Turkey Pot Pie – Warm, Cozy, Delicious!

As the nights get colder, and very cold in some parts of the country, who doesn’t love a warm, satisfying, and delicious pot pie to help you settle into the night?  This particular pot pie was made with leftover turkey and green beans from Christmas dinner, and the gravy was made with some of the leftover turkey stock I had made to prepare the gravy.  (Shredded chicken and regular chicken broth will work just fine!)  In addition to that, I added a half bag of frozen vegetables and some cubed potatoes.  Could not have been easier!

Picture of freshly baked turkey pot pie

Ready to Eat!

Picture of unbaked turkey pot pie

Ready to bake!

Picture of freshly baked turkey pot pie

To make the gravy, use equal parts butter and flour.  (I used 4 TBSP butter/flour with about 4 cups warmed stock.)  Start by melting the butter in a large sauce pan over medium heat.  Once melted, whisk the flour into the butter and keep whisking for a minute or two to cook out the flour taste.  Slowly add in the stock, whisking constantly until fully combined.  Let “gravy” simmer for a few minutes, adding salt/pepper to taste.  (You might want to add a little extra salt/pepper at this point as the frozen vegetables will need the flavor.)  Once the gravy is bubbling and thickened a bit, add in all the rest of the ingredients:  2 cups chopped turkey or chicken meat, 1.5 cup frozen vegetables, 1 cup diced potatoes (frozen hash brown size potatoes work here, too,) and any other leftover veggies you want to add in.  I also had some leftover green beans that I chopped and added.

For the crust and assembly, it’s up to you.  You can put the pot pie mixture into a buttered baking dish and top with your homemade or favorite brand of biscuit dough, or you can go with pie crust – either homemade or your favorite from the store.  If using pie crust, you can use both bottom and top crusts.  If using biscuit mixture, just lay on top of the pot pie mixture.  Before baking, I like to brush dough with an egg wash (1 egg beat with a tablespoon of water) and sprinkle with coarse salt.  I use Maldon sea salt.  Bake at 400-425 F for about 30-40 minutes until brown and beautiful!  Let rest for at least 15 minutes, dig in and enjoy!  Any questions, just ask.  Buon appetito!



Chicken Stew over Biscuits

Ever have that leftover one or two pieces of chicken that you’re less than excited about eating again – but you don’t want to toss it out?  Here’s an idea.  Turn that leftover chicken into a hearty chicken stew and serve it over fresh-made biscuits.  Perfect for a fall or winter night.

Chicken Stew

Heat about 3 tablespoons of butter in an oven-proof skillet (or wrap the plastic/wood handle with aluminum foil so it can be put into the oven).  Add in half a chopped onion or a shallot and cook until translucent (5-7 minutes).  Sprinkle 3 tablespoons of flour into the onion mix and stir around for about a minute.  This will create a ‘roux’ (the consistency will be like paste).  That’s the base for the delicious gravy.  Then, slowly (bit by bit) stir in about 2 cans (almost a quart) of chicken stock.  Stir the stock into the roux – and voila – you’ve got chicken gravy!  Season with salt and pepper.  From there, add in the cut up chicken pieces and anything else you have on hand along the line of veggies.  Maybe a cut up carrot or two (chopped and steamed in the microwave for a minute or two)?  A handful of frozen peas and/or corn?  A handful of mushrooms?  I had some leftover mashed potatoes that I put atop the chicken and gravy before baking.  Once all the goodness is in the mix, pop the pan in the oven at 400F for about 15-20 minutes until it’s bubbly-ready and the flavors have all had a chance to come together.

My recipe for homemade biscuits could not be easier.  I’d make these before putting together the chicken and gravy, because when that’s ready – you’ll want to eat!  Start with 2 cups flour in a bowl.  Add in 7 tablespoons of shortening (crisco or butter), 3 teaspoons baking powder, and 1 teaspoon salt.  Using a fork or a pastry knife, mix together until you get a crumb-like consistency.  Stir in 2/3 cup milk until dough forms.  Turn out onto a flat surface, pat down or roll to about 3/4-inch thickness and cut out biscuits.  If you don’t have a biscuit cutter, use the top of a drinking glass dipped in flour.  Put on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake at 425F for about 15 minutes – until light golden brown. Pour chicken and gravy over biscuits and enjoy! This dish won’t disappoint!

