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Life is Good Minestrone Soup

 

Been dealing with the joys and complications of retirement.  There I was with a whole lotta free days and just as quickly they got filled with wonderful things like writing, cooking, babysitting, visiting with friends and alas, health problems. Two heart stents later, a second delightful grandson and new digs in a safe neighborhood stabilized me and now I’m happy, happy, happy. 

 So what do I do when I’m happy ?  COOK UP A STORM ! 

It’s been cold here in Alameda, California. We’ve had unprecedented freezing high 20 degree weather here. Okay, you Mid-Westerners, stop snickering…..

So what can I do but make SOUP!  Spelt soup, mushroom barley soup, kale and potato aka caldo verde, everything green soup,Thai chicken soup, to name just a few but my absolute favorite is MINESTRONE.  It’s easy and fail proof. You can pretty much put more or less of most ingredients in the recipe and you’ll end up with a rich, savory potage of green, red, orange, yellow veggies full of vitamins and minerals.

Make a big pot and if it seems too much, put some in the freezer for later. You’ll love yourself when you defrost and heat it up after being out all day.

 

                                                                             

Life is Good Minestrone Soup

 

¼ cup olive oil

½- l cup ( ½ inch thick) pancetta*- diced

1 large onion- chopped

4-5 medium carrots chopped

1 ½ cups chopped celery or fennel root or stalks

1-2  cups chopped bell pepper

1 cup white or red wine

 l large or 2 medium bay leaves

carrots,fennel,onions, bay leaves

carrots,fennel,onions, bay leaves

cabbage still life

cabbage still life

1 (1# 12 oz.) can of whole*** or diced tomatoes**

2 Tablsp. tomato paste**

5 cups chicken stock**

1 tsp. dried basil

1 tsp. dried rosemary

 

1 bunch of cleaned swiss chard (approx. 2-3 cups)- chopped into l inch chunks

3 cups of cabbage- chopped into 1 inch chunks

2-3 zucchini – cut ½ inch thick

1 (15oz.) can of white beans

soups done !

soups done !

Optional: Any chunk of dried out parmesan cheese to add to stock or grated parmesan cheese to sprinkle over completed soup.

This will make about 10+ cups of soup so use a large stock pot that will hold about a gallon of soup.

Saute’ pancetta in oil over low heat for 3-4 minutes. 

  • Add  ingredients from onions through peppers and saute’ for 5 minutes.
  • Add wine and bay leaves. Toss together, cover and simmer for  5 minutes.
  • Add tomatoes with juices from can, paste, stock, basil and rosemary.
  • Bring to boil and simmer for 15 minutes
  • .
  • Add swiss chard, cabbage,zucchini and beans and bring to boil.
  • Simmer for 25-30 minutes until cabbage is soft and limp.
  • Taste and add as much salt as you like. 
  •  *You can substitute any salty bacon, prosciutto ends, leftover ham for this.

    ** Try to keep the proportion of tomato products and stock the same as recipe for balance but tweek it to your taste if you like.

     *** If you use whole canned tomatoes, squish them before you put them in the pot.

    I like to add dried mini- tortellini or dried mini- ravioli to the finished soup. After soup is done, bring to a boil again and add about 1-2 cups of dried pasta and boil until the pasta is al dente. Got this idea from the Silver Palate cookbook.

     

    Love life every day, stay warm and good health to you all!

     

     

     

     

     

     

      

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    It’s a brand new year with an even tighter budget. Eeek! Since Larry and I are not into living a life of deprivation we decided to explore what we absolutely had to have besides our basic needs. Eating, cooking and entertaining were our top priorities. It’s not unusual for us to entertain friends over a home cooked meal at least three-four times a month. So how were we going to accomplish this within our budget? We decided to have two ways of entertaining. One would be to have simple suppers with a one dish entree. No frills such as dessert or appetizer, just a spontaneous invite to join us for our normal weekday meal.

    We also wanted to continue having themed based dinner parties serving a complete meal of appetizer,main course,side dish and dessert. We decided to set a budget of $20 for each dinner. How would we be able to accomplish this? Here’s what we came up with. First we would ask our guests to contribute to the meal by bringing a beverage of choice and an appetizer, salad or dessert. We would cook the main dish and whatever else needed. In addition we would limit the number of guests to a maximum of four.

