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What's Cooking? - Posted October 27, 2017 10:31 a.m.
Illustration by Kayla Morris

The Art of Giving: Meals Made to Share

For centuries, the idea of generosity has been intimately connected to hospitality. The table is central to family life and essential to the larger idea of community. That’s why the Panhandle has such a strong tradition of food-based generosity – one family preparing a meal for another during a time of sickness, hospitalization, childbirth, or any other time of need. Few things illustrate a giving spirit like meeting a basic need for friends, family or strangers.

The holiday season puts this on our minds more than any other time of the year, as our focus turns to meal preparation and simple acts of kindness. So we asked a few of our favorite local cooks to contribute dishes that are appropriate to bring someone in need. Maybe it’s a person who is lonely, or busy, or grieving. Or a friend who could use a nutritious, healthy meal.

Regardless, the idea fills us with appreciation for the people of the Panhandle. As we give thanks this month, we’re grateful for a community where this kind of sharing is a way of life.

Chicken & Wine
From the kitchen of McKay Anderson

4 medium boneless, skinless chicken breasts
4 teaspoons flour
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon corn oil
1 teaspoon salt
½ pound sliced mushrooms
1 onion, chopped
¼ pound bacon, chopped
2 tablespoons parsley
1 small garlic clove
1/3 bottle dry red wine
4 tablespoons water

In large saucepan over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon butter; add corn oil. Place chicken breasts in butter/oil mixture. Sprinkle flour on both sides to dust but not coat. Cook thoroughly; remove chicken. Add salt, mushrooms, onion, garlic, bacon and remaining butter. Cook completely and add chicken. Add wine and water, bring to boil, and cover and simmer 1 hour and 15 minutes. Before serving, garnish with parsley.

Makes 4 servings

“I like to deliver with some fruit and an easy salad – don't forget the dressing; assume they have nothing in their cupboard. My other rule of thumb is to never deliver without dessert, even if it's something from a box or that you pick up at a bakery. If time allows, whip up some muffins or banana bread for the next morning, too. Remember, it's not how fancy it is, it's the gesture that counts.” – McKay Anderson

Chicken Enchilada Soup
From the kitchen of Kristi Aragon

1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes (Try the version with sweet onion. You can also use Rotel if you like it spicy.)
1 (10-ounce) package frozen whole kernel corn
½ cup chopped onion
½ cup chopped yellow, green or red bell pepper
1 (10-ounce) can enchilada sauce (red or green)
1 (10.75-ounce) can condensed cream of chicken soup
1 ½ cups milk
1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese (4 ounces)
2 chicken breasts, trimmed, seasoned with salt and pepper

In 3 ½- to 5-quart slow cooker, combine drained beans, tomatoes and corn. Sautee onion and bell peppers, then place on top of mixture. Add chicken breasts. In large bowl, whisk together enchilada sauce and soup. Gradually whisk in milk until smooth. Pour sauce mixture over ingredients in cooker. Cover; cook on low heat for 6 hours or on high for 3 to 4 hours. Remove chicken and cut or shred into bite-size pieces. Return chicken to soup along with salt and pepper, or other spices to taste. Top with pepper jack cheese and serve. Can also be topped with avocado, sour cream, or crushed tortilla chips. Note: If soup is too thick, add a little more milk after it's cooked.

Makes 6 servings

“This recipe is user-friendly and very comforting to bring to a friend, especially this time of year when the weather is cooling down.” – Kristi Aragon

Simple Bolognese Sauce
From the kitchen of Monika Barbee

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
½ yellow onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 stalk celery with leaves, finely chopped
1 cup Italian parsley, finely chopped
1 green bell pepper
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound lean ground beef
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 ½ teaspoons dried oregano
1 tablespoon fresh basil or 1 teaspoon dried
1 ½ teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 cup red wine
28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
3 tablespoons tomato paste
¼ cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon sugar

Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion, carrot, celery, parsley, bell pepper and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables soften, about 8 minutes. Add ground beef and red pepper flakes and saute, stirring frequently and breaking up meat, until brown, about 10 minutes. Add oregano, basil, salt and pepper. Add wine and stir to scrape up any browned bits from bottom of pan. Add crushed tomatoes and tomato paste, stirring until combined. Bring to boil then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Stir in heavy cream and sugar. If desired, you can also add some water to thin out the sauce slightly. Add additional salt and pepper to taste. Serve over pasta with Parmesan cheese.

