Meal planning is working brilliantly this week! Especially once we actually wrote our plan down somewhere so that we stopped having to remember it/revise it on the fly. (Thanks for the tip, AVD!) But it always works the first week. Also, this week’s meals involved a bunch of fortuitous alignments that I could never have planned in advance. Let’s see if documenting things will help keep the positive trend going.
Green Curry with Chicken
We used to do chicken curries fairly often. In fact, this was qedi’s specialty for a while. I’m a big fan of bringing this back, since qedi usually ends up doing all the cooking, as he did in this case.
- 1/2 large package of chicken thighs (Ooo! Only half the package. Whatever will we do with the rest? In literary circles, this is called foreshadowing.)
- 1 jar of prepared green curry sauce (We prefer the PC brand. We’ve tried the VH version, but it was so sweet it was like eating coconut icing over chicken. *shudder* And, in my typical old habit, I bought 2 jars because it was on sale! We couldn’t bring ourselves to use the second jar, so we actually donated it along with some other stuff while at the Santa Claus parade. Hopefully someone else can actually enjoy the taste of it, but it was definitely not our style.)
- 1 cup of frozen broccoli, chopped into bite-sized chunks
- 1/3 package of vermicelli noodles
- Cut the chicken into chunks 2-3cm square. Fry it in a pan until it’s cooked all the way thru.
- Add the broccoli and cook until just crunchier than al dente.
- Add the sauce and stir. Simmer for 10 minutes.
- Put the vermicelli in a large, glass bowl. Boil a kettle and pour the water over the noodles. Drain.
- Immediately serve the saucy, delicious chicken curry over the noodles.
This meal was a wee bit too spicy for B, which we knew was a risk since he’s been hit and miss on it in the past. He enjoyed the plain noodles, but wasn’t having any of the chicken, broccoli or sauce. To be fair, he did try some, and looked pained as a result. All I ask is that he tries. So B got a turkey dog & smoothie, both of which he enjoyed immensely, and the grownups got to eat a dinner that we really enjoyed. So I still consider this a win.
Crockpot pulled chicken sloppy joes
The sloppy joe part of this recipe was inspired by the one in A Man, A Can, A Plan which helped qedi survive university without starving to death. We use a larger can of tomatoes than this recipe calls for, so we end up with more food, but I like the tomato-laden permutation we’ve come up with. I also didn’t add the spices that recipe calls for, since B wouldn’t like that much heat.
The crockpot chicken suggestion was inspired by a comment from Megs. She uses soup in hers, but I remembered seeing a suggestion to use pasta sauce in this recipe from a crockpot blog I’ve been experimenting with.
- 1/2 large package of thighs (See what I did there? One big package of chicken became two dinners in one week. Crazy to think some people make this happen on purpose!)
- 1 jar pasta sauce
- 2 cans of baked beans (One can was baked beans with bacon which has been in our cupboard since forever because I don’t eat bacon. Score one for using up old stuff! The *other* can was actually only a half can of beans in tomato sauce from the weekend, which I cooked in a separate pan to keep it from touching the gross bacon beans. That’s *two* leftover things that I reused in one meal! This is downright magical!)
- 1 can of diced tomatoes
- 1 Tbs cornstarch
- 1/4 cup of water
- 2 pieces of bread per adult, 1 per kid (This is just an estimate. Use as much toast as your belly desires at the time.)
- Place the chicken in the bottom of the crockpot.
- Pour the sauce over top and spread it until it covers all the chicken.
- Cook on low for 8 hours.
- Shred the chicken with two forks and set aside.
- Pour the beans and tomatoes into a pan. (In my case, I put each type of bean in separate pans and divided the tomatoes between them appropriately.)
- Simmer the beans on medium for about 10 minutes, or until they start to thicken.
- Mix the corn starch and water and pour it over the beans. Stir quickly to thicken the mixture without causing lumps.
- Toast the bread. (B loves toast, and is learning how to put bread in the toaster, so he helped with dinner.)
- Cover each piece of toast in a layer of the shredded chicken.
- Spoon the mixture over the chicken in open-face sloppy joe sandwiches.
I knew there would be leftovers, so I transferred all the food directly into glass storage containers, which doubled as serving dishes and then made post-dinner cleanup super easy since it was just a matter of putting on the lids and popping them in the fridge. We’ll use the leftovers to make breakfast burritos this weekend by spooning the bean mixture over eggs & cheese in tortillas. (Seriously guys – I’m feeling like a domestic goddess after today’s meal.)
How I screwed it up
I made the mistake of thinking “bigger must be better” when I bought my crockpot years ago. When cooking for two people, it just means that the smaller portion has a larger surface area to cook on, so it gets dried out more easily. In this case, the edges got a wee bit burnt (luckily the chicken was fine, so all I had to do was avoid scraping the burnt sauce from the sides while transferring the chicken to the glass storage dish for shredding) and the sauce really reduced.
Note the burnt bits around the edge. But otherwise this method turned out quite well.
I’m going to look online for tips to prevent the burnt factor from happening for next time. Adding some water may help. I also remember reading about using tinfoil to help protect edges. I’ll have to look into it.
How I’ll tweak it next time
I picture using the chicken-in-the-crockpot trick again and again. It’s just so damned easy! My original plan was to serve the chicken over pasta, but at the last minute I decided to try sloppy joes so we could use up the fridge beans. (Still incredibly proud of myself for that frugal move.) Dinner couldn’t be much easier than shredding some chicken and boiling some pasta.
To change things up even more, I want to try throwing some salsa over the chicken instead, and serving it in some tortillas for quick and filling quesadillas or burritos.
B wasn’t a huge fan of this dinner, even tho he seemed to like the component parts. I put his chicken on top of the beans, since he seems to like to see what his meal comprises. He picked off some pieces of chicken to eat, and I’m pretty sure he ate a few beans. He also chomped down some of the toast. But he left more than half this dinner on his plate. He might not have been terribly hungry tonight, because he also didn’t touch much of his smoothie. After dinner he demonstrated his new-found ability to open the fridge himself and stole a Baby Bell from the cheese & meat drawer. He’s never been one to turn down cheese no matter how full his is, so that’s not a solid sign of him being hungry after not eating much dinner. The grownups enjoyed it for being super quick to throw together, and pleasantly warm and filling.
So two decent meals, and all sorts of frugal-friendly reuse of ingredients & leftovers. Feeling pretty good about this one. So good that we decided to bake some cookies in celebration, even getting B to help. But I’ll save that story for another post.