Banish Distractions and Achieve Your Goals in 3 Easy Steps

When I use this simple tool, I banish distractions. You can, too.

Banish Distractions and Achieve Your Goals.
 Photo by Timon Studler on Unsplash

Have you ever had one of those days you really needed to banish distractions? Yesterday morning, at 4:00 AM, my husband got out of bed and howled in pain. He could not put any weight on his foot. Pain radiated up his leg. Neither of us had slept much during the night, and now it was over. Obviously my long ‘to-do’ list wasn’t going to get ‘ta-done’.

We spent the next 4 hours in the ER. While I sat in the car waiting due to COVID protocols, he was iced, x-rayed, ultrasound-ed, and pumped full of morphine and another powerful painkiller that didn’t seem to help much. Thankfully, his condition turned out to be non-life threatening.

Has this ever happened to you? Sometimes life’s interruptions high-jack your day. You spin your wheels, busy, busy, busy, but nothing gets done. Your blood pressure rises, your anxiety spins out of control, and you can’t concentrate long enough to finish simple tasks let alone meet your goals. 

This type of negative stress gives you hypertension, anxiety and depression. The stress you have when you aren’t making progress towards your goals is defeating. But there is positive stress that helps you meet your goals. How can you tap into that when life blows you off course?

As a teacher, I was constantly stressed trying to juggle my responsibilities in the classroom with those at home. I had difficulty concentrating and getting things done. Worse, my family felt like orphans during the school year. Something had to give.

My stress almost disappeared when I stumbled across a simple tool that another teacher used.

I banished distractions. It was magical.

And, it was analog. A simple spreadsheet that listed my whole week and helped me set goals for each day was exactly what I needed. I tweaked the original spreadsheet until I had one that worked perfectly for me. When I went home at night, my family had my undivided attention.

Before I retired from teaching, I worked with students who had difficulty with focus and time management. They forgot assignments, missed deadlines, and genuinely couldn’t understand how other students could do so much with ease. Their frustration level was high and confidence low. 

Most solutions were too complex or took too long to manage. So I taught my students how to use my spreadsheet. They only had to keep up with their simple weekly plan sheet.

Keeping it simple, for all of us, made it do-able and sustainable. Making it analog minimized distractions.

How it works to banish distractions

This spreadsheet allows me to keep my ‘To-Do’ list right in front of me in one place. It also shows me any meetings, phone calls, or appointment times I have each day. There is a place for me to make important notes or jot observations.

This is all done by hand because research shows that writing something down helps you remember it better. The more often you write something, the more likely it gets into your brain. If you have it written down, you’re less likely to forget it. So…don’t shy away from this low-tech solution.

Then there is the satisfaction of getting to cross off the things you have finished. Crossing items off their lists allowed my students to pat themselves on the back for a job well done. It gave them a sense of accomplishment.

Step 1 — Set Your Goals

At the beginning of the week, I take 10 minutes to look at my monthly calendar where I have written all my appointments and deadlines for the month. I write down any appointment or meeting times listed on my spreadsheet next to the days when each occurs in the current week. 

My 3:00 Zoom call on Wednesday, gets listed next to Wednesday on the spreadsheet. Soccer practice on Friday at 6:00 gets written next to Friday. Each appointment or meeting should be listed in the order they occur with the time noted.

On a separate sheet of paper, I keep a list of goals and tasks I want or need to accomplish. This includes long and short term goals for both for work and home. I decide which ones I will focus on this week and which day I will work on each goal. 

I write my tasks/goals in the ‘To-Do’ column next to the day I plan to accomplish each task. If I have recurring goals or ‘To-Dos’, I type them into my master spreadsheet to save time each week. I make a duplicate of the master sheet and label it with the current week’s dates. 

I make sure that the days and times of all my meetings and my on-going goals are still correct. If anything has changed, I move or delete it before printing my weekly plan sheet. Then I keep it, and my monthly calendar with me at all times.

Step 2 — Refresh daily to banish distractions

Before you begin each day, look at your weekly plan sheet. Do you have anything else that you need to do that day? Pick up prescriptions, get milk, make a phone call? Add it to your ‘To-Do’ list.

