Category Archives: Cooking for a Crowd

Chicken Pot Pie for Four or Forty, Seasoned to Taste

As one of the alternating lead cooks for my church’s monthly community dinners, I am always looking for relatively healthy and easy recipes to feed a crowd without breaking the budget. Usually I find and try a family-size recipe and multiply it up. However, in the case of what is now my go-to chicken or turkey pot pie recipe, it went the other way.

I actually used ingredients and proportions based on a few “feeding a crowd” pot pie recipes to come up with my “pot pie for forty” recipe. It was so good – and easy to make! – that I had requests for a version that would make just one 9” pie.

The recipe for 40 is at the end of this post, but here is the basic recipe for just one 9” pie. I will elaborate on variations after this first recipe.

Chicken (or Turkey)  Pot Pie   

  • ½ lb or 2 cups or so cooked chicken
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1.5 cups mixed vegetables (carrots, peas, onions, green beans, corn)
  • 2 cups turkey or chicken broth *
  • 1 Tsp or less salt
  • 1 Tsp or more pepper
  • ¼ or more teaspoon poultry seasoning
  • Pie crust , just on top or also a bottom crust.

Preheat oven to 350 for biscuit topping,  425°F for pie crust. (While I actually can make a mean pie crust, I typically use Pillsbury Refrigerated Pie Crust. It works just fine.)

Melt Butter over low heat sauté onion and celery until tender.

Slowly add flour, mixing and stirring for a few minutes until well blended. Gradually add broth *(if using frozen vegetables, reduce broth by 1 cup) until sauce is thickened.
Note: liquid used can be increased or decreased to desired consistency

Add mixed vegetables.

Season to taste with salt, pepper, and poultry seasoning.

*Layer poultry meat in bottom of pan or bottom crust

Pour vegetable sauce mix over chicken in pan or bottom crust

CRUST: Cover with top crust, makes slits in crust, and bake at 425 30 to 40 minutes or until crust is golden brown. During last 15 to 20 minutes of baking, cover crust edge with strips of foil to prevent excessive browning, if desired. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

BISCUIT: Place 1/4 cup “dollops” of dough mixture on top of entire pot pie, until mixture is gone. Bake at 350 for approximately 45 minutes until biscuits are brown.

Parsley, Bell’s Seasoning, Penzeys Seasoned Salt, and Roasted Garlic Salt

Now, this recipe is tasty, but you can ramp things up easily. First, you can just add more bell seasoning. Or add a mix of your favorite Italian herbs along with the Bell’s Seasoning. Or go with a totally different spin and use just tarragon or another herb or spice or blend that you love with poultry.

I was inspired to write this blog post after posting this picture of the seasoning I used in my latest pot pie on Facebook.

Aaaaaaand…I just realized that I did not write down what amount of each seasoning I used, but from the picture, it looks like about a teaspoon each dried parsley and roasted garlic salt, and about a 1/2 teaspoon Bell’s Season and Penzeys Seasoned Salt.

I also popped in a bit more salt – maybe up to 1/2 teaspoon or more (it is up to the cook to add to taste) and also 10-12 grinds from the pepper mill. But again, you have to season to YOUR taste. If you don’t have roasted garlic salt, regular will do. And if no Penzeys Seasoned Salt (although I HIGHLY recommend that you get some!) you can click HERE to see what is in it and ad lib from there.

FYI – for my recent pie, I tossed in some leftover chunks of roasted potatoes, which worked well. To compensate for the additional veggie amount, I used 5 tablespoons each butter and flour to make more gravy. What I should NOT have done is use less chicken stock, even though directed to do so if using frozen veggies since the potatoes did their part and thickened things just a bit. But, otherwise, do use less stock if using frozen veggies.

One more super tip: To ensure super flavor without using a richly flavorful homemade stock, or seasoning beyond that used in the standard recipe, buy “next day” rotisserie chicken from your local grocery store ($3.99 each at the Market Basket in Reading MA) and you will be guaranteed a super tasty pie.

Have fun and enjoy!

Chicken Pot Pie for Forty or More

This recipe works well in a 20.5 x 12.8 x 4” pan – a standard commercial kitchen size.

  • 4.5 or so lbs cooked chicken (16-18 cups)
  • 2 cups butter
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 6 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 cups flour
  • 10-12 cups mixed vegetables (carrots, peas, onions, green beans, corn)
  • 3-4 quarts chicken broth
  • 1 Tbsp or less salt
  • 1 Tbsp pepper
  • 2 or so teaspoons poultry seasoning
  • Biscuit mix – see separate recipe, or three regular pie crusts or phyllo dough* as needed

Preheat oven to 350 if using the biscuit topping, 400 if pie crust.

*Layer chicken meat in bottom of pan.

Melt Butter over low heat in one or two big pots and sauté onion and celery until tender.

Slowly add flour, mixing and stirring for a few minutes until well blended. Gradually add broth (if using frozen vegetables, reduce broth by a 2-3 cups) until sauce is thickened.
Note: liquid used can be increased or decreased to desired consistency

Add mixed vegetables.

