Posts Tagged ‘Weeknight Recipes’

Chicken “Fried” Steak & Gravy

June 14th, 2010

Chicken Fried Steak

Week 4, day 1 of My Eating Well Challenge. As a rainy, overcast week, I decided this weeks’ recipes would come from EatingWell’s Comfort Foods Made Healthy.

I’ve eaten chicken fried steak twice. The first time as kind of a lark when I found it on a menu in New York City, having never seen the dish before. The second time was in Texas when a friend’s mother made it for dinner. It was delicious both times, but it did not become one of my favorites, probably because it is phenomenally heavy. One cannot deny that it qualifies as great comfort food. Could it be made with less fat and still taste as good?

I’m pleased to say that I liked the crust of the EatingWell version better than the others. Rather than just seasoned flour, this recipe uses cornmeal, which adds crunch as well as great flavor. The texture is really outstanding. But I had a terrible time with the gravy. The creaminess of the half-and-half didn’t really come through, and I found the beef stock a little overwhelming; I’d be inclined to use chicken stock if I ever make this again. Lastly, even though I whisked it in, the cornstarch became lumpy and I found there was just too much of the slurry (easily resolved by straining the sauce). That being said, cornstarch is my nemesis. I find sauces made with cornstarch to be a little too gluey. If you’ve got nothing against cornstarch, this gravy will be right up your alley (just use a couple of teaspoons rather than a full tablespoon). My family went back for seconds..

Chicken-Fried Steak & Gravy
From EatingWell’s Comfort Foods Made Healthy
View the recipe and nutritional information at EatingWell.com.

1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 large egg whites, lightly beaten
1/4 cup cornmeal
1/4 cup whole-wheat flour
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon cornstarch, divided
1 teaspoon paprika
1 pound cube steak, cut into 4 portions
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
1 14-ounce can reduced-sodium beef broth
1 tablespoon water
1/4 cup half-and-half

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray.

2. Place all-purpose flour on a large plate. Place egg whites in a shallow dish. Whisk cornmeal, whole-wheat flour, 1/4 cup cornstarch and paprika in another shallow dish. Season both sides of steak with 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Dredge the steak in the flour, shaking off excess; dip in the egg whites, then dredge in the cornmeal mixture.

3. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium and add 2 pieces of the steak; cook until browned on both sides, turning once, 3 to 5 minutes total. Transfer the steak to the prepared baking sheet and repeat with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and 2 pieces of steak. Transfer the baking sheet to the oven and bake until cooked through, about 10 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, add broth to the pan and boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until reduced to about 1 cup, 3 to 5 minutes. Whisk water and the remaining 1 tablespoon cornstarch until smooth. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cornstarch mixture. Return to the heat and cook, stirring, until thickened, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in half-and-half; season with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper. Serve the steak topped with the gravy.

Ham & Swiss Rosti

June 8th, 2010

Ham & Swiss Rosti in the Pan

Week 3, day 3 of My Eating Well Challenge.

Rösti, at its simplest, is shredded potatoes which are pressed into a layer in a saute pan, and fried with some type of fat to make a potato cake that is crispy on the outside, and is generally served as a side to an entree. By adding ham and cheese and serving it with a vegetable or salad, the dish becomes hearty enough for dinner.

I found the rosemary a bit distracting, as it has a particularly aggressive flavor that nearly overwhelmed the cheese and ham. I’d be inclined to leave it out, or cut the amount in half. Otherwise, all the flavors and textures of great comfort food are there, and I’d never have guessed that this rosti is low calorie. You can even forgive yourself for having two pieces if the mood struck you. This would likely be very tasty (and pretty) served for breakfast with a sunny side egg on top, which is what I’ll try next time…and there will definitely be a next time.

Ham & Swiss Rosti
From The EatingWell for a Healthy Heart Cookbook
View the recipe and nutritional information at EatingWell.com.

