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Lemon Garlic Slow-Cooked Chicken

31 Jan

This dish is incredibly easy. Prep takes mere minutes. I particularly like it when I’m working late; I start the slow cooker in the morning before work, and the chicken is ready in time for my husband’s dinner. Then, when I get home, there’s still plenty for me! Leftovers make great chicken salad, enchilada filling, etc.

You shall need:

One small-to-medium chicken. Spring for an organic bird if you can.

One lemon. Orange is great here too, or you can use lemon and orange.

One head of garlic

Salt

Pepper

Olive oil

Slice the lemon into rings. Separate the garlic into individual cloves. Rinse and dry chicken inside and out. Season liberally with salt and pepper inside and out. Add a bit of olive oil and rub around. 

Drizzle a splash of olive oil in the bottom of the slow cooker. Lay a few lemon rings on top. Stick a few pieces of lemon and several cloves of garlic in the chicken cavity. Set the chicken on top of the lemon rings. Place the remaining lemon rings on top of the chicken. Scatter the remaining garlic cloves around.

Cook on low for about ten hours.

The chicken will be incredibly tender and flavorful – it’ll fall right apart. This goes fantastically with green beans! Mashed potatoes would be delightful as well. I usually love to eat roasted garlic cloves; however, in my experience, the cloves in this dish are too acrid and overcooked to enjoy on their own. They do lend a wonderful flavor to the chicken, though.

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Easy Roast

9 Jan

This roast is amazingly easy and incredibly delicious.  It also involves only a few minutes of prep work, and depending how large a group you’re feeding, the comforting leftovers should extend to a few more meals.

– an inexpensive roast (Chuck is a good choice)
– one yellow onion
– carrots – as many as you like – peeled and sliced diagonally into three-inch pieces. The carrots are our favorite part of this dish, and I typically use an entire small package.
– potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters or eighths – about 3 or 4
– garlic-infused olive oil
– broth
– wine
– one can of peas (optional)

It’s recommended to brown the roast first; however, I usually can’t stand to dirty another dish. I season the roast liberally on all sides with salt and pepper.

Drizzle a bit of olive oil along the bottom of the CrockPot. The garlic-infused kind is great here.

Halve and slice an onion and add to a CrockPot along with the roast. Set to cook for 8 – 10 hours. Add a bit of broth as well as a splash of whatever wine you have lying around. The idea is to cook the roast at a low temperature for a substantial amount of time.

About four hours before you’d like to eat, add the carrots. Two hours later, add the potatoes. Season.

Really, you can add the vegetables at any time you choose. I prefer this method because they soften but don’t completely turn to moosh.

If you want to thicken the cooking liquid, you can ladle a few tablespoons out into a bowl, mix in a bit of Wondra instant flour, and return the mixture to the CrockPot.

Shortly before serving, I like to add a can of drained peas. Yum.

Time and Resolutions

3 Jan

Well hello!

Life has changed a lot recently. Within the last few months, I got married and graduated. Now I have spare time, and it feels abnormal. Fantastic, but abnormal.

Now, I can read. I can cook. I can have Netflix tv marathons. I can even blog!

My resolutions for 2013 included:

– Eating better

– Cook at home more often in order to save money as well as avoid filling ourselves with junk

– Blog more often

The cooking more has definitely happened –  I just need to make the jump to blogging about it.

Oh, hi.

3 Oct

I’m still here. You wouldn’t know it by the infrequent posts on the blog, but I’m here. It’s time for my semi-annual “sorry for the lack of posts” post.

Life is wild. The Mr. got a promotion that came with very wacky hours in November 2011. We moved into a new apartment in May. I started a new job in June. Fall semester started in August. Our wedding is in just over two weeks, and I will graduate in December. Working full time, studying, and trying to plan a wedding (and more importantly, build a life together) has left little time for blogging. Not surprising, eh? Predictably, we’ve been existing on mostly fast food, Easy Mac, grilled cheeses, and the like. This has been both fun and ugh at once.

We’re managing to get away for a five-day honeymoon, and I am <i>so</i> eager to have the opportunity to relax a bit. When we return, I’m looking forward to cooking things that don’t involve microwaves or bright orange-colored powders.

Be seeing you!

The Cooking at Home Resolution Continued

5 Jan

In the days since Christmas, we have successfully prepared most of our meals at home. True, we did rely on our old pals Zaxby’s and Whataburger for lunch on two separate occasions, but other than that, we’ve done well!

We decided to plan out two weeks’ worth of meals at a time and subsequently shop for ingredients. Having a well-stocked fridge and pantry feels pretty great; it’s comforting to think I could make practically anything we felt like having. It’s a huge difference from a year ago, when I was hoping my Ramen supply would hold out until my job started again.