    It would be a win-win situation for all of us. Our guest would be spending less than they would in a restaurant and they would also have the opportunity to learn how to make a new dish with the recipes I provided.

    I decided upon a Cuban menu this month since a bunch of us were going to a local club to learn a new (for us) kind of Cuban dance called Son. Here’s what we made.

    Cuban dinner for Six

    Appetizer:  Yucca fritas ( fried yucca) with mojo criolla sauce

    Yucca fritas
    2 large yucca roots
    1/4 cup cooking oil
    salt
    ——————————————————————————-
    Cut yucca into 4 inch lengths. Leave peels on yucca. Steam them until knife cuts into them and they are soft ( not mushy) like potatoes. Cool and strip peels off. Cut into french fry size wedges. Fry in hot oil until brown on all sides and sprinkle with salt.

    Mojo Criolla sauce

    6-7 cloves garlic- crushed
    1 1/4 tsp. salt
    1/2 tsp. black pepper
    1 tsp. cumin powder
    1 Tablsp. white vinegar
    1/2 cup fresh orange juice
    1/4 cup fresh lime juice
    1/2 cup olive oil
    1/4 cup chopped cilantro
    ————————————————————————————–
    Crush and pulverize garlic cloves with salt and pepper. Add cumin powder. Combine garlic mixture, vinegar, orange,lime juice and olive oil in blender and blend until frothy. Add chopped cilantro and adjust with more salt as needed.

    Salad: Orange avocado salad with lime cumin vinaigrette


    Orange avocado salad with lime cumin vinaigrette

    3 cups mixed salad greens
    1-avocado sliced or chunked
    3 oranges- peels cut off and cut into 1 inch chunks
    1/4-1/2 cup sliced red onions

    Toss ingredients above gently with vinaigrette.

    Lime cumin vinaigrette * from Deborah Madison- Vegetarian cooking for Everyone

    1 garlic clove
    salt
    grated rind of 2 limes
    3 Tablsp. lime juice
    2 Tablsp.chopped shallots
    1/2 jalapeno chili- seeded and minced
    1/2 tsp.cumin seeds
    1/2 tsp. coriander seeds
    1/4 tsp. dry mustard
    1/3 cup olive oil
    2 Tablsp. chopped cilantro
    ———————————————————————————–
    Mash and pulverize garlic with salt. Combine with lime rind,juice, shallots and chili.
    Toast cumin and coriander seeds until fragrant. Cool and then grind into a fine powder. Add to lime mixture. Whisk in mustard and oil. Taste and adjust with more salt if needed. Let rest for 15 minutes and add cilantro just serving.

    Entree:  Arroz con pollo ( rice with chicken)


    Arroz con Pollo

    4 chicken thighs
    4 chicken breasts
    3 cloves garlic- minced
    1 1/2 tsp. salt
    1 tsp. black pepper
    1 tsp.dried oregano
    1 tsp. cumin powder
    1 tsp. coriander powder
    2 Tablsp. red wine vinegar
    _____________________________________________________________________________

    2 Tablsp. olive oil
    2 cups onion- chopped
    4 cloves garlic- minced
    1 red bell pepper- -sliced
    3-4 ripe Roma tomatoes- chopped
    12 oz. of beer
    2 1/2 cups chicken stock
    2 cups short grain white rice
    3/4 cup of fresh or frozen peas
    ————————————————————————————–
    Cut each chicken breast into 2 half pieces. Marinate the chicken breasts and thighs with the garlic, salt, pepper, oregano,cumin,coriander and red wine vinegar for 6-24 hours. Refrigerate.

    In a large oven proof pan, fry chicken pieces over medium high heat in oil until browned on all sides. They should not be cooked through. Set aside chicken when browned and saute the onion and garlic with the oil from fried chicken. Saute onions until soft and yellow. Add bell pepper slices and cook for 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook at medium flame until the tomatoes are soft and juices have been released. Add beer and chicken stock and bring to a boil. Add rice and mix thoroughly. Turn off heat and place chicken pieces decoratively over rice. Place a foil over the pan and bake in oven at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Take foil off and sprinkle peas over rice and chicken and bake for 10 minutes longer.
    Rice will be soft and almost soupy. I like the rice to be soft and almost risotto like in texture. If you want it to be drier, bake it a bit longer uncovered.