1 large egg
1 cup diced ham, (about 5 ounces)
1 cup shredded part-skim Jarlsberg, or Swiss cheese, divided
1 shallot, minced
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary, or 1/4 teaspoon dried
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 cups frozen hash brown potatoes
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

1. Beat egg in a large bowl. Stir in ham, 1/2 cup cheese, shallot, rosemary, pepper and salt. Add frozen potatoes and stir to combine.

2. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Pat the potato mixture into an even round in the pan. Cover and cook until browned and crispy on the bottom, 4 to 6 minutes.

3. Remove the pan from the heat. Place a rimless baking sheet on top. Wearing oven mitts, grasp the pan and baking sheet together and carefully invert, unmolding the rösti onto the baking sheet. Wipe out any browned bits from the pan. Return it to the heat and add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Slide the rösti back into the pan. Top with the remaining 1/2 cup cheese, cover and cook the second side until crispy and browned, 4 to 6 minutes. Slide onto a platter, cut into wedges and serve.

Ham & Swiss Rosti

EatingWell’s Pepperoni Pizza

June 7th, 2010

EatingWell's Pepperoni Pizza

Week 3, day 2 of My Eating Well Challenge.

When people ask, “If you were stranded on a desert island and could only have one food, what would it be?” I often think my answer would be pizza. Between the dough, the sauce, and the toppings, the variations are practically endless. I am also not prejudiced in favor of any one particular style. Although I am particularly fond of the thin-crust style I grew up with in Brooklyn, I can appreciate deep-dish, stuffed, and most variations of toppings.

This recipe has intrigued me since I first read it. According to EatingWell, adding pumpkin puree to the sauce increases fiber and beta carotene, but what about the taste? It turns out it’s quite good. One wouldn’t notice unless they were looking for an odd ingredient, they’d just think it’s a relatively sweet sauce. When I questioned my family, they guessed sweet potato. I believe adding a bit of salt to the sauce would balance the flavor.

The recipe also features a favorite secret ingredient of mine: Turkey pepperoni. I am generally disappointed by “replacement” foods, but turkey pepperoni is an exception. When cooked, its flavor is nearly identical to the pork and beef version, but has significantly less fat.

This pizza is certainly no replacement for my beloved Fascati or Grimaldi, but it’s a very good, satisfying pizza that can be prepared quickly. I’m sure little kids would love this recipe (and they can help make it, too).

EatingWell’s Pepperoni Pizza
From The EatingWell Healthy Heart Cookbook
View the recipe and nutritional information at EatingWell.com.

1 pound prepared whole-wheat pizza dough, (see Shopping Tip), thawed if frozen
1 cup canned unseasoned pumpkin puree
1/2 cup no-salt-added tomato sauce
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 ounces sliced turkey pepperoni (1/2 cup)

1. Place oven rack in the lowest position; preheat to 450°F. Coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray.

2. Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface to the size of the baking sheet. Transfer to the baking sheet. Bake until puffed and lightly crisped on the bottom, 8 to 10 minutes.

3. Whisk pumpkin puree, tomato sauce and garlic powder in a small bowl until combined.

4. Spread sauce evenly over the baked crust. Top with mozzarella, Parmesan and pepperoni. Bake until the crust is crispy on the edges and the cheeses have melted, about 12 minutes.

Turkey Mini Meatloaves

May 25th, 2010

Turkey Mini Meatloaf

Week 2, day 4 of My Eating Well Challenge.

In 1990, there was a film about an advertising executive whose “truthful” campaigns are accidentally published. One of those was for Volvo: “They’re boxy, but they’re good.” This is exactly the thought I had when I tasted the meatloaf, due to its compact, rectangular shape. I have made this recipe using muffin tins, but I found the small loaf shape is more attractive for serving and makes for more evenly cut slices for sandwiches.

You will be absolutely stunned at how quickly the recipe comes together. Turkey meatloaf tends to be dry, but this recipe is particularly moist thanks to the vegetables and couscous, and just a touch spicy from the mustard and Worcestershire.  Ignoring the color, one does not miss the beef at all.  I replaced the optional barbecue sauce with Heinz chili sauce, as I prefer the tomato flavor with meatloaf. They reheat perfectly, making a satisfying lunch the next day.

