Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Simple meals

Well, we're back into January. Christmas and New Year's is past.  It's time for simple meals again.  Soups, stews, pancake night and simple one pan meals.  Simple, low calorie, low fat and low cost meals to once again get us back on track after all that rich, fattiness of December. 

One of my favorite meals during this time is chicken and noodles.  I also like chicken noodle soup and chicken and dumplings.  All of these require chicken broth.  That can add to the cost of the meal if you purchase canned chicken broth.  I simply make my own.  I either use a crockpot chicken or if I've purchased a rotisserie chicken, I use it after I've deboned it.  Whichever type of chicken you use, it's really easy to make homemade chicken broth using your crockpot.  Just dump in the chicken bones, skin, and everything that isn't meat!  Cover with about eight cups of water and turn on your crockpot to low for six-eight hours or overnight.  I usually don't add any seasonings because I season my chicken during cooking and the rotisserie chicken usually comes heavily seasoned on the skin. 

After cooking for six-eight hours, I let the crockpot cool and place it in the fridge to congeal the fat.  I then skim off the fat and strain the broth.  Now, I pick out the bones and let Kate, the big, black dog, have all the chicken parts except the bones.  She loves me extra special on that night!  After straining, I place the broth in freezer bags for noodles, soups and in containers to cook rice in.  If I have leftover chicken, with a fourteen year old boy in the house, that doesn't happen often anymore, but if I happen to have some, I'll go ahead and dump it into the labeled bag so all I have to do is thaw, season and add noodles or dumplings and veggies. 

Making my own soup broth allows in me to control the fat and sodium content in our foods.  I am really trying hard this new year to reduce those two things in our diets.  Not using prepared foods is a great way to start!

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