Same chicken, 2 nights 2 ways

One dish I absolutely love that my mother-in-law makes is her chicken stew.  She makes it full of large pieces of chicken, potatoes, carrots and celery.  And she makes dumplings too.  I decided the other day I’d make a chicken stew but wasn’t in the mood to make the dumplings so I opted for egg noodles instead.  I didn’t have my MIL’s recipe but she’d explained it a few years back so I thought I could manage it.  I had boneless chicken breasts and thighs which I poached in the liquid.  It’s a perfect dish to make in the slow cooker and great to eat on a cold night.  The boys all ate it with gusto, although my middle son says he only likes raw carrots and wasn’t going to eat it until he noticed I gave him a bowl with no carrots in it. 

There was quite a bit left over.  Since I was doing a lot for a charity event that we were expecting around 500 people to attend, I was thinking something easy.  So, I took the leftovers and cut everything into bite-sized pieces, thickened the liquid with corn starch, added peas and put it into a puff pastry crust.  Voila! Chicken pot pie!  I had it in the oven cooking when I left with my mother babysitting.  When I returned I was told the boys liked it— except my middle son complained about the carrots!

Chicken Stew

½ small onion, diced

2-4 pounds chicken pieces

1 leek, well rinsed and cut into pieces

2 celery stalks, chopped

4 carrots

5-7 small potatoes

3-4 parsnips

1 Tbsp fresh chopped thyme

2-3 cups chicken stock

Salt (go lightly on salt at first) and pepper to taste

I sautéed the onion in olive oil then added the chicken and leeks with stock. Add carrots, potatoes and parsnips which are cut into 1-2 inch pieces along with rest of ingredients.  Bring to boil then lower to simmer for 45 minutes.  Adjust seasoning.

Chicken Pot Pie

Chicken stew leftovers

2 puff pastry sheets

½ cup frozen peas

Roll out sheet of puff pastry on well-floured surface.  Line pie plate with pastry, add smaller chopped pieces of stew reserving liquid. Mix well 2 tsp corn starch with 4 tsp water.  Put reserved liquid in sauce pan, bring to boil, add cornstarch mixture and stir well. Lower to simmer for a few minutes to thicken.  Add thickened sauce to pie.  Add frozen peas.  Moisten edges of pastry and top with other rolled puff pastry sheet.  Press edges together and trim excess.  Bake for 30-40 minutes in preheated 400°F oven.


Photos taken with iphone.  My Canon EOS 20D has not been working lately.

I wanna help!

My two youngest sons are the most enthusiastic of the three about helping in the kitchen.  The other night while I was preparing dinner, my youngest came in and shouted, “I want to help!”.  Now often if I try to help him help me, he often shouts, “I can do it!” (He’s a loud boy and really wants the independence of accomplishing it on his own.)  Well, since I’d done most of the prepping/cooking already, but my husband just got home and said he’d help by shucking the corn (local white corn, so delicious!), my son joined him out on the back deck to shuck.  It was the cutest sight, especially since the wee man was in his hot-weather-comfortable (lack of) clothes. 
My husband showed him how to remove the silk from the corn by rubbing a tea towel along the ears. 

The next night my husband made crab cakes and salad for dinner.  The chorus of “I want to help!” resounded before he’d finished processing the bread for bread crumbs. So this time they helped in making the crab cakes (“Form balls then smush flat.”),
peel carrots (“Turn them around so you’re not peeling it away to nothing.”)
and grating the carrots and beets (“Careful when it gets small so you don’t cut your fingers.”).
  They loved their dinners both nights and my youngest said “It tastes even better when I help make it!”  One of my girlfriends said that’s because you put love in as an ingredient.

Getting them to help in the preparing of the meals, especially the vegetables, might be the trick if you have reluctant eaters. 

A Winter’s Soup

A snowy Winter’s day seems like the perfect day to make soup.  The boys were home because of a “snow day” but they would have been home anyway since they had strep throat. We were expecting 7-11 inches and got somewhere on the higher side. I had wanted to make a curried cauliflower soup for the first time but since I had less than a complete head, I figured I’d add some carrots, potatoes and a couple of parsnips to the pot. Make it more of a curried vegetable soup. 


