Sunday, May 1, 2016

A TwoFor: Simple Baked Chicken and Chicken Pot Pie

A "TwoFor" is what I call it when I make one meal and turn it into two.  For instance, I make a big chuck roast in the crockpot, then use the left overs to make a Beef Vegetable Soup or Beef Quesadillas.  Instead of just reheating the same dish, I like to turn it into something new.  Here is a really good TwoFor using chicken.  Start with a great baked chicken recipe, then turn it into a hearty, comforting chicken pot pie.  Both recipes are simple, but delicious.



Start with a big batch of baked chicken.  I like to buy family-sized packages of chicken legs and thighs when they go on sale.  Bake a big sheet pan full of chicken, let the left overs cool down then shred the meat off the bones.  Store the shredded chicken in a zip top bag in the fridge for a day or two, then make a pot pie with it.  This trick saves a lot of time and effort.  Here is a great recipe for baked chicken that really lets the flavor of the chicken shine through.  The beauty of this recipe is that you can make a little or a lot in the same amount of time.  So make a bunch and use  the left overs!

SIMPLE BAKED CHICKEN

Several pounds of bone-in chicken legs and thighs
oil (olive, canola, vegetable)
salt/pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Take the chicken out of the fridge and let it sit on the counter for 20 minutes or so.  By taking the chill off the meat, you insure that it will cook evenly and be more tender.

Next, pat the chicken dry with paper towels.  This is important.  It keeps the chicken from steaming and helps it to roast and crisp up in the oven.


Once you've patted it dry, place the chicken in a big bowl.


Drizzle in a little oil (enough to lightly coat the chicken) and season with salt and pepper.  Toss the chicken around to evenly distribute the seasoning.  (I use clean hands to rub the seasoning into the chicken, but if that grosses you out, just stir it around a lot with tongs).


Place the chicken in a single layer (don't pile them on top of each other) on a big baking sheet with sides (I use my gigantic iron skillet).  If you don't have a big enough baking sheet, use two.


Bake in a 400 degree oven for 30 minutes then lower the oven to 350 degrees and continue to bake for another 15 minutes or so until the chicken is cooked through (no longer pink inside).  By starting the oven at a higher temperature you get crisper skin.  Lowering it keeps the chicken from drying out.

It comes out light golden, tender, juicy and absolutely delicious!




If you want even crispier skin, you can put it under the broiler for a few minutes.  But, I find this chicken to be perfect just like this.

Now, after you've eaten this delicious juicy chicken, let the left overs cool down.  Shred the meat from the bones and save it to use in the next recipe.

CHICKEN POT PIE

2 pie crusts (refrigerated kind)
2 cups left over cooked chicken (shredded or diced)
1 can mixed vegetables, rinsed and drained (or 1 1/2 cups frozen vegetables, thawed)
2 TBS butter
2 TBS flour
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup whole milk
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

In a large skillet over medium heat, melt butter.


Add the flour and whisk well until lumps disappear.



Let that cook for 2-3 minutes then add the chicken broth, whisking until smooth.



Then add the milk, whisking until smooth.


Season with salt and pepper.


Let it come up to a boil, whisking, then lower the heat to a simmer.  You will see it thicken.


Add the vegetables.


Add the chicken.


Stir everything together until well mixed.  Remove from heat.


Put one of the pie crusts into a pie plate (if you don't have a pie plate, you can use an oven proof skillet, like cast iron, or buy a disposable one for a buck or so).


Gently place it in and crimp the edges to make it look nice.




Then, add the filling.


Next, place the second pie crust on top of the filling and tuck the edges under.  Pinch the edges together to keep everything tucked in nicely.


Cut a few slits in the top crust (to let the steam escape.  Otherwise it will explode).


This next part is optional but I like to do it.  Brush the top with a little milk.  The sugar in the milk helps the crust to brown.


Place the pie on a baking sheet (just in case it bubbles over you won't make a mess in your oven) and bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 30 minutes or until golden brown.



Let it cool for at least 15 minutes!!!  This is very important (in case you couldn't tell by the exclamation marks).  Letting it rest, lets it set up.  If you cut it right away it will be a sloppy mess!

My guys were starving and standing around me waving forks, so I cut this a few minutes early and it was still a little loose.  Delicious, but not as thick as it should be.  So be patient and you will be rewarded.



This dish is a comforting classic for a reason.  The tender chicken, slightly sweet veggies and yummy gravy combined with the flaky pie crust is an awesome combination.  It warms you heart and soul.

You have got to love two dishes that are so simple yet so good.  I hope you enjoy these recipes as much as I do.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Chicken Pizzaiola

If you read this blog you know I cook a lot of chicken.  I'm always looking for new ways to do it.  Here is a quick, simple, delicious chicken recipe you can add to your arsenal.




CHICKEN PIZZAIOLA

6 chicken cutlets (a boneless breast cut in half lengthwise so you get 2 thin pieces)
3 TBS olive oil (or canola)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
salt/pepper
2 TBS chopped fresh parsley

Heat a big skillet (I like cast iron) over medium-high heat.  Season the chicken cutlets with salt and pepper on both sides.



When the skillet is very hot, add a few cutlets (do it in batches so they will brown properly).  You want the skillet to be hot so you get a good sear on the meat.  They should sizzle when they hit the skillet like this:




Cook for about 4-5 minutes (depending on the thickness of the cutlet).  When browned on the first side, flip and cook on the other side until it's browned, about 4 more minutes or so.


Remove to a plate and repeat until all the cutlets are browned.

Then, lower the heat to medium and add the garlic to the skillet, stirring often,


Cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes (be careful not to burn the garlic).


Next, add the tomatoes with their juice.


Return the chicken to the skillet, bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes (or until chicken is cooked through).


Garnish with fresh parsley.



I like to serve this with angel hair pasta and garlic bread.  This recipe is simple but delicious!  Plus, it's so quick to make that it's perfect for a weeknight meal.  You can use chicken, steak, pork, turkey or sausage.  Just be sure the meat is cooked through.  Versatile, easy and yummy...the perfect kind of recipe!  Enjoy!

Monday, April 18, 2016

Mrs. Lucy's Strawberry Pie

Mrs. Lucy is a sweet Cajun lady who had a cooking show on PBS called Mrs. Lucy's Classic Cajun Culture & Cooking.  My Daddy and I watched her show every weekend together.  He loved Mrs. Lucy!  My Sister-In-Law even wrote to her and ordered a cookbook, which Mrs. Lucy autographed for my Daddy.  Very sweet!

Mrs. Lucy has a wonderful recipe for Strawberry Pie.  It's simple, but delicious, like all of her recipes.




MRS LUCY'S STRAWBERRY PIE

1 cup sugar
3 TBS cornstarch
1 cup water
3 TBS strawberry gelatin (not the entire package)
2 cups sliced strawberries
graham cracker crust
whipped cream, garnish

Mix the sugar and cornstarch well in a medium sized pot.


Add the water and stir well.


Cook on medium-low heat until thickened (about 5-10 minutes or so).

I forgot to take a pick before I added the gelatin, but it just gets glossy and thick.

Measure out 3 TBS of the strawberry gelatin mix and add it to the pot.  Mix well.  Remove from heat.


Add the sliced strawberries and mix well.



Pour into the graham cracker crust.



Refrigerate until set (a couple of hours).



Garnish with whipped cream.


This pie is so good.  It's not too sweet but highlights the strawberries perfectly.  It's quick and easy to make.  You can make it the day before so it's great to make for a party.  Perfect for spring or summer because it's cool and refreshing.  This one's a winner!