When is a Chicken More Than a Chicken?

Answer: when it’s 3 different meals!

I think a lot of us get stuck in the rut of buying the same old cuts of meat all the time and getting a little bored trying to figure out new and exciting ways to prepare the same old stuff. I almost always buy just plain boneless, skinless chicken breasts (only when on sale of course) with the occasional dabbling into leg quarters if I really want something with crispy skin. In my area, boneless, skinless chicken breast rarely goes on sale for less than 1.99/lb, and sometimes a) I just don’t want to pay that much for meat and b) I really crave chicken soup and just plain old chicken breast isn’t the best option for a really good chicken soup.

A whole raw chicken with a bad joke for a caption.
Buy me when I am CHEEP. (Hardy har!)

So recently my grocery store had whole chickens on sale for 99c/lb. While that’s not the cheapest I’ve seen them, it’s still pretty cheap (although in all honesty they did not HAVE any of the advertised 99c/lb. chickens when I went shopping and I wound up paying $1.78/lb. which I didn’t realize until it got rang up and I was too lazy to argue).

I knew I didn’t have to just eat roast chicken all week if I played my cards right, and I could make that chicken last more than a week if I wanted to!

So last Sunday I bought the chicken and seasoned it only with salt and pepper. I roasted it whole at 425, breast side down to start, then flipped her over halfway through the cooking process. The breast was juicy and perfect and the thighs were cooked through (your cook times may vary depending on the size of your chicken so I’m leaving the times out). The skin was perfectly crispy and the meat succulent so this method was a good one for me and I will definitely use it again.

A whole roast chicken behind a plate with a roast chicken thigh, garden salad with ranch dressing, and roast potatoes.

I started off by eating the thighs and legs, simply accompanied by roasted potatoes and a garden salad with ranch dressing. Comfort food at its finest. That was enough for 4 meals for me.

Buffalo Ranch Chicken Wraps with Carrots and Celery Sticks

Once the carcass was cooled, I carved off the breast meat. Part of the breast meat I used for a couple of lunches. I warmed some of the meat, sliced, then enrobed it (yes, ENROBED) in more ranch dressing with some Frank’s Red Hot mixed in, then folded it up in a Mission Carb Balance tortilla (I bought this brand specifically because they’re burrito sized but only 110 calories and have 8 grams of protein per tortilla, but they are NOT a frugal choice, considering a package of 8 was almost $5, ugh) and served alongside carrots and celery sticks for buffalo chicken wraps. I had two of these for lunches during the week.

Chicken and couscous soup with harissa, cilantro, lemon and egg.
I’d like to eat this forever, if I’m honest.

Lastly (and this is the dish I am most proud of), I used the leftover breast and the meat picked from the bone, plus a chicken stock I made from the bones and skin in my Instant Pot, to make a delicious Tunisian-inspired chicken and couscous soup flavored with harissa, cumin, lemon, and cilantro, and topped with a soft boiled egg. It was truly divine. I won’t be sharing the recipe here because I plan on adding it to my cookbook, but I hope you get the idea of how to use one chicken for 3 different meals. I’m one person and I got 4 servings of roast chicken, 2 servings of buffalo chicken wraps, and 5 servings of that harissa chicken soup. That’s 11 meals out of one chicken, and I didn’t just have to eat roast chicken the whole time!

So I hope you are inspired to try your own One Chicken Three Meals Challenge (okay, there’s no official challenge, I just made the damn thing up). Let me know what dishes you’d make in the comments!

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The Faint Rumblings of Change

I find myself feeling boredom a lot lately. Things bore me. Lots of people bore me. My therapist (yes I’m seeing a therapist again) says it’s okay for me to just take some time for myself to heal and adapt and adjust to my new single life. Logically I know she’s correct, but I can’t help but hear the whispers of guilt in my ear that says “you’re stagnant… you’re not DOING anything…”

In 2017 I had a very concrete goal. It took me a long time to build up enough internal courage to start working on that goal. It was a huge life change, leaving my marriage, and the strength it took was boosted mostly by adrenaline.

They say that change is only made when staying the same hurts more than changing. I feel in my blood that there is more change coming for me. I get a lot of people asking me when I’m going to write again, but I’m still fighting the depression that keeps me from doing the things I used to love. The fact that I’m here today says a lot about how far I’ve come.

