Fernanda Pasta
Salad Caprese

8-3-09

Another Monday morning.

Caroline and Edward have been eating handfuls of Cheerios for almost a year, but today was the first time I put the cereal into a bowl and added milk. Then they had applesauce. Patrick had Cheerios, too, but disappeared before I could get any fruit into him.

Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for C&E for lunch, plus some leftover Fernanda pasta and then dried cranberries. Edward loved them. Caroline was more hesitant (not to put too fine a point on it, she made a hideous grimace and then scraped out her mouth with both hands) so I rummaged through the pantry to see if I could find any raisins. All kids love raisins, right? Right! Well, apparently Caroline does at least and she then failed to notice when I substituted dried cranberries at intervals. By the end of lunch she was happily eating both. I will forge the twinkles into less picky eaters than Patrick if it kills me.   

Patrick had a bowl of frosted miniwheats for lunch, which I know sounds like a complete cop-out on my part but I feel compelled to add that these are medicinal miniwheats. Patrick has had, ah, issues with regularity since about five minutes after I stopped nursing him. He was on prescription Miralax for YEARS - literally, YEARS - but over the past twelve months we have been successful at getting him off the stuff. Plumsmart juice is a Sunsweet prune product that Patrick likes and we have had moderately good results with it. I recently introduced a few Fiber One things into his diet as well and they are terrific. We have tried their chocolate milkshake and, see, I knew there was a point to this, they have just introduced a frosted miniwheat. So. There it is. After the cereal he had half a red pepper and a cup of raw carrots. Lunch.

My point - apart from the fact that my children are all suffering from culinary ennui today - is that I desperately need to go grocery shopping. We are almost out of milk, bread, cheese, peanut butter and yogurt. I have exactly one apple left in the fruit bowl and those carrots and red pepper represented the last of the fresh vegetables with the exception of half a bunch of celery that looks a little limp but I am hoping I can resuscitate for tonight's dinner. If you soak celery (or cucumbers) in ice water for about fifteen minutes you can usually trick them into firming up. For what it's worth.

Once upon a time I used a grocery delivery service and every Monday night I would spend about fifteen minutes clicking through my online master shopping list and the next afternoon food would materialize in my garage. It was so nice. Then they went out of business about a year ago and I wept. But! They were purchased by a quasi-local grocery chain who vowed to continue service as of old. I cheered. But! They never emailed me to let me know service had resumed so I finally contacted them only to discover that they had redrawn their delivery areas and now cease service two and a half miles from my house.

Bastards.

I'll describe later how challenging it is to grocery shop with twin babies (car seat in basket. car seat in child seat part. where does the food go?) and how challenging it is to shop with twin toddlers (push stroller and basket? push two baskets? push one basket and listen for PA announcement asking for the mother of the lost child to please come to the front of the store?) Right now I need to plan my food for the week and I figure we might as well help each other.

Patrick's requests for dinner:

salade nicoise (I call the cheater's version he likes Wartime Nicoise; it relies heavily on canned things)

homemade pizza (I'll post my dough recipe but I could use a better one)

Steve's request:

shish kabobs

I bought two fryer chickens a few weeks ago when they were on sale for $3 a piece and froze them. Yesterday I was feeling inspired so I took one out to thaw and now I am committed to it. I hate it when I do that, because it is now almost ninety degrees outside and the last thing I want to do is turn on my oven. I had been planning to use this recipe (I have a baguette in the freezer and some onions and a lemon and that celery I mentioned... .) Any ideas on what to do with a whole chicken and a grill or the stovetop?

Tuna, pizza, beef, chicken... what else? Pasta maybe? Gazpacho?

What are you making tonight/tomorrow/this week?

PS I'll post recipes as I go.

Comments

Beer-Can Chicken on the grill. We make this all the time in the summer. First we brine the chicken (1c. salt in 2 qt. water - soak bird for 1 hour). Rinse and dry the chicken - add a spice rub if you wish. Take a can (we save them for this purpose) and fill 2/3 with beer (or lemonade if you want to avoid beer) - you can just use a can of beer, but we always have bottles on hand. Make sure you punch two extra holes in the lid to have a total of three for the steam to escape. Place the can in the ahh, umm, how to put this delicately? - large opening of the bird so it stands upright on the can. Place on the grill (we put some foil underneath) and cook (lid closed) for an hour to an hour and a half (until it is the proper temp which I don't remember off the top of my head - 175 in the breast?) We love this method and just made two on Friday for a crowd. They came out perfectly and clean up is a breeze. Good luck!

