Thursday, December 19, 2013

1 Chicken, 2 People, 3 Meals

I am queen of leftovers. I have about 3.7 million tupperware containers. On Thanksgiving I even bought more tupperware so that I could send people home with leftovers. I do not like wasting food. But sometimes I have a heard time figuring out what to do with leftovers, that piece of chicken just never seems as good the second time around. So I thought I would make this post to show you how I can make a $5 chicken go for 3 meals! Now, keep in mind I'm just feeding Jared and myself, so that makes things a bit easier. If you have kids, 1 whole chicken probably won't stretch as far. But these are still great recipes!

Let's chat money first. I have seen chicken breasts cost anywhere from $1.50 per pound to upwards of almost $4 per pound! But according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a whole chicken on average will cost about $1.50 per pound (more info here). Where I shop I can get a whole chicken for $0.99 per pound! WAY cheaper than chicken breasts. So even though a whole chicken looks intimidating give it a try! It will definitely save you a few bucks.

So I can go buy 1 whole chicken and have three meals, Rotisserie Chicken, a Soup, and Chicken Salad! Nothing goes to waste!

When I go buy a whole chicken the first meal I make with it is my Crockpot Rotisserie Chicken, recipe found here. Extremely simple!



It's so simple, just season the chicken and throw it in your crockpot! It will literally just fall off the bone. When Jared and I eat this we each get a chicken breast. I make sides that are pretty filling so that we have plenty of leftovers. some sides I would suggest that we like, are roasted potatoes, green beans, rice, or mash potatoes. Potatoes are always filling and cheap! Last time I made this I made some rolls and rice for the side and we were quite full.

So pull the rest of the meat off the bones. and put it into some tupperware to save. You can either freeze it and use it later, or just keep it in the fridge to use that week.

The first meal I make with the leftovers is a soup! It doesn't take a ton of chicken and will be filling! If you really want to save money, take all the leftover bones and drippings from the chicken and boil them in a stockpot for about and hour and a half and you will have your own chicken broth and you won't have to buy any from the store! Just keep in mind it won't have all the sodium you're used to so you will need to use a heavy hand when seasoning.

A couple soups I love to make with my leftover chicken, are Chicken and Dumplings (Recipe Here) and Fiesta Soup (Recipe Here). 



Usually with the Fiesta soup I use leftovers from my Shredded Chicken Taco recipe, but these leftovers will work just as well!

The last thing I make out of the leftovers is an easy Chicken Salad Sandwich (Recipe Here)! This will usually use up the last of my leftovers and nothing has gone to waste!


I love to use this for when I'm headed out of town and I don't want any leftovers in the fridge. We get so busy when we are about to leave that this makes dinners very easy to make! And there won't be a ton of dishes to clean! Not to mention most of the ingredients I have in my pantry already, so I don't have to make a trip to the grocery store!

I hope everyone has a Merry Christmas, and I hope you can use this before you all travel for the holidays!

Easy Chicken Salad

When I think of chicken salad I think of tacky wedding showers, baby showers, or any large gathering of women ooo-ing and ahh-ing over something. Its cheap and easy to make in large quantities so that makes it perfect for those events. I think that stereotype has always been off putting to me and I stayed away from the classic chicken salad. But I had leftover chicken and I figured I would give this a go!


This recipe isn't super exact because I was just using leftovers and didn't measure stuff exactly. But it so easy you really don't need to measure everything out!

Ingredients:
About 2 cups Cooked Chicken cut into small cubes
2 huge spoonfuls of Mayonnaise
2 green onions chopped
1 rib of celery chopped
1 handful of grapes chopped
a sprinkle of Basil and Oregano
Salt & Pepper

The chicken I used for this recipe was leftover from my recipe for Crockpot Rotisserie Chicken, that you can find HERE. A good mix of light and dark meat is perfect for this recipe.

Take your chopped chicken and add in the celery, grapes, and green onions. Add the mayonnaise. if you think it's still too "dry" add a little more mayo until you get the right consistency. Season with the basil, oregano, salt and pepper.

And that is it! Super quick and really yummy!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Facebook Page

I started up a Facebook page!! This way any of my readers can keep up with me and my cooking a little more personally. Not to mention it will be easier to comment and chat! Go and give me a like! 



Monday, December 9, 2013

Homemade Hash Browns

One thing I hear all the time is, "eating healthy is expensive!" While I will agree that eating all natural, organic can get pricey, I promise eating healthy is not all that expensive. Honestly! You can buy fresh green beans in the produce section cheaper than the bag of frozen microwave ready green beans. Of course that means you will have to do a little extra work to prepare them, but isn't it worth it when you're on a budget?? One thing I have learned it to shop the seasons! As you would expect, when certain produce is in season, the price drops. Again for example green beans, usually in season in the summer. So I buy LOTS of green beans then I take them home, clean, snap, blanch then freeze them! I'm set for quite a while and I got them at the cheap price! Here's my blog post all about fresh green beans! I will agree that the lovely microwave ready bag is more convenient, but if you are looking to save a buck, take some time and prep your own!

