Wednesday, March 31, 2010

and finally, feelin' thrifty, part two

please pardon the intermission. my kids have been sick and we're selling our house. on the day i was set to post part 2, my kids caught a stomach flu. and here i am much later, trying to finish up this long-delayed post. here goes...

the day after i roast two chickens, i usually make two meals at once, chicken soup and chicken pot pie. they both require roughly the same ingredients and they're both easy, healthy, delicious recipes. i'll separate the recipes here, so as not to confuse anyone, but it should be obvious how to prep them together and cook them separately. also, if you are having a crazy day you could make one or the other and freeze any meat or broth to make the second meal later. this is really simple stuff. you'll see.

i usually start with chicken soup, because it requires some simmering time...

Chicken Soup (my mom's recipe, roughly adapted by me)
1 or 2 chicken carcasses
1 onion, finely chopped
2-3c. carrots, chopped or sliced
2 c. celery, finely chopped
4-6 garlic cloves, peeled, smooshed, and minced
any other veggies from your fridge
2 c. leftover chicken, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
chicken soup base to taste

in a large stockpot or dutch oven, boil the chicken carcasses in roughly 2 quarts of water. you can add water later to adjust liquid. boil for about 30 minutes, give or take a few. this allows the bones to break down a bit and release some healthy goodness into the broth. while that's boiling, prep your veggies.

then, place a colander over another large pot and pour the carcasses and broth into the colander, allowing the broth to filter through to the second pot. pour the broth back into the first pot and allow the meat and bones to cool in the colander. place the broth back on the stove and boil the vegetables in the broth for 10 minutes, or until they're tender. while they're boiling, pull any meat away from the chicken carcasses and add that to the leftover chicken. discard the bones.

add the meat, salt, and pepper, and chicken soup base to the soup. taste and adjust seasoning. it's that easy.

Chicken Pot Pie
1/3c. butter
1/3c. onion, finely chopped
2c. carrots, sliced
1 1/2-2c. frozen peas
1 3/4c. chicken broth (i used leftover broth from the roasted chickens)
2/3c. milk
1/3c. flour (i used whole wheat, because i was out of white)
1/2t. salt
1/4t. pepper
pie crust (1 crust, or two), click here for an easy recipe, (making your own is healthier and takes no time at all, i promise!)
pie plate or 9x13" pan

this is so easy! first, prep your veggies along with the chicken soup veggies, or later. boil the carrots until just mostly tender and then add the peas and cook until carrots are done. drain and set aside. you could use frozen peas and carrots if you like those. i just can't stand frozen carrots. fresh ones taste so much better.

next, melt the butter on low in a medium sized pot over low heat. when melted, add the onion and saute until onions are soft. stir in flour and cook for one minute. stir/whisk in broth and milk, salt and pepper. stir constantly over low heat until sauce thickens and stir in chicken, peas and carrots.

prepare pie crust. again, see here for an easy recipe.

if you're making a two crust chicken pot pie in a pie plate... pour the filling from the pot onto the bottom pie crust, top with the second pie crust, flute the edges, and cut slits into the top crust to vent.

if you're making a one crust chicken pot pie in a 9x13" pan... be sure to roll your crust into the shape of your pan. pour the filling into the greased pan and top with the pie crust. make sure that you don't forget to cut slits into the top of the crust to vent the pie.

bake at 425 until the crust is golden.

also, if you want to freeze the pot pie, just wrap it up well and freeze it before baking.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

brief intermission??

my four year old is sick tonight and since we're putting our house on the market very soon, i thought it might be a good idea to help the hubby with de-cluttering the house tonight. it would have been more fun to post part two tonight, but that will have to wait until tomorrow. for now, my leftover chicken is waiting patiently in the refrigerator. good chicken.

Monday, March 22, 2010

feelin' thrifty? or three delicious meals from two chickens.... Part 1

in the interest of saving myself some money at the grocery store and keeping our meals healthy, i roast two chickens a week or every other week (which i assure you is very simple). we eat roast chicken the first night, and the next night i cook two meals at once, in order to eat one and freeze the other. it's surprisingly painless, delicious, cheap, and good for you. AND my kids like it, even my picky eaters. so here goes... this is part one, roasting the chickens and tomorrow i'll post part two, the two meals made from the leftovers. enjoy!

first, roasting a chicken is super easy and there's very little prep involved. so, if you're thinking that you don't have the skills for this, you're wrong. it's just a matter of getting over the yuck factor that so many of us americans have about touching a chicken carcass. be brave, your budget and your family will thank you. :)

2 whole roasting chickens
1 onion
6 or more cloves of garlic
1 small orange or tangerine
2 T. kosher salt
1 t. paprika
canola oil non-stick spray
1 large roasting pan, or two small pans big enough to fit one chicken each

first, spray pans with non-stick spray. cut onion into wedges. smoosh and peel garlic cloves. cut orange into large chunks. mix veggies and orange together in a small bowl and set aside. mix salt and paprika in a small dish and set aside.

next, remove the giblet package and neck from the inside of the chicken, if they're there. some chickens don't include the giblets and neck. set the chickens in the prepared pans. use a spoon, if this grosses you out. pat the chickens dry and stuff them with the veggie/orange mixture. use skin flaps around the opening to cover the stuffing.

then, generously spray the outside of the chickens with the canola spray and sprinkle the salt mixture over the two chickens. how much of the salt mixture you use, really depends on your own taste. i heavily salt it, because we don't typically eat the skin later anyway and the greater the salt on the outside, the greater the chance the salt will leech through to the meat underneath. cut a small piece of twine and use it to tie the two legs together on each chicken.

lastly, heat the oven to 4oo degrees and put them in the oven. let them cook for about 30 minutes to seal in the juices and then drop the temp to 350 degrees. let them cook until you get a temp reading of 180-185 on a meat thermometer inserted in the breast and thigh. if that's iffy, check to see how loose the thigh bone is. if a chicken is well-cooked (not overcooked) the thigh should easily pull away from the carcass when you pull on it. cooking time depends on the size of the birds. it can take anywhere between one hour to two hours, so read the instructions on the back of the chicken wrapper to check cooking times. i usually crack open my my favorite cookbook for a refresher, just to plan how early i need to put the chickens in the oven. when chicken is done, cover it loosely with foil and let it rest for about 5-10 minutes. it will continue to cook after it's out of the oven, so be careful not to overcook it.

while you wait for the chickens to finish roasting, you can prep and cook mashed potatoes or whatever else you'd like to round out your meal with.

eat and enjoy!

after dinner, pull any untouched meat off of the chicken carcasses and store it in the fridge for tomorrow. pull the stuffing out of the chicken carcasses and throw it away. dump the carcasses and any other bones into a large ziplock bag and put them in the fridge. pour any juices left in the pan into a dish with a lid. spoon out any fat that rises to the top and refrigerate the broth without the fat. if you won't be getting to any of this tomorrow, then freeze it instead. and pull it out whenever it's convenient. this sounds like a lot of work, but it's taken me longer to write what i did than it did to actually do it. all told, my prep time was about 15 minutes and there really isn't that much clean up.

tomorrow... chicken pot pie and chicken soup