Monday, January 4, 2010

Now, onto the food.

I have resolved my computer issues, at least for the moment. (I know you were worried) Figured out a way to make several CDs of photos, ran out blank ones, and so abandoned the task for the week. (I should say there are more blank ones upstairs in J's office, I just have not motivated myself to get up there, nor to move the full ones into the "fireproof" box where I store them. This is why I have to finish these things when I start them, or they NEVER get done.)

So the tasks for today included continuing to shovel through the mountain of laundry. Found a whole garbage bag full of dirty ones from our trip to Cleveland that I had forgotten about. (Sorry J. I told you that system was not my system. Yes, it probably does make more sense than tripping over suitcases for a week until I can sort out clean from dirty and then put them away. But it's my system, nonetheless. )

And, I'm working on a plan for the new year to actually stick to some planned meals for the week. Not a resolution, not a set menu, but some concrete ideas of what I want to make when I go to the grocery store, and a reminder posted on the fridge to help me remember to actually cook those meals.

I've had a whole chicken in the freezer for over a month now, one I bought when it was super cheap. It's COLD here this week, so I thought a nice roasted chicken with some biscuits and vegetables sounded cozy. For some reason, I always feel fancy when I'm roasting up a whole chicken, and thus don't do it very often. Why? It's cheap, it doesn't take much time to rub some salt and pepper on it, throw it on top of some vegetables and stick it in the oven. Also, there are almost always leftovers that I can use to make some other dinner, or at least chicken salad. I often spend more time than this messing around with fancying up boneless skinless breasts. While I'm not going to give those up, or the dishes I enjoy making with them, I really should stop buying those rotissierie chickens. Especially since every time I really do want one, I forget that they aren't ready until after 11:00 AM, past the time of my normal grocery run. I think it's the whole turkey for Thanksgiving only thing that gives me pause. Oh, also, I'm not very good at carving a whole chicken up. I can pick pieces of meat off with no problem, but serving actual portions with the bones intact? Not so much.

If you go looking around for a recipe, it seems there are a million different ways to roast a chicken, a million different tips and tricks. Rack, no rack. If you don't have a rack, use veggies to prop it up, or balled up aluminum foil. Rub it with butter. No, just dry it off really well. One place even suggested a hair dryer. High heat, low heat, or a combination of the two. Brine it. Stuff it with lemons, or apples, or herbs. Rub garlic under the skin. Stick garlic into it. So many variables. This is part of why I think it's intimidating when really it shouldn't be.

So here's the recipe for "perfect roast chicken" I (mostly) followed today, and have used before with success. I'm surprised I settled on one from Emeril to try, as I'm not usually a fan. However, I was impressed with a recent interview I heard with him, where he talked about teaching his cooking staff where hearts of palm come from by dissecting an entire palm tree in the kitchen of his restaurant. I really admired the curiosity there.

I remembered again tonight that I find that this recipe creates a really rich tasting chicken, maybe a little too rich. I need to remember to serve it with a salad or something else that will cut the savory quality a little bit.

I also continued to put a dent in the buffalo chicken dip today. I had some of the canned soup I heated up for the kids for lunch, but it was really just a cover for getting out the crackers to dig into that dip again today. It's super easy, and worked really well in my new 1.5 quart crockpot. I refrigerated the dip last night in tupperware and reheated in the microwave and it was still yummy.
Here's the recipe for that:

Buffalo Chicken Dip
1 brick low fat cream cheese
1/2 cup Frank's Red Hot
1/2 cup ranch dressing (you're supposed to use bleu cheese, but I don't like it)
2 small cans of canned chicken breast, drained

Dump it all together in your crock pot. If you want to just bake it, soften the cream cheese first, spread in a shallow baking dish, and then heat at 350 for 20 minutes or so.
I think you're supposed to use crackers and celery to dip in it, but I think it tastes best with tortilla chips. Of course.

What warm and cozy foods are you eating these days? We could use some more suggestions!


mep said...

First off, I am totally intimidated by the idea of roasting a chicken myself and thus very impressed that you can do so. I'll have to try it.

Second, that buffalo chicken dip sounds awesome, and I enjoy the fact that it calls for canned chicken because I get kind of bummed out when a recipe ingredient is "two cups of cooked chicken." Yes, I know how to cook and shred chicken, but I'd rather not and don't like buying the rotisseries either.

We ate buffalo chicken meatballs last night (from a magazine recipe). With my 2010 eating resolutions, we also have cauliflower soup and easy chicken and dumplings on the menu for later this week. I'm going to try to post on them all.

Stay warm!

CaraBee said...

Here's a weird tidbit about me: I don't like chicken on the bone. So it never even occurred to me to buy a whole chicken and roast it myself. The irony here is that I buy roasters all the time to pick clean and make stuff with. I really should give making my own a go. As you say, it's definitely cheaper and probably better tasting.

I am a huge fan of just about anything made Buffalo. I add Frank's to most things and typically use it in place of ketchup.

As for menu planning. I have a little dry erase board. It's silver, so it goes with my kitchen appliances, that I have mon-thurs written on it and every Monday I go through my books and pick out recipes so I can buy all the necessities at the grocery store. Just having them written down keeps me focused. And having those particular recipes in mind when I'm at the store keeps me from buying a bunch of miscellaneous junk that I might want to use.

Chris Smith said...

E- I don't have exact recipes but check this out. need to visit Findlay Market and go inside to: Herbs & Spice and Everything Nice. Not only can you find maple powder (great in pancakes and waffles) but GREAT food ideas (that accompany his spices). Everything is fresh and/or mixed on site. His both is located on the west end of the hall...and you can park right out front. Bring some change for meter.

here is link:

Good Luck! BTW- great blog, i just stumbled on it.