Posted in Soups

Chicken Noodle Soup

IMG_3836.JPG

Every time I think I’m ready to give up on my kids and soup, I somehow convince myself to keep trying. Because really, there must be some soup that they will actually eat. I mean, who doesn’t like soup? Of any kind?

Cold weather and soup. Scooby and Shaggy. Phineas and Ferb. One just isn’t right without the other.

I’m not a huge fan of the run-of-the-mill Chicken Noodle Soup. Because … well … soggy noodles. Blech.

Plus, there a so many higher-level soups out there … not to disparage the lowly chicken noodle soup … It’s just not my thing.

But I thought that maybe since it is so uneventful unexciting simple, maybe they’d go for it. I even kept it to very few herbs and no spices. Thinking that perhaps low flavor profile may peak a higher interest.

Ha! I was obviously thinking of my other children.

First bite from The Bread Guy, “Blech! This has like no flavor. At all. Disgusting.”
Then he complained about not being able to pick the chicken our because it was tainted with the soup flavor.
Flavorless … and yet too flavorful.  Hmmm. The perplexities of children. I find it a little bit … Grrr.

Mr Selective, “Nope. I don’t like it.”

Big Britches ate 1 bite and said it was good but then after bite number 2 changed his mind and wouldn’t eat anymore.

The Bread Guy, “How come you can’t make soup like Wolfgang Puck? I like his soup.”

I pulled out the can and read the ingredients. (I keep some for sick people because some of my sick people like it. More often, I throw them away because they expire.)
Me, “I am not Wolfgang Puck. And I cannot go to the store and buy Natural Flavors or Spice Extractives. And frankly neither can Wolfgang Puck. And if he were here making his soup for real it probably wouldn’t taste anything like what’s in that can.”

Oh. Snap!

I didn’t exactly rub it in like that, but I did get some satisfaction in the fact that I silenced him.

Chicken Noodle Soup
 
Author:
Ingredients
Broth
  • 1 whole chicken
  • 1 leek, rinsed and sliced
  • 1 carrot, rinsed
  • 1 large onion, quartered
  • 4 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 2 ribs celery, rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon pink salt (you'll need more if using table salt)
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • dash crushed red pepper
Soup
  • 10 bone-in chicken thighs and legs
  • 5 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 4 ribs celery, peeled and chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried sage
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • ½ teaspoon dried marjoram
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 8 ounces noodles, cooked (I used fusilli, as requested by my peeps)
Instructions
  1. To make the broth:
  2. Combine whole chicken, leek, carrot, onion, garlic, celery, salt, thyme and crushed red pepper in a slow cooker and cook on high for 2-3 hours. You will overcook the chicken a bit, but this is fine for casseroles and stews.
  3. Remove the whole chicken and reserve for another use.
  4. Bring bone-in chicken pieces to room temperature.
  5. Add to crock pot.
  6. Cook another 1-2 hours or until chicken is mostly cooked through.
  7. Remove chicken.
  8. Strain broth through a fine mesh strainer. I usually take the ceramic insert out of the crock pot to let it cool a bit before I pour the broth out. Because I don't like the potential for hot things to splash on me. If you like to live dangerously, feel free to pour that scalding hot liquid through your strainer right away.
  9. Pick chicken off bone. I try to make bite-sized pieces as I pick because I'm usually too lazy to use a knife (and I don't like a slimey knife) so I just sort-of-kind-of make them bitable-sized. If you're kinder to your family than I, you should probably use a knife and cut them into bite-sized pieces.
  10. Return broth and picked (or bite-sized) chicken to the crock pot.
  11. Add carrots, celery, sage, thyme, marjoram, salt and pepper.
  12. Cook on high 2 hours. Or more. At least until the veggies are tender-crisp. The longer you cook, the more flavor. So, if you don't like a lot of flavor, then stick to the 2 hours.
  13. Add noodles. I actually serve the noodles separately and we add them as we eat. Why? See above.
  14. Enjoy!
Notes
MAKE AHEAD:
This is a perfect recipe to make on a Sunday and use the whole chicken for a casserole or a stew. Then you can save the strained broth and picked chicken and throw the soup together for a perfect busy weeknight meal.