This takes less than five minutes, but it gets you started on the right track at the beginning of your day. When life’s interruptions cause you to lose focus, take a minute to refresh and refocus on the tasks that you need to get done.

My personal weekly plan sheet helps steer me back to my charted course.
Photo by Patricia J. Davis

When you get distracted, having something physical to look at anchors you to your goals. Use it as your compass to steer you back on track and resume your charted course. Reflect on why you are distracted. Are you bored with a task? Do you need to come back to it after a short break? Do you have a meeting or deadline?

If you have a meeting in 10 minutes, pick a task you can finish quickly. If you have been slaving away at something that is difficult or boring (cough, cough — housework), pick something you want and like to do. The important thing is to use your weekly plan to meet the goals you set for yourself.

Don’t forget to cross off the goals you complete and give yourself a pat on the back.

Step 3 — Reflect, Revel and Reset

At the end of each day, take five minutes to review your plan for the day. Make notes about what you did that wasn’t on your ‘To-Do’ list. Did you have interruptions or discover something interesting to research?

Take the time now to cross off ‘Ta-Dones”, if you haven’t already. Revel in them. Doesn’t it feel good?

Is there a task you need to do next week? Do you have an upcoming deadline? Was there a task that you need to move to another day? Write them down on the day you will do them or note them in your ‘What do I need to do next week?’ column.

Did you miss a meeting? Put a check mark next to the meetings you attended and an ‘x’ by ones you skipped. If you need to do something about that (ie. talk to your boss) note that on your ‘To-Dos’ for tomorrow.

Review your ‘To-Dos’ and meetings for tomorrow. This will help you lay them aside, confident that you aren’t forgetting anything. You might be surprised how much better you sleep at night.

At the end of each week, (could be Friday afternoon, or Sunday afternoon) reflect on how your week went. What went well? What went wrong? Can you pinpoint a cause of the problem? What might fix it?

Finally, set yourself up to succeed the next week. Fill out your weekly plan for the upcoming week. Review your monthly calendar and make sure any new or unfinished ‘To-dos’ from your previous week are included this week. 

Banish distractions in less than 10 minutes a day. It will change your life!

When my students first started doing this, they complained. Hard! People avoid change like a toothache. But you can’t always avoid toothaches.

Then the magic happened. After about three weeks, they realized that they were remembering to do homework they would have forgotten. The papers they got back had higher grades. And their parents weren’t on their cases anymore.

They started asking for the plan sheets on Friday afternoon instead of groaning when I handed them out on Monday. They enjoyed getting to reflect about their successes and had better attitudes about their failures. We kept their completed weekly plans in a binder and regularly celebrated their success!

They learned that failure wasn’t permanent, just a problem to be solved. And they had a way to solve it themselves. They felt empowered. Some of them began to experience better mental health, too. Relieving bad stress can do that.

  1. Set your goals
  2. Refresh daily to banish distractions
  3. Reflect, revel and reset

It sounds simple, and after a few weeks of practice, it will be.

Get a free copy of my Weekly Plan sheet here to tweak and use for yourself.

Pat Davis, a retired teacher and editor of Simply Living and Living Simply, lives with her husband and neurotic cat, Neko. She loves to read, write, travel, bake, garden, sew, and craft. Top writer in Food and Cooking.

Click here to read more of my writing.


Best Easy Meatloaf Ever

A versatile meatloaf you’ll love.

My meatloaf recipe – Photo by author.

When I was growing up, my mother made meatloaf at least once a week. Since that was one of her seven standard menu choices, I soon grew tired of it. She made it the same way every time, and it was boring. Consequently, I almost never made meatloaf for my family.

Until I discovered you could switch it up and keep it interesting. Here is my basic recipe.

Ingredients — Prep time 10 minutes

1 pound lean ground beef (93/7)
1 cup (8-ounce can) tomato sauce
½ cup diced onion
½ teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon beef bouillon granules (or one cube, crushed)
1 teaspoon Grill Mates Montreal steak spice
⅓ cup plain bread crumbs
1 large egg, beaten
1 teaspoon Worchester sauce

I use a lean ground beef to limit the fat content. Meatloaf is pretty fatty, so I try to use a ground sirloin. In my experience, meatloaf is often surrounded by liquid fat when I remove it from the oven, and using 93/7 eliminates that. Also, using a lower fat meat makes 6 servings instead of four due to shrinkage.

