Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Tips and Tricks: Making gravy

       Sauce made from the drippings of cooked meat. Known for making all food delicious. 

Making gravy is super simple, but it occurred to me that not everyone knows how. These directions are for (a small) chicken gravy and I've even broken it down into steps for added simplicity. 

Step 1: Prepare the bird. 
In the bottom of my roasting pan, I put: 1/2 onion, 2 garlic cloves, 1 celery and 1 carrot; all cut into chunks. I then add two bay leaves, a carton of chicken broth (sodium reduced) and salt, thyme and lots of pepper on the chicken.

Step 2: Cook the bird.
Cook at 400F for 20-30 minutes uncovered, then cover and bake at 300F until cooked. (Times will vary depending on size of bird but I always give myself 3 hours, which is more then enough.) The bird is cooked when it has reached an internal temperature of 185F. It's usually doing the splits at this point.

Step 3: Separate the stock

Once the bird is cooked, remove from pan and tent it (place foil over top) on a plate so it can rest.  Remove the big bits from the stock and let the stock sit, so it will separate. The fat will float to the top, with the stock staying in the bottom.

Optional Step, part A:  Make a roux: Gently spoon out the fat and put in a small saucepan. Add in a tbsp or two of Bisto Savoury Gravy or you can simply use flour. Cook on medium heat for a couple minutes, whisking constantly. It may become chunky, that's normal but do not brown the flour if you go that route.
Optional Step, part B: Add in the remainder of your stock and continue heating, whisking frequently. Any chunks should disappear with the whisking. Bring to a gentle boil (you may need to turn down the heat). Proceed to step 5.

Step 4: Gently spoon off some of the fat and discard. Place stock in a sauce pan over medium heat, whisking frequently. Bring to a gentle boil. 

Step 5: Make a slurry: put a heaping tablespoon of cornstarch in a mug, add enough water to dissolve it completely (1/4 to 1/3 cup). Slowly pour small amounts of your cornstarch mixture into the stock while whisking. You'll notice it thicken as it boils. It must boil to thicken. If after adding all of your slurry, you find the gravy not thick enough, make more and add it in (just remember, the gravy will thicken slightly as it cools). 

Congratulations!! You've made gravy!! 

Monday, February 24, 2014

This Week's Menu

Last week I didn't do a menu post for a couple reasons: a) I forgot and b) it wasn't very exciting and changed a couple times. My lovely husband was out of town Wednesday and didn't have supper with us on Thursday so it made for simple, quick meals. Super simple actually, my mom took us out for supper on Wednesday! The other nights I made Lasagna, Super Bean Burritos (again) and Mac and Cheese.  

This week's menu will be as follows: 

Saturday: Salad with ground chicken in a taco bowl.
I can't get enough of the PF Chang's Lettuce Wraps recipe. I am seriously in love. Especially when I can get a pound of ground chicken for $4! Hello, cheap dinner!

Sunday: Whole chicken with mashed potatoes, stuffing, veg and gravy

Monday: Leftovers. With Cauliflower

Tuesday: Pizza with (hopefully) chicken on it

Wednesday: Pork chops with rice

Thursday: Pasta with rose sauce.
For this recipe I just skip the wine and use more broth.

Friday: TBA

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Tips and Tricks: Quick Homemade Spaghetti Sauce

We love spaghetti in this house, especially homemade but it can take forever to make. Meatballs are another hit, but again, take forever. My solution: cans of pre-seasoned tomatoes and italian sausage. Sounds crazy? Probably, but hey it tastes good. 

Step 1: Set your oven to 350F. 

Step 2: Make the sauce:

1 tbsp of Olive Oil  (optional)
Small (or half a regular) Onion, Diced (optional)
2-3 Garlic Cloves, finely chopped (optional)
1 tbsp of Italian Herbs (ie: Oregano, Basil, Marjoram, Rosemary, Thyme) (optional)
1 can of Diced Tomatoes with Italian Spices (I like to use Aylmer, no salt added and often on sale!)
1 can of Diced Tomatoes 
5 cubes of Frozen Chicken Broth (just over 1/2 cup)
1 tbsp of White Sugar
Salt and Pepper to taste

Saute the onion and the garlic in olive oil until softened, about 2-3 minutes. Add in herbs and stir around, followed by the tomatoes, broth and sugar. (At this point I start the meatballs) Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer with lid slightly ajar. I like to let it simmer for at least an hour, stirring every 10 minutes or so.

Step 3: Make the meatballs:

Cut the sausage into equal size chunks, about half to one inch wide. Place sausage "balls" on a baking sheet. Put into the preheated oven and cook for 30 to 45 minutes, depending on size.  

Step 4: Start cooking the noodles. 

Directions are on the box of spaghetti. 

Step 5: Finish up the sauce

With an immersion blender, puree the sauce until it has reached your desired consistency. Add in the meatballs and voila! You have yummy homemade spaghetti and meatballs. 

Monday, February 10, 2014

This Week's Menu

Last week was short and it was great! We had lettuce wraps, which are quite possibly my favourite meal. I love those things! This time we changed it up though: I just got up the lettuce and put the meat mixture on top. We also had bean burritos again, and again, they were awesome! Especially with a little bit of fresh lime squeezed on top. Yum.  I ended up making a Sweet Potato/Carrot/White Potato mash to go with the chicken and it was also really good. It was nice to have something other then the standard rice or potatoes. 

This week we strayed from our routine. We went to the grocery store Saturday planning on just picking up fruit, but ended up doing our groceries. 

SaturdayMoose steaks with peppercorn sauce and Barley with vegetables

Sunday: Weekly supper at my moms

Monday: "Homemade" Spaghetti with "meatballs"
I'll be posting in this week's Tips and Tricks what exactly this means. 

Tuesday: Chicken thighs with sweet potato oven fries
I flipped through a cookbook while visiting my dad and came across sweet potato wedge fries. Basically you slice them on a mandolin, toss in olive oil and bake in the oven. We'll try it and see what happens.

Wednesday: Freezer dive

Thursday: Lettuce wraps and rice
I seriously love these things! And when the ground chicken was on sale cheap, I picked up 3 for the freezer, so it's technically a freezer dive. 

Friday: Pizza!

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

This Week's Menu

Last week was good. We were busy prepping and getting ready to go home that the week just flew by.  I had planned to make some sort of burrito on Wednesday, preferably meatless. After quite a bit of searching, I found this recipe for Super Bean Burritos and boy was it good!

This week's menu won't be complicated, since we didn't get home until last night and we're exhausted. It's always enjoyable going home, but late nights and early mornings take a toll.

Monday: We bummed supper at my mom's

Tuesday: Lettuce Wraps with Jasmine Rice

Wednesday: Garlic Brown Sugar Chicken with Sweet Potato something

Thursday: Bean Burritos

Friday: Pizza!!