Shortcuts to Homemade Pot Pie – Recipe


The calendar says it’s fall, which makes my stomach prep for hibernation food. Chicken Pot Pie is a comfort staple that has several variation possibilities. A few ideas: broccoli and cheese, mushrooms, swap turkey for chicken. It’s also a dish that was available in the microwave variety. Bachelor Basics ideas usually come from the frozen food aisle of the grocery. Here’s my Chicken Pot Pie recipe. It’ll take more than 10 minutes until you hear the ding for supper time, but it’s worth the time investment. Plus, it’s a great dish to cook for friends (or a date).

Homemade Pot Pie Recipe Continue reading Shortcuts to Homemade Pot Pie – Recipe

Chicken Piccata with Asparagus

Chicken piccata


Chicken Piccata can seem a daunting dish to new cooks. There are a few steps that may be new to you. Butterflying. Dredging. Searing. Deglazing. But those are just words. Hopefully, this walkthrough removes the fear and helps you unlock some advanced skills to add to your arsenal. Worst case scenario: you burn the food and end up going out for pizza. Sounds like either way you win.

If you’ve never had chicken piccata, it’s a breaded piece of chicken that’s lightly fried. Then the sauce is a rich, thick mix of garlic, lemon, white wine and capers. There are some extra ingredients most recipes call for. They are nice to haves, but not essential. I always hated buying new ingredients for a new dish that now sit in a cabinet.

The key to executing this dish well is prepping your ingredients before your start frying the chicken. As you get more comfortable, you can condense some steps and multi-task. I start heating my pan on low heat before cutting and breading the chicken. If you’ve never made chicken this way, focus on doing one thing at a time. I am fortunate to have a stellar sous chef who assists me with chopping. If you have a friend or date, a lot of meal prep can be done together. This dish is great because we made asparagus as the side dish. So my girlfriend prepped that while I focused on the main dish.

Prep Steps for Chicken Piccata

Depending the size of your chicken breasts, you may need to trim them to a more manageable size. The purpose for this is even cooking and to expedite the nom nom in your mouth. If the chicken is too thick (more than 3/4 inch), it will take longer to cook to temperature (aiming for 165). So what are you going to do if your hormone-filled bird is too big? Place the chicken breast on your cutting board, then, press your flat palm down on the chicken. With a sharp chef’s knife in your other hand, run the knife parallel to the cutting board halfway up the height of the chicken. This will create two thinner fillets of chicken.

Want to skip this step? Cool. To best cook the chicken without burning it on the stove, use an oven-safe pan. After your fry the chicken, pop the pan into a 350 degree oven. Let the chicken cook for 20ish minutes.


The rest of the steps are pretty straight forward.

The asparagus dish was really good and pretty quick. Again, for new cooks it can seem tough and there are pitfalls to boiling the eggs (optional, but tasty addition) and creating the vinaigrette. If you missed the recipe earlier this week, head over here for the full instructions.

Chicken piccata
Chicken Piccata with Asparagus
BigOven - Save recipe or add to grocery list
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
4 people 20 minutes
Cook Time
30-40 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 people 20 minutes
Cook Time
30-40 minutes
Chicken piccata
Chicken Piccata with Asparagus
BigOven - Save recipe or add to grocery list
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
4 people 20 minutes
Cook Time
30-40 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 people 20 minutes
Cook Time
30-40 minutes
The Meat
The Sauce
Servings: people
  1. Butterfly the chicken breasts if greater than 3/4 inch thick.
  2. Mix flour, salt and pepper in a big dinner plate.
  3. Beat one egg in a shallow bowl.
  4. Dip chicken into egg. Turn to coat the other side.
  5. Place chicken into flour mixture. Press chicken evenly to coat the entire side. Flip chicken to coat the other side. Shake excess flour off chicken and set aside. Repeat for remaining breasts.
  6. Heat a non-stick pan to medium heat. Allow 3-5 minutes. Then add olive oil and butter. Once the butter is melted, add chicken to the pan. You should hear a distinct "TISSS" sizzle.
  7. Leave the chicken alone for about 5 minutes. Then flip and do the same. Be sure not to crowd the pan. To best crisp the chicken, it needs room in the pan. I used a 12-inch pan and worked in two batches.
    chicken piccata
  8. Add garlic as the chicken nears completion (about 15 minutes in)
  9. You can finish the chicken in the oven. The breasts need to reach 165 degrees. Either way, once the chicken is done, set aside on a clean plate or platter.
The Sauce
  1. In the pan you cooked the chicken, add mushrooms and shallot (or onion). Cook for 3-5 minutes/until mushrooms and shallot soften.
  2. Add white wine, lemon juice, capers and chicken stock. If you splurged on fresh thyme, add it now. Scrape the bottom of the pain as the liquids bubble up.
  3. Continue cooking the sauce over medium heat. The sauce will eventually thicken. Continue intermittently scraping the bottom of the pan.
    piccata sauce
  4. Once the sauce is thick, plate the chicken and spoon over the sauce.
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Chicken Salad from Scratch | Tortilla Challenge

chicken salad, tortilla challenge, lunch, wrap

chicken salad, tortilla challenge, lunch, wrap

The more I look at what I eat, the more I notice how they are slight variations. This lunchtime gem was an easy and tasty recipe. It’s a jazzed up chicken salad. The key difference being homemade mayonnaise (recipe buried here). I had grilled chicken from another night, so this was a slice and mix job.

Diced red onions and celery got added to the cubed chicken and 2-3 tablespoon dollops of homemade mayo. Warm up some tortillas and your lunch is ready to be inhaled.