Instructions — Cook time 1 hour

Preheat your oven to 350℉ while you mix up meatloaf. Spray a loaf pan with cooking spray to prevent sticking.

In a medium sized bowl, mix ground beef, ⅔ cup tomato sauce, diced onion, garlic powder, bouillon, steak spice, bread crumbs, egg and Worchester sauce. Combine until well mixed. Transfer to your greased loaf pan. Spread the remaining tomato sauce evenly over the top.

Place the loaf pan on the center rack in your preheated oven and cook for one hour. After one hour, remove the meatloaf and let it rest for 10 minutes before slicing it into 6 serving sizes.

Serve it with your favorite side dishes. I love to make mashed potatoes that I can spoon on top and eat, almost like a shepherd’s pie. You can even spoon leftover mashed potatoes on top instead of using the remaining tomato sauce and bake it that way. The potatoes get a little browned and crispy.


Eating the same kind of meatloaf is boring to me, but there are many ways to change it up.

Mushroom Meatloaf

Instead of using tomato sauce, I add ½ can of cream of mushroom soup concentrate. I leave out the garlic powder but slice up a cup of sliced fresh mushrooms. I put ¼ cup of the mushrooms in the meat mixture and arrange ¼ cup of mushrooms on top.

I make a simple mushroom gravy with the remain ½ cup of the mushrooms. Sautee the remaining mushrooms with a tablespoon of minced onions in 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Then add 2 tablespoons of flour and cook for about 1 minute. Add in one cup of beef broth. stirring constantly. Let it simmer on medium-low heat until it thickens.

This version pairs well with roasted potatoes and vegetables that can be baked while the meat is cooking, making this an easy meal.

Italian Meatloaf

For this version, I leave out the Worchester sauce and steak spice from the original recipe. Instead, I add 1 teaspoon of oregano, ¼ teaspoon of basil and the garlic to the tomato sauce before mixing ⅔ cup into the meat. In addition, I add ¼ cup sliced mushrooms to the meat mixture.

For the topping, I spread the remaining tomato sauce on top and dice a medium-sized tomato to sprinkle over it before baking.

This version is great with minestrone soup and French bread in the wintertime.

Mexican Meatloaf

I didn’t come up with this version because I live in Texas and am a Tex-Mex-a-holic. Okay, well, maybe I did. This is my Tex-Mex version of meatloaf.

I eliminate the tomato sauce, Worchester sauce and steak spice from the original recipe. Instead, I mix in 2 teaspoons of taco seasoning and ⅔ cup Pace picante sauce into the meat mixture. Then, I spread ⅓ cup of Pace picante sauce evenly over the top before baking it. In the last 10 minutes of baking, sprinkle with ¼ cup shredded cheddar cheese and let it finish baking.

We like to have this with charro bean soup, tortillas and Rotel™ cheese dip. 

Put these into your menu rotation

Even if you think you don’t like meatloaf, I urge you to try the variations. I think you will be surprised at how different and tasty they are. If you struggle with menu planning, these four variations will keep the boredom away and make your life easier. You can have meatloaf every week for a month!

You could even switch these up by using ground lamb or chicken in place of the ground beef. I would replace the beef bouillon with chicken or vegetable, and cream of celery soup concentrate instead of the tomato sauce. Rubbed sage, salt and pepper could replace of the steak spice and Worchester sauce.

Bon Appetit!

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Pat Davis, a retired teacher and editor of Simply Living and Living Simply, lives with her husband and neurotic cat, Neko. She loves to read, write, travel, bake, garden, sew, and craft. Top writer in Food and Cooking.


10 Things to Give Thanks for in 2020

It was a difficult year, but we can feel hope.

This year has been so difficult for so many. We have lost so much — family members, jobs, businesses.

But we have many things for which we can be thankful. In a year when depression and anxiety has increased (at least mine has), I find comfort when I make a list of those things, instead of focusing on my losses.

