Monthly Archives: May 2010

Healthy Living Kids & Family Real Food Recipes

Roasted Chicken with Tomato Cream Sauce and Vegetables

www.mypicshares.com
Last week, I wanted to make something with chicken that was a little out of the ordinary; something special. We prepare a roast chicken sometimes once a week (budget allowing) and use the meat for at least two meals, and then cook the carcass for broth and soup. This time, I happened to have a whole breast instead of an entire bird from the farm where I buy chicken.

All I could think about was Italian. I started asking my son if he wanted Mexican or Italian, and described how I might prepare it if I went Italian. He definitely wanted Italian too. So I made up my mind I’d make a tomato cream sauce to go with it.

The bouquet of tomatoes and garlic with basil sauteeing in olive oil is intoxicating, and it becomes even more so when your preparation becomes soft and can be added to the cream sauce mixture. The delicate aromas of cream and tomato go exquisitely together with the pungent, yet savory smell of garlic and basil.

My husband is a great cook, and he and I prepared the cream sauce together so it would turn out perfect. :)  Everything we made was pretty much impromptu. I’m not one for planning or getting things done ahead of time. I put the chicken in the oven and set the timer for one hour. Then we waited until about a half an hour before the chicken would be finished to start the cream sauce. The results were fantastic and it was easy!

Ingredients, cream sauce:

  • 2 cloves minced fresh garlic
  • 4 – 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup chicken broth/stock
  • 2 tablespoons cream or sour cream
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • chopped tomatoes – 2 – 3 depending on the size and how much tomato taste you want
  • chopped fresh basil – we used about 10 leaves

Roasting chicken:

  • roasted chicken – you can use a whole chicken or parts; we used a whole breast with bones and skin (don’t forget to save the carcass for broth and chicken fat for other cooking projects when your chicken is done cooking!)
  • rosemary, dried – 1/2 teaspoon
  • oregano – 1/2 teaspoon
  • basil – 1/2 teaspoon
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • coconut oil, two tablespoons or more if desired – melted and poured over the chicken to bake
  • rice pasta (optional), or you could use rice

Vegetables:

  • Your choice – we used diced zucchini and green beans
  • butter or ghee for vegetables

Directions for preparing the chicken:

  1. Gently melt coconut oil on the stove.
  2. Prepare your chicken for baking – use a baking dish that is the appropriate size for your chicken. If you are baking a whole chicken, you can use a baking dish, dutch oven, or piece of parchment paper spread over a cookie sheet. This is how we roast our chicken. I normally bake my chicken on 350 degrees in the oven.
  3. Pour coconut oil on the chicken and then sprinkle your seasonings on top. Place your chicken in the oven and bake for 45 minutes to an hour if you have large pieces such as a whole breast. If you have a whole chicken, bake approximately 20 minutes per pound. You can cover your chicken toward the end if the top starts to become too brown.

Directions for cream sauce (with rue):

  1. When your chicken is approximately 1/2 hour from being finished cooking, start the cream sauce and cut up your vegetables for steaming. Heat olive oil in a medium frying pan up to medium heat (just before smoking). Begin to sautee minced garlic, tomatoes and basil. Sprinkle salt and pepper while cooking. Sautee until your mixture has become a mush (sauce). Turn to low heat.
  2. Now you are ready for the rue. In a small pot, melt 2 tablespoons of butter on medium-low heat. Gently stir in sprouted flour until you have a paste, the same consistency of pancake batter. Gently add in a cup of chicken stock, and keep stirring until mixed well.  Stir in a pinch of salt and pepper.
  3. Gently stir in a half a cup of whole milk. Keep stirring until milk has warmed. Gently stir in two tablespoons of fresh sour cream until warm.
  4. Gently stir in olive oil, tomatoes, and basil mixture with the rue ingredients. Keep on medium low. Bring it to the point where it is just barely steaming while stirring constantly but slowly. Do not allow it to settle or burn. You might see a bubble or two of milk – this is when you want to bring the heat down, and leave the pan uncovered. Allow it to sit this way on low heat for about 10 minutes. Stir occasionally until serving and keep on low heat.