COOKING TIP:
This is actually better cooked on low for longer. I think you get a richer flavor from the chicken. If you cook it on low, you'll need to increase all cooking times.

Adapted from smitten kitchen.

For an flavorless-yet-overly-flavorful soup, I thought it was mighty tasty. And as I sit here enjoying the leftovers, I can attest to the fact that it is even better a couple of days later.

And with the perfect amount of flavor.

Posted in Adventures with Food, Bone-In Pieces, Chicken, Slow Cooker

How to Get Multiple Meals out of a Chicken – For Real

IMG_3837.JPGThere are posts all over the blogosphere about how to stretch a chicken.

You know, grab it by its legs and pull really hard … bwhahaha! Right, stick to the day job.

Stretching a chicken to make like 17 different meals.

Seriously?

Because when I make a chicken, it’s gone in like 17.2 seconds. Definitely no room for 16 more meals after my family is finished with it.

My boys like their chicken.

I do save the bones to make bone broth but that’s as far as it goes.

I can however, combine a whole chicken with a package of legs and thighs and make something usable beyond just one dinner. Not necessarily something that they will all eat because that might very well be deemed impossible, even in a world where everything is possible.

On this particular Sunday, with a whole chicken and a package of 8 chicken thighs and 6 legs in the fridge begging to be used and Brunswick Stew on the menu, I started with some basic broth with the whole chicken. I always make broth with Brunswick Stew because the chicken shreds in the stew anyway so I can overcook the chicken to get a good broth without having to worry about it.

I only use about half the broth for the stew, so I took out the chicken and scooped out the broth that I needed then added the legs …

… which I had warmed first. Never put cold items into a hot crock pot – the ceramic doesn’t prefer it … not that I would know ..

… and some water to make up for what I took out. Kept it cooking until the legs were done. I pulled out the chicken legs, strained the broth, and shoved it all in the fridge for chicken noodle soup later in the week.

At the same time, I roasted the chicken thighs in the oven for my children who have an innate inability to recognize good food and would not eat the stew. Since they only ate a couple of the thighs, I saved the meat for the soup.

And I saved all of the bones to make bone broth after I make the soup.

So much multi-tasking and productivity without much actual effort beyond making dinner. Awe. Some.

Even better … dinner for Tuesday night is mostly already made. Bonus!

So, if you consider that the stew makes 8 servings for us (12 if you don’t have The Man eating it), the thighs make a dinner for the kids, and the soup is at least 8 servings. That’s 23 servings in total. For our alternate-universe family of five, in which the children eat stew and soup happily and in volume, that would be 4 meals plus some.

One Chicken. Some Parts. 4 Meals.

That’s as far as I can stretch a chicken.

Posted in Boneless Pieces, Chicken, Quick n Easy

Easy Skillet Chicken and Mushrooms

IMG_3791.JPGSo we were supposed to have Meatball Stroganoff last week but it was one of those menu items that just didn’t make the cut.

And since no one was terrifically disappointed (shocker!), I decided to repurpose the mushrooms for something a bit more crowd-pleasing.

Plus, I just wasn’t feeling the meatball love. Not that I ever really feel the meatball love. So. Much. Work.

But I had bordering-on-slimy mushrooms to use. And so, this little treat was born.

The Man was skeptical at first, but that didn’t last long.

The best part – EVERYONE ate it. I did contemplate cooking some separate chicken thighs but that was just more time, effort and energy than I was willing to put forth for my children. More points for that Mother of the Year award.