Turkey Mini Meatloaves
From EatingWell’s Healthy in a Hurry Cookbook
View the recipe and nutritional information on EatingWell.com.

1 pound 93%-lean ground turkey
1 medium zucchini, shredded
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
1/3 cup uncooked whole-wheat couscous
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup barbecue sauce, (optional – I used Heinz chili sauce)

1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Generously spray a nonstick muffin pan with cooking spray.

2. Gently mix turkey, zucchini, onion, bell pepper, couscous, egg, Worcestershire, mustard, pepper and salt in a large bowl, preferably with your hands, without overworking. Equally divide the mixture among the muffin cups. Spread barbecue sauce on top of each loaf, if using.

3. Bake until the meatloaves are cooked through or an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center registers 165 degrees F, about 25 minutes. Let the loaves stand in the pan for 5 minutes before serving.

Roasted Red Peppers Stuffed with Kale & Rice

May 15th, 2010

Stuffed Roasted Red Pepper

Week 1, Day 3 of My Eating Well Challenge. I like to eat vegetarian a few days a week, but vegetarian main dish entrees can become boring without some inspiration. While this is not the most creative entree, it has some very nice flavor reminiscent of many Italian style dishes I’ve had, and the greens make the stuffing substantial and flavorful. I substituted mustard greens, as they were in better condition than the kale at my market. Although light on their own, the peppers make a filling dish when served with a side salad. One thing to note, keep a watch on the peppers when roasting them. I let them go a little too long and my pepper bowls nearly became pepper plates.

Roasted Red Peppers Stuffed with Kale & Rice
From The Essential Eating Well Cookbook
View the recipe and nutrition information at EatingWell.com.

You can vary the filling by substituting robust mustard greens or collards, or milder greens, such as spinach, escarole or Swiss chard.

Peppers
3 medium red bell peppers
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper, to taste

Filling

8 ounces kale, (6 cups lightly packed), trimmed
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup cooked short-grain brown rice
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts, divided
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper, to taste

1. To prepare peppers: Preheat oven to 400°F. Halve peppers lengthwise through the stems, leaving them attached. Remove the seeds. Lightly brush the peppers outside and inside with oil; sprinkle the insides with salt and pepper. Place, cut-side down, in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Bake until peppers are just tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Let cool slightly. Turn cut-side up.

2. To prepare filling: Bring 2 cups salted water to a boil in a large wide pan. Stir in kale, cover and cook until tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Drain, rinse under cold water; squeeze dry. Finely chop.

3. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion and chopped bell pepper; cook, stirring often, until onion is golden, 6 to 8 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Stir in the kale. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly. Stir in rice, Parmesan, 2 tablespoons pine nuts and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper. Divide the filling among the pepper halves. Sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons pine nuts.

4. Add 2 tablespoons water to the baking dish. Cover the peppers with foil and bake until heated through, 15 to 20 minutes. Uncover and bake for 5 minutes more. Serve hot.

Spice-Rubbed Pork Tenderloin With Sweet and Tangy Watermelon Salad

May 11th, 2010

Pork Tenderloin with Watermelon Salad

Week 1, Day 1 of My Eating Well Challenge. This meal was absolutely fantastic. The pork was super-juicy and the flavor of the rub did not overpower that of the pork. The only thing it needed was more salt. But it is the watermelon salad that is going to become a household recipe. If you invite me to a barbecue this summer, it’s what I’ll be bringing. It is bright and interesting, savory, sweet and refreshing.








Spice-Rubbed Pork Tenderloin
From The Essential EatingWell Cookbook
View the recipe and nutr
itional info. at EatingWell.com.
Makes 6 servings.

The bright fresh taste of a watermelon and cucumber salad makes a sensational counterpoint to the fiery spice crust on this succulent pork tenderloin. It’s important to brown the meat before roasting, since this cut cooks too quickly for the surface to brown and caramelize in the oven. Grill enthusiasts may omit the stove-top browning (Step 3) and grill the tenderloins over medium heat, covered, for 20 to 25 minutes.

