Chicken and Leek Pot Pie

This rustic chicken and leek pot pie is a real showstopper. It bakes up deliciously creamy and aromatic wrapping you in a comforting blanket of savory warmth.

Chilly nights are tapping on the windows reminding us that it is time to winterize the outbuildings and harvest the last of the garden before the first frost. Today I brought in the last of my leeks and am making some stews to freeze for those busy nights when cooking isn’t an option. The rest is going into a rustic chicken and leek pot pie, a classic comfort food, to console me as I ready myself for the brittle winter season.

Leek vs Onion:

Let’s face it leeks are just sexier than onions. They are more vibrant just as versatile and taste sweeter with a delicate earthy flavor that elevates the dish. Leeks are delicious on their own and can be served grilled, roasted, or sauteed. Yet they offer many versatile options by replacing onions, chives, shallots, and even garlic in recipes. I love them so much I plant a row or two of leeks every planting season and enjoy them all season long. I use the young green plants in light soups in the spring, stir them into fresh pastas on warm summer nights, and give my thick stews and pot pies more depth on chilly fall nights. Just remember no matter when you use them or for what, wash the leeks thoroughly. Dirt likes to play a mean game of hide and seek hiding between the many layers.

A Mushroom by Any Other Name:

Which mushrooms should you use? Some mushrooms take to one cooking method better than others. Some are meatier than others, but for the most part, they’re interchangeable. My personal favorite in this chicken and leek pot pie is Cremini mushrooms (baby bellas). Cremini mushrooms are the same variety as button mushrooms but offer one growth stage more giving them a complex and savory flavor, If you are buying ingredients for this recipe pick up the baby bellas. Otherwise go ahead and use whatever you have in your refrigerator.

Chicken and Leek Pot Pie

Cedar Oak Farms
This chicken & leek pot pie is the perfect all-American comfort food. It bakes up deliciously creamy and aromatic.
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 6


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 skinless chicken breasts
  • 3 leeks
  • 4 ounces cremini mushrooms
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 – 2 sprigs fresh oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grind black pepper
  • 1 sheet puff pastry


  • Wash and slice the leeks. Slice the mushrooms. Set aside.
  • Dice the chicken. Place in a medium bowl and season with salt and pepper; toss to mix.
  • Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat just to shimmering. Carefully add the chicken, working in batches, sautéed to a golden brown. Remove chicken to a bowl and set aside. Add the leeks and mushrooms to the skillet. Turn heat down to medium. Sauté 5-10 minutes until the leek is tender. Transfer to the bowl with the chicken.
  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Wipe the skillet out with a paper towel. Melt the butter in the skillet, sprinkle in the flour and stir on a low heat until smooth. Gradually whisk in the milk, whisking until all the milk has been added. Simmer for 5 minutes, or until a smooth, thick, white sauce. Stir in mustard.
  • Stir in the chicken, leeks, mushrooms, oregano, salt and pepper until blended. Turn into a 9” cast iron skillet, or 5” individual pie pans. Remove the pastry from the package and give it a quick roll, to about the thickness of a nickel, on a lightly floured work surface. Cut the pastry into 10 even strips. Using a basket weave pattern crisscross the stripes covering the skillet. Crimp or decorate the top with the off-cuts, and transfer to a baking tray.
  • Bake for 30 minutes, or until the pastry is lightly golden brown and crisp. Let cool for 10 minutes then serve.
Keyword Chicken & Poultry

Ginger Panna Cotta

Ginger panna cotta, a cross between pudding and cheesecake, is topped with whip cream and a freshly pressed apple cider granita. All those wonderful Fall flavors we look forward to ever season.

I only recently found, and fell in love, with panna cotta. Just the name alone, panna cotta, sounded complicated enough for me to avoid it. I’m not much of a dessert person to start with and I defiantly am not a baker of any sort. Give me a stock pot and a garden I’ll come away with someone wonderful. Sit down some flour, baking soda, and a copious amount of randomness and I’m like, uhmmm, what am I supposed to do now? So, yes, panna cotta made me shiver in complicated fear. I was wrong!

