Friday, September 24, 2010

Week's Menu Plan & Slow Cooker Chicken Broth

So it's back to the working world for me on Monday - which I'm quite excited about although quick weeknight meals will be a much bigger factor from now on!  I'm assuming that I'll be a bit drained after the first work week so I tried to pick things for this menu plan that are much easier to make or the prep work can be done ahead of time.  And we'll be celebrating on Friday with a little homemade pizza!

I'm especially looking forward to the skirt steak and blue cheese salad (Bryant loves blue cheese although I'll be topping mine with feta instead) because our farmers market just started carrying grass fed beef. And I'll be stocking up, too, as the end of farmers markets is rapidly approaching (it'll be goodbye to the farmers market, hello to CSA [Community Supported Agriculture] boxes!).

I've been wanted to make my own chicken broth for a while.  I've been shelling out for Trader Joe's chicken broth and while it's good, I figured making my own would be cheaper AND better.  At our local grocery store this week, free range, antibiotic-free whole chickens were only $1 a pound, so I jumped at the chance.  Bryant and I only really like white meat so I cut off the chicken breast and roasted it along with some vegetables last night.  The rest of the chicken was thrown into the pot for stock and simmered all day yesterday.  For a 5 pound chicken, we got a great meal (or two) AND tons of broth!  I haven't tried the broth yet but I'll be using it in the Vietnamese chicken pho that I'm finally making this week.

Week's Menu Plan

Saturday: marinated chicken skewers, tzatiki, Greek salad
Sunday: Sauteed Tilapia with Lemon Sauce with risotto
Monday: spaghetti with meatballs with sauteed vegetables
Tuesday: skirt steak and blue cheese salad
Wednesday: Spanish Tortilla with biscuits
Thursday: Vietnamese chicken pho
Friday:  homemade pizza

Slow Cooker Chicken Stock
Taken from: Ina Garten
Makes approx 4-6 cups of chicken stock (which can then be thinned with water, if desired)
  • 1 (5-pound) roasting chickens (or the parts leftover that you didn't want to eat)
  • 1 large yellow onions, unpeeled and quartered
  • 2 carrots, unpeeled and halved
  • 1 stalks celery with leaves, cut into thirds
  • 7 sprigs fresh parsley (all I had was dried so I just threw in probably about a teaspoon)
  • 5 sprigs fresh thyme (again, only dried)
  • 20 sprigs fresh dill (optional, I omitted)
  • 1/3 head garlic, unpeeled and cut in 1/2 crosswise
  • 1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns (don't use ground as it'll be too spicy)
  • 8 cups water
-Place the chicken/chicken parts, onion, carrots, celery, parsley, thyme, dill, garlic, and seasonings in a large stockpot or slow cooker.
-Add approximately 8 cups of water and bring to a boil. Simmer, uncovered, for 4 hours over the stove OR place a slow cooker on low and cook 8-10 hours.
-Strain the entire contents of the pot through a colander and discard the solids.
-Chill the stock overnight or at least 8 hours. The next day, remove the surface fat.
-Use immediately or pack in containers and freeze for up to 3 months (Bryant laughs but I package mine in 2 Tbsp. ice cubes and then freeze them that way.  This means 8 chicken broth cubes would be one cup. It's a lot easier to get the amount you want and a lot quicker to thaw!)

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