Basil and Goat Cheese Chicken

Tonight’s dinner could not be easier – or tastier!  It makes a quick weeknight meal or the centerpiece for a weekend dinner party!  It’s Basil and Goat Cheese Chicken.  Use bone-in/skin-on chicken breasts, goat cheese, and a few basil leaves (or some of your  homemade pesto (see previous post).  Slice the goat cheese in 1/4-inch rounds and place a couple under the skin of each chicken breast.  Place a basil leaf or two on top of the cheese, but under the skin.  Place chicken breasts on a foil lined baking sheet, rub each with olive oil, sprinkle with kosher salt and pepper – then roast at 375F for about 40 minutes until golden brown.  (Internal temperature should be 160F.)  The potatoes are red-roasted, and can be roasted at the same time, cup up and tossed with olive oil, salt, and pepper.  This recipe is all Ina.  I saw her make it on one of her shows (as a lunch treat for herself) quite a long time ago, and it’s been a go-to favorite of mine ever since!  You won’t be disappointed!

Basil and Goat Cheese Chicken

Everything Old is New Again!

Too many holiday leftovers?  Have you sworn you’ve eaten them for the last time?  Get creative and turn them into something new – with half the work already done for you!  Here are a couple of tasty treats I made after a 3-day food fest over Christmas weekend!

Chicken Pot Pie made with leftover chicken – 3 ways, a half bag of leftover fresh spinach leaves, a big bunch of carrots, some roasted potatoes, and a few other veggies (both cooked and uncooked) that rounded out the list of repurposed leftovers!

Picture of Chicken Pot Pie

Chicken Pot Pie

I also had an extra pound (ball) of dough from a couple of pizza rolls I made over the Christmas weekend, so I decided to make a pizza with whatever I could find in the refrigerator.  I make my own pizzas at home all the time, but this was a first with only leftover ingredients I could find in the refrigerator.  I knew I had a little leftover red sauce and some mozzarella and parmesan cheeses on hand, but I wasn’t sure what else.  I served some delicious hard salami earlier in the week, so whatever I had left of that went on the pizza.  After a little more searching, I came across a container of spinach artichoke dip that I prepared a few nights earlier – and that became the perfect (last) topping before popping it in the oven.

Picture of fresh baked pizza

‘Anything Goes’ Pizza

I hope you all enjoyed this holiday season in whatever way you celebrate – and I hope it was filled with good food and fun!  Here’s to a delicious 2017!

Buon Appetito!

8 Home-Cooked Meals for under $20?? No Problem – I’ve got you covered!

As I’ve shared many times before, I spend a few hours in the kitchen every weekend and we’ve got fresh and delicious home-cooked meals throughout the week ahead – and beyond!  Today’s adventure in the kitchen (and this blog post) isn’t about a new recipe I’ve been waiting to try, but all about my regular routine of ensuring I can always answer the question, “What’s for Dinner?” (and lunch, too, for that matter!)

So what does 8 meals for under $20 look like?

Chicken Salad Roasted Chicken goat-cheese-basil-chicken





I reserved 4 of the chicken breasts to prepare the Goat Cheese-Basil Chicken that will go in the freezer for easy weeknight meals (2 [2 serving] meals) that can be on the table in 45 minutes.  Then I roasted the remaining 2 chicken breasts with all the dark meat pieces.  The roasted breast meat (and a few of the thighs) were used to make the Chicken Salad (Quart size container – Easily 4-5 servings), and the rest of the dark meat pieces to be served alongside a salad, rice or potato, for another 2 [2 serving] meals.  (I saved the back bones to make chicken stock, too!)

Although I’ve shared each of these food prep ideas before, I thought it worth another post to remind everyone that fresh and delicious home-cooked are always within reach – at a fraction of the cost of going out or stopping at the drive-thru window on your way home from work.

I’m reminded about what I wrote in the “About Joe” section of this blog nearly 7 years ago, and it’s still true today.  Here’s an excerpt from that section:

I’ll write about shopping smart and turning leftovers into delightful new creations.  I’ll share ideas on dishes that can be made ahead and placed in the freezer to ensure a hot healthy meal after a long day at work.

I believe everyone can enjoy home-cooked meals at a fraction of the cost of going out – and feel good about what you’re doing for yourself and others in the process!  Food is a great way to share a part of yourself – and it doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive.

Thanks for joining me on my adventures in the kitchen, and I hope you’re inspired to try some of the recipes and prep-ahead ideas to reduce stress, eat fresh, and enjoy great food together!

Buon appetito!





Sunday Cooking

Sunday Chicken, of Course!

Something about Sunday and Roasted Chicken – a great combination!  On (almost) any given Sunday, you’ll find a chicken roasting in the oven around dinnertime at our house.  Couldn’t be easier, and there’s usually plenty left over for lunch during the week, as it is or turned into a chicken salad.  I usually roast potatoes and carrots along with the chicken, but today I opted for the chicken on it’s own with a side of homemade pasta (Cavatelli – see earlier post), and a mixed green salad.

