Monday, June 28, 2010

Cutting Up A Whole Chicken

I'll always remember the day I stood in my mom's kitchen shortly before my husband and I got married, and my mom told me I needed to learn to cut up a whole chicken. It was something my mom did regularly, as it was the only kind of chicken I ever remember her buying, and she cut them up with an incredibly sharp small paring knife, no less! But, there is no one like my mother, and that's the truth, so don't try it until you get pretty good at cutting up a chicken! I, on the other hand, must use a large knife to do the job but I get it done :) The picture above shows the whole chicken. I have already taken it out of its package and taken out the neck and giblets on the inside. You can save the neck for soup stock-I throw the giblets away-you can do whatever you want with them :)
I then place the chicken breast side down onto a cutting board that I use ONLY for raw meat. I take hold of one wing and pull it downward so that I can find the joint between the wing and body of the chicken. I take my knife and cut. If you are hitting bone, then you need to find the joint, which is very easy to cut. Do the same thing with the other wing.

I then grab the leg and thigh section and pull it downward to find the joint and cut it off. Do the same with the other leg and thigh.
Here's another picture of cutting off the leg and thigh.

I then place the leg and thigh sections skin-side down, onto the cutting board and find the joint and cut them each into two pieces.
Just like that.

I then place the back and breast section, which are still connected onto the cutting board, standing up and place my knife between the breast and back and cut all the way down.

I lay it out flat and cut the joint that connects the back and breast bones.
Above is the back bone that you can cook with the rest of your chicken or put into your stock pot with the neck bone.

Place the breast bone side up onto the cutting board and cut right down the middle of the breastbone. It will crack and then you can cut all the way through.
You now have two breast pieces.

This is what they look like meat-side up.
This is how I cut up a chicken. If you are still not sure about doing it yourself, there are several videos on youtube that can give you a more detailed look at how to cut up a chicken. But, once you get the hang of it, you will be so quick and it will be so easy, that you will never go back to paying extra for cut-up chicken pieces at the store.

I'm linking up with Tammy's Kitchen Tip Tuesdays at Tammy's Recipes.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Garlic, White Bean and Rosemary Chicken Stew

I was looking for a recipe that used what I had in the pantry and I found this, but for the life of me can't find where I found it online, so if this is your recipe, let me know and I will give you the credit you deserve for this recipe. I cannot believe the amount of flavor in this dish! My husband couldn't stop eating it, even with all the carrots in it, an ingredient he isn't too fond of. I also love how easy on the budget this is, too. While I used only chicken legs and thighs, you can use whatever chicken pieces you would like in this recipe, but I would recommend using bone-in pieces. If you only have boneless pieces, wait to add the chicken until later when you add the vinegar and first cup of broth.

Garlic, White Bean and Rosemary Chicken Stew

2 teaspoons olive oil
2 pounds chicken parts, skins removed
1 large onion, diced
3 carrots, diced
5 garlic cloves, chopped
4 ounces bacon, chopped
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3 cups chicken broth
2 cans white beans
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary or 1 teaspoon dried
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in a large Dutch oven or pot. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and add to pot and brown on both sides. Take out the chicken and place on a plate. Add to the pot the bacon, onions, and carrots. Cook until the onions are lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes. Put the chicken back into the pot. Stir in the balsamic vinegar and 1 cup of chicken broth. Bring to a boil and simmer over medium heat until the liquid is reduced by about a third (this took about 6 minutes). Stir in the beans, rosemary, and the other 2 cups of chicken broth. Bring back to a boil and simmer, covered 20 to 30 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Serves 4.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Fruit-filled Oatmeal Bars

These are a perfect substitute for those cereal bars that you get in the store, more healthful, and just plain better. I know exactly what is in them and I feel really, really good about giving these to my husband and he loves them. They do taste alot like the store-bought cereal bars but there is more fruit in the middle of these, which is a very good thing to me. There are several fillings you could use for the cereal bars but this time I made an apple-blueberry one.

