Easy Peasy Chicken Pot Pie

What to make for dinner??….that’s usually the million dollar question! The 2 million dollar question begins with, “Oh crap, it’s 3 o’clock and I forgot to take something out of the freezer,” and ends with, “So what do I do with these leftovers??” I have 5 durmsticks leftover from dinner the other night and there are 6 people in this house. Oh yay…

I’m probably one of the worst offenders when it comes to throwing out leftovers. I save the leftover food, put in the fridge and usually forget about it, either that or someone says they will eat it for lunch the next day and that never happens. The other part of me has trouble figuring out what to do with leftovers.  Finding clever ways to remake leftovers is mostly out of my control. I struggle with this. And I hate throwing away food…..it hurts….SERIOUSLY.

So in the last year I randomly discovered chicken pot pies. I think it started after Thanksgiving with a turkey pot pie. I took all the leftover ingredients, threw them in a pie shell, and it came out fabulously yummy. Pot pies are similar to quiches, you cannot really go wrong with them, you can put just about whatever you want in them and they come out yummy.

First tip, I try to keep these ingredients on hand most of the time because it makes it easy to throw leftovers into a pie or quiche when I’m in a pinch. Pie crusts are the first thing on my list. I like to make my own crusts sometimes if I have the time, or even if I don’t have any in the freezer I will whip some out, but it can be time consuming. With 4 children, time is not a luxury I can afford most of the time. Between cub scouts, girl scouts, soccer, riding lessons, math club, drama club, chorus performances, plays, awards ceremonies, well you get the picture…I just don’t have time sometimes for big meals. Simplicity is my lifestyle!  In all honesty you really just dump all the ingredients in a pie shell and it will come out perfect but I will tell you how I do this.

Ingredients:

1 (or 2) pie crusts- your choice

choice of meat leftovers

can or jar of gravy

bag of frozen mixed veggies

stuffing (a stick of butter, and chicken stock or broth to prep it)

garlic powder

This is how I roll my pie…Let’s begin!

Rolling the edge of the pie crust

Preheat the oven to 450. Then I roll out my pie crust and fold down the edges in whatever pretty way suits my mood. If I am rushed I will usually smush the edged with a fork, but the twisty thing looks nice for my blog today so it works right? 🙂 I won’t be using the top crust for this recipe so I can make the bottom crust the pretty one. Don’t forget to prick the crust with a fork all the way around the sides and bottom to keep bubbling to a minimum.

pricking the crust before baking

Place the crust in the oven for about 9-11 minutes, or until it’s just slightly golden. I hate pies with a mushy bottom crust. If you pre-bake them slightly this helps prevent that. While the crust is baking I prep my ingredients. I chop the chicken, precook the stuffing with butter and chicken stock—in the I use 1/2 to a whole stick of butter per half a bag of stuffing —I love buttery stuffing–mmmmm. Throw it in the nukelator —AKA microwave— for a minute or two and fluff with a fork until the mixture is kinda mushy. You almost want your stuffing a little mushy because it will get crunchy later, trust me.

You will also want to cook the veggies slightly. If the veggies are frozen and you don’t precook them they will come out a little crunchy. I usually put about half a bag of frozen veggies in a bowl, add a little bit of water—maybe a tablespoon or two, cover with saran wrap, and pop it in the nukelator for about a minute.

The pie shell should be done by now.

Perfect!

Turn the oven down to 400 after removing the pie crust.

Now I cover the bottom with my chopped up chicken and top it with about half a jar of chicken gravy. There is nothing like homemade gravy but this works in a pinch–something I keep in my stockpile on a regular basis. Then I sprinkle a bit of garlic powder over the gravy. YUM! We love garlic in this house. I always put garlic in my gravy.

Chicken, gravy and garlic powder

Moving on…

Add the veggies and then the rest of the gravy and more garlic powder. Did I mention that we love garlic??

veggies, more gravy, more garlic powder!

The next step is my favorite part, so I’m partial to say it is the YUMMIEST part….Cover the top with stuffing instead of a pie crust layer and pile it high!

Stuffing!!!

