Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Economy Meals: Chicken Two Ways

     I hope that everyone had a very merry Christmas and holiday season. My family was blessed with a wonderful, if exhausting, holiday. Now that the hustle and bustle (and expense) of the holiday season is over I've been turning to some easy, cheap, and comforting dishes to cook. Since it's pretty inexpensive to buy a whole chicken, I like to keep one on hand in my freezer chest. Whole chickens are a great way to stretch your dollar, as you can often make one bird go for two meals. Here are two recipes using one chicken: Roasted Chicken and Potatoes & Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup. Last night I roasted a chicken for dinner, and tonight I'm making the soup.

Roasted Chicken and Schmaltzy Potatoes
Ingredients:
  • 1 whole chicken, thawed with packet removed from the inside
  • 4 large red potatoes
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • Weber Cajun seasoning
  • roasting pan
     Remove your chicken from its wrapper and pat dry. Place in a roasting pan. Let it sit in your fridge for about an hour to allow the skin time to dry. About 45 mins before you plan to pop it in the oven remove it from the fridge and let it sit at room temperature. You don't want to cook a cold, soggy chicken. You won't get yummy crisp skin that way. Always dry your bird and allow it to come somewhat to room temperature.
     While your chicken is sitting, thinly slice your red potatoes and put them into a large bowl. Lightly toss them in olive oil, and then add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside until you're about to put your chicken in the oven. Preheat your oven to 300 degrees.
     Once your oven is ready to go it's time to remove your bird from the roasting pan and set on a plate or cutting board. Take your seasoned red potatoes and layer them on the bottom of the pan in order to cover just the surface area that your chicken takes up. Think of it like a bed of potatoes for your chicken. You only want to put the potatoes where the chicken will be, but it's okay if the potatoes peek out from under the bird. It doesn't have to be exact. 
     Next, place your chicken on top of its bed of potatoes. Lightly drizzle your chicken with olive oil and rub it in all over the bird. Next, sprinkle some of the Weber Cajun seasoning all over the bird, and rub that in also. Do this to taste; you may also add additional salt and pepper to taste. 
     Place your uncovered roasting pan in the oven and let it roast for three hours at 300 degrees. Low and slow cooking will give you a beautifully roasted bird. When the three hours is up, remove your pan from the oven and allow the chicken to rest for at least five minutes before you check it with a meat thermometer to ensure it's done. Carve up your chicken, and serve it with the potatoes that cooked underneath your bird. They will have slowly roasted and soaked up all that amazing schmaltz from your chicken. Trust me, it's delicious. If you want more tips on roasting chickens check out this Bon Appetit article.

Now, this is important. After your family has enjoyed its wonderful roast chicken dinner, save any leftover chicken AND the carcass. DO NOT throw away the bones and/or skin and meat left on them. They will be used in your second day recipe, which could be:

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup
Ingredients:
  • leftover roasted chicken and carcass
  • 4 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 4 celery stalks, sliced thinly
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 1/2 tsp minced garlic
  • olive oil
  • 3 chicken bullion cubes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • noodles of choice (I usually use egg noodles)
  • 12 cups of water
  • salt & pepper to taste
     In a large soup pot or dutch oven heat 2-3 tbs olive oil over medium-high heat. Add in your diced veggies and cook until they become tender, adding garlic in the last 2-3 mins. Do not add the garlic when you add the carrots, celery, and onion to avoid scorching your garlic. After your garlic has been in your pot for a few minutes add your water, bay leaves, and your leftover chicken & carcass. Bring to a boil, and once you've reached a boil reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 2 hours.
     After the two hours has elapsed, remove your chicken carcass & bay leaves from the pot and turn off heat. Once your carcass has cooled, pick it clean. Return your meat to your soup pot and discard all bones, cartilage, and skin along with your used bay leaves. Add your bullion cubes and salt & pepper to your soup and bring to a boil. 
     Once your soup is boiling add in your noodles. I don't specify an amount because I know some people like lots of noodles and some people do not. Add in how every many noodles of whatever type you desire and cook them for as long as it says on the package directions. Alternatively, you could reduce your heat to a simmer and cook your noodles for about half an hour, or until done. Once your noodles are cooked your soup is ready to enjoy. Add a nice side salad and some crusty French bread or biscuits to make this a warming, homey meal.

Friday, December 16, 2016

My $50 Ulta Haul

When you combine $50 in Christmas money and a 20% off your entire purchase coupon, magic can happen. My Nana sent our family $50 each for Christmas (thank you again Nana!). I spent most of the morning shopping on Ulta.com and I finally found what I wanted to get. Ulta products were buy 2 get 2 free, so I felt like I did pretty well making my $50 go the distance. Here's my Ulta haul:



I scored 1 pack of Biore charcoal strips, an Ulta blush brush, an Ulta highlighting brush, a dual-ended Ulta contouring/strobing brush, an Ulta concealer palette, and the Ulta Brilliantly Beautiful Color Essential collection in bronze. All for $50 and free shipping! This girl cannot wait to play around with my new makeup. I've never contoured in my life, and I've decided to try and see how I do now that I have my new brushes. Hopefully it isn't too ghastly, and if it is I'm sure the kids won't care. 

Sunday, December 4, 2016

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas

I hope that everyone is kicking off their holiday season in style. Whichever holiday you celebrate, I wish you a happy holiday. In my house we're in the Advent season in anticipation for Christmas. We spent the Thanksgiving holiday with my in-laws, and my kids had a blast. As a military family, we don't get to see our extended family nearly as much as we would like to. Due to this separation it's doubly as sweet and exciting when we do get to see them. We capped off our visit with family with a trip to Branson, MO to ride the Polar Express. It was a wonderful experience for the whole family and my kids were thrilled. It was a bit costly, but I'm so glad we went.
                           
My mother-in-law took us to the square in downtown Fayetteville for Lights on the Square. There were food vendors and pony/camel (?)/carriage rides. Ever seen a Christmas Camel? We have. Liam called the ponies Christmas donkeys. 

                         

On the Polar Express we were read the book, given hot cocoa and cookies (after a very snappy dance number), were hailed by characters from the book, got a ride through a Festival of Lights, and to top it all off Santa himself came aboard to give everyone a Christmas bell. 

Today we're hoping to finish putting up decorations in the house, and as soon as I get a tree skirt our Christmas tree will be complete. So from my family to yours, we're wishing you a merry Christmas.