Sunday, December 9, 2007

No Dough? No Problem!

There comes a time in every woman's life when she stops for a moment, looks around, and says to herself, "Is this it?" Is this what adult life is? Is this what I suffered through geometry for? Isn't there MORE TO LIFE THAN THIS??!!!

All melodrama aside, I had a semi-existential moment this evening as I contemplated what I should have for dinner. Understand that after a lovely weekend gallavanting around southern California followed by raucous holiday festivities and a wonderful dinner date with my beloved Ross, I'm not exactly throwing around Benjamins lately.

Now, it's safe to say I won't be winning any awards for money management, but a girl's gotta eat, right? So, $2.36 in tow, I popped into the (in)convenience store to see what I could come up with. (When you're regretting giving that bum 75 cents at the bus stop because now you could've gotten another can of peas, you know you're strapped for cash.)

I perused the shockingly overpriced cans of vegetables ($1.79 for a can of diced tomatoes??!!!), I thought through what I had back in the fridge...some thin-sliced chicken breasts, a leftover pie crust from Thanksgiving, a couple potatoes (the fact that said potatoes were covered with enough eyes to give Helen Keller a glimpse at the world notwithstanding) -- Eureka! Chicken Pot Pie!

So I schlepped home through three inches of crusty gray snow, and upon arriving at my door, I hear my roommate screaming from inside the kitchen, "A MOUSE!!! A MOUSE!!! COME IN QUICK!!!!"

This is Jess attmepting (badly) to recreate her expression of horror upon seeing the dreaded vermin:

I sighed, and thought to myself, "City living - it ain't all it's cracked up to be." I opened the door, and as I looked back into the hallway, I saw a little gray rodent scurry out from under a shoe on the stairs and out underneath the exterior door, leaving the warmth of our foyer and braving the Chicago winter once again. Jess stopped freaking out, and we decided the only way we would possibly make it through the night was to open a bottle of red wine.

But back to the fearless cooking: for a little over $2, I have actually constructed a Poor Man's Chicken Pot Pie. Read on, my little Oliver Twists.

FEARLESS FACTOR: 10. I'm giving myself credit for the fact that, not only did I pull off the perfect winter comfort food for the price of a city bus ride, I came up with the whole thing on the fly.


2 thin-sliced chicken breasts
1 1/2 yukon gold potatoes (eyes removed, if applicable)
1/2 white onion, diced
1 can peas/carrots
1 can green beans
1/3 stick butter
3-4 T. flour
1 c. chicken broth
1 premade, unroll-and-bake pie crust
salt and pepper


Cut up the potatoes, onion, and chicken into small pieces.


Heat olive oil in a pan over medium, and saute the chicken until white on the outside, but not completely cooked through. Add a little salt and pepper to the chicken.


Preheat oven to 375. Drain the canned veggies. In a 9X9 baking pan, mix the veggies, onions, potatoes, and chicken together.


In the same pan you cooked the chicken in (without wiping it out), melt the butter, and when it's about 80% melted, start to stir in the flour tablespoon by tablespoon until a roux forms (it will be a yellow paste). As soon as the roux forms, pour in the chicken broth bit by bit and whisk the roux into it. Turn up the heat a little, and keep whisking constantly until the mixture begins to thicken. When it's the consistency of thin gravy, take it off the heat and pour it over the pie ingredients.


Unroll the refridgerated pie crust and place it over the pan, pressing it down around the edges to seal it. With a knife, cut four 1-inch holes in the top to allow steam to escape. Bake it at 375 for about 30 minutes. Take it out, and serve it up!

Now, bear in mind that this wasn't a true fearless post - I didn't have any guest judges (it was just Jess), and I hadn't really planned on blogging at all until I realized the scope of what I was about to undertake. So, for the sake of good reading material, I'll give some feedback:

JESS' VOTE: I think this is really good, expecially considering you used stuff we really did just have sitting around.

MY VOTE ON MY DISH: I give it 7 stars. It wasn't the most incredible thing I've ever tasted, but for what I had to work with, I have to say it was pretty good. It was hot, rich, and filling - the essence of comfort food.

NOTES: Next time, I would omit or reduce the onion. I find myself saying this a lot, and I think it must just be that I really don't like onions all that much (unless they're caramelized beyond recognition). I just find them overpowering in most things, including this. I would also substitute the canned veggies for frozen ones (obviously there was no way I could do this considering the blasted convenience store charges like $10 for a friggin' bag of frozen green beans).

All creepy rodents and thoughts of moving back in with Mom aside, I have to say it was a nice meal in. I even convinced Jess to sit through "Planet Earth" for a whopping six and a half minutes (right up until the badger tore open the carcass of a frozen moose - talk about scrounging around for a meal).

Aah, just another Sunday night at 710.
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