Chicken pot ‘pie’ in a hurry

“Angelina went into the kitchen, her only hope of sanctuary, and started building a couple of sandwiches.” — Brian O’Reilly, “Angelina’s Bachelors”

There are nights when you have time to make something special for dinner and there are nights when you just want to pretend you have that kind of time. This recipe — a soup version of that ultimate comfort food, chicken pot pie — is for one of those harried nighCIMG5816_edited-1ts when you’re running in between the kitchen and other rooms of the house and doing everything from stamping Christmas cards to laundry to catching up on work e-mails.

Enjoy! (The soup, not the crazy schedule.)

Chicken Pot “Pie” in a Hurry

Put two quarts of cool water into a large soup kettle. Add 1 1/2 pounds whole chicken breasts (skinless; frozen or fresh). Cover, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for an hour. Walk away from the stove and do whatever else you have to do until 15 minutes of this hour are left.

As the hour approaches, peel and slice 3-4 carrots. Set aside. On the hour, use a slotted spoon to transfer chicken to a plate. Using kitchen scissors, snip into bite-sized pieces and return to the soup kettle. Add carrots, 1 cup frozen peas, 1 cup frozen corn and 12 oz. of macaroni. Simmer another 20 minutes or until carrots are fork tender.

Taste a spoonful of cooled broth. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme and 1/2 teaspoon powdered onion. Taste once more. Adjust seasonings if needed. Finish with a splash of nut milk for a bit of creaminess and serve while piping hot.


Bana-no pudding

Continuing an I-miss-creamy-texture theme, this week’s recipe is a dairy-free version of banana pudding. It’s not much to look at — even if a better photographer had shot it — but it tastes as good as the real thing. Enjoy!CIMG5789_edited-1.JPG

Bana-no Pudding (dairy free)

Mash 3 bananas (fresh or thawed from frozen). Cover tightly and set aside.

Mix together 3/4 cups sugar, 1/4 cup plus 1 Tablespoon cornstarch, and 1/8 teaspoon salt in a medium-sized heavy-bottomed sauce pan. Gradually add 3 egg yolks and 2 cups nut milk, whisking until smooth.

Bring to boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Boil, stirring constantly, for one minute. Remove from heat. Add 1 teaspoon vanilla and the mashed bananas. Stir well.

Move pudding to a tightly covered bowl and cool to room temperature. Refrigerate at least two hours. If you want to be fancy, serve with fresh banana slices and/or a dairy-free cookie. If you just want a big dose of “creamy” right now, eat some straight out of the bowl. I won’t tell. 🙂





Moo-free salmon bake

“How can you govern a country which has 246 varieties of cheese?” Charles de Gaulle, French resistance leader and lover of democracy

The thing I have missed most since going dairy free is cheese, particularly all those creamy sauces that put the “comfort” in comfort food come snowy weather. Thanks to my vegan friends out there, that cheesy joy is back!

Moo-free Salmon Bake, while obviously not vegan or even vegetarian*, uses a nut-baseCIMG5836_edited-1.JPGd “cheese” that may taste better than the real thing. Enjoy!

Moo-free Salmon Bake

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a baking dish (a Dutch oven or 9-by-13-inch Pyrex dish works well) with coconut oil or some similar dairy-free alternative. Set aside.

Put one can of drained, wild-caught salmon into a medium bowl and crush skin and bone bits well. (I crush rather than remove such parts. One, if I’m going to eat meat, I don’t want to waste. Two, those bones are loaded with nutrition.) Set aside.

In a blender or food processor, mix 1 cup water, 1 cup unsalted cashews, 1-2 Tablespoons nutritional yeast (has cheesy flavor) and 1 teaspoon salt. Set aside.

Cook one 12- to 16-ounce box of small wheat or gluten-free pasta (like rotini or elbows) according to directions. Return pasta to cooking pot and add the salmon and the cashew sauce. Mix. Taste. Add more salt and pepper to taste. Add 1 large egg and 1 cup frozen sweet peas and mix again.

Put the mix into the prepared dish. Top with crumbled rice squares (the gluten-free cereal) and a light sprinkle of paprika. Bake 30 minutes and serve while warm. (Oddly enough, one daughter and I like to add ketchup on top for full-on comfort food.)