Easy Skillet Chicken and Mushrooms
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 2 pounds chicken breasts
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 8 oz package mushrooms, sliced (I used baby bellas, but you can use whatever)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • ½ medium onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup white wine
  • 1½ cups bone broth or chicken broth
  • ¼ cup brown rice flour
  • 4-5 sprigs fresh thyme
  • ½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese, plus more for sprinkling
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Salt and pepper both sides of each chicken breast.
  3. Drop the butter in the iron skillet and melt over medium heat.
  4. When the butter has melted, swirl it around in the pan to make the bottom is covered with butter. Let it warm just until it starts to smoke but before it starts to brown.
  5. Gently place chicken breasts in hot skillet. If you don't want to do it gently, that's your prerogative. Consider yourself warned.
  6. Brown chicken breasts on both sides. Remove from skillet onto a plate or something.
  7. Drop the next tablespoon of butter in the skillet.
  8. Add mushrooms. Let cook for 4-5 minutes.
  9. Add onion and garlic. Let cook for a couple of minutes.
  10. Add wine. Cook until it's almost gone (magic in the kitchen!).
  11. Add 1¼ cups of the broth. Stir.
  12. Mix brown rice flour with the remaining broth. Add to skillet and stir.
  13. Cook for a few minutes until it starts to get thick and then add the thyme and cheese.
  14. Stir to melt the cheese.
  15. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  16. Return the chicken to the skillet and flip it so that you get the sauce on both sides.
  17. Shove the skillet in the oven. Gently, of course.
  18. Cook for 10-15 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.
  19. Sprinkle more shredded cheese on top.
  20. If you licked the spoon before you put it in the oven, be sure to get another before you serve. People don't want your germs.
Notes
I used Parmesan because it was all that I had. I think Asiago or an aged Fontina will give it a bigger punch. If you don't like your food to punch, then stick with the Parmesan.

This would be good with a cup of peas added in before you put the skillet in the oven.I didn't want to tempt fate and give anyone any reason to turn their nose up. Next time for sure.

We had this over leftover brown rice couscous. If you haven’t tried this yet, I highly suggest it. It’s brown rice without all of the time that it takes to cook it. Score!

Personally, I think everyone was just glad that it wasn’t meatball stroganoff.

Posted in Boneless Pieces, Chicken

Pickle Chicken

IMG_3702.JPGI scream. You scream. We all scream for … Pickle Chicken!

I couldn’t really think of a good rhyme.  Just go with it.

Even though now I’ve got you thinking about ice cream which likely does not put you in the mood for chicken.

In the early days of switching our eating, we decided that we were not going to eat fast food (except on rare or “special” occasions because it’s part of our world and we prefer not to set ourselves up for failure). Not that we had eaten much before, but we had made our fair share of trips to McDonald’s and Chick-Fil-A.

Yes. I know. Shock and dismay. I hang my head in shame and with regret.

But not really, because we didn’t know what we know now. So, it’s all part of the learning experience of life.

Back to the early days … since we had sworn off fast food, I thought I would try my hand at some homemade Chick-Fil-A.

The first time I made this, I think the heavens opened for the children because it may have been the first time that they realized I could make something that they actually, really and truly, love. Sure, there are lots plenty of some things that they eat and enjoy, but they have some serious adoration of this chicken.

Like fist-pumping, “Yes!”-shouting … the kind of excitement that is usually reserved for everything except food.

Having made it several times, I have tweaked it (and unsuccessfully tried to gluten-free, Paleo it) to the point of near perfection in flavor. Says me. And my three minions. Which should really be enough for you. And gives me license to call it perfect.

It is time-consuming and can make the kitchen a bit fried-smelly so I don’t make it as often as my boys would like, but it is definitely a regular at our table. In fact, I buy this big ‘ole jar of pickles just so that I have enough “pickle juice” to make this chicken.

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You can either fry them, or to minimize the mess to the stove top and the time involved, you can flash fry in the skillet and finish them in the oven. I have found that an iron skillet or griddle pan in the oven works best to keep the chicken crispy, but you can also use a jellyroll pan or cookie sheet.  Just be sure to warm the pan before you put the chicken on it.

Be forewarned, this recipe is dish-heavy, so I try to make sides that don’t require much time or extra dish usage. If you love dishes and enjoy spending all that time cleaning up in the evenings, then please feel free to make it as complicated as you’d like.

