Roasted Cabbage & Sausage with Honey Balsamic Glaze

Roasted Cabbage, Sausage and Honey Balsamic Glaze

(Becky, the Mama.)

Cooking or contemplating new recipes has always, for me, been the perfect Angst-Free Zone. I started copying and collecting recipes from my mother and grandmother when I was ten or eleven years old, painstakingly printing them by hand and tucking them into my $1.00 dime store metal recipe box. This activity was pure pleasure for me, an escape from summer boredom and a refuge from bad days at school.

With the election and crazy world events of late, there seems to be debates or conflict or pressure to “believe what I believe!” at every turn. The phone rings in the evenings with political calls; TV ads blare about Whose Fault Everything Is; and even Facebook, normally an Angst Free Zone for me, now feels like one of those awkward family conflicts that you happen to walk in on, and can’t wait to escape from.

So it was with a huge grin that I spied this little e-card on a friend’s Facebook page:

That’s me!  I’m just over here in my Angst-Free Kitchen Corner saying, “Hey! I made cabbage!”   Although,  I must say it was really, really great cabbage.  Sliced in thick steak-like slices and slathered with butter and seasoning.  Then served with grilled chicken-apple sausages and drizzled with a honey-balsamic reduction.

Every good hostess knows that the best way to break up an awkward family debate is to divert attention by cooking something that smells amazing, and looks so delicious that all conversation stops, as wordless lip-licking and tummy-rubbing take over.   This is one of those simple, delicious, comforting meals that could possibly bring about World Peace.   At least at your dining table.

Roasted Cabbage & Sausage with Honey Balsamic Glaze

Preheat oven to 375 degrees


1 head of cabbage

2 T. olive oil

1 T. butter

4 chicken-apple sausage links (I used Johnsonville. Of course you can use any kind of sausage links you like in this recipe. Or for vegans, try Rachel’s favorite vegan sausage: Smoked Apple Sage Field Roast Sausages)

1/2 c. balsamic vinegar

1 clove garlic, minced

1 T. honey

Grill Seasoning or Salt & Pepper to taste


Slice cabbage in 3/4 inch pieces as shown below.

Put olive oil and butter on a large baking sheet, and place  in the oven for a minute until butter melts.  Using a pastry brush, mix the oil and butter together and spread evenly on pan.  Lay the cabbage pieces on the buttered-oiled pan, leaving space between each piece. Dip pastry brush into excess oil-butter surrounding the cabbage slices,  and brush the tops of the cabbage.

Sprinkle with salt and pepper or grill seasoning, lightly.  Put in oven to roast for 15 to 20 minutes or until the bottom turns dark brown in places.  With a wide spatula, turn over, and sprinkle this side with salt and pepper or grill seasoning as well. Return to oven for another 10 to 15 minutes or until as soft as you like it.

In a small saucepan, mix the vinegar,  honey and garlic together and stir over a low flame.  Cut sausages in half, lengthwise and brush the cut sides with some of the balsamic mixture.

Put on oiled grill pan, cut side down and grill until nice dark grill marks appear and sausage is sizzling hot. Turn over and heat the other side.

In the meantime allow the balsamic mixture to continue to simmer (at medium to medium high heat) until it is reduced by half, and syrupy.

Arrange the cabbage slices with two sausage halves on plate as shown in picture. Drizzle both cabbage and sausage,  prettily,  with about a tablespoon of balsamic reduction. Serve.  (I added a little side of chunky hash browns as well in photo below.)

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Vodka Sauce with Chicken, Italian Salami and Artichokes

Vodka Sauce with Chicken, Italian Salami and Artichokes

One of my friends, Shirley, who knows me well, posted this picture on her facebook page and said it reminded her of one special person, and wondered if that person might recognize herself. I saw it and immediately claimed it.

If you saw our first post on this blog, you know that I’m famous for burning food. I am a good cook, but I just get distracted easily. So the smoke alarm, for many years, was often our dinner bell. One day my eldest son Zach walked into the kitchen as it was billowing with smoke pouring out of the oven. “Mmm mmmm mmm,” he said, “Smells like mom’s home cooking!”

When my second born, Zeke, was about five-years old, I made him a perfectly browned piece of toast. He took it, walked to the trash can and started automatically scraping it with a knife. “Zeke, Honey,” I said, “You don’t have to scrape it today. I didn’t burn it this time!” He looked at me, his eyes wide, and said, “Oh, I thought we always have to whittle our toast.”

