My mom went through a cooking strike for quite a few years when I was a teenager. And who could blame her? My mom never was particularly talented at cooking but she certainly tried to get dinner on the table for her family. And when she finally set the food in front of us she heard a litany of complaining (and honestly I don’t think the food was that bad…we were just being brats).
So, she did what any strong woman would do. She said she wouldn’t cook anymore, loaded the freezer up with prepared meals, loaded the pantry with ingredients for us to cook things ourselves, and let us fend for ourselves.
One of my favorite ready-made dinners was Marie Callender’s Chicken Pot Pies. Nowadays, I am the first to say I am not a pot pie connoisseur as it is not a dish that I am particularly drawn to. I’ll eat it when served but I certainly wouldn’t go out of my way to prepare it. Until now. It seemed so labor intensive for what often appeared to be slop-on-a-plate. But this recipe turned me around. This is a meal you crave. And Marie’s frozen pot pie doesn’t hold a candle to this homemade version.
Favorite Chicken Pot Pie (adapted from Taste of Home)
This recipe makes 2 pot pies. Freezing instructions are listed below the recipe.
- 1-3/4 cups sliced carrots
- 1 cup butter, cubed
- 2/3 cup chopped onion
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1-3/4 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 3/4 teaspoon pepper
- 3 cups chicken broth
- 1-1/2 cups milk
- 4 cups cubed cooked chicken
- 1.5 cup frozen peas
- 1.5 cup frozen corn
- 2 packages (14.1 ounces each) refrigerated pie pastry (or your favorite homemade version)
- Preheat oven to 425°. Place carrots in a large saucepan; add water to cover. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cook, covered, 8-10 minutes or until vegetables are crisp-tender; drain.
- In a large skillet, heat butter over medium-high heat. Add onion; cook and stir until tender.
- Stir in flour and seasonings until blended. Gradually stir in broth and milk. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly; cook and stir 2 minutes or until thickened. Stir in chicken, peas, corn; remove from heat.
- Unroll a pastry sheet into each of two 9-in. pie plates; trim even with rims. Add chicken mixture. Unroll remaining pastry; place over filling. Trim, seal and flute edges. Cut slits in tops.
- Bake 35-40 minutes or until crust is lightly browned. Let stand 15 minutes before cutting.
- Yield: 2 potpies (8 servings each).
- Freeze option: Cover and freeze unbaked pies. To use, remove from freezer 30 minutes before baking (do not thaw). Preheat oven to 425°. Place pies on baking sheets; cover edges loosely with foil. Bake 30 minutes. Reduce oven setting to 350°; bake 70-80 minutes longer or until crust is golden brown and a thermometer inserted in center reads 165°.
I don’t love salads in the winter time. Out of season produce just isn’t appealing and neither is the idea that it was shipped from thousands of miles away to get to my home. My husband, on the other hand, pretty much requests “big salads” as a dinner each and every week. When I saw this recipe, which met his request without being filled with bland, watery cucumbers and spongy pink tomatoes I figured I’d break my self-imposed ban on salads.
I just love dried apricots. And I love chick peas and almonds. This salad would be great without the addition of the chicken, too. We had it with chicken and that made it all the more filling. If you skip the chicken, just double the chick peas.
If you look at my picture you’ll see that instead of almonds as dictated by the recipe, my salad is sporting pecans. I had a lovely batch of almonds toasting in the toaster oven. I turned off the oven, sat down to nurse the baby, and the residual heat burned the nuts to a crisp. The pecans were tasty but I am sure almonds would be better, so that’s what is reflected below in the recipe.
The end result was fantastic. The leftovers were great, too. I kept the lettuce separate from the rest of the toppings and just combined when it was time to serve. Nice, healthy, tasty, and a break from the usual salad rut!
