Friday, February 5, 2010

Day 5: Stretching the dollar... re-using ingredients and a crock pot

Day 5: Friday
Leftover pulled pork sandwich and
prosciutto, squash and potato soup

This is one of my favorite soup recipes! It has the perfect amount of sweetness and saltiness with a bit of kick. Yumm!!!

Prosciutto, Squash and Potato Soup
  • 1 white or yellow onion (cut in half and then sliced really thin)
  • drizzle of olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 -1/2 cup chopped prosciutto (can be substituted for 1/2LB bacon)
  • 1 LB peeled butternut squash, cut into 1" cubes
  • 4 white potatoes, cut into 1" cubes
  • 2-3 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4" thick circles
  • 4-6 cups chicken stock (use leftover stock from the night before)
  • 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • salt and pepper
  • cayenne pepper (optional)
Saute in a large sauce pan the onions with drizzle of olive oil until onions are tender, season with salt, pepper and cayenne pepper. Add garlic, and saute for 1 min. Add prosciutto and saute for 1 min. Add squash, potatoes, carrots and stir with wooden spoon. Then add chicken stock and sprigs of rosemary and cook on medium heat for 30-40 min (potatoes and squash will get soft when ready). Serve hot with leftover pulled pork sandwich (re-heat pulled pork in warm oven before serving on a toasted roll).

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Day 4: Stretching the dollar... re-using ingredients and a crock pot

Day 4: Thursday
Pulled Pork Sandwiches
with side salad

Pulled Pork
  • 2 LB pork loin or pork roast
  • 4-6 cup chicken stock (enough to cover roast)
  • salt and pepper
Set roast in crock pot and cover with chicken stock. Cook on low for 8-9 hrs. Meat should become tender and stringy. Drain chicken stock in a glass bowl/container and save for tomorrow's soup (put in refrigerator for time being). In Crock pot, shred pork with 2 forks so that only small stringy pieces remain. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle/drench with BBQ sauce (either store bought or homemade) and heat on low to keep warm until serving. Serve hot on toasted roll or bun with a side salad.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Day 3: Stretching the dollar... re-using ingredients and a crock pot

Day 3: Wednesday:
Pork roast with snap peas and baked potato

Crock Pot Pork Roast
  • 2LB pork loin or pork roast
  • 1 cup chicken stock
Place pork roast in crock pot with chicken stock and season with salt and pepper. Cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 4 hours.

Baked potato (or can substitute for roasted white potatoes)
  • 1 russet potatoes (for each person)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Wash potatoes, poke with fork (to prevent potato from exploding in oven) and wrap in aluminum foil. Place in oven and bake for 1 1/2 hrs. When ready open potato up, and serve with your favorite toppings (sour cream, cream cheese, butter, cheese, bacon bits, chives...)

Snap peas and dinner roll
  • left over snap peas
  • 1 dinner roll per person
Wash snap peas and place in a steam basket. Steam until soft, but still crisp (1-2 min). Serve rolls hot by putting them in warm oven for 2-3 min. Serve hot with butter.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Day 2: Stretching the dollar... re-using ingredients and a crock pot

Day 2: Tuesday
Crock pot chicken stock into wonton soup (or other favorite) and Chinese chicken salad

There are a number of ways you can make chicken broth, but here are two recipes that I found and liked...

The Alton Brown Way (leeks can be substituted for green onions)
The Barefoot Contessa way

Be sure to check what ingredients you have first and then decide which recipe to use. I've even heard that you can get more out of your broth if you brown the vegetables by sauteing them first before adding it to the liquid, but haven't tried that for myself yet. I usually just take the Barefoot Contessa's recipe and adjust it to my own family's taste (leaving out the parsnips dill and parsley). Depending on how many chickens I have I also adjust the recipe so that it's proportionate to what actually have (cutting it in thirds).

You can also collect the bones from drumsticks, wings and breast with ribs over time and freeze them until you've collected enough bones to equal 3 chickens of you don't want to do roasting chickens.

Chicken Stock (Crock-pot)
  • 3 (5-pound) roasting chicken bones
  • 3 large yellow onions, unpeeled and quartered
  • 6 carrots, unpeeled and halved
  • 4 stalks celery with leaves, cut into thirds
  • 15 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2-4 cloves of garlic, smashed
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns
Place the bones, onions, carrots, celery, parsley, thyme, garlic, and seasonings in a 16 to 20-quart crock-pot (If you don't have a large crock pot try cutting the recipe in thirds). Add 7 quarts of water and cook on low for 6-8 hrs. Strain the entire contents of the pot through a colander and discard the solids. Use desired amount for soup and chill the remainder overnight. The next day, remove the surface fat. Use immediately or pack in containers and freeze for up to 3 months.

Now that we have the chicken stock, we can now put together our favorite soup quickly. There are a number of recipes to choose from, but since I felt like making an Asian dish I decided to make Wonton soup and a Chinese chicken salad to use up the left over chicken we had from last night.