Bake for about 35 minutes, or until the crust and stuffing look done and you can see the gravy a little bubbly through the stuffing (if you can).

It’s DONE!!!

Pure deliciousness!!

Even my kids like it!

***Oh, and I made baked potatoes with it as you can see….a great side to put in the oven when you start this whole thing, they will bake during the whole process and be perfect when the pie is done too. You can even start them a little earlier if you like.

Looking at these pictures makes me hungry, I might just have to eat some of the leftover pot pie for lunch today. Yum!

What about you? Do you struggle with using leftovers up like I do? The people in this house get bored too easily and I have to keep a variety going. This has been just one way I have figured out how to make leftovers useful and also stretch a meal. Making  just a few pieces of chicken into a meal for 6 people surely is a miracle! But I still struggle with it and constantly find myself chucking out unrecognizable items from the fridgeatater (yes, say it with me:  fridge-a-tater, LOL- we might do things slightly different around here). Any tips for reusing leftovers for someone like me? What do you like to do with leftovers?

As Always — Don’t forget to visit me on ETSY, and LIKE my page on Facebook to keep up with all the goodies!!!!

Advertisements

Egg Carton Garden

My little herb garden, sage, chive, and tarragon

It’s spring (almost summer!) and I can’t wait to hit the local Farmer’s markets. I want the fresh cucumbers, tomatoes, salad, fruits, and other veggies. We’ve all been talking a lot about saving money and I’ve had a few people mention to me that I could save so much money growing my own veggies. *SIGH* I’ve tried, and tried, and tried. Gardening is just NOT my thing, stop pushing me people!  I’ve tried gardening numerous times and I JUST FAIL at it. I get the whole garden thing going nice and pretty, get some veggies and then it all fizzles out. I admit I am so creative and good at so many things, but gardening is just not my forte.

BUT, I am older and wiser now, so I decided to give it another whirl. OK, OK, see —you all twisted my arm. Just kidding.

I look back at my past experiences and have figured out where I went wrong. First of all my major veggie garden experience was when we were living in Florida. Do you know how hard it is to garden in Florida??? Let me just give you  a few of the cons on this one:

1) The weather is constantly in the 90’s which causes flowers and veggie plants to wilt if they aren’t shaded properly.

2) The dirt is like sand so you have to truck in the good soil to even start a garden. Just getting something other than a cactus to grow is a miracle.

3) You have to water a GAWZILLION times a day to keep everything moist….but you can’t water when the sun is up high or you risk burning the plants up. The water dries up in like 5 minutes. If you over water, your plants wash away.

4) Then there is the rain season. Or I should say thunderstorm season. We would get torrential downpours everyday for 2-3 months and it would over saturate everything.

5) After the thunderstorm season came hurricane season. If you didn’t get enough rain before, you got it now. Do you see room for a garden?

My husband taking the kids for a ride in the boat after Tropical Storm Faye. That was my backyard…

THERE IS NO HAPPY MEDIUM when it comes to watering. It’s either too dry , too hot, or too wet. It’s a lose- lose situation there.

6) If that wasn’t enough then there was THE BUGS! Oh my the bugs….Just when you get your garden growing nice and pretty the bugs kill everything. I was so excited to have fresh veggies growing! I had cucumbers, squash, watermelon, and cantaloupe all growing! As soon as they were ripe enough to pick, they were GONE! I turned them over and the bottom sides were covered with ants, worms, whatever. The bugs deystroyed the plants. So I tried to get them off the ground, nothing worked. They were vicious. So I gave up.

That is the top of my list. I also have realized that as a crafter, I tend to lose interest in projects once they lose the “newness” factor. Maybe this is why I have such a hard time gardening? I think that once everything starts growing I push it aside like I do with everything else.

So now that I am happily back on Cape Cod, I am determined to not let my garden get the best of me this time. I really want to do this.

The gardening begins…..

I gathered some seeds that I had left over from last summer (yup tried and gave up then too). Then we went to get some new seeds too. I decided to start the seeds in egg cartons because I thought this is a great way for me to keep it simple. I need to start small to keep from getting overwhelmed (maybe that was my problem too). I can cut apart the biodegradable egg cartons and just plant them in the ground (or a pot if I choose) once they start to sprout. Yay recycled pots.

