I’ll be honest. I don’t really like cooking. I’d rather eat a block of cheese, an apple, and some leftover stocking candy for dinner than actually cook anything. That’s pretty fine when it’s just me and the dog. He’s fine watching me eat my cheese, I’m fine letting him eat his dog food. No one’s wishing they had anything different (maybe the dog).
Things change when you get married. For most girls that means they have to actually start cooking for their new love because he probably doesn’t want to sit down to a block of cheese and a paring knife every night for dinner. It changed for me because my husband LOVES to cook. He does it for fun. That’s perfect for me on most days because he takes charge in the kitchen and I get to eat whatever he makes. Full belly, full heart.
What I didn’t see coming was that I would actually start liking to cook, too. Last year on his birthday I cooked bolognese, a Mario Batali recipe. It took me all afternoon, and it was one of the most delicious and gratifying meals I’ve ever had. I’ve even put it on my wife resume and pull it out whenever I make a meal that could use a do over… “Hey babe, remember that time I made birthday bolognese?”… It was memorable and delicious and everything I think a meal should be.
What I learned was this- I don’t really like cooking. UNLESS it’s something that I feel confident doing. I like following tried and true recipes from other people that I know. Preferably meals that I have tasted before. I like recipes that don’t have a ton of ingredients that I don’t already have, can be adapted, and are easy for me to prepare on the fly.
Today I have 2 recipes for you. Adam likes to call them “garbage disposal” recipes. I know that sounds delicious, right? What it really means is that you can kind of literally just dump whatever yum sounding things you have in your fridge/cupboard into these recipes. And that kind of makes them not really recipes at all.
Homemade Chicken Broth
You will need the following 2 things to get started- a big huge pot and a cooked chicken carcass. :)
Tips and tricks:
1. Whole chickens are usually very cheap, and the meat usually feeds Adam and I about 3 or 4 times. Follow instructions on the bag for cooking, sprinkle with oil/salt/pepper and let it bake! We usually make chicken broth the same night we cook our whole chicken, but you can also freeze the bones until you are ready to make broth.
2. Throughout the week/month, save all of the vegetable parts that you would normally dispose of in a freezer bag. Onion peel, carrot ends, potato skins, over ripe veggies, leftover brussel sprouts, the last of that packet of herbs you bought for that one recipe, etc.
Dump all of those frozen leftover veggies (or fresh, if you MUST) on top of those chicken bones, fill with enough water to cover the ingredients, and bring to a boil. At this point you will add whatever seasonings you would like to. We use the following- salt, pepper, allspice, apple cider vinegar, sometimes whole cloves, garlic cloves, thyme, whatever we want! Whatever you want is ok, too.
Let simmer for 2 1/2- 3 hours. You can literally just let it sit on the stove until it’s finished. Taste if you want, adjust seasonings.
After it cooks and cools slightly, drain broth through a strainer into a big bowl. Refrigerate for a few hours until the fat on top separates from the liquid on the bottom. Throw away the fat (or use it for something else). I’ve made chicken noodle soup out of full fat broth before, and it’s tasty, too! Save broth in an airtight container or freeze until you are ready to use. Great for soup bases!
Smoothies are the best because you can sneak in vitamin rich foods that you don’t like, and nobody ever knows the difference! Try them, seriously. Make them as breakfast, snack, side item, or dessert!
Grab a blender and mix some fruits and leafy green veggies until blended and smooth.
Here is what I had in my lunch smoothie: 1 cup of frozen berries, 2 handfuls of spinach leaves, 5 baby carrots, 1/2 cup of plain yogurt, 2 splashes of apple sauce, a splash of almond milk, a few squirts of real maple syrup, a spoonful of coconut oil, a dash of cinnamon.
Add whatever you’d like! It’s another chance to use up those over ripe fruits that you don’t want to bite into.
And finally, that Mario Batali recipe I told you about? You can find it here. :)