    Dessert:  Fresh pineapple and mango sorbet


    Fresh pineapple slices with mango sorbet and guava halves*

    Cut pineapple into small wedges and serve with scoops of store bought mango sorbet.
    *If you are able to find fresh guava, include on plate.

    Total cost for arroz con pollo and fried yucca with mojo sauce and ingredients: $18
    It really amounted to less since I bought two whole chickens and was able to use the drumsticks and wings for another meal.

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    There’s a renaissance of creativity erupting in this country. Out of necessity people are making all sorts of wonderful things from found items. In my quest to “Waste Not, Want Not” I’ve been making my ever changing mac n’cheese. I love the alchemy that takes place when I use leftover cheeses from my fridge to make this dish. Homely scraps, wedges and lumps of different cheeses go into a white sauce that’s mixed with penne macaroni and then covered with parmesan cheese. Baked until golden brown,the interior of this dish emerges loaded with toothsome pieces of pasta bathed in a complex sauce of many cheeses. It’s magical how all the flavors deliciously merge and meld into each other.  

    At different times I’ve used bits of brie, fontina, gorgonzola, manchego, cheddar, provolone, gruyere, parmesan, and asiago.It always turns out delicious. If I have some leftover bits of ham or prosciutto I’ll add them as well. Sometimes a mound of caramelized onions,handful of spinach or sun dried tomatoes get thrown in.The fun part of this dish is using whatever that’s available and experiencing something new each time. The only things I don’t change are the proportions for the white sauce and cheese. Using the Silver Palate recipe for Macaroni with Quattro Formaggi as a template I’ve been able to create my own take on their recipe by adding dijon mustard and different types of cheeses and ingredients. My latest creation had mostly provolone,some gorgonzola, asiago, and fontina cheese. I also threw in some strips of fried prosciutto, sun dried tomatoes and a handful of spinach leaves. I topped it with a mixture of parmesan and asiago cheese.Try this recipe and then try putting in your own combination of cheeses and ingredients to make your own Magical Mystical Mac N’Cheese. 

    Magical Mystical Mac N’Cheese

    1 lb. penne marcaroni
    5 Tablsp. butter
    1/4 cup flour
    2 1/2 cups milk
    1 tsp. nutmeg
    1 Tablespoon dijon mustard
    1 3/4 cups of assorted cheeeses ( provolone, gorgonzola,fontina, mozzarella, asiago)
    1/2 cup fried strips of prosciutto or ham
    1/2 cup strips of sun dried tomatoes
    handful of spinach leaves
    1 tsp. red pepper flakes
    1/2 tsp. black pepper
    1 tsp. of salt
    1/2 cup of parmesan and/or asiago cheeses

    Boil penne until al dente. Drain and set aside.
    In an oven proof pan or casserole dish make a white sauce by melting butter over medium heat until bubbling. Whisk in flour and continue to whisk for 1-2 minutes. Add milk and whisk over medium heat until it gets to a consistency of cream. Add nutmeg, dijon mustard,black and red pepper flakes. Add chopped up cheeses and continue to whisk until all is melted. Add prosciutto,sun dried tomatoes and spinach.Taste and adjust with salt as needed. Mix in penne and cover with parmesan/asiago cheeses. Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees 

     

      

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    A whole lotta mushrooms !Soup's on !A fully loaded bowl of soup Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It’s a holiday that focuses on counting our blessings. I’m blessed with having abundance in my life. I have a large loving family consisting of a wonderful husband,a son,daughter,
    grandson,mother,five siblings with their children and grandchildren. Thanksgiving dinner with my family usually means having 30-35 family members taking up every conceivable seating space in the house. Everyone contributes to this meal and there’s always enough leftovers to take home. It’s a heart-filling sight to experience and I revel in this pleasure.

    Riding on this high and wanting to share the abundance of this dinner with my friends, I started a tradition years ago. I asked folks to bring over leftovers from their Thanksgiving dinner to share with each other. Over the years it morphed into a Day After Thanksgiving hike and supper.

