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Muffin Tin is Great "Pot" for Pot Pies

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Move over, blueberry and bran muffins. Potpie muffins are a force with which to be reckoned. Pie pans have traditionally been the "pot" for American pot pies, a foodstuff that actually goes back centuries to the Roman Empire and used to draw bragging rights for whichever pie had the most live birds fly from its "filling."

Muffin tins, though, are a neat modern way to conveniently improve on the old process. Whether it's your own homemade crust or an easy refrigerated biscuit dough or thawed puff pastry one, it's as simple as greasing the muffin tin and pressing the dough into it and up its sides with a slight hangover.

You can then pull up the hangover and push the pieces together for a top crust. Best of all, you've also got a flaky bottom crust — a comfort food element I feel gypped about when restaurants or recipes decide to go bottomless.

DIJON CHICKEN POT PIE MUFFINS

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1 medium onion, halved, divided

1 bay leaf

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, plus a drizzle or cooking spray for oiling muffin tin

Handful mushroom caps, sliced or chopped

1 small rib celery, finely chopped

Salt, to taste

Pepper, to taste

1/2 cup defrosted frozen peas and carrots

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons flour, plus a sprinkle to roll out dough

3/4 cup chicken stock

1/4 cup cream or half-and-half

1 rounded tablespoon Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons fresh dill or thyme, finely chopped

8-ounce sheet frozen puff pastry dough, defrosted

1 egg, beaten with a splash of water

Yields 6 servings.

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Place chicken in a pan with 1/2 of the onion and bay leaf. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to simmer. Gently poach chicken until cooked through. Remove from liquid and dice or shred with forks in a mixing bowl.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and brown 5 minutes. Finely chop remaining 1/2 onion and add to the pan along with the celery. Season with salt and pepper, and cook until tender, a few minutes more.

Add frozen veggies and heat through, a minute or 2 more. Add veggies to bowl with shredded or cut chicken.

Return the skillet to the heat and add butter. Melt butter, add flour and cook 1 minute. Whisk in stock and let thicken a minute or two. Stir in cream and heat through. Add Dijon, dill and salt and pepper. Turn off heat and pour over chicken and vegetables, and stir to combine.

Wipe a large, six-cup muffin tin with oil or spray with cooking spray. Roll out dough and cut into 6 squares. Place each square in a cup, fill with chicken, vegetable and gravy mix. Pull in all four points of the crust over the filling so they meet in the middle, forming six individual potpies. Brush pies with egg wash and bake 25 to 30 minutes until crisp and deeply golden. Let stand a few minutes before removing from the muffin cups. —RachaelRayShow.com

CHICKEN 'N' BROCCOLI POT PIE MUFFINS

1 (12-ounce) can refrigerated biscuit dough

2/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese

2/3 cup crisp rice cereal

2 cups frozen broccoli pieces, thawed

1 cup cubed cooked chicken or turkey

1 (10 3/4-ounce) can reduced-sodium condensed cream of chicken or mushroom soup

1/3 cup slivered or sliced almonds

Yields 10 servings.

Heat oven to 375 F.

Separate dough into 10 biscuits. Place 1 biscuit in each ungreased muffin cup; firmly press in bottom and up sides, forming 1/2-inch rim over edge of muffin cup. Spoon about 1 tablespoon each of cheese and cereal into each biscuit-lined cup. Press mixture into bottom of each cup.

Cut any large pieces of broccoli in half. In large bowl, combine broccoli, chicken and soup; mix well. Spoon about 1/3 cup of chicken mixture over cereal. Cups will be full. Sprinkle with almonds.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until edges of biscuits are deep golden brown. —Pillsbury.com Photo courtesy of Pillsbury.com

Lisa Messinger is a first-place winner in food writing from the Association of Food Journalists and the author of seven food books, including "Mrs. Cubbison's Best Stuffing Cookbook" and "The Sourdough Bread Bowl Cookbook." She also writes the Creators News Service "Cooks' Books" column. To find out more about Lisa Messinger and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

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