Makes 6 servings

“I like to double the recipe and then place it in an oven at 250 degrees for 3 hours, stirring occasionally. Then I freeze it in 3-cup containers and use it to make lasagna, ziti, or serve it over raviolis. For lasagna I use grilled zucchini slices in place of the noodles. I also make layered ravioli lasagna with cooked ravioli in place of lasagna noodles. You can also add a layer of uncooked fresh spinach into the lasagna.

“With sauce prepared beforehand, when I want to bring a dish to someone I simply defrost a container of sauce and add noodles and layers of cheese to create a new dish.” – Monika Barbee

Chicken Soup with Homemade Noodles
From the kitchen of T Price

1 whole chicken, cut up (We prefer Mary’s free-range.)
6 to 8 carrots
2 large onions
4 cloves garlic
6 to 8 ribs celery
1 cup white wine
2 to 3 bay leaves
1 tablespoon herbs de Provence, or other dried herbs
Salt and pepper
Homemade noodles, cooked rice or pasta

Cook chicken and make broth. Place chicken in large soup pot; barely cover with distilled or filtered water. Add 2 carrots, 1 onion, and 2 ribs celery – all cut in large pieces – 1 smashed clove garlic, wine, bay leaves, herbs, 1 tablespoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Bring all to boil and turn down to very low simmer until chicken is soft, about 1 to 1 ½ hours. Remove chicken to large bowl and shred meat; cover and set aside in refrigerator. Return bones and skin to pot and continue to simmer for another 45 minutes. Strain broth, discarding bones and vegetables. Dice remaining carrots, onion, garlic, and celery. Bring broth to boil, add vegetables, and reduce to simmer until tender. Add chicken and prepared noodles, pasta or rice. Adjust salt and pepper.

Homemade Noodles
4 eggs
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt

On pastry board or counter, make a well in center of flour; add eggs and salt. Slowly mix together with hands, and knead until dough becomes smooth and pliable, adding flour to board as necessary. Let dough rest for a few minutes before rolling it out. When you’re ready, roll dough out on floured surface as thin as possible. The noodles will plump up quite a bit when they cook. Cut into about ¼-inch wide noodles. To cook noodles, boil in salted water for around 2 minutes. They cook fast, so don’t let them go too long.

Makes 6 to 8 servings

“This recipe is agreeable with almost any dietary restriction and truly is an immune booster.

“To round out the meal, add fresh salad greens with a lemon vinaigrette and sliced baguette.

“I deliver the soup in a 6-quart, sealed container (foodservice pieces are great and affordable) and download into their soup pot to reheat on the stovetop. Or you can ladle into large canning jars and leave the jars with the recipient.” – T Price

Shepherd’s Pie
From the kitchen of Livia Woodburn

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 pounds ground lamb or beef
1 large carrot, grated
1 large onion, grated
4 cloves garlic, grated
1 small bag frozen peas
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, minced
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, minced
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 to 3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup red wine (Can substitute Guinness beer.)
1 cup chicken stock

1 ½ pounds golden potatoes
¼ cup heavy cream
3 ½ tablespoons butter
Salt and pepper
2 egg yolks
¼ to ½ cup Parmesan cheese

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Heat oil in large pan until hot. Season ground lamb or beef and fry in oil over moderate to high heat for 2 to 3 minutes. Stir onions and carrot into mince then grate garlic in as well. Add Worcestershire sauce, tomato puree, and herbs and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Pour in red wine and reduce until almost completely evaporated. Add chicken stock, bring to boil, and simmer until sauce has thickened. Add salt and pepper to taste. Meanwhile, cook potatoes in boiling, salted water until tender. Drain potatoes then return to hot pan over low heat to dry out briefly. Pass through potato ricer then beat in egg yolks, milk and butter, followed by about 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan. Check seasoning. Add peas to meat mixture and combine. Spoon meat mixture into bottom of large ovenproof dish. Using large spoon, layer mashed potato generously on top of lamb mixture, starting from outside and working into middle. Top with remaining Parmesan and seasoning. Fluff mashed potatoes with fork to make rough peaks. Bake in oven for approximately 20 minutes, until bubbling and golden brown.

Makes 6 servings

“This dish is easy to deliver, as you can assemble it and let the recipient of your meal bake it.” – Livia Woodburn

by Jason Boyett

Jason has written more than a dozen books and is the host and creator of “Hey Amarillo”, a local interview podcast. Visit and
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