Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Chicken Juggling

For those of us in the Midwest and on the East Coast, it has been quite the year for weather.  Between extreme heat, earthquakes, and hurricanes, we have certainly been on the edge of our seats.  After a dry summer here in Roanoke, we have spent the past few days positively drenched with rain.  And with the rain came the cooler weather.  Mr. PT and I were craving some warmer meals, so I pulled my frozen chicken breasts out of the freezer and thought about how I could create some healthy, warm meals that would last more than 1-2 nights.

First, I defrosted the 2 chicken breasts by placing them in warm water and letting them sit for 45 minutes to an hour.  After they were basically defrosted, I took one chicken breast and cut it into chunks.  I browned these chunks off in a skillet with olive oil and my favorite seasonings.

While that chicken breast was cooking, I took the other chicken breast and put it into a large pot with water, chopped up celery, carrots, onion, and spices (pepper, parsley, other Italian-type seasonings).  I let that cook in boiling water for about 30 minutes, or until my meat thermometer read above 165.

I filled another smaller pot with water and cooked up about 1 1/4 cups of cous cous (very easy, takes all of 10 minutes).  

I returned to my skillet and removed the browned chicken pieces, wrapped them in foil, and placed them in a warm oven for safe keeping (also to ensure they were thoroughly cooked).  In my skillet that was nice and oily, I added 3 tsp butter, 3-4 tsp of flour, and 2-3 tsp of lemon juice.  I whisked that around with more spices and gradually added the chicken flavored water that had cooked up my other chicken breast.  I probably ended up adding 2-3 cups of chicken "broth."  While that was whisking into a nice roux (a thick sauce) I added small broccoli heads, chopped celery, and chopped onions.  Once that was a nice consistency, I added about 2 cups of cooked cous cous (add more or less if you desire).  Finally, I stirred in my cooked chicken pieces and topped it with feta cheese.  Dinner was served!

Lighting in the kitchen wasn't great, but the dinner sure was!

We even had leftovers for lunch the next day.  Fantastic, right?  But wait!  It's not over yet!  I still had that whole pot filled with chicken brothy water, cooked veggies, and a whole chicken breast.  I transferred these ingredients to a crock-pot container, covered it, and placed it in the fridge.  The next day, I shredded the chicken breast, returned it to the liquid and veggies, and placed it in the crock pot heater.  As I let that heat up on the "high" setting, I boiled some pasta and potatoes.  I added these to the crock pot concoction, along with 4 cubes of chicken bouillon (the crock pot was filled to the brim!).  I let that simmer for about an hour and a half and....voila!

Homemade Chicken Soup

This will keep Mr. PT and I warm and fed for several days!  My overall cooking time for both nights was probably about an hour and a half, which may seem long.  However, if you think about how many meals we got out of it, it seems like time well spent.

Plus, these are healthy, low sodium meals that give you energy and sustenance.
(A variation of the chicken bouillon is to cook the chicken breast in low or no sodium chicken broth.)

I also think it goes without saying that these meals are EXTREMELY cost effective!  

Combine with a visit to the gym.  Pick your favorite cardio machine (bike, treadmill, step machine, etc) and do a 5 minute warm up...followed by 5 minutes of the HARDEST you can go.  You should be sweating, panting, and unable to hold a conversation with your neighbor.  Do 5 minutes of recovery, followed by 5 minutes hard...etc. for 30-40 minutes.  This type of interval training will really burn calories and improve your cardiovascular system.

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