I am not going to be too proud to say I had a meltdown this weekend about food and meal planning and why does everything we buy at the grocery store kill us, and why am I paralyzed, *paralyzed*, I tell you, when it comes to the shopping? And I will not be too humble to say that I then snapped out of it and had a stroke of genius, so tonight's dinner (beef stew made entirely with things from the fridge that were seeming a little suspicious, plus potatoes) will require me to dump one tupperware container full of presliced vegetables and one box of vegetable broth into the crockpot, slice two strips of sirloin, and cook while not in attendance for 3-5 hours.

The rest of the week is similar, as I devoted almost my entire day yesterday to shopping, prepping, and baking food for the week. I don't always have the time or energy to do this over the weekend, but when I do mealtime becomes almost blissful. Note that I do not have children, only a very helpful husband.

Beer Can chicken all the way! It's the only way to cook a whole chicken in the summer, unless you have a rotisserie on your grill. That also works great.

I looked at that Once A Month Cooking site and honestly, the only tip that works for me is to freeze ground beef browned to speed up cooking later. The only Old Reliable that is worth stocking my freezer with is sloppy joes.

I fall back on Breakfast For Dinner and have no issues whatsoever with cereal for lunch.

You can butterfly the chicken (I don't know how; my sister did it once with intructions from Cook's Illustated) and cook it on the grill. An our or so on the unlit half of your gas grill with the lid closed; then brown it up on the lit side.

More interestingly, if you do grill your chicken with whatever method you coose, try this: Cut a lemon in half and put it on the grill, cut side down. Let it roast until the whole thing is soft and oozing juice and the cut edge is browned. Squeeze the juice out and whisk it with olive oil, a little Dijon mustard, and whatever fresh herbs you have growing (I use mint, basil and parsley, or rosemary and thyme). The sauce you will then have for your grilled chicken, your vegetables, your couscous, or for that matter your ice cream (it's that good) is sublime.

Cheers.

Please overlook my laptop's endearing tendency to drop h's.

I do like Beer Can Chicken. If you need a fancy version, try Champagne (in a beer can) Cornish game hens.

But a nice alternative to grilling the bird is to toss the whole thing in the crockpot and put the crockpot on the porch/deck.

Beer butt chicken is great! If you don't want to do that (and by this point, you've probably started anyway):

1 small onion, quartered
Half lemon
1/2 tsp each salt and pepper
2 tsp grated lemon rind
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup vegetable oil
[1/2 tsp fennel seeds, crushed]
Place onion and lemon half in cavity (maybe add your celery too?]; sprinkle cavity with pinch each of the salt and pepper. Tie legs together with string; tuck wings under back.
Grate rind of half, with juice, oil, fennel seeds and salt and pepper; set aside.
Set foil drip pan under 1 burner of 2-burner barbecue or under centre burner of 3-burner barbecue. Set chicken on greased grill over drip pan. Heat remaining burner(s) to medium.
Brush chicken with one-third of the lemon mixture; close lid and grill for 20 minutes. Brush with half of the remaining lemon mixture; close lid and grill for 20 minutes.
Brush chicken with remaining lemon mixture; close lid and grill until meat thermometer inserted in thickest part of thigh registers 185°F, 40 to 60 minutes longer. Transfer to cutting board; tent with foil and let stand for 10 minutes before carving.

enjoy, whatever you do!

p.s. I have make your own tacos almost every week -- cook the hamburger and/or chicken in large batches in advance with packaged taco/fajita seasoning, also cook rice and corn in advance, use canned black beans. The hardest part is dicing the tomatoes and green onions. I have a better than average chance this way of getting some lettuce and tomato down gullets. The corn and beans are usually a hit.

Grocery shopping, planning meals and cooking are my nemesises (if that's even a word).

Eating, however, is my god.

I'm working on how to reconcile the two.

Oh! And thanks for the recipe for Fernanda Pasta.

Whole chicken + grill:

Make a sort of pesto from one large bunch of marjoram (leaves only, obviously), a handful of peeled garlic cloves, a big old pinch of salt (lots of salt!), and enough olive oil to get a pesto-y texture. Separate the skin from the bird over the breast and ... drumstick area? legs? My chicken terminology is lacking. Rub the marjoram pesto between the chicken and the skin.

Grill breast side down over indirect, low heat for 45 minutes. Flip over and grill until done, I would say usually 30-45 more minutes, although it depends on the size of your bird.

I have no good suggestions for the chicken - although I can vouch for the beer can chicken above as a good choice.