On that note let's talk potatoes! Don't you love that frozen bag of Ore-Ida hash browns?? Honestly, when I get up I open the freezer pull out some hash browns and ta-da I'm done. But then I thought, "I'm literally paying extra to have someone else grate and freeze potatoes....." POTATOES! One of the cheapest things in the produce section!

That made hash browns my mission today. And since I love you all so much, I made hash browns for every meal today so that I could get them perfect. Fun Fact: I usually have made a recipe several times before it ends up on my blog! I always want to get it just right before posting it. Hash browns took a few tries until I was happy with the results.


And one little heads up, if you are used to the Ore-Ida hash browns, REAL hash browns have a different taste and texture so don't expect them to be the same.

Ingredients:
Russet Potato
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper

First grade a bowl and strainer. Fill the bowl about halfway with cold water and add in a few ice cubes. Place your strainer into the water.


Peel, and grate your potato straight into the strainer.


Make sure the grated potato is completely submerged in the cold water and let it soak for a minute, you might want to mix it around a little too. This will help get rid of the access starch so your hash browns won't be mushy. Dump out the water which will be milky looking and depending on how starchy your potato was you might even see all the starch collected at the bottom of the bowl. Squeeze the potatoes of all the access liquid.


Next take a medium frying pan and heat it up on medium high heat. Pour in about 2 TBS of olive oil. Let that get and then add in the grated potato. Spread it around the pan. Make sure it's not more than about an inch thick, if it's too thick it will get mushy and might not cook through. Season it with salt and pepper.


Let it cook for a few minutes, until its golden brown and then flip it over. Season the other side after you flip it with salt and pepper. Cook for another few minutes until the other side it nice and golden brown.

And you are done! My husband and I love to top our with cheese and Frank's Red Hot sauce.

I hope you all give this a try, just an easy way to avoid freezer food and save a little extra money.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

His & Her Stockings

Last year I made Jared and I stockings. I really wanted something different and still simple to make. So I googled a TON and found this lovely post!

Cute trendy stockings, without putting snowmen or santa on them! I followed what she said and this is how mine turned out!

To be honest, I didn't follow everything she said since I hate instructions and I love cutting corners, BUT I love how they turned out!

If you hate sewing, feel free to pull out the glue gun!

DIY Ruched Tree Skirt

I think decorating for Christmas is a blast! But it wasn't until I had to go out and buy my own decorations that I realized how expensive it was! It is ridiculous! Not to mention, with my husband being in the military we won't be spending Christmas here so it seemed pointless spending so much money if we wouldn't even be here to enjoy it the whole time. So I had to figure out what decorations I could make myself and not drop a ton of money on. I went to Target to look for a cute tree skirt. They had lots of cute ones! Except they were all $30+....ummm no thanks. So instead I went to the home good section and found a 70in red tablecloth for $15! Perfect! So here is how I turned it into a cute scalloped, ruched, tree skirt!


Before I start I will admit the instructions will sound a little difficult, but once you get all the supplies and do it yourself you will see how easy it actually is! I have tried my best to simplify the instructions so they are easy to understand, but if they ever seem confusing or you need help, just comment and I will make sure to reply!

Supplies:
1 - 70" Round Tablecloth
Red Embroidery Thread (a few bundles of it)
Needle with a large eye
Chalk
Ruler

First: Fold the Tablecloth into 1/8s. 


Next take something round and use it to draw a curved line on the top (for the whole where the tree trunk will go). Then mark the creases on each side of the triangle.



Next lay the tablecloth out on the floor (with the underside up), lay your ruler at each mark and make dashes every 1 1/2 inch apart. I did 8 dashes, but depending on how small your tree is you might want to do a couple more. To check mark every spot with the dashes and pull the bottom up to the top dash, that will give you an idea of the size, if you think it will need to be small add a couple more dashes in, if it needs to be bigger, don't use as many dashes.


Next take your embroidery thread and thread your needle and tie off the end. Star stitching down through the top and coming back up and threading it through you the loop at the top of your thread (confusing I know, look at the picture, hopefully that helps).


I didn't pull the thread all the way through so that I could thread my needle through it before tightening it, this will make a knot and secure the thread so it doesn't pull through the fabric.

After that just stitch up and down at the dashes.


Make sure you always end with your needle and thread on top, so when you flip it over in the end, the knots will be on the underside and you won't see them.