Once when my youngest son Gabe was about twelve, he was home from school, feeling sick. I decided to make him some breakfast and put a pan of bacon on the burner to cook. Then I promptly forgot about it and went to take a nice long bubble bath. If it were not for Gabe’s quick action with baking soda and a pan lid, my kitchen could have easily gone up in flames.

Having heard these stories, and seen enough of my absent-mindedness up close, my husband Greg now hovers near when I cook, constantly asking if I remembered to turn off the stove and oven, ready to spring into action at the slightest smell of smoke. My children would agree that I needed, “Someone to Watch Over Me.” Especially in the kitchen. With Greg on the job, they all rest easier.

Today’s recipe is one that I created last week, and I am pleased to report that no kitchen cabinets were burned and no innocent food was scorched in the creation of this dish.

This easy vodka pasta sauce turned out creamy and delicious with lots of flavor layers going on, from the thin salty pieces of Italian salami to the nice bite of the tomatoes and artichokes, to the smoothness of the melted cheese. I learned to make a simple pasta sauce from a New York-Italian friend of mine: it was just lots of fresh grated garlic, a few chopped fresh tomatoes, and about ½ cup of creamy cheese, like a brie or soft Buffalo mozzarella or even cream or goat cheese (or a combination).  You simply melt it all together over low heat, and pour over pasta. This sauce springs from that basic idea, but I’ve fancied it up a bit.

Vodka Sauce with Chicken, Italian Salami and Artichokes

Serves 4


¼ c. thin Italian style salami diced (any hard salami can be substituted)

1/2 c chopped artichoke hearts (mine were canned in water)

¼ c chopped sun-dried tomatoes

1/2 c. soft white cheese (brie, fresh mozzerela, cream cheese or goat cheese — or a combination)

3 cloves garlic, minced

¼ – 1/2  c. vodka (according to your taste)

1 c. crushed tomatoes or 1 c. fresh tomatoes whirled in blender until as chunky as you’d like in your sauce

1 t. dried oregano or Italian seasoning

1 cup chopped or shredded cooked or roasted chicken

Fresh basil and grated Parmesan cheese  for garnish

Pasta of your choice, cooked al dente  (save some of the pasta water to add to the sauce) to serve four people


While the pasta is cooking (according to package directions), chop the salami and render out the fat in a skillet until it has crisped a little.

Add the rest of the ingredients (except for the chicken,  basil and Parmesan) and stir over medium heat until the cheese melts.

Sauce ingredients tossed in pan ready to be stirred and heated

Add pasta water until it is the sauce is at desired thickness. Finally, add chicken and stir until heated through. Serve over pasta, and garnish with Parmesan cheese and ribbons of fresh basil.

Vegetarian Option: Substitute roasted chick peas for meat and add 1 t. smoked paprika

Vegan Option: Sub roasted chick peas for meat, add 1 t. smoked paprika and sub vegan cream cheese like Tofutti for cheeses

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Chicken Tortilla Soup

Becky’s Chicken Tortilla Soup

(The Mama)

Greg and I are in Neskowin, Oregon this week — a tiny little beach town with impossibly cute houses surrounded by brilliantly colored flowers, some blossoms as big as dinner plates.  I hit the beach cooking, barely having time to gather in a car load of groceries before cooking dinner for a dozen on Saturday night (sour cream chicken enchiladas).  Yesterday, I cooked lunch for 22 of Greg’s extended family members dropping by to hug, share stories and sit a spell between strolls to the beach.  Greg lost both of his parents when they were just in their 50’s (our age!) so connections to them now — people and places — are doubly meaningful.  Since Greg and his siblings were young, Neskowin was the family vacation spot and is where all of them return to, as Greg says, “fill our souls.” So while they are filling their souls, I am filling their tummies.

For the lunch crowd, I served sandwiches and tortilla soup, with blueberry-raspberry bars for dessert. It was perfect for a cool, foggy day at the beach, huddled up with people we love.  Plus it makes a bunch!!