For us tonight - sneaky spaghetti. Take ground beef or turkey and cook it. Throw some combination of the following vegetables in a food processor and pulverize: zucchini and/or yellow summer squash, onion, bell pepper, mushrooms, garlic. Feel free to leave a bit chunky if your family is not opposed to veggies - or puree it all and they won't know what they are eating. Add the meat and veggies to your favorite marinara (jarred if you like - from scratch if you have the time). Serve over noodles.

Tonight I'm making Fernanda Pasta! Tomorrow, fried green tomato BLTs. Wed or Thurs I'm going to try these: http://smittenkitchen.com/2008/08/kefta-and-zucchini-kebabs/ out, but as I'm grill-less, I'm going to try to do them on the stovetop...

And speaking of Smitten Kitchen, I like the zuni cafe chicken and bread salad that Deb wrote up last year sometime -- and I've skipped the brine and still enjoyed it...

ok, smile to see a zingermans appearance on your site already. do you have their guide to good eating? it's fabulous... most of ari's stuff is pretty incredible. given that i have a line item in my sorta "budget" for zingermans, i am a bit biased. but hey, it's about a mile away... it's not my fault. really.

baked whole chicken stuffed with (cooked) rice, browned lamb (or beef), syrian spices and pine nuts. love it. i'd offer a recipe but it's a toss it together kinda thing. no help, eh.

Yay! A food blog.

Smitten Kitchen's Really Easy Pizza Dough (or something to that effect) is my go-to recipe. In fact, we've had it once a week the last two weeks.

Perhaps you'll have some leftover chicken to make BBQ Chicken Pizza?

I do my chicken in the crockpot. It's a WW thing, I think, but I ball up foil in the bottom, sprinkle chicken with seasoning of choice, then plop it in and cook until done. Do it in the morning, put it on low, and you have chicken by suppertime.

Make sandwiches. Serve it over pasta. Serve it over rice with gravy. Add vegetables. Et voila. Great for busy weeks.

We ate from the garden. A big salad consisting of lettuce, cukes, the first ripe tomato and some bits of chicken from the bird I roasted (after my husband butchered it!) last week. Corn on the cob. Deep-fried zucchini strings. Oooooh yeeeeah.

Oh my God I'm in the same chicken boat. Onto the grill with it.

Grilled chicken under a brick!

http://pinchmysalt.com/2009/07/18/grilled-chicken-under-a-brick/

This morning I decided to bake bread, since we were out, and put up brown rice for Straun (from Brother Juniper's Bread Book, which I reviewed on my blog: http://mygoodlyheritage.blogspot.com/2008/12/brother-junipers-bread-book-slow-rise.html), and then I noticed the recipe for stout beer, and having just discovered the malt I was storing in the freezer for just that purpose (but having forgotten all about it until I cleaned out the freezer recently), and noticing that it also calls for brown rice, I put some more rice in the pot and commenced to make both Straun and stout bread. We had bacon and eggs for supper, with slices of Straun. For dessert we had the staun loaf into which I baked chocolate. And as we speak, my partner Julie is bringing me a glass of chocolate stout and a slice of stout bread with butter. It's been a good food day at our house, and I haven't even mentioned the lunch my neighbor cooked me with green beens and tomatoes that we picked together in the garden.

I'm so so excited that you have started a food blog! I love love love food.

Okay, I saw fried green tomatoes further up and it reminded me of an odd/messy to cook/WONDERFUL Wolfgang Puck sandwich I had once:

Fried green tomato, bacon, swiss cheese on a kaiser roll.

Directions are pretty obvious: batter up and fry some green tomatoes, fry bacon, split the kaiser, load it up with the maters, bacon, and cheese. Broil until cheese is bubbly.

Did I mention messy? Yeah, and oh-so-healthy (see my tongue planted firmly in my cheek?) But OH SO GOOD.

I write a Menu Plan Monday every week--we don't eat fancy food, but we eat good food. Come anc check it out!

I was terrified the first time I did this, but I've successfully put one toddler in the seat, the other in the cart itself. Then pile groceries around the one in the cart.

Obviously this requires at least one toddler who will not (a) climb out the back (b) throw things out the back. Judging from what I hear of Caroline, I think she might need to be in the seat. :)

Last night I made Pioneer Woman's Pinto Beans (http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2007/08/beans_and_cornb/) and 101cookbook's corn bread since I prefer the sweet to the dry version (http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/firecracker-cornbread-recipe.html). Amazingly delicious and very easy; I added a kielbasa to the beans, and the hardest part of the process was doing the calculations on the cornbread recipe to make 1 2/3 batches in order to use up all my polenta. Garnished beans with creme fraiche, cilantro, and fresh lime juice and the cornbread with loads of butter and honey. It was so good I just ate all this for breakfast too.