Pull the string and start to gather the fabric.


Then stitch through all the fold and then back again and tie it off. Make sure you tie a big secure knot so it doesn't pull through.

Continue doing this until the last one! at the last one, draw a straight line all the way up to the middle through the dash marks. 

Please excuse my dog, she doesn't
understand personal space.
Cut along the line. Then do the stitching on each side of the line. 

And you are all done! I like the frayed edges of where I cut the fabric, but if you don't feel free to hem it down, or just go get your handy glue gun and glue it down. 

If I wasn't taking pictures of every step and pushing my dogs out of my way this would have been an easy 30 minute project! Again, the instructions sound a bit difficult, but I think once you lay it all out you will see how simple it really is! 


Merry Christmas, Hopefully I'll post about our stockings next! But I have to dig them out of a box first....

Monday, December 2, 2013

Thanks for the feedback!

Lot's of you have given me great feedback! I love hearing about when people try my recipes! I also love all the helpful tips I have gotten on how to run my blog successfully! That being said, quite a few people now have messaged me suggesting I promote my blog on other outlets like, Facebook pages, instagram, twitter....etc. Well I do have a twitter... I don't use that much. But I never thought having a Facebook page and instagram would be super important since I posted from person pages. But I am now convinced. Maybe I'll take the time eventually to set it up. But right now I'm exhausted and that just seems like a ton of work. Mostly because I'm a perfectionist and I don't want to rush it, I would rather take my time. So maybe that will be my goal for tomorrow...

But again, thank you all so much for the sweet messages and feedback!

Braised Chicken Thighs

As I previously posted I just got this beauty....


I was so excited to use it for a couple of reasons...
1. I have always heard they make the most amazing food
2. I get to use the term Braise
3. I get to use the word Deglaze
4. You can cook with it on the stove AND in the oven!

So here is my recipe!

Ingredients:
4 bone in, skin on, Chicken Thighs
2 Whole Carrots, peeled and cut into about 4 pieces
1 cup Button Mushrooms, sliced thick
2 Small Yellow Onions, quartered
5 Cloves of Garlic
4 Sprigs of Fresh Rosemary
2 cups White Wine
1 1/2 cup Chicken Broth
2 TBL EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
Dried Oregano
Salt and Pepper

Set your dutch oven on the stove and heat the oil on Medium - High heat. Sprinkle the thighs with Oregano, Salt and Pepper. Once oil is hot place the chicken in the pan skin side down, cook for 4 minutes and then flip and cook for another 4 minutes. Take them out and set them on a plate to the side. Pour in the wine and DEGLAZE your dutch oven.


 Just scrape all the bits off the bottom. Pour in the Chicken broth. Add in the onions, mushrooms, carrots, and garlic. Simmer for about 3 minutes. Set the chicken back into the dutch oven, cover and let simmer for 30 minutes.


30 minutes later.....


Yummm.... If you want more of the sauce, you can add in chicken broth, but not too much or else it will get too watery.


I served mine with some rice, and collard green! It was so yummy. I'm a huge fan of chicken thighs! They have a higher fat content which means that will be packed with flavor and it's almost impossible to dry them out, not to mention they are cheaper than chicken breasts.

Hope you all enjoy!

DUTCH OVEN!!!

Ever since I got married I have drooled over the Le Creuset dutch ovens. They are gorgeous, but, those range from about $100 - $500, so not exactly in my price range. I have put off getting a dutch oven due to the high price for a while. Finally I stumbled across an add for a $40 dutch oven at Target! It had great reviews.  I went to go get it, and it wasn't in stock! I was so set on getting a dutch oven that I went to one of my favorite places for cookware, Marshalls! Seriously, they have top brands that are super affordable. Of course they had a few Le Creuset dutch ovens, but their 5qt oven was $150, an amazing deal considering you would save over $100 on it, but still not in my price range. After looking at a few others I found it. The most perfect Dutch Oven ever. No it was not Le Creuset.... But it was a LOVELY Cuisinart! You can't go wrong with Cuisinart, they are quite reliable.


Look how beautiful..... This is my new 7.5qt Dutch Oven. It's quite hefty. But I really like this size because I will be able to roast a whole chicken in it or make large batches of stew! Right after I bought it I ran to the commissary for groceries so I could cook in it right away! And ready to hear how much it cost??? $75!! This Dutch Oven usually retails for about $130!


Of course I had to read the whole booklet to my husband I was so excited! It started with Congratulations! Yes, thank you! I am so proud of this lovely piece of cookware, their congratulations was welcomed with open arms!


Did I mention this was actually my Christmas present from my husband?? I caught him playing with his Christmas present (a video game) last week, not only did he use it WAY to early, but he even went out and bought it without me knowing! So I told him I was going to buy my present for myself today.

