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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CulinAriane

I have been trying to get to this restaurant for a couple years. When it first opened, we tried to make a reservation for a couple days ahead and were told you had to book one weeks in advance! Weeks!?!? So no go…

Then, it turns out, I am someone you have to book weeks in advance with too. I don’t know how this started to happen. I guess marriage does that to a person. I don’t know I like that so much- the business, not the marriage part. I guess that would be another blog altogether. So when I insisted that Michael was taking me here finally for my birthday, he made sure to book waaaaay in advance!

Anyway, CulinAriane, for those of you who don’t know this, is owned and operated by Ariane Duarte. She was a contestant on Top Chef Season 5. It was probably the most watched series and produced the most ‘celebrified’ (is that a word?) group of up and coming chefs. Ariane made it pretty far too. She was voted off episode 8 of 14. Not bad! And she won two challenges!

I don’t know why I get so anxious about dining in fancy restaurants. Maybe it’s because of the class of people I think dine there. Restaurants like this are a ‘not all the time’ experience, mainly because our wallets hate good food. I look around and think that everyone in the place treats this restaurant like a diner or something. Meanwhile, I’m savoring EVERY morsel. I guess it’s like buying a Coach Bag- you know you can spend the money on other things, like bills, but you treat yourself every now and then. All the time knowing there are woman who think Coach is the McDonalds of purses or something.

WHAT AM I RAMBLING ABOUT?!?!?!?!

Decor- 3.5 Taste Buds

There really isn’t anything frilly about this place. Prehaps on purpose? Because you really don’t need any of frills for a good meal. Just a good meal. The tables are white linen. There’s a few italian inspired paintings on the wall. Even the sign outside is pretty average. Nothing visual screams GOURMET about this place. However, it wasn’t until dessert that I noticed something really neat- this sugar bowl.

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I was so intrigued, I had to ask the manager about it. It turns out, the chefs were in the restaurant business and have quite a collection of vintage pieces. Most of these items come from the turn of the century. Seeing this sugar bowl reminded me of my Nana. She would have something like this in her home. A bunch of Victorian utensils that had only one use. Very Dowton Abbey!

Service- 5 Tastebuds

It goes without saying that at a place like this, you’re going to get amazing service. And that we got! The staff is well versed on every part of the menu and specials. She probably makes them all eat everything too, so they can attest. But the thing that blew my mind away was that I quietly mentioned something about gluten, not even saying I was allergic, and when he brought out our bread, he gave me gluten free bread!!!!! Waiter, I love you!

The manager ( suspect her husband) came and greeted us, wishing me a happy birthday at the end of the meal. He’s the one that told us about the special serving pieces on the tables. He was very kind, generally caring about what our thoughts on the meal were.

Food- 5+ Tastebuds

Let me start off by saying, this was the best meal I’ve had in a really long time. I know that many of you praise me for my cooking skills, but I would be nothing more than a grain of sand in Ariane’s Ocean when it comes to her meals. We ordered a special appetizer- a mango citrus shrimp ceviché. It was a perfect way to start spring (technically, but NJ is still a winter box). It was refreshing to say the least. For dinner I ordered the sea scallops with wild mushrooms. Might I mention that 75% of the menu is gluten free??? Well, I just did. And it’s kind of surprising, since she has Italian influence in her cooking. I will admit I’m kinda bummed I can’t partake in any of her pasta meals. I was secretly hoping Mike would get a pasta dish, so I at least could have a bite… However, I was MORE than pleased with my meal. The scallops were HUGE and the mushrooms were earthy and rich- one would not think you could get full on such a meal. Well, I did. I had to force myself to finish it!

Mike ordered the half chicken and ricotta gnudi (really large gnocchi). I didn’t quite get it at first, but they were gnocchi made from ricotta cheese and spinach! So good! Interesting! His chicken was cooked Coq au Vin with a side of mushrooms. He adored the meal.

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For dessert I had the Gluten-free Chocolate Peanut Salted Caramel Ice Cream Sandwich. It was to die for!!! Mike was totally jealous!

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Overall, I would DEFINITELY recommend this place to anyone. It caters to everyone and every diet. And here’s what I’m most impressed with: SHE STILL DOES THE COOKING! Many of these restaurants have their head chefs on book tours or publicity tours. Not Ariane- she’s in the back sweating it out. Knowing my meal was cooked by her means more than saying I ate there. That’s important to me- I can duplicate any recipe myself, but the taste the love that went into the food makes it worth its weight in gold…

http://culinariane.com