Category Archives: hearty meals

Pantry Pot Pie

May 16, 2015

  YOU can make chicken pot pie.  Yes, you.  I know…I know, It sounds like a lot of work, and a bit intimidating, but I PROMISE YOU that this is the easiest pot pie in the world to make.  This is a mix it all up in 1 bowl and throw it in the oven kind of meal where you grab a few prepared items at the grocery store, add it to a few cans from your pantry, add the tiniest bit of love, and walk away with a hearty meal in under 30 minutes.  This is Pantry Pot Pie.

You’ll need: 

  • 1 rotisserie chicken
  • 1 can grands biscuits
  • 1 can sliced carrots, drained
  • 1 can sliced white potatoes, drained
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 2 TBSP of beer can chicken seasoning (or poultry seasoning…or Italian seasoning. Whatever!) 
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Go ahead and carve some of the chicken off of the bone and either shred it with your hands or give it a rough chop with a knife- nothing fancy.  Toss it into a bowl along with your drained carrots and drained potatoes.  Add in the cream of chicken soup, the milk, and your seasoning. Mix everything together with a large spoon or spatula.  Transfer to a baking dish and bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes.  You want the tops of the biscuits to be golden, but the bottoms to not be gooey!  Voila! 

See? That wasn’t so bad.  You are totally nailing this cooking thing! 

Parmesan Chicken with Linguine in a Sun-dried Tomato Cream Sauce

June 6, 2014

IMG_0894 Wow- that’s a long title, but it really says it all… golden brown crusted chicken, bright bursts of flavor from sun-dried tomatoes, and a luscious cream sauce.  Best of all, it’s on the table in about 40 minutes start to finish.  If I can make this on a crazy Monday after work, I know you can too!  Go on, impress your family, or save it and really impress some weekend dinner guests!

Starting off with the chicken, create a breading station.IMG_0885  I use paper plates for easy clean up!  In one plate, you’ll need some flour seasoned with salt and pepper.  In the second, crack and whip up an egg.  In the third, combine equal parts bread crumbs with grated Parmesan cheese.  If you have massive chicken breasts, like mine were, go ahead and pound them out a bit- they’ll cook quicker and more evenly.  Then just move your chicken through the breading station, starting with flour, and ending at the bread crumb mix.    IMG_0889Once breaded, pop them into a hot skillet that’s been coated with a swirl of olive oil.  Brown the chicken about 3 minutes on each side. (Note: the second side usually takes a bit less time because the oil is hot and sizzling!)    Transfer to a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.

About halfway through the cook time of the chicken, you can start your sauce.

Sun-dried Tomato Cream Sauce:
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
1 pint heavy cream
1 tbsp minced garlic
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsp italian herb paste (usually found in your grocer’s produce section- it’s in a tube)
1 cup grated Parmesan/ Asiago cheese blend
2 cups chopped baby spinach
1 cup julienned sun-dried tomatoes
salt and pepper to taste

Start with 2 tbsp butter.  Melt over medium low heat, and once melted, stir in 2 tbsp of flour. Slowly stir in 1/2 of the pint of heavy cream, along with 1 tbsp minced garlic, 2 tbsp tomato paste, and 2 tbsp italian herb paste.  Stir over low heat, gradually increasing to medium heat.  Add in 1 cup of the Asiago/ Parmesan cheese blend, 2 cups of baby spinach, and 1 cup of julienned sun-dried tomatoes.  Continue to stir occassionally, adding the remaining 1/2 pint of heavy cream bit by bit.  If sauce seems thin, add a smidge more cheese.
Add salt and pepper to taste, and reduce heat to low.  Stir occasionally and continue to simmer on low until chicken is finished cooking.


For this recipe, I used Bertolli’s fresh linguine found in my grocer’s deli department, but you can use any pasta that you like!  I served it up with the bed of pasta, topped with cream sauce, and then topped with sauced chicken on top of that.  I was really longing for a nice glass of white wine to go along with it, but lemonade was on the menu for me!  If you make this- have  it with the wine for me!

