Category Archives: Healthy Eating

Thai-Style Shrimp and Rice

A quick meal that is so amazingly light and delicious. Perfect for a simple weeknight yet elegant enough for guests!

The coconut milk makes it creamy but very light.  I prefer this with jasmine rice and some crusty bread to soak up any remaining broth.  So good!

You’re going to want to plan on making two batches of this… one to try out the recipe and the other to show it off!



  • 2 lbs raw jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 5 green onions, diced
    • separated between white & green
    • reserve half of the green for garnish
  • 1/2 bunch fresh cilantro, diced (1/2 cup)
    • Reserve a couple of tbsp for garnish
  • 5 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1/8-1/2 tsp crushed red pepper (to taste)
  • kosher or sea salt to taste
  • 14-1/2 oz can petite diced tomatoes
  • 14 oz can coconut milk
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced into thin strips (Julienne)
  • 1/2 lime, fresh squeezed or 2 tbsp of lime juice
  • 3 cups steamed rice


  • Put on rice to cook
  • In a medium-sized saucepan, heat oil and add garlic, all of the red pepper and the white onions and only half of the green onion and cilantro.  Saute for about 1 minute.
  • Add tomatoes, coconut milk, and salt.  Simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Add shrimp and red peppers; continue to cook 5 minutes.
  • Add lime juice and remove from heat.
  • Put rice in bowls, ladle shrimp and broth over half of the rice and off to the side; garnish with remaining green onions and cilantro.

Makes 6-8 servings


Ghee… Huh, wait, what?



Ghee [gee] – noun – a kind of liquid butter, used especially in the cooking of India, utilizing butter made from the milk of cows then clarified by boiling.

Ghee, funny name, oh believe me I know.  It’s pronounced with a “g” like gorgeous and that’s exactly what it is.  I originally learned about ghee while following a lightweight backpacking online group.  It’s utilized by backpackers because it is shelf-stable (no refrigeration needed) and so much more flavorful than oil for cooking.  All I knew at this point was that it was Indian butter.

My friend’s son is autistic and was put on “the diet” (gluten, casein, soy & corn free  – with great results I might add).  We were busy looking for new and creative recipes for the family so he wasn’t singled out when I once again saw ghee references. I started looking at you tube videos and recipes online.  Now I’m a very confident cook and always ready to try new things but this was different, Tyler could have ghee but not butter so if I made a mistake I could cause problems for him.  I finally worked up the nerve to make a batch with the help of my former boss, a wonderful woman and dear friend from India who walked me through the process better than a you tube video ever could (thanks again Paulomi!).  Once made, we passed it around and tasted it in absolute awe.  It’s like butter, but so so much better.  Unlike anything we’d ever tasted before.


How do you make ghee?

Truly, you boil the butter.  That’s it. Then you strain it.  (Seems too simple, I don’t get it..)

First you start by putting butter in a good solid bottomed pan.  My daughter gave me an enamel coated Lodge cast iron Dutch oven for Christmas several years ago which is now known as my ghee pot.

Next, the butter.  Well, here’s where it doesn’t matter too much because you’re removing the dairy, as well as the salt.  I am in an area where I can pick up Amish butter at a great price.  If you’re looking for grass-fed only, look for Kerry Gold.  To my knowledge it’s the only grass-fed that’s commercially available.  However, I have stocked up on butter at the grocery when it went on sale and made ghee with it and not noticed a difference in the end result.

When the butter starts to melt it will go from its normal pale yellowish white to a bright yellow and creamy.  Once it comes to a simmer/gentle boil, leave it.  Come back every once in a while (20 minutes or so) and stir it.  I use a plastic pancake turner with a straight edge because it allows me to scrape the bottom to keep the solids from sticking.  I have a wooden paddle but I noticed that it tends to absorb the salt as well as the oils.  You’ll find some people will refer to ghee as clarified butter but that is incorrect.  Clarified butter (or drawn butter) is made at this first stage when the butter first separates but is still that bright yellow.  (Think of what they serve at Red Lobster with your crab legs). As it continues to boil it will become more and more clear and more of an amber color and all the butter.  The batch I have in the picture was boiled for approximately 2 hours.