Fruit-filled Oatmeal Bars

1 cup flour

1 cup oats

2/3 cup brown sugar, packed

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/2 cup butter

2 large apples, peeled and cut into small pieces OR 1 1/2 cups applesauce to bypass the cooking of the apples

1 pint blueberries

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium sauce pan over medium-high heat, place the apple pieces and a couple tablespoons of water. Cook until the apples are completely cooked and soft. Add the blueberries and cook for a couple of minutes. Mash or puree if you prefer (I mashed mine a little but left it chunky) and add the cinnamon.

In a medium sized bowl, combine the flour, oats, brown sugar and baking soda. Cut in the butter until the mixture is crumbly. Press half of the mixture into a 11 x 7-inch pan. Spread the fruit mixture over the crust and sprinkle the other half of the oats mixture over the fruit.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Cool and cut into bars.

Other kinds of Fruit Fillings include, but not limited to (I think that whatever you use as a fruit pie filling can be used here):

Apple Filling

3 large apples, peeled, and cut into small pieces

3 tablespoons water

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Cook the apples as above with the water. Add cinnamon and mix well.

Berry Filling

2 cups berries, any kind

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1-2 tablespoons flour, as a thickener

Combine and cook over medium heat until desired consistency is reached.

Cherry Filling

2 cups pitted cherries

1-2 tablespooons orange juice

1-2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon cornstarch

Heat in a saucepan over medium heat until mix comes to a full boil; stir constantly.
I'm linking up with Foodie Friday.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Sourdough Wheat Bread from the Bread Machine

Since starting my own sourdough starter, I have making some type of sourdough recipe every week. I've made pancakes, biscuits, and bread because I just love the sourness of it. The last loaf of bread I made was particularly sour, probably because it was so hot in my kitchen the other day (it got into the 80's, where it will stay for the next week at least) and before using a sourdough starter, it has to come to room temperature before using it. I usually make my breads in the bread machine to mix the dough and then finish it off in the oven to bake. And, although every recipe I've found for making sourdough bread in the bread machine tells you to use active dry yeast, too, I'm going to start experimenting a little and maybe use less of the yeast. We'll see what happens, but this recipe is the one I use most often.

Sourdough Wheat Bread

6 ounces (3/4 cup) warm water (90-100 degrees)

1 cup sourdough starter (room temperature)

1 tablespoon molasses

1 1/2 cups flour

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoon active dry yeast

Put the ingredients in the order given or according to your bread machine instructions. Put machine at dough setting and start. When the machine is finished (about 1 hour 20 minutes), put the dough onto a floured surface and shape into the desired form. Place in a greased pan, cover with a towel, and let rise until doubled in size. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and bake for about 25 to 30 minutes or until done (bread sounds hollow when tapped when it is done). Cool, (if you can wait that long!) and slice.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Spaghetti con Aglio e Olio

This is a recipe I got out of a Rachael Ray cookbook. I've made this several times and it is surprisingly satisfying. Really, really good.

1 pound spaghetti

1/3 cup olive oil

8 cloves garlic, chopped

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

8 to 10 anchovy fillets*

1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

Parmesan cheese, if desired.

Heat a large pot of water to boil for the pasta. Salt the water and cook the pasta until al dente, 6 to 7 minutes. While the pasta cooks, place a large skillet over medium-low heat. When the pan is warm, add the olive oil, garlic, red pepper flakes, and anchovies. Chop the parsley and set aside.

Drain the spaghetti really well but do not rinse it; rinsing will wash off the starch, and the starch helps the oil stick to the pasta. Pour the hot spaghetti into the skillet. Add the parsley and toss the pasta together with the anchovies, garlic, and oil to coat evenly. Season the completed dish liberally with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

*Anchovy paste can also be used. Also, if you think you don't like anchovies, you might be surprised that you actually like this dish. The anchovies will melt into the oil and break up completely. Help break them up with a wooden spoon as they cook. Once they melt into oil, the anchovies will no longer taste fishy.
I'm joining in the Make It From Scratch Carnival and the Ultimate Recipe Swap today.

