Sunday, October 5, 2014

What to do with the Rotisserie Chicken Carcass....

Usually we would just throw it out with the garbage the next day.  Not any more!

Now I take the carcass and throw it in my big soup pot, add 6 cups of water.....or enough to cover the bones.  Then turn the heat on as I cut an onion in quarters, count out 12 peppercorns, garlic, and kosher salt to taste and let the whole thing boil for about a minute and then lower heat to simmer for about an hour and a half.

Besides the house smelling like Sunday afternoon dinner, you will have added yet another use and meal or two to the rotisserie chicken bill.  Rotisserie chickens have now become even MORE useful and economical for your family.

OK, after the hour and a half of simmering has passed, pour the pot contents through a strainer into a large bowl, then pour it again through a strainer or a wired sieve into a 2 cup or ( I use Chinese takeout soup container) freezer container.  Voila!  you have homemade chicken stock!

Here it is in a nutshell:

1 Rotisserie chicken carcass
1 med Onion, quartered
2-3 cloves garlic quartered
salt and pepper to taste    2 tsp kosher salt, 1 tsp pepper
6 - 8 cups of water to cover chicken bones

Put all ingredients in large soup pot and bring to boil for 1 minute.  Then reduce to simmer for about 1 - 2 hours.  The house will smell amazing!    After the simmering, pour entire contents of pot into a large bowl through a strainer,then again through a wired sieve into a freezer container.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Homemade Saurkraut in canning jars

First you start with a medium head of cabbage and wash out your quart and pint canning jars really good with hot water.  I also microwave them for about 20 seconds. The lids need to be really clean too, basically to be sure that what ferments is the cabbage and nothing else!

Next chop up the cabbage in wedges, then cut out the core and continue chopping thinly.  After all have been chopped in think strips, chop crosswise. Notice my fingertips tucked away from the blade?  Ok yes!

In a large bowl, I have the large black Tupperware bowl, put all cabbage and 1.5 Tbsp of canning salt in and begin tossing the cabbage together with the salt for about 10 minutes.  By this time the cabbage should begin to look limp and releasing it's water.
Fill the quart canning jar and the pint jars with the cabbage leaving about an 2 - 3 inch for the weight and waters needed for fermentation.

After the cabbage is packed into the jars, take smaller jars, fill them with either water or I used pie weights and place them one each in the cabbage jars.  Press down on the smaller jars forcing the cabbage water to rise above the level of the cabbage to completely submerge the cabbage in it's own water.

For the next day, keep an eye on the jars and press down on the weighted jars making sure that the cabbage is completely covered in water.  This will enable the cabbage to ferment properly and turn into saurkraut.  Within about 4 days, begin to taste the kraut to see how the fermentation is going and the flavor is developing.  Depending on your own personal taste, you may like it right off or let it go for up to 2 weeks.

As you can see in my pictures, as the cabbage ferments, keep a cotton cloth over the jars to keep air flowing, but bugs and other pests out.

When you are satisfied with the taste of the saurkraut, cover the jars with their properly fitted lids and refrigerate.  Your new saurkraut will last up to several months in the refrigerator.


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

How much is YOUR pinch?

My youngest daughter and I were making a typical throw-together dinner.  We had some penne pasta and a small amount of cream cheese, no butter, but plenty of olive oil a can of diced tomatoes.  We put the cream cheese in the pasta after she cut it up into small cubes for better melting.  Added the tomatoes and some parsley flakes, garlic powder, salt and pepper and some cayenne pepper.   It was still bland, so I asked her if she put in salt, she said a pinch.  Hm, I've put in a pinch and she put in a pinch of salt...what would we have?

So I measured what a typical pinch of salt is to my hand, it was about 1/8 tsp.  We had her make a pinch  and it measured 1/4 tsp....somewhat of a significant difference!

How big is your pinch?

Thursday, January 16, 2014

A real typical "on the fly" dinner

Today, I've been literally all over town with this and that to do, my mother-in-law's doctor's appt, middle child's wrist rehab appt,...what else.  Anyway, so tonight I'm teaching my class and dinner needs to be cooked.

Looking in the cupboards, I discover a can of black beans, whole kernel corn, several cans of diced tomatoes, and a carton of chicken broth.....hmmmmm.

So I get out a big soup pot, dump the beans, corn, one can of tomatoes, and all the chicken broth in together and begin to season my concoction.

1-1/2 tsp.  Chili powder
1 tsp.        garlic powder
1/2 tsp       black pepper
1 tsp.         Kosher salt
1 Tbsp       Onion flakes
2 tsp.         tomato paste...from a tube (I get it from Fresh Market or Harris Teeter)

Brought the whole thing to a boil, then down to simmer for about an hour.    I just tasted it's not bad!!  Rather good, really.  

