Nooo, not that! Get your mind out of the gutter, woman! I’m talking about the other thing men think about once every five seconds: food!
Enter the following EASY recipes. These have become my go-to recipes for those days when fancy-gourmet-dinner just didn’t make it onto my to-do list. They’re super fast and easy. They’re healthy. (Healthier than that last-minute delivery pizza or Chinese take-out you were going to order, anyway.) They’re satisfying (ie: man-appetite-approved). They’re made from stuff you probably already have in your pantry. And best of all, they’re different! Read: not grilled chicken or your mama’s meatloaf. Hooray!
- To make this recipe super easy, you can buy pre-chopped cooked ham. It’s in those bins in the middle of the meat isle in the grocery store. If you do have time to do a little more work, you can chop up leftover ham or buy a small sliced ham and chop it up — it does have a little more flavor this way.
- This recipe calls for a can of jalepeno and bacon seasoned black eyed peas. I have yet to find this in any store in my area. So what I do is buy a can of regular black eyed peas and a small can of diced jalepenos. Then I just add a small spoonful of jalepenos when I’m adding the other vegetable ingredients. This way I can control the spicy. I love being able to taste the jalepenos! If I feel like doing a little extra work, I fry up some bacon, crumble it in, and even sometimes throw the bacon grease into the pot too. That adds a nice burst of flavor into this already delicious medley. Other times if I’m in a hurry I just leave all that stuff out, and we have a less spicy meal.
- The frozen vegetable seasoning blend is also sometimes difficult to find. Where I live it’s frequently out of stock. Alternatively, I buy a frozen bag of chopped onions and a frozen bag of chopped green pepper, and use half a bag of each in the recipe.
- You will probably have leftover ham and leftover jalepenos. Use these the next morning to make a yummy omelet!
- If you don’t like spicy food, just leave out the red pepper flakes and jalepenos. It still tastes great without that stuff. (I know this one’s obvious but I thought I’d mention it.)
- Make sure you buy sweet yellow cornbread mix, not regular cornbread mix. It does make a difference. Of course, I have a huge sweet tooth.
- Leftover collard greens make a tasty and healthy vegetable the next day when cooked with some bacon, minced garlic, and red pepper flakes.
- As always, buy store brand ingredients and save big bucks!
- I have no idea what escarole even is. I just use an entire bag of fresh baby spinach from the grocery store and it’s the perfect amount, tastes great, and it’s sooo good for you!
- If you like things spicy, use hot Italian sausage or use mild sausage and add red pepper flakes into the pot.
- Can’t find cannellini beans? I’ve made it with Navy beans and Great Northern beans before, it comes out just as good!
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. -Ephesians 2:8-9 (NIV)
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.
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.