    Every year we start with a leisurely walk to work off all the yummy food eaten the night before. Since we’re blessed with an abundance of forests, wetlands and seashore to choose from, it’s a different place each year. There’s lots of time to talk, laugh,bird watch and take in nature. Cheese, bread, sandwiches or whatever anyone wants to bring is shared on the trail.

    Afterwards we gather at my home for a supper consisting of whatever folks have brought and a turkey mushroom barley soup I’ve made from the leftover turkey carcass,stock, meat scraps and veggies. Someone starts up a fire while others set out the food that’s shown up. When the rich earthy aroma of the soup floods the kitchen I call out,”Soups on”. We gather together and someone makes a toast to the soup and our shared gratitude for the abundance in our lives. Life is good.

    Turkey mushroom barley soup

    Enriched turkey broth

    1 turkey carcass
    leftover turkey stock or chicken stock to cover carcass
    2 bay leaves
    1 medium onion-quartered
    2 carrots-cut into chunks
    2 stalks of celery- cut into rough chunks
    1 medium parsnip- cut into chunks
    ——————————————–
    2 Tablsp. butter
    1 medium onion-diced
    3 carrots- cut into 1/2 inch rounds
    2 stalks celery- cut into 1/2 inch pieces
    3 parsnips- cut into 1/2 inch rounds
    3/4 pound of cremini mushrooms- 1/2 inch pieces
    1 tsp. black pepper
    1 tsp. dried or fresh thyme
    1 cup barley*
    1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
    1 cup + leftover turkey meat
    Optional: 2-3 Tablsp.sherry
    ———————————————————————————————————————–
    1. Strip meat from turkey carcass. Cut into 1 inch pieces and
    set aside.
    2. Put carcass in large stock pot and cover with broth to almost
    cover turkey. Add bay leaves with chunked carrots,celery and
    parsnip. Wash and break stems off mushrooms and add to pot.
    Save the caps for later.
    3. Cover pot and bring to a boil. Simmer for 30 minutes.
    4. Strain turkey and vegetables and discard. Save the broth for soup.
    5. Cut mushroom caps into chunks, dice remaining onion, carrots,
    celery stalks and parsnip. Saute vegetables in butter until soft.
    Add thyme and black pepper.
    6. Add the turkey broth and bring to boil. Simmer for 25 minutes.
    7. Turn heat up to a gentle boil and slowly add barley. Stir and
    simmer soup for 30-40 minutes until the barley is soft. Add
    parsley and turkey meat. Taste and adjust with salt and more
    pepper as needed.
    8. Add sherry to taste and simmer for 5 minutes.

    * You can increase barley to 1 1/2 cups if you want the soup to be
    dense with barley.

    Yield: Approximately 30-(2 cup)servings

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    Fall is officially here. The days are shorter with less sunlight but my tomatoes are still hanging on. In fact the Sun Gold and Sweet 100 cherry tomatoes are STILL going strong and sweet. Of the four types of tomatoes I planted this year, only one type beside the cherry tomatoes produced really sweet tasty fruit. Those were my Marzanos which are still producing one to two-inch flavorful babies. The Romas were a disappointment. They were mild and somewhat mushy in texture.

    The plant itself is mondo healthy with massive bushy leaves surrounding prodigious amounts of fruit. I keep finding clusters of beautiful red ripe tomatoes amidst these leaves. I can’t stop hunting and picking them. I feel like a kid on an Easter egg hunt. So what can I do with these less than tasty beauties? I hate to waste what Mother Nature offers me plus I like getting boosts of lycopenes from the tomatoes into my body. I’m into doing everything possible to eat foods that will boost my immune system.

    So here’s a couple of remedies for helping bland tomatoes taste better. Like most of my non-baking recipes, measurements are somewhat flexible. If you add more tomatoes and less chicken stock you have a denser soup. Since these Romas were not very sweet I added a few ingredients to boost and adjust flavors. A sprinkling of sugar and a handful of squishy overripe cherry tomatoes helped sweeten the tomatoes to be roasted. The end result was a concentrated rich spread which I served with focaccia bread. I added a couple of thinly sliced carrots to mellow out the acidity in the soup. I also used more tomatoes than stock which resulted in a dense and rich soup punctuated with bites of sweet corn, herby flecks of cilantro and a bright splash of lime juice. It was a mighty nice lunch.