I just got to try it out tonight, and I can't wait to post the recipe!!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Get ready for all things Christmas!!!

It's that time of year! Yes I love Christmas. One of my favorite things about Christmas is all the DIY crafts I get to do to decorate! So coming to a blog near you: Stockings, Tree Skirts, cute pictures of my dogs, and MORE!

Also, Jared and I are on a new budget, which stinks for me, but it's awesome for you because now everything has to be super cheap and low budget! I don't know about you but I'm excited!!

Let me know if you need any craft ideas!

Thanksgiving Leftovers

Oh the Thanksgiving leftovers. Turkey sandwiches for weeks. I am not a huge sandwich eater, so I get really tired of the whole leftover sandwich thing. So this year I bought cheap tupperware and sent almost all of our leftovers home with the guys. We had the single marines my husband works with over, so it's easy to pawn off leftovers on them since they generally have to eat at the chow hall. We were left with the giant turkey carcass and a few slices of turkey and some veggies and herbs that didn't get used. This is what I did with everything!

I can never let bones go to waste!! So I put the whole turkey carcass in my 21qt stock pot and filled it with water and let it boil for an hour and a half to make a turkey broth. I strained out the bones and saved the broth in separate containers. Next I went back to the bones and started pulling off all the leftover meat. After carving the turkey for dinner I thought I did a brilliant job at getting all the meat off of it, but when you boil a leftover carcass you will be shocked at how much you miss! So I put all the meat into tupperware. Most of the broth and meat went into the freezer for later. Tonight I used my broth and meat to make Turkey and Dumplings! Soups are a perfect way to use up leftovers! I threw in my extra veggies and herbs and made an amazing Turkey and Dumpling soup!


I will say homemade broth needs a bit more seasoning than the boxed stuff because it's not loaded with preservatives and sodium. So the veggies and herbs will help it give lot's of flavor! 

HERE is the recipe for my Chicken and Dumplings. Obviously just put the word "turkey" in wherever you see "chicken." And I added Carrots, Onion, Garlic, Broccoli, Thyme, and Parsley to mine. All the stuff I had leftover from cooking on Thanksgiving! I was actually really surprised at how mild this soup was, I thought it would be turkey overkill, but it ended up working really well!

So how did your Thanksgiving go? Do you have any goto leftover meal ideas??

Thanksgiving Recap

Well I will say, I was slightly disappointed in my Thanksgiving meal. The traditional Thanksgiving meal is like the greatest kitchen challenge. How do you cook the Turkey and about 5+ sides and get it timed so perfectly that it all hits the table at once and is still hot?? I do not have the answer. The Thanksgiving for two was way easier because I didn't need stuff done on time since it was just Jared and I, and the Turkey breast has a more reliable cook time that a whole turkey. So here is how my Thanksgiving went....

The Day Before: I was baking all day. I decided to get all desserts out of the way. Of course I'm always worried someone won't like something so I have to have a few options. So I baked chocolate chip cookies, 2 pumpkin pies, and 1 pecan pie. I did give myself a cheat on the pies and bought Pillsbury pie crust. I could not make 3 pie crusts from scratch. Then that night I boiled the potatoes and mashed them and stuck them in the fridge hoping they would be okay reheated.

Thanksgiving Day: After researching turkey roasting all night I had my game plan. I was going with an Alton Brown approach! He had a 15lb bird that he started at 500* to crisp the skin and lock in the juices and then lower it to 350* for about an hour and a half. So his 14lb bird took 2 hours. We were eating at 5, so I planned on putting my bird in the oven at 2ish giving is about an hour just in case. The Turkey had been sitting in my refrigerator since Monday. So right at 2 I unwrapped it and was ready to put it on the roasting rack! Only to find the whole inside was ice. I took the neck and the guts out and scooped all the ice out that I could. I covered it in butter and put it in the oven. The 2 hours had past, the turkey was GORGEOUS. I stuck the meat thermometer in........100* I had a little over 30 minutes to get that bird to 165*. Well as you can imagine that didn't happen. Which of course threw off my timing for the rest of the meal. So everything was cooked and then reheated right before I cut the turkey. We ended up eating an hour late, my turkey took double the time of Alton's turkey.

Bummer. The turkey was fine, everything did taste like reheated food. I was so disappointed in the meal. Of course the guys said it was great, but let's be honest, they are comparing it to chow hall food there wasn't much of a competition there.

But the pies and cookies were good and we all had a fun time hanging out. I guess that's the important part is that we all got to spend time together with friends, but as a food blog, it's hard for me to look past the mediocre food.

Next up, my Leftovers Recipe!!