Chicken Pot Pie

This is a recipe I love to share with as many busy cooks as possible. Except for the deli chicken, you can have all ingredients waiting for you in pantry or fridge. It’s hearty enough for big eaters while being kid-friendly enough for even picky eaters. Most kids love chicken and the yummy Alfredo sauce is comfortingly creamy.

We’ve made all kids of additions and substitutions to the filling recipe. My most recent is adding 1/2 cup frozen pearl onions. The frozen ones I find at my Walmart are really nice. The are all the same nice little marble size, and they are already blanched and peeled. That is huge.

I like to use a peeled red bell pepper in place of the pimentos. I burn the pepper under my broiler on a piece of foil. When it’s burned on all sides, gather the foil up and around so it can steam inside. After a few minutes you can peel, seed, and chop.

My friend, Cindy, adds sautéd celery and mushrooms. Some moms make it with green beans because that’s what their kids will eat.

Yield: 1, 9-inch pie to serve 4 to 6

About 1/2 fully-cooked deli chicken, meat taken off the bones

1, 15–ounce jar Alfredo sauce

½ cup frozen peas and carrots

2 tablespoons chopped pimentos

Salt and pepper to taste

Pinch of dried thyme

1 package Pillsbury pie crusts or your own recipe for 2-crust pie

1 egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon water for egg glaze to brush on top crust

  1. Preheat the oven to 375º. 
  2. Stir together chicken, Alfredo sauce, peas and carrots, and pimentos. Stir in salt, pepper and thyme.
  3. Line a pie pan with one piece of the pie dough. Fill with chicken mixture. Top with remaining piece of pie dough and crimp the edges. At this point you can also decorate with extra crust. Brush on egg glaze. Bake 35 minutes or until crust is golden brown and pie is hot and bubbly.

Huevos Rancheros

Cook this fabulous dish over coals, on the grill, or stovetop. Use a large skillet, or in this case my paella pan.

Huevos Rancheros

Huevos Rancheros
Yield: 7-8 servings

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup chopped onions
3 cloves garlic, chopped
4 large tomatoes, diced
3 roasted poblano chiles, peeled, seeded, and diced
1 chipotle chile, chopped (optional)
1 tablespoon chili powder
½ teaspoon cumin
Chicken stock as needed
7 – 8 eggs
Salt and pepper to taste
8 crispy corn tortillas
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 – 1 ½ cups prepared pico de gallo
1/2 cup chopped cilantro

  1. Heat oil in skillet and add onions and garlic; cook and stir 3 – 5 minutes until soft. Add tomatoes, poblano, chipotle, chili powder, and cumin. Mix well and cook until tomatoes start to break down and become a salsa-like consistency. If salsa becomes too thick, stir in a little chicken stock. Break eggs on top of salsa; cover skillet and cook 10 – 12 minutes, until eggs are done to your preference. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. To serve, spoon a cooked egg, along with some of the salsa, on crispy tortilla. Top with cheese, pico, and cilantro.


Pithivier with Chicken, Ham, Sun-dried Tomatoes and Herbs (Pee-‘tee-vee-a)

Yield: One, 9-inch pie with 6 – 8 servings

This simple-to-make French pie is beautiful and as delicious as it looks. Use store-bought puff pastry and it’s a snap to put together. This recipe is for a savory chicken pie and you can also make sweet pithiviers. One example is the apricot filling below.

1 package Pepperidge Farm puff pastry dough, defrosted

2 tablespoons butter

1 medium onion, chopped

2 – 3 cloves garlic, minced

¼ cups chopped sun-dried tomatoes

2 tablespoons flour

1 ½ cups chicken stock

Meat from 1 deli chicken

About 6 ounces chopped ham 1 – 1 ½ cups

½ cup chopped, cooked red bell peppers and/or ¼ – ½ cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes

1 teaspoon dried thyme

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1 egg, beaten

  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. On a lightly floured surface, lightly roll one piece of puff pastry to about 1/8-inch thickness. Use a 9-inch cake pan to cut out a circle. Dock the surface (bottom crust). Repeat with remaining piece of puff pastry, except make this one 10 inches diameter and do not dock. Freeze rounds on prepared baking sheet while preparing filling.
  2. Filling: Heat butter in a large skillet and add onion; cook and stir until onions begin to soften. Add garlic and cook a few more minutes. Add flour; cook and stir a minute or two. Slowly whisk in chicken stock; bring to a simmer, and whisk at a simmer for a minute. Stir in chicken, ham, peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, thyme, and parsley. Refrigerate mixture until cold.
  3. Remove crusts from freezer and position bottom crust in center of baking sheet. (Set top crust aside.) Pile filling in middle of bottom crust, leaving a 1-inch border clean. Lightly and carefully brush just the top of this border with the beaten egg, being careful not to let the egg drip down the sides of the puff, which would seal the sides and keep the puff from rising.
  4. Now place the remaining round on top, carefully forming around the mounded filling. Press the two edges together lightly to seal. Use a paring knife to score the top crust in the traditional spiral pattern or crosshatch or a pattern of your choice. Make a hole in the very center of the top crust. Place in freezer for 30 minutes while oven preheats to 400º.
  5. Remove Pithiviers from freezer and brush the top with egg wash, again being careful not to let the egg drip down over edges of dough. Place in preheated oven. Turn oven down to 375º and bake until puffed and golden brown, about 45 minutes.


