Real. Good. Fud.

and other joys in life


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Chicken- it’s what’s for dinner.

Chicken.  Most people concerned about health, but not wanting to go vegetarian, probably consume a lot of this famous white meat.

Not in my household… I can live with or without chicken, but the husband is not a fan.  Say chicken and he’ll think “dry, bland, and not good”.  So for the first 2 years of our marriage, I almost never cooked chicken.

In an attempt to cut back on deli meat, I decided to roast a whole chicken- and use the meat on sandwiches and salads.  The results were fabulous.  Full of flavor, unbelievably moist… even the husband thoroughly enjoyed it!

His wings fell off 😦

When looking into chicken, I was amazed to see all of the health benefits homemade broth has to offer.  There’s actually a reason for this soup of choice when ill!

So, we know it’s really great for your health.  It’s also a great way to be frugal.  The bird I most recently bought was $14 (almost 7 pounds, free range, organic).  That included a dinner for 2, a week’s worth of meat (for leftovers, salads, sandwiches), and lots of broth!

This is one of those dishes you can get really creative with!

Here’s how I cook the bird:

Remove giblets, pat dry, and place in a slow cooker with about 2 inches of water in the bottom.

Season with salt, pepper (I use whole peppercorns), garlic and onion powder, sage, and rosemary.  (the options are endless-try experimenting with orange, cinnamon sticks, fennel, paprika, thyme, and other herbs!)

Cover and cook until done!  My 7-pounder was done in 6 hours on high (maybe sooner).  (Of course this will depend on the size of your bird, so just check with a meat thermometer before taking him out.  And remember, it will continue to cook after you take it out and let it rest.)

When you remove the chicken, be very careful!  I recommend using some tongs and a huge spoon or sturdy spatula for underneath support.  This guy’s meat will literally slide right off the bones.

Now-very important- let the chicken ‘rest’ after you remove it from the slow cooker- for about 30 minutes.  By doing this, you avoid all the juices escaping when you cut it.

When you ‘cut’ it, there is really no ‘cutting’ involved.  You should just be able to pick the meat off with a fork and tongs or your fingers.  Sometimes I just pull the bones out, and then pick through the meat to ensure it’s ‘clean’.

Okay- so now you have your chicken meat.

Eat it, pack it up, freeze it, do whatever you need to do with it.

Now it’s time to make your broth:

Put all the bones and other ‘inedible’ pieces back in your slow cooker (along with the juices).  I throw the skin out, but some people leave it in.

Add a splash of apple cider vinegar, some fresh garlic and peppercorns (and onion, carrots, celery if you’d like).

Cook overnight on low.

Strain the broth.

If you want low-fat, store it in the refrigerator for a few hours and the fat will solidify on top- then just scoop it off!

I usually store some in the fridge for immediate use, and freeze the rest in bags or jars (leaving room for expansion- learned that lesson the hard way!).

Whew- looks like a long post, but it really is incredibly simple and takes little ‘hands on’ time.

This chicken is so moist and flavorful for two main reasons: it’s cooked very slowly, and it’s cooked with the bones in and skin on.  I don’t eat the skin, but leaving it on during cooking produces dramatically different meat!

If I haven’t convinced you- do a little research on chicken broth, and try it for yourself!

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Soup Soup Soup

Have I mentioned that I LOVE fall? My favorite part of the season is, of course, the food!  As much as I love salads and the like, there is a special place in my heart for warm, feel good foods!  Like soup.  I would love to share two soups I made this week…

Chicken Noodle.
Not to toot my own horn, but this was quite possibly the best chicken noodle soup ever! J  The recipe was actually from TheFoodNetwork.com, titled Slow Cooker Chicken and Pasta.  But, I tweaked it a little.  Here is what I did to this oldie yet goodie:
Cut cup about 3 carrots, an onion and a couple cloves of garlic.  Put them in a slow cooker along with some olive oil (I used garlic-herb olive oil) and lemon zest and juice.  Added ~8 cups of chicken broth, diluted with some water.  I then seasoned 2 chicken breasts with a tiny bit of salt and some pepper, and put them in broth mixture.  This cooked for about 6 hours on high.  I then added some peas, fresh dill and ~1½ cups of orzo in the soup and tore apart the chicken.  This all cooked for another 25 minutes or so to cook the peas and pasta, and we ate it with some farmer’s wheat bread! Yum yum yum.
The reason I love the taste so much is the lemon and dill.  They are both pretty mild, but add something a little different than your typical chicken noodle soup; yet it still has that good, warm feeling that chicken noodle soup brings!  And, it is good for you, because it is relatively low calorie, includes veggies (you can also add spinach or another green, but I didn’t have any around), the pasta is small, and there is some chicken for protein; yet not too much of it.  Oh, and for broth, I get some MSG free chicken stock base from a local natural food store (Mama Jeans).  Just make sure to avoid the ones that are filled with sodium and have all kinds of unknown stuff added to them.  And last but not least, it is so easy! Just cut up your veggies and put it all in a slow cooker to do the work for you.
PS- Did you know that chicken noodle soup really does help with the cold and flu? Tis the season…  Even the Mayo Clinic recommends it as a cold remedy! Chicken soup has vitamins and minerals that may help the immune system, may have an anti-inflammatory and mucus-thinning effect.  If nothing else it is soothing to the throat and provides fluid (as long as you watch the salt!).  So, if you need another reason to try some homemade chicken noodle soup… I can probably brainstorm a little more.
And Butternut squash soup!
Like I mentioned before, I love squash! Here’s what I did with this one:
Roasted 2 butternut squash in the oven (cut in ½, brushed with EVOO and sprinkled with pepper, in oven flesh side down 400 degrees, 35ish minutes).  Then, I cut up some onion, garlic and carrots and sautéed in EVOO.  Once those were soft, I scooped out the EVOO and added enough chicken stock to cover all the squash.  I added a pinch of cayenne pepper, and that all simmered for about 40 minutes.  Finally, I added some cinnamon, allspice and ginger and used an immersion blender to smooth it all out.
And then I thoroughly enjoyed it 🙂
Cheers!
Kaydee