**Disclaimer: This meal is by no means healthy…but it is healthy for your soul, so eat up in moderation!**


Homestyle Mac N’ Cheese

March 9, 2014

Not much brings me comfort quite like my mummy’s mac n’ cheese.  Whenever I’d be feeling a little down, or the day had been too rough, it was always there- a warm hug on a plate, letting me know that everything would be just fine. 

These days, I only eat mummy’s mac when I need the big guns- those times when I need to feel her hug, even though she’s passed on.  I’m a firm believer that a good part of her lives on through her food, and there are times, when only that creamy mac n’ cheese will fix what ails me.

BUT, when it’s a Tuesday, and I need some mac for next to no reason at all, I turn to my mac n’ cheese makeover.  Half the calories, a quarter of the fat and four times the fiber.  NONE of the guilt. ALL of the satisfaction. 

Homestyle Mac N Cheese
6 tbsp unsalted butter (go ahead, use the butter)
6 tbsp flour
1/2 lb whole grain elbow macaroni
3 cups fat free milk
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp paprika
2 1/2 cups low fat shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Butter or spray a 2 quart baking dish.
Boil pasta- about 7 to 10 minutes

Melt butter in a 3 qt saucepan over medium heat.  Stir occassionally.  Slowly add flour and stir continuously, being sure not to brown.  Cook for 3 minutes.  Add salt, pepper, and paprika.  Slowly stir in 3 cups of milk and continue to cook for 3 to 5 more minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in 2 and 1/2 cups of shredded cheese.  Add pasta, stir, and pour into prepared baking dish.  Sprinkle the top with 1/2 cup of panko breadcrumbs and a bit of extra cheddar cheese.  Bake @ 350 for 25 to 30 minutes.  Let sit for 5 minutes before serving. 

**Tip- if your baking dish seems full, place it on a cookie sheet prior to placing into the oven.  This will catch any sauce that may bubble over. **

Nutrition Comparison

Mum’s and most others per serving: 570 calories, 32g fat, 67 g carbs, 1.8g fiber

Mine per serving: 235 calories, 8 g fat, 28 g carbs, 8 g fiber

Farm Stand Meatloaf

March 2, 2014

Growing up, I hated meatloaf.


Now, my mum was a great cook, but my dad liked things a bit bland, and well… meatloaf was not her forte.  I can remember cringing as that dull, lifeless brick would come out of the oven.  It was dry, it lacked flavor of any sort, and well, it was basically a big lump of cooked ground beef that she sliced down.  It just wasn’t pretty, and all the ketchup in the world just couldn’t change my mind.

It wasn’t until many years later that I even attempted to try meatloaf.  I was living on my own, and as luck would have it, I had met a guy that LOVED meatloaf.  Well, shoot.  While I had flashbacks of that poor, dry bland slab of beef hovering in my mind, I knew there had to be a better meatloaf out there somewhere.  So, I googled recipes and learned some basics.  My first ever meatloaf was Billy Joel’s wife’s recipe- Katie Joel’s “Man Loaf”.  Cosmo was raving about it that year, and I figured I’d try it out on my man… at least he’d enjoy the meatloaf even if I didn’t care for it.  But you know what?  It was delicious!  Moist and flavorful- all of the things I felt a meatloaf should be.  From then on, my world of meatloaf was reborn!

Several years later, I feel that I’ve found my own perfect meatloaf- Satisfying, yet healthy.
A blend of flavors, moist, and colorful…with a nostalgia for days gone by.  My Farm Stand Meatloaf is a crowd pleaser for sure, and with a few quick tricks, it’s on the table in under 30.