Pickle Chicken
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 5 medium chicken breasts
  • 1 cup (or more) pickle juice
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup flour (or ½ cup flour and ½ cup panko breadcrumbs)
  • 1 Tablespoon paprika
  • 1 Tablespoon powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ tsp dry mustard
  • Refined coconut oil or palm oil, for frying
Instructions
  1. About 8 hours before or, if you can, the night before, cut chicken breasts into similar size pieces. The smaller the pieces the longer it takes to cook, but the more crispy you have in each bite. It's a delicate balance. Figure out which one works for you.
  2. Place chicken in 1 cup pickle juice, adding enough so that the chicken is completely submerged.
  3. About an hour (or as much in advance of cooking as possible), remove chicken from marinade and set on a plate covered with a paper towel. It's best to let the chicken dry before coating so that the moisture doesn't cause the breading to fall off (which will disappoint most of your customers ... not that this has ever happened to me).
  4. In a bowl, combine and stir flour (or flour and panko), paprika, sugar, salt, pepper, garlic powder, baking soda, and dry mustard and set aside.
  5. In another bowl, whisk egg and buttermilk together.
  6. If finishing in the oven, preheat oven to 450 degrees. If you're using an iron skillet, place that in the oven at the same time. If using a pan with another material, you can put it in when you start cooking the chicken.
  7. Drop a hefty tablespoon of your chosen cooking oil into an iron skillet. Warm to medium/medium high heat.
  8. Dredge one piece of chicken at a time in egg bath, ensuring each side is wet and dredge in flour mixture coating each side.
  9. Place each flour coated chicken piece on a separate plate.
  10. When oil is hot (you'll know this because a circle will form in the middle of the skillet), place chicken gently in the hot oil.
  11. If you're using a cookie sheet and not an iron skillet/griddle pan in the oven, you should put it in the oven now.
  12. Cook until crispy on either side and then transfer chicken to the pan in the oven. If not putting it in the oven, then make sure the chicken is cooked through.
  13. Remove chicken to your serving plate. If you're like me, that's just a regular dinner plate. Because I'm not trying to win any awards for fancy dinners. Especially with fried chicken pieces.
Notes
I have tried tapioca flour and arrowroot flour, which get crispy but then get gummy as the chicken cools. I have also tried almond flour and I find that the breading tends not to stick.

I have not yet successfully figured out how to let the chicken cool without the bottom losing its crisp.  Any suggestions would be most welcome!

Also, make sure to take a bit more than you might want because it will disappear quickly. Like suddenly someone pressed the fast forward button on your table and before you can hit stop, the chicken is gone. And you’re still hungry.

Which is really okay, because you know you wanted ice cream anyway.

Posted in Bone-In Pieces, Chicken, Meat, Quick n Easy

Seriously Easy Oven Barbecue Chicken

bbq chicken

Have I mentioned how much I dread treasure snow days that occur in close proximity to winter break?

Despite the hours I spent performing my most impressive do-not-snow dance (appearing on YouTube never), we are suffering through enjoying our first snow day of the year merely one day after 12 glorious days of vacation (said in the most meaningfully sarcastic tone you can imagine). As I type this, my darling children are horsing around on the floor yelling, screaming, giddy and laughing.  So fun.

If that alone wasn’t spectacular enough, The Bread Guy was home yesterday, suffering with the “worst pain he has ever felt in one place (his ear) in his whole life.”  The drama. The rest of us would call it a cold with some sinus pressure and congestion. Being the no-fruit/very-little-veggie guy, he also tends to get things far worse than any of the rest of us.

And I had to help my visiting grandmother meet up with a friend yesterday.

No surprise that the grocery supply in my house is significantly depleted.

These are the times that I am ever-so-grateful to me for having the foresight to always keep a stash of meat and chicken in the freezer.

I can take chicken from frozen to delicious in a blink. (Okay, so it takes at least an hour, which would arguably be a very long blink, but just go with it, will ya?) This particular chicken is one of our go-to dinners because everyone will eat it.  Big Britches will complain about the barbecue sauce, so I try to remember to leave one without.

If I have it on hand, I will use my homemade barbecue sauce, but that doesn’t seem to happen often (or ever) any more, so we use Torchbearer’s.  It’s made with real ingredients, although with more sugar than I would use.  But it’s delicious and everyone likes it.