Time to strain.  I have wire strainer that I set over the bowl from my Kitchen-Aid mixer (in the picture).  I then took my cheesecloth and folded it in quarters and put it in the strainer.  I poured the finished ghee through the cheesecloth to strain out the carbonized dairy solids.  Once it all strained, I then picked up the cheesecloth by the corners (making a pouch) and kept twisting it tight to squeeze out any ghee that was left.  Believe me when I say this step is worth it.  Between the solids and the cheesecloth you should be able to squeeze out several ounces.  As you can see by the picture, there are a lot of dairy solids that come out.  This also contains the casein which is an allergen for some folks, as well as one of the offending items for autistic kids.

Here’s what’s removed from the butter when you turn it into ghee. The dairy is completely carbonized. I strained it through cheesecloth then squeezed out the excess.ghee 2I started with 6 pounds of butter (on sale $2 a pound). The finished result netted me 1 quart jar and 7 eight ounce jars. This lasted us for about 12 weeks.  Put the lids on and put it in the cabinet.  Treat it as you would any other oil.  Just so you’re aware, if your home is cool this may start to solidify and that’s okay, you haven’t done anything wrong making it.

Mountain Rose Herbs. A herbs, health and harmony c

Okay, I made it.  Now what do I do with it?

The question now is what can’t you do with it?  It can be used in any recipe for oil or butter.  Here’s the best part IMO.  Ever get a pan too hot when you’re going to cook something with butter and it burns?  Not with ghee.  All the parts that would burn, you’ve already removed.  You can pan fry your eggs or fish, brush it on bread for a grilled cheese or as toast, drizzle it on broccoli or popcorn… you name it!.  My favorite is to sauté garlic in ghee for a few minutes.  It’ll taste like you roasted it in the oven for an hour!  Put that in some mashed potatoes or cauliflower and you will think you’re in heaven.

There’s benefits too?

Ghee has long been used in Ayurvedic medicine and diet.  It’s believed to lubricate joints, help with mental function (not unlike newly discovered properties of coconut oil), stimulate digestion and even aid in the absorption of herbs and spices from dishes for medicinal benefit.

Try it out and tell me what you think.  I guarantee you’re going to keep it in the house all the time and convert your friends.  Be sure to share this with them too!



BBQ Shrimp and Mango Salad

BBQ Shrimp n Mango salad

This was so simple, it literally took a total of 15 minutes including the prep.  It doesn’t get any easier.  So delicious and you can add or incorporate anything your imagination allows.  You’ll find that I’m a cook that doesn’t follow a lot of recipes, I follow flavors and ideas so even as I write this to share with you, I’m thinking of what I can do next time (add bacon).


This was a perfect summer dinner for 2 but is easily multiplied for guests.  It doesn’t heat the house, not heavy but yet very satisfying.


Perfect for that night when you really don’t want to cook because it is put together in the same or less time than a frozen pizza or {gasp} hot dogs and a box of mac & cheese and is so much healthier!


This would also be a great dinner for company because you’re not spending time in the kitchen while everyone else gets to hang out with a glass of wine.

BBQ Shrimp Salad Ingredients


  • 2 tbsp bacon fat or extra virgin olive oil

  • 1 – 12 oz bag of large shrimp, uncooked, with shells and tails off

  • Fresh spinach

  • 1 ripe mango, diced

  • 1 ripe avocado, diced

  • 1/2 red onion, sliced thin

  • 2 oz barbecue sauce, homemade or your favorite bottle**

  • 3-4 oz water, chicken stock or white wine

** This recipe will be gluten free if you need it to be just by watching your BBQ sauce label or making your own.

Shrimp saute

Over medium high heat in a non-stick saute pan, add the bacon fat.  Once it’s hot, add the shrimp.

Toss or stir with a wood spoon to keep from sticking and to cook evenly.

Salad prep

Plate your spinach and as you prep the onion, avocado and mango put them on top of the spinach.

