Chicken Pot Pie with Baked Apples
by Jes Mostek

Chicken Pot Pie
by Jes Mostek
serves: 4
  The crust is where you really make this recipe your own. My favorite version is a traditional pie crust (bottom and top), but puff pastry (top only) and refrigerated crescent rolls (top only) laid over the top make excellent crusts as well. Your can really mix it up with drop biscuits or even mashed potatoes.

This recipe calls for frozen, mixed veggies. If you really want that home-made taste, feel free to chop up your own choice of vegetables, but be sure to use about 25% more fresh vegetables than frozen. Partially boil, saute or steam them before adding them to the pie.

This recipe calls for "Turkey or Chicken Gravy," but if you don't have the time or resources for that, simply make a gravy out of a can of condensed cream of chicken (or mushroom or celery) soup plus half a can of milk. Whisk until smooth and scale if necessary.
    crust for the pie
  1 1/2 c.   cooked, diced chicken
  1 1/2 c.   frozen, mixed vegetables
  1 1/2 c.   "Turkey or Chicken Gravy"
  Preheat oven to 350°F

If you're using 2 crusts, place the bottom crust to the

In a large sauce pan over high medium-heat, combine turkey, frozen vegetables and soup mixture. Heat, stirring constantly, just until heated through (2-3 minutes).

Note: if you’re cooking with kids, you can simply combine the cold ingredients in a large mixing bowl and add 10 minutes to the baking time.

Pour the chicken mixture into the pie pan and place top crust over the filling.

Bake 30-40 minutes, until Pot Pie is heated through and crust is cooked through and golden brown on top.
Microwaved "Baked" Apples
by Jes Mostek
serves: 4
  A faster version of the traditional!
  4   tart apples
  1/2 c.   instant oatmeal (quick-cook oats)
  1/2 c.   brown sugar
  1/4 c.   butter
  1 tsp.   cinnamon
  1/2 c.   raisins, plumped
  Wash and core the apples.

In a medium bowl,combine oats, cinnamon, and brown sugar. Cut in the butter. Stir in the raisins. Fill the cavities of the cored apples with the oat mixture.

Place the filled apples in a microwave-safe casserole dish. Microwave on high for 4-8 minutes (about as long as you'd need to cook potatoes in your microwave).
Turkey or Chicken Gravy
by Jes Mostek
serves: 4
  The key to good gravy is lots of nicely-browned drippings, so if you've made a chicken or turkey, don't go washing that pan before you make the gravy! If you can put your pan directly over the burner (if it's a roasting pan, you're OK), then by all means, use that pan. If not, use a heavy-bottomed frying pan.

Also, to avoid greasy gravy, be sure to skim the liquid left by cooking the bird. If you have a gravy strainer, then I'm probably already preaching to the choir, but if you don't have one of those, simply pour the liquid into any clear glass or bowl, wait for the oil to separate, and skim it off with a ladle. Reserve a small amount of the oil for the gravy, and discard the rest of the oil into a separate can or bowl and throw it into the garbage (don't pour melted saturated fat down the drain; it'll clog the pipes in your house just as effectively as the pipe in you!)

Scale the recipe to meet your needs and the amout of drippings you have. This recipe calls for "drippings:" the skimmed liquid that comes from cooking the bird, but if you don't have enough (or any), substitute chicken broth.
  3 T.   butter (or oil from the drippings)
  3 T.   flour (or 1 T. corn starch for every 2 T. flour)
  1 c.   skimmed drippings (or chicken broth)
  1/2 tsp.   seasoned salt
  1/2 tsp.   parsley
  1/2 tsp.   sage
  1/4 tsp.   thyme
  1/4 tsp.   savory
  1/4 tsp.   oregano
    fresh cracked pepper
  1/2 c.   milk
  Drain the liquid from the pan into a separate bowl.

Using the pan from cooking the bird, or a large, heavy-bottomed frying pan, melt the butter (or return a small amount of the oil to the pan) over low heat, stirring occasionally and being careful not to scorch.

Remove from heat. Whisk in flour. Gradually add the drippings or broth, stirring until well mixed. Add the seasonings and the milk.

Return pan to the burner. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until thickened and smooth.

At this point, you'll want to judge the texture of your gravy. If it's too thick, add a bit more drippings/stock or milk. If it's too thin for you, you'll need to add more flour. But to prevent the gravy from getting lumpy, look to the note below. If it's just right for you, then skip to the next step, Goldilocks.

Cook for another 5 minutes, to cook off the starchy taste of the flour. Serve hot.

To add the flour to too-thin gravy, you can either use a sifter over the pan while whisking raidly, or you can make a reux (pronounced roo). To make a reux with milk and flour, simply combine 2 T. flour with 1/4 c. milk (eyeball it) in an airtight container, and shake rapidly. Pour the reux, a little at a time, into the gravy, while whisking rapidly (be careful to keep the lumps in the reux out of the gravy, or they'll be hard to beat out of the gravy.

But keep in mind that lumps are not the end of the world; they're a mark of a gravy that's home-made! A machine may churn out a gravy with a perfect texture, but it's far from a perfect taste.