One unexpected element: a feeling of isolation. I never realized how much of my social interaction is done while dining out or picking up food. Yes, I see people at work, but it’s somehow not the same. For a while, I felt closed off and lonely. When we went out, we not only spoke with other people, but we dedicated more attention to talking with each other. It makes sense; having a conversation is easier when distractions are eliminated. Since Mr. P has an unusual work schedule, he goes to sleep very early. Toiling to finish dinner at a reasonable hour while trying to unwind from my own workday didn’t leave time for much chitchat.

For a while, I just sat around feeling unhappy. Finally, the “differentness” is gone and I’m comfortable again. The bit of post-holiday depression I experienced wasn’t entirely helpful, either. Now, though, my cooking skills are actually improving. I’m getting faster at prep work, and I’m working toward washing all dishes immediately (what a time saver that is!). I’m able to do kitchen tasks and spend time with my fiancé simultaneously. Even though I’m doing more at home, I feel more relaxed. Cooking doesn’t feel like such a marathon any longer.

Since we’re cooking more often, we’ve even expanded our horizons! I’m not making the same few dishes over and over again; instead, we’re pulling new recipes from our collection of cookbooks. This is both fun and interesting.

With my free time in the evenings, I’ve started reading! Due to being immersed in scholarly books practically constantly, I haven’t read for pleasure in ages. I forgot how great it is. It’s possible to download a heap of classic novels FOR FREE on the Kindle machine, too, so I’m looking forward to delving into some of those.

Funny, we started this project in order to save money, but it seems to be positively affecting other areas, too. All this in under two weeks! Wow.

I’m looking forward to Mr. P’s designated cooking night on Saturday. He makes a mean Skyline Cheese Coney.

SodaStream, I Love You.

27 Dec

Mr. P and I received a SodaStream for Christmas. After doing the math, we finally decided to add one to our wedding registry. It seemed a bit of a lavish item, but it would end up saving us quite a bit of money in the long run. The more we thought about it, the more we wanted a little fizz maker. We didn’t think anyone might get it for us; rather, we thought we might save up here and there and buy it eventually.

Well! My mom actually bought us the Fizz model for Christmas. Ours is red. The gadget manages to look retro and futuristic at once, and it’s a bit larger than it seems in photos.

What fun the SodaStream is to use, though! You can customize the level of fizz, which is fantastic for me because I want my drinks as bubbly as possible, like a natural disaster in a bottle.

All of the flavors we’ve tried so far have been delicious. My favorites are Diet Pink Grapefruit (a little like Fresca) and Orange, which tastes like those sugar-crusted gummy citrus wedges. We’ve also tried Diet Cranberry Raspberry, Root Beer, Fountain Mist (tastes just like Mountain Dew!), Diet Cola, and Dr. Pete. I’ll let you guess what flavor that one echoes!

You can adjust the amount of flavoring, which is nice. None of the flavors contain High Fructose Corn Syrup, and even the non-diet flavors are much lower in calories than their store-bought counterparts. The flavors do contain Splenda, but considering I was drinking about 4 cans daily of soda sweetened with aspartame, I can work with Splenda.

You can even use Monin or Torani-type syrups to make Italian Sodas, you can add a splash of juice, or you can make plain seltzer water. Lots of versatility here!

So far, we love it! We’re already taking out exponentially less trash (our community does not offer recycling -boo). According to studies, homemade soda also costs less than ready-made soda. Annnd we have much more free space in the fridge – woohoo!

Plus, making the soda is so much fun! Hopefully the Fizz will help in our quest to save money in 2012.

What flavor should I make next? Hmmm…

(SodaStream has not paid me a cent for this write-up; I’m literally just a very excited customer.)

Resolutions

27 Dec

Christmas is over. Although I usually love the holidays, I’m kind of glad it’s time for life to return to normal.

Mr. Parker and I aren’t really resolution makers, but we did set one main goal for 2012: save more money!

We have two strategies in order to fulfill our goal: 1) Stop buying junk we don’t need, and 2) Cook more meals at home.

While Strategy 1 is going to require mostly willpower, Strategy 2 is actually going to demand planning and effort. I’d like to stick to fairly simple recipes that will yield leftovers, which will save us money by allowing us to pack the leftovers for the next day’s lunch. Why go out for burgers if you have a great, already-cooked meal waiting in the fridge, right?

We’ll also have to be better about grocery shopping. Right now, we shop when we need ingredients. We’ll need to transition into buying affordable staples once a week, and then planning meals around those ingredients.

And if there’s a night we’re simply too tired to cook? Since this should be no more than once a week to once every other week, we’ll simply go out. The planning and cooking at home should save us enough money that occasional restaurant trips are not a big deal.

We’re eager to get started, and we look forward to sharing our progress with you.

Are you making any sort of cooking-related resolutions?

Happy New Year!