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November 13, 2019



These mini pot pies with Italian sausage, gnocchi, and leek are the perfect comfort food for cold nights. They feel extra special when served with beautifully embossed crusts. 

Sausage Gnocchi and Leek Mini Pot Pie
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This post was made possible courtesy of Embossed. All opinions and ideas expressed are my own.

Hi there friends! Now that we have changed the clock back for daylight savings, I can honestly say I dread the next six months. It will soon feel as if I'm living in perpetual darkness. (Welcome to November in New England!) It's going to be especially depressing on work days. There will be darkness driving to work and darkness coming home. As it is, sunlight is a distant memory by 5:00pm.

This time of year makes me want to change into warm fuzzy clothes and hibernate as soon as I walk through the door. I'm pretty much living a groundhog's life but with heat, furniture, indoor plumbing...and chocolate. Wintery days also make me want to seek comfort food, which usually means I'm after all things warm and cozy.

Sausage Gnocchi and Leek Mini Pot Pie
Unbaked Mini Pot Pies 

Pot pies are ultimate comfort foods. They are hearty and always hit the spot. These consist of Italian sausage, tender potato gnocchi, and oniony leeks are no exception. The sausage is savory and salty; the mild gnocchi balances out the saltiness; and the leeks add color and mild onion flavor. Serve with a side of salad for a delicious family dinner. Or enjoy it curled up on the couch, wrapped up in a warm blanket watching TV on a lazy night by yourself or with your other half. 

One of the most irresistible things about pot pies is the flaky and tender pie crust, which satisfies those carb cravings. And when you add an embossed pattern, an ordinary meal becomes a little fancier.

Sausage Gnocchi and Leek Mini Pot Pie

The beautiful floral patterns on these crusts were created with an embossed rolling pin. It is heirloom quality and comes in a number of patterns. All rolling pins made by Embossed are carved from 100% high-grade solid beechwood and are 100% food safe. To boot, they are also BPA and toxin free. I feel really good using it.

I use homemade pie crusts, but store bought would work in a pinch. With homemade, you have more control over the thickness of the dough, which is a factor for these pot pies. Store bought pie crusts might not be as thick to start out with and will yield thinner than desired end product. If it is worked too much, it might become tough. Although I have balled up store bought dough and re-rolled to desired thickness with great results. 

To apply the pattern,  roll the dough to 3/16-inch (slightty more that 1/8-inch) thick with a standard rolling pin. Once that is completed, use moderate pressure with the embossed rolling pin to apply the pattern. The pie crust is flattened to about 1/8-inch during the process, which is the ideal thickness. 

Sausage Gnocchi and Leek Mini Pot Pie

I prefer to bake these pie crusts light as it best showcases the embossed pattern. To achieve this, pie shields are used to protect the edges and prevent over browning. Additionally, rotating the pies during baking prevents hot spots and helps produce even coloring throughout. Instructions on how to make pie shields from aluminum foil  are detailed in the recipe card.

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Sausage Gnocchi and Leek Mini Pot Pie


1 1/2 pound Italian sausage links, skin removed
1 tablespoon vegetable or olive oil, 
2 1/2 cup leek, sliced into 1/8-inch thick
3 cloves garlic, chopped 
2 3/4 cups water 
4 teaspoons sodium free chicken bouillon
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 rounded teaspoons sugar
1 pound package gnocchi
2 teaspoons cornstarch + 2 tablespoon water for slurry
Pie crust recipe here or 2 9-inch store bought pie crusts


Prior to preparing the filling, make pie dough. Divide into 4 equal portions. Form into 1-inch discs. Wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes.

Combine cornstarch and 2 tablespoons water in a small bowl. Set aside. 

Add oil to a preheated a 4-quart pan on medium to medium high heat. Add sausage, breaking into small chunks as it browns, about 8-10 minutes. Reduce to medium low. Take pan off the heat. Using a slotted spoon, transfer sausage onto a paper towel lined plate. Keep just enough fat in the pan to coat the bottom. 

Return pan to back to heat. Add leek and garlic. Cover and cook for 3 minutes. Stir to loosen up bits from the bottom of the pan halfway through. Add 2 tablespoons of water if leek or garlic begins to brown.

Increase heat to medium high. Add water, bouillon, pepper, and sugar. Once liquid comes to a boil, cover and reduce heat to a simmer for 2 minutes.