The good news is I’m starting to get ideas for new blog entries. I’m contemplating a Frugal February meal plan. We shall see! Anyway, thought I’d actually publish something here for a change. I’m not dead: I’m becoming the butterfly.

Recipe: Greek-Style Cauliflower Steaks Over Black Lentils

It’s been a while since I’ve felt truly inventive.

Late summer and early autumn have had me swimming against the tide of my own emotions. I’ve been treading water for weeks, just trying to keep up with day to day life, and my creativity has suffered. Food has briefly become the enemy as my emotional energy has lowered and my desire to spend hours in the kitchen has fallen to almost nil.

water-2725337_640To give you an idea of how hard it’s been for me to get up the energy to write this blog entry, I had planned to cook this meal on Monday. I had dropped my car off for some minor repairs on Sunday and they couldn’t finish it before close, so I couldn’t pick up my car until almost noon on Monday. I missed my favorite class at the gym. I managed to pick up groceries, get to my therapy appointment and do my laundry, but all I had the energy for at dinner was some pasta. I managed to make my cauliflower steaks on Tuesday night and I took the photos but was too tired to edit them or write.

Halloween was Wednesday and I’m training new employees at work and I came home, ate some leftover pot roast in marinara on a nice Italian roll and treated myself to the best donut ever: a vanilla cut cream from Deluxe bakery. And then I promptly fell asleep watching Cable Girls on Netflix. Because I’m the coolest chick on the block. 😉 It even took me two days to write this out. But I did it!

My plasma donations have contributed to the lack of desire to cook a bit, as my protein is almost always so close to being too low for donation that I’ve just been eating meat meat MEAT, and truth be told, it’s been tedious for me. After the third month in a row with a low protein deferral, I decided to give myself an extra bit of time off to relax my need to so much protein and go back to the vegetarian meals I used to love.

Autumn brings dark and cold (although today it was a lovely sunny 75 degree day) and I want warm, comforting, hearty food that sticks to my ribs without feeling unhealthy. A year or so ago was the first time I tried making cauliflower steaks with lentils, but this time I wanted to try something different: Greek flavors!

The key to a near-perfect cauliflower steak is buying two heads of cauliflower.  You’re never going to get four evenly sized cauliflower steaks from a single head of cauliflower. Your best bet for getting nice thick steaks is to cut the head in half down the center, then to slice one inch steaks off from the cut ends. Don’t throw away the leftover cauliflower! Save it for cauli-rice or cauliflower chowder.

Liberally brush olive oil on a rimmed sheet pan covered in foil, and lay the cauliflower steaks flat. Brush the other side with olive oil too, then pop into a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes. In the meantime, make the basting liquid:

In a small bowl, combine olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt, oregano and red pepper flakes.

Stir to combine and use half of the dressing to baste the cauliflower steaks and bake for another 20 minutes.

To serve, lay each steak down on a bed of black lentils (I cooked mine until very soft and seasoned only with salt), baste with the remaining basting liquid, and top with feta cheese and fresh parsley. Doesn’t that look gorgeous?!

IMG_4323The salty feta works perfectly with the toothsome cauliflower and creamy lentils, and all of that is brought together perfectly by the garlicky lemony basting liquid. A hearty, filling vegetarian meal for a cool autumn night. ❤

Greek-Style Cauliflower Steaks Over Black Lentils

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Stick to your ribs vegetarian meal with Mediterranean flavors.

Ingredients

  • 2 large heads cauliflower
  • 4 tbsp. olive oil, divided
  • 2 oz. lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 4 oz. feta, crumbled
  • 4 tbsp. minced parsley
  • 2 cups black urad lentils, cooked according to package directions, and salted to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and brush with 1 tbsp. olive oil.
  3. Slice each cauliflower in half down the center, then slice off a 1″ steak off of each side. Save the leftover cauliflower for later.
  4. Lay the four steaks on the oiled baking sheet, and brush with another tbsp. of oil. Roast for 20 minutes.
  5. While the steaks are roasting, combine the remaining olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, oregano, red pepper flakes and kosher salt. When the 20 minutes is up, use half of the mixture to baste the cauliflower steaks, and roast for an additional 20 minutes.
  6. To serve, lay down a base of lentils and top with a cauliflower steak. Brush with the remaining basting liquid and top with a sprinkle of parsley and feta cheese.

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