What is Panna Cotta?

Panna Cotta is Italian Pudding. Basically, it is simmered sweetened dairy, in this recipe I used heavy cream, thickened with gelatin. That’s it! You can add flavors and spices to the dairy and let it simmer into the milk, but it couldn’t be easier. The only thing you want to watch out for is splitting the cream. I avoid that my dissolving the gelatin separately and adding it to the simmered dairy off the heat. Do not let the dairy come to a boil. Boiling destroys gelatin’s thickening power and will split the panna cotta for sure.

Since Fall is in the air I choose to bring all those wonderful fall spices and fruits into the dessert. What could be better than ginger, cloves, cinnamon, allspice, and apple cider frozen into an apple cider granita.

What is Granita?

Granita is fresh fruit simmered in water, blended and frozen until icy, flaked with a fork and frozen again. By using apple cider, half the work is already completed. Since granita is basically flavored shaved iced I was generous with the spices to really boost those flavors.

Ginger Panna Cotta

Cedar Oak Farms
Ginger panna cotta, a cross between pudding and cheesecake, is topped with whip cream and a freshly pressed apple cider granita.
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Freeze/Refrigerate 12 hrs
Course Dessert
Cuisine Italian
Servings 4


For the Panna Cotta:

  • 1 envelope Knox gelatin
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger

For the granita:

  • 2 cups apple cider
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves


For the Panna Cotta:

  • Sprinkle the gelatin over the milk and set aside. Place the rest of the ingredients into a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Do not boil. Remove from heat and whisk in the gelatin milk. (This might look like a paste at this point, but not to worry. It is the perfect consistency.) Pour into 4 cocktail or wine glasses, filling halfway up. Place in the refrigerator until set, about 4 hours.

For the granita:

  • Mix all the ingredients together, and simmer for 15 minutes on low heat. Place in a bowl and freeze for 2 hours. After two hours, mix with a fork and freeze overnight. When ready to serve scrape with a fork to resemble graham cracker crumbs. Reserve any unused granita in the freezer.

To Serve:

  • Serve the panna cotta in the glass, top with some freshly made whipped cream. Add the granita. The granita will melt quickly; serve immediately.
Keyword Custard

Fall Fireplace Mantle

Our farmhouse was built in the late 1800, before central home heating. Most rooms offered a fireplace for warmth. Unfortunately, by the time we purchased the home all the fireplaces had been removed and the chimneys that were hidden behind the walls were crumbling and not able to be used. So it was a wonderful surprise when we found an original mantle hidden in the hayloft. Of course, I carried it back into the house. Today, the mantle is one of my favorite décor pieces.

It has no other purposed than to look pretty. I even choose to keep it all battered and bruised, mainly because it was painted with lead paint and I’m not touching that. But honestly, I fell in love with the dents and chips. It tells a story all its own, in a language I do not understand, but could listen to all day long.

The Fall Mantle:

I love decorating the mantle each season but, the Fall mantle is one of my favorites. I normally tend towards earthy greens and natural woods when decorating the mantle, but fall brings with it a burst of color that I love to bring into the home. This year I went with bold fiery flowers and mini orange pumpkins grown in our garden. It adds a touch of cheerfulness to the room.

Adding Warmth:

An important element is adding warmth. Most fireplaces do that naturally by flicking a wick, or nowadays a switch, to create fire. Since this is no longer a working fireplace I add candles. Sometimes a lot of candles. I contained myself to four this season and placed them on these beautiful repurposed pillars made out of weathered found wood.

The rustic wood pillars pair beautifully with the sleek white vases. The candles are “Farmhouse Fresh” whiskey bonfire. Delicious notes of spiced-liquor fill the air the moment I light this candle! It’s as cozy as a night spent by a crackling fire.