    Roasted tomatoes

    4 cups tomatoes- cut in half
    A light sprinkle of kosher salt -approx. 1/2 to 1 tsp.
    Sugar- about 1 tsp for about 4 cups
    3-5 sliced garlic
    2-3 Tablsp. olive oil
    several sprigs of fresh oregano or basil

    Toss and roast in large pan at 300 degrees for 4 hours or until there is no more liquid in pan. Can be used for a light pasta sauce with onions and pancetta, in soups, topping for crostini or spread between foccacia with roasted veggies( eggplant, zucchini /goat cheese, pesto.

    MexiCali Rose Tomato soup

    1 chopped onion
    4-5 smashed chopped garlic
    2-3 Tablsp. olive oil
    1 heaping tsp. cumin powder
    1 heaping tsp. coriander powder
    1 Tablsp. smoked or regular paprika
    1 tsp.oregano leaves
    4-6 cups of roughly cut up fresh tomatoes
    1 tsp.chopped jalapeno pepper ( take out seeds and connective membrane)
    2 large carrots thinly sliced
    3-4 cups chicken stock
    1 cup diced potatoes
    1 cup corn- fresh or frozen
    Handful of chopped cilantro stems
    fresh lime wedges

    Saute onions and garlic in oil till soft. Add cumin, coriander, paprika and oregano and saute over medium heat for 1-2 minutes till aromatic. Add tomatoes and jalapeno pepper. Cook at medium heat till soft. Add carrots,potatoes and chicken stock. Bring to boil, simmer uncovered for 45 minutes. Add cilantro and corn. Simmer for 5-10 minutes longer. Add salt to taste. Serve with wedges of fresh lime.

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    I’m Back !!! I’ve officially retired from teaching in the classroom. After twenty years teaching kids with learning needs it was time to strike out and spend more time on following my other bliss, writing, cooking, creating new recipes. So many projects, so little time and as I entered my 65th year of life I wanted to make sure I got a couple of these projects done before……… So first on the list was to make a list, prioritize and set goals. Got my private practice as a Learning specialist started. Next was to self publish my book “Tasting Life” a collection of food stories, poems and recipes.** Shameless promoting but that’s what old ladies can get away with these days. Got that done. Now finally, I have the time to work on completing my cookbook and attending to my neglected blog.

    In preparation for retirement Larry and I talked about what I wanted to gain from this decision. One major thing was to get healthier, lose weight, exercise more and have the time to complete my writing projects. As my income would be greatly reduced, we planned how we could live on a smaller budget yet still continue to cook and eat delicious meals as well as entertain our friends. We both agreed that we didn’t want to feel deprived when it came to eating. So we started cooking differently and found that we were able save money, eat more healthfully and continue to enjoy delicious meals. I found to my delight that not only was I losing weight but also I was wasting less food in the process. So here’s one thing I’ve learned so far.

    Budget and health tip number one. Eat less meat. As a child in a Chinese household, meat was never the main item on the table but was used to accompany vegetables in stir fries. If we did have a roasted chicken, pork or beef we only ate a few pieces alongside the variety of other dishes with vegetables on the table. Back then I was much slimmer and healthier. Over the years after leaving my mother’s kitchen I ate more meat, less vegetables and subsequently gained more weight. Now I’m back to cooking in the style of my mother and I’m finally losing weight and feeling way healthier. Last week I bought a whole roasted chicken from Costco for $4.99. I used just one breast from this roast and made this Southeast Asian chopped salad. Now I’ve got enough leftover meat and bones to make a chicken pot pie for four people, chicken hash for two and enough for curried chicken salad for both of us for lunch. Hmmm, maybe I’ll make some empanadas instead……..