Supplies (not including my daughter’s book)

You should have seen the look my husband gave me when he saw the seeds. He had that “Oh, no not again” look. And then one eyebrow went up and I saw a new thought cross his mind….”Wonder how long it will last this time.” No words spoken, none necessary. I understood perfectly. I gave him my look back, “It will be different this time, I swear.”

I’m determined hunny. I promise. I hope…..

I promised Sebastian he could help me garden. He loves little projects and he loves to be outdoors. I figured if I include the kids in this garden they can help keep me going with it. To keep things organized we choose which seeds we were going to start with and I marked the little posts before we started planting them. We filled the egg carton cups with dirt and I showed Sebastian how to make little holes with your finger. He was so excited! Little boys and dirt, what fun.:)

Sebastian planting seeds

Then we lightly covered the seeds and I told him we needed to water them in. He picks up his little watering can which I thought would be fine for sprinkling seeds. It’s only supposed to sprinkle.

OOPS!

I remembered to place the egg carton in a cake pan (or you could use a cookie sheet) so that the leaking water doesn’t go all over the counter and it is also easily transportable from counter to table this way. Well, Sebastian’s little watering can doesn’t work so well for the seeds. I forgot how gentle you have to be with seeds and he….well…he flooded the watermelon seeds. I think some of them floated into the cantaloupe section but I’m not sure, I moved one back, but I don’t know if anymore floated away. I guess we will see once they start to sprout.

I showed Sebastian after the flooding experience that we needed to be gentle to the seeds and proceeded to let him mist the rest of the seeds with a spray bottle instead. He still insists on his watering can, but I explained to him once they get bigger we can put them outside and use the watering can.

Last week when I made chili, I decided to save some of the green pepper seeds (but somehow forgot to save some of the jalapeno seeds??? — Oh well, there’s always next time). I placed them all in a baggie with a damp paper towel. I have used this method before with great success. I know that not every seed will sprout, so this is the best way for me to keep things simple and give the seeds a head start.

green pepper seeds

After a few of the seeds began to sprout I placed those in another baggie to spout some more on their own. This keeps them from getting all tangled up with the non sprouting seeds. This also keeps things simple for me again. I know which seeds need my attention.

sprouting green pepper seeds!

As soon as a few of the seeds had a little tail going on them I started a second egg carton garden. It looks like more are popping each day, so I will probably have some to share once they really get going!

My egg carton garden has been growing for 6 days now and I am anxiously awaiting to see some growth.

First thing this morning as I was spraying my seeds, I saw this:

A sprout!!!!

Oh my goodness! I’m so excited! Other than the green pepper seeds starting little sprouts, I have a REAL sprout. There is actually 3 to be exact, one on this side and two little ones popping up on the other side. These are my cucumbers starting. I LOVE CUCUMBERS! It’s probably the first thing I buy when I go to the Farmer’s Market. Hoping that I won’t have to buy anymore soon….at least while I have my own garden going this summer. Ahhh….*sigh*…..There is hope for me. I can just feel it.

I think I can, I think I can, I think I can…..:)

 

As Always — Don’t forget to visit me on ETSY, and LIKE my page on Facebook to keep up with all the goodies!!!!

Banana-rama Banana bread, YUMMERS

I LOVE banana bread, just sayin’. 🙂 So a few days ago the bananas were just starting to turn a little brownish and I thought, I haven’t made banana bread in a while. At this point there were 4 bananas on the little tree that hangs them on the corner of my counter. Then Shelby ate one, and then Sebastian ate one. Two stinking bananas left…..what am I supposed to do with those?? I really needed at least 3 but maybe 4, so off to the store we went. There on the mark down section for produce was a perfectly slightly browned bushel of bananas for .90. Score!

browning bananas

Then they sat on my counter for 2 more days. Sheesh, I just haven’t had a second to bake! This morning I was up early and I saw those bananas sitting there. I thought, today is the day….one more and they will turn to mush! So at 7:30 this morning in between getting chitlins ready for school I started making my banana bread.

