One chicken: three dinners

I’ve been doing a lot of roast chicken lately, mostly because I can get three dinners from one chicken. The first night we eat it as-is, with a side veggie. Day two we either have chicken sandwiches or the pasta below. And on the third day I usually make chicken soup. It’s simple and good and pretty frugal, even when we buy the hormone-and-antibiotic-free ones.

One of the best parts is the second day pasta sauce. It’s very simple, and makes good use of the breast meat (we’re dark-meat folks for just plain eating).

Leftover Chicken-Cream Pasta

1 onion, minced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tbsp olive oil

1 can of tomatoes

fresh or dried thyme

1 cup diced chicken meat

1/4 to 1/3 cup heavy cream

Heat oil in pan on medium-low heat. Add onion and saute until soft and fragrant. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds or so, being careful not to let it burn. If you have a lot of time, you can cook the onion and garlic very slowly so they get sweet and saucy, but you can do it more quickly if you are pressed for time.

Add can of tomatoes. Again you have two options. If you have a lot of time, drain the tomatoes, reserving the liquid. Add just the tomatoes to the pan and cook them over medium heat so they caramelize and sweeten. Once they are quite broken down, add the tomato juice and stir. If you don’t have extra time, just add the whole can at once and simmer.

Add the thyme and cook until it is thickened. Then take off heat and stir in the cream, adding more or less according to your taste. Heavy cream will not curdle in the acidity of the tomato sauce.

Serve over penne or rigatoni.

Advertisements

Iced Tea

If you’re anything like me, you might find yourself dealing with a daily afternoon craving for something sweet, caffienated, or both. For me, it’s both–and I don’t mean just sweetened coffee. No, I mean I want a coffee AND a sweet baked something, plus maybe a handful of chocolate chips for good measure.

Well, I’ve discovered a little solution to this problem quite by accident. It happened when instead of throwing out the half-pot of un-drunk tea, I stuck it in an empty yogurt container and squeezed in the juice from a leftover half a lemon. My husband scoffed. I shrugged my shoulders–waste not, want not I figured as I stuck it in the fridge, though I was a bit sceptical as to how this would turn out. It was chai tea after all–not a usual flavour for iced tea.

I was thirsty the next afternoon so I pulled out my tub-o-tea, spooned in some sugar and took a sip. Eureka! It was delicious–cold and sweet and lemony, blending perfectly with the chai spices. Plus I found it satisfying both my sugar craving and giving me my caffeine fix, but without any jittery feelings that sometimes accompany that afternoon extra cup.

So this is my new thing: never waste tea. Actually, it’s so good I’ve been making it intentionally. Brew tea, stick in fridge with lemon juice. Stir in sugar. And then grab a cookie.

You deserve it for being so damn clever.

A-mayonnaise-ing Cupcakes

As it turns out, I’ve made quite good progress working through my giant jar of mayo. And it’s all thanks to this recipe for my “A-mayonnaise-ing” chocolate chip cupcakes. It’s adapted from a America’s Test Kitchen recipe for “Emergency Chocolate Cake” which is both SUPER easy, and also takes a full cup of mayonnaise. I’ve added chocolate chips for extra-chocolatey flavour, and made it into cupcakes so I can freeze most of them and ration them out to myself during those long afternoons (defrosted for 25 seconds in the microwave).

A-mayonnaise-ing cupcakes

2 cups flour

1 1/4 cups sugar

3/4 tsp baking soda

1 cup chocolate chips

3/4 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder

1 1/4 cups water

1 cup mayonnaise

1 tbsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 12-cup muffin tin very well or line with cupcake papers.

Sift together flour, sugar and baking soda. Add chocolate chips and stir to combine.

In a separate bowl, whisk together cocoa powder and water until smooth. Add mayo and vanilla and again whisk until smooth.

Add wet ingredients to dry and stir until combined. Then portion into the cupcake tin. Bake for approximately 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into one of the interior muffins comes out with only a few crumbs attached. I have had a tough time taking them out of the cupcake pan, so if you have any tips, please let me know. Cup liners might be preferable (though my current strategy of eating all the crumbs–er, chunks–that fall off or stick or smoosh off is working pretty well for me).