2 teaspoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt or kosher salt
2 teaspoons chile-garlic sauce
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 1/2 pounds pork tenderloin, trimmed
4 cups Sweet & Tangy Watermelon Salad (recipe follows)

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with foil.

2. Mix sugar, coriander, cumin, salt, chile sauce and 1 teaspoon oil in a small bowl to form a smooth paste. Rub the paste over the pork.

3. Heat remaining 1 teaspoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the pork; cook, turning occasionally, until browned on all sides, about 3 minutes. Transfer to the baking sheet.

4. Roast the pork until just cooked through, 20 to 25 minutes (an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center should register 155°F). Let stand, loosely covered with foil, for 5 minutes. (Note, my tenderloin was thin – it only took about 15 minutes in the oven, so watch carefully. -taetopia)

5. Meanwhile, make Sweet & Tangy Watermelon Salad. Carve the pork into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Serve with the watermelon salad.

Sweet & Tangy Watermelon Salad
From The Essential EatingWell Cookbook
View the recipe and nutritional info. at EatingWell.com.
Makes about 4 cups.

2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 1/2 teaspoons sugar (I cut this to 2 teaspoons. -taetopia)
2 cups diced seeded watermelon
2 cups diced cucumber
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup unsalted dry-roasted peanuts, toasted

Stir together vinegar and sugar in a medium bowl until the sugar almost dissolves. Add watermelon, cucumber and cilantro; toss gently to combine. Just before serving, sprinkle with peanuts.

My Eating Well Challenge

May 10th, 2010

The EatingWell Cookbooks

EatingWell Magazine and EatingWell.com have been my go-to resources to find easy, nutritious recipes for several years. I particularly like their recipes because the ingredients are real food; no sugar-substitutes or ingredient-laden packaged items. Plus, I know from experience that their recipes work.

I own every one of their cookbooks, except the diabetes book, but for some reason I don’t cook from them. EatingWell offers almost all the recipes from their cookbooks and magazines on their website; an absolutely incredible library at one’s fingertips. I will sometimes browse the site, shop on the way home, and cook in the evening. But between traffic and lines at the market, my family sometimes doesn’t eat until well after 8PM, and by that time I’m completely exhausted.

I thought I’d try something I haven’t done in a while: Plan a week’s worth of meals. It is clear that the unhealthiest way to eat is on-the-fly. By dinnertime, one is scrounging for ingredients or relying on take-out. So on Sunday, while drinking my morning coffee, I dusted off The Essential EatingWell Cookbook, the first one of their publications I owned, and picked out four recipes to make for the week. I found that leafing through the book presented me with more options at once, as opposed to waiting for each page to load on my computer. I liked it. Besides, I love leafing through cookbooks. What a nice thing to do on a Sunday morning!

I made a shopping list, went to the supermarket, and am now the proud owner of the ingredients for four dinners for my family (with leftovers for lunches, I hope).

If this goes well, I’ll move on to another book next week and another the week after, until I finish cooking from each EatingWell book I own. Of course, this adventure will be interspersed with other recipes, book and restaurant reviews, and items of note, as usual. Stay tuned!

Update: July 14, 2010 – Lessons from Cooking at Home and My Eating Well Challenge

The recipes (*=favorite recipes):

Spice-Rubbed Pork Tenderloin with Sweet and Tangy Watermelon Salad*

Ham & Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Roasted Peppers Stuffed with Kale and Rice