Moroccan Chicken Salad with Chickpeas and Apricots (adapted from The Make Ahead Cook; seen on Annie’s Eats)
- 1½ lbs. boneless skinless chicken breasts
- Salt and pepper
- ½-¾ cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
- ½ cup water
- 1 tsp. garam masala
- ½ tsp. ground coriander
- Pinch smoked paprika
- ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, divided
- 1 tbsp. honey
- 1½ cups (1 15 oz. can) cooked chickpeas, rinsed
- 1 shallot, sliced thinly
- ¾ cup dried apricots, coarsely chopped
- 2 tbsp. minced fresh parsley
- 2 hearts of romaine lettuce, chopped into 1-inch pieces
- ½ cup whole toasted almonds, coarsely chopped
- Season the chicken with salt and pepper. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat 1 tbsp. of the olive oil until shimmering.
- Add the chicken to the pan cook until brown, about 5-6 minutes.
- Flip chicken over, add the water to the pan, and cover with a lid.
- Reduce the heat to medium-low and continue to simmer until the chicken is cooked through.
- Remove the chicken to a cutting board and let cool slightly. Slice into ½-inch thick slices on a bias. Set aside and allow to cool.
- Meanwhile, combine 1 tablespoon of the olive oil with the garam masala, coriander, and paprika in a liquid measuring cup. Microwave for about 30 seconds until hot and fragrant. Whisk in 3 tablespoons of the lemon juice, the honey, ¼ teaspoon of salt and ¼ teaspoon of pepper. Whisking constantly, stream in the remaining oil.
- In a large bowl, combine cooled chicken, chickpeas, shallot, apricots, parsley and half of the dressing, toss.
- Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of lemon juice into the dressing and whisk well.
- In a separate bowl, combine the romaine and almonds. Toss to mix well.
- When ready to serve, drizzle some of the dressing over the greens and toss to coat.
- Top with the chicken and chickpea mixture.
Rarely do I have the opportunity (or desire) to make a recipe that is for a holiday celebration prior to the event itself. I have no problem test driving a new recipe on the day of the party because usually the party is for family and they won’t think less of me if the recipe I serve is a flop.
Though this picture of a pumpkin pie I made recently is quite bland, was taken as an after thought, and required a decent amount of editing to even make half way acceptable for the blog, I decided to share it because we’re a few days out from Thanksgiving and some of you may be looking for a great recipe for this coming Thursday.
One of my best friends teaches adult English language learners at a local adult education center. She was teaching her students about Thanksgiving a few weeks ago and decided to surprise them with a Thanksgiving meal. When she approached me and many of her other friends about providing a classic dish for her event, I was excited to try out a new pumpkin pie recipe. I was also excited to show these adults who are earnestly trying to learn English that I welcome them into our community.
This recipe called out to me because it required the addition of a block of cream cheese; I had never seen that before. The result was really an awesome recipe! You could identify the cream cheese but it definitely was NOT a pumpkin-cheesecake-dessert. It was creamy and sweet and the perfect consistency.
If you’re looking to stray from the recipe on the back of the pumpkin can, look no further. This is it for you!
Paula Deen’s Pumpkin Pie
- 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
- 2 cups canned pumpkin, mashed
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 egg plus 2 egg yolks, slightly beaten
- 1 cup half-and-half
- 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) melted butter, slightly cooled
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger, optional
- 1 piece pre-made pie dough
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Place 1 piece of pre-made pie dough down into a (9-inch) pie pan and press down along the bottom and all sides.
- Put the pie shell back into the freezer for 1 hour to firm up.
- Line a piece of aluminum foil to cover the inside of the shell completely. Fill the shell up to the edges with pie weights or dried beans (about 2 pounds) and place it in the oven. Bake for 10 minutes, remove the foil and pie weights and bake for another 10 minutes or until the crust is dried out and beginning to color.
- For the filling, in a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese with a hand mixer.
- Add the pumpkin and beat until combined.
- Add the sugar and salt, and beat until combined. Add the eggs mixed with the yolks, half-and-half, and melted butter, and beat until combined.
- Finally, add the vanilla, cinnamon, and ginger, if using, and beat until incorporated.
- Pour the filling into the warm prepared pie crust and bake for 50-60 minutes, or until the center is set. It will appear a little jiggly while warm but will set nicely once cooled.
- Place the pie on a wire rack and cool to room temperature.