Tonight I'm making penne with [leftover] grilled salmon, [leftover] grilled asparagus, [frozen] peas and [packaged] pesto. The other thought was to put all those items (and some ricotta?) in a fritatta. I often do a fritatta (using leftover grilled stuff) with salad and bread. But we didn't have enough eggs. Another go-to in our house is make-your-own tacos / burritos / something mexican-sih. The twinks might like avocado & refried beans ...

PS: I am thrilled you're doing this cooking / cooking idea blog! I've often thought of such a thing ... but only 4 people read my blog and they don't comment (the email me - whatsup with that?!). Hey, didn't we post a bunch of easy dinner ideas when you had to go on bedrest? Any luck with any of those?

I usually plan grocery shopping for the weekend so that my husband can go with me, but then I also work outside the home. I have no suggestions for your dinner, which is a moot point now, but I am really hoping to get some ideas for my own dinners from your blog. I enjoyed reading about your meals for your children, it makes me feel like mine (or at least my oldest) is less weird.

This might not be the right season for it, but I like to cook a whole chicken in the crockpot. Just cover it with water and sprinkle herbs, and cook for 8ish hours on low. Then you'll have lots of (moist!) cooked chicken. This method lends itself well to myriad soups and stews, or in this time of year, you could dice the chicken for wraps, tacos, salads, casseroles or whatever and freeze the broth for later. FWIW

Amy has the right idea. I crockpot whole chickens. I rub down the skin with a little butter and dump it into the crockpot with a can of chicken broth and a large cut up onion. Eight hours on low. And you aren't heating up the entire house with the oven on.

Tonight we are having leftover Chicken Tagine with Naan bread, which was super delish. I got the recipe form www.tastespotting.com I highly recommend the site for great recipes and inspiration. Later this week we are having beef stew and rice (Mexican style) and avocado salad. I am loving the blog Julia!

Julia, we just did a whole chicken on the grill the other night by taking the back out and splitting the bird in two. I rubbed it with herbes de Provence, olive oil and S&P, intending to marinate it for awhile but in fact doing so for only 5 minutes or so before cooking it. ;-) It flamed something fierce because I had the whole grill (propane) pretty hot when I put it on. It took WAY less than an hour (maybe 20 minutes?), though we did have some charred skin on parts, even after we lowered the fire and put the birds on the upper 'deck' thingie. Still, it was moist and delicious and it didn't heat my kitchen!

Hm, this DOES involve the oven, but is so yummy and can use your chicken and baguette that I couldn't resist. If not now, save for later, it's delish: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/11/dining/11appe.html

My week's menu includes Soup au Pistou - also from the NYT, this time from Bitten a few weeks ago - cannellini beans, potatoes, carrots, celery & onions, then zucchini and tomatoes and small pasta bits, topped with a scoop of pesto. We had it last night, it was summer in a bowl.

Thai curry - tofu, more zucchini and tomatoes, green beans, tofu, coconut milk, and more yum.

Fish tacos - we buy frozen Hoki strips, already breaded, from Whole Foods, bake them off, then add to whole wheat tortillas with shredded cabbage and our favorite Miso dressing.

What else? Oh yes, enchiladas - corn and zucchini (can you tell we have a lot of zucchini?) with tomatillo sauce, rice and beans. Which reminds me, I need to soak those beans.

I work outside the house, so I make my menu on Saturday mornings, make my grocery list, and ESCAPE happily to the grocery store alone while my husband is home. Bliss.

I am enjoying scrambled - it's always nice to have more opportunity to read your stuff - thanks.

Wow, lots of yummy sounding chicken recipies.

Will the grocer deliver to a corner 2.5 miles from your house or let you order and have it ready for you to pick up at the store? I think the only way I would shop if I had 2 toddlers would be with another adult to kid-wrangle.

I have a really great pizza dough/sauce recipe that was printed years ago by Toronto Life (a local magazine here). Below is the basic recipe, but if you're interested in the whole series of recipes, let me know and I'll email them to you.

Toronto Life Pizza
Source: Toronto Life Magazine


Crust

2 packages (1 1/3 tbsp) granulated yeast
1 tsp sugar
½ cup warm water (110oF – 115oF)

Dissolve sugar in water; sprinkle in yeast; put bowl in warm place for 10 minutes.