Vegetarian Reubens with Russian Dressing*

Apple, Sauerkraut, Cheddar & Ham Quesadillas*

Cheese Tortellini with Spinach & Asparagus

Sauteed Chicken Breasts with Creamy Chive Sauce

Five Spice Chicken & Orange Salad*

Turkey Mini Meatloaves*

Warm Chicken Sausage & Potato Salad*

EatingWell’s Pepperoni Pizza

Ham & Swiss Rosti*

Chicken “Fried” Steak & Gravy

Beef & Portobello Mushroom Stroganoff

EatingWell’s Baked Macaroni & Cheese*

Weeknight Roast Chicken

January 19th, 2010
Roast Chicken and Green Beans

Juicy Roast Chicken and Green Beans

I know I said I’d cook more using recipes from my vast collection of cookbooks, but it was just one of those days. At work, tired, wanting something healthy and delicious to eat for dinner, but not wanting to cook. I knew I needed something to blog about, but whatever; the blog post could wait. I was thinking perhaps I’d pick up a rotisserie chicken from the local rotisserie chicken place or from Whole Foods and be done with it. No pans to clean, no carving, no hassle. That’s when I ran across a blog post by Michael Ruhlman, “America: Too Stupid To Cook,” and hung my head in shame.

The point of Mr. Ruhlman’s article is a bit different than this post, which is meant to give weeknight cooking a bit of perspective, but worth noting. Briefly, Mr. Ruhlman’s point is that Americans are made by the media to feel as if they aren’t talented enough to put a meal on the table unless it comes from a microwaveable box, or if they are specifically told a recipe is easy. I can’t agree with him more. Even shortcuts from shows like The Food Network’s 30 Minute Meals may overwhelm many. We never seem to have all the ingredients, and frankly it seems like so much work. To some, watching Rachael Ray, the show’s host, make one meal in her perfectly-organized kitchen with plenty of counter space is akin to watching a short-order cook assemble 20 breakfasts simultaneously. It’s daunting, and makes people uncomfortable in their own kitchens. (Note that I disagree with Ruhlman’s putdown of 30 Minute Meals. Watching Ms. Ray cook, or for that matter exist on this planet, may be akin to enduring nails on a blackboard (my thoughts, not his), but for the most part the show provides relatively-healthy, well-rounded recipes, that do involve “real cooking.” More power to her producers if the show actually does motivate some people to get past their fears and into their kitchens to cook.) Mr. Ruhlman goes on to state, “…the notion that cooking is hard and that it takes a long time and we’re just too stupid to cook is wrong.”

Which brings me to my point. Left to their own devices with only an oven and a piece of meat, I’m pretty sure anyone can figure out that they need to turn the oven on and put the meat inside the oven to cook it. But because people are hammered by TV, websites, magazines, and cookbooks with a million techniques, they become frightened and don’t cook at all. A million questions are then asked: What temperature do I cook the meat? It doesn’t matter much – either a low temperature for a long time or a higher temperature for a shorter time. Do I need to marinate? Nice, but not necessary. What about seasonings? Salt and pepper do just fine. When is it done? When it is cooked. Really, stop worrying! Block out the noise in your head. Do what feels right. Our grandparents did not have the luxury of meat thermometers, or ovens that told (or even held) an actual temperature, or a bookstore filled with hundreds of cookbooks, or exotic ingredients just a click away. They simply put real food on the table. That’s what we should aspire to.

To continue with the story of the chicken, my personal shame after reading Mr. Ruhlman’s article came not from a feeling that I couldn’t cook. My shame came from knowing that I can cook a perfectly delicious, healthy meal, without much trouble, and that I was choosing not to because I was tiiirrreeed. I’ve been choosing to do this for most of my adult life, and I should have learned by now that this is a terrible waste on so many levels. Don’t get me wrong, if you’re going to go the fast-food route, a rotisserie chicken is possibly one of the best options. But for me, someone with easy access to good ingredients, who knows how ridiculously simple it can be to roast a chicken, it seemed silly. I was about to spend too much money for too little food, with questionable nutritional value, for poultry that was probably raised in a factory. I decided I would get over myself and roast a chicken.