Becky’s Chicken Tortilla Soup

Becky’s Chicken Tortilla Soup


1 seeded red bell pepper
1/2 red onion
3 cloves garlic
2 t. poultry seasoning
2 t. cumin
1 T. brown sugar
1 to 2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (medium to hot heat level), available in small cans in Mexican and Spanish food section of market.*

1 28-ounce can fire roasted crushed tomatoes, divided in half
4 cups chicken or veggie broth (divided 1 and 3)

3 to 4 cups roasted chicken, pulled off bone and diced or shredded ( roasted chickens are available in most grocery delis)
1 cup frozen corn
1 zucchini, dice


steak or grill seasoning (or salt and pepper), to taste

1/4 cup bar-b-que sauce
1/2 cup heavy cream (optional)

Topping Options:
crushed tortilla chips
grated cheese
chopped green onions
diced avocados
sour cream or Greek Yogurt
wedges of fresh lime


In a blender or food processor put the first seven ingredients (bell pepper through chipotles), half of the crushed tomatoes, and one cup of broth. Blend well.

Pour this mixture into big soup pot and add the rest of the crushed tomatoes and broth.

To this add frozen corn, chicken, and zucchini.

Simmer over medium heat until zucchini is tender and soup is heated through. Season with Steak or Grill Seasoning (or salt and pepper) to taste. To make a creamier soup, you can add 1/2 cup of cream.

To serve, put a handful of crushed tortilla chips in the bottom of each soup blow. Carefully ladle on soup, then top with your choice of toppings.

Vegetarian Version: Use veggie broth, pinto, ranch or black beans in place of chicken. Vegans omit cheese and cream

*I keep the leftover Chipotles in Adobo Sauce in a small Ziploc bag in the freezer and break off what I need to add depth of flavor and heat to other Mexican dishes.

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Better-than-Restaurant Chicken Tenders

In a couple of weeks we’re headed to family beach vacation in Neskowin, Oregon. I’m truly looking forward to it; however,  this is one of those vacations where there will be lots of family rooming in close quarters.  This is fun for a short run, but usually after the third day of this, people began longing for their own space and some start to get a wee bit cranky. It’s a challenge for humans to stay gracious when they lose their normal personal space. One of my friends, author Charlene Baumbich,  confessed after three days of being cooped up with a bunch of women on a retreat: “I’m running out of nice.”

I was visiting on the phone with my daughter Rachel about this subject yesterday.  She is heading to a week of family vacation to a Florida beach –with all the joys and challenges of being in close quarters for a week with lots of people. And an active baby.

“Just in case you start feeling closed-in,  I’ll share how I handled it our last vacation to Neskowin,”  I told her.  “ I knew I was about to get cranky.  I’d been cooking and cleaning and babysitting nonstop, and was getting exhausted from all this ‘vacationing.’ And I was PMSing.  So I went to the tippy top floor, which was three stories high, stepped out on the deck and took a deep breath. I looked out at the ocean and breathed and prayed until I felt calm.  Then I turned to go back inside because the air was turning quite chilly.  And that is when I realized I’d accidentally locked the door behind me.”

“What did you do?” Rachel asked.

“Well, I hollered and screamed but to no avail.  Everyone was in the living room watching a movie, on the first floor.  So I gingerly stepped over the banister and jumped to the roof below.  Then I reached back and grabbed a plastic lawn chair and tossed it off the roof in front of the picture window in the living room, hoping someone would notice.”

“Did they?”

“Well, it took two deck chairs and one lounge chair, but eventually someone noticed it was raining lawn furniture and came to my rescue.”

“So what you are saying, Mom, is that the moral of this story is that if I should start to feel cranky or closed in, I should simply climb on the roof and start throwing lawn furniture off of it.”

“Yes. Pretty much.  Trust me, it helps.”

I’m so glad I can be there to give seasoned wisdom to my daughter based on my many years of hard-earned experience.

In addition to that piece of advice that you are also now free to use at will on your family summer vacation,  I will also share a recipe that is Greg’s all-time favorite vacation food:  chicken fingers.  He thinks mine are better than any restaurant version and I know they are at least slightly healthier.  I use one of Paula Deen’s secrets to the best fried chicken in the south: dipping the chicken in a mixture of eggs and Hot Buffalo Sauce. You’d think the tenders would turn out fire engine hot, but they aren’t hot at all, just amazingly flavorful and tender.