1 large egg yolk, preferably organic or farm-raised
1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon water
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, to taste
1 cup vegetable oil

Chicken Salad

1/2 red onion, diced

1 stalk celery, diced

1-2 chicken breasts, cubed

Lettuce/spinach/leafy things



Tortillas are Mini-Plates | Tortilla Challenge

tortilla, tortilla challenge, chicken, dinner

tortilla, tortilla challenge, chicken, dinner

How can I make smoked chicken better?

As much as I love tortillas, smoked chicken and assorted fatty meats are my summer go-to. Most weekends I’ll grab a whole chicken or roast for the grill. My summer approach is cook once, eat all weeklong. Much like my #TortillaChallenge, I think of different ways to consume smoked chicken. You’ll notice it makes a frequent appearance in a lot of these posts.

I noticed I don’t have a thorough walk through of how to turn your grill into a smoker, so I’ll take more detailed photos next time I fire up the coals.

The above dinner was a smoked chicken leg and thigh served with blanched green beans, slices of pecorino, cherry tomatoes on a grilled tortilla plate topped with bulgur.

I’ve made bulgur a few times so far. It’s a faster quinoa without as much protein. So if you are impatient or starving, go for the bulgur instead of quinoa.

Consult your hierarchy of grains: white rice<brown rice<bulgur<quinoa

Coincidentally, the price also escalates as you buy more nutritious grains, with quinoa high atop the pennies per grain metric.

These quickly turned into bulgur and green bean tacos using the smoked chicken like sprinkled cheese.

Emmy-Award Winning Dinner

chicken, dinner, emmy, northwestern


Dani Carlson commented on one of my many food pictures a few months ago. I first met Dani in college where she ran the show for the on-campus news program. She taught me most of what I know about broadcast news. Network and Broadcast News taught me everything else. She also won an Emmy this year for her reporting work at WOOD-TV in Grand Rapids, MI.

Since her request to learn how to cook chicken that wasn’t mushy I have been tinkering with different recipes to find one that would conquer her challenge.

I make a fair amount of chicken dishes, but this summer has been dominated by grilling. Earlier this week I took a stab at a new recipe from Bon Appetit.

As is often the case, I didn’t have all the ingredients so I swapped a few for what I had on hand. Here we go with Dinner for an Emmy-Award Winner.


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper–don’t use the pre-ground stuff. It’s a waste.
  • 1 green onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 small onion, minced
  • garlic cloves, minced
  • cup low-salt chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup dry red (Recipe calls for white)
  • 2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • Optional: mushrooms, carrots, other veggies
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh thyme plus thyme leaves for garnish
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter


  1. Start pot of water to boil for noodles.
  2. Heat the skillet over medium heat.
  3. Season both sides of chicken with salt and pepper. If the chicken breast is more than an inch thick, either slice it in half (parallel to your board) or pound it out.
  4. Add oil to skillet and swirl it around.
  5. Place chicken in the hot pan. If you don’t hear a distinct sizzle, the pan isn’t hot enough. I let mine get hot for about 5-6 minutes.
  6. I added carrots, which were too sweet for the savory vibe the rest of the dish had going.
  7. After 6-7 minutes on one side, flip the chicken to sear the other side.
  8. Let that cook for another 6-7 minutes. The chicken should start firming up.
  9. Remove the chicken and let it rest on a plate.
  10. Add onions, garlic and optional veggies. Stir. Let cook for a minute. Add chicken stock, mustard, wine. Stir. You’ll need to let this cook a few minutes on medium/medium-high heat to cook out the booze and let the flavors combine.
  11. Place the chicken back into the pot. Cover.
  12. Transfer 1/2 cup of pasta water to the skillet/sauce. Stir.
  13. Drain the pasta.
  14. Plate it up.

Searing the chicken should avoid the squidgy chicken texture you despise. But it shouldn’t be super dried out either. If you can win an Emmy and teach people how to use AVID, you should have no trouble with some chicken!

chicken, dinner, emmy, northwestern
Finished product.

How You're Cooking Chicken Wrong


If you aren’t smoking your meats this summer you’re wasting your time and taste buds. I’ve written about my love affair with turning my Weber grill into a smoking machine and have educated many friends on the setup.

The flavor rewards of smoking are huge. Grilling chicken often leads to tough and dry substances, while cooking low-and-slow produces moist, tender and flavorful meats.

This feast used a smoked fryer chicken (backbone removed) as the protein for a huge salad. I brined the bird (no name given) in beer and line juice before sliding it on the cool side of the grill for 90 minutes. The result was an incredibly crispy skin with a deep red hue.

The salad was romaine, arugula, carrots, cucumber and red and green onions. All topped with my patent-pending BB-ANCH!

Plus, the special treat were homemade tortilla crisps dusted with herbs and spices to add another crunch to the salad.

Freezer Finds | Chicken Patties avec Rib Meat


Sunday has become my “me” day. Household chores that I delayed for a week and vigorous napping are always on the agenda. I’ve added in yoga and grocery shopping. If whether permits I’ll grill enough meat to last through the week.

This weekend I started clearing space in the freezer after battling the avalanche of foil-wrapped mystery meats. In the process I found some pre-made chicken patties i’d forgotten about.

I love these chicken patties. I get them at aldi for $2/box. They are a quick dinner and a better option than fast food. They aren’t the healthiest option but sometimes you have a hankering for fried chicken with that coveted rib meat. You can slice them and add to salads. Or jazz them up with a BBQ dressing. Tonight I made two. The first had red onion, romaine and some pesto sauce. The next bun was shellacked with whole grain mustard.

As a side, I sautéed sweet potato I. Olive oil and added some cinnamon.

Dinner in 10 minutes. And it’s probably already in your freezer.

What’s your best freezer find/creation?