I eat them as-is but you could probably ice them if desired. To freeze, I wrap each one in a square of wax paper and then store two wrapped cupcakes in a ziplock baggie (I actually use an empty milk bag, but have recently learned that Ontario is the only province that sells milk in bags. Seems unbelievable, but apparently is true).

In any case, I’m hopelessly addicted to these delicious things. I just might buy another big tub of mayo just so that I’ll “have to” make batch after batch of chocolate chip cupcakes.

Another Recipe: Granola

As you can imagine, I’ve been pretty busy lately. I hardly have time to check my email let alone post a blog entry. But this recipe has been screaming out for posting lately. Which is because I’ve been making it alot. Which is because we’ve been eating it alot. In fact, the only problem with this recipe is how quickly it gets eaten around here! I’ve actually been known to take spoonfuls out of my husband’s bowl because he has taken “too much”! He didn’t like that.

I love this granola: it’s easy, fairly low-cost, and absolutely delicious. It’s based on the recipe in the Moosewood Restaurant’s New Classics cookbook, but with a few modifications. Here you go:

Moosewood Granola

4 1/2 cups old fashioned oats

1/2 cup each sliced almonds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, coarsely chopped walnut pieces, sesame seeds, wheat germ, large flake coconut (sweetened or unsweetened–it’s up to you) or combination of any of those

2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup liquid sweetener (maple syrup, fake maple syrup, honey, corn syrup, golden syrup, etc.) with 1-2 tbsp molasses added to total 1/2 cup.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all dry ingredients including cinnamon and stir until everything is well distributed. Add oil first and then liquid sweetener, and stir until well combined.

Pour out onto a large rimmed cookie sheet and place in oven. Bake for a total of about 20 minutes, stirring several times during the cooking to prevent burning and promote even browning. I used to stir every 5 minutes but found I can bake it in 3 bursts of 7 minutes instead. Try it on the cautious side to see how your oven behaves. You don’t want to burn it!

Some notes: I never worry about the “ratio” of dry ingredients to oil and sweetener. No matter how much or little I add, it always turns out. Also, see how I’ve cleverly changed the recipe to use only one dry measuring cup. If you measure the oil first, and put the liquid sweetener into the same un-rinsed cup, it just slides right out! Oh, and my favourite version has been with the cheap fake 15% maple syrup pancake syrup! I’ve never done a cost analysis of this, but it seems to me that it is cheaper than the store-bought variety. In any case it is better and healthier, and pretty easy to whip up if you need a quick treat. I eat mine with raisins and milk, but dried cranberries are also delicious! Vegan if made with anything but honey.

I Flambéed! Red Clam Sauce Extraordinaire

I’m not sure exactly why, but I decided to add a flambé step to my experimental red clam sauce. And I’m not sure exactly what it added, flavour-wise, but it was amazingly fun. Also, the sauce was delicious–much better than my previous attempt at making clam sauce. I totally recommend flambeing to anyone who wants to add some flair & excitement to their day. It was so exciting to stir down those 2-foot flames that suddenly whoooshed up in my kitchen! Just make sure to stand back so it doesn’t take off your eyebrows 😉

It’s a pretty frugal meal too, and definitely good enough to serve to company.

Frugal Urban Red Clam Sauce Extrordinaire

2 slices bacon (or more), cut into 1/2 inch pieces

1 onion, minced

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 oz gin (or other dry hard alcohol 40% or higher)

2 cans baby clams, with their juice

1 can of tomato paste

1/2 tsp dried thyme (or 2 tsp fresh, minced)

2 bay leaves

1 tsp (or to taste) hot pepper flakes

salt and pepper

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add bacon pieces. Once they give up a bit of their fat, add in the onion. Cook, stirring frequently, until onions start to brown and bacon starts to crisp. Add garlic and stir until fragrant (about 30 seconds). Remove your cooking utensil from the pan (especially if it’s made of wood!) and make sure there are no flammable materials overhead or nearby, and then with a barbecue lighter in one hand at the ready, tip in the alcohol with the other hand, let it warm in the pan for maybe 5 seconds, then light the pan on fire. Whoosh! Let it burn for a few seconds and then start stirring down the flames.