But, wait. Why just one chicken? Roasting one chicken is just as easy as roasting two, and if I roasted two I could make chicken salad the next day. And then if I had two roasted chicken carcasses, I could make quite a bit of chicken stock, which could go into soups and sauces. All of this would come from maybe 45 minutes of hands-on work all told. Here’s how it went:

Roast Chicken:

  • On my way home from work, I purchased two small chickens, about 2.75 lbs. each. (I find smaller chickens remain far more moist than their bigger siblings, and they feed my family of three perfectly.)
  • As soon as I arrived home, before I even changed my clothes, I turned the oven to 475 degrees F.
  • While the oven was heating, I cut two peeled medium onions, a couple of unpeeled carrots, and two stalks of celery into large chunks, threw them into a roasting pan, drizzled some olive oil, salt, and pepper on them, and tossed the vegetables with my hands. This would serve as the rack for the chicken, and provide some additional flavor. If I had potatoes, those would have gone in too, and I would have served roast potatoes with my chicken. But I had no potatoes, oh well. Next time! (Have no vegetables? No worries, leave them out.)
  • I patted the chicken dry with paper towels. I cut two lemons in half and shoved one half of a lemon into each of the chickens. The other halves I squeezed over the chicken and vegetables and tossed into the pan. (I love lemon with poultry, and I nearly always have lemons in the house. If you don’t have lemons, don’t worry about it – skip ‘em!)
  • I shoved a half handful of rosemary and thyme in the cavity with the lemons. (I have rosemary and thyme plants in my home. You could also use a couple of tablespoons of dried herbs. Any combination of herbs is good here – oregano, sage, etc. Or you could skip the herbs altogether should you not have any at hand or are feeling particularly lazy.)
  • I drizzled olive oil on the chickens, then some salt and pepper, gave them a good rub down, and tied their little legs together. (I only truss a chicken to keep the leg meat from shrinking off the bones, and it keeps the birds shape nicer. If you have no twine, or have little inclination, it is not necessary.)
  • I put the roasting pan with the vegetables and the chickens into the oven and immediately turned the temperature down to 400 F.
  • For the next hour and ten minutes, I changed into more comfortable clothes and fiddled about on my computer a while. I figured I should check the birds for doneness just about an hour after I had put them in the oven. No need – I actually smelled a distinct difference in the aroma of the house. I ran downstairs, tested the thigh meat with a meat thermometer and pulled the birds out to let them rest. (No thermometer? Pull the leg away from the body just a bit and see if the juices run clear. No pink juice means they’re done!)
  • While the chickens were lying about, I put a bag of frozen green beans in the microwave to steam per the directions, dumped them in a bowl with a bit of butter and salt.
  • I then carved the chicken, and we ate. (“Carved” sounds more elegant than it was, which was more like tearing it apart with my hands. Chickens this small stay pliant and nearly fall into pieces.)
Roast Chickens Ready for Roasting

Roast Chickens Ready for Roasting

Roasted Chickens

Roasted Chickens

Ultimately, the only thing you *need* here is an oven, a chicken, a roasting pan, and some salt and pepper. I know some people would not use salt at all, but that’s completely against my culinary principles.

If you want to make things complicated, possibly the best roast chicken I’ve ever made was the one from the Zuni Cafe Cookbook. You can see an adapted recipe here. This will require salting the chicken a day ahead, preheating a pan, searing the breast, etc. It is not difficult, and it’s definitely worth cooking, but it’s not necessarily something I’d want to tackle during the week.

The next evening I made chicken salad from the second chicken. This cranberry walnut version is a delicious recipe that takes only a few minutes to make. Chicken salad is super easy – it’s just diced chicken tossed with a perked-up mayonnaise dressing.

Two days later I made chicken stock. I pulled the skin/fat off the backs of the carcasses, cut some carrot, celery, and shallot (I didn’t have onions) into pieces, bundled some thyme and a bay leaf, put it all in a pot and covered it all with cold water. I left it on a high simmer for three hours. Because we did such a good job eating the chicken, there was very little protein or fat to skim off. I would up with four quarts of beautiful chicken stock!

Two chickens, several meals, and a valuable lesson learned. It truly didn’t take much effort to feed me and my family a few wholesome meals, and it cost significantly less money than take-out. So while I’ll continue with the cookbook experiment, you’ll definitely be seeing these toss-it-together weeknight recipes as often.