Curried Winter Vegetable Soup

1 small onion, minced

1 head (or there about) cauliflower, cut into pieces

3 potatoes, diced

4 carrots (use fewer for a more rounded flavor)., sliced

2 small parsnips, sliced

3 cups vegetable stock

1 Tbsp oil- vegetable, canola, peanut, safflower

Water—enough to cover vegetables after stock is added

Sea salt to taste (add towards the end)

Curry spice mix— I used 2 tsp Penzy’s Singapore Spice blend (black pepper, lemon peel, garlic, onion, turmeric, coriander, cumin, fenugreek, ginger, nutmeg, fennel, cinnamon, white pepper, cardamom, cloves, cayenne) with some extra:

            ¼ tsp garlic powder

            ¼ tsp turmeric

            ¼ tsp cumin

            ¼ tsp ginger

Cream (optional)

Saute the onions in the oil.  Add the curry spices.  Mix in the cauliflower so it’s well coated. Add stock, rest of vegetables and any needed water.  Bring to a boil.  Simmer until all the vegetables are tender.  Add salt to taste (Important to add salt towards the end, because as the water/stock boils away the salt becomes more concentrated and you can’t undo it). Blend with an immersion blender.  Add cream if you’d like… or not.

I really liked it but will make it with fewer carrots next time; they were the predominant flavor.  As far as the kids: my middle son said he didn’t like it even though he tried it and ate half of it without any fuss.  Actually, he was quite keen to try it.  My youngest refused and the eldest wasn’t interested at the time (he wasn’t feeling well).  We’ll see if I can get any of them to like it. It might just be a my kids really won’t eat this one! Or maybe I can blame it on the strep.  I’ll try again with the leftovers tomorrow.

At least my middle son had a little bit of energy to play in the snow.


This gallery contains 8 photos.

Braised Short Ribs I’ll follow up with full recipe.  Served it over wide egg noodles. You’ll need beef short ribs, parsnips, purple top turnips, carrots, potatoes, onions, celery, thyme, beef/veal stock or demi glace, salt and pepper, red wine. 8 … Continue reading

When you do have time

The weather has turned, the leaves are changing color and falling.  Sundays are often our days that my husband or I make a more elaborate or time consuming meal in the cooler months as the summers are picnics at the town green or back yard barbecues.  Though we often go to church in the morning and cub scouts on some Sunday afternoons, there isn’t the same daily rush.  There’s no school, no work (well, unfortunately not lately for my husband), no homework, usually no client meetings, just violin practice.  This is one of my favorite fall/winter dinners:  a whole roasted chicken with root vegetables.  It takes quite some time to prep— peeling, cutting, chopping, but really the final result is heaven at home.  The boys love it but might not eat each and every vegetable.  They seem to like more and more the more often we have it. 

Roast Chicken with Root Vegetables

  • One whole chicken
  • 10-12 baby potatoes either whole or cut in half (depending on size), leave skin on
  • 5 carrots, peeled and cut into 2-3 inch chunks
  • 5 parsnips, peeled and cut into 2-3 inch chunks
  • 5 small purple topped turnips, peeled and cut in half (I couldn’t get any, but usually use them)
  • 2-3 sweet potatoes, quartered, leave skin on
  • handful of whole garlic cloves, peeled
  • half large onion sliced
  • handful of pearl onions or shallots
  • 1 Tbsp fresh chopped thyme (strip from stems first)
  • Olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 2-3 celery stalks with leaves

Preheat oven to 425F.  Rinse and pat dry chicken.  In large bowl coat chicken with olive oil, salt and pepper and half the chopped thyme.  Stuff cavity with celery and onion ends, trim to fit. Place onion slices in the center of a roasting pan in a single layer.  Place chicken on top.  In bowl take several groups of vegetables and coat with olive oil, remaining thyme, salt and pepper.  Place around chicken. 

Roast for 20 minutes then reduce heat to 350F.  Roast for at least and hour.  (If the vegetables are crowding the chicken you can roast some on a separate cookie sheet on the rack beneath the chicken. It’s also nice to separate the vegetables from chicken pan about 20 minutes before done, so they get slightly crispy. So they roast evenly, I like to turn vegetables every 20 minutes or so, but that’s optional— once is good. )  It’s done when temperature of thigh is 165F. If it just under it should be ok as it will cook a little more when you take it out to rest.  When chicken is ready, place on cutting board for 10 minutes to rest before carving.  I don’t make a gravy or sauce since I find it’s so tasty on it’s own it’s unnecessary.  Stuffing the cavity will help breast retain juiciness. 


This is a win-win dish for the whole family.  Comforting home cooked meal on a chilly evening.  Savor the time you have with the kids.  One good thing— though it takes some time to prepare and more time to cook, it’s easy to clean up and you have some time while it’s in the oven to play.