Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Chicken Challenge

I've been doing really good about cooking at home... I actually really like it!  I've been really good about coming up with new ideas, new recipes, and I am cooking most things from scratch! I'm pretty proud of myself!!!  I do really good with challenges.... that is how I got to like cooking at home... I challenged myself to eat at home for a week... then I was "in love"!  Now I want to start trying to cook on a tight budget (Dave Ramsey budget) so I gave myself a chicken challenge.....
I shop our local store and search for meat on sale.... this is how I buy 90% of our meat!  I found this chicken and though it would be prefect for my challenge.  I wanted to see how many meals I could make with this smart chicken I bought for $8.39.  The first meal was chicken and  veggies I cooked in the crock pot.  I put leek, sweet potatoes, and carrots in the bottom with a half a cup of water.  I placed the chicken (after I washed it) on top and sprinkled a few spices (paprika, salt, pepper, thyme, and rosemary)on top.  I let it cook on high for 5-6 hours and Viola!  Dinner was done!!!  Brad LOVED the veggies!!!  This dinner was SO easy and SO Yummy!!!
The next night I made chicken pot pie!!!!  I took a lot of veggies from our CSA (carrots, leeks, turnips) and added peas and corn and cooked them with some cream of chicken soup and added chicken from our leftovers from the night before!  I placed them in a baking dish and topped it with a Bisquick Topping!!!  Viola!  The yummiest chicken pot pie ever!!!!  And packed full of veggies!!!!
Night 3 I made chicken and pesto pasta!!!!  Our CSA sent us a jar of pesto in our bag this week! ( I love that I am able to take my chicken and local veggies/ goodies from the farmers in a bag I've already prepaid for and made dinner several nights in a row and not need many other ingredients to get dinner done!)  I made angle hair pasta, added tomatoes, pesto and chicken!!!  One pot dinner that was SO easy and SO yummy!!!!  This used up the end of our chicken and I was SO happy I had gotten 3 dinners out of our $8 chicken!!!
But, the challenge didn't stop there!!!!  We took our chicken bones and made a chicken stock (this is actually Brad's job so here is how he does it)....
  • Take cooked chicken parts (better if the meat's been eaten off already) and boil them in a pot for about a hour. You can add spices while this is going on if you want the stock to have a certain flavor. (The rich flavor comes from the bones so don't be afraid to put bones with no meat in the pot)
  • After about an hour (you can't over them though) pour the entire pot through a strainer...you will just have chicken stock at this point
  • Then in the strainer separate the meat from the bones...it helps if you let it cool for about 15 minutes (or just run some cold water over the bones and meat to cool them down quickly).
With the chicken stock I made "swamp soup"!!!  This is a Brewster recipe.... really it is just tortellini soup but Owen called it "swamp soup" and the name has stuck!  This dinner is also SUPER easy!!!  Add the chicken stock to a pot with a can of diced tomatoes.  Bring that to a boil and add the tortellini and spinach and cook per the directions on the tortellini.  I add a whole bag of spinach because we like it but feel free to add less.  In about 10 minutes you have a delicious dinner!!!
After I dish out the swamp soup I add fresh grated Parmesan cheese!!!  Yummy!!!  Serve with warm rolls and you have the perfect meal!!!!

There you have it!!!  My $8 chicken challenge that yielded 4 delicious, easy to make meals (not to mention several lunches thanks to the leftovers!!!)!!!!  If you take the challenge let me know what meals you  came up with!!!!  I LOVE a good challenge!!!  It really encourages me to explore in the kitchen so if you have a challenge you'd love to take let me know!!!  I'm game!!!  I'm looking for something new to do!

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