Once the fire has gone out, you can add the remaining ingredients. Tip in the baby clams, including their juices, and then stir in the tomato paste. Add the thyme, bay leaves and hot pepper flakes, and then bring the sauce to a simmer. Simmer for about 15 minutes, uncovered, until the sauce thickens and the flavours marry. Season to taste with salt & pepper.

We enjoyed this over capellini noodles (but then again, I enjoy just about anything over capellini noodles), but Linguini or Fettuccini would probably work even better for others who don’t share my obsession with teeny tiny noodles.

Fruit Crisp

[photo to come] I was writing up this recipe for my friend Holly, but it fits the bill for the blog as well. It is cheap, easy, and delicious, especially when it takes advantage of seasonal fruit. I made this yesterday with most of a 3-Litre basket of peaches that I got for $3–and that was at the overpriced grocery store near my house!

I actually doubled it in 2 dishes, and froze one with an aluminum foil “sling” so I can remove it from the baking dish, and then take it out and plunk it back in the dish when it comes time to bake it later. I’m hoping to be able to bake it from frozen–maybe for longer at a lower temperature?–but I will have to look into this more.

The recipe is from my good ole’ Five Roses Cookbook. It’s basically just a crumbly sweet oat topping over chopped up fruit. The fruit really compacts as it cooks so if you have it, I suggest really filling up the dish with fruit and then topping it. Also, I added sugar as the recipe called for, but then I found it too sweet. In the past I have usually just put fruit on the bottom and with the topping, found it sweet enough, so that is what I am going to instruct here. If you want to add the sugar, the recipe called for 1/3 cup sugar or brown sugar, depending on the fruit, so you can decide for yourself.

Oh, and a vegan alternative would be to use margarine instead of butter, or another recipe I saw called for chilled coconut oil . . . sounds tasty especially with the addition of shredded coconut in the mix!

Fruit Crisp

2/3 cup flour

2/3 cup oats

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup soft butter

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix dry ingredients together. Cut in butter until completely incorporated. A food processor would make short work of this in a few pulses.

Prepare fruit as indicated below and spread in the bottom of an 8 x 8 inch baking dish. Sprinkle oat topping over it and bake about 30 minutes until top is crispy and fruit is soft. Delicious hot with vanilla ice cream, or cold with yogurt for breakfast.

Fruit filling instructions

Chop fruit, peeled or unpeeled as you wish, core or pit removed, until it rises a good way up the side of baking dish. The fruit will shrink substantially during cooking. Add sugar if you wish, to desired sweetness, and mix with sliced fruit. You may also want to add lemon juice or grated lemon rind, especially for apples.

Suitable for: pears, apples, peaches, blueberries, rhubarb, or apparently canned pie filling . . . though I wouldn’t recommend it!

Super Economical Black Bean Soup

I kinda regret making this today, with the humidity at 80%, but it is super cheap, super easy, and pretty delicious. And with its wholesome list of beans, tomatoes, corn, lime juice and cilantro, it fits the nutrition bill too! It can also be vegetarian or vegan depending on the broth and additives you choose.

This comes in under $3 for the pot, and will feed our family of three for at least 2 meals. Whoever said eating beans was cheap, was right on!

Black Bean Soup

1 onion, diced

1 tbsp vegetable oil

2 tbsp chili powder

1 green pepper, diced

1 tbsp garlic, crushed (1 large or 2 medium cloves)

1 can diced tomatoes

1 can black beans, rinsed

1 cup fresh, frozen or canned corn niblets

2 cups chicken or veggie broth

juice of 1 lime

Toppings (optional, depending on what you have on hand)

chopped cilantro

sour cream

shredded cheddar cheese

crushed corn chips

Heat vegetable oil over medium heat. Add diced onion and chili powder and cook until onion is soft. Add green pepper and cook until onion is somewhat browned. Add minced garlic and stir until fragrant (30 seconds). Add tomatoes, beans, corn and broth. Bring to a boil and let simmer for 20 minutes until tomatoes start to thicken. Remove from heat and stir in lime juice. Serve with toppings on the side so everyone can add what they want. This would be delightful with quesadillas or toast, depending on what kind of day you’re having.