3½ - 4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
¼ cup olive oil
¾ cup warm water

Sift flour and salt into large bowl; make well in centre; fill it with oil, warm water and yeast mixture; stir firmly with wooden spoon to combine liquids and solids; gather dough in ball, turn out onto floured board. Knead for 10 minutes, until dough is smooth and stretchy.

Put dough in large, lightly oiled bowl; cover with damp cloth; put in draught free place for 1½ - 2 hours, until it has risen to twice it’s size; punch it down; eight portions give 4 piece pies (8”). Wrap portions in saran and freeze. Pat each portion of dough into a 1” thick disk; stretch between fingers. Roll out until 1/8” thick after it gets too thin to handle; Transfer to baking sheet; pinch up rim around edge to contain sauce.


Sauce

Olive oil
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
2 lbs fresh, ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped OR
4 cups chopped Italian-style plum tomatoes
1 6oz can of tomato paste
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil or 1 tablespoon fresh
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon flat leaf parsley, chopped
sugar, salt, black pepper

Coat bottom of heavy pot with film of olive oil, set over medium heat; add onions, cook until soft; add garlic, cook for minute; Add other ingredients; bring to boil, let simmer uncovered for about 1 hour. (Add optional dried red pepper – 1 pinch.) For a smooth sauce, put through a food mill. Sauce improves in the freezer.

Baking – 500oF for about 10 minutes

As for the chicken issue, I would have said Beer Can chicken too. It's easy, fast and tasty.

call coborns. their cus service is just as good as simons was. I had to pester Simon for months before they delivered to my zip code. I heart my grocery delivery.

With a whole chicken - make beer can chicken!

Ooh, the best pizza dough ever. It feels bouncy and yum, doesn't need to rise, just good stuff.

I found this via a link to Biblical Womanhood.com....I am not in any way a biblical woman, but this dough works for me:

Pizza Dough (makes one pizza)
1 Tbsp. active dry yeast
1 cup warm water (105 to 115 degrees F.)
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
2 1/2 cups flour

Dissolve the yeast in the water. Add the rest of the ingredients in and mix.

Dump onto a floured surface .

Knead into a smooth dough (two to five minutes or so).

Roll out and press down onto a greased pizza pan.

Add sauce/toppings.

Bake at 450 degrees F. for around 12-15 minutes until the crust looks crispy and lightly browned.

EAT!

We have a couple of "standby" meals on hand that work pretty well.
(1) Greek night - I buy pita, olives, feta, a tomato, a red onion, and I make a fake-tzaziki with cucumber and garlic in a small container of sour cream. The meat we buy in the freezer section and is essentially a pre-sliced beef - season liberally with Cavendars and toss in a warm skillet with a tad of olive oil. (The meat was originally intended for philly cheese steak I think). Anyway, goes over well becuase it's SUPER quick to throw together. Everyone can have what pieces they like (I hate feta and black olives, but my husband hates tomatoes, and the kids don't like mixing any of it, but prefer to eat little piles of individual ingredients). I also sometimes throw in some hummus for grins.

Another quick dinner night is fake-lasagna (also called baked ziti by not-my-kids). It's store bought everything, but doesn't take alot of effort - but it does take a little time. Seriously easy.Multigrain pasta (pick the shape of choice) already boiled. Mix with browned ground beef or sausage, a jar of store-bought spaghetti sauce (points if your store carries some of the gourmet/natural brands), and some shredded mozzarella and parmesan. Save a little cheese to sprinkle on top - and really the only time it needs in the oven is to melt the cheese. When I'm being especially sneaky, I steam some veggies and mix them in. Most of the time they don't really notice and eat it anyway :)

boil it with onions, celery, etc. and stash in freezer (save broth, too) for chicken pot pie. then order pizza : )

What I like to do is roast my chicken in the morning while it's cool. It can cook while I'm cleaning up. Then I let it cool and then I can do whatever with it in the afternoon for dinner. Today I made Enchiladas with the chicken.

For dinner today, I boiled frozen pierogis. My 2 year old son loves them. He also loves mac and cheese (from the box), and cheese sandwiches (preferably only the cheese). As you can read, the common denominator is cheese. Thanks for setting up this blog. Obviously I'm not as "seasoned" a cook as your other readers, but I like to read and see the pictures anyway. As for the chicken idea - I vote for the crock pot, assuming you have one. I've made chicken stew before, but unfortunately I don't have the recipe now (nor the crock pot anymore for that matter).