Shrimp add BBQ

Add your BBQ sauce and toss to coat

Shrimp in BBQ

Add your liquid and let it cook for another 2 minutes to cook out any liquor and reduce slightly.  It will be nice and thick.  Divide the shrimp between the two plates, making sure to use a spatula to get every last drop of that sauce out of the pan and drizzle over the shrimp.

Serve and enjoy!  And you thought I was joking when I said this was easy!

I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.  Tell me what you think!


Powerhouse Breakfast Cookies

When you don’t have time to make breakfast or need an afternoon snack to keep you going, these are the way to go.  No chemical preservative and are also amazing crumbled up with some vanilla yogurt!

Powerhouse Breakfast cookies

Powerhouse Breakfast Cookies

  • 3 1/2 cups quick oats (they are finer cut and more powdery)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 cups Peanut, Almond or Sunflower seed butter
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup apple butter
  • 3 Bananas, mashed
  • 1/2 cup shelled sunflower or pumpkin seeds
  • 1/3 dried cranberries or raisins (or both)
  • 1/3 Chocolate or carob chips

Mix all ingredients together. Drop by spoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet or parchment paper.  Flatten the tops slightly as these cookies do not rise or spread when they bake.

Bake at 325 degrees for 15-16 minutes or until slightly browned. Cool completely and store in an airtight container or freeze in a freezer bag.

Back to School Tips & Tricks at Lunchtime

Everyday a mountain of trash is needlessly thrown away at lunchtime, creating environmental problems, health hazards and wasting hundreds of dollars for every family packing a lunch. School trash cans nationwide are overflowing!

Have you thought about going green at lunchtime? ECOlunchbox is an elegant solution to this problem of lunch waste.

With news about the health dangers of plastics growing, green consumers are seeking out non-plastic food containers as well as generally avoiding potentially leachy synthetics when it comes to food packing.

Plastic water bottles. Granola bar plastic packaging. Plastic chip baggies. Plasticized cardboard juice boxes. Cheese stick plastic wrappers. Paper napkins. Plastic yogurt cups. Brown bags. Plastic utensils. Plastic Ziploc baggies.

How to Pack A Waste-Free Lunch:

  1. Cloth napkins by ECOlunchbox are great for everyday and make great gifts
  2. Snacks packed in nifty stainless steel ECOdippers and ECOpods by ECOlunchbox are healthy for people and our planet.
  3. Sandwiches, and other main dishes, fresh fruits and, fresh vegetables, and treats packed in a non-toxic & reusable stainless steel ECOlunchbox bento
  4. Reusable utensils are also great.

Meatloaf Madness

If you don’t like meatloaf, you just haven’t met the right one.

Meatloaf Collage

Meatloaf isn’t so much a specific item with a recipe, but more of a description really.  It’s meat, shaped into a loaf.  What you do with it, however… ah, now there’s the world of possibility at your fingertips.  Truly, meatloaf is the Bob Ross painting of the cooking world… there are no mistakes, just happy accidents… or in this case, tasty accidents.  There’s no two alike.  Every family has its own traditional recipe but they are all made according to the cooks taste.  Sometimes they are made more traditional, and some are made with culinary or cultural themes in mind.

I watched an episode of Beat Bobby Flay on Food Network recently, where the competition was, in fact, making meatloaf.  Bobby Flay created a Korean inspired meatloaf, complete with kimchee, while his opponent (a barbecue master) made a traditional meatloaf and opted to smoke it!  Believe me when I tell you I got hungry watching the show.

The components of meatloaf are simply ground meat, eggs, bread crumbs, and seasonings.  Traditionally, American meatloaf is usually topped with ketchup, but that is optional too.

First comes the meat.

While ground beef seems to be the “obvious” choice, ground turkey is highly popular and versatile and makes an awesome meatloaf.  On the East coast where I’m originally from, the grocery stores sell packages of “meatloaf mix” that look like this:

meatloaf mix
Meatloaf Mix – Beef, Pork & Veal

Other meats can be utilized as well… lamb, venison, any ground game really, even ham or salmon!

