Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Chicken Pot Pie - using left over chicken

Home-made Chicken Pot Pie

Back when I used to do a lot of business travel, one of the few "safe" items to leave in the refrigerator was Mrs. Budd's Chicken Pot Pie.  It was something my husband could easily prepare and something the kids would eat because they knew it hadn't yet expired.  I'd heard too many horror stories upon returning home about a meal "Dad prepared" which "tasted funny."  It became easier over time to simply direct him to a Mrs. Budd's pie just incase I hadn't had time to sweep the refrigerator for expired items.

Store bought Chicken Pot Pie

Now that I don't travel as much I have the time to use up leftovers before they go bad.  Earlier I made a one crust apple pie.  Then, I roasted a chicken.  Leaving me with some left over pie dough and left over chicken.  Locating a few more ingredients from the refrigerator,  I was able to easily prepare my own chicken pot pie.  No need for Mrs. Budd.

The process is simple.  Dice up chicken, carrots, green beans (or peas, potatoes, etc.)  Whatever you have handy.  Tricky part always for me is the sauce...that is where I have to refer to a recipe.  I can never remember the liquid to thickener ratio needed in order to achieve the desired consistency.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

How to roast a chicken without a recipe

When the days get shorter and the outside temperatures get cooler it is nice to warm up the kitchen by roasting something in the oven.  A very easy main dish to prepare is Roasted Whole Chicken.  Recently,  the USDA removed the recommendation of washing poultry and meat before cooking, making the roasting of a whole chicken even easier.  No longer do you need to wrestle with the bird to rinse with water and pat dry.  Simply place the whole chicken in a pan and place in the oven....just remember to remove giblets from the cavity first!

For additional information on food safety, check out the USDA Food Safety Handbook 

Speaking of the cavity.  For best results, stuff the inside of the chicken with something flavorful.  Like lemon halves, garlic cloves, quartered onions, oranges, apples, etc.  Whatever you happen to have available.  The idea is to fill the cavity with something that will provide flavor and aroma while cooking.  I especially like the combination of lemon and garlic.  In my kitchen, there is always plenty of garlic hanging around.

To begin, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

How to make an Omelet without a recipe

Some meals can be very simple.  So simple that they really don't need a recipe.  Often, it is your technique that determines your success.  An omelet is one of those simply wonderful dishes that can take so many different forms.

Begin with a few eggs, milk, salt and pepper.  Add whatever you have handy.  Today, I have the last of the summer tomatoes, a yellow pepper and sharp cheddar cheese.  Mushrooms and onions can often be found in the kitchen...just not today.  Perhaps you have some left over chicken, ham or even pepperoni.  Throw that in too.

Begin by preparing your filling.  Chop up vegetables, cheese or anything else you plan to include.  In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs and milk, adding salt and pepper to taste.  Now, make your omelet.

Monday, October 14, 2013

How to bake an Apple Pie without a recipe

"Only a woman of a certain age would need a recipe to bake an apple pie." I read that somewhere in a novel and I immediately related to the character.  I first learned how to bake an apple pie in my high school Home Economics class, circa early 1970's.

I still have the pie crust recipe from class, which I've used so often, I know it by heart.  My teacher, Mrs. Libby, unfortunately, I do not remember.  Home Ec was one of my favorite classes and I went on to study the subject in college.  I learned some very valuable life skills during those years.   Skills, which it seems, are missing from today's kid's education.  How do kids today learn how to cook?  How do they know what is nutritious and healthy?  A recent Boston Globe article, Bring back home ec, raises those questions.  One answer is to consider reviving Home Economics classes.  If not in the school system, then it should be taught at home.  Which got me to my own kids know how to bake an apple pie?  They've watched me bake many pies....but would they know how to make one themselves?

There really isn't much to making an apple pie.  In addition to pie crust, all you need are apples, sugar, lemon juice and zest, nutmeg, and cornstarch.  I like to make pie crust, yet I will admit that it can be a hassle sometimes.  So, for a quick and easy pie I recommend using Ready-to-Bake pie crust from the market.  Honest, if you use a nice pie plate no one will ever question who made the crust.  Even easier is a one-crust pie.  A favorite with my family is Apple Pie with Oatmeal Crumb Topping.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013


How many times do you need to read something, or see something, before you finally decide to jump in and try it?  If we're talking about skydiving I think my answer is never.  But, when we're talking about a simple recipe for tomato sauce, with just 3 or 4 ingredients, the answer is apparently about 40 years or so.

Beginning in 1973, Marcella Hazen published The Classic Italian Cook Book:   The Art of Italian Cooking and the Italian Art of Eating,  followed by many more books.  Included in all of this was a very simple recipe for tomato sauce.  Ever since Bloggers have been writing about food they have been raving about Marcella's recipe.  It took her sad passing recently for me to finally try it.

As with most "simple" recipes, there is room for some tweaking with little risk.  For me, it was the addition of garlic.  For others it is a pinch more salt or perhaps a bit of sugar.  Regardless, it is a classic that everyone should have in their recipe collection.

For an adaptation of  Marcella Hazen's Tomato Sauce recipe. . .