of ideas for blog posts from recycling old picture frames to a delicious new appetizer (more on that to come).  It was only this post that was intimidating.  The FIRST post.   The introduction to it all.  Not something one can skip according to my English teachers (though I am sure this post alone has hundreds of grammatical errors; sorry to those educators for my mistakes). This would be THE POST that inspires people to read the blog.  It had to be witty, informative, inspirational, and give a very clear direction of where this blog will take its readers.  I started typing on six different occasions.  Each time I felt like I was being too straight laced, professional, sicky sweet with my personal stories, and not at all writing what I wanted to say.  Then I read this:

"Having bought the colours, an easel, and a canvas, the next step was to begin. But what a step to take! The palette gleamed with beads of colour; fair and white rose the canvas; the empty brush hung poised, heavy with destiny, irresolute in the air. My hand seemed arrested by a silent veto. But after all the sky on this occasion was unquestionably blue, and a pale blue at that. There could be no doubt that blue paint mixed with white should be put on the top part of the canvas. One really does not need to have had an artist’s training to see that. It is a starting-point open to all. So very gingerly I mixed a little blue paint on the palette with a very small brush, and then with infinite precaution made a mark about as big as a bean upon the affronted snow-white shield. It was a challenge, a deliberate challenge; but so subdued, so halting, indeed so cataleptic, that it deserved no response. 

At that moment the loud approaching sound of a motor-car was heard in the drive. From this chariot there stepped swiftly and lightly none other than the gifted wife of Sir John Lavery. ‘Painting! But what are you hesitating about? Let me have a brush—the big one.’ Splash into the turpentine, wallop into the blue and the white, frantic flourish on the palette—clean no longer—and then several large, fierce strokes and slashes of blue on the absolutely cowering canvas. Anyone could see that it could not hit back. No evil fate avenged the jaunty violence. The canvas grinned in helplessness before me. The spell was broken. The sickly inhibitions rolled away. I seized the largest brush and fell upon my victim with Berserk fury. I have never felt any awe of a canvas since."

                                                                                            -"Painting as a Pastime"
                                                                                              Thoughts and Adventures, 1932
                                                                                               Winston Churchill

Churchill needed some coaxing to conquer the canvas, but once he made that first messy start, nothing was stopping him.   So here I go.

My reasons for creating my company and blog are two fold.  I want an outlet that allows me to be creative and holds me accountable to learn new things.  Secondly, I want to be able to generate income for my family, and stay home with my daughter.  Like I said in the first paragraph,  I have big dreams for this, both creatively and fiscally.  I have such big goals that I don't want to narrow it down to doing just one thing, so I choose to write about, and build my business around everything.  I may be a jack of all trades type of gal, but I know I am the master of some.  Why not translate that mindset into my business and blog?

This blog will rotate around eight main headings:

Everyday is Special   -  Parties, Dinners, Outings, and Impromptu Gatherings

Creating the Ultimate Pro/Con List   - Testing Products, Services, and Crack-pot Ideas

Cooking Creations- Recipes, Techniques, and Adventures in the Food Business

Home Creations - Decorating, Home Maintenance, Gardening, Family Life

Music Creations - Performances, Studio, Compositions

The Classic Creations - Crafts and Products

Classic Critique - Reviews of Books, Movies, Music, Restaurants etc

Classic Learner - New things that I am learning about and find interesting

Now that I have "conquered this canvas"  I hope to never be intimidated again either. in 1932
Photo credit: