Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Getting The Most From Your Roast Chicken Part 2

So, now it's day two and you have two carved roast chickens in your fridge.  What to do?


Obviously, there are a lot of options, but I decided to make chicken pot pie.  This is more of a chicken and biscuit pot pie recipe and it makes a lot.  I was in the mood for this savory dish and it makes the house smell so good while it's cooking.  This isn't the most low fat of choices, but it's all homemade, and it's all real food.

First off, you need to get as much meat off of your roasters as possible.  Put it in a big bowl as shown above.


Then get to work on your chicken pot pie filling.  The thing I like about this recipe is that you can make it in stages and assemble the whole meal right before you eat it.  You need some chicken stock, onions, flour, butter, and some chopped up carrots if you have them.  In a pinch you could use bagged, chopped, frozen carrots.  I am a big fan of frozen veggies, chopped and ready to go in one pound freezer bags.  

Here's what you need for your pot pie:

Cooked, cut up chicken (a few cups)
2T olive oil, butter, or coconut oil
2 chopped onions
3-4 chopped carrots
6 cups chicken stock
1 1/4 sticks of butter
3/4 C flour
1/4 C whole milk
1 package frozen, chopped green beans
good pinch of dried thyme, salt, pepper, and parsley

Melt the butter and oils (or whatever combo you choose) over medium high heat and add the onions.  Cook for about 15 minutes.  Next, add the flour and whisk into the butter/oil/onion sauce for about a minute until cooked.  Add the chicken stock the the flour mixture and continue to whisk until smooth and thick.  Add the spices and the milk and stir together.  


Next add the chicken and beans


Stir to combine and pour in to a large Pyrex baking dish (13 x 11 inches)


At this point you can cover and return to the fridge and work on it later.  Or, you can get started on rolling out the biscuits:

For the biscuits, you'll need:

2 C flour
1 T baking powder
1 t salt
1/2 t sugar
1 stick of butter, diced and cold
3/4 C whole milk

optional herbs and egg wash

In bowl, combine the dry ingredients and mix well.  Add the butter and mix, then add the milk.  You should have a nice, soft ball of dough.  


Roll it out


Use an upturned glass to cut out your biscuits


Place the biscuits on top of the pie filling and brush with egg wash if desired.  I did in the photo - 1 egg + 1 T water = egg wash

Place in a 375 degree oven for 45 minutes


Until the biscuits are golden and the pot pie is bubbly.  I sometimes make an extra batch of biscuits to go on the side.

This is a hearty, comforting meal on a cool, fall night and a great way to stretch your chicken!




Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Making The Most of Your Roast Chicken Part 1


Chicken is a great meal because almost everyone likes it and it is so versatile.  These roasters were purchased at Costco for about $25.00 (for the pair) they are organic and fresh (not frozen) and come bagged together.  Because these birds are a little more expensive I want to make sure I make the most out of them and I'll show you how.  

The first step is to roast the chickens.  You can do this as elaborately as you wish depending on what you have around your kitchen and how much time you have.  Wash the chickens, pat them dry with paper towels and stuff them with whatever you have.  In this case I just used two onions, skins on and cut in half once.  I put a little olive oil on the birds and sprinkled them with with Montreal chicken seasoning (I buy this at Costco) it's only a few dollars and works well with almost anything.  It's a taste I like, but you could just add salt and pepper.  You can also stuff your chicken with lemons, apples, carrots, and celery.  Just use what you've got.  

I snug my chickens in a large, glass, Pyrex baking dish, head to foot, so to speak, so that they are really packed into the pan.  Then, to avoid making a huge mess in my oven, I cover them tightly with foil and bake in a 425 degree oven for about 1 1/2 hours.  This is the amount of time I approximate for about a 3 1/2 lb. roaster but you can adjust according to your oven and the size of your poultry.  After that time has elapsed, I take off the foil and cook a little longer so that the tops get brown.  Take them out of the oven let them cool for a while.  Remove them to a platter to rest and put the foil back on if your're saving for later or trying to retain heat.



Here they are!  See all those juices in the bottom of the pan?  Here's what you can do with them:

First, take your chickens out of the pan and allow them to rest.  Next, get a large, Pyrex measuring cup (4 C.) and pour all of those juices into the cup.  You may want to place a sieve on top of the mouth of the measuring cup before pouring to catch any little bits of skin etc.  


