Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Homemade Chicken Stock

There are so many recipes that call for Chicken Broth or Stock, and I can't find anything at the grocery store that I can use. So I've taken to making my own and freezing it in 4 cup quantities. It doesn't require a lot of work... mostly just time.

5 lb chicken with giblets
3 large carrots
3 large stalks celery
1 -2 bay leaves

Remove giblets from chicken, rinse, and place in 3 qt saucepan. Fill pan with cold water, cover and bring to boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and simmer, covered, for 6 hours, checking liquid level every hour or so. Refill water during the first four hours. After 6 hours, remove from heat. Strain. Discard all solid material.

Clean and peel carrots and celery. Chop into 1 - 2 inch pieces.

Rinse chicken under cold water. Place in 8-quart stock pan. Fill pan with water. Add carrots, celery and bay leaves. Cover and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 6 hours. Refill water during first four hours. After six hours, remove from heat. Strain. Add strained giblet broth. Season to taste with salt & pepper. Allow to cool and skim fat from surface. Measure out four-cup portions and place in freezer bags.

Remove chicken meat from the bones and refrigerate. Should be used within three to five days or frozen. Keep in mind that it will shred, and its texture will be soft from cooking so long - not meat to use when you want a nice presentation (best for chicken salad or pot pie).

Vegetables can be discarded or used in a soup. They will be very mushy - but very flavorful!

Curried Chicken Stew

This was a very tasty stew I adapted. It didn't turn out very pretty, so I don't recommend it for a nice dinner. But when you want a savory stew on a chilly evening in the fall, it hits the spot!

3 cups butternut squash
1 1/2 cups white potatoes
1 1/2 cup sweet potatoes
4 Tbls Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO), divided
4 chicken breasts
1 cup homemade chicken broth
14 1/2 to 16 oz tomatoes with liquid (Pomi or Cento Crushed Tomatoes)
1 1/2 tsp curry powder (The Spice Hunter or Morton & Bassett)
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp cinnamon
2 Tbls chopped fresh cilantro for serving

* Wash then peel squash and potatoes. Cut into 2 inch chunks. Place white potatoes in a pan of cool water.
* Cut chicken into 2 inch chunks.
* In a Dutch Oven pan, heat 1 1/2 Tbls EVOO on medium-high.
* Toss chicken in pan then sprinkle with 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper. Cook through, stirring regularly.
* Remove chicken to plate.
* Heat the other 2 1/2 Tbls EVOO in Dutch Oven and toss squash and potatoes in oil. Saute for several minutes, stirring carefully to allow vegetables to brown, without sticking to the pan.
* Add chicken broth, tomatoes and seasonings. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until squash & potatoes are soft, but not mushy.
* Return chicken to pan. Adjust seasoning to taste.
* Serve hot and top with chopped, fresh cilantro.


After looking at dozens of recipes for granola, I discovered a very helpful "rule." In nearly every recipe I saw, I noted that there was a 7 to 1 ratio of dry ingredients to wet. In an effort to reduce fat and calories, I experimented and discovered that I could swing just 2/3 cup wet to 7 cups dry. Nevertheless, granola is highly caloric, and because the oats have not been soaked, they are very hard on the digestive system.

The following recipe is very basic Oat Granola. But if you want, you can substitute oats with a variety of other ingredients. Be creative! One thing to keep in mind - when adding dried fruit, it may be best to do so AFTER baking. But add nuts and seeds prior to baking. Depending on the flavor and texture you want, you can add coconut before or after baking.

Suggestions for additions:
* dried fruit (apples, raisins, pineapple, apricots, berries, mango, figs, dates, coconut)
* nuts (walnuts, almonds, cashews, peanuts, pistachios, pecans)
* seeds (flaxseed, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds)

Also, depending on the flavor you want, you can try substituting different oils and sweeteners... like real maple syrup for the honey or use a nut oil instead of the coconut oil, if you like. Cinnamon can be omited, reduced or increased, depending on taste. During the holiday season, I like to reduce the cinnamon to 1 1/2 tsp and add 1/8 tsp cloves, 1/2 tsp ginger and 1 tsp of nutmeg.

So without further adoo, here is the basic granola recipe:

7 cups Rolled Oats
1/3 cup Honey
1/3 cup Coconut Oil
1 Tbls Cinnamon
1 Tbls Vanilla Extract

* Preheat oven to 350
* Combine all items in mixer
* Transfer to large jelly-roll baking pan and spread evenly across pan
* Bake for 8 minutes then turn granola over
* Bake for another 6 minutes
* Remove from oven, allow to cool on pan

Sweet Potato Muffins

These muffins are dense and usually fall once removed from the oven. But they are high in fiber and very tasty.

15 oz. sweet potato or canned pumpkin
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
2/3 cup apple juice concentrate
4 lg eggs
1/2 cup honey
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp salt
3 tsp baking soda
1 cup ground flaxseed meal
1 cup oat bran
2 cups oat flour (place old fashioned oats in blender and puree until fine)

* In microwave oven, bake 1 extra large sweet potato for 12 - 15 minutes on high, turning over twice during baking. When soft all over, remove from microwave and peel.
* Preheat oven to 350.
* Grease 24 muffin cups with oil (or butter).
* In blender, puree sweet potato (or pumpkin) with applesauce and apple juice concentrate.
* Combine salt, soda, flaxseed meal, oat bran and oat flour in large mixing bowl.
* In mixer, whip eggs with honey and spices. Add sweet potato/applesauce/juice mixture and mix well.
* Add dry ingredients one cup at a time.
* Immediately fill muffin cups and place in center rack of oven.
* Bake for 12 minutes or until toothpick in center muffins comes out clean.
* Remove muffins to rack immediately to cool.