I like to serve these crunchy chicken fingers atop a salad to beef up the nutrition and add some fiber.  Vegans, like Rachel, can do follow same method using firm tofu, omitting the eggs.  Tofu takes on a whole new yummy crunch when battered and pan fried.  (Of course, so do  rubber bands and shoe leather.)

And if this dish doesn’t turn out well for you, you can always climb on the roof and throw it out on the lawn.  It is a marvelous stress reliever.  I guarantee it.

Better-Than-Restaurant Chicken Tenders (Over a Salad with Buffalo Ranch Dressing)

Better-than-Restaurant Chicken Tenders

Pre-heat Oven to 300 degrees


1 to 1.25 pounds chicken tenders (or chicken breasts, sliced in “fingers”)

1/4 cup Frank’s Red Hot Buffalo Sauce

2 eggs

1 cup flour

1 t. Cajun seasoning (I like Tony Cachere’s brand) or other seasoned salt that has paprika or chili pepper

1 t. grill or steak seasoning (or 1/2 t. salt and 1/2 t. pepper)

Healthy oil of your choice to make 1/4 inch deep in your favorite skillet (I use a combination of olive oil and coconut oil)


Heat oil over medium high heat or flame.

In a low shallow bowl mix hot sauce and eggs.

Mix together eggs and Frank’s Red Hot Sauce — Paula Deen’s secret to her famous fried chicken

In another similar bowl, mix flour with seasonings. Using tongs, dip the chicken tenders, a few a time, first in hot sauce/eggs, then roll in seasoned flour.

Dip tenders first in mixture of hot sauce and eggs, then in flour seasoned with Cajun Seasoning and Grill Seasoning

Place tenders in oil and when golden brown on one side, flip to cook the other side. Place first batch on a cookie sheet and keep warm in oven while you finish pan-frying the rest of the tenders.  I only put 4 to 5 tenders in the skillet at one time.

Only pan fry 4 or 5 tenders at a time.

Put pan-fried tenders on baking sheet and keep in warm oven until you’ve cooked all the batches.

Taste one as soon as they are cool enough to touch.  If it needs more salt, sprinkle them lightly with a bit more Cajun seasoning. (If you love hot hot tenders you can also sprinkle them with more  red hot sauce at this point.)

These are awesome just as they are served with your favorite dipping sauce or sauces.   I typically serve them atop a salad with one of the following quick dressings:

Buffalo Ranch: 2 parts Ranch dressing with 1 part Buffalo Sauce.  (For one big salad, I mix about 1/4 cup light Ranch dressing with 2 T. buffalo sauce)

Honey Mustard Ranch: Two parts Ranch Dressing with 1 part mustard and 1 part honey. (For one big salad I mix 1/4 cup light Ranch dressing with 1 T. mustard and 1 T. honey.)

Variation:  If I have leftover chicken tenders,  I like to heat them up for lunch the next day, then cut them in small pieces,  toss them in a little Buffalo sauce, and serve with a bed of chopped celery, sprinkled with a bit of crumbled blue cheese or feta, and top with Buffalo Ranch Dressing.   It’s like eating chicken wings…. with a fork!  Really good with a little side of watermelon to cut the heat.

Leftover chicken tenders cut in bite-size pieces, tossed in buffalo sauce, served over a bed of celery with feta cheese crumbles and buffalo ranch dressing. Mmmm, mmmmm spicy, crunchy, yummy lunch!

Veganize It: Substitute slices of firm tofu, and omit the eggs.  Proceed with recipe.

Veggie Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas

Veggie Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas


My sweet grandmother Nonny raised seven children during the Depression in the dust bowl of West Texas.  She somehow managed this through prayer and love,  hard work and creative frugality.  Leftover biscuit crumbs would be saved and turned into bread pudding.  Precious scraps of meat were collected and added to the ever-simmering pot of red beans.  (A staple my mother ate so often that it took her decades to make friends with beans again.) Even in her old age when finances eased and groceries were more abundant than people under her roof,  Nonny horded every little  leftover to be “re-purposed” into the next day’s meal.

We all laugh about the Thanksgiving when someone spotted a little dab of food on Nonny’s kitchen floor.  A bit of stray stuffing,  perhaps?  “What is that?” my Aunt Etta asked, peering at the blob.  To which Nonny quipped, “I don’t know.  But wrap it in Saran and save it.”

