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Sunday, February 27, 2011

Working it--less time in the kitchen

Kitchen time
Since there is only me, I prefer not to be cooking a meal each night and washing many pots. Of course, when I actually get out the pots and pans each night, there are leftovers from days before. One-dish meals work for me, but that is not on the agenda for this week. Even if I decided to cook each night, there are leftovers to work into the meal. To others, my meals may seem redundant. Of course, I really like each and every meal I prepare, so boring is not part of my experience.

Chicken again for the week
As usual, I am cooking chicken again. Today, I boiled four leg/thigh quarters and one breast. Right now, I am salivating for chicken and dumplings. On Monday, only the dumplings will need to be made and the dish assembled. Three of the legs will go tomorrow to the donater of two of the quarters. She does not like the thigh. Four thighs and one leg have been stripped of meat. The broth is in the refrigerator waiting for the fat to congeal in the quart. That is the hard part of chicken and dumplings--preparing the chicken and broth.

Four more breasts are boiling in water placed in the same pot. I should have just put the breasts in the first broth. But, I did not. Actually, I should have used a larger pot the first time. But, I did not...lol. This breast broth will be refrigerated until that fat congeals, and both broths will make chicken and dumplings.

Heavy on the dumplings?
I know. I know. But, since I replicated exactly my mother's recipe for chicken and dumplings, I am just totally hooked on it. Besides, it will soon be too hot to cook the dish.

Pasta for two meals is just about done. I will cook the cabbage and carrots later today.

I have many meals in my repertoire for which I can use all this chicken meat. I don't really assign a meal to a day. But, I will have many meals--lunch and dinner to choose to put together and eat from Sunday to Friday. It is chicken all the way this week!

1--chicken and dumplings for four meals with green beans
      (This dish will have four small thighs, one small leg, and one half breast)
2--rest of alfredo sauce (needs to be consumed today) with chicken and pasta for one meal, salad
3--chicken, pasta, and basil pesto for one meal
4--chicken sandwiches with Romaine and cheese for four meals, lunches, probably
5--salad--romaine, tomatoes, chicken for two meals
     (#2-#5 will use the other four breasts)

That's twelve planned  meals from 4 thighs, one leg, and four breasts. Maybe I should freeze some of the cooked chicken since there is more than enough. Hmmmm.... No, all the pieces are really small.

Along with the chicken portion of meals, I will have the Romaine, tomatoes, cabbage/carrots steamed, green beans, sweet potatoes, and potatoes. Maybe I will use the Classico Traditional Basil Pesto with the pasta. Whatever leftover I find in the refrigerator will be eaten, incorporated into a meal or snack.

Snacks
I snack on fruit and pecans. There is a bag of oranges that I must eat. Sometimes, if I am becoming hypoglycemic, sliced cheese and a dozen Wheat Thins may be another snack.

Breakfasts will be:

1--2 scrambled eggs with cheese, glass of milk
2--2 scrambled eggs with sausage, glass of orange juice and glass of milk
3--cold cereal with banana and milk
4--cooked oatmeal with raisins, glass of milk
5--chicken and dumplings if I want them

I love beans
A pot of navy beans sound delicious. I can make a meal of those. They will be cooked in water with no seasonings. Nope, no salt, no pepper, no ham. Okay, beans are on the stove!

Leftovers for hens
I purposefully don't strip every smidgen of meat from the chicken bones. The hens now have five meals  that will give them fat, protein, and productive busy-work. The busy work will keep them from pecking each other and being pecked when I decide to confine them to their 10'x10' pen. I am in awe of how clean they can pick a bone...nothing, no gristle, just slick. They also get the outer cabbage leaves and any trimmings.

Hens get apple cores and bruises, banana peels and bruises, potato skins that are cooked, eggs shells, bits of cooked chicken gristle from my plate, and a special bowl of oatmeal. Of course, they get the produce donated to them. Did you know that banana peels are people edible? They are.

Your turn
Does anyone have an approach to cooking like I do--planned leftovers? Or, maybe you think my approach is lacking variety? Can you actually make a weekly menu and stick to it?

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