Readers' Corner

We've got some great tips and recipes from our readers this month. Two neat comfort food dishes are presented--one, a vegetarian protein loaf...the other, a tasty chicken pot pie! These are some great ideas for one of those cold, rainy evenings when all you want to do is eat a warm meal and snuggle up by the fire.

In the area of craft ideas, one creative reader has managed to solve the age-old dilemna of how to decorate with energetic pets (or kids) in the home. Her idea is sure to appeal to those of you who want to mantain a festive home without seeing fragile centerpieces destroyed or anyone get hurt.

This month's fitness tip comes from someone who thought moving meant putting fitness on hold. With moving days approaching for many of us this spring, you might want to take this fitness tip to heart!

A special thank you to everyone who contributed during the month of March. And to those who didn't get their two cents in last month, there's no time like the present! Send us your ideas today and you may find your tips and recipes in tomorrow's issue of Seasoned Cooking!

Victoria's Spicy Vegetarian Protein Loaf

Victoria's Spicy Vegetarian Protein Loaf
by Victoria Smith
  • One 16 oz can of vegetarian baked beans.  Bush's, Heinz, or any supermarket house brand that you prefer.
  • 2 cups breadcrumbs
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 lb tofu, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons of vegetable broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon of pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon of oregano
  • 1 small can of tomato sauce, any brand
  • 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup of taco seasoning
  • 1/2 cup of shredded cheese
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 (approx) cups of water

Mash the beans into a paste, and add the breadcrumbs, tofu, mayonnaise and vegetable oil.  Add the flour, oregano, pepper, salt, garlic powder and taco seasoning.  Slowly add the tomato sauce, water, and vegetable broth.  Work the mixture into a ball.  Make sure it is well mixed.  Put the mixture into a very lightly greased microwave loaf pan.  Cover the top with shredded cheese.

Cook for 12 - 15 minutes in the microwave, set on high.  You may add onions or peppers if you like.

  • Yields: 6 servings
  • Preparation Time: 25 minutes

Easy Chicken Pot Pie

Easy Chicken Pot Pie
by Jenny Wojcik

This is a very simple dish that tastes so good. Add a salad, and you've got dinner! Enjoy! Filling:
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 cup thinly sliced carrots
  • 3 large ribs of celery, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 10-ounce pkg. frozen chopped spinach (thawed and drained)
  • 3 cups cooked chicken, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped baked ham
  • 1 10 3/4 ounce can cream of chicken soup, undiluted
  • 1 cup milk
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
Crust:
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese*
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 cups evaporated milk
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a shallow 3 quart baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.

Slice the onion, carrots and celery. Sauté the vegetables in a large skillet with the olive oil until tender. Meanwhile, chop the chicken and ham.

Turn the sautéed veggies into the baking dish and evenly top with the drained spinach. Distribute the chicken and ham evenly over all.

In a medium bowl, combine the undiluted chicken soup with 1 cup milk and ground pepper. Pour this sauce evenly over the meat.

For the "crust", measure flour into a bowl, stir in grated Parmesan and baking powder. Stir in the milk and melted butter; blend until smooth and pour evenly over the filling.

Bake at 400 degrees for 45 -50 minutes or until golden brown.

*I prefer to use fresh shredded cheese, but the "green box" kind works great too.
  • Yields: 6 servings
  • Preparation time: 1 hour and 15 minutes
Pet-Friendly Decorations
by Elizabeth

I have 2 enthusiastic cats at home, but that doesn't keep me from decorating my home for the holidays. For instance, my March table centerpiece consists of a friendly-looking stuffed leprechaun I got from a second-hand store nestled in a basket filled with silk flowers. Stuffed animals and other characters can make great additions to your decorating box!

It's pretty to look at, won't break if my cats should happen to bump it, and isn't toxic. It's a great tip for people with young children or energetic pets.

Fitness Tip
by Rob

My wife and I recently made a major move from an apartment to our first house. Since we were only moving about 5 miles, we took our time moving our "stuff" from one place to the other. It was great for reducing the normal stress associated with moving and we managed to integrate our regular fitness routine into the whole moving thing. Moving medium-sized boxes and such up and down stairs provided a great weight-lifting exercise and the numerous trips back and forth were certainly good for getting our hearts pumping.

When we first planned the move, I figured we'd have to put fitness on the side for a while. What we got instead was a little boost and a change of pace!

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