Our generation has just survived its own recession (some surviving better than others), and recent stats show that Americans gained a new appreciation for cooking at home.  And for not being wasteful with the food we buy.  To make good use of all those leftovers, everyone needs a good Clean Out the Fridge recipe.  Pastas and stews are wonderful for this.  But my absolute favorite way to use leftovers is the following recipe for veggie sour cream chicken enchiladas.

If I have a dozen corn tortillas, I can usually cobble together the ingredients for this meal from the bits and pieces of leftovers in my fridge.  The key is to think creatively and use what you have. No sour cream? Try a little Ranch Dressing and Greek Yogurt instead.  If you don’t have the veggies I use in this recipe, use what you have! Any kind of squash, mushrooms, shredded carrots, greens, in almost any combo will be wonderful.  Any combination of cheeses taste great in this recipe, so use up those little bits of leftovers.   All beans will work well, too.  Heck, you can even use ground beef in this dish and call it “chicken.” I’m easy.  Just have fun, use this recipe as a basic guide, and get rid of those leftovers in a tasty way!

*Note to Vegetarians:  Omit chicken and sub more beans or other non-meat protein. 

**Vegans:  In addition to omitting chicken, use Rachel’s recipe for cashew queso, instead of the cheese sauce.  Make it on the thin side as it will thicken up during cooking. Omit cheese in filling and for topping.  It will still be wonderful!

Veggie Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas

Becky’s Veggie Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas

Makes a dozen enchiladas, serves six

Note: You’ll need 2 1/3 cups grated cheese, total in this recipe — some for cheese sauce, some for filling, and some for sprinkling on top.

Cheese Sauce:

¼ cup olive oil (or butter, or Earth Balance)

¼ cup flour

½ onion, small dice

3 cloves garlic, grated  or minced

2 ½ c. veggie broth (or chicken broth)

2/3 cup sour cream (I had Mexican crema and Greek yogurt leftover and used a combo of this instead. It was delish in the dish. I’ve subbed a mixture of ranch dressing and cream before. Just look for something white and creamy in your fridge and call it “sour cream”!)

1 1/3 c. shredded white cheddar or Monterrey Jack (Any white cheese will do – I emptied the fridge with a mixture of provolone, Swiss and white cheddar and tossed in a little feta for good measure.)

1 small can of green chilis, diced  (you can sub 2 T. chopped pickled jalapeños or even chopped olives or pepperoncinis)


 2/3 c. shredded white cheddar cheese (or any mixture of cheeses you have on hand)

1 to 1 1/2 c. shredded or diced cooked chicken (Love left-over rotisserie chicken for this, uses up all those little pieces after the family attacks the breasts and thighs and it looks like the buzzards got to it.)

1 16 oz can black beans, drained (I didn’t rinse, feel free to if you prefer. Use another kind of beans if you’d rather.)

1 ½ cups chopped fresh spinach

½ cup corn (frozen, canned and drained…. tonight, I cut the kernels off a leftover piece of corn-on-cob)

1 tomato, diced (red pepper would also work instead)

1/2 t. Mexican or Cajun seasoning (Or chili powder, salt and pepper)

12 corn tortillas

1/3 c. grated cheese for final topping

Dash smoked paprika


Preheat Oven to 375 degrees


Saute onions and garlic in oil in skillet on medium high until transparent.  Sprinkle ¼ cup flour over all, and stir to make a roux. Pour in veggie broth slowly, and stir over heat as it thickens.  Turn down heat,  then toss in cheese (1 1/3 c.) and stir until it is melted, stirring so as not to burn.  Add drained green chilis.  Simmer on low for a couple of more minutes to let flavors mingle, then turn off heat.

Cheese sauce, ready to pour over stuffed tortillas


Mix 2/3 cup white cheddar, chicken, black beans, spinach, corn, tomato and seasonings in a large bowl. Check seasonings and adjust to your taste.

Veggie, chicken, cheese filling


Wrap tortillas, six at a time in a large damp paper towel. Microwave about 30 seconds to one minute until tortillas are moist, soft and pliable.