Now to top off the meal, I'm making cheesy quesadillas with lots of lettuce, Greek yogurt (in lieu of sour cream) and tortilla chips.


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Winter cooking

Chili is the best in the winter, I don't think either my husband nor I have ever made chili any other time of the year.  For one thing, it seems like more spicy foods are enjoyed when it's cold and a whole different group of spices are used as well.   I'm just speaking for me, however.

Anyway, chili made with lots of spices, tomatoes, beans and ground beef accompanied by cornbread and a nice salad of collards or spinach hits the spot here at our house.

Our favorite recipe that my husband follows was inspired by a Southern Living magazine recipe called, "Friday Night Chili".  Actually I thought he deviated some, but he said that he follows it exactly, except  when we don't have tomato paste, he does without.   Here is the recipe:

"Friday Night Chili"  by Southern Living Magazine, "30 Years of our Best Recipes" book
~Family Favorite~

2 lbs Ground Chuck, (We use 80% - 90% lean ground beef)
2 large onions
3 large cloves of garlic,(he probably uses garlic powder or the diced garlic in a jar)
2 (16 oz) cans of kidney beans, Undrained
1 (16 oz) can of whole tomatoes, undrained and chopped  (We buy diced tomatoes at Sams Club)
1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
2 cups of water
2 Tbsp Chili powder
2 tsp garlic salt
1.5 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp ground red pepper
1/4 tsp hot sauce

Corn Chips (optional)
Shredded sharp Cheddar cheese (optional)
Sliced green onions (optional)

Cook ground chuck (beef) chopped onions, and garlic in a Dutch oven (big pot) over medium-high heat until meat is browned and onion is tender (8 - 10 minutes), stirring until meat crumbles; drain grease.  Stir in beans and next 10 ingredients.  Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer, uncovered for 1 hour....stirring occasionally.  If desired, serve chili with corn chips, cheese, and green onions.   Yield:  9 cups

We DEFINITELY serve cheese, chips, AND sour cream (plain Greek yogurt) with our chili!!!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Updated: A Question about eggs

As a big Food Network watcher, I see different chefs treat eggs differently when adding them in recipes.  Some...most probably, break eggs separately into a bowl and add one at a time.  Others, like me, just add them in without really looking at them.

What say YOU??

Update:  Do you crack your eggs on the side of the bowl/pot/pan?   Well, it is far better and less risky of getting shell in your food if you cracked your egg(s) on a flat surface, the counter.

I tried works!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Something meaty and hot on the spot!

Today, I needed to get something on the table quickly, one of our children had an orientation at 6:30pm and we are having a severe arctic freeze over night here, so something hot, spicy, meaty, quickly was in order.

Grabbed the bag of frozen chicken pieces, a container of my homemade spaghetti meat sauce, and some fettuccine pasta and started cooking!  First off, I put three pieces of chicken in a bowl of hot tap water for 15 minutes, meanwhile the container of sauce was put in a pot of water to start defrosting.  Fifteen minutes later the chicken was enough defrosted to cut up into 1" squares and put in a hot pan with cold olive oil to being cook.  I sprinkled a couple of pinches of kosher salt and about a half tsp or so of pepper and half tsp of garlic powder and let it cook.  Meanwhile, the sauce wasn't defrosting quickly enough, so I put it in the microwave for about 2 minutes and that did the trick.  I poured the sauce in a pot and finished heating it up while the chicken began to brown since the liquid from the defrosted chicken cooked out and the meat now had a chance to caramelize for a nice rich flavor.  After the sauce was thoroughly heated I poured it over the chicken and combined it and turned the burner now on simmer.

The fettuccine went into heavily salted water and boiled for 11 minutes and voila!  Dinner was served on a platter with the meat sauce poured over the pasta.  I realized I didn't have anything green (my husband prefers to have a green vegetable with each dinner) so with a bag of fresh baby spinach in the fridge, I took the meat sauce
pan and heated it, poured cold olive oil (1.5 TBsp) in the pan, let it heat up a bit and grabbed 2 handfuls of the leafy green beauties and tossed them in the pan.  Within 2 minutes the spinach was cooked and everything was on the table and the family was eating happily.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Well, lets begin!

There is so much I want to share in this blog, first of all, if you are a beginner cook, don't worry, I'll be talking to you as well.  Why I chose the title of this blog is because I NEVER plan a meal any farther than several hours prior to standing in front of the stove.  My childhood friend's mother planned the family meals weekly and knew that on Thursday they were having meatloaf.   I don't want to live like that!!  Being married nearly 21 years next month, I think I've cooked enough meals with three kids to have learned a few things.

Sharing what I do to get a meal on the table for up to 5 people is my intent.  So here goes!