Shop the Look:

  1. Fiery Flower Stems
  2. Stoneware Vase, White
  3. Wooden Found Wood Pillars
  4. FHF Candles with Wooden Lid

I hope you find some decoration inspiration! Please let me know what you think in the comments below and come back and visit us again.

DIY: Upcycled Writing Desk

The Piece:

Today’s project is a American of Martinsville writing desk. Age: My best guess would be mid – late 70’s. This little beauty came to me already “done”. The issue was the paint was peeling and it was frustrating the owner who just dumped it in my workshop and said, “have at it.” Whoever painted it jumped on the chalk paint trend without doing their homework. You cannot cheat the work. Painting over furniture without first removing the old layers is a recipe for disaster. Especially if those old layer include stain and vanish. Any heavy object placed on the painted top will have the paint sticking to the object and peeling away for the furniture.

Continue reading “DIY: Upcycled Writing Desk”

Beef and Pumpkin Stew

A thick and hearty stew filled with fall flavors perfect for those chilly evenings.

It is that time of the year where the garden is coming to an end with just a few stragglers hanging on. Today I picked the last of the tomatoes, some herbs, a pumpkin, and a handful of onions. This may sound like a random array but isn’t that the best thing about soups and stews. You can pretty much throw anything into them, and they will come out perfect.

The Spices:

What spice goes well with pumpkin? For me, that’s cinnamon! Cinnamon gives food warmth, adds a natural sweetness, and mixes in a depth of flavor that is irresistible in this stew.  I use a teaspoon of cinnamon for this recipe, but if you are not used to using cinnamon in savory dishes you might need to adjust it a bit. It is such a distinctive flavor it might require easing into.


Do not throw any of that pumpkin away. Did you know you can eat every part of the plant? Pumpkin flowers, leaves, stems, seeds, flesh, even the skin are all edible. Some varieties are better for eating than other. Your smaller pie pumpkins are sweeter than your heirloom varieties, but all are edible. The harder varieties, like butternut or Queensland blue, are better for soups and stews. Soft varieties tend to make the soup watery.

Beef and Pumpkin Stew

Cedar Oak Farms
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 2 hrs
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 8


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 pounds beef stew meat cut into 1” cubes
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 small pumpkin peeled and cut into 1” cubes
  • 4 cups vegetable broth divided
  • 4 – 5 tomatoes peeled and sliced
  • 8 ounces tomato sauce
  • 1 can (14 ounces) garbanzo beans, undrained
  • 1 cup orzo pasta
  • 3 teaspoons salt
  • teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ancho chile powder
  • ½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup roasted & salted pumpkin seeds optional
  • 2 – 3 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley


  • In a 4-quart Dutch oven heat the oil over medium-high heat. Brown the beef on all sides, about 5 minutes. Remove beef and keep warm.
  • Add the onion to the Dutch oven and sauté until tender, about 6 minutes. Stir in the garlic and sauté for another minute.
  • Return the beef to the Dutch oven. Add 2 cups of vegetable broth and bring to a slow boil. Reduce heat to low and let simmer for 1 hour.
  • Meanwhile, bring a saucepan of water to a rolling boil. Carefully, add 2 – 3 tomatoes to the water and let boil until the skin cracks, about 1 minute. Immediately place in cold water. Repeat until all the tomatoes have been processed. Set aside. Cut the pumpkin in half, discarding the pulp, but reserving the seeds. Cut the pumpkin into slices that are easy to peel. Cut into 1” chunks. Set aside.
  • After an hour, add the pumpkin, tomatoes, tomato sauce, garbanzo beans, orzo, and spices to the Dutch oven. Stir in the remaining 2 cups of vegetables broth. Bring to a slow boil then reduce to heat to low. Let simmer for another hour.
  • If you are choosing to use the pumpkin seeds, roast them during this time.
  • Stir the stew and taste. Season with additional salt and pepper, if needed. Serve in bowls and garnish with the pumpkin seeds and parsley.
Keyword Beef, Soups & Stews