Thursday, January 24, 2013


 It's snowing. Not a lot, but enough to delay school, ruin my dog's day, and make my husband happy. Because in this house snow means one thing--Chicken Pot Pies for dinner!


2 sheets frozen puff pastry dough (I use Pepperidge Farm puff pastry sheets)
1 1/2 cups homemade chicken stock or canned low-sodium chicken broth
3/4 cup thin sliced carrots (approximately 2 large carrots)
3 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons Canola oil
1 medium Vidalia onion, diced
8 ounces mushrooms, washed, stemmed and sliced
(I use cremini or porcini but you can use any type you prefer)
2 Tablespoons white-wheat flour
1/2 cup half and half
3 cups roasted, diced chicken
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
dash Kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste

Remove the pastry sheets from the package and thaw at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 400º F.

Set aside 6 10-ounce ramekins (4" in diameter) on a rimmed baking sheet.
(Can also use an 8 cup, 2" deep baking dish and only 1 pastry sheet)

In a 1-quart saucepan over medium heat, bring the stock to a boil. Add carrots and cook until crisp-tender, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat. With a slotted spoon, transfer carrots to a bowl and set aside. Reserve stock.

In a large skillet, melt the butter and oil over medium heat until the butter foams. Add the onion and saute until it softens, about 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and saute until browned, about 3 more minutes. Sprinkle the flour over onion-mushroom mixture and stir to blend in. Slowly stir in the reserved stock and cook/stir until thickened.

Add the cream, stirring to blend. Simmer for two minutes. Add carrots, chicken and parsley. Return to simmer and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Remove from heat and divide between 6 ramekins.

Unfold the puff pastry and lay on a lightly floured surface. Roll out to a 12-inch square. Using a 5-6 inch plate, cut out 4 rounds from first sheet and 2 from the second. Cut a 2-inch long slit in the center and carefully center the dough over the ramekins. Press the dough edges firmly against the sides of the ramekins.

Bake until dough is browned and puffed. About 25 minutes. Serve immediately.
Serves 6.

NOTES: I've made this with leftover turkey as well as leftover steak and they were both wonderful. A glass of wine would be a nice addition (for the adults, of course). And for the kids, there's always chocolate pudding cake for dessert!


Tuesday, January 22, 2013


A walk on the coldest day of the year deserves a hot and hearty dinner!


Stir-fried beef and snap peas served over brown rice fill the crankiest kid bellies. This dinner can be made in the time it takes to cook the rice. 

Stir-fried Beef and Snap Peas

1 pound sirloin beef, thin sliced

2 Tablespoons wok oil
1 pound snap peas, washed and drained
1 can sliced water chestnuts, drained
4 cups cooked brown rice

1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup cooking sherry
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup water
dash of dried ginger

As the rice cooks, mix together in a large bowl the five sauce ingredients until cornstarch is smooth. Add the beef and let sit while wok heats.

Heat oil in wok until it begins to "smoke". Add in beef and sauce and saute until beef is cooked through. Add in water chestnuts and snap peas and cook for five more minutes (or until peas are cooked to your preference).  Serve over hot brown rice.

NOTE: The beef and sauce mixture can be made hours before and kept refrigerated until ready to use. Allow meat to rest on counter at least ten minutes before adding to wok.


Tuesday, September 11, 2012


Back-to-school meetings, PTA boards, church committees, and teacher conferences only mean one thing . . . soup for dinner. Here's a perfect one for the busy days of fall.

Autumn Minestrone

2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Vidalia onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
3 stalks celery, chopped
1/2 green pepper, chopped
3 zucchini squash (not peeled), chopped into 1/4 inch dice
1 can tomato paste
1 can butter beans
1 can kidney beans
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon basil
1/2 cup pepperoni slices, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups water
2 cups beef stock

In a stockpot, saute onion in olive oil over medium heat for five minutes. Add garlic and saute another ten minutes. Add celery, green pepper, and squash and saute another five minutes.

Add the water and broth and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and add tomato paste, butter beans, kidney beans, oregano, and basil. Simmer for 45 minutes. Add pepperoni. Salt and pepper to taste. Simmer another 10 minutes and serve.

Can make a double recipe and freeze half. Serves 8 - 10.

This soup is wonderful with a loaf of bread and a glass of red wine--for the adults, of course!

Friday, September 7, 2012


This is a favorite recipe, given to me by my husband's Aunt Carol. Since Carol and her twin brother (my father-in-law) turn 80 this weekend, I wanted to celebrate by making this cake. We'll just forget the chocolate birthday cake I made yesterday for my husband because bathing suit season is over!

Chocolate Pudding Cake

1 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
3 Tablespoons Hershey's®  Cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup whole milk
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup Hershey's®  Cocoa powder
1 3/4 cups boiling water

Hard Sauce:
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
1 Tablespoon milk or brandy (your preference)
1 dash almond extract

Heat oven to 350º F. Lightly butter a 9-inch square glass baking pan. 
In a medium-sized bowl, stir together flour, sugar, 3 Tablespoons cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. Mix in milk, oil, and vanilla. Spread batter evenly in pan.
Combine brown sugar and the 1/4 cup cocoa and sprinkle the dry ingredients over the batter. Slowly pour boiling hot water over the batter and brown sugar mixture and bake for 40 - 45 minutes, until top is set. 

While cake is baking, cream together butter and sugar in a medium mixing bowl. Slowly beat in milk or brandy and the drop of almond essence.

Let cake stand for 5 minutes before spooning into dessert dishes. Serve with hard sauce.

Make sure you have glasses of cold milk ready!