Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Run Chicken Run!!!!!

Why did the chicken cross the road? He was running from Mel’s clever! Bahahahaha! There are a million more jokes about chickens, most centered around breasts and thighs that we will not mention.

Although I love chicken dearly, I have never actually killed one. I’ve heard stories the most humane way to kill a chicken is to hold it by the neck and swing it around in the air like a sports towel at a football game. I’m not sure whose definition of humane THAT would have been, but in any event, I love poultry. I actually raise chickens for layers and have poultry pets. They will curl up and nap with you just like cats and dogs. Believe it! Chickens are not the brightest creatures in the world but can provide great entertainment at parties watching how easily they are hypnotized.

We’re not here though to discuss the traits of a chicken as a pet or as a productive member of farm society, but rather to discuss how many things you can do with just one dead chicken. I must admit since beginning this weight loss journey I have had crazy strong cravings for protein. My beloved layers have seen the gleam in my eye, and have run from me fearing for their life.

Instead of the usual hen in a crock, I opted to see just how far I could take four Cornish game hens. The results even surprised me! The results were as follows. From four cornish hens in a crock pot you can…
1. Throw some carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes and onions in the crockpot with the birds. Not only will they add flavor, you can have the veggies with two of the roasted birds for dinner.
2. Take your third bird and make chicken salad for lunches. I chose a curry chicken salad with cashews and cranberries.
3. Take your fourth bird to use for chicken & dumplings, a chicken pot pie or whatever else strikes your fancy. If you don’t use it, you can freeze it for later, or just use the meat for chicken sandwiches.
4. We’re all out of birds, but NO, we are NOT finished! If you have some leftover vegetables from the first meal, or a package of frozen veggies, place them on standby. Take the stock from the crockpot and any leftover bones, skins or the entire carcass and thrown them back in a pot. Add about 2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Reduce until you have a nice chicken stock, then drain out the undesirable items! You can use the stock for chicken & dumplings, chicken soup, veggie soup, ANY soup or stew, or you can freeze the stock in individual ice cube trays to use as seasonings.
5. You can always fry the liver and gizzards for dessert!

Bon a petit’!

Lacey's The Long and The Short Roasted Chicken

Here is the long and short of it: I've committed myself to getting healthier, losing weight, eating better, going to the gym, etc. This means that I get home later each night and attempting to cook a full on healthy dinner for a family of three so that we can eat before 7pm is next to impossible. It drives me crazy.

Recently I started preparing as much food as I could on the weekends in an effort to combat this feeling of "screw it, I am not cooking, fend for yourselves husband and three year old!" Sunday was no different, so I got to cooking...

The Long Chicken: I got out the chicken, rinsed it off, rubbed some evoo and spices all over it and took a look in the fridge to see what I could shove inside it for flavor and wrap around the outside for a whole meal. It took about 1/2 hour to prepare all this, not so bad.
(Sorry, I had WAY too much fun with text boxes in photobucket this week!)

salt and pepper inside the cavity
a whole apple cut in quarters
a lemon quartered
half an onion chopped up
couple garlic cloves

evoo, sea salt and herbs de provence rubbed generously over the skin
finger potatoes quartered
chopped carrots
chopped lemon
a whole thing of garlic because you knows I loves gaaahlic. On anything.
A drizzle of evoo over the veggies

Put lid or tinfoil over it, bake in oven on 350 for 45 minutes. Take lid off and let brown. YOu can use a thermometer to make sure chicken is thoroughly cooked, but I chose to throw fate in the wind and took it out at an hour. It was juicy goodness, so we ate. And I smeared garlic on bread and the chicken. Then we put the rest of it in some tupperware and shoved it in the refridgerator for later.

Here is where it gets all tricky. I had dreams of roasting tomatillos and making chicken spinach enchiladas with tomatillo sauce. But I live in Oregon, and we are in month 1.5 of the 6 month rainy season, so there was no grilling anything on the bbq. Except maybe the every constant drizzle, or downpour, depending on the day.

Come Wednesday night the tomatillos were still in the fridge, I was all sweaty from the gym and tired and did. not. want. to. cook. Hence, The Short Chicken (aka - left overs). I literally dumped out all the chicken, potatoes, garlic, onion and carrots onto a platter, and heated it in the microwave. The broth was all apply and lemony and oniony and great poured over the chicken and veggies.
While my husband really liked the addition of the apple into the mix, this was a new venture, I am not too sure about it. It competed way too much with my friend Lemon.

And there you have it. Sure you could make chicken spinach tomatillo enchiladas and be all fancy, but who has the time when you are busting your lady humps at the gym every night!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Nikki's Banana Nut Oatmeal Custard MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM

I love oatmeal. It brings back memories of Saturday mornings with Mom, she'd fix us big bowls of oats, doused in whole milk and smothered in brown sugar, and served with a peice of buttered toast.

To this day that is by far my favorite way to eat it, however trying to eat healthier tends to put the nix on milk & sugar smothered anything so I've been attempting to branch out. A few months ago one of the chicks (Kim I think) found a recipe for an oatmeal custard (and while we love to credit blogs that we see cool things on I'm afraid I can't remember where this one came from!!) where the blogger had stirred an egg into her oats and declared her obsession with the rich custardy flavor the egg adds. Over the holidays I was looking for easy to make, filling things I could have at breakfast, that my nephews would eat too (they come to my house in the mornings before school), that would apease my sweet tooth and keep my cravings at bay in the face of all the Christmas goodies at the office. In my experimentations I've thrown in everything from banana's to appleasauce to frozen strawberries and by far my favorite so far is banana nut.