Tortillas, wrapped in wet paper towel, six at a time, nuked until pliable


Fill each corn tortilla with about ¼ c of filling.  Roll and place seam side down in an 11 by 13 ovenproof pan that has been sprayed lightly with oil.  Continue this until the pan is filled. Carefully pour entire pan of cheese sauce over top, evenly.  (It is okay if sauce is a little thin, as it will bake and thicken.)  Sprinkle top with 1/3 cup more of white cheese, and about a tablespoon of chopped jalapenos if you like.  I like a sprinkle of smoked paprika for color.

Enchiladas going into oven

Bake for about 20 minutes or until cheese is melted, and top turns golden around the edges.  (Sometimes I broil the top for a minute to get it a bit more golden.)

Veggie Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas, just out of the oven

Garnish with diced avocados and tomatoes.  Serve with side of rice.  (I love a good brown and wild rice mix, with a bit of lime and chopped cilantro with this dish.)

Veggie Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas

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Peachy Balsamic Chicken

My daughter Rachel posted a story about her “nesting instinct” gone wild in the kitchen this week. I am now close to menopause but my husband would swear that I have the strongest nesting instinct of any woman who has ever lived.  And the most quirky one. The thing is,  my nesting instinct is to make a literal ‘pack rat’s nest’ out of our bed.

Every night Greg climbs into bed and  hands me various and sundry items he finds on and under the bedspread. Last night it was a camera. (Before you get the wrong idea: I was posting pics of food on my blog.) There is always the standard computer, books, paper and pen, eye glasses, but other items that have made their way into our bed-nest include, but are not limited to: earrings, scissors, credit cards, clocks, various food stuffs, Legos, lost keys and checks. Greg actually loves to find things: looking for lost golf balls and coins makes him happy. I am sure he was a champion Easter Egg hunter as a little boy. So he rather gets a kick out of what unusual items he finds each night, nestled  among the sheets and blankets.

Last night I was in the bathtub when I heard Greg shout, with a Eureka!-like tone in his voice: “I just found your running shoe under the covers a the bottom of the bed!”

When I happened upon this recipe, a variation of one that Rachael Ray made on her show, I was almost as thrilled as Greg was to find my missing shoe in the bed. It’s definitely a “Eureka!” dish. Very few ingredients, very little time, very inexpensive and the sauce is so scrumptious, you’ll want to eat it with a spoon. I made this twice for two different groups of girlfriends, serving it alongside risotto and a a crisp salad.  They lapped it up!  Another of my best “go-to” recipes, this one yields lots of praise and requests for the recipe, for so little effort on the cook’s part.

Peachy-Balsamic Glazed Chicken

Becky’s Peachy Balsamic Chicken

Serves 3-4


2 T. olive oil
6-7 boneless chicken thighs
grill or steak seasoning (or your favorite seasoned salt)
1/2 c. chicken or vegie broth

1/4 c. aged balsamic vinegar
1/3 c.  peach preserves or jam (or try orange marmalade, cherry or apricot jam/ preserves if you prefer)
1 T. grainy mustard (or hot Chinese mustard)

1/3 c. chopped green onions for garnish

Lightly season both sides of chicken pieces with your favorite seasoned salt. In a hot large skillet with about 2 T. olive oil, saute and brown boneless chicken pieces on high heat until both sides are golden brown and chicken is cooked through. (You may want to turn down heat and cook with a lid on top if the chicken doesn’t get done in the middle, after the searing.) Remove pieces at this stage on to a platter and cover to keep warm.

In same skillet, pour in chicken broth, balsamic vinegar and peach preserves and mustard, stirring to loosen all the good bits from the bottom of the pan. Bring to a boil, then turn heat down to medium high. When the sauce is reduced and syrupy, add chicken pieces in, coating both sides as you lay them in the sauce. Simmer until the sauce thickened a bit more and chicken is hot. Garnish with chopped green onions. (Apologies — no green onions on hand, so none in this picture.  But they are truly wonderful, so add them if you’ve got them!)

Vegan Variations: This glaze, above, is fabulous drizzled over a dish of roasted butternut squash and walnuts or sauteed tofu. Just sub vegetable broth for the chicken broth.

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Rustic Iron Skillet Pot Pie

Homestyle Iron Skillet Pot Pie

My daughter is usually somewhat appalled at the disorganization in my refrigerator, along with the occasional discovery of leftovers-turned-science experiments lurking in its dark recesses.

On her last visit to Denver, her husband Jared was hungry and I told him, “Just look in the fridge and see what looks good to you. You never know what you might find.”  To which Rachel immediately deadpanned, “Or what might jump out at you.”

