Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Sad, But True

It's sad, but it's true.  I have to return to work in less than 2 weeks.  (Insert huge frowny face here.)  I love being on a laid back schedule ... sleeping late, staying up late, eating whenever, going to the bathroom whenever.  Yes, I enjoy going to the bathroom when I need to.  During the school year, our time is so regimented that we have scheduled bathroom times. If I have to go to the bathroom at an unscheduled time, I have to find another teacher to watch over my class.  It's a pain in the behind to have to interrupt another class for coverage when nature calls.  Nature does not always have the same schedule we follow in the plan book.

Lunch is also on a tight schedule.  Two classes arrive every 3 minutes.  If you are early or late, it throws a kink into the serving line, other teacher's lunch time, and the table you are scheduled to sit at.  If you are late picking your kids, you have a million people mad at you because you just messed up the lunch time of the class that follows you and the teacher of that class is losing precious time from eating her lunch.  By the time a teacher gets her class through the line, gets them seated, gets her lunch, heats it up, and goes to the bathroom, she has 12-15 minutes to actually eat.  That is why teachers don't want to have a mini conference with parents during lunch.  I have been known to completely miss my lunch because of this.  This is not good for me, my co-workers, or my students because if I don't eat, I get grouchy ...  very grouchy!  So parents, if you come to have lunch with your child, have lunch with your child.  A friendly wave and a smile will suffice.  If you need to talk to me, simply ask me to call you or send a note about your concern.

With that off my chest, I can get back to what this post is about.  Since school will be starting back soon, I have begun my annual cook-a-thon.  I decided to take the leftovers from the Braised Chicken and Mushrooms and put that in the freezer.  Yesterday I was on a chicken cooking frenzy.  I cooked and froze 4 bags of shredded chicken, 3 bags of cubed chicken, and 3 batches of chicken pot pie filling.  In the midst of all of that, I put a whole chicken on the smoker and had part of that for dinner.  Then I saved the chicken broth from the shredded and cubed chicken and froze it to use when I cook other things.  Next, I cooked squash, zucchini, and brussel sprouts and put them in the freezer.  I also roasted cauliflower, but we ate that with dinner.  I don't think cauliflower would freeze very well.  I used some of the chicken broth in the brussel sprouts.  It made such a difference in the flavor!  Today I made a HUGE batch of Three Cheese Chicken Penne Pasta Bake and separated it into 3 freezer pans.  I added a pound of fresh mushrooms to it this time!  I also filled a smaller pan to take to my mother.  She'll like that.  Next on my agenda is to make Chicken Crescents, but first I have to go to the grocery store for crescent rolls.  That will make 2 more meals.  After that, I will be making a pot of White Chicken Chili and regular Chili.  We won't eat all of this next month, but it will be nice to have it ready and waiting.  In total, this will make about 20 dinners.  Plus I will have a number of lunches from it.  All of these recipes are already on the blog so I won't post them again, but here's a picture of my menu.  I made the menu before I started my cook-a-thon.  You might be able to pick up a few ideas from it.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Braised Chicken and Mushrooms

I've had a little extra time this summer with school being out.  I have been able to kick back and relax, explore new interests (essential oils), enjoy time with my grandbabies, and start to clean things out of my house.  The hubby and I have a plan to downsize in the next few years.  We have a lot of things to get rid of to do this, but I must admit, it feels good to get rid of things we haven't used in a long time.  Goodwill is probably wondering where to put everything now, but that's their problem!  Since I have some free time right now, I was on Pinterest the other day and saw a recipe that looked interesting.  Of course, I had to make a few changes to it!  It's like they say on American Idol, "You have to make it your own!" and that I did.  The mushrooms came out with the best flavor I have ever tasted in a mushroom.  The meal was so good, I can't wait to have the leftovers tomorrow night.  This recipe takes a little more time to make, but hey, it's summer!

Braised Chicken And Mushrooms

  • 3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken (breasts or thighs)
  • 1 pound fresh whole mushrooms
  • 2 ¼  cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic from a jar
  • 1 yellow onion, sliced into thin strips
  • 1 bay leaf, crumbled
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose Gluten Free flour
  • salt and pepper, to taste
Remove fat from chicken.  Lightly salt and pepper chicken.  Heat olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat and brown chicken. Place the chicken on a separate plate and set aside.  You may have to cook the chicken in 2 batches.  Sauté mushrooms, garlic, and onions until tender (about 10 minutes).  Remove veggies from pot.  Sprinkle flour into the pot with the juices that are left and cook for 1-2 minutes.  The flour will start to clump up.  Pour in the vinegars and chicken broth and whisk continuously until it’s smooth for about 3 minutes.  Add in crushed bay leaf.  Return chicken and veggies to the pot and bring the mixture to a boil.  Reduce heat to low, cover your pot, and let simmer for 20-25 minutes until the chicken is cooked completely.