Finally Friday

Weekends are golden. I always find myself looking forward to Friday, only to have my weekend flash by in an instant, leaving me with dreary Monday all over again. On those Monday mornings I wake up dreading another week of school work and schedules and the repetition that ensues. So, I daydream and plan for the wide open weekend that lies only four days away. But then, a month later, I will look back and question how I allowed for that time to pass by so quickly. My anticipation for the final three days of the week prevents me from truly enjoying everything else in between.

Yet, this habit of anticipating the days ahead is not restricted to days of the week. Anything can be held subject to this, summer vacation, concerts, friends visiting, all are events that illuminate the doldrums of everyday life. But why are these grand occurrences the only things that I, and others, look forward to? What is so dissatisfying about those ordinary days that seem to just act as a pleasant filler to everything truly exciting?  Honestly, the only obstacle preventing them from being as enjoyable as the rest is my own mindset. I become so entrenched in the idea that weekends are my only opportunity to take advantage of my time that I forget about all of the other hours scattered around these glory days. And every day is just as opportune as the next for something spectacular to happen. This could be anything from sharing a fantastic meal to making new friends; because, really those moments are the ones that stay with us. The little bits of happiness that weaves its way into the seemingly ordinary days are what keep us going, keep us sane. And while they may pale in direct comparison to a vacation on a tropical island, they are much more frequent and keep us satisfied.

While I did save this recipe for Friday, it was only because this recipe demands a bit of time, and I wanted to complete these in a day, rather than splitting it over two. These Chicken Chile Relleno Pies are melt in your mouth heaven on earth goodness. But the true happiness from these pies came from my roomie who was just as in love with them as I was; it was very much love at first bite. The recipe is very straight forward, and the only reason that this meal took me a few hours to complete is because there is waiting time for several steps. I also took advantage of the times that required refrigeration to do some work and go to class…so, this could probably take less time if you were really on top of preparation. For the butter crust, I used a pastry blender, but you could easily do this by hand by pinching the butter. The only issue with this is if you don’t work quickly enough; it is essential to keep you butter as cold as possible because that is how you get the extra flaky deliciousness! Also, the recipe calls for roasted poblano chiles. I roasted mine by simply coating the pepper in olive oil and sprinkling it with salt and sticking in the oven at 400°F for 8 minutes.

Flaky Butter Crust – for 12 free form pies (from Handheld Pies)

2 sticks cold unsalted butter; 2 cups flour; 1 tsp sugar; 1 tsp salt; 3-5 tablespoons ice water

Cut the butter into 1/2 inch cubes and freeze them while you mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Scatter the butter throughout the flour mixture and stir to coat with the flour mixture. If using the pastry blender, work in swift, downward motions to cut into the butter and dry ingredients, turning the bowl and then plunging the cutter into the mixture repeatedly. Continue to do this until the mixture resembles wet sand. If there is still flour mixture that has not been incorporated into the butter, keep going! It can be a bit of work, but there will be a turning point where the butter will blend with all of the dry ingredients. If using a pastry

blender, you will also need to occasionally remove the butter from in between the blades. Once you have reached the “wet sand” stage, drizzle 3 tablespoons of ice water over the mixture and use a fork or your fingers to mix until the dough just holds together. Add additional water ONLY if necessary. The dough should be crumbly.

On a clean, floured surface gather the dough into a mound and knead a few times until smooth. Divide in two, and pat each into a rectangle. Wrap in plastic wrap or parchment and refrigerate for at least two hours or up to three days.

Chicken Chile Relleno Pie – makes 10-12 pies (Adapted from Handheld Pies)

2 tablespoons canola oil; 1/2 yellow onion (diced); 1 clove garlic (minced); 1 lb ground chicken; 1/2 cup corn kernels; salt and pepper to taste; 2 tablespoons butter; 1/4 cup flour; 2 tsp chile powder; 1/2 tsp paprika; 1/4 tsp dried oregano; 3/4 cup water; 1 large poblano chile (roasted, seeded and diced); 3 oz Monterey Jack (shredded); 1 teaspoon lime juice

In a large frying pan, warm 1 tbsp canola oil over medium heat. Add half of the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute, then add the chicken and cook. Break up chicken and stir occasionally, until opaque, about 10 minutes. Add corn and cook until just tender, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and pour mixture into large bowl and set aside.

Return pan to medium heat and add remaining oil. When hot, add the rest of the onions and cook for 5 minutes.Add the butter and allow it to melt. Then add the flour and stir constantly until it coasts the onion evenly. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the flour begins to turn golden, 3-5 minutes. Stir in the chile powder, paprika, and oregano adn cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Increase heat to medium high and gradually add the water, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens to the consistency of a gravy, about 5 minutes. You may need to add more water to reach a more fluid consistency. Pour the onion mixture into the chicken mixture and let cool for 10 minutes. Mix in the chopped chiles, cheese and lime juice, then taste and adjust seasoning. Let cool completely.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Remove half of the dough from the refrigerator and roll out on a floured surface. The dough should be about 1/8 inch thick. You can cut the pies to be whatever shape you like, I tried a half moon, rectangle and circle. I think the rectangles are the most fun…just because they remind me of Poptarts and my childhood. Place 2-3 tablespoons of filling in each and use a slightly beaten egg to seal the edges. Crimp the edges and prick each pie so that it can vent. Refrigerate pies uncovered for 30 minutes. Repeat the rolling, filling, crimping process with the second half of the dough. When the first half is done chilling, beat an egg with some water and brush over the tops of the pies. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, or until the tops are golden. The edges will brown first, but make sure to wait for those tops!

Once they are done, let cool on a baking rack for 10 minutes, then enjoy! I ate mine with some pico de gallo and it was the perfect pairing. I can only imagine how great a little sour cream would be too :)

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