    South East Asian chopped chicken salad- 2 large servings

    3 cups- sliced romaine lettuce ( 1 inch strips)
    handful of arugula
    1/2 cup – red onion – sliced thinly
    1- medium carrot- cut into julienne slices
    3/4 cup cubed cucumbers
    1 1/2-2 cups fresh mango*- cut up into 1 inch cubes
    1/4 cup – chopped cilantro
    1/2 tsp.- black pepper
    3 Tablespoons FRESH lime juice
    2 Tablespoons soy sauce
    2 Tablespoons fish sauce
    1 cup-roasted chicken- cubed into 1 inch pieces
    1/4 cup chopped or crushed roasted (unsalted) peanuts
    —————————————————————————————————————–

    1. In a large salad bowl, toss lettuce,arugula, onion, carrots and cucumbers together.
    2. Peel mango with vegetable peeler. Cut sides and then cube. Cut off any extra meat off seed and use as well.
    2. Add the cut up mango pieces with cilantro to salad .
    3. Sprinkle lime juice and black pepper over the mango pieces.
    3. Sprinkle soy sauce, fish sauce over mango, salad and toss together.
    4. Add chicken, peanuts and toss again.

    * I prefer to use the Hayden or Tommy Atkins mangoes. They are firmer than the Manilla type of mangoes and have more meat.
    ** “Tasting Life” will be available through Amazon in late September.

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    Chicken pot pie

    I’ve been staying at my daughter Stacey’s house this summer so that I can babysit my grandson. Being a teacher has a wonderful perk. It’s called summer vacation ! It’s been grand. I enjoy making dinner for her and her husband and often times my husband Larry joins us.

    It was the end of the month and I was watching my pennies so I could stay on budget until my next paycheck arrived. What could I make that would feed the four of us for the least amount of money? I asked Marcus, her husband, if he had ever eaten a homemade chicken pot pie. His answer was “No” but then he started telling me about eating freshly baked frozen meat pies from the market. His beautiful big eyes rolled with pleasure describing this experience. I’ve witnessed numerous reactions like his at the mere mention of eating these delectable pies. There is this incredible anticipation waiting for it to come out of the oven and then a feeling of awe when breaking into that hot flaky crust and seeing the steam rise from the chicken with all that yummy gravy. Even though those pies were store bought and frozen and the filling was scant, it was the gravy with those bits of meat, carrots and peas housed in hot crust that made us swoon. In our house we served each pie with a scoop of rice so we could capture every drop of that savory gravy.

    Over the years I’ve made my own pie with freshly cut up chicken. However lately, I’ve been using the meat from an already roasted store bought chicken. It’s been saving me time AND money. Starting with one roasted chicken weighing about 5 pounds I’ve found that I can make a number of dishes that serve 8-12 people using different parts of the bird. Individual sized frozen pies cost about $2.50 apiece.
    I can make two 9 inch deep dish chicken potpies that will serve 6-8 generously with enough breast meat left over to make curried chicken salad for 3-4 sandwiches for the cost of one bird. My local Costco store sells freshly roasted chicken for $4.99 apiece. Now THAT’S a bargain. My pies also have lots more meat and veggies than the store bought ones. So,not only was I making a better pie but I was also saving a substantial amount of money.

    In preparation for making my pie I walked down to my local produce stand to pick up the vegetables needed for it. Luckily I found a bag of cremini mushrooms on sale for just $1 a bag. I looked through the bag to make sure they were not slimy. They were marked down because the caps were open. Otherwise they looked fresh and without any brown spots. Since I was planning to use them that night they would be fine. There are bargains to be found on day old shelves at good produce stands as long as you are selective in your choice and use whatever you buy within a few days.

    I typically make my own pie crust but the local market had ready made piecrust on sale so I bought them instead. Each box had two pie shells so I bought two boxes. I knew that even if I had bought fresh mushrooms and made my own crust I would still be within budget but I’ve been taking advantage of every opportunity to save money and when a bargain stares me in my face, why ignore it ?

    Back home I stripped the chicken down to its bone. The dark meat from the thighs, drumsticks and back were set aside for the pie. The breast meat would be used for chicken salad and the bones to make a stock for the gravy. I made a pot of my “Pumped up chicken stock”* and set it over the stove to boil and simmer for 30 minutes while I prepped the vegetables. I also saved the jelled chicken juices that were at the bottom of the container that the chicken was in. I would use that to enhance the gravy.