You should find yourself with a nice big portion of drippings:


I don't know about you, but whenever I do this I always have a visitor in the kitchen who tries to look like she is on her best behavior:


Once your drippings have cooled a little, put the whole measuring cup in the fridge overnight.  In the morning scoop off all of the fat that has accumulated on the surface.  You should be left with a jelly like substance that will plop right out onto a plate when you invert the measuring cup.  Slide your chicken jelly disc into a freezer bag and defrost the next time you make chicken so that you can make chicken gravy.

Now, back to the chickens, just slice and serve the breast meat nice and hot with salt and pepper with whatever accompaniments you choose (rice pilaf, steamed broccoli, etc.)

Next time, I'll give you another great recipe that you can use with the leftovers!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Teddy Bear Breads!


To make teddy bear breads, you just shape your bread dough like this:



Let them rise, bake, and cool on a wire rack:


When they're still warm, press chocolate chips into the soft bread to make eyes, nose, buttons, etc.



You can also paint clothes on them by mixing up some powdered sugar and milk and a little food coloring.  Apply the frosting when the bread has cooled.


This is an easy way to make a snack, use up some leftover dough, and have some fun on a rainy day!

To find the recipe I use for my teddy bears click here but you can use just about any recipe you like.

Book Review: Smart Money Smart Kids

It has taken me a while to post this book review, not because it was a difficult book to read, but only because I've been so busy lately. Now that my kids are home for summer vacation, I've been thinking more about implementing different "summer systems" to help keep things running smoothly.  They've also been using some of their own money to buy a few things to entertain them and have asked for some opportunities to make some money at home.  With that in mind I picked up Dave Ramsey's and his daughter Rachel Cruze's book Smart Money Smart Kids.  

If you've read Dave Ramsey's other books or are familiar with his methods, this book will seem familiar to you.  His daughter is quite a bit younger than me and I was wondering how she could discuss contemporary money matters about kids.  But this is more about the methods that Dave taught to his daughter and how it's worked out.  So, think of the book from that perspective.  This isn't a frugal living type of book, rather, it's a big picture look at values and how you can pass them along to your kids.  

Personally, Dave Ramsay's envelope method works really well for me because I don't have time to calculate every little expense that comes up.  Using cash in envelopes keeps you on budget because when there's $20.00 left you know that you've been spending.  I like to use cash as much as possible for my everyday expenses and I find that cash is easier to have on hand with kids because it seems that they always need money for something.  For example, $10.00 for teacher gifts, $5.00 for a pizza party, etc.  

Really this book is about teaching by example.  Let your kids see you pay for things.  Let them see you give generously, and let them see you be disciplined with your own money.

If parents are organized and grateful and generous with their money, the kids will be too.

4 out of 5 stars.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Menu

Here's my weekly menu:
I've tried to include the cost:
Wednesday:  Chicken pot pie, spinach salad - $10.00
Thursday:  mini meatballs, marinara sauce, low-carb pasta, spinach salad - $6.99
Friday:  leftovers
Saturday:  pizza
Sunday:  Chicken, rice pilaf, spinach salad - $8.50
Monday:  3 bean chili, almond flour cornbread broccoli - $4.00
Tuesday:  Chicken, cauliflower, rice pilaf - $9.50

Breakfast:  oatmeal, strawberries, milk, oj, yogurt, omlettes - $5.00-$10.00
Lunches:  bagels with cream cheese, yogurt, peaches, leftovers - $20.00

Total menu cost: about $75.00 for the week

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Menu Revisions This Week . . .


Sunday: Mini meatloaves with cauliflower mashed potatoes, sliced apples or spinach salad
Monday:  Cabbage and Bacon wedges with leftover meatloaf
Tuesday:  Lentil Soup, cottage cheese, spinach and sweet potato salad, rolls, and applesauce
Wednesday:  Mummy dogs (hot dogs wrapped in crescent rolls) lentil soup, homemade artisan bread from the freezer, watermelon slices - we're also having hostess cupcakes and coffee cakes because this is going to be our American Idol finale party!  
Thursday:  leftovers and/or pasta and breaded chicken cutlets
Friday:  Dinner Out
Saturday:  Out of town/dinner out