Farm Stand Meatloaf

1/2 lb ground sweet italian sausage
1/2 lb ground hot italian sausage
1 lb lean ground turkey
1 medium zucchini, grated
1 cup grated carrot
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1/4 cup grated Romano/ Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1 egg

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and smoosh together with hands.  Really, your hands are your best tools in the kitchen, and for meatloaf, there’s simply no better way to go.  Just remember to take your rings off!!  Once smooshed together, I press the mix into the cups of a muffin tin.  It usually makes 12 perfect “muffins”.  I also have a great scone pan that I like- it’s similar to my muffin tin, but is squared off instead of round.  Somehow it makes it seem more “meatloaf-like”.  At any rate, you might be wondering:


I bother with the meatloaf tin for the simple fact of reliability.  I know that in a muffin tin, my tiny loaves will cook up in 25 minutes, every time.  It makes it quick, and takes out the guess work that I frequently have when making a large loaf.  “Is this sucker done?  Is the middle fully cooked?  Why are the edges burning?”  No guessing here- 25 minutes = perfection.

Once smooshed and prepped, I top each with a spoonful of barbeque sauce.  I happen to like the flavor of bbq sauce with meatloaf more than I enjoy ketchup, but if ketchup is your thing, by all means- ketchup those puppies up! 

Into a 350 degree oven they go for 25 minutes! 

Another perk to the muffin tin?  Easy portion control.  Each muffin is about 2 to 2 and 1/2 ounces, so 2 muffins is an appropriate portion.  Lastly- it makes packing leftovers SO easy.  There’s nothing more annoying to me than slicing down a meatloaf, only to have it fall apart halfway through the slice.  Come on, you know what I’m talking about!  With these guys, there’s no slicing, and no falling apart. WIN.

Give them a whirl- the hidden veggies lock in moisture, while the meat trio gives a robust flavor.  Your family won’t even notice that they are good for them!

On occasion, for little ones or for a party, I’ll top these meatloaf muffins with some mashed potatoes and bacon bits as a cute cupcake.  Easy, portable, and super fun- these ones were for my buddy’s baby shower!

Try them out!
Until next time,

PS: If you are feeling adventurous, be sure to check out the next post’s “Meatloaf Matrix” which offers variations on the standard meatloaf dish!

Cheesy Crusted Chops

February 11, 2014

Let it be known, I love pork chops.  LOVE them.  I get it from my grandmother, honestly, but I love them so much that I almost always buy the bulk family value pack from our grocery store.  I mean, really, who DOESN’T need a dozen pork chops for 2 people?!  I love the look of a bone-in chop, the sizzle of a good sear, their flavor, their versatility, and how budget friendly they are… and because I love them so, I am always looking for a new way to prepare them.  Last week’s culinary adventures may have led me to my favorite chops yet- Cheesy Crusted Chops. 

4 ingredients.
2 steps.
2 minutes of prep.
On your table in 20 minutes or less.
It doesn’t get any easier than that! 

Cheesy Crusted Chops

(serves 2, but is easy to double, triple, or make for a crowd!)

1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese
Olive oil
2 bone in chops

Combine equal parts breadcrumbs and shredded cheese.  Add small drizzles of olive oil and mix with fingers until the mixture is a moist paste-like consistency.  (Almost like a sugar scrub?)  Divide the mixture evenly on the top of 2 chops and pat down gently with hands.  Toss into the oven @ 425 for 18-20 minutes. 

simple. as. that.


Bangers and Mash

January 31, 2014

Most people that know me, know that my husband is a man who is very easily pleased.  He never wants for much, or asks for much, which sometimes makes holidays and birthdays a challenge, but makes me want to do something special just that much more.  I usually couple an experience with a gift and memorable meal.  For my honey, there’s no greater meal than Bangers and Mash. 

Bangers and Mash is a traditional British dish of mashed potatoes and sausage with a gravy- pub food at it’s finest.  My sweet husband’s face lights up any time a restaurant adventure results in a menu with Bangers and Mash.  With snow, and just moving into our new house, going out was looking like it might be a challenge for his actual birthday.  So, I decided to try my hand at making his favorite meal.  Now, I’d never made Bangers and Mash before, but I figured, what the hell- It was his birthday, after all, and things usually turn out alright when I wing it!