Then the binder

Eggs and breadcrumbs serve as a binder, holding the meat together allowing it to be sliced after cooking.  Without enough binder, the meat will just crumble and you’ll be thinking you should be having tacos or sloppy joes instead.

The rule of thumb for the eggs is one large egg per pound of meat. If it’s large (5 lbs+) or you’re using leaner meat like turkey or venison, add an extra egg to maintain moisture.  You can use egg whites or Egg Beaters as well as eggs in the shell.

For the bread crumbs, for every pound of meat, you’ll need 1/3-cup of dried bread crumbs.  Dried bread crumbs include purchased bread crumbs (plain or seasoned), panko, corn flakes, oats, soda crackers or saltines, rice crackers, and croutons.  Make sure they are crushed so they mix well with the meat.  Fresh bread also works well, just give it a few pulses in a food processor to turn in into crumbs and you’re good to go.  Double the amount of breadcrumbs needed if you’re using fresh bread.

Next the seasoning

There’s so much to put here I don’t know where to start.

  • Any dry seasoning mixtures or dry rubs – Barbecue, Cajun, Montreal Steak seasoning, Italian seasoning, etc
  • Sauces – Worcestershire, steak sauce, bbq sauce, fish sauce, red wine, liquid smoke
  • Soup mixes – Onion, beefy mushroom, etc
  • Fajita or taco seasoning
  • Parmesan, Bleu, Cheddar, smoked provolone, ricotta, swiss or feta cheese
  • Hard-boiled eggs (that was a huge thing back through the ’40s -’60s)
  • Veggies – Onions, mushrooms, grated zucchini or carrots
  • Other meat
    • Bacon
    • Italian Sausage
    • Chorizo
    • Sage flavored sausage (would work well with ground turkey)

I was taught to make meatloaf and meatballs with the same mixture… garlic, onion, oregano, basil, parmesan cheese, salt, pepper & parsley.  I took this a bit farther when I mixed ground beef & sweet Italian sausage and then stuffed it with a ricotta mixture and served it with marinara sauce.  Amazing!

Go Greek with lemon, garlic & fresh oregano (with a beef/lamb mixture and serve with mock tzatziki of Greek yogurt, grated cucumber, and either dill or fresh oregano … YUM!).

You can opt to go more Mexican with some fajita seasoning and lime (topped with salsa?) Mmm!

Love cheeseburgers?  Consider ground beef with Montreal Steak seasoning and a splash of A-1, then throw in some diced bacon and cheddar or bleu cheese.  (Topped with bbq sauce?) OMG!

Thanksgiving anytime?  Turkey & sage sausage meatloaf, use stuffing mix for breadcrumbs (still crush them, maybe not as fine so they’re noticeable) stuff with mashed potatoes or diced sweet potatoes and top with cranberry sauce for a glaze.  (Now that this is in my head I may need to do this one next week.)

Wrapped in Bacon
Meatloaf Wrapped in Bacon

On to the topping

While ketchup is the traditional favorite it’s far from the only choice.  Barbecue sauce, sriracha, canned diced tomatoes with basil, salsa, kimchee, Hunts canned “meatloaf sauce”, cream of celery, onion or mushroom soup, plain (unseasoned) tomato sauce, tomato soup, steak sauce, bottled chili sauce or cocktail sauce.  Pretty much anything else that you think might sound good including mixing some of the above items… or nothing at all.  My folks were anti-ketchup on meatloaf so I didn’t actually try this until I was an adult.

If this is your first meatloaf ever or you’re getting the kids cooking and want to keep it simple (or just don’t have much on hand), shoot for the basics.  Ground beef, eggs, bread crumbs and onion soup mix (one envelope for every 2-3 lbs of meat) and ketchup on top.  Delicious!

This is why I shouldn't plate leftovers after watching Food Network
Mashed potatoes, gravy, fried meatloaf and an egg.  This is why I shouldn’t plate leftovers after watching Food Network.