Tonight was panini. I love panini - you plug in the panini grill, it creates no extra heat (it's super hot here in Middle GA too!), and dinner is ready in five minutes.

This time we had bacon, avocado, tomato, bacon, red onion, smoked gruyere, on aioli-spread bread. We wished we'd added some cilantro, so toss some of that on too. VERY good - and the hardest part was the bacon!

Tonight is baked ziti. Tomorrow will probably be grilled cheese since I don't feel like going to the store.

Tonight , and all this week, I am trying to empty out the freezer of meat that I've had, that I haven't decided what to do with yet. It's still good, I just wait until too late in the day and then can't figure out what I want to do. SO, tonight I took out a packet of elk steaks, I sliced them thinly and stir fried with garlic in peanut oil, then threw in green peppers and onions sliced thin, and made a beef broth with the beef base I get at Sam's and simmered a bit with some soy sauce. I thickened this with corn starch and threw in some broccoli until it was tender and served the whole thing over rice. Not too bad. I should have simmered the elk a little longer as it was just a little tough, as it sometimes is.
I have an Aloha Chicken recipe I am going to use on some chicken legs one night, since I have the pineapple, and then there's a shredded elk sandwich recipe I am going to try at some point to use the large elk roast I have in there. It's supposed to be like sloppy joes. But then again, my 16 yr old says he wants to make his girlfriend the chicken pasta pesto recipe I make one night too. I also have various containers of homemade chili and soup in the freezer for nights when we just want to do those with some grilled cheese, and if DH is not here it's breakfast for dinner, Paul's choice whether it's pancakes, scrambled eggs or the very popular sausage/egg/cheese McBagels which are scrumptious on those everything bagels.

I'm drawing a blank on the food stuff, and in any case it's already Wednesday and you've probably figured it all out.

However, my mother also has some regularity issues, and she swears by kiwi. To the point that she actually started making this stuff: http://kiwi-key.com/products.html

Apparently kiwi is magic for regularity, and this is just basically kiwi powder...for those times when you cannot possibly bother to stuff 4 kiwis into a child (or you know, whoever).

Only thing I ever do with whole chickens (other than crock pot, which serves a very different purpose) is preheat 425 oven, peel onion, halve onion, rub cut side on chicken skin, repeat with lemon, shove in the arse end, rub with softened butter, season with salt and pepper, put on roasting rack (or two bars of crumpbled up foil made like a rack, or shaped in a ring) UPSIDE DOWN. Bake for 25 minutes, or until a gentle brown. Remove, turn over, lower heat to 375, cook until top is lovely brown (start checking in 30 minutes). Test for doneness (I poke a hole under thigh, clear juices are usually more reliable for me than a thermometer, but a thermometer in the thigh works too).

Can serve with rice, pasta, bread, a nicely doctored up cous cous, anything to grab the juices. Not so good with mashed potatoes. Can deglaze the pan (yum!) with a little sherry followed by a little boxed broth. Starch and salad and you're set. Great with my quinoa salad too, which is a breeze, healthy, yummy, and my kids eat it like mad, it's gluten/dairy free, and if you ever have to take something to a picnic, it will disappear, and grateful folks with food allergies will love you forever.

If I have a defrosted chicken that fails to make it to the oven, then into the crock pot it goes with 4 oz water. The skin is horrid, but there is a TON of the best broth you will ever have. Put the chicken in a roasting pan, cool on the counter for 20 minutes. It will usually break in half making it cool faster. Pour the broth in a bowl, let sit on counter to cool. Can add 2-3 ice cubes to hurry this along. Cover with plastic, place in fridge. Pick out bones and skin and fat remnants. Leave big hunks of chicken in big hunks, put in ziplock baggie. Little scraps go in other baggie.

We use this for salad rolls (my kids love them, I swear, give kids something to dip their food in and they'll eat ANYTHING). Those are simple, rice paper wrappers, dip one at a time in warm water and roll immediately, can store in fridge for a day or two once rolled. Layer lettuce, basil (for those who will eat it) mint (for me) barely re-warmed brown rice (instead of the usual noodles, it grabs more sauce anyway), nice pile of chicken, and I usually make a thai/japanese style cucumber salad which goes on (dressing is horrible, but good, rice wine vinegar heavily sweetened, salt and pepper, a little fish sauce is good too). Julienne in red onion, carrots and cucumbers. Toss, let sit at least an hour for good, but 30 minutes will work. I keep the dressing made in the fridge, lasts forever, shake and pour over cut veggies before starting the rest, let sit on counter, mise en place, then it's ready when you're ready to roll. So greens, rice, chicken, salad with a little of the juice drizzled on. Roll. Repeat.

