Wednesday, April 29, 2009

2 Packs of Chicken Parts = 3 Dinners + 2 Lunches

I needed a new cell phone because the old low-tech one was dying.  Plus, I needed internet access for a variety of business related reason, and I needed to be able to text the Em because she only responds to texts.  Of course, I really really (really, really, really...infinity) wanted an iPhone.  I wanted to be able to check my icalendar from the phone.  I wanted to be able to take groovy pictures with it of my food for this blog.  Plus the apps!  Who wouldn’t want to immediately download whatever is playing at Starbucks?  But the stupid iPhone was too expensive and AT&T’s service around here is spotty.  I also had to get Mads a phone because she’s been walking home from school with friends and it made me nervous that she couldn’t get in touch with me if she needed to.  Verizon was hosting a “buy a Blackberry, get a second phone for free” sale.  Blackberry vs. iPhone.  I called the AT&T store, but they wouldn’t deal.  Verizon said they could give me an even better deal than the one advertised because I've been a customer for eons.  Sigh.  The Blackberry then.  Bought it.  Brought it home.  My first thought: it's kind of small.

Then I found Brick Breaker.  

This stupid game is so addictive that I just now had to take a break from writing to play a few times.  God. Help. Me.  What made it all worse was that Em played the game on my phone and immediately got to level 11.  (Not a Spinal Tap 11 either, -- there are 34 levels to Brick Breaker)  The ugly competitive side of me kicked in and I’ve been playing obsessively ever since.  (I can now get to level 9).  Three nights ago, as I was cooking dinner, Smith called out from the playroom,  “Kath, come see this.”


“Can’t”, I replied, “ I’m at a crucial moment sauteing mushrooms.”  

Truth was,  I was at a crucial moment with Brick Breaker.  

Despite the “discount” on the new phones, it was still insanely expensive, and I’ve been feeling the pinch.  Plus all these annoying bills keep showing up demanding to be paid.  So I am having to keep the food bill down more than usual this month.  Yesterday I went to the store and found "family packs" of chicken wings and drumsticks were on sale.  That got my tiny brain ticking.  I can make a lot of things from 2  large packs of chicken parts.  Even better: it takes no hands to roast chicken.  All the better to play Brick Breaker, my dear...

Dinner number 1:

Roasted Chicken Wings and Drumsticks

1 pack chicken wings

1 pack of drumsticks

kosher salt

olive oil

frozen green beans (as much as your family will eat)


chicken broth or water 

parsley or cilantro or thyme to taste

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Haul the chicken out of the packs and rinse and pat it all dry. 
  3. Throw it in a bowl and pour about 1/4c of olive oil over them all, then sprinkle with about 1tblsp of kosher salt.  (The amount of the salt and olive oil varies with how much chicken you have.  Just make sure everything is coated with oil and nicely sprinkled with salt.) Toss all of this around with your hands. 
  4. Spread the chicken out on one or two large baking sheets covered with parchment. (Parchment is key - you'll thank me later when cleaning up.)
  5. roast for about 20 min, or until chicken looks and smells done.  It should be fairly crispy on the outside, but you don't want it pulling away from the bone which means it's over done.
  6. Meanwhile, dump your frozen greenbeans into a skillet, add a little water and a bit of olive oil, or grapeseed oil or butter. Put a lid on the beans and cook for a bit, then take the lid off and saute until they are just the other side of crunchy.
  7. Now make your couscous -- follow the directions on the box, but at the end, when you are fluffing, add some chopped parsley, cilantro or thyme.
  8. plonk it all on a plate and let people eat the chicken with their fingers.  Some warmed up pita is good here too -- then you don't even need a fork or spoon for the beans or couscous.
Unless your family really pigs out there should be quite a few wings, drumsticks and couscous left over.  Mix the couscous and beans together, add a little lettuce, or maybe some olives, some feta if you have it, and pour 1 TBLSP of store bought vinaigrette over it all. (I like Newmans Own.) Parsimoniously give your husband and/or children one or two pieces of chicken for lunch along with some the left over couscous and beans.  MAKE SURE THEY BRING HOME THE BONES.

Dinner the next night:

Chicken, Vegetables and Biscuits

Chicken Vegetable Part:
Left over chicken from previous night stripped from the bones and put in a bowl.  You won't have a lot, but don't worry about it, the vegetables will fill everything out.
2 TBLSPs Olive oil
1 TBLSP Butter
1 small onion peeled and chopped
2 large carrots (or more) peeled and chopped
2 celery stalks, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup flour
3-4 cups chicken stock (or broth from a can or box)
1 cup of frozen peas
1 cup frozen broccoli florets
(I also had 1/4 of a fennel bulb which I chopped up, optional,
and some mushrooms which I also chopped - just throw whatever vegetables you have left over in this - it'll be good)
1/4 cup milk (regular, low fat, 2% or half&half, I don't really care and you shouldn't either.)