Apricot filling:

12 ounces dried apricots, chopped

1 cup water

½ cup sugar

Simmer apricots and water 15 minutes. Stir in sugar and return to simmer. Cover, simmer on low until very thick, about 15 minutes.

Pithivier constructed and ready for the oven.

Spaghetti Sauce

Judie’s Spaghetti Sauce

Yield: 6 – 8 servings

As my granddaughter, Taylor, says, “A recipe is just a guideline.” Especially true of my sauce recipe. The amounts don’t need to be exact. You might not have Italian sausage – Jimmy Dean breakfast sausage is fine. You might need to stretch the amount and add extra tomatoes. You can add more red wine, or leave it out. I bet you end up making this your own version!

It’s an all-purpose sauce. Use it as-is on spaghetti, as sauce for Chicken Cacciatore, on meatball sandwiches, or wherever you need Italian sauce. In my kitchen, leftover sauce often finds its way as a base for vegetable soup (non-vegetarian).

Freezer in freezer bags up to 2 months.

1 pound Italian sausage (hot or mild or a mix)

1 pound ground chuck

1 onion, diced

2 – 5 cloves garlic, finely minced (amount depends on your taste and size of cloves)

1, 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes

1, 12-ounce can tomato paste

1 tablespoon dried Italian mixed herbs (or several tablespoons chopped fresh herbs*)

1 tablespoon A-1 Sauce

1, 10 ½ -ounce can beef broth

½ cup red wine

Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Cook sausage and ground chuck in a large Dutch oven over medium heat, chopping with a spoon or spatula as it cooks. When meat is almost done, drain off fat and liquid. Add onion and garlic and cook until onion is tender.
  2. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, herbs, A-1 Sauce, beef broth, and red wine. Simmer on low heat for 30 to 45 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

*Such as rosemary, oregano, thyme, basil, savory, marjoram.

Extra: Depending on what I’m using this sauce for, who will be eating it, and what I have on hand, I like to add capers (about 1 tablespoon), Kalamata olives, and/or extra slivered garlic.

Judie’s Paella with Sausage, Chicken, and Shrimp

Judie’s Paella with Sausage, Chicken, and Shrimp

Yield: 4 big servings with leftovers

1 pound bulk sausage (I use Jimmy Dean regular)

1 large onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced (or to taste)

2 cups sliced mushrooms (optional)

½ bunch flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Large pinch of saffron

1 tablespoon paprika

1, 15-ounce can whole tomatoes, hand-crushed

3 cups deboned deli chicken meat, chopped or torn into bite-size pieces

2 cups short-grain rice (Often suggested is Spanish rice, Bomba, but it’s easier to find Arborio.)

4 cups chicken stock plus more as needed

Salt and pepper to taste

1 cup frozen peas or lima beans

24 raw large shrimp, peeled


  1. Brown sausage in a Paella pan or very large skillet. When done, remove to a platter. To the pan, add onion, garlic, and mushrooms and cook until soft. Add saffron and paprika and stir well to spread flavors.
  2. Add tomatoes and simmer until thickened and slightly caramelized. Add chicken and rice and stir to coat everything well. Stir in cooked sausage and chicken stock. Simmer over low heat for 15 – 20 minutes, stirring often and adding more stock if needed. (Cooking with rice is not exact – some rice may absorb more liquid than others.)
  3. When rice is tender, stir in peas and then place shrimp on top, pushing down into hot mixture. Cook 5 – 10 minutes, or until shrimp is done.
  4. Turn heat to medium and cook, without stirring, for a few minutes to allow the rice to form a crust on the bottom of the pan. This crust is called “socarrar,” which means “to toast.” Don’t worry if you omit this step – your paella will be  delicious no matter what.

Braided Bread

Breakfast Braided Bread

Braided Bread

Yield: 1 loaf


1 loaf frozen bread dough, unthawed

Filling of your choice

Egg glaze: 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water


  1. Preheat oven to 350º Line a baking sheet with parchment or spray with non-stick spray.
  2. On a floured surface, roll out the dough into a 12” x 15” rectangle.
  3. Place filling down center of rectangle, going the long way.
  4. Use a pastry scraper to make 1/2-inch cuts along the edge of the dough on either side of the filling.
  5. Starting at one side, criss-cross the cut strips over the filling. Pinch ends together to keep in the filling.
  6. Transfer braided dough to prepared baking sheet. Brush dough with egg glaze.
  7. Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until lightly golden brown.


Sweet Fillings:

Cream cheese: 8 ounces cream cheese beaten with 1/3 cup sugar

Fruit: Solo brand fruit pastry filling (available with pie fillings at the grocery store)


Savory Fillings:

Sun-dried tomatoes, goat cheese and chopped basil

Pizza sauce, pepperoni and mozzarella

Ham and cheddar cheese