Sauce is easy, half water, half tamari (gluten free, use soy if you prefer, but ease off on the water). Experiment with any of the following. I use all of the above, jarred pureed ginger (G-d bless Trader Joes), a frozen garlic cube (G-d bless Trader joes), chili oil, sesame oil (use an ungodly amount, unless you don't like), honey or brown sugar (a pinch! Shouldn't be sweet, just... umammi), dash of bottled lime juice, stir. Works for gyoza too (G-d bless trader joes!).

Rice cooker is great. I got a Zojirushi GBR last year. It does not really g the br, but I finally went, duh, how do you make sprouts? Turns out, you can sprout rice like anything else, soak, then drain, keep moist on counter, turning and rinsing until sprouts appear. Can refrigerate for a couple of days. The Zojirushi makes 10c anyway, and it freezes fine, so I just sprout 2-4 cups of rice every so often. The kids will eat with milk, cinnamon and sweetner (using honey has solved some bowel issues for us, autoimmune yeast for me, constipation for oldest boy, G-d bless news story on medi-honey, who'd have thought the stuff has healing powers?) for breakfast, so I leave it on the keep warm cycle and use until the keep warm cycle is done. Useful for impromptu breakfast, lunch or dinner. When keep warm is done, cool, bag, freeze, and make fried rice (must have frozen rice to make fried rice, doesn't stick!), or have quick emergency rice. Bang the bag on counter to de-clump, dump in bowl, heat and stir in 30 second increments until warm.

Rice cooker ensures frequent stores of frozen rice for chicken salad rolls, or dinner of fried rice with gyozas. Quick, easy, healthy, yum!

Other things good crock pot chicken is good for, chinese chicken salad (we now use salad pecans from trader joes instead of crutons on salads, and frying rice stick noodles in a small amount of oil (break them up) will puff them nicely, flip with a "spider", cook/puff other side (I'm cheap, and I have to use olive oil, so I use a really small pan, and about a cup of oil). Drain on paper towels, voila, noodles for chinese chicken salad.

There are bottled dressings, but reducing the juice from mandarin oranges to a medium syrup, whisking with leftover gyoza sauce, sesame oil, and olive oil is a respectable if wholly un-authentic dressing. Tear lettuce, julliene veggies, heat some frozen crock pot chicken in microwave. My kids love this. Watching the noodles puff is a selling point (Lee hoists them up, from a distance). I have been known to go to Wendys, pick up 3 side salads, do the noodles, heat the chicken, and call it a day, but hey, life in autoimmune land!

I have a better version of chicken salad for company, using the big hunks, nicely sliced.

Crock pot chicken is good for sandwiches too, salad, in a sandwich, filling an avocado half, or just on top of some lettuce for easy food. Or even a quick stir fry (thicken leftover gyoza sauce with a tiny amt of cornstarch when cooking, serve with leftover rice).

Round 2 of melatonin just kicked in, and this is too long.... hope something in there made sense. :)

Damn, forgot the best part....

The broth in the fridge? Tomorrow it will be chicken jello. For about a year of making crock pot chicken, I poured this down the sink. Feel free to snicker now.

Then I put it in a bowl, and the next day looked at chicken jello with dismay. Then I learned chicken jello is what every chicken soup aspires to.

So with frozen chicken meat in the freezer, you can have soup, any time, with little work (because when I want chicken noodle or matzo ball, I am sick, and I am NOT in a position to slave over chicken soup!).

So take out your bowl of chicken jello the next day. If your house is around 70, you have a few seconds to use a fork to pry the lovely shmaltz off the top, put it in a baggie, and freeze it. You can easily break off hunks as needed for cooking with a spoon, and put the lump back in the freezer). Use a big spoon, scoop the chicken jello into roughly 1 cup servings in baggies. Freeze those too.

When you have blah drippings, blah gravy, blah sauces (chicken or beef really), add some of this broth. It is the equivalent of triple strength, there's no real added water to dilute it, and it's FULL of collagen).

