eat your feelings (wrapped in pastry)

beef hand pies

This morning was our sons first day of daycare. I have prepared for this moment for weeks, running it over and over again in my head. I have made lists and plans and will have more things to do in the next two weeks before starting work than I can realistically accomplish. As an extra precaution, I asked my husband to go to breakfast with me after the drop off this morning so that I'd have something to look forward to while I did my best not to sob uncontrollably. We went to a new bagel shop and talked about how the morning went and if we should just bite the bullet and let him go full time this week instead of doing half days like we had planned. After the bagels, we popped next door to our favorite donut shop to share a donut, just because we could (and because I was eating my feelings). 

beef hand pies

Transitions can be rough for me. I love to think about change and dream about what could be, but often when we get right down to it, I usually wish things could stay the same forever because I'm never really sure. This morning I certainly felt that. I was ready to throw in the towel on all of this change and call it a day. Thankfully, my husband is rock solid. He makes decisions based on logic (what is that?!) and therefore rarely regrets a decision. He also realizes that right now I'm going through all of the emotions of a major life change and eventually I'll get through it and join him on solid ground. Like the fact that I thought I was going to paint the entire kitchen, including the walls and cabinets, all by myself in the next two weeks. Oh, and go on vacation in the middle of it, too. Haha! I'm really trying to put a band aid on how I feel right now. (Does anyone have a donut?!)

At the end of the day, I showed up to get Oliver from daycare and I stood there for 15 minutes while he played, not even aware of the fact that I had arrived to get him. When he finally did notice me, he gave me a little nod and kept right on playing. Of course, I expected him to come running to me with tears in his eyes, wanting to cling to his mama, but I'm so grateful that he didn't, showing me that he was perfectly happy where we have placed him. That is the best scenario I could have hoped for. Tomorrow, we are going to pull off the band aid and let him stay all day. I'm planning on dropping him off and heading to San Francisco instead of painting the kitchen. I'll sit in my favorite cafe and enjoy a cup of coffee without disruption and I'll be so thankful to know that he's not missing me. 

beef hand pies
beef pies
beef hand pies

With the combination all of these life changes and the cooler weather, I've been in a comfort food routine for a few weeks. Last Sunday, I was a good wife and made pot roast. I took my mothers advice and doubled the recipe so I was left with a whole lot of roast and no plan. Well, where there is no plan, there is a buttery pastry waiting to be filled. I roasted some potatoes and squash with some cozy herbs and wrapped it up in a wheat pastry. This might be the best way to eat leftovers. I now want to put everything in pie dough. 

beef hand pies
beef hand pies
beef hand pies
beef hand pies
beef hand pies
beef hand pies

When you find yourself with some leftovers, you've got to give this a try. If you don't have leftover meat, or you're a vegetarian, sautéed mushrooms would make an excellent stand in, but use 5 cups of sliced mushrooms and then sauté. You'll lose a lot of volume by cooking them. If you don't want to make the pastry, a store bought one would certainly make this a quick meal, and don't we all need extra time in the day. 

beef hand pies (or the best way to eat leftovers)

makes 8 hand held pies


For the pastry dough

  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup very cold water
  • 2 cups, plus 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup, plus 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, very cold, cut into 1 inch cubes (keep cold until needed)

For the filling

  • 3 cups left over cooked meat (like pot roast or roasted chicken), cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2" cubes
  • 5 small red potatoes, cut into 1/2" cubes
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, diced small
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves (from about 12 stems)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh sage, minced (about 8 small leaves)
  • 1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup finely shredded parmesan

Egg wash

  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon water


  1. Mix the salt into the water until dissolved and keep cold until needed. 
  2. Add both flours to the bowl of a food processor and add butter. Pulse until the butter is the size of peas. Add the water and pulse until the dough is just starting to hold together and is starting to look a little damp. Pour the contents out of the bowl onto a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough in half and gently bring one half together into a 5" disk. Repeat with remaining half. Cover with plastic wrap, add to a ziplock bag and refrigerate for at least two hours or overnight. 
  3. When the dough is chilling, pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. Toss the potatoes, butternut squash, onion, thyme and sage in olive oil. Arrange the vegetables in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper. Roast until very tender and starting to brown, about 45 minutes. Set aside to cool. 
  4. Line two rimmed baking sheets with a silicone mat or parchment paper.
  5. On a lightly floured surface, roll out one of the disks to about a 1/4" thick. Keep the other disk in the fridge to keep cold. Cut out 6" (or close to it) diameter circles using a bowl or cake pan, or free hand it! You can see above that my circles were pretty wonky, so don't be too worried about how perfect they are. You should get about four per pastry disk. Re-roll the pie dough only once to use up the scraps. 
  6. On one half of each piece of dough, add a scant 1/4 cup vegetables and 4-6 pieces of meat. Add a decent sprinkle of parmesan cheese and fold the top half over. Crimp the edges with a fork to seal and transfer to the baking sheet. Place the sheet into the freezer while you make the other pies, adding each one to the freezer as you finish them. 
  7. Brush the tops of the pies with egg wash and cut 1/2" slits into the top of the pies to vent.
  8. Bake on the top third and lower third rack of the oven at 400 degrees until golden and cooked through, about 22 minutes. Rotate pans halfway through to ensure even cooking.