1. We’re alive. 

At the beginning of this year, my father passed away, probably from COVID-19, but we will never know for sure now. His symptoms absolutely matched. The Monday after his funeral, we went into complete lockdown. Isolation didn’t help me through my grief. This is true for most people who lost someone.

But…I’m alive. I have made connections with my family and friends online that is almost as good as in person, just without the hugs. I’ve reached out to two of my aunts that I love dearly and don’t talk to nearly enough. I realized that if I don’t reach out to them, they won’t know I need them, and I won’t know they need me. 

And I want them to know I love them, too.

2. A vaccine is almost here!

Hurrah! This can’t happen soon enough for me. It is going to be my ticket out of my house and into public. Again, millions of Americans (dare I say citizens of the world) will be able to resume a normal life. This return to normalcy is long awaited, and will not go unappreciated.

I may have to wait six months or more before I can take the vaccine, but I will take it. This is my way of being a responsible citizen to this world. It is my way of taking care of those I love. It is also my way of taking care of myself. I am not afraid of this vaccine, I welcome it with open arms. And it is safe.

Soon we can eat out, go to the movies, and take a trip. I can’t wait.

3. Most people survive this deadly virus

Although my father likely died from this disease, I have several friends and family members who contracted it and survived. This is true for millions of people around the world.

My niece, who is a nurse, became sick with it. Her daughter and mother (my sister-in-law) also became ill. It took several weeks, but they finally recovered. 

My aunt, who has rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia, also came down with it. She is what they call a long-hauler with long-lasting after effects, but now she finally tests negative. It may take her a while to get over the remaining symptoms, but she has defeated the virus itself.

Several dear friends also tested positive for it. Some were sick with it, some never felt ill. Either way, they are well now. And so are millions around the world.

4. There has been time for self-reflection

Through this past year, there has been time to slow down and really think about what is important in life. And it sure isn’t what I thought it was, at least in the past. Now I know better.

Politics is not important, fairness is. Things are not important, people are. My personal needs are important, but not at the cost of other’s. I view things now in a broader, more global perspective, rather than egocentrically. I need to become “i” and stand side-by-side with others as equals. These are important.

And I need time to develop my best me — the one that cares deeply about others. That requires me to spend time with myself, just me. And that’s important, too. 

I’m grateful for the time to do that. It’s rejuvenating.

5. We can cultivate a new perspective

Since we have had a contentious election and many marches for justice and equality this year, I have a new appreciation for what my fellow Americans who are people of color suffer. I have generally identified with conservatives, but I realized that it does not always reflect my true thinking.

Now I prefer to think of myself as a moderate humanist. While I realize that no solution to a problem will benefit every single person, I prefer any solution to benefit humanity — to lift us all up to a higher moral plane. I want all Americans to have the same opportunities that I have had.

And it may be up to me to help get them there. I read three books this year that started me down this path — Michelle Obama’s Becoming, Stacy Abram’s Our Time Is Now: Power, Purpose, and the Fight for a Fair America, and Robin DiAngelo’s White Fragility: Why it is so Hard for White People to Talk About Racism.

My hope is that I can be more open-minded about the struggles that people of color, the poor, and immigrants face in our country. This country was founded with the idea of freedom for all, but we all must do our part to protect each other’s freedom, not just our own. 

6. We can create, learn, grow, and help others

I found, this year more than before, that focusing on creating something useful, learning something new, growing as a human being, and helping others whenever I see a need is my safety net.

I began creating my writing career. It connected me with a whole community of writers who support me, and who I support. Ninja Writer’s has been a lifeline to the world for me, keeping me connected. I have learned so much from them. 

I can use my writing platform to speak out for justice and equality. I can write to help others build a life they love. And I can write about my growth as a human being because, though I am now retired, I still am imperfect and can be a better person. 

7. New life brings hope

My friend’s baby, born in November. Photo by Abbey Lynes-used with permission.

My friend shared her picture of her new baby, born in November. Isn’t he adorable? I think so. His birth gives me hope.

As I walk through the grocery store, speedily trying to collect what few items I need, I see women bravely bringing new life into this world and I applaud them.

I feel grateful when I hear about the first baby born into each of my community hospitals in the new year. These babies represent our future. New lives brought into our world is the ultimate act of hope, and many have that hope.

