Willow Tree

It’s Time to Celebrate! Ideas for Serving Willow Tree at Brunches, Picnics, and other Parties

What we can expect for spring weather in New England may leave us guessing, but one thing is certain: it is the time of year when celebrations abound. We thought we’d take a few minutes to highlight how you can bring the convenience and good taste of Willow Tree to a variety of events that you may be hosting or attending over the next few months.

The All-purpose Brunch 

Hosting a weekend brunch, especially on a Sunday, can be a fantastic way to acknowledge a variety of occasions at this time of year. Brunch can apply to everything from birthdays and Father’s Day, to baby or wedding showers, or just getting a group together for a nice meal before going off to enjoy an afternoon out. Brunch can also be a great pick-me-up before or after any fundraisers you may have scheduled, like walks or running events. 

A great Willow Tree option for a brunch is not only the large, 52-oz size chicken pie, but the personal size as well.  The 8 oz. pie sizes are great one-person servings that take less time to cook and can easily be eaten off of the plate they come with. Willow Tree pies can be a great alternative to a quiche as they tend to be more hearty and unexpected. Don’t forget to consider the different varieties including chicken with classic vegetable, chicken with red-bliss potato, or turkey pie. And they all go well with any kind of side dish or salad you can serve for an easy but incredibly delicious meal. Top it all off with iced-tea or lemonade and a small dessert, like cookies or cupcakes.  

The other great thing about having Willow Tree at a Sunday brunch is that you will have plenty of time to get ready (and rested) for it. If you don’t want to take the time to heat up chicken pies, you can opt for either a pre-made party platter from our retail store, or you can make your own sandwich platter with Willow Tree chicken salad. 


Chicken Salad – Dress it Up or Down 

Willow Tree chicken salad is perhaps the most versatile of all Willow Tree products. Depending on the variety you serve and how you serve it, chicken salad can make the right impression at almost any type of occasion. Chicken salad can work well at a brunch or picnic as well as much more sophisticated events, like rehearsal dinners or even weddings. 

For a casual event, you could simply make chicken salad sandwiches on your favorite bread or rolls, or you could create wraps using our Buffalo or Cranberry Walnut chicken salads. These flavors also make great dips or appetizers on a cracker with garnish.

For something with greater presentation value, we have a couple of recipes that are sure to impress, including chicken salad on focaccia, Willow Tree Waldorf Salad, or the chicken salad “chickatini” in a martini glass. 

Just a reminder that if you are serving Willow Tree chicken salad at your next event, it should be kept at 32 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit until it’s ready to be served. For more safe-handling tips, click here


A Parting Gift 

If you’d like to offer a nice surprise as a way to thank your guests, you can use Willow Tree products as a “parting gift”. We have customers who have actually given away frozen pies as gifts. If your guests have access to our retail store, they may appreciate a Willow Tree Gift Card

However you choose to use Willow Tree at your next event, the easy preparation and great taste will make it a pleasure to serve. 

If you have any new ideas or recipes for how to serve Willow Tree, be sure to share them by leaving a comment here or on our facebook page.

Enjoy your celebrations!

Who Do We Have to Thank for Chicken Pie?

By Wally Cekala

As the sandwich celebrates its 250th birthday this year, you may have been hearing trivia about its origin. Legend has it that the Earl of Sandwich, an avid card player, wanted an easy way to have something to eat without having to put his cards down. He asked for a piece of beef between two pieces of bread, and the “sandwich” was born. According to our research, it was a similar desire to eat a filling lunch easily which may have led to the origin of the chicken pot pie that we know today. 

Source: Wikipedia

The Cornish Pasty – Parent to the Pot Pie?

One of the earliest and most popular versions of a chicken pie hails from Cornwall in Great Britain. To this day it is referred to as a Cornish “pasty,” and appears more similar to an Italian calzone, encased in a thick, closed crust. Unlike a calzone or more modern variations on the pasty, it’s filled with savory meat, vegetables and spices but no sauce or gravy as that would make it too messy to eat by hand.  Pasties were a very popular lunch with Cornish miners, because they stay warm for a long time in a lunch pail and are easy to reheat by placing on a shovel and holding over a flame. Pasties also require no cutlery to eat, and could be held by their thick crusts by miners with dirty hands who would discard the crust after eating the rest. Today, pasties are Cornwall’s national dish and account for 6% of the food economy.

While the ingredients of any savory meat pie have been available for centuries in various countries, there are references in cookbooks from France dating back to the 1300s. Pasties are also referred to in correspondence related to high ranking officials, the clergy, and royalty of the 1200s. It may not have been until the 17th and 18th centuries, however, that pasties became common fare among the working class. With such an important place in Cornish lore and as a “national dish” of Cornwall, the neighboring county of Devon sometimes competes for a role in pasty history.

Cornish Miners Take the Recipe on the Road

As tin mining was on the decline in Cornwall, the miners traveled for work to other parts of the world in the 1800s, and brought their hearty lunch recipe with them. They settled in areas such as Australia, Mexico, the mid-western United States, and Pennsylvania. While these areas are still eating the pasty in a more authentic form, some regions have done away with the more utilitarian features, like the thick crust and lack of sauce.

 Modern “Pot” Pies 

The original savory pie makers of Europe would use a pot, and include a top and bottom crust to help the pie keep its shape. Some American variations over the years have done away with the bottom crust as it was no longer deemed necessary to eat this dish “on the fly” without cutlery. A more casserole-like dish which features a generous filling, including gravy, has become more popular. Also, the “pot” pie is usually associated with vegetables in addition to chicken meat.

While the recipe and “use” may have changed over the years, chicken pies are still seen as a wholesome, stick-to-your ribs meal for the end of a long work day. Also, as our fans know, similar to Cornish pasties, Willow Tree chicken pies are one of the few main courses that will still be warm when you go back for seconds!


Sources: Rick Steve’s Europe, Wikipedia