Add gnocchi. Stir and submerge into the liquid. Bring heat back to medium high. Cover. When it comes to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer for 2 minutes. Stir cornstarch slurry. Add to pan and stir until liquid thickens slightly. Remove from heat. Spoon into four 10-ounce ramekins or oven safe soup bowls. Allow to cool slightly while rolling out the pie crusts.

Preheat oven to 375° F. 

Remove pie dough from the refrigerator. If the dough has been refrigerated for a long period of time, it will be firm. Allow to rest at room temperature for 10-15 minutes to soften to a workable consistency. If using store bought dough that is no more than 1/8-inch thick, form into a disc and knead to 3/8-inch thickness.

Lightly flour a work surface. Place one of the pie crust discs on the work surface. Lightly flour the top. Using a standard rolling pin, roll dough to 3/16-inch thickness and 1-inch wider than the circumference of the top of the ramekin. 

Dust a light coating of flour to both sides of the dough. Switch over to a an embossed rolling pin. Start on one edge of the dough and roll across to the opposite edge, applying a moderate and even amount of pressure to create an embossed pattern. Lift dough and place over one of the ramekins. Trim uneven edges. Tuck edges into the sides or crimp as desired. Using a sharp pointed knife, score the pie dough to create air vents. Place ramekins on a large baking sheet.

Gently fold down the outer 1-inch edge of the pie shield (see below for instructions on how to make). Spray the underside with cooking spray. Center the opening over the the pie crust. Continue rolling out and applying the remaining pie crusts. 

Place the baking sheet with the ramekin in the middle rack. Bake for 10 minutes. Rotate  the baking sheet 180°.  Bake for another 15 minutes. Remove foil. Rotate baking sheet 180° again. Bake for 10 additional minutes or until the edges develop a light golden color. Remove from oven. Serve hot.

Makes 4 servings.

Recipe Notes
  1. To prepare leeks: discard the dark green leaves and the root ends; slice the base in half vertically. Cut into 1/8-inch slices. Wash and drain well. 
  2. The Italian sausages have ample amount of salt. There is no need to add salt to this recipe. 
  3. If using homemade pie crust, make the dough and chill before working on the filling.
  4. To make a pie shield: Cut out 4 rounds of aluminum foil that are 1 1/2-inch wider than the circumference of the top of the ramekin. Cut out a donut hole 3/4-inch smaller than the diameter of the top of ramekin. Use the outer rings as the shield.
  5. More oil might be needed if not using non stick pan.
  6. I don't recommend swapping out water for chicken broth or stock, even low sodium. It will be too salty.

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November 06, 2019



These fudgy pumpkin bars, with the flavor of warm spice, are a taste of fall in blondie form. Topped with a cheesecake flavored glaze and chopped pecans, every bite is a mouthful of deliciousness. 

Pumpkin Blondies with Cheesecake Glaze
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This post is sponsored by Amoretti. All opinions and ideas expressed are my own.

Something about the cool weather and the shorter daylight hours makes me want to crank up the oven and pull piping hot goodness out of it. I have been baking a lot—cookies, pies, calzones, and these blondies. The aroma that waft throughout the house is intoxicating and comforting. 

One thing for sure, my husband and son have no complaints about my baking activity. They enjoy being on the receiving end of what comes out of the oven. And when there is more food than any three people can possibly eat, the excess is offloaded to our next door neighbors. Thanks Al and Linda for accepting my "gifts"!

October 21, 2019



For a simple and delicious lunch, Chicken Mushroom Spinach Quesadillas with Feta is the way to go. If you have snacker in the house, make extra for a quick, reheatable snacks anytime of the day. 

Chicken Mushroom Spinach Quesadillas with Feta
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My son has been into feta lately. It has come to the point where I shouldn't bother to ask what kind of cheese he prefers, because I already know the answer.

"What do you want on your pizza?" "Feta."

"What cheese should I use in your calzone?" "Feta."

"What should I put in your quesadilla?" "Feta."

October 14, 2019



So easy and so good! Rita's Green Bean Special, loaded with bacon and fried onion rings, is a perfect side to accompany any family meal. And it all comes together in one pan!

Rita's Green Bean Special
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This green bean recipe might look familiar to some of you as it was featured on one of my earliest posts. I thought it could use updated pictures as well as a reintroduction to all of you lovely visitors of this blog. It is unarguably one of the easiest and most delicious green bean side dishes to make. As you can see, I am not partial at all ;)