8. Everyone loves curbside pickup 

I used to take this service for granted each time I picked up my groceries. Afterall, I paid for the service. True, it did save me at least an hour of my time. Then, in this pandemic, grocery stores began to offer this service for free. And it helped to employ many workers, too.

We began to call in our orders to our favorite restaurants and pick our food up curbside, too. This means that we get a taste of eating out, support the restaurant and ensure continued employment for their staff while still staying safe. I love it.

Then, with the approach of the Christmas shopping season, other stores began to offer this service. What a joy it was to drive up, let them know I was there, and they brought it to me. I hate the shopping scene at any time, but especially at the holidays. Just. Too. Many. People.

Since the holiday season is over, stores continue to offer this service. It makes my life so much easier, not to mention safer. Until my husband and I are able to get that elusive vaccine (at least for us in our community) I will be forever grateful to those stores who offer this.

9. Zoom offers social connection

Throughout this pandemic, Zoom has been a lifeline for me. I miss getting together with family and friends so much. I hadn’t seen my family since November of 2019, and Zoom made it possible to get together safely. We laugh and joke and get to see each other more often than ever before.

I also have calls with my writing groups several times each week, which keeps my social needs satisfied while I improve my writing. We give each other feedback and support, ideas and redirection. We build friendships across the nation and the world that make me eager to see them again at each call.

I am grateful for the social connection that this provides while allowing us to stay safely distanced from each other.

10. Streaming services offer more choices

I don’t have cable and don’t watch much TV, but there are some shows I do enjoy. Our old TV, which wasn’t old enough to get rid of as far as I was concerned, no longer supported anything but Netflix and Vudu. 

For Christmas, I got my husband a new BluRay player, thinking it would more provide options and have less trouble with freezing and dropping the network. It didn’t give us the connectivity that I thought it would. So, the day after Christmas, we bought a smarter Smart TV. 

Now we have hundreds of free watching options in addition to begin able to access Netflix, and Vudu. Now we can get Disney+ (for a fee) and Hulu (also for a fee), if we want. Even though I only watch for about an hour or so in the evenings with my husband, we have gotten to see some great new content.

At a time when we can’t go out to the movies, it’s wonderful that they can stream to us.

Leave me a note in the comments to let me know what are you grateful for in 2020.

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Pat Davis, a retired teacher and editor of Simply Living and Living Simply, lives with her husband and neurotic cat, Neko. She loves to read, write, travel, bake, garden, sew, and craft. Top writer in Food and Cooking on Medium.


Dr. Jill Biden Earned Her Degree

It is not an honorific, Mr. Epstein, unlike yours.

Shame on you, Wall Street Journal, for perpetuating misogynistic behavior towards women. This Op-Ed is a disgrace to your prestigious reputation and to our society in general. What were you thinking?

Opinion | Is There a Doctor in the White House? Not if You Need an M.D.
Madame First Lady-Mrs. Biden-Jill-kiddo: a bit of advice on what may seem like a small but I think is a not unimportant…

As a middle-class, generally conservative (but maybe more progressive than I used to be) woman, I am completely offended at this article. In college, taking journalism classes, I was taught that our media had ethical responsibilities to its readership and society. But more and more, those ethical standards are missing.

I understand that this is an opinion piece, but in printing this piece, the Wall Street Journal showed poor judgement at best and certainly malfeasance. No paper should print anything that creates an injustice toward another human being. Printing this is an injustice to half of all Americans — women.

Dr. Jill Biden is a hard working woman who earned her master’s degrees and then her doctorate in Education. And yes, there will be a doctor in the White House, just not a medical doctor. Mr. Epstein, who by-the-way only holds an honorary degree, purports that only an M.D. is a real doctor.

But there other kinds of doctors — Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy,) and Ed.D. (Doctor of Education.) Scholars who earn those titles (and it is not an honorific if you earn it) also use the title of doctor. It is their right to use it because they have worked hard to earn it. Dr. Biden should proudly use it, too.

And no, Mr. Bawer, this is not about the ‘Cancel Culture’ ranting and raving about nonsense. This is about equality and equity. I know women who earned their masters degrees in engineering who were the first to lose their jobs during workforce reductions and were not able to find work in the field they love. Others have been told they do not hold their degree at all, despite the diploma that proves otherwise.