Wonton Soup
  • 4 cups chicken stock (more or less if desired)
  • 1/2 cup egg noodles or 10 wonton nodles
  • Left over chicken
  • handful of snow/snap peas
  • leftover broccoli
  • 1/2 can baby corn
  • 1/2 can water chestnuts
In a sauce pan on medium heat put chicken stock and egg noodles/wontons. When noodles soften put remaining ingredients in soup. Serve immediately.

(This recipe doesn't store well in the fridge because noodles get too soggy and veggies too floppy, so make just enough for your family and/or guests).

Chinese Chicken Salad
  • I head of green/red leaf lettuce
  • handful of snow/snap peas
  • remainder of leftover chicken
  • 1/4 cup cashews
  • 2 carrots peeled and cut in match sticks
  • 1 can or 2 fresh mandarin oranges
  • ginger sesame dressing
Wash and cut lettuce, put in salad spinner if you have it. Combine peas, chicken, carrots, cashews and oranges in bowl with lettuce and either toss with dressing or serve on the side.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Day 1: Stretching the dollar... re-using ingredients and a crockpot

Day 1: Monday:
Roast Chicken, Potatoes and Carrots and broccoli

Roast Chicken, Potatoes and Carrots
  • 1-2 whole chickens
  • 1-2 white potatoes each per persons being served
  • 3-4 carrots
  • 1 can chicken broth
  • salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees, or prepare crock pot. Wash and cut white potatoes into 1" cubes. Peel about 3-4 carrots and slice in 1/4" circles. Place in 9x13" roasting pan or crock pot and drizzle olive oil to coat veggies. Season with salt and pepper.

Place Chicken in roasting pan or crock pot and season. Put 1 can of chicken broth in bottom of pan/crock pot so that the chicken stays moist and tender as its roasting and prevents it from burning. Season chicken with salt and pepper and either thyme and rosemary or cayenne pepper.

Cook in oven at 400 degrees for 1 hr 10 min or 20 min per LB or in crock pot on low for 8hrs or on high for 4 hrs.

A prefect side to this dish is Alton Browns blanched broccoli. Not only does this cooking technique preserve the vitamins in the broccoli, but it also gives it a nice flavor with the perfect amount of crunchiness.

Hybrid broccoli with butter
  • 1 head of broccoli
  • 1 Tbls butter (optional)
Cut stalks off broccoli and save. Cut florets into bit sized pieces and stalks into thin 1/4" slivers. Arrange stalks in the center of a large frying pan, and place florets on top of stalks. Put enough water in pan to cover the stalks, without touching the florets. Cover.

Turn on high heat for 3 minutes, water will boil. Turn off heat and leave sitting, covered, for 3 minutes. Take broccoli out and use remaining water in pan. Melt butter in water to make sauce and pour over broccoli (Optional).

Watch him in action as he scientifically cooks the perfect broccoli.

Stretching the dollar... re-using ingredients and a crock pot

I love cooking all sorts of food! Trying new recipes can be really fun and delicious to try, but can sometimes be a little pricey when having to buy all new ingredients. I've found that stretching the dollar some weeks for inexpensive, healthy meals can allow me to buy some ingredients that I wouldn't normally buy (like saffron).

This is one of my favorite weeks worth of dinner ideas I've had in the past to maximize your dollar with only a few ingredients some of which you can re-use and using your crockpot (to make cooking a bit simpler).

Shopping/Ingredients List For The Week
  • 1-3 Whole chickens (depending on what chicken bones you have already saved and how much broth you want to make).
  • 1 can chicken broth
  • 4-5 large yellow onions
  • 2 bunches of carrots
  • celery
  • fresh thyme or dry
  • fresh rosemary or dry
  • Cayenne pepper
  • 1 head of of garlic
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns
  • Broccoli
  • 1 Can baby corn (can be substituted for your favorite soup ingredients)
  • 1 Can water chestnuts (can be substituted)
  • 1 - 2 LB snow/snap peas (can be substituted)
  • Wonton noodles or pack of egg noodles (can be substituted)
  • 2 heads of green or red leaf Lettuce
  • 1/4 cup cashews (optional)
  • 1 can or 2 fresh mandarin oranges
  • 1 bottle ginger sesame dressing (or make your own)
  • 2 - 2LB pork loin or pork roasts or 1 cut in half (smaller families)
  • BBQ Sauce (or make your own)
  • 6-10 Dinner rolls/sloppy Joe/hamburger buns
  • 1/2 LB of bacon or 1/4 - 1/2 cup prosciutto, chopped
  • 1-2LB butternut squash
  • 1 bag of small white potatoes
  • Russet potatoes (1 per person)
You can do your shopping either on the weekend if you plan on making the first meal a crock pot meal or on Monday morning since it will only take a couple of hours in the oven.