So not to toot my own horn, but I make some really good banana bread. It always has been good. The last 2 times I have made it I tweaked the recipe (something I’m famous for…) and it sent my taste buds dancing (I’ll tell you the secret in a second)! I’ve always added vanilla and a little bit of applesauce to this recipe if it seemed too think. Sometimes the ripeness of the bananas can make a big difference in the consistency.

I don’t know where this recipe came from, I just know that none of my cookbooks have a simple banana bread recipe so I had to call my mother years ago when I first decided to try to become house-wifey. I wrote it on this teeny piece of paper…..and as you can see it’s well worn, faded, scribbled on…..Gosh I hope I don’t lose it. I really should rewrite it on a new piece, really. Can you see my motivation?

my messy looking recipe

So I gathered some of the ingredients and began mushing bananas and mixing away.

Some of my ingredients…
peels for the compost pile!
My so full bowl….it was ambitious making a triple batch at this hour of the morning

Now for the last, and not so secret ingredient….almond extract, oh how I love thee! You see, a few months ago I made banana bread and I ran out of vanilla so I substituted almond extract. Yup, that’s it, instead of vanilla I used almond. One teaspoonful to be exact. So now my banana bread has become – Banana Apple Almond bread….or something like that, and it’s so yummy!

I made 2 loaves of bread and then went for the muffins. I saw the mini muffin pan and thought that was a better idea. Then I still had some leftovers so I put the rest into the regular muffin pans too.

scooping out the perfect amount of batter for mini muffins

These little muffins came out so good, I’m wishing I had made more instead of 2 loaves.

Bite size!

Perfect for little hands too…

yum!

 

As Always — Don’t forget to visit me on ETSY, and LIKE my page on Facebook to keep up with all the goodies!!!!

 

Wham-Bam Thank You JAM

Finally a beautiful day to take the kiddos out to get their playground fix.

View of the water from the parking lot of the park…sorry it was from inside my car….

It’s days like this I really miss having a swing set in the backyard, but it’s still not the same as the playground with a BIG slide.

Quite the climbers eh?

Yes, that is a hunter’s hat….it’s the easiest way to spot him at the park!

A little bit of kiddo fun at the park goes a long way. They sleep so well when they run and play for a while. Nap time is my time.

This morning I decided that today was a good day for crock-potting dinner so I don’t have to be stuck indoors cooking later.  I threw the ingredients for chili together about 7:30 this morning, oh the Texan in me comes out!

MMMMMMM……CHILI

I also decided this morning that I was going to make strawberry jam, yes randomly. Kind of like waking up and deciding to be a blogger, I woke up and said I want to make some strawberry jam. I went to the grocery store on our way to the park this morning. The strawberries are on sale for $1.88 at my store and they are so sweet right now, perfect stock up time. Yum! I had the perfect plan. Park.  Home.  Lunch.  Nap.  JAM. Yup, just like that.

Deliciousness

I Googled a recipe for strawberry jam and went at it. I mostly followed it. You’ll find the recipe [HERE]. Nothing crazy, no surprises in the recipe, pure simplicity—strawberries, sugar, lemon juice, and pectin. I started out with 2 cups of sugar because I thought 3 sounded like a lot, and then I ended up adding another cup, so just follow it. If you’ve ever done any type of canning it’s very simple. This is only my third time doing this and I didn’t have any issues and I use the water bath canning method—works like a charm.

I like to add the sugar first…and make a syrup….

***By the way –When you buy the pectin (I purchase Ball) I found a lovely set of tips, instructions, and more recipes on a sheet inside the box! ****

So excited, I can’t wait to eat a peanut butter and JAM sandwich for lunch tomorrow….I might have to have some strawberry jam on my toast in the morning.

My day today went just as planned….well, so far….

Oh, oh, PS! Pure randomness…..To top my day off I got this great freebie in the mail this afternoon!  This day couldn’t get any sweeter….literally.

Pretty neat huh?

What about you? Bake or make anything fun today? What freebies did you get in the mail?

As Always — Don’t forget to visit me on ETSY, and LIKE my page on Facebook to keep up with all the goodies!!!!