In Defense of Joseph Epstein on Dr Jill Biden | City Journal
You’re nobody nowadays until you’ve been canceled. It’s the new new thing. To be stripped in one fell swoop of every…

This is about standing up to hundreds of years of women being put down or held back. Good men will no longer allow this to happen to women, nor will they condone it when another man does it. If she were a man, this would not have been said.

And although our constitution guarantees everyone in the U.S. the right to Freedom of Speech, that does not mean that newspapers should print it. Would the WSJ have printed an op-ed piece that spouted Klu Klux Klan rhetoric? I highly doubt it. Nor should they. This piece is in the same vein.

Women’s rights in America

We celebrate our country’s independence July 4, 1776. It took almost 150 years before women had the right to vote — August 26, 1920, just 15 years before my mother was born. Even through the 30’s and 40’s, women had to give up their jobs after they became wives, tying them financially to a man.

Why? So that they didn’t take a job from a man. Even when they were employed, the most acceptable professions were those of teacher and nurse. Today, women still make $.70 on the dollar compared to men. Let’s not forget how disproportionately COVID-19 has impacted women’s economic stability.

As a retired teacher (I taught for 23 years in public schools), I have often been frustrated that I had no voice, even in my own profession. Our mostly male representatives pass laws that affect us, and often not for the better.

Women, by far, are the largest group of Americans who live below the poverty line. I am unable to draw social security I earned because of laws related to my states teacher’s pension. Because of the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP), I lose ⅔rds of what I should draw, even from my husband’s.

I could qualify for food stamps and Medicaid without my husband’s financial support.

During the 1970’s, there was a little amendment to our constitution that somehow never could get ratified — The Equal Rights Amendment. The biggest stumbling block? The idea that women might have to fight on the front lines in a war. Really?

My mother’s response to that was, “Well, why is it so much better that a man is shot at?” And, of course, it is not better. Why shouldn’t a woman be expected to defend her own country. If the fighting came to our doors, she would have to, so train her how to do it.

Under-representation of women in politics

Women seem to have great difficulty getting elected to office. In my own town, our city council is made up of men. This past election, we had four women run against these incumbents. Not one was elected. Why? Good question. Even my city government lacks the diversity of the community.

At the national level, although women represent half of all Americans, there are fewer than 25% in Congress (25% in the Senate, 23.2% in the House.) Why? Could it be because our two-party system doesn’t seek out qualified female candidates? Do the parties work to support them to run for office?

That is one possibility, but there is another. That women who might run, don’t because they will have to face the kind of ridicule put forth against Dr. Biden. And they would likely be correct in that concern. Haven’t we seen women who stand their ground and represent their constituents put down in Congress?

Or — they may feel unqualified because after being told they are not enough all their lives, they may believe it. This is the biggest injustice. Women have the capability of mind that men have, even if they may not have the same size or physical strength due to lack of testosterone to build muscles.

Women can be scientists, mathematicians, doctors, lawyers, and politicians. They can do things that men are not biologically capable of doing, giving birth, which I would argue shows how strong they truly are. My mother-in-law used to say that if the man had the first child and the woman had the second, there would not be a third.

Sarah Olson Michel said it well in her post about this same article. It’s worth your read as well.Why Jill Biden’s Doctoral Degree Angers People
It’s so much more than

Women’s Rights Matter

So we must remember, as we fight for equality and justice for all, to defend your grandmother’s, mother’s, sister’s, daughter’s, neice’s, and wife’s rights as well as those who have more recently demonstrated in large numbers.

Don’t be silent about this treatment of women. Don’t sit back and just take it. Don’t allow the women in your life to be undervalued. Be the change women need to be treated equally.

Women’s rights matter, too.

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Pat Davis, a retired teacher and editor of Simply Living and Living Simply, lives with her husband and neurotic cat, Neko. She loves to read, write, travel, bake, garden, sew, and craft. Top writer in Food and Cooking.


Quick and Easy Chicken Alfredo

This dish is on the table in under 30 minutes.

