Wednesday, September 29, 2010

...more about broth and tonights dinner

The veggie broth made 14 cups of broth. I ended up blending some of the veggies, so my chicken and veggie broths are not clear but smell delicious and I think they are packed full of flavor, I cant wait to taste a meal using them.

I found beef bones for the broth. They carry them at most stores in the meat section. Mine were wrapped up just like any other piece of meat. So I bought them and took them home and they are now cooking away along with some veggies. The recipe says to let cool then strain the fat off after it congeals and pick the veggies and bones out. I wonder if it will be easier to get the fat out with the bones already I may strain it before I let it cool. Ill keep ya posted on how that turns out tomorrow.

Dinner tonight was my own creation. Using my 4quart crock, I cooked enough rice for 4 people, I used a spanish rice. I also added about a half a cup of salsa. After the rice was mostly cooked (took about an hour on high, in the crock pot) I added a can of drained black beans and the chicken.I took the chicken from carcass I used for the chicken broth. Then I let it sit on low until we were ready to eat, about 3 hours. It was a big hit...I dont think my husband even really enjoyed the flavor as he inhaled them. Our dinner guests really liked the tacos. (you can use corn tortillas or rice tortillas over wheat to make the meal Gluten free) The filling can be eaten by itself with a little sour cream and cheese, YUM!!! The chicken was already tender from the first cooking, and was so tender and flavorful after sitting in the spanish rice, black bean combo for hours. This made a lot and I will freeze some and we will be enjoying it this week for lunches.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

On to Veggie broth

So I finished the Chicken broth. It looks way different than the kind you make from those little cubes. It smells amazing and I cant wait to taste it in a meal! It made 7 cups and I could have added water to probably make up to 10 cups but want to try it as is, it may be too rich or just right, we will see. I will post a picture soon. I should have taken pics through the whole process but didnt think of it till I got to the freezer with the bags. I would put the bones in a bag, like cheese cloth next time to make it easy to take out next time. The recipe I used asked you to blend all the veggies when you were done and add it to the broth. Well you have to pick the bones some of those chicken bones are tiny. I think one or two cheese cloth bags would do just fine to hold the bones in. Ill try it the next time I make chicken broth.
One of the chicken broth baggies

Here are the veggies before. Note my lack of counter space!
All in the pot
As for the veggie broth that has been fun. I got a little carried away with the amount I put in the pot and lucky for me as it has cooked down it has fit nicely. I used carrots, celery, onion, green onion, cabbage, and leeks. I think mushrooms would fit nice but didnt think of it till now so that ill try next time. I also used basil, thyme, bay leaves and parsley. That recipe says to drain the veggies and compost them but I am thinking of blending them like I did for the chicken broth. I will see what it looks like when I am done, I may try a small batch with the blended veggies added and one without to see what I like.

My Ulu
One other thing I used was an Ulu. It is a knife I got in Alaska. It is an amazing chopper and has saved me a lot of time. I still need to find some beef bones for the beef broth, I think Ill go ask a couple butchers tomorrow. If you have any tips for bases and broths please pass them on. After my broths are done I will make some cream of mushroom soup. I use it a lot and think that making it from scratch will help us to eat healthier. The thing I love most about these broths is that I know what is in them and know they are healthy. I think all this fresh food is going to raise our energy levels and drop the pounds. I am hoping my running will get a boost from all this healthy food!

Monday, September 27, 2010

On our way to broth

So my Whole Chicken is done! It was so tender and literally fell right off the bone. As it was cooling, so I could touch it, Hubs started sniffing around and asked what that yummy smell was. He also learned that the lid to the crockpot gets hot. Yes I replied, 8 hours of heat will do that to a lid ;) I took all the bones out and put them in a bowl then took all the chicken out and put it in a storage container for later (for my chicken tacos). I also took any pieces that I didnt like the look of and put them in the bone bowl. I left the juices in the crock and then added the bones back into the crock and the rest of the ingredients. It is set on low and in the morning it will be ready, well almost. It has to cool and I have to pick the bones out aka the carcass (what a weird word). Then I will blend whats left into yummy brothiness! I am sure that I will never use those little dehydrated broth cubes again. The smell of the homemade broth is so yummy.

How I started

So when I got married, I had to have a crockpot....this was 7 years ago and that is probably the number of times I have used it. I actually have two. I have a 6qt and a 4qt. I keep hearing how easy it is to use these electric pots of wonder but still have never taken the advantage of mine. I have also heard they are a must for the busy person and can save a freezer burnt piece of meat. I can fill both of those bills. I have a 2.5 year old and a 10 week old. I also have a busy hubbs who is in the AF and works a lot. He also is going to have shoulder surgery in a few weeks so his help will severely decrease. I am also working on my Masters degree in early childhood education. We also have lots of meat in the freezer including fish, which you can cook in the crock pot. Oh and I hate doing dishes, without the convenience of a dishwasher, I hate them even more. So using this device should take care of all my woes....or so I hope.

Now how do you start? Well what I did was go through my freezer and pantry and write down everything that was in there and how much. This way I can meal plan using what I have as much as possible. Then I picked a cook book. I am using Make It Fast, Cook It Slow by Stephanie O'Dea. She used her crock-pot everyday for a whole year and you can see her trials at I chose this book mainly because the recipes are gluten-free and because the recipes are well written and I love that she has a verdict at the end of most of the recipes from her family.

I am starting this journey by making some bases. I am making chicken broth, beef broth, veggie broth and cream of mushroom soup all from scratch in the crock pot and freezing them in 2 cup portions. Most of the recipes you will find call for some sort of broth so why not know exactly what is in the broth and what is going into your families bodies.

Today is day 1 and I am making a whole chicken in the crock pot. I will save the carcass for the broth, which I will start tonight after the whole chicken is done. The broth can be made using this recipe found on Stephanie's blog or in her book. Tomorrow I will finish the broth (it is a two day process) and then start on the veggie broth. I have to find some beef bones or soup bones to make beef broth so that will wait till later this week. The veggie broth can be found here. Stephanie did not have it on her blog so I found another site I liked. This page also has other variations for beef and chicken stocks.

What am I feeding the family while I make these bases? Well I had frozen some lasagnas in the freezer and we have one left. They will feed us for at least 4 days so we will live off that till I can get started. Oh and what am I doing with the chicken from the whole chicken....I am using it for chicken tacos, ill modify the recipe since it is already cooked. When I get my meals planned out I will post a calendar and let  you know the recipes and how they turn out. If you are like me you are nervous about screwing this up but I think that it will be near impossible to mess this up, we shall see.

Thank you for reading and hope you start using your crock pot too!!!