I like to butterfly the whole chicken and roast it skin-side up laid out flat on baking/cookie sheet.  (That way, every piece gets crispy and golden brown.)  Using a sharp pair of kitchen scissors, cut on either side of the backbone to remove.  Gently pry the chicken open and split the cartilage (from the inside) between the chicken breasts.  A small crack will allow you to pry the chicken flat.  Turn it over onto a foil lined baking sheet pan and pat the skin dry.  Rub with olive oil and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.  Bake at 425F for about an hour.  When the chicken comes out of the oven, transfer to a serving plate and cover with aluminum foil to rest for 5-10 minutes.  You’ll have no trouble carving it from there and it will soon become a family favorite!

Roast Chicken and CavatelliSunday Dinner

We enjoyed dinner tonight with our good friend, Christine.  She brought a delicious carrot cake for us to enjoy for dessert!  Delicious!

Christine’s Carrot Cake


I also made a batch of Minestra today.  It’s an Escarole and White-Bean Soup that was a staple in our house growing up, that’s rich with nutrition, and loaded with flavor.  I use a chicken or vegetable stock as the liquid for the soup, plus add flavor with small chunks of pepperoni, crisp pancetta, or ham.  You can easily skip the meat (and use the vegetable stock) for a hearty and delightful vegetarian option.

The recipe for this soup is very much your own.  Read on for the steps I take to make it, but the idea is that you’ll combine the greens, beans, stock, and any other flavor add-ons to create a wonderfully healthy soup!

Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat in a large saucepan.  If you’re using small chunks of pancetta or ham, brown it in the oil until crispy.  Then add a couple of garlic cloves (chopped) and sauté for about a minute.  (If you’re not using the pancetta or ham, start off with the garlic.)  Start adding the 2 heads of well-cleaned and large-chopped escarole (or substitute another leafy green) until it wilts and cooks down a bit.  Start adding the chicken or vegetable stock little by little to help cook down the greens.  You can add the beans at any time.  If you’re using cannellini beans from the grocery store, you’ll also want to add a little parsley, a small-diced carrot and celery stalk, and half a diced onion.  If you’re making your own beans (recipe follows), then the carrot, celery, onion and parsley are already in there.  You’ll end up using about a quart of stock, and you’ll add salt and pepper to taste.  Cook for about 30 minutes until the greens are tender and the seasonings are to your liking!  Enjoy!


White Beans

Start with a pound of white beans (Great Northern) that you’ll soak (covered) in water overnight.  Rinse the beans and combine them in a pan with enough fresh water to just about cover them.  Add in a small-diced carrot and celery stalk, have a diced onion, and a handful of chopped fresh Italian parsley, plus a sprinkling of salt and pepper (maybe ½ to 1 teaspoon of each, depending on your preference).  Cook over medium heat at a gentle boil until beans are tender.  Cool, but don’t drain the beans.  Scoop into pint-size containers and freeze until you’re ready to use them in soups or any number of other dishes, as you like!

Sunday Cooking

Today was a pretty typical Sunday with food preparations for the week – and beyond.  In about 2.5 hours, I made several dishes that will be enjoyed for lunch and dinner throughout the week – with a lot left over to freeze for use later this month.  Here’s what I made today:

Breaded Chicken Cutlet Tenders (that I “tendered” myself from 4 boneless/skinless breasts that were on sale).  I probably ended up with 25 pieces of crispy golden chicken.

Breaded Chicken Cutlets - So versatile!

Stuffed Artichokes

Sauce and Meatballs

The great thing about prepping items such as these is the chicken, artichokes, and meatballs have basically the same ingredients in them:  bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, italian parsley, kosher salt, pepper, and a little extra virgin olive oil.  As I was prepping the stuffing for the artichokes, I was also prepping the breading for the chicken and mixing the meatballs.  These versatile ingredients are absolute staples that I always have on hand.

… and finally, some fresh-made Cavatelli (Italian pasta, similar to gnocchi, but made with ricotta cheese instead of potato).  Sounds like a big undertaking, but really couldn’t be easier.  3 Ingredients to make this hearty delicious pasta:  Small container of Ricotta Cheese, 1 egg, and about a cup and a half of flour (added to the mixer bit by bit until the dough forms and is dry enough to work with).

The following pictures show the progression in making the Cavatelli.

Step 1 – Pasta Dough Ready to Roll

Step 2 – Roll it Out

Step 3 – Ready to Cook or Freeze

Step 4 – Cavatelli – Ready to Eat!

What we ended up eating for dinner was the Cavatelli and Meatballs, along with some crusty bread and a salad, and the other items will be enjoyed during the week as lunch and a variety of dinner entrees.