Putting it all together

Some people insist on putting meatloaf in a loaf pan, others don’t.  As Bob Ross said, “it’s your world”.  However, depending on how much meat you’re using, it may not fit in a loaf pan.  I prefer to use either a roasting pan which will allow it to sit in its own juices or a broiler pan so that the juices and fats can gather underneath way from the loaf.

When using a roasting pan, add water or beef stock to the pan along with any herbs you want to season your gravy.  When the meat is done, put it on a platter to rest and pour the liquids into a saucepan along with additional stock and seasonings then thicken with cornstarch or a flour roux for a delicious gravy.

Using a broiler pan is preferred if you’re trying to watch your fat intake, you don’t plan on making gravy or you’re making a stuffed meatloaf and you don’t want the liquids to surround the meat.  Do put a little water in the bottom of the pan to keep the fat from burning.

As I mentioned before, I stuffed a meatloaf with a ricotta mixture (same as you would use for lasagna).  When I did it I used a Bundt pan; a loaf pan would have worked just as well but I was using a lot of meat.  I lined the bottom and sides with the ground meat mixture, then put the filling in the cavity, then put an additional layer of meat on the bottom.

meatloaf w-egg&spinach
It’s your meatloaf, fill it however you like!

What I found is that its best to either turn it out of the pan before baking or line the pan with foil so that it doesn’t stick to the pan since it’s hard to get any tools in there to loosen it.

An easier method is to put half of your meat into the pan and build up the sides like this.


Once you have that built you can fill it with just about anything… bacon, cheese, mashed potatoes, mac & cheese, veggies (inside out cabbage roll anyone?), layers of frozen ravioli, you name it!  Then roll out the rest of the meat mixture, put it on top and pinch the edges to seal.

Another option is to spread out the meat mixture on a countertop lined in plastic wrap, put the fillings in the center then roll it up. You just don’t want to do this if you’re using fillings that can run or melt out (softer cheese, mashed potatoes, etc).

Roll the filling up.
Meatloaf (1)
… and it will look like this when it’s cooked.

Next, just top it if you want and put it in a preheated oven at 350°F for approximately 20 minutes per pound.  You want the meat to come to 160°F to make sure it’s done.  As with all meat, let it rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing.

A few ideas I want to throw out there before I finish.

I realize that cooking for one breaks conventional rules especially if you want to eat what you make once and not all week.  Seniors, college students, and singles tend to eat out because cooking for one can be “awkward”.  Consider baking the meatloaves in muffin tins or mini loaf pans (check out my post Work Smart, Save Money, Eat Great).  Leftovers are easily stored in the freezer and will make for quick meals or great for packing lunches.  Meatloaves can also be frozen in a raw state as long as the meat has not been previously frozen.  Pair them up with those ketchup packets at the bottom of your fridge and it’s a winner.

My grandmother (the fun one) really mastered cooking for one.  She got mini loaf pans and froze her raw meatloaf in the pans.  Once they were frozen solid they could be put in a freezer bag for easier storage.  When she wanted meatloaf for dinner she’d take one out and put it back in one of those mini loaf pans to thaw.  Later she would top it with the contents of a ketchup packet and pop it in her toaster oven!



“Frosting” like cupcakes is not only a fun decorating idea, but it’s great for a potluck or buffet line, kids and dieters too!  Portion control that doesn’t look like portion control.

If you need dinner done when you come home and don’t want to wait on the oven time, you can also make meatloaf in the crockpot by putting it on low for 6 hours.  A real time saver!

Now tell me you can’t get your kids to help in the kitchen…

For the record, meatloaf leftovers make the best sandwiches, whether open-faced and smothered in gravy or on toast or hearty rolls with lettuce & tomato.  They’re even good fried with eggs for breakfast instead of sausage or crumbled into pasta sauce, tacos or sloppy joes!  (And that makes it frugal!)

I hope you give this a try, either as a first-timer, a seasoned cook with new creative inspiration or as a single who’s looking forward to not eating out, you’re guaranteed to love it.  If you have an inspiration to add, please share as I’m always looking for new and creative ideas!  Happy eating!



