Paula in a Pinch

Who doesn’t love Paula Deen? It’s her contagious passion for food, her bright positive attitude, her warm, southern hospitality, and oohhh that fabulous accent! Makes me wanna sit on my porch and drink sweet tea. I love her for another reason, too. She’s my go-to lady when I’m in a pinch and need to cook up something tasty, impressive, and not too complicated. I know I can count on a Paula Deen recipe to make an impression when the guests are coming, or the pot-luck party is approaching, or I just want that extra enthusiastic kiss from my husband at dinner time as he goes back to the kitchen for seconds…and even thirds!

What’s Paula’s secret to a delicious recipe, anyway? I’m pretty sure it’s butter. I had her Food Network show on in the background the other day, and I heard her say in her rich southern accent, “Now, I’m not gonna lie folks. This recipe has a lot of butter, a lot of calories, and it’s real fattenin'” And she was only making hot chocolate. Another day, I heard her say as she was finishing a beef stew recipe, “Alright, well this is just about done…but I’m just gonna put this stick of butter in…just cause I saw it sittin’ over there on the counter!” Yikes. But hey, that’s why Paula is my go-to lady for rich, savory, delicious, wow-the-crowd recipes, not recipes for the health-conscious. (That’s for another blog post.)

So, for weeks, my husband kept mentioning to me that he was craving “a nice homemade chicken pot pie”. Being the good wife that I am (insert “sarc mark“) I completely avoided even acknowledging that I heard him. This was to protect him from the immense disappointment that would inevitably result if I were to actually make chicken pot pie. You see, I had never made a chicken pot pie in my life that didn’t come pre-cooked, pre-packaged, and microwave ready. And, the selfish truth of the matter is, I personally have an irrational aversion to any food that even contains the word “pie”. (I’m that person that takes a piece of pie, and leaves a plate with an empty pie-shell on it.) But when the request started coming in daily, I knew I had to knuckle under and find a good chicken pot pie recipe. So, I turned to Paula. Thank goodness, once again, for Paula! I managed to make my hubby a delicious, flavorful, homestyle, FAST and EASY pot pie that even I enjoyed. There were enough for leftovers the next day (always a money-saving bonus!) …And I got that enthusiastic, “this was delicious”, extra kiss from my husband!

Here’s the recipe:

Paula Deen’s Easy Chicken Pot Pie
Makes 6 individual portions (in 3 x 5 in. disposable foil loaf pans)
Prep time: Depends on how fast you can chop vegetables. Or, use the frozen kind and save time.
Cook time: 30-45 minutes

What you need:
6 aluminum foil disposable baking pans, size 3×5. (in the kitchen supplies aisle in Walmart)
2 cups chopped cooked chicken
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
2 stalks celery, sliced
1 small onion, chopped (I like to use a white onion)
2 or 3 red skin potatoes, skin on, chopped to bite size
2 cans cream of chicken soup 
1 can chicken broth
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup biscuit mix
1 cup milk (increase to 2 cups biscuit mix and 2 cups milk for a thicker topping) 
3 tbs butter plus extra melted butter

1. Boil potatoes to soften, about 6 minutes. Drain and set aside. While potatoes are boiling, chop veggies.
2. Cook carrots, celery, and onions in 3 tablespoons butter in a skillet over medium heat until soft, about 5-7 minutes.
3. Add potatoes
4. Mix in the chicken, salt, and pepper, stirring lightly to not break up veggies.
5. In a separate bowl, mix broth and soup, then pour over chicken and veggies mixture, mixing lightly.
6. Spoon in to the loaf pans equally.
7. Stir together the biscuit mix and milk and spoon equally over each loaf pan on top of chicken mixture.
8. Drizzle some melted butter over each one.
9. Place loaf pans on cookie sheet to catch drippings and bake at 350 until topping is golden brown, about 30-45 minutes. (In my oven, it was done after about 30 minutes, so keep an eye on it) Allow to cool a bit before digging in. 

(I know this picture makes it look completely unappetizing. I was a dummy and forgot to take a picture when the pot pies first came out of the oven. So this is a picture of the leftovers I microwaved the next day. It may not be pretty, but it still tasted delicious!)

Money Saving Tips:

I am all about saving money. As a stay-at-home mom, I consider it my job to help make money by saving it. Here are some tips to save money and get the most out of this meal.

  • Buy the generic brand of soup. There will be no taste or quality difference with this recipe. The difference is in the plainer packaging.
  • If you have unused or leftover bags of frozen vegetables in the freezer, use those instead of buying the fresh vegetables. Any vegetables will do, it doesn’t have to be carrots and celery. 
  • Make it stretch: A few days before making this recipe, I bought one whole, 4-5 lb chicken (already cut up by the butcher, with the skin left on and giblets included) for $7.50, plus 3 potatoes, a small bag of fresh celery, a small bag of fresh carrotts, and 2 white onions, with the intention of stretching this chicken for a week’s worth of meals. First, I made my homemade chicken soup, which is really my mom’s recipe, which is really probably her mom’s recipe. I don’t wanna toot my own horn, but it’s the best chicken soup there is. Even people who are indifferent to soup (ie, my husband) can’t stop themselves from sighing “mmmmmm” at the first spoonful. So, the soup made more than enough for two dinners for two people, and it left me with about 5 cups of cooked, chopped up chicken. I set aside 2 cups for the pot pies, 2 cups for chicken salad, and I put 1 cup back in the soup broth. The chicken pot pies lasted another two days, and so did the chicken salad (just mix chicken with one chopped up tart apple, plus mayo, lemon juice, honey, nuts, celery, onion, salt & pepper, and whatever else you want in there, to taste). This is just one example. You could also roast a whole chicken, and set aside 2 cups for the pot pie, which would be delicious with that roasted chicken flavor. Even better, roast a small to medium turkey, and you’ll have more leftovers than you’ll know what to do with, AND leftover turkey bones can be boiled for a flavorful and nutritious soup!
  • Make the pot pie in a casserole pan instead of buying the individual loaf pans. Just dollop the biscuit mixture evenly around the pan on top of the chicken mixture. Keep an eye on it as it cooks, as cooking time may be different.  

“As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him” (from Psalm 103, a wonderful, encouraging psalm)


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