Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Re-Invent

I have been doing a lot of cooking again now that the holidays are packed up for a year(well the tree is still up, but only because it literally has been to cold to walk it to the trash!). And last week, I was able to stretch one WHOLE ROASTER CHICKEN in to 4 separate meals. I’m pretty proud of that! Here’s how I did it:

1. I made this Moroccan roasted chicken from a Williams Sonoma Cookbook. All you do is make a paste with some olive oil and spices, and run it on the bird and bake it. We roasted the chicken with cauliflower, red onion and sweet potato. Seems like an old vegetable combo, but it works!!! Trust me!

2. We has so much left over chicken, and we also freeze that extra container of rice they give you with Chinese food, so I thawed on out, cut up the extra chicken, and made THE BEST chicken fried rice ever. I’ll post the recipe next blog.

3. Think again before throwing out that carcass- there’s chicken stock to be made! And this stock has the subtle flavor of the Moroccan spices in it, so there is a ton of depth. I used some of the broth for a butternut squash stuffing the recipe called for.

4. There was lots of stock left over. I could have frozen it for a later date, but the weather was sooooo cold, chicken soup was a must. I had baked some chicken breasts, and sautéed some veggies and in an hour- soup!

In the end, all of these dished took, at most, 30 minutes to prepare for. And many of the ingredients were basic staples in the home- garlic, onion, carrots, celery, salt, pepper, spices, etc. I won’t say this happens every week, and that a little thinking ahead didn’t happen, but this can work with all sorts of things- pasta, sauces, casseroles…endless possibilities! Here’s my advice- start with a dish you REALLY want…and then go from there. Satisfying the urge to eat what you really want first, so that everything else is like a bonus.

I have realized from my eating changes that when you force yourself to like something, you’ll never like it. So if it’s chicken park you want, make that sauce! But bread the chicken in almond flour, or even ground oats. USe spaghetti squash instead of pasta. The reason you like that dish so much anyway is the sauce- it’s the strongest flavor of the dish. So cut 500 calories out of the rest of it- I swear you won’t taste the difference!

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White Bean and Escarole Soup

Day 5- Hanging tough! First day back at work, and dreaming of spring break already… cuz Baby It’s COLD Outside!!!!!!

What wouldn’t be better than a hot soup and some crusty bread? Well, I’ll just be having hot soup…

White Bean and Escarole Soup

1- yellow onion with a coarse chop

2- heads escarole loosely chopped

2- cans while cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

2- cloves of garlic smashed

8- cups of beef or chicken broth**

1-2 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp red pepper flakes

1-2 parmesan cheese rinds (can be purchased at supermarket)

salt and pepper to taste

1. Coat the bottom of a large pot with olive oil and turn heat to medium.

2. Add onion and red pepper flakes and saute until the onion is translucent.

3. Add escarole and let escarole wilt down, but still remain that bright green color

4. When the escarole is wilted, but still is bright green, quickly add the stock.

5. Add two cans of cannellini beans.

6. Add the parmesan rinds, but be careful about adding salt, since the rinds will eventually release salt( I add salt toward the end for that reason).

7. Bring to a boil and then reduce to simmer for about 45min to an hour.

8. Sprinkle fresh parmesan cheese on top and serve with crusty bread.

*There’s a few modifications you could add if you want. like small turkey meatballs or even a can of diced tomatoes.

** A quick and easy broth is to throw some chicken bones or necks into a pot with some celery, carrots, onion, parsnip and parsley. Boil for an hour or so.

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Mussels in Coconut Thai Broth

Growing up in North Jersey, most of my food influences are Italian. Having to eliminate tomatoes and garlic for a minimum of two weeks (maybe forever), I am finding it REALLY hard to cook. And when I saw mussels on sale at the supermarket for nearly nothing (and wild caught might I add!), I HAD to get them…and then I had to get creative.

I had to think of a broth that doesn’t have garlic and still pop. For some reason, I can’t stop thinking of these coconut thai duck wings Mike and I had on our honeymoon. Just like buffalo wings, only duck and tossed in a coconut curry sauce. UGH! I’m salivating just thinking about them!!!!! Anyway, I thought I could do a Thai broth- and that made me think of that recipe I posted earlier from Cooking Light Magazine for a Thai Coconut Chicken Soup. So I took some of the components of that recipe to create something that would suite my needs.

And I wish I could bring this to dinner tonight. I’m going out for dinner to ring in the New Year and it’s my first time going out to eat with my new restrictions. I feel embarrassed that I’m going to have to be picky to the waiter, and draw attention to myself like that. Lucky, I could review the menu online to see if there were any meals that i could order. Thankfully, there are 3-4, but I still have to make sure there isn’t flour, corn syrup or garlic in them. My hope is that I don’t have to ask for plain chicken and vegetables- that will suck royally. At least eating home I know I’m safe. I really sympathize with the kids at school who have those killer allergies. Mine just give me tummy troubles. Anyway, back to the mussels…

Mussels in Coconut Thai Broth

2 tbsp. olive oil

1/2 cup chopped onion

1/2 cup chopped red pepper

1/2 cup chopped mushroom

1 tbsp. minced ginger

2 tsp.  sambal oelek (ground fresh chile paste)

2 tsp. fish sauce

1 cup chicken stock

1 cup coconut milk

1 stalk of lemon grass sliced in half

2 lbs. mussels (about 3 dozen scrubbed clean)

1. In a deep sided saute pan, Saute onions, peppers, mushrooms and ginger in olive oil for about 5-7 minutes.

2. Add samba oelek and fish sauce and cook for about 1-2 minutes

3. Add stock and milk and bring to a boil. Add lemon grass and simmer for about 10 minutes.

4. Bring back up to a boil and add mussels. Cover pot with lid and cook until all mussel open. About 5-10 minutes. Discard any mussels that don’t open.

5. Serve mussels in a soup bowl and pour broth over mussels. Serve with crusty bread (or my rice bread!).

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