Vegetables:

Depending on what you use, you can steam or sautee your vegetables, or prepare them in some other way. We steamed our vegetables for this recipe and added butter at the end. I chopped up a whole small zucchini squash ahead of time and set aside. When I was ready to cook the vegetables (about 10 minutes before the chicken was finished), I used a small pot with a steamer and boiled some water. Then I added some frozen green beans from a local farm and the chopped zucchini. I steamed them for about 7 minutes and then added butter at the end.

Directions for pasta or rice:

If you choose to prepare pasta or rice, you will want to start these items ahead of your other meal items.

Rice:

You will need 40-50 minutes of cooking time on the stove after you bring the water to a boil. I use approximately 2 cups water to 1 cup rice. Brown rice needs longer cooking time than white, and we always use brown rice. I add a bit of sea salt and a slice of real butter to my rice water for flavor and to keep the rice from sticking together.

Pasta:

  1. Prepare about 15 minutes before chicken and sauce are finished.
  2. Fill a stockpot with water and bring to a boil on high heat.
  3. Add a teaspoon of olive oil and 1 teaspoon of salt.
  4. Bring to a boil on high heat.
  5. Add pasta – anywhere from 10 – 16 ounces, depending on how many people you are serving.
  6. Stir and separate pasta quickly to avoid it sticking together.
  7. Allow pasta to boil for a minute and then turn it down to low. Cover.
  8. Stir occasionally while simmering for about 10 minutes.
  9. Test pasta to make sure it is at the right consistency and then drain water promptly. If pasta is left in the water even a few seconds too long, it can become soggy.

When all your food items are ready, serve chicken and vegetables on plates and pour the luscious tomato cream sauce on top. Garnish with basil leaves and shredded parmesan or asiago cheese if desired (it’s so good that way!).
This post is part of GNOWFGLINS Tuesday Twister Carnival and A Moderate Life’s Two for Tuesdays Recipe Carnival. Please visit Wardeh’s and Alex’s sites and see the other great recipes listed there.

Activism Green Living Healthy Meat Kids & Family Real Food

Waste Not, Want Not: Tips for Saving in The Kitchen

www.mypicshares.com

Do you ever wonder how people eat healthy and save money? There are many ways to cut corners and make food last longer, thus saving a few bucks.

One way is to waste nothing (or as little as possible). I’ve noticed that the less I waste, the longer my food lasts and the fewer trips I make to the store or the farm. It’s a pretty reliable system.

Here are just a few of money-saving tips I’ve learned over time and through trial and error:

Find a home for leftover meats. Omelets, soups, stews, casseroles, stir frys, rice dishes…endless possibilities.

Save leftover vegetables. These can also go in many foods like omelets, soups, casseroles, and stir frys.

Use the carcass. Chicken carcasses are great for soups and broths.

Keep bones. Bones are good for soups and broths. I save my meat bones every time we have a meal and put them in a container in my freezer.

Save fat. We keep bacon drippings in a jar to use with all kinds of cooking – vegetables, garlic, onions, scrambled eggs, even to cook with other meats. But my favorite way to use it is to make refried beans. Yum!! There are so many other possibilities with leftover fats – again, soups, stews, casseroles, sautees, stir frying, etc.

Have a few meatless meals. Instead of using meat with every meal, use bone broths, cheese, butter, and other dairy, olive oil, coconut oil, or even cook your rice and vegetables in lard or tallow for your healthy fats and loads of flavor.

Freeze anything you can’t use right away. If you make a large meal that has leftovers and you know you won’t be able to eat it in the next day or two, freeze it.

Make your own salad dressing. A bottle of salad dressing from the store costs anywhere from $1.99 and up, more for the “healthier” brands. I’m here to tell you that most of the brands on the market are not healthy, even the “organic” and natural brands because most of them contain vegetable oils = bad. And that $1.99 brand will cost you more down the road in chronic health problems.

Do yourself a favor and buy a bottle of olive oil, and a bottle of balsamic and red wine, or whatever your favorite vinegars might be. Mix these together in a 3 to 1 ratio (olive oil to vinegar), throw in some salt, pepper, spices, and you have a delicious salad dressing that is good for you. You can add many other ingredients to salad dressings. Get creative. Here is my home-made salad dressing recipe link. There’s even one there for home-made ranch dressing!

Use sour raw milk. This is a fantastic and versatile health food! Make yogurt or kefir, buttermilk or cream cheese, smoothies, and use in cooking – think pancakes, hot cereal, or mashed potatoes.

