Lauren and I are planning to collaborate on some chocolates for next month’s “Chocolate Affair” at the Janice Mason Art Museum. Like they say on TV, “More on that as the story, as the chocolates develop.”
I also have to give thanks to a special friend for bringing me some more whole-wheat pasta. She asked that her name not be mentioned in this column, but she knows exactly who she is, and has my gratitude. I think Hawkins, our newest tribe member Lauren, the rest of the crew and I can expect plenty of grade-A pasta meals in the weeks to come thanks to the readers of this column. I am sure the rest of us give thanks as well.
Though proud of my roast beef, mashed yams and broccoli, it seems a bit simple for a column, though I might revisit that a little later. Instead I pulled out a gift I received last year from two other friends, Pat Board and Dannye Wagner- a genuine Ms. Fits Relay For Life Cookbook entitled “Recipes and Remembrances.”
Most of the regular readers of this column know what the American Cancer Society Relay For Life means to me. I lost my dear uncle George Spencer to Leukemia last year, and my mother has held her own against CLL for a few years now. My great aunt Kathryn Hagan remains in remission from ovarian cancer. Hopefully, a day will come that members of not only my family, but in all families no longer have to fear cancer. Maybe with Relay fundraising, the day will come sooner than we think.
This is a cooking column, not a cancer column, so let me get back to this lovely little cookbook. Members of the Ms. Fits team compiled some of their favorite recipes into a handy-sized volume for sale for just $10 from any team member. I perused the book and found several tasty recipes ranging from simple to moderately difficult. The recipes call for ingredients that are readily available in local stores, and are suitable for any occasion.
Hawkins and Sanci spent Saturday at the movies, but called me over for dinner when they returned. Not wanting to take too much time in the kitchen, I selected two recipes from the book, chicken potpie, and double corn casserole.
The chicken potpie used the recipe of Bettie Irwin. My gran made chicken potpies when I was a wee lad, though I honestly don’t remember her technique. Mrs. Irwin’s was hearty and simple, and the three of us loved it.
I began by cooking about a pound of chicken in a skillet with a tablespoon of olive oil at the bottom. The meat was seasoned with some garlic powder, poultry seasoning and a bit of thyme. When brown on both sides and cooked through the middle, I took up the chicken and allowed it to cool. Since I used boneless tenders, I cut the meat into bite-sized pieces and allowed it to cool.
I like vegetables in my pie, and Mrs. Irwin’s recipe does not disappoint. She calls for one can of Veg-all to be drained and poured over the chicken inside a pie pan. I used an eight by eight casserole pan, as there is plenty of filling in this. Place the chicken at the bottom and the drained vegetables in a layer above it.
The creamy filling comes from a can of cream of chicken soup, thinned by a can of chicken broth. I learned very quickly that the soup and broth cans should be the same size. My broth can had a few more ounces of liquid, so I sent Hawkins and Sanci out for another can of soup to thicken it up. It took a half can to get it to a consistency I liked. Mrs. Irwin’s recipe calls for a small chopped onion to add to the broth and soup mixture. I chopped my white onion as finely as possible, and the results were pleasing. Add a half-teaspoon of black pepper and pour the filling over the chicken and vegetables.
The “crust” is another wonderfully easy concoction. The recipe calls for a cup of milk, a cup of Bisquick and a quarter-stick of melted butter. Blend the Bisquick and milk pour it over the pie filling in a layer. The butter tops it all off for a golden brown and flaky crust. Bake it at 350 for one hour and enjoy. I placed a metal baking sheet beneath my casserole pan just to avoid messy spatters.
The double corn casserole comes from the kitchen of no less than Ms. Fits Co-Founder Dannye Wagner. Again, it was a hearty and warming dish suitable for a Thanksgiving banquet, or dinner on any weeknight with an hour to spare.
Dannye’s recipe is just about foolproof, which is good, because I can do a few foolish things in the kitchen. Take a 15-ounce can of whole kernel corn and drain it, adding it to a mixing bowl. Combine it with a full 15-ounce can of creamed corn, a half-cup of margarine (though I used butter), two well-beaten eggs, a cup of sour cream, and an eight-and-a-half ounce package of corn muffin mix. Mix it all up well and work out the lumps from the muffin mix. When blended, pour the mixture into a buttered casserole dish and bake it at 350 degrees for 50 minutes. Me being me, I added a little pepper, but Dannye’s recipe said nothing of the sort. When finished, the casserole had a great texture and complimented the creaminess of the pie perfectly.
We sat down to watch Hawkins’ DVR recordings of Friday Night Lights and Real Time with Bill Maher as we ate. Mostly, I think we cracked joked and enjoyed our meal. Thanks to the Ms. Fits, three hungry stomachs were well fed and a good time was had by all. Good eating.
Oh, and to get your own copy of “Recipes and Remembrances, call Pat or Dannye at (270) 924-5738, or ask your favorite Ms. Fit. The book is dedicated to the late Lola Lane, a long time Ms. Fit who lost her battle to cancer in December 2006. Mrs. Lane participated in a trial for a drug called Gleevac, now approved by the FDA for cancer treatment. Funding for the study came in part from the Relay For Life.