I lead a pretty simple life. Kids, cooking dinner, a bit of work, trying to establish a basic social circle. So small things tend to excite me. I take great pride in what many might dismiss as a typical day. Indulge me.
|*not my chicken. But mine looked just as good. Thanks, stock.xchng!
I ordered a few chickens from a person at the farmers market. Fortunately they called me when the birds were ready for drop off because I forgot to get any information from the person to whom I handed over $20 and my email address. So I added one to the fridge to thaw while the rest made friends with the side of beef we’d just picked up on Tuesday. Freezer buddies, I call them.
I made my most delicious roasted chicken recipe (below) that tastes just like a rotisserie bird from Meijer. Not that I – or you – have ever bought one as the dinner hour grows near. I popped it in the oven Sunday morning and it was ready after church at the same time as the fried potatoes.
As I do with all roasted chickens, I picked off the remaining meat (I know, the least favorite part of mine as well, but it needs done) and then filled the pot up with water and bones to make me a fresh broth. You can’t beat this broth – so rich and golden. The seasonings from the roasting stick around. I suckered two batches of broth out of that bird.
The leftover chicken meat only filed a small bowl, so we used it for fillings in chicken quesadillas on corn tortillas. A big hit, with both the hubby and the kids. Meal victory #2 for the day.
But since the bird was gone and we rely heavily on leftovers as a source of lunches, I had to get creative. I like to simmer a pot of soup on Sundays – it’s a nice, simple lunch that can last all week if played correctly. But since I had no meat – but a lot of broth – I needed to think creatively. Then I noticed the leftover fried potatoes from lunch. A few quick searches and I created my own version of
baked fried potato soup.
Now, I love a good creamy soup. My mom’s recipe for broccoli cheddar uses half and half for the whole thing. But we’re trying to limit the dairy intake around here. I decided to roll the dice. I started with a roux of butter and (a small amount of) flour and cooked it golden. Then I added a touch of half & half (that I didn’t use to make pumpkin spice creamer) and then a good amount of coconut milk. After that thickened, I added 4 cups of my fresh made broth. Looking back, I could’ve added water as well, it became a mighty rich soup.
I diced up the carrots and celery that remained leftover from our buffalo chicken dip lunch on Saturday (FB confirmed that it’s an actual meal on gamedays) and chopped up some cauliflower that I hadn’t decided how to use. After it boiled for a few minutes – while I constantly stirred – I let it simmer for a bit on the stove. I added the bacon leftover from breakfast and just a handful of cheese.
Today, as of 12:02pm, the soup bowl sits empty. H Boy finished off a second bowl, as did I. JJ would have if he’d packed more than one – it’s the first time I’ve gotten a “good lunch” text this school year.
Now, while I love a good kitchen victory, can I tell you why I am most excited about such culinary adventures? Because I used up a variety of items in my fridge. I’ve become more and more aware of just how much food gets wasted in my home (and in society) and have decided that I cannot get more food until we eat what we have. This has been a spectacular exercise in creative cooking. If I’m missing an ingredient, I simply have to figure out how to substitute. Also, when I have a few lingering items – like the cauli and broccoli, I challenge myself to find a new way to use them. The broc is going in our creamy chicken lasagna tonight.
Feeding my family makes me proud, especially when they eat it up so well. But being resourceful gives me a heightened sense of enjoyment. Thanks to a new awareness of what is already in the fridge, my grocery bill was $87 today. And we have more than enough food for the next week.
And now, as I promised, the Roasted Chicken recipe. I didn’t make it up. It probably came from Allrecipes.
- Thaw a whole chicken and wash it. Make sure, if it came with the gibbets, you remove that package before cooking. Pat the bird dry.
Mix in a small bowl:
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. thyme
1/4 tsp. cayenne
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
Chop an onion into 1/4s and insert into the cavity of the bird. Rub the spice mixture all over (top and bottom). Place breast-side down in a dutch oven (if you mess that up, no worries. I’ve baked more than one bird on her back). Bake at 250 for 5 hours uncovered. Remove and let rest a few minutes before slicing and serving.
Leftover meat goes great in quesadillas, chicken caesar (or other variety) wraps or even chicken salad. And don’t forget to broth that bird! Just fill with water, bring to a boil, then simmer all afternoon. It’ll stay fresh in your fridge for about a week. Read the ingredients on any box of Swanson’s and you’ll decide the effort of filling the pot is totally worth it.