Budget-Friendly Cookery

It’s the end of the week and you have been able to avoid the dreaded trip to the grocery store, and you know that Friday is just about the worst day to do any sort of thing that requires energy besides lifting a glass of wine to forget the stresses of the week and toast to the weekend. Unless you want to order a pizza, it’s time to look in the refrigerator and examine your scraps from the week’s worth of meals!

There are great ways to not only stretch your grocery dollar, but to re-purpose your leftovers into a new and delicious creation.

For example, save your veggie scraps from the week, including carrot peels, celery, leek, and onion ends, throw ‘em in a pot with thyme, peppercorns, a garlic head sliced in half, and parsley with a few cups of water and the bones of a roasted bird. Let it simmer for a few hours and before you know it, you have your very own home made chicken stock! Divide your stock into multiple freezable containers, and save in the freezer for future use.

Next, it’s time to figure out what to do with the meat from your roasted chicken. Here are a few of our favorite chicken recipes, straight from our kitchen, that will stretch your single bird into three fantastic meals:

Peanut Chicken Noodles
Easy to prepare and filling, this’ll go along great with a nice cold Friday evening Pilsner.

½ lb spaghetti pasta
2 c roasted chicken breast
1 red bell pepper
½ c snow peas
2 tblsp sesame seeds
Salt and pepper to taste

½ c creamy peanut butter
¼ c soy sauce
¼ cup rice vinegar
2 tblsp brown sugar
1 tblsp chili sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
½ c vegetable oil

Cook pasta in salted water until al dente and set aside to cool. Shred your roasted chicken breasts and set aside. Julienne (that’s cut thin strips in cook talk) vegetables and combine with chicken.

Mix together all sauce ingredients in a large bowl, and add cooled pasta, chicken and vegetables. Sprinkle with sesame seeds to make it look pretty.

Chicken Tamale Pie
Perfect for a cold, crisp evening, our tamale pie comes straight from the heart of our kitchen. Top it off with a dollop of sour cream or guacamole for a little indulgence.

2 lb chicken, cubed
1 red onion, diced
3 garlic cloves minced
1 green pepper, diced
1 red pepper, diced
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
1 can diced tomatoes with juice
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup chicken stock
3 tblsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
½ tsp cayenne
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
½ c shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a heavy bottom skillet sauté red onion, bell peppers garlic and jalapeno in 1tblsp olive oil until translucent and tender. Add cayenne, chili powder, cocoa powder, salt and pepper. Add tomatoes, black beans and chicken stock and combine with vegetables. Let simmer on low until liquid is reduced by 1/3; about 15 minutes.

In a separate skillet add remaining olive oil, heat until shimmering and add enough cubed chicken to fill pan in one layer. Brown on all sides and remove from pan. Brown all chicken in batches until done. Combine with cooked vegetables.

In an oven-proof baking dish transfer chicken and vegetable mixture and spread out until even. Make cornbread topping and dollop onto top of mixture. Smooth out top until completely covering chicken/veggie mixture. Sprinkle with cheddar cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until corn bread topping is cooked through. (Check by inserting a toothpick in the center. If it comes out clean it’s done!)

Corn bread topping (from smittenkitchen)
1 c (6 oz) regular old cornmeal
2 c (16 oz) buttermilk
1 3/4 c (8 oz) unbleached, all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tablespoons (.75 oz) baking powder
1/4 teaspoon (.05 oz) baking soda
1 teaspoon (.25 oz) salt
2 tablespoons (1.5 oz) honey
1/4 c (2 oz) granulated sugar
3 large (5 oz) eggs, at room temperature
2 tablespoons (1 oz) unsalted butter, melted

Combine cornmeal and buttermilk and let soak.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl add the eggs, one at a time and scraping down the bowl between each. Add the melted butter, honey, sugar and cornmeal/buttermilk mixture and mix until smooth. Add the flour mixture and stir until combined.

Roast Chicken Salad
Now this recipe is perfect for summer. It’ll fill you up but leave you feeling light, and the Greek yogurt will help you fit into that dreaded bikini.

The remainder of your roasted chicken
1 c walnut halves toasted (or fried)
½ c celery, diced
¼ c dried cherries
1 8oz jar Greek yogurt
½ tsp lemon zest
1 tsp lemon juice
1tblsp mayo
2 c baby arugula
Salt and pepper to taste

Pick chicken clean of all meat. Dice roasted chicken into 1/2 in cubes. Combine chicken meat with roasted walnuts, diced celery and dried cherries. Combine Greek yogurt with mayo, lemon zest and juice, pour over chicken salad and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve over a bed of baby arugula.

And in case you’re in need of help figuring out how best to roast your bird, here’s our favorite trick: Stuff the cavity of your whole bird with half a lemon, a bunch of thyme and half a head of garlic. Rub the outside of the bird liberally with salt, pepper and olive oil. Place your bird in a 350 degree oven for 30-45 minutes or until juices run clear.