Herb Roasted Chicken

Who doesn’t love a whole roasted chicken?  After all, that’s why rotisserie chickens are available at almost every large grocery store, isn’t it?

2014-03-18 17.22.40b


Roasted chicken is so easy to make and so frugal that unless you’re needing to pick up a rotisserie chicken as an immediate convenience food, you’re so much better off fixing your own.  A whole chicken will cost the same or less than as deli chicken but weigh considerably more. 


2014-03-18 14.10.46

I whisked together a mixture of 2 tbsp white wine, 1 tbsp olive oil and 1/2 tsp ground savory and used my marinade injector to get it into to the meat and marinate it from the inside out.  The nice thing about a marinade injector is that it gets the flavor all the way through the meat and you use less of it because you don’t need to soak the whole piece of meat.

Another great way to get additional flavor through your chicken is to use a vertical roaster or (for us frugalites) a soda or beer can, fill the can about 1/3 of the way up with your favorite liquid marinade.  Wrap it in foil so the dyes and chemicals on the can aren’t touching the meat, give it a quick spray of oil and insert the cavity of the chicken and put it in your roasting pan standing up.

You can also place a whole lemon, lime or orange in the cavity.  Give it a quick roll on the counter with a little pressure to break the membranes inside.  Then poke holes in it with a fork, shish kebob skewer or ice pick to allow the juice to steam out of the lemon and into your bird as it cooks.  Lemon and a few sprigs of fresh thyme are amazing!

2014-03-18 14.15.29

I gave the chicken a light massage with olive oil and then covered it with my spice mix.

The seasoning blend is completely up to you… 

  • Deli Rotisserie blend – Salt, pepper, paprika, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder & thyme (1 tsp each)
  • Lemon pepper, garlic, sea salt & parsley (1 tsp each)
  • Mexican Mole – 2 tsp instant espresso powder dissolved in 1 tbsp water, add 2 tsp smoked paprika, 1 tsp baking cocoa, 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp olive oil & 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • Southwestern – 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp sweet paprika, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 tsp chipotle chile powder, 1/4 tsp sea salt & 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • Curry – 4 tsp coriander, 2 tsp turmeric, 2 tsp ground mustard (I like Coleman’s), 2 tsp chili powder, 1 tsp cayenne, 1 tsp cumin & 1/2 tsp ground cardamom


Bulk organic herbs, spices and essential oils. Sin

I used a tsp each of  pepper, garlic powder, thyme, oregano, basil, tarragon & marjoram and a 1/2 tsp of sea salt


2014-03-18 14.14.46
Don’t forget the inside!


Remember that it takes just as much energy to cook two as it does one.  Consider making a second one so you can have leftovers, especially if you family will eat a whole bird in one sitting.  The extra meat can be used for casseroles, salads, quesadillas and burritos, pot pies and more.  If you’re planning on using the leftovers for a specific dish you can season the second bird differently (lime, cilantro, garlic, onion powder, salt, pepper & cumin come to mind).



Pop your bird in the oven at 450°F for 15 minutes, then drop the temperature down to 350°F and continue to cook it for 20 minutes per pound.  Use a kitchen thermometer and make sure that the internal temperature is 165°F and as always, let your meat rest for 5 minutes before carving.  If you don’t have a thermometer, stick a fork in the breast and then the leg, if the juices run clear it’s done.  It’s best to have a thermometer though and be sure.

Be sure to use the carcasses for making homemade chicken stock.  It’s so easy and delicious and it’ll continue to save you money.  Chicken stock at the grocery store runs anywhere from $1 to $5 a quart.  You can use the bones, skin, a few seasonings and some vegetable trimmings to make a healthy delicious stock for only pennies per gallon!  One carcass can easily make 1-2 gallons of chicken stock.  This can save you a lot of money over the course of a year and you control the salt and best yet, no preservatives!


Healthy (and Frugal) Homemade Chicken Stock

One of the easiest things in the world to make is homemade chicken stock.  I spoke briefly about making stock in I’m Dreaming of a Pot Pie.

