Tuesday, May 17, 2011


I went to Costco yesterday, to get Joe’s medication and the fudge bars that he loves.  It was also time to replenish my olive oil supply.  At four liters for $21.99, it’s well worth it to always be able to have that on hand.
As always, the sample servers were in position at the end of many of the aisles.  This time, I tasted something that is undoubtedly the ultimate comfort food: a chicken and rice medley that can be popped into the microwave for a quick and easy entrée.  I was very tempted to drop it into my cart.  I would’ve done that in better days, but now my budget wouldn’t allow it.  Besides, couldn’t I make this yummy thing myself?  I remembered the leftover chicken that was nicely packaged in our refrigerator.  Besides our first roast chicken meal three nights ago, Joe and I had also had a tasty chicken sandwich yesterday using some of the white meat, but there was still a lot left.  I could make this casserole and package it in pint containers (sour cream, salsa, or margarine tubs) and freeze them for a quick entrée.  Each container would hold two one cup portions.  Add a salad to that and it’s a meal for two.
I am reminded of my mother, who scoffed at TV dinners and the waste of them.  And I reflect on the amount of time I have spent pondering nutrition labels on packaged foods—rejecting most if more than five ingredients were listed.  It becomes more than an issue of economy, because ultimately, I want to know what goes into my mouth to feed my body.
Chicken and Rice Casserole
3 cups uncooked rice (I like the Organic Rice Medley from Costco which is a combination of four grains, including brown, red and wild rice)
1 cup chicken drippings, fat removed, from roast chicken
6 cups water
1 large carrot, chopped into small dice
1 teaspoon herbs de Provence
1 teaspoon sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup frozen petite peas
2 ½ cups chopped chicken, including white and dark meat
1 cup grated parmesan
1 cup sour cream
In three quart saucepan, add water to rice.  Add chicken drippings.  Add seasonings.  Add carrot dice.  Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to simmer and cover until rice has fully absorbed the water, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
In a large bowl, mix cooked rice and carrots with chopped chicken, frozen peas, grated parmesan and sour cream.
Spoon mixture into pint containers, cover and freeze until ready to use.  I stick a strip of masking tape on the lid to label contents and add date.  Makes 5 pints, 10 servings
           Prep time: 15 minutes.  Cook time: 45 minutes to 1 hour.  Serving size: 1 cup
Amazingly, I still have one chicken breast left.  I’ll make a chicken salad with that. 
 Nice lunch on a couple of Romaine leaves.

Chicken Salad
1 ½ cups white meat chicken
1 ¼ cups celery (about three stalks chopped in small dice)
½ cup onion (about ¼ medium sweet onion)
½ cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup chopped parsley
¼ cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup sour cream
½ teaspoon herbs the Provence
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup chopped deli style jalapeño slices
Mix all together.  Makes four cups chicken salad.  Serving size: 1 cup. 
            Prep. Time: 15 minutes
When I finished putting all this in assorted containers, stacking them in the freezer and arranging a lunch with half of the chicken salad, I thought of the miracle of the loaves and fishes and thought: quite a remarkable chicken for $4.50!  Roast dinner for two the first night, chicken sandwiches for lunch the next day, ½ gallon chicken stock, one pint bone meal (for the dog), ten servings chicken/rice casserole, four serving chicken salad—all from one lowly fryer.

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