1/3 cup milk
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup liquid eggwhites (eggbeaters or 1 whole egg work good too, but if you use a whole egg dont stir it in until the end or you'll have scrambled eggs in your oats!)
1/2 a banana diced
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup quaker oats (quick cook or old fashioned)
1 tbs chopped walnuts
1 tsp cinnamon (plus a little more to sprinkle on top!)
1 packet of stevia (or sweetener of your choice)

Combine all of your ingrediants in a saucepan and cover. Cook on medium-high heat until oats just begin to boil (stir a couple times to keep milk from settling on the bottom and scalding!). Remove lid and reduce to simmer, stiring until thickened. Sprinkle a little extra cinnamon on top and enjoy!

(p.s. check out my pretty new dishes!!!)

I really can't say enough about how great this dish is, super easy, can be made in bulk in advance and nuked for a minute which is great for mornings when I'm running late and dont eat until I get to the office. This WILL keep you full until lunch, I am a hardcore snacker and I didnt even think about food until about 11am after eating this at 6:30am (usually I'd be rumaging in my desk for lonely lost chocolate bars by 9!).

Now lets break this down for you so you can see how seriously good for you this meal is!
Protein: 18 grams
Fiber: 7 grams
*Fiber & Protein are GREAT for helping you to feel fuller, longer*
Calcium: 14 grams
Iron: 12 grams
Potassium: 536 grams
*Potassium has been shown to reduce the risk of hypertension & stroke as well as aiding the body in healing muscle damage which will help you recover from your workouts!*
Fat: 10 grams
*which sounds like a lot but most of it is coming from the walnuts, the fat in walnuts is nearly 75% polyunsaturated fat which is helps lower cholesterol*
Calories: 340
*if this number scares you, drop it to 311 and cut 2 grams of fat by switching to skim milk, and reducing the milk & egg to 1/4 cup, and increasing the water to 1/2 cup*

Plus: studies have shown that cinnamon can help regulate blood sugar levels in diabetics as well as lowering cholesterol!

Melissa's Cheer"ies" to Oatmeal

Oatmeal. I am one of the few Americans who did NOT grow up with this as a staple. I was strictly a grits (Girls. Raised. In. The. South.!) girl. When I got married my husband, who WAS a Child of Oatmeal, thought it sheer blasphemy that not only did I NOT prepare this for breakfast, but thought it was totally and utterly….DISGUSTING! Even with pleading his case, oatmeal was not allowed in my kitchen or on my table until several years later.
When I began my weight loss journey and learned what a powerful food oatmeal could be, I began a mission to acquire the taste for oatmeal. I decided that if I could convince myself that raw fish was a delicious delicacy and red wine was to be adored, I could, I WOULD, find a way to love oatmeal. Having finally made the decision, I began the long, long road to oatmeal respect.

This was not going to be easy I decided. It did not have the “trendyness” of raw fish, nor the buzz of red wine. Hmmm. Why should I like this? What DID it have again? I asked my husband what his choice would be and he promptly answered Quaker instant oatmeal with cinnamon and apples. Yum, I thought. I like cinnamon. I like apples. And soon I found that not only did I really like these things, but how much I REALLY, TRULY HATED, HATED, HATED instant oatmeal! Can anyone say Wallpaper paste? Um, no thank you.

A few weeks went by and I decided to try again after reading yet another report touting the benefits of oatmeal. I called an oatmeal connoisseur friend and asked many questions. It was then I learned of steel cut oats. After much trial and error which included an oatmeal implosion in my microwave and an hour long cleaning frenzy of my kitchen ceiling, (I’ll spare you the remaining details and leave those up to your imagination), I FINALLY found a way to not only EAT oatmeal, but to ENJOY oatmeal. Maybe it was my taste buds finally giving in to what was being repeatedly forced upon them…..maybe it was my body relishing in the goodness I had provided it…maybe it was true love...ok not really. Whatever it was, it wasn’t bad. It wasn’t wallpaper pasty. Then again, it wasn’t the best thing that ever crossed my lips either. What it is though, is a way I can eat the stuff that’s not bad. A way in fact I do not have to force myself to swallow. So, here’s the recipe for non-pasty, adequate oatmeal with a decent cherry flavor. That’s all I got to offer yall on oatmeal.
Cherry Almond Oatmeal
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup steel cut oats
3 cups boiling water
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon low-fat buttermilk
1 tablespoon cherry butter
1/8 cup dried cherries
1 tsp. almond extract

In a large saucepot, melt the butters and add the oats. Stir for 2 minutes to toast. Add the boiling water and reduce heat to a simmer. Keep at a low simmer for 25 minutes, without stirring.

Combine the milk and half of the buttermilk with the oatmeal. Stir gently to combine and cook for an additional 10 minutes. Add the almond extract. Spoon into a serving bowl and top with remaining buttermilk and dried cherries.