Buy in season. Buying in season guarantees a lower price. Foods that are not in season and that have to be shipped in are more expensive in more ways than one.

Buy local and buy direct. Local products are often cheaper because there are no transportation or other associated costs for the farmer/merchant. You may have to spend money on gas to go pick something up that is local, but you can plan your trips or carpool and make more than one stop on your way to other necessary obligations/tasks.

Cook from scratch. Anything you buy that’s already been prepared will cost more up front or on the back end (health problems later), or both. Here are some recipes for ideas.

Eat more nutrient-dense foods, and less junk. You will get full and stay that way longer, which will cut back on eating between meals and save money. If you are eating a lot of junk, you will be hungry more often, and have to keep eating more to get full – but you won’t be full, and your body will pay for it in the end.

Plan ahead and make lists. I don’t always do this, but when I do, I reap the benefits.

Consult the Dirty Dozen.  Although I always try to buy organic whenever I can, sometimes this is not possible. Find out which foods are best to buy organic, and which can be left to conventional selections if you are on a budget.

Plant a garden. If you grow your own food, the savings are substantial.

Grow and dry your own herbs. Wash them and shake them of moisture and dirt or insects that may have become trapped. You can bunch herbs together and secure with a tie, then hang them upside down for 1 – 3 weeks. Use care to tie the string securely around the herbs, but not too tightly which can cause broken stems. Best place to hang is in a dark, dry, well-ventilated area. Herbs are dry when they feel crumbly to the touch. You can also use a food dehydrator or oven (if you have a setting that goes down to 150 degrees). Wash, rinse and allow to dry thoroughly. When dry, place a parchment paper sheet in your dehydrator or oven. Place in the device of your choice for 40-45 minutes or until crumbly and dry. Make certain to spread well out and not overlap while drying. Store in an air-tight container, glass is best, or zippered plastic bag in a cool, dark place.

Buy whole foods, and buy in bulk when appropriate. Some bulk items are cheaper, but some are lower quality. Weigh those factors with whether to buy from bulk bins, frozen, fresh, or from the farm directly. A bag of prepared lettuce may seem more convenient, but a head of lettuce is usually cheaper and the savings on packaging is better on the environment.

Instead of toxic, costly cleaners, use vinegar to clean everything in your house. Use about 6 – 7 to 1 ratio of water to vinegar for cleaning. Walls, floors, counters, glass containers, bathrooms, sinks, toilets, and almost any surface you can think of.

Reuse containers. We have a bunch of glass containers and jars in our house that we’ve saved from products we’ve purchased, and they come in handy in many instances. My daily water container, for example, is a 32 ounce (liter) glass jar from unsweetened cranberry juices I buy. Use single-serving juice jars for drinks and baby food and small jars for lunches and to-go food packs. If you must use something disposable, use parchment or glass lids (plates turned upside down work too!), or paper bags. They are reusable, biodegradable, and better for health.

Throw all your organic matter into a compost bin. It’s amazing how fast you can create a wonderful, healthy pile of dirt for your garden by depositing your mustard and carrot greens, avocado peels, apple cores, coffee grounds, and egg shells into your compost bin.

Share with others. If you are going to pick up meat, milk, or produce from a local farm, find others in your area who also want to do this and share responsibility for pick up/delivery. We share our milk delivery with three other families, and thus only have to pick up milk once a month from the farm that is 30+ miles away.

Be willing to volunteer and you’ll reap benefits. A few years back, a woman who was selling locally-produced vegetables and fruits needed delivery drivers to take items around to subscribers on her CSA routes. I volunteered to be a driver to take produce crates around in my own neighborhood and in exchange I got a free crate of fruits/vegetables in return every week. I also made a new friend.  :)

More money saving tips:

Food budgets – using creativity and prioritizing for healthy eating

Proof that nourishing food doesn’t have to cost bundle, is nourishing, and satisfies!

Time and money saving tips – the real health and financial implications of food allergies

Eating healthy in a time of recession

Time and money saving tips – getting the most out of your vegetables

Want to know more about real food?

How well do you know your food? Find out!

What are your tricks and tips for saving in the kitchen? Please share!

This post is part of Food Renegade’s Fight Back Fridays Carnival. Please visit Kristen’s site and read all the other real food posts linked there.

What are your tricks and tips for saving in the kitchen? Please share!