Stock 2

At the store you’ll find stock/broth priced anywhere from $1 to $5 a quart.   When I was working  60+ hours a week and cooking “on the fly” I didn’t take the time to make my own stock but it killed me every time I had to buy it at the store.

Stock is literally made with scraps from you kitchen and takes so little attention you can just go about your day and leave it alone.  The amount of stock you make is only limited to the amount of scraps you have and how big of a stock pot you have.

Just a note…

Before we get into this let me start by saying that while I do love cooking (and especially love feeding people), it’s not what I want to be doing every day of my life.  While I’m no longer the working mother and wife that I used to be, my body isn’t what it used to be and I can’t handle all the standing.  So I take steps to streamline my efforts no differently than I did when my daughter was young.  It’s great for days I’m not feeling well or I’m not in the mood to cook.

Here at Creekside Manor it’s an 18 mile round trip to pick up a carryout pizza from the nearest business which is actually a small neighborhood grocery store, it’s about 30 miles round trip to the nearest pizza place so delivery is not an option if you’re not in the mood to cook and everything is cold by the time you get it home anyway.

So where to start?

First, bake some chicken for dinner.  Really, that’s the first step.  If you want to get ahead of the game, cook two.  It takes the same amount of time to cook 2 so you’re saving energy and you’re saving your time as well.

Both carcasses and the skin will go towards your stock.  The leftover meat can be used for chicken salad, pot pie, soup, casseroles, quesadillas, salads… the list is never ending and so much better than that stuff that comes in a can!

If you wind up picking up one of those rotisserie chickens from the deli department, you can use it too and get the most cluck for your buck!  (Too cheesy?)

Carrots for stock

Next, save your scraps

The core on the bottom of your celery along with the leafy tops, carrot trimmings, onion peels and ends.   You can keep a bag of scraps or just put it together when you’re making your stock like I did today.

Since I was planning on making stock today, I used the last of my bag of carrots as you can see in the picture and I made candied spiced carrots with dinner.

I took what was left of my celery.. the bottoms, the hearts and all the tops and chopped them into workable pieces (I quartered the core and everything else was maybe 4-inches long or so).

I had a half of an onion in the fridge and another whole one in my bin.  So the outer peelings and the ends all went into the pot.

I heated the bones and skin with a little olive oil and browned what was in there to develop the flavor in my 15-quart stock pot.  To that I added the tops and bottoms of my celery along with the ends and peels from my carrots and onions and a couple of peppercorns and a few bay leaves and some kosher salt and filled the whole thing with water.  I let it simmer on the stove for a couple of hours (till the whole house smelled like chicken soup).

Normally I would add have added some thyme, parsley and a few cloves of garlic, but the carcass I used was from my Herb Roasted Chicken which I season inside and out so there were still plenty to work with.  I did add some garlic powder for good measure since I used the last of my fresh garlic yesterday. (Oops)

Stock 1

By the time that the stock was done cooking, it had reduced by about one-third.  I strained it and put the stock in pitchers so I could refrigerate it.  I didn’t take a picture of that because frankly it looks like compost and is not appetizing.  Be sure to add it to your compost pile for your garden and do not let the fur babies have it no matter how much they beg!  Chicken bones are very dangerous for dogs.

All told I wound up with 2 gallons of stock;  when you do the math you can easily see that I’ve saved a ton of money! Even at a dollar a quart, I certainly did not spend $8 to produce the stock I made, nor did I invest that much time doing it.   In addition, no additives, no preservatives and I completely controlled the salt content.  Some will be staying in the fridge for easy access.  The rest will be going canned or going into the freezer.  I’m down to 6 pint-sized mason jars which will not hold all that I have so the rest will be going into muffin tins and into the freezer for later.

Just like cooked meats can be frozen for later use, and so can stock ingredients.  Keep a couple of big freezer bags going; one for chicken scraps, one for beef scraps and another with your veggie trimmings.  When the bag is full, make a couple of gallons of stock.  Why buy it for $1-$5 a quart when you can make it with stuff you were going to throw away!  It only takes a few minutes to brown the bones and fat and the stove does the rest!  Freeze or can the stock when you’re done.