    I sauteed mushrooms with thyme and garlic and set them aside. Then I sauteed onions, carrots and celery and set them aside as well. In a large stock pot I made a roux with butter and flour, making sure that the flour was cooked thoroughly and added the drained chicken stock. After whisking it till it had bubbled and simmered into a rich gravy I added the vegetables and simmered them together for a few more minutes. Checking to see if the texture of the sauce was about as thick as heavy cream I added the chicken pieces and simmered everything for 2 minutes. I wanted to keep the pieces as whole as possible so I didn’t cook it for long. I tasted a spoonful to see if it needed more salt or pepper. Satisfied with the taste and texture I added the peas without cooking it any further and put the filling aside to cool off while I prepared the pie crust.

    Very gently I unrolled each pie crust and placed it on a lightly floured surface. Though not necessary, I like to roll out store bought dough a little bit so that I make sure each piece will hang at least 1 inch over the edge of the pan. With the bottom crust for the pies laid out I ladled the COOLED filling into each pie, making sure the proportions were evenly distributed. I laid the top crust over the filling so that the top edge met the bottom edge and crimped them together. I like to roll the sealed edges a bit forward to make a kind of roped effect but one could also use a fork and press the edges together. That done, I made three V shaped vent holes in the center of each pie to let the steam out and brushed the tops with an egg wash.

    The pies were placed on preheated cookie sheets. My brother Mervyn, who once owned a wonderful bakery in San Francisco, taught me that cool technique. This practically insures a crisp bottom crust unless you put in hot filling on a raw dough which I once did. So make sure your filling is cooled off before you ladle it into the pie. Then into the oven the pies went for 30-35 minutes and VOILA ! Two crusty steaming and most aromatic homemade chicken potpies, gravy bubbling through the top were now ready to be devoured !

    Hearing the oohing and aahing sounds while eating those pies I felt a warm satisfaction of having made a delicious meal while saving money.

    Here is a less long winded recipe for Chicken potpie. Happy eating and saving money!

    Chicken Pot Pie makes two 9-inch pies

    1 Tablespoon butter
    2 ½ cups sliced mushrooms- cremini or button
    ½ tsp. thyme
    ½ tsp. black pepper
    2 Tablespoons butter
    1-cup onion chopped
    ½ cup celery cut into ½ inch pieces
    2 carrots cut into ½ inch pieces
    ¼ cup butter
    6 Tablespoons Flour
    3 cups Pumped up chicken broth*
    Jelled chicken juices-optional**
    2 ½ cups cooked chicken cut into 2 inch pieces
    ½ cup fresh or defrosted frozen peas

    4 uncooked piecrusts

    Directions: Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

    1. Sauté mushrooms in butter until soft and juices are released.
    2. Add thyme and black pepper. Sauté for 1 minute longer. Set aside.
    3. Sauté onions and cook until soft and yellow. Add carrots and celery and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Set aside.
    4. Melt butter and add flour to make a roux.
    5. Over medium high heat, whisk the flour and fat together until it is bubbly.
    6. Add the chicken stock and continue whisking until the mixture is smooth and thickened to a heavy cream consistency.
    Add jelled chicken juices. Let this gravy simmer for 3-4 minutes.
    7. Lower heat and add vegetables except for peas and simmer for 2-3 minutes.
    8. Add the cooked chicken pieces. Simmer for JUST 2 minutes. Do not overcook.
    9. Add peas, taste and adjust with salt and pepper as needed. Set aside and COOL THOROUGHLY before putting in piecrust.
    10. Ladle equal amounts of filling into prepared pie shells. Place the top crust over the filling.
    11. Seal edges together and crimp together with fingers or fork tines.
    12. Cut 3 V shaped vent holes in center of each pie crust and brush with egg wash made from one scrambled raw egg and 2
    Tablespoons water.
    13. Bake for 25-30 minutes at 425 degrees or until top is browned.

    Serve with rice to sop up all the gravy.

    *See prior blog posting for recipe- regular chicken broth can be used.
    ** juices from roasted chicken that have collected at bottom of container or
    roasting pan.

    chicken pot pie

    chicken pot pie

    Pie with a scoop of rice-Yum!

    Pie with a scoop of rice-Yum!

    !

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