31 January 2005

Too Much Chicken & Smashing (Celery) Mashers

Somehow, I ended up with a whole lot of leftover chicken. Last week, I'd thawed a bunch of boneless breasts for "Southwest Style Chicken," but ended up with more chicken parts than necessary. I'm never sure if I can refreeze something once it's thawed, so I baked the extras and made chicken salad. Even with the making of the chicken salad, I still had an extra couple breasts (teach me to not divvy up the "family size" packs before I freeze them).

Then, later in the week, I decided to thaw and roast a chicken and while it was very good, it was (again) too much chicken. Had no room in the fridge for the carcass (too many beverages) so picked off all the meat and binned the rest. Meaning, you know, no carcass for soup. And yet, all this chicken in the fridge. What to do?

Today, between university and work, I made a short-cut soup and prepped a casserole for The Husband to exercise his l337 oven skillz on.
Short-Cut Chicken Soup

2 envelopes Knorr Spring Vegetable
10 c water
3 carrots, thickly sliced
2 celery stalks, thinkly sliced
3 c leftover chicken, chopped

Combine all ingredients in a French/Dutch oven and let it simmer for an hour. Serve with grilled cheese sandwiches and chunks of melon.
(Pretty good, but the short-cut soup just wasn't thick enough. Needed all that cooked down cartilage or something).
"Everything In the Kitchen" Chicken Casserole

3 cups cooked chicken, chopped
10 oz. frozen mixed vegeables
1 cup shredded cheese
2 10.7 oz cans cream of mushrooms soup
4 oz sour cream
3 cloves garlic, pressed
Black pepper, to taste
Leftover mashed potatoes


In a large bowl, mix together chicken, vegetables, cheese, soup, sour cream, garlic, and black pepper. Pour into a greased 13x9 baker. Plonk the potatoes on top of the chicken mixture, cover it in foil, and refrigerate until needed.

When ready to cook, remove from fridge and let sit on counter for about half an hour. Preheat oven to 375F°. When oven is heated, cook covered casserole for about 45 minutes or until contents are bubbly.
Probably, not the healthiest supper, but it cleans out the fridge just fine.

Lately, a lot of my cooking seems to be driven by "too much of this" or "that's got to be eaten or gotten rid of." The celery mashed potatoes came about because I like using celery, but I don't go through a bunch fast enough. I'll use two or three stalks and then, weeks later, I will express dismay because the remaining celery has gone all limp and albino before I could use it up. No more. Now that I have the recipe for celery mashed potatoes, the celery shall be consumed long before it looks like the victim of a vampiric bunny. Yippee.

Celery mashed potatoes are dead easy: Just peel and cook some red potatoes until tender. Don't be too precise about the peeling if you don't mind a little skin. Drain potatoes. Melt a dab of butter in a skillet and sauté equal amounts of chopped celery and onion until tender. Mash the potatoes a bit. Add in milk, the onion/celery mix, salt and pepper, and maybe some extra butter. Mash until the potatoes reach whatever consistency you favor. Eat them up, yum!

06 January 2005

Dreaming Spring

It's January and you know what that means, don't you? It means the garden pr0n starts showing up on the bedside table. The Burpee catalog arrived earlier this week and damned if I haven't dog-eared half its pages already. I am drunk on fantasies of a successful vegetable garden verdant with heirloom vegetables. How can you resist growing a tomato called "Bloody Butcher?" Or cucumbers that look like lemons?

Realistically, there are very few veggies I've ever grown successfully. The tomatoes always start out well, but seldom ripen and those that do don't taste like much at all. Ditto the radishes. Bland radishes are just pure evil. They look all rosy and brimming with tongue tingling zippiness, but they taste like water. Eww. Beets are beautiful and I love to eat them, but the yard critters seem to love their tender foliage even more. Pesky critters also managed to mow down all the scarlet runner beans in one evening -- leaving nothing but nekkid vines behind.

This year, I swear to cake I will restrain myself. I will only plant the things I know I probably won't kill or neglect. There's two free beds so that's a bed each for cucumbers and sweet peppers with strawberries starting their second year in the third bed ...

Seems rather bland, dinnit? Need some stubby carrots or leeks or some nice bush beans ...

Or, you know, I could just skip the vegetables and put all my money is roses. (How many times do you think I can rip up and replant the front bed before The Husband starts confiscating all my gardening catalogs?)

Deer says "Plant more lettuce! Last year's was really delicious!"