Monday, September 13, 2010

Kitchen Discoveries and A Menu Plan

Since last Monday was devoted to labor, not menus, I am now bursting at the seams to share some of my new kitchen discoveries with you!

Chicken Stir-Fry, Steak-Topped Salad, Sticky Chicken with Memaw's Green Beans and Mashed Potatoes, and Grilled Burgers
I have been keeping with my recent theme of simplicity in the kitchen. Which basically translates into meals that are easy to make and do not take hours to cook (unless it's in the crockpot!). We've eaten salads, burgers on the grill, beans and rice (a jazzed-up version that I'll be sharing soon!) and even breakfast for dinner.

I've also upped dinner time from 6:30 to 5:30-ish. What a difference this has made!!! We are less cranky. The kitchen is cleaned earlier. We have more relaxing evenings. If your schedule allows, you should really give this a try! What time do you typically eat dinner?

Ok, so on to some of my new discoveries.

First Disovery: The most amazing chicken broth ever. I'm in love. It's also super easy. And it gets even better--this chicken broth is oh-so-healthy for you! And you don't have to chop a single carrot.
     Here's what you do: Make Sticky Chicken in your crockpot (the chicken itself is very good! I used Sweet Pea's recipe to the tee, except I reduced the cooking time to around 5-6 hours because my crockpot cooks quickly, even on low).
     Then, as her recipe directs, after you've de-boned your chicken (not hard since the meat falls off the bones!), toss the bones back in the crock pot with the lovely chicken juices and 6 additional cups of water.
     Cook on low for 2-3 hours.
     After the chicken broth has cooled, I try to skim as much of the fat off the top as possible.
     You now have the most amazing chicken broth!!!! Please excuse my over-use of exclamation points; I am just really excited about this. I have been making chicken broth for awhile now, and it has always been more work and has never tasted this flavorful. This broth can be eaten by itself. I cannot wait to make soup with this stuff. I already used it in a lemon shrimp pasta and the result was divine.

Second Discovery: Freezer Breakfast Burritos. I will share a photo tutorial this afternoon/tomorrow. Stay tuned!

Third (and least healthy) Discovery: Chocolate Cake as it was truly intended to be. Let me share a picture, even though you cannot possibly know how good it is until you taste it.

I think I just gained a pound looking at that picture.

Thankfully for your waistline, I'll be sharing that recipe next week most likely. But then you won't want to miss it. :D

Now that I've talked your ear off, here is our menu plan for this week:

Breakfasts: Freezer Breakfast Burritos, Smoothies, Cold Cereal, Homemade Yogurt
Lunches: Leftovers, Sandwiches on Honey Wheat Bread

Dinners:
Monday--Black Beans and Rice with Sausage (carried over from last week)
Tuesday--Chipotle Chicken with Peppers over brown rice, green beans
Wednesday--Pizza night! With salad on the side.
Thursday--Crockpot BBQ Chicken with mashed potatoes and carrots
Friday--I'm out of town--leftovers for hubby.
Saturday--Still out of town--Burritos for hubby.
Sunday--Some simple spaghetti, since I'll just be getting back to town.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on my latest kitchen discoveries...or hear about yours. :) If you need some top notch menu planning ideas, check out Menu Planning Monday.



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13 comments:

  1. Hi Alicia,
    I like eating early too, it's much better for my kids, because we have a lot of time for their bath, storytelling and putting to bed AND they're in bed in time and my husband and I still have a full evening together in peace!
    I keep the meals simple like you, but I try to make one new recipe each week. It works out great!
    Love to read your blog, your life looks a bit like mine even though I live in Holland...
    Love Amelie

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  2. Oh, I wish we could eat dinner earlier esp since my daughter's bedtime is around 6:30, but it just hasn't worked out for us in this season. We normally end up eating after she's gone to bed.

    Crockpot BBQ chicken is a favorite simple, go-to meal for us too! My husband LOVES it...its one of the few things he'll request. :) I've always just thrown a bottle of bbq sauce in with chicken but looked at the recipe you linked to and am excited to try the extra additions...hoping they make it a little yummier. Thanks!

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  3. Amelie, I agree!!! I clicked over to your blog...sad that I can't read it, but really glad to be able to get to know you here.

    Anne, Wow, a 6:30 bedtime! I think you've mentioned that before. I recently started putting Squishy down at 7 ish, but now he's waking up at 6 am instead of 7. Not sure what to do about that...maybe back to an 8 pm bedtime. We'll see. I'm giving it some time!

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  4. We have always eaten early. it just seems to work for us. We eat around 5.

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  5. You know, I've been thinking of going back to an earlier dinnertime, too - we used to eat around 5, then my husband wasn't getting home until close to 5, and he just needed a little down time before dinner, so it got bumped back to 6 . . . now that he's back to being home early, I'm missing the earlier meal times a lot more. Thanks for the reminder!

    Oh, and also? That cake looks DIVINE! (And there is NO WAY its ever coming into my house! LOL)

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  6. HI Alicia, you are so right, I love the chicken broth from the sticky chicken, it is simply divine, if I have leftover I freeze it, yum O yum. So glad you enjoyed it.

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  7. Alicia, your menus always look.sooooo.gooooood!!!! I could drool just looking at the pictures you posted! LOL! I fell off the menu-planning wagon back when Susannah was born. Now that the summer craziness is over, maybe I'll get back on :) We have seperate suppertimes here, usually, but if Daniel's home in time (and I've gotten supper started soon enough that it's ready *ahem*) we eat when Susannah eats supper, which is around 6-ish. With Daniel's job he never gets home at the same time each evening so it's hard to ahve a set suppertime.

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  8. We used to eat around 5pm. But with the start of the new school year, I've been going to the gym every afternoon and dinner has been pushed to 6 or 6:30. I find that this keeps my hubby from after-dinner snacking (a good thing!) although everyone is usually starving by the time we eat. :)

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  9. That cake looks so delicious and to die for! BBQ chicken and mashed potatoes sounds like such a comfort meal. Have a great week.

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  10. I would love to eat earlier. 5:30pm would be a nice time for us but hubby gets home at 5:55 or 6:10, and we like walking down to the station to pick him up. So it's usually around 6:30. Leaves an okay amount of time for playing guitar, baths, storytime before bed. Both girls pretty much are out for about 11 hours. =)

    There's a baked teriyaki chicken recipe that I use and after eating the chicken, I save the sauce for later use. I probably should spoon out the fat, but it works. Or sometimes I just make it separately...don't know how much less inexpensive to make it myself than to buy it. =p The broth sounds super easy too. Thanks.

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  11. You take great food pics and they make me hungry every time! ;) I am going to have to try the sticky chicken/chicken broth recipes because I have the same problem with homemade chicken broth being too bland. Thanks for sharing!

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  12. Can't wait to try the chicken broth recipe. Sometimes I make, more often I buy for flavor reasons.

    I start supper at 4:30 (unless it's a more elaborate recipe) with expectation to eat at 5:00. My husband's job doesn't allow us to have a consistent schedule but we try! I've gotten really good at keeping supper warm without drying it out while we wait for him to get home!!

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  13. Eating earlier is a great idea. We usually eat somewhere between 7 and 8:30! and we are definitely not in the mood are simply just not physically able to clean the kitchen afterwards. I am going to try it this week. Thanks for the recipes. I miss you!

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