Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A Week of Meals - Chicken

I have a concept of cooking that saves time and money.  My previous post: A week of meals – ham.
Basically, I make my “meat” on Monday, I put it in a Nesco roaster and let it cook – enough meat for the whole week.
This week it is chicken.  In the morning I put 4 whole chickens in the Nesco – FROZEN – set on low and left it all day. 
I like a crispy skin, so I took one chicken out when almost done and put in a roasting pan in the oven. 
Monday’s Menu:  Roast chicken, mashed potatoes and my freezer corn (from garden).
After supper, take the time NOW to debone and skin the other 3 chickens.  This will take time now, but will save you a lot of time during the week.  Save the carcasses and skin and Nesco juices – you will pressure cook these to make a great stock to use during the week.
In the morning the fat will settle to the top of the container of juices and you can throw that away. 
Take the juice and carcasses and put in pressure cooker.  I add carrots, celery, onions and garlic – fill with enough water to cover all and pressure cook @5# till kettle clickity clacks about 30 minutes.  This will give you a great stock and some extra meat to use later in the week.  Strain the stock – reserve in the refrigerator.  I sorted through the strainer and picked out any useable chunks' of meat to use, soft cooked carrots, etc. for “chicken bucket” and some skin and such for the barn cats. 
NOTE:  This is really full for pressure cooking – however, I trust my cooker and know how much it can handle – normally you don’t fill it this full.
Now you are ready for the week.   I did this on Tuesday.
Chicken Quesadillas:
Note:  The bean spread we made last week.
Spread flour tortillas with beans fill with Chicken filling – 1 can cream of chicken soup mixed with 1 C sour cream and diced chicken – makes a lot of filling.  I also added some Monterey Jack and cheddar cheese to these.  Put a little quesadilla sauce on bottom of pan, place rolled tortillas in pan, top with the cheeses, diced scallions, black olives and bake for 30-40- min. 
While baking, mix up a salad with avocados and dress with lime juice and oil.
Easy and tasty.
Wednesday’s Menu:  Homemade Chicken and Spinach Ravioli
Making homemade pasta is on my “leap list” so this is my first attempt – I will be making it again!
I made a simple red sauce using some of my canned tomatoes, some fresh tomatoes (need to use), onions, garlic and to add some sweetness – carrots.  Cook this down for an hour or so until everything is soft and mushy.  Add to you processor and blend it all together – skins, seeds and all!  Makes a really good sauce – extra can be put in the freezer.
For the pasta, I followed a simple recipe:  four, eggs, salt and water.  I mixed it all on my counter (like they do on food network) and kneaded it all together, let rest for 15 min. or so.
Remember the meat that cooked off the bones – you now use it.  Take chicken pieces and put in your processor – blend until small pieces.  Add minced spinach and onion to meat along with some grated Asiago cheese.  Mix together, I added 2 T melted butter to bind it – this is your filling.
Using another one of my estate “buyout” treasures – an old pasta roller – roll out your dough.  NOTE:  need extra hands!
I made some big ravioli – put in salted boiling water – when they float to top, flip them over and basically they are done.  Takes only minutes.  Top with sauce – they were yummy!
Thursday’s Menu:  Chicken Dumpling Soup
Remember the stock we made Tuesday, now you use it.  Take out stock – I divided into 2 kettles (I’m making a soup Friday too – so why not get that started now).  Add some water to about 3/4 full.  I actually added some “chicken base” too. 
You can make the soup with the things you like in it.  I actually cleaned out my refrigerator and added, corn (from Monday), green beans, carrots, celery, onion, S&P, diced sage and parsley.  Add chicken.  I make fluffy dumplings (flour, salt, baking powder and milk).  bring soup to boil and drop by tablespoons into pot.
A real family pleaser on this COLD Wisconsin Day!
Friday’s Menu:
I LOVE Olive Garden’s Creamy Potato Gnocchi soup.  So, I tried to duplicate it.  Stock, celery, carrots, onions, parsley, chicken, heavy cream, nutmeg and grated parmesan cheese.  While this comes to a boil, mix up your gnocchi.  I had some left over mashed potatoes from this week, added them to flour, egg, milk and salt till works up into a dough.  I rolled them in little balls and rolled them off a fork to make those lines.  I then put them on a floured cookie sheet.  Once soup comes to a boil, drop floured gnocchi into soup (extra flour will thicken up soup).  Make a light salad and you are done. 
That’s it for my “Chicken Week of Recipes” 
Blessings from Wisconsin!
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