So before I accidentally create new life forms from my leftovers,  I really do try to use them up in more timely fashion these days. There are certain recipes I  go-to when I need to use up the food I have on hand at the end of the week. This easy version of pot pie is one of the most successful and  requested ones.

It is a little slice of flaky, creamy, hot home-style goodness. I don’t know why pot pie tastes so much better in an iron skillet than in a pie pan, but it does. And you’ll be amazed how easy it is, how fast it cooks up and comes together. (However, if you don’t have an iron skillet,  it is still pretty darn amazing in a deep dish pie pan.)

Rustic Iron Skillet Pot Pie

Serves 4 to 5


1 pie crust, your favorite recipe, or refrigerated version or vegan version. (Click link for a great flaky vegan recipe!)

1/4 c. flour

2 T. olive oil

2 T. butter or Earth Balance (vegan)

1 1/2 c. chicken, veggie, or  beef broth

2 potatoes, peeled and  diced

4 medium carrots, peeled and diced

1/4 c. teriyaki sauce

1/2 t. grated garlic

1/2 c. frozen corn

1/2 c. frozen peas

Any other bits of leftover cooked veggies you have on hand. (I had about a 1/2 c cooked mushrooms to toss into the mix tonight, along with some leftover sauteed onions & peppers.)

Leftover diced cooked meat: chicken or beef, or any combination to make 1 1/2 to 2 cups, depending on how much you like and how much room is left in the skillet! (I diced a large cooked chicken breast and a cup of diced leftover roast. I often use leftover Rotisserie chicken meat for this dish.)

For Vegans: Use 1 can drained kidney beans and 1 can drained butter beans in place of meat. The kidney beans add a nice firmness and color and the butter beans are big and creamy and well, buttery. The combination makes a very tasty veggie pot pie.  If you have a favorite vegan meat substitute, this could also be used.

Salt & Pepper to taste


Preheat to 400 degrees.

Cook diced potatoes and carrots in about two cups water with dash of salt, turning  burner to high to get a boil going, then down to medium heat to let them simmer.

While potatoes and carrots are cooking, mix 1/4 c. flour with 2 T. oil and 2 T. butter (Earth Balance for Vegans) in bottom of  10 inch iron skillet. Cook and stir constantly on medium heat until  a paste forms (happens quickly), and while stirring with one hand (use a whisk),  pour 2 1/2. cups veggie, beef or chicken broth slowly into skillet to make thickened gravy. (If you are new to gravy-making it helps to have a partner do the slow pouring of broth while you whisk.)


To the simmering gravy add:

2 T. teriyaki sauce

1/2 t. grated garlic

1/2 c. frozen corn

1/2 c. frozen peas

Any other leftover veggies you have on hand. (I had about a 1/2 c cooked mushrooms to toss in to the mix tonight, along with some leftover sauteed onions & peppers.)

To this add the drained, cooked carrots and potatoes. Gravy should be pretty thick and creamy (about consistency of heavy cream);  adjust to desired thickness by simmering more to thicken, or adding a little more broth to thin. (You can add a splash of half-in-half or cream if you want a more creamy gravy.)

At this point, add salt and pepper to taste. Stir. Remove from burner.

Place uncooked pie crust over the top of the hot gravy-veggie mixture and carefully (that skillet is hot!) tuck the edges of the pie crust just inside the cast iron pan as pictured.  Cut decorative slits in pie crust with a sharp knife  to allow steam to escape.

Transfer skillet (using potholders) to 400 degree oven  for 20 minutes or until crust is flaky and golden.

Serve pot pie at the table in the skillet, with big spoon to let each person dip out what they want. (Be sure to wrap a tea towel around handle of iron skillet so nobody burns themselves touching it.)   Best served and eaten in bowls to catch every drop of goodness.  Serve with a simple side of sliced fresh fruit and you’ve got dinner!

Variations: Some people prefer more “crust” with their pot pie. I love pie crust, too, but too often the bottom of pot pies can be soggy. So I will simply cook an extra round of pie dough, flat, on a cookie sheet,  break it up in about 2 inch pieces, and serve in a bowl at the table, allowing “pie crust” lovers to add more crispy crusts to their bowl if desired. No soggy bottoms!