Seriously Easy Oven Barbecue Chicken
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • Bone-in chicken pieces
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Barbecue sauce
Instructions
  1. As much in advance of actually cooking the chicken as you can, generously salt and pepper the chicken on all sides.
  2. Preheat oven to 375.
  3. Lay chicken pieces flat, skin side up, in a glass dish.
  4. Bake for 20-25 minutes, turning once.
  5. Transfer chicken to a cookie sheet. (This is important! If you use the same dish, the meat juices will prevent the sauce from sticking to the chicken.)
  6. Give them a generous coating of the barbecue sauce.
  7. Return to oven for 4-5 minutes, or until sauce no longer looks wet.
  8. Turn over and coat the other side.
  9. Bake 4-5 minutes.
  10. Repeat with additional sauce as desired.
Notes
You can use chicken breasts, but they just aren't quite as delicious.
Save those bones! Stick 'em in the freezer and use them later for your bone broth.

With this chicken, I baked some sweet potatoes that I grabbed yesterday in my 4-minute, Guy’s-Grocery-Games-style, mad dash through the co-op. Dinner cooking itself in the oven … it’s a beautiful thing.  Combined with some green beans from the freezer and cinnamon apples, we had a tasty little feast.

A feast that also included uncontrollable giggles, an overabundance of energy, lots of potty talk and my surrender.

Time to refine that do-not-snow dance.

Posted in Bone-In Pieces, Chicken, Quick n Easy

Red Wine Roasted Chicken

Our afternoon started like this:

Mr. Selective and Big Britches getting in the car after school fighting — about a necklace.

Big Britches crying for a LONG time … about a piece of chocolate.

The Man, The Bread Guy and Mr Selective left for baseball practice.  Big Britches was already grouchy and then even more so when they left him.  “I want Daddy time, too.”  Makes us both feel so wonderful about his end of the stick.

From there, the fun continued.  “Just leave me alone.”  “Don’t talk to me.”  “I am not grumpy!” Stomp. Stomp. Stomp.

And then, despite myself, I joined his little party.  At one point, I actually mimicked him, you know, in the way that children do.  Totally a solid parent moment. When he mimicked me back, I realized that it was going nowhere and we needed to redirect the ship.  And so I asked him if he wanted me to read a book to him, knowing that he would say yes and the waters would calm.

And so it went.

Fortunately, it was one of those nights that dinner mostly made itself.  Unfortunately, it didn’t fully make itself because we are not the Jetsons.  As much as sometimes I do so wish to be Jane.

I made this Red Wine Roast Chicken that I adapted from Paleo Leap.  Instead of the potatoes and such on the bottom, I just stuck some sweet potatoes in the oven next to the pan.  And there should be no explanation necessary for the look of this plate.

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Red Wine Roasted Chicken
 
Adapted from Paleo Leap
Ingredients
  • 1 whole chicken (chicken pieces would work well too)
  • ⅔ c red wine
  • 4 Tbsp tomato paste
  • ¼ c red wine vinegar
  • ½ tsp dried thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Spatchcock the chicken. (This is a fancy - and quite funny - way to say remove the backbone.)
  2. Salt and pepper both sides of the spatchcocked chicken.
  3. In a small bowl, mix the red wine, tomato paste, red wine vinegar and thyme.
  4. Place the spatchcocked chicken in the pan you'll use to cook it.
  5. Pour red wine mixture on top of the spatchcocked chicken, making sure to coat the underneath side of the chicken also.
  6. Preheat oven to 400. Let spatchcocked chicken sit while the oven preheats.
  7. Cover and bake for 30 minutes.
  8. Uncover and bake 30 minutes more, or until chicken is cooked through. Baste every 10 minutes.
Notes
Spatchcock! Here's a brief explanation with a link to some great instructions. <a href="http://www.thekitchn.com/word-of-mouth-s-1-14631"> The Kitchn: Spatchcock</a>

We ended up having a lovely evening together.  We didn’t fight.  He didn’t cry.  And I didn’t either.