And oh, Mama… did it turn out!  If you do nothing else, make and devour the gravy.  Then, try not to lick the dish.  Honestly.

Presenting…Birthday Bangers and Mash!

(Serves 2 hungry people)

1 package beer and brats sausages (5 in a pack)
4 tbsp butter, divided
1/4 cup flour
1 packet onion soup mix
1 beer

1/4 cup beef broth


Melt 2 tbsp butter in a high sided skillet.  Brown the brats on all sides, and set aside on a plate. (They’ll rejoin the party in a tiny bit.)  Add an additional 2 tbsp of butter to the skillet and combine with the 1/4 cup flour to make a rue.  Slowly whisk in 1 beer, 1 packet of onion soup, and 1/4 cup beef broth.  Add in a few dashes of salt and pepper, depending on your tastes.  Whisk and bring to a boil, being sure to stir vigorously for a few minutes to eliminate lumps.  (If there are some, don’t worry- it’s going over mashed potatoes, and will have the onions in there…and no one will notice AT ALL. I promise.)  Once boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer and add the brats back into the gravy.  Continue to simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring and turning the brats occasionally.  If your gravy seems too thick, add a few splashes of beef broth.  Too thin?? add some flour, a spoonful at a time.

Serve in a pool of gravy, atop your favorite mashed potatoes.  For me, I love the speed and convenience of  Ore-Ida’s Steam and Mash potatoes.  They can be found in the freezer section, get steamed right in the bag, and then mashed with 2/3 cup of milk and a few tabs of butter.  They turn out amazingly delicious, without the hassle of peeling and boiling potatoes.  Win!

Darling husband loved his Birthday Bangers.  I was told they have to be a frequent meal, and not just for special occasions… and since they took under 30 minutes, that’s no problem at all!

Until next time…. give it a swirl!


Speedy Stout Beer Beef Stew

December 10, 2013

As I gaze out my window, huge snowflakes are falling down, and it always makes me crave hearty “stick to your bones” food.  Since today is a Snow Day in teacher land, I have extra time… but usually, with the hustle bustle of life, a pot pie or a stew is just something I don’t have time for!  Until now, that is…  With a bit of pantry help, and a bit of love from some stout beer, you’d never guess that this beefy, flavorful stew can be on the table in less than 30 minutes.  WEEKDAY MAGIC!!  It’s time for:

Speedy Stout Beer Beef Stew

1 Package “pot roast” beef chunks (about a pound to a pound and a half- I usually chunk them up a bit more)
1 can of sliced white potatoes, drained
1 can sliced carrots, drained
1 jar of beef gravy (TIME SAVER)
1- 12 ounce stout beer; I used Magic Hat’s Heart of Darkness 

1 pre-made pie crust
2 tbsp minced garlic
2 tbsp italian seasoning

Heat a skillet to high heat.  I like cast iron because it gets screamin’ hot, but hey, that’s just me.
Throw in your beef chunks and season it up with a few cranks of salt and pepper.  This is just to sear them and get them a bit brown before tossing into the mix.  Once browned- really only a minute will do it, dump them into a bowl or onto a plate… and set them aside.  In the same skillet, add 2 tbsp minced garlic, 2 tbsp italian seasoning, and saute for about 2 minutes.  Add your drained can of carrots, along with your drained can of sliced potatoes, the jar of beef gravy, and 1/2 of the 12 ounce beer.  You can go ahead and drink the rest!  Simmer for 5-7 minutes, and toss beef in at the end.  Divide among 4 ramekins and top each with 1/4 of the pie crust each.  Brush each crust with melted butter, or in my case, spray it with butter flavored cooking spray. (Hey, it was easier!)  Pop them into a 425 degree oven for 15 minutes or until golden brown.  Let sit for a few minutes, as they will be “burn the roof of your mouth” hot.   Sit back, enjoy, and relish in the thought that you still have the rest of the evening to relax… and if you’re lucky… leftovers that will make your colleagues jealous!

Happy eating!