If you want soup, sweat soup veggies in some shmaltz and salt and pepper, take out appropriate number of bags, microwave one at a time for a few seconds (5-15) just to make the bag let go of the broth ice cube, dump in pan, dilute 50/50 with boxed broth (I like Pacific organic, somewhat insipid, but better than what else my stores sell) when veggies are done sweating. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and a shot of lemon juice and sherry. Cook some noodles (just until softened, not until done, they'll absorb the broth and taste yummy. Dump in frozen chicken. Heat through. Chicken soup in 30 minutes, best you've ever had, with only 10 minutes actual cooking time (the veggies sit and sweat on their own on low heat for much of that time).

Matzo ball soup is better. I use plain matzo meal and season to taste, but when I was starting out, I used the boxed mix. I add veggies usually (heresy, but healthy, and this is my go-to sick food), so do same as with chicken soup. Before starting soup, make matzo balls. I grate onion into mine, about 1/4 cup for boxed mix. I use melted shmaltz as the fat (or butter, but shmaltz is better), and club soda is nice for the water. Put in fridge to firm up. Sweat veggies, add and season broth (frozen and boxed, same ratios). I spray a cookie sized ice cream scoop with PAM to get the matzo balls even, and in the pot quickly (important for quality). Scoop them into simmering broth, cover, cook allotted time, add the chicken, heat gently, and serve. Dill can be added or omitted. This is one of those wars. I like both. Sometimes it goes in, sometimes not.

When I'm feeling nostalgic and gluttonous, I leave out the veggies. Simmer broth, add matzo balls, cook, add chicken. Jewish penicillin the way I grew up with (only better, thanks to frozen chicken jello!).

Yum.

Costco has frozen organic chickens at a fair price. 30 minutes in a sink of water defrosts a chicken enough for the crock pot. Or take it out in the morning, to put on by noon, and cook on high. If the giblet bag won't come out, run hot water down the cavity until it yields, and plop them in the crock pot.My big oval crock pot cooks the two-pack at once if I wedge them in there on their sides, on high, takes 6 hours if fully defrosted, I prefer to start them on high for about 4 hours, low for another 3-4). To help them cook evenly, flipping them on the other side about 4-6 hours in makes sure both sides are well cooked when still at their most tender but juicy. If they're a little frozen, definitely turn if you're cooking two, the broth is in the cavity, so that gets cooked well, but the top not sitting in the broth is sometimes not done when the rest is).

I do this and keep crockpot chicken in the freezer, there are millions of recipes based on leftover chicken through the ages. By winter I have a treasure chest of chicken soup makings for when I really need it.

This week we are having lyonnaise salad (salad with poached eggs and bacon or pancetta), goat cheese salad (mash goat cheese with red onion, garlic, tomatoes, and whatever else you fancy -- olives, fex -- and serve over greens or on toast), hamburgers with avocado on the grill, spaghetti sauce from the freezer, blueberry pancakes, chicken breasts with coconut and lime, and shrimp with yogurt sauce (garlic, tomatoes, plain yogurt, lemon juice) over couscous.

In the summer, I try not to use the oven and I try not to do anything that takes longer than 20-30 minutes. But life's too short to eat chicken nuggets.

I plan out my meals for two weeks. And then go to an awesome grocery store (Woodman's in Kenosha WI) to do my shopping. But we have to do mostly gluten-free - so I have to plan. No calling for pizza as an option.

I really like Kraftfoods.com for good, easy and even gluten-free options. Real Simple also has good recipes occationally that are easy to do with three kids. But I love to get new ones...and am very excited about your new site!

I love all these ideas. I want to bookmark this post; I think Kateisfun's pinto beans and cornbread are going on my meal plan.

I made Julia Child's chicken salad and potato-leek soup the other night, and everyone liked it.

I have no chicken suggestions, and if you knew me you would know better than to take any cooking suggestions from me at all.

BUT, I had a very constipated child who has now luckily grown out of it. Flax seed oil in small amounts will keep them regular. My daughter only has some now when she is getting constipated instead of as a daily thing, but you could try that. My daughter will even take it straight.

I like this dough recipe: http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Pizza-Dough-III/Detail.aspx
Except I substitute INSTANT yeast for speed. If I start it at 5PM, we can easily be eating homemade pizza by 5:45. All you need to do is mix the dough, let it rest 5 mins, then make it into pizza shape. I'm afraid to try it with traditional yeast in case it is better, because it is already really good and if it can get better by taking more time to rise, I don't need to know about it.

Also, one of our grocery stores has carts that seat two children up in the basket. There are three leg holes so they have to share the middle one. It's not always the smoothest sailing, but it's survivable. You should hunt around for such a store near you!

Can you meet the delivery service at said point, 2.5 miles from home, with all your groceries prepaid for and quickly placed in your car?

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