I love when I am able to make a dish from start to table in 30 minutes or less. I especially love it when I am able to use fresh ingredients because I feel like I am serving my family better food. But fresh ingredients doesn’t mean I don’t find shortcuts that still allow me to control what goes into the food.

My chicken Alfredo is a mostly homemade dish that is a crowd-pleaser in my house. I have served it for dinner parties, unexpected dinner guests and just for us. It is a great way to use up leftover chicken, or even canned premium white meat chicken. It is quick, easy, and tasty. Win-win-win! My favorite.

Quick and Easy Chicken Alfredo Recipe

Print this recipe.

The chicken

You can use any kind of pre-cooked chicken that you have. I have use my leftover roasted chicken. Sometimes, I bulk-grill chicken along with other meats when I grill out, and I can use that. Or I quickly bake a chicken breast in my air-fryer before going to work. Sometimes, I have used canned chicken.

Each kind will give a different flavor, but it will always taste great. My recipe feeds three people, which can easily be doubled or tripled for more guests, or divided into servings for quick lunches.

Ingredients — 5 minute prep time

¾ pound shredded precooked chicken (2 cups)
½ cup diced onion (about 1 small onion)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil 
½ cup of sliced mushrooms, about 3–4 caps (optional)
½ jar of Bertolli Alfredo sauce (about 1 cup)
2 cups farfalle (bow-tie) pasta(uncooked)
Salt and pepper to taste

Before you begin cooking, you want to start boiling your water for the pasta. If you prefer, you can substitute thin egg noodles, linguini, or plain spaghetti noodles for the farfalle. Add a teaspoon of kosher salt to the water. This will salt the noodles while they cook, but you will pour off most of it.

Cooking the dish — 15 minutes

While you wait for your water to boil, prepare your diced your onion and any side dishes you wish to have. This meal pairs well with a salad and breadsticks or New York® garlic toast from the freezer section at your store. We often make Pillsbury® crusty French bread, so I start that first.

When the water starts to boil, drop in your pasta and start baking the bread. In a 10-inch skillet, saute the onion until translucent, about 3–5 minutes. Add the shredded chicken, mushrooms, salt and pepper. Cover and heat through.

Check the doneness of the pasta. Once it is almost cooked (al dente — where the outside is tender but there is a slight firmness to the very inner part of the pasta), remove it from the heat, but do not drain it. You will need to reserve half a cup of the pasta water to thin the Alfredo sauce.

Add the Alfredo sauce to the chicken mixture and heat until bubbly. Drain the pasta, but reserve a half cup of the water to mix into the chicken when you add the pasta. This will allow the sauce to create an even coat over the pasta. Stir in the pasta and reserved water and mix until all ingredients are coated.

Serve it with a salad and garlic bread and you have a quick, tasty meal.

Get the kids to eat their veggies!

You can add a cup of veggies to this to add color and variety to this dish. Fresh or frozen broccoli florets can be sauteed with the onions, or you can add a can of drained English peas, fresh baby spinach or kale when you add the sauce to the chicken.

This dish is great to serve at a dinner party. Your guests will be impressed, but you won’t spend all your time in the kitchen.

Don’t forget to print this recipe.

Bon Appetit!

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Pat Davis, a retired teacher and editor of Simply Living and Living Simply, lives with her husband and neurotic cat, Neko. She loves to read, write, travel, bake, garden, sew, and craft. Top writer in Food and Cooking.


Easy-to-Make Chicken Pot Pie

You may never eat frozen ones again!

My family loves pie, in all forms, savory and sweet. My favorite is cherry. My husband’s is chocolate cream topped with whipped cream, not meringue (or as he would say — calf slobbers). My sons are chocolate silk. My mother’s was lemon meringue. My father-in-law’s was coconut cream.

When I was around 10-years-old, my mother started making a chicken pot pie, New England style, with oysters. My dad loved it; my brother and I gagged through dinner and ultimately went hungry.

That was when you ate what was put in front of you, and Mom made dinner for Dad, and the kids just ate it. Or not.

Not to worry. My mom quickly realized that chicken pot pie with oysters simply wasn’t kid-friendly and began making a second, much smaller, pot pie for my brother and me. It’s all good.

Years ago, my husband and I ate at Mimi’s Cafe, a French-style bistro, where I discovered another way to make chicken pot pie that was delicious. The secret ingredient — sage. Yum!