* Vegans and vegetarians: You know what to do. Leave the salmon out and, for vegans, substitute for the egg. 🙂 It’s still yummy. Blessings!


Homemade kettle corn

“Oh, no!” Hazel wailed. “Popcorn! Our fatal weakness!” Rick Riordan, “The Blood of Olympus”

If, like me, you are sick of real food at the moment, consider making popcorn for dinner.  A bit odd? Yes. But, the first Thanksgiving is rumored to have included tCIMG5846_edited-1.JPGhis tasty treat, which is high-fiber to boot. What more could anyone want?

Of course, if you’re actually going to have popcorn for dinner, you’re going to have to find a good movie and step up your game from that odd-tasting stuff that has a tendency to catch fire in the microwave. Yes, it is possible, even easy, to make kettle corn at home. Seriously. Have fun!

Homemade Kettle Corn

Place a large, heavy-bottomed kettle on a stove burner. Place 1-2 Tablespoons high-heat oil (such as canola or coconut) in the bottom and swirl to coat. Add 1 Tablespoon popcorn kernels per person.

Turn the heat to medium high. Put on the lid and put a glove-style pot holder on each hand. When the first kernels start to pop, lift the kettle off the burner and vigorously shake it from side to side (not up and down) to redistribute the kernels that aren’t yet popped. Make sure to hold the lid down while you are shaking. Put the kettle back on the burner. Repeat the shaking maneuver every 30 to 60 seconds until the popping slows down to almost nothing.

Turn off the heat. When the popping entirely stops, open the lid away from your face. (The steam will be hot.)

Distribute popcorn into individual bowls and let people top as desired. The oil from the kettle provides some flavor. I like to add nutritional yeast flakes and a tiny bit of salt to my bowl. A cinnamon-sugar sprinkle is another good possibility, as is (for non-vegans) a dusting of Parmesan cheese.



‘Country Boy’ griddle cakes

“Well, I got me a fine wife, I got me old fiddle.
When the sun’s coming up, I got cakes on the griddle.” John Denver, “Thank God I’m a Country Boy”

There is food and there is food. I’m pretty sure, when John Denver sang so delightfully of “cakes on the griddle,” he wasn’t talking about crepes prepared on a CIMG5766_edited-1.JPGnon-stick pan. (Not that crepes aren’t delightful in a different way — as in a way that involves Nutella.) And, he certainly didn’t have toaster pancakes in mind. Shudder.

Nope. His song was about plain old griddle cakes. All you need is an iron skillet, some real fat and a homemade mix. (You don’t even need sunrise. I make these for lunch many Saturdays. They’re great with vegetable soup.) Enjoy!

‘Country Boy’ griddle cakes

In a medium bowl, mix together 1 cup buckwheat flour (does not contain gluten), 1 cup all-purpose flour (wheat or gluten free), 1 Tablespoon baking powder, 1 Tablespoon brown sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves, 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, 1/2 teaspoon allspice and one pinch salt. Add two large eggs (or vegan substitute) and 1/2 cup milk (dairy or nut). Mix well. Add water as needed to get to a consistency that is thick but somewhat pourable.

Pre-heat as many iron skillets as you have on medium-low. (I have enough to make cakes on all four burners. Use whatever you’ve got, but four skillets sure speeds things up.) Add 1 to 2 Tablespoons high-heat oil (like canola or coconut or, for dairy eaters, butter or ghee) to each skillet and swirl around to coat the bottom.

Spoon 1/4 cup rounds of batter into skillets. Working quickly, top each round with a sprinkling of raisins, apple bits or banana slices if desired. Watch cakes carefully. When the air bubbles slow down and the edges start to lift from the skillet, slide a spatula carefully underneath. If the cake lifts off cleanly, flip it and finish the cooking.

Line a large plate with paper towels and pile up cakes as they are done, dividing batches with more paper towels to soak up excess oil. (If lack of skillets slows you down, store this oven-proof plate in a low oven so cakes stay warm.) Add more oil to skillets as needed and keep frying and flipping until the batter is gone.

This recipe makes enough to serve six as a side dish. Adjust it up or down proportionally to fit your need.

Serve with vegetable soup for a hearty lunch. Cakes are flavorful alone and are also good with a touch of real maple syrup.