Tis the season for snow days, and traffic, secret shopping trips, and holiday preparations. The season for well thought-out casseroles tucked snuggly in tin and placed strategically on a porch stoop. The season for canned food drives, and jacket drives, and school holiday concerts precisely at 2:00.
You are striving to enjoy the sparkle of the snow, harness the anticipation of holiday celebrations to come, and breathe in cozy memories, all while the everyday hustle and bustle is still tap-tapping at your door.
And everyone still expects to eat. In fact, it's one of our favorite parts of this season; coming together over cozy meals that fill your belly and warm your soul.
What do you say, we agree to spend less time in the kitchen or staring in the fridge? What do you say, we do this without sacrificing hot meals or stopping for take-out?
Here's the Plan.
3 Make ahead Meals that turn into 6 Cozy Dinners
Cook some of these 3 original meals on days you have a little more time, or better yet, prep them over the weekend and reheat. Then remix!
Roast Chicken and Baked Potatoes
Roast 2 whole chickens, rubbed with oil and seasoned with your favorite spices, in the oven at 425 until internal temperature reaches 165 at the thickest part of the breast and thighs. Meanwhile, wash, poke with a fork, and rub with oil, 2 potatoes per family member. Sprinkle with sea salt and wrap potatoes with tin foil in approximately 5X5 inch foil squares. Then bake for approximately 1 hour or until soft.
Cut up one chicken and serve desired parts. (Feel free to pull legs, wings, and thighs from second bird if needed.) Serve with a side salad (You know we top ours with microgreens.)
*Don't unwrap leftover baked potatoes, just stick them in the fridge!
We use bulk dried beans and cook them quickly in the instant pot without any soak time. Try this recipe to cook dried beans quickly.
Use this recipe for simple chili or this one for an instant pot option. We always increase spices in chili including garlic, cayenne, chili powder, cumin, and oregano. I'm talking measuring by the palm of your hand! Sometimes, we jazz it up with cocoa powder for some extra body. yum! Serve with whatever floats your boat, crunchy tortilla chips, corn bread, or a warmed tortilla to dip between bites.
Chicken Noodle Soup
Chop an onion and a few cloves of garlic (I'd suggest 4-6)
Dice 3 large carrots and 2 celery stalks.
Sautee Veggies in approximately 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil until translucent.
Season heavily with favorite spices while sautéing. (I'd suggest, salt and Pepper, or Cajun spice, garlic and onion powders, thyme and a sprinkle of rosemary and coriander. Small amounts of mustard powder and paprika are delicious too!)
Place leftover chicken carcass from Roast chicken meal, or a Meaty Soup Bone or two in the pot and cover with water.
Boil until the house smells amazing and the meat falls easily off the bone.
(Please feel free to stick this in a crock pot and go on with your life! Or toss it in the instant pot for about 35-40 minutes.)
In a second pot, Boil water and prepare your favorite pasta as packaging directs.
Before serving, remove the chicken carcass with tongs or 2 large, slotted spoons. Pull meat any remaining meat off the bones and toss back into the pot. (Gloves help with the temperature here, if you are impatient like me.)
When ready, add pasta to each bowl individually. Add lots of pasta for those folks who enjoy thicker soups. Store pasta and soup separately.
Cowboy Style Loaded Baked Potatoes
With leftover baked potatoes and chili. Put together a baked potato bar, cowboy style! Offer chili topped baked potatoes with shredded cheddar, sour cream, salsa, green onions, or a spicy microgreen mix.
Creamy Onion Chicken over Pearl/Israeli Couscous (as seen on Instagram Lunches!)
Pull apart remaining chicken from Roast chicken meal.
Slice 2 large onions and crush and chop 4 large cloves of garlic.
Sautee with a few tablespoons of butter or Ghee until mostly translucent.
Add Chicken and season with salt and pepper, garlic and onion, rosemary and coriander.
Drizzle with a very small amount of fish sauce, coconut aminos, or soy sauce, approximately 1-1.5 teaspoons. Skim 4 cups of broth from leftover chicken noodle soup, adding more water as needed. Be sure to leave enough broth for saucy soup leftovers. You will need them for another meal!
Add 1 cup of broth to chicken and onion mixture, simmering on medium/low.
Prepare 2 cups of couscous with 3 cups of broth. Toast couscous on bottom of pan with small amount of oil on medium heat until golden. Stirring constantly. Add 3 cups of broth and simmer until fully absorbed, it really only takes a few minutes.
When couscous is ready, pour 1 cup of cream into chicken mixture and stir. Serve over couscous. Do I need to say what you should top it with??
Chicken and Dumplings
Using leftover Chicken soup, without the pasta. Reheat in a stock pot adding water/broth if needed to ensure 2 inches of broth on top of chicken and veggie mixture.
In a small bowl mix: 1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder,3/4 teaspoon salt. Plus, whatever spices tickle your fancy. I add dried parsley and garlic powder, if anything. Melt :1 tablespoon butter and mix with 2/3 cup of milk. Stir wet and dry ingredients together until combined. Then drop into soup one spoonful at a time. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until inside of dumplings are fluffy. Serve topped with microgreens or with a side salad.
Now what to make with that extra pasta....
We hope you truly enjoy this season and all that it requires. And that it is a season when you are yours live happier, healthier, and more delicious.
The Stevens Family
@ Rocking 5 S Farms