Wasteless Wednesday

This Week's Feature: Tacos Become Chicken Pot Pie



Any cook among us has had to face the rising stack of dirty dishes, food crumbs littering the floor, the table…sometimes the walls. All these obstacles can be defeated with the help of Mr. Clean, but the problem of too much food inevitably leads to the issue of leftovers and what to do with them. Chili stretching for days, chicken that may dry out, vegetables and fruit that may get freezer burn. This is the nightly battle the kitchen cook wages. Thankfully, there are ways to recycle those leftovers with clever tricks to help you save a dollar and prevent food waste or just plain taste-bud boredom.

First up, a few tips on how to store leftovers:

1.    It’s usually best to refrigerate or freeze food within two hours of cooking. This reduces the threat of spreading germs.

2.    Separating food by type will prevent food from going bad prematurely. It is better to put rice in one container, vegetables in another, and so on.

3.    Don’t fear the freezer. An overfull fridge leads to less circulation of the cool air to store leftovers. Just be sure to use air-tight storage bags or other containers to prevent freezer burn

Now for the main entrée: How to turn last night’s chicken tacos into a Southern comfort: chicken pot pie.

Takes about 45 minutes to prepare; makes four servings

Ingredients:

Crust:

2 regular, softened pie crusts (Pillsbury or other)

Filling:

2 cups frozen peas and carrots or other mixed vegetables thawed

2 cups (or all leftover) cooked chicken

1 cup of diced potatoes

1 can (10 ¾-oz) condensed cream of chicken soup (or 1 12-oz jar of chicken gravy)

¼ teaspoon dried thyme leaves (optional)

Directions:

1.    Preheat oven to 400 . Place 1 crust on bottom of a 1 quart casserole or other pie dish. Make sure to roll sides of crust up to form a bowl-like shape

2.    In a medium saucepan, combine all the filling ingredients. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently. Pour entire contents into crust-lined casserole

3.    Remove second pie crust and place on clean surface. Use a sharp knife to cut holes in the crust. These will ventilate the pie while cooking. Top casserole with crust and seal the edges. Trim any excess

4.    Bake at 400 for 20 to 30 minutes or until filling is bubbly and the crust is golden brown. If necessary cover edges of crust with foil to prevent excessive browning

Tip: To thaw vegetables, place in a strainer or colander and rinse with warm water. Drain well before adding to filling mixture

Bonus: Add a tossed green salad and a serving of fruit to complete the meal.