Sunday, December 8, 2013

Menu: Bulk Chicken Make Ahead

Next week, I have a busy schedule and won't be home until later in the afternoon. With this in mind, I've planned ahead and decided to try batch cooking on Sunday. I'm transforming a few recipes into make-aheads, and will be utilizing the freezer to get things ready. Also, there's a lot of chicken happening here and everything is fairly low-carb. Briefly, here's what's going to happen for the Sunday prep:

  1. Put 1 cup chicken stock into bag labeled CBC #2 and freeze immediately.
  2. Cook 1 pound of bacon in the oven
  3. Chop all vegetables, herbs, 1 pound of chicken, and squeeze 1 cup of lemon juice and zest.
  4. Sear 1 lb chicken and prepare cream sauce for Chicken Bacon Chowder (CBC).
  5. Chop chicken and bacon, add to cream sauce. Put in CBC bag #1 and freeze.
  6. Mix and whisk marinade for Very Greek Grilled Chicken. Add to bag with chicken. Freeze.
  7. Prepare butter sauce for Carrabba's Chicken Bryan. Store in a ramekin in the fridge. Place two chicken breasts in small bag and keep in fridge.
  8. Mix curry sauce for Crock Pot Chicken Curry. Add to bag with chopped chicken. Put vegetables in a separate bag and keep in veg drawer in the fridge.
  9. In a CBC bag #2, add the CBC vegetables, and butter on top of frozen chicken stock. Freeze. Hopefully this will keep the vegetables a bit less mushy.
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  • from, Carrabba's Chicken Bryan
    • New! If you've never had this dish, it's definitely worth making a trip to Carrabba's
      Image Credit: member
      restaurant to try it out. Yes, it takes advantage of the goat cheese and sun-dried tomato craze that started about a decade ago, but wow, it's so delicious. Supposedly, this is original recipe the restaurant shared with a newspaper. I plan to make the butter sauce ahead of time, then grill the chicken fresh for dinner. 
    • How I'll cook it: Our mini indoor grill only takes about 2 minutes to heat up and 12 minutes to cook a full breast of chicken. While the chicken is grilling, all I'll need to do is gently warm the butter sauce and cut two medallions of the goat cheese. I'll easily have time for a side salad.
    • Verdict: This was a nice meal as a make ahead, but the sauce separated when I reheated, even though I was excessively gentle with it. Regardless, all the flavors were there and this was quite edible.
  • Peace +Love + Low Carb's Chicken Bacon Crock Pot Chowder
    • New! This is the most step-heavy recipe. Crock Pots are great because the idea that you
      Image Credit: Peace + Love + Low Carb
      can just toss everything in and walk off, then come back to delicious hot food is a wonderful fantasy. From my own experience, I've rarely been wowed by crock pot meals. Meat is often over cooked, seasoning is too bland. I'm not even sure what the advantage to a crock pot meal is when you have 5 steps before you get to leave it alone. I just might skip the crock pot and make this a normal stove top stew instead.
    • How I'll cook it: Because this requires two bags, one with frozen veggies, I want to make this pretty early in the week so the veggies don't get ruined. The day before I want to cook this, CBC bag #1 (the cream sauce) will go into the fridge to thaw. Once cooking, I'll start by adding CBC bag #2 (veggies, butter, broth) into the pot. When warmed and almost simmering, I'll add CBC bag #1 and cook till finished.
    • Verdict: This worked really well as a make ahead. The soup was super yummy and hearty and lasted for a few days. Would make it again fresh or as a make-ahead.
  • Kalyn's Kitchen Very Greek Grilled Chicken
    • New! I love a good marinade! I've never worked with "Greek Seasoning" before, so I
      Image Credit: Kalyn's Kitchen
      had to buy a bottle of it for this recipe. Scouting around online for the spice blend ingredients, I found a ton of variation. The primary player seems to be oregano which can be such a nice flavor. This marinade seems to play off the oregano with lemon and olive oil. So it should be lovely.
    • How I'll cook it: Whisk together all the marinade ingredients, slash chicken breasts, put together in bag and freeze. The day before I want to cook this, I'll pop it into the fridge. At dinner, I'll simply grill the chicken. Plenty of time again to make a side salad!
    • Verdict: I should have been more thoughtful. Letting chicken sit in that much acid for that long was bound to dry it out. The flavors were really nice, but the chicken was tough. Next time, make the marinade ahead, but don't put the chicken in. If possible, only marinate for 20-40 minutes before cooking.
  • Stupid Easy Paleo's Crock Pot Chicken Curry
    • New! I love Indian spice flavors. I've even started sneaking cardamom pods into my tea along with a bit of honey. Curries can be so lovely
      Image Credit: Easy Stupid Paleo
      and complex, but as much as I love eating Indian food, I'm not experienced cooking it. My best results have sadly come from a pouch for instant butter chicken. I have some amazing spice blends from The Spice House, which includes a hot curry blend. To speed things up with this bulk cooking experiment, I'm going to use the blend instead of the spices in the recipe.
    • How I'll cook it: Whisk together liquids (though I'm thinking of reducing the water to 1/2 cup due to comments left by other readers) and 3 tablespoons of curry blend. Add chopped chicken and freeze. In a separate bag, add veggies and store in the fridge till needed. Day before cooking, the freezer bag goes into the fridge to thaw. When I'm ready to cook, I'll dump both bags into the pot and walk away!
    • Never got to make it.

Sweet Tooth

  • Autumn Makes & Does' Gingerbread Plum Clafouti
    • New! Both of us love clafoutis. They're notoriously easy to put together and yield a
      Image Credit: Autumn
      Makes & Does
      wonderful texture and flavor punch. The only substitution I'll be making is for the brown rice flour with all-purpose flour. Other than that, I look forward to a creamy, spicy fruit treat. This is not a part of my make-ahead menu. Clafoutis only take about 10 minutes to throw together, so whenever we feel like we want a dessert treat, that's the night I'll make it.
    • Verdict: We couldn't find plums anywhere! This will go back into the menu rotation in the future.


  • Back in Texas, a favorite holiday excursion was to visit Dickens on the Strand, in Galveston. Carolers, Christmas treats and baubles, silly events, and a fun, slightly chilly outing. This year I found out about the Distillery District's Christmas Market and can't wait to go. It will be a first for the husband! We're hoping to go with a group of friends. I'm looking forward to some lovely treats, hearing more obnoxious Christmas music, and maybe picking up one more ornament for our tiny tree!
  • This coming Friday is my birthday. For the previous years of my life, I have either been taking finals, writing finals, or proctoring finals. (Ah, the life of a teacher.) This year will be the first time none of the above finally applies to me. I don't want to throw a big party this year, so I've decided to have a tiny outing at the now famous Snakes and Lattes on Bloor. If you've never been, make sure you show up at least one hour before you think you might want to play. Because of their awesome pricing, people stay for a long time and it's hard to get a seat. They don't take reservations either. I'm hoping we can play a few different games, including Tsuro, Dominion, Betrayal at House on the Hill, and Dixit. I'll begrudgingly agree to play a round of Cards Against Humanity (but honestly, I just don't find it that funny.) Are you watching TableTop yet?

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