For the Biscuit Part: 
2 Cups flour
1 TBLSP baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp of sugar
1 stick of cold butter chopped into small peices 
3/4 cup of milk or cream (again,whatever you have.  Buttermilk works too.  Or sour cream, or plain yogurt, although I'd add another tsp of sugar.)

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 if you are using biscuits and lightly oil a lasagna pan or casserole dish, or use a skillet that can go in the oven.  
  2. heat the olive oil in a large deep skillet or a dutch oven.  Toss in the onions carrots and celery and cook until the onions soften. 
  3. Add the butter
  4. Add the flour and cook it for a bit
  5. Add any other fresh vegetables you have now
  6. Add the Stock and let simmer until the carrots get a bit tender and the broth is thickened
  7. Add frozen vegetables and the chicken.  Taste the sauce and add salt and pepper if needed. Let it cook down another minute or so.
  8. pour into lasagna pan.

Meanwhile...Make the biscuits: (Don't panic here, you don't have to do this part at all, serve the chicken and vegetables over rice or on a piece of toast, or you can go to the store and buy some BisQuick and make biscuits that way or you can get some Pillsbury Pop'n'Fresh Biscuits and just pop them out of the can.  However, biscuits are really easy to make, seriously, they are, and once you make them, you'll want to serve them all the time because who doesn't love a hot biscuit? I mean this in a totally PG way. I swear.)

  1. In a stand mixer, stir the flour the baking powder, salt and sugar together. (You can also use a food processor, or just even your hands -- just keep mashing butter and flour together until it's all incorporated.  Don't over think it, it will be fine.)
  2. on a low speed stir the cold butter in and let it go until the butter and flour come together and look like small peas.  (See by hand method, above)
  3. while the mixer is running on low, slowly add the milk. (or mix it in with a wooden spoon, then mush around with your hands again) 
  4. Once the milk and flour mixture is all together turn the dough out onto a floured counter and roll out until they are about 1/4 inch thick.  
  5. Use a cookie cutter or a round juice glass to cut out biscuits.  
  6. Place the biscuits on top of the chicken and vegetables and put into the oven.
  7. bake for 20-30 minutes or until the biscuits are brown and everything else is bubbly and hot.
  8. take it out of the oven and let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes before dishing it out to the ravenous mongrels your family will have become.
Lunch # 2: 
This makes a lot of food for 4 people -- there are usually leftovers of stew and biscuits for lunch, at least there were when I made it.  (Then again, I have 2 girls, one of whom licks at her food gingerly like a house cat)  I can't always fit the all the biscuits that this recipe makes onto the stew, so I save the dough in the fridge and bake the rest up for breakfast or lunch the next day.  They are great with peanut butter and jelly.  If everyone has snarfed up the biscuits but there's leftover stew, just eat that cold from the fridge (if you're Nigella Lawson, you'd do this in the middle of the night, which, frankly grosses me out a bit, but whatever).

The third dinner I made was noodle soup: 

See the chicken stock entry 2/24/09 and make stock from the leftover bones you've snatched from everyone's plates and lunch boxes.  Cook up 1 cup of orzo pasta or some small macaroni (or use some leftover pasta from another dinner.  In another pan, saute 1/2 an onion in a swirl of olive oil.  Once the onions are translucent add a pinch of thyme and 1 minced garlic clove and cook until fragrant.  Now you can add whatever is in your fridge that you want to get rid of -- a diced potato, an old carrot too floppy to eat raw but not so floppy it's gross, a few halved cherry tomatoes, some spinach leaves, even torn lettuce is delicious.  Cook for a minute then add about 4-6 cups of chicken stock (depending on how many people you need to feed). Let it all come to a simmer.  

Now this is good as it is, or you can whisk an egg, and add it to the hot soup, or squeeze a lemon into it, and this is good but not entirely necessary.

Get out your soup bowls and scoop the pasta into the bottom of each bowl, then ladle the soup on top.  You can top the whole thing off with a bit of grated parmesan.  Serve this with bread, or biscuits, or grilled cheeses, or nothing at all, just soup.  Then eat a bowl of ice cream or a large piece of pie so you don't get too hungry later on.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, how I wish I loved to cook as much as I love to read your cooking blog!


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