Season to taste with salt, pepper, and poultry seasoning. Pour vegetable sauce mix over chicken in pan.

Place 1/4 cup “dollops” of dough mixture on top of entire pot pie, until mixture is gone or use homemade or store bought pie crusts or phyllo dough*.
Bake at 350 for approximately 45 minutes until biscuits are brown or, if using pie crust, bake at 400.

*As of writing this, I have never used phyllo dough so can’t help you with the amount needed.

Wow, long post! But to end, here is the biscuit recipe I use for the crowd-size pot pie.

Super Easy Whole Wheat Biscuits      We need two batches of this recipe

  • 4 cups whole wheat flour (I used King Arthur’s white whole wheat organic flour) or whole-wheat pastry flour
  • 8 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 8 tablespoons cold unsalted butter

2 cup milk (any kind)

In a medium sized bowl combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix well with whisk or fork.

Cut the ½ stick butter into little pea sized pieces and then mix the pieces into the flour mixture. OR use a pastry cutter.

Using a fork, try to mash the butter pieces as you mix it together with the flour until it resembles coarse crumbs. It is okay if the outcome just looks like the same pea sized pieces of butter covered with flour.

Then pour in the milk and mix it all together. Knead the dough with your hands 8 to 10 times and then turn out onto a counter or cutting board if making biscuits or plop on the chicken pot pie.

Done! Thanks for reading. 🙂

Applesauce Cake made with White Whole Wheat and Oat Flour with Quick Cream Cheese Frosting

applesauce cake
We ate most of it before remembering to take a picture, a common theme. 🙂

When devising the menu for a recent community dinner (click HERE to see the other menu items) I looked for a healthyish dessert, and was thinking that some kind of oatmeal/applesauce sort of bar would be nice. However, I ended up finding an amazing applesauce cake recipe that, and this is very important for this “once in a great while baker,” easy as well as tasty and left room for nutritional improvements. I switched out the white flour for 2/3 part white wheat whole wheat flour and 1/3 part oat flour, which I ground from oatmeal in my Nutra Bullet.

By the way, I highly recommend this handy kitchen appliance. But, back to the cake: I also cut the amount of sugar by half, and, to give a little flavor boost, used 1/2 cup brown sugar with 1/2 cup white sugar instead of the full cup of white sugar. It was SUPER! My husband Steve and I both loved it, (I always test recipes at home before serving to a crowd) and even more so because it is SO EASY TO MAKE. As noted above, I am not one to bake. But with this recipe, all you do is measure and dump all the ingredients into a big bowl, mix it up with a big ol’ wooden spoon or the like, and pour the mix into an UNGREASED pan (I hate greasing pans!) and bake it. Can you tell I am excited that I now have a delicious and foolproof cake recipe? Everyone needs one.

Here is the recipe as I make it for 10-12 servings in a 9×13″ pan. Click the recipe title for the original recipe, for which I am eternally grateful. Do read the comments, though. It cooks more quickly than the 60 minutes noted in the original recipe.

Applesauce Cake
1 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour ( I used King Arthur flour)
1 cup oat flour*
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1⁄2 teaspoons baking soda
1⁄4 teaspoon baking powder
1 1⁄2 teaspoons salt
3⁄4 teaspoon cinnamon
1⁄2 teaspoon clove
1⁄2 teaspoon allspice
1⁄2 cup vegetable oil
1⁄2 cup water
1 1⁄2 cups unsweetened applesauce
2 eggs

* You can use a food processor, blender, or a Nutra Bullet type appliance to grind your own from oats, or purchase pre-ground.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine all ingredients; pour into a 9×13″ pan.
Start checking at 35 minutes. It is done when a toothpick comes out clean and/or you get a hollow sound when you tap the top lightly.

For the community dinner, I multiplied the recipe by three. I used one 20x12x2.5″ pan, and it worked fine, although it was higher in the middle versus flat across the top, as was the cake I made in the 9×13″ pan. Perhaps it would be better split between two of those big pans, thinner but more even. Hmm. I will have to experiment and update here once I do.

NOTE: just do the math to make as much cake as you want. Use 12 serving as the baseline for the original recipe and go from there.

Now for the frosting! I didn’t use frosting for the batch I made at home, and truthfully, the cake is plenty moist and flavorful to stand on its own. But, why not have more of a good thing? Here is the recipe.

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 12 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese (Neufchâtel), at room temperature
  • ½ cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 3 tablespoons low-fat plain Greek yogurt
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Beat cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar, yogurt, and vanilla in a mixing bowl until smooth.
Make Ahead Tip: Refrigerate for up to 3 days. Let come to room temperature before using.

NOTE: I doubled the amount and it was way too much for just the top of a 20×12 cake. In fact, I saw a comment saying that using just an 8 oz pack of cream cheese was fine for the 9×13 cake size even when icing the sides. So, there is that to consider. But, you can always pop any leftover frosting in the fridge and make some more cake. Never too much good cake. 🙂