This pot pie is so easy to make and takes less than 45 minutes before it is on the table, ready to eat. This recipe easily serves four but can be doubled to serve more or halved to serve only two, as I do.

Easy-to-Make Chicken Pot Pie Recipe

Print this recipe.

Make the crust!

Start by making the crust. There are two options for this pot pie. Because I hate a soggy bottom crust, I almost always only have a top one. As a result, you only need a one-crust pie recipe. If you want a bottom crust, you will need to double my pie crust recipe.

In a medium bowl, whisk together 1 cup flour and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Using the tines of a fork, mash 5 tablespoons of unsalted butter into the flour and salt mixture. The butter should be as cold as possible, so don’t soften it first. Keep cutting the butter into the flour mixture until it has a crumbly texture.

Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of ice-cold buttermilk or whole milk, one tablespoon at a time. Add just enough milk that the dough sticks together easily and no longer crumbles apart. Overhandling the crust will make it tough, so pay attention to when it just begins to hold together.

Remember, if you want a bottom crust, you will need to double the above recipe for a two-crust pot pie. If you have a sourdough starter, you can make this using your discard, too.

Make the filling

This filling can be made in a 3-quart casserole dish that can be used on the stovetop and in the oven. If you don’t have one of those, or if you plan to make a bottom crust, make the filling in a 2-quart saucepan or 10-inch deep skillet. Also, if you have left-over baked chicken, you can use that.

Filling ingredients

  • 1 pound shredded pre-cooked chicken (about 3 cups), or three 6-ounce cans of chunk white chicken, drained
  • 3/4 cup sliced carrot (about 2 medium carrots)
  • 1 cup diced onion (about 1 medium onion)
  • 3/4 cup sliced celery (about 3 celery ribs)
  • 1/2 cup sliced fresh mushrooms (about 6 to 8 mushroom caps)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 teaspoons)
  • 2 teaspoon dried rubbed sage
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery salt
  • 2/3 cup canned peas, drained — optional
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoon corn starch (or 1/4 cup flour)
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste


In a 3-quart, stovetop and ovenproof casserole dish (or 10-in skillet), saute the carrots, onion, celery, salt, and pepper in butter over medium heat until the onions are translucent, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and brown slightly, about 3 minutes.

Add the minced garlic and sage and continue cooking until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Slowly stir in the chicken stock and allow to cook until the carrots are tender about 10 minutes. If you want potatoes in your pot pie, with the stock, add 1 cup diced potatoes, cut to about 1/2″ cubes (about 2 medium).

In a 3-cup measuring cup, whisk together the milk and cornstarch or flour. Slowly add to your casserole dish or skillet, stirring constantly. Allow cooking until thickened and bubbly, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

Gently stir in the drained peas (optional) and shredded chicken. Transfer this filling to an oven-safe casserole dish and top with the pie crust. Trim the crust to the size of your casserole dish and press to the sides to seal it. Cut 6 to 8 slashes in the top to allow steam to vent.

Brush the crust with melted butter and sprinkle with celery salt. Bake at 400° for 10 to 15 minutes, until the crust is golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving.

For a two-crust pot pie

If you have made a bottom crust, you will fill the bottom crust, cover with the top crust and crimp the edges to seal it tightly. Be sure to make 6–8 piercings in the top crust before brushing it with butter and sprinkling it with celery salt.

A two-crust pot pie will take longer to bake, so cover the crimped edges with foil to protect them from burning and allow it to bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for 10 more minutes. The crust should be golden brown. Remove it from the oven and allow it to rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Your family will love it!

The great thing about a pot pie is that you can add any vegetables or fillers that you enjoy eating. I’ve made this with diced potatoes, watercress, cauliflower, and broccoli. I prefer using canned or precooked veggies to frozen ones, as we prefer their texture. This is a great way to get kids to eat their veggies.

Don’t forget to print this recipe.

Bon Appetit!

Pat Davis, a retired teacher and editor of Simply Living and Living Simply and top writer in Food and Cooking on Medium, lives with her husband and neurotic cat, Neko. She loves to read, write, travel, bake, garden, sew, and craft.