Chicken A La King

Chicken A La King is one of those old-fashioned dishes that have been around for a long time and for good reason. It's a dish that uses up what you have in the pantry or fridge and is welcomed at the table. I made it one day last week and my daughter liked it so much that she made it for her boyfriend on Wednesday night when he came over. It's so cute how they like to cook for each other.

Chicken A La King

6 tablespoons butter

6 tablespoons flour

1 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

1 cup sliced mushrooms, fresh or canned

1/2 cup diced green pepper

1/2 cup diced onion

1/2 cup carrots, diced

1 cup peas, frozen or canned

1 1/2 cups well seasoned chicken broth

1 cup milk

1 cup cut-up cooked chicken

Melt butter in a large saucepan. Add the mushrooms, green pepper, carrots, and onion and saute until the vegetables are soft, about 7 minutes. Add the flour, salt and pepper and stir to blend. Add the chicken broth and milk and cook over medium low heat, stirring constantly until bubbling and thickened. If it's too thick, add more milk or broth. Add the peas and chicken and cook until heated through. Makes about 4 servings.

You can serve this over rice, noodles, biscuits, or even as a filling for chicken potpie. You can also substitute the vegetables for whatever your family likes.

I'm joining Foodie Friday and the Grocery Cart Challenge Recipe Swap this week. Visit these sites for more great recipes.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

June Freezer Cooking

I love using my freezer to store my food. When we aren't going to use up some leftovers or other food that is in the fridge, I label it and toss it in the freezer. I also like to make food ahead of time and put it in the freezer to make my life easier later. For those of you that read my other blog, you know that I am actively looking for work outside the home, so I will need meals that come together easily when time and energy are low. (Update: job found-Hallellujah!) Jessica at Life as Mom is doing another freezer cooking month and I'll be joining with her to fill up my freezer with meals or parts of meals that will save me time and money. My husband will be taking his annual fishing trip to Wisconsin with his best buddy, his twin brother, his brother-in-law, and our two sons-in-law this weekend, so I figured that will be the perfect time to get some cooking done and stocking up our freezer.

Here's the plan:

I have about 10 pounds of chicken legs and thighs that I plan on putting in the crockpot. It will not only cook the meat until it's incredibly tender for lots of dishes like my chicken potpie but it will also make a wonderful chicken broth for soups, sandwiches, and other dishes.

I already have some cinnamon rolls in my freezer that I plan on using for easy breakfasts and desserts.

I'm going to be trying Rhonda's method for freezing pizza dough, along with a couple of other breads and roll recipes so that we can have homemade bread even if I haven't been home to make it that day.

I have some white beans in the freezer now but I want to add some black beans, lentils, and pinto beans to that. I can make my Tuscan White Bean Soup, Black Bean Chili with Red Onion Salsa , lentil cakes, refried beans, and salads. I have yummy recipes for a chickpea salad and a black bean salad that I will be sharing soon since we are in the warmer months, which is when we enjoy salads the most.

I also have a whole chicken that I plan on cutting up and marinating in the freezer for the grill. Mary Ann-I will do a tutorial on how to cut up the chicken :)

Since it's often just my husband and myself at home to eat, I will set aside some of the leftovers for our daughters or for the next day's lunch, and put the rest in the freezer. I will be putting some of the leftover soups in separate small containers in the freezer for taking to work for our lunches, too. Even after I find the right job,(found it!) we want to try and eat as little fast food and premade foods as possible. We've been eating this way for so long that I think it will affect the way we feel and we are going to need extra energy!

"French" Dressing

Last week I posted my Avocado Dressing but when I don't have anything fresh for a dressing, this is my old standby and I usually have this one in the fridge. My cookbook called this "French Dressing" but it doesn't have that syrupy texture that the store-bought bottled kind has. It's very light and flavorful.

"French" Dressing

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon mustard

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/4 cup milk vinegar or lemon juice

3/4 cup salad oil

few drops onion juice or clove garlic (I usually grate either an onion or a garlic clove)

Add all ingredients to a container and stir or shake. Store in the fridge. Makes about 1 cup.