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!


‘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.




Frosty-windows oatmeal

“Battles that involve oatmeal are just never going to end up being historic, you know?” Jake went on. “Gettysburg? No major oatmeal involvement. The Battle of Midway? Neither side used oatmeal. Desert Storm? No oatmeal.” Katherine Applegate, American young adult/childrens author

Forget “frost on the punkin'” — when you live in an old house with wavy-glass windows, you watch for frost on the windows. Drafty? Yes. But, window frost isCIMG5750_edited-1.JPG highly underrated — a delight, in fact. This is especially true for children, who love to hand print it and draw on all sorts of shapes. Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote about making frost patterns using one of Ma’s thimbles. Laura lived into her 90s. So, this bit of exposure to the elements obviously didn’t kill her.

Jack Frost hasn’t hit the inside of our house quite yet, but it’s only a matter of time. I have already switched over to oatmeal for breakfast in anticipation.

Even if you live in Florida or have windows that block out everything from cold to political advertisements, you might want to give Frosty-Windows Oatmeal a try. It’s winter comfort (and good health) in a bowl. Enjoy!

Frosty-Windows Oatmeal

Place 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats; 1 teaspoon brown sugar, maple syrup, honey OR molasses; 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, and 1 Tablespoon of raisins (or any other dried fruit) in a Pyrex or heavy ceramic bowl. (If you make this breakfast a lot, use a dedicated Pyrex bowl as repeated microwaving will eventually trash your stoneware.) Add enough water to almost cover.

Microwave on high for two minutes. Stir. Add 1-2 Tablespoons of nuts and top off with a splash of nut milk or dairy milk. There you have it — a hot and healthy breakfast that’s speedy enough to make any day of the week.