Category Archives: Lasagne

Do you have ‘mystery meat’ in your freezer?

I feel like Autumn is the beginning of a new year, even more so than January. It’s the ‘back to school’ phenomenon … new pencils, new clothes, new backpack. Everything is shiny and brimming with possibility.

So now’s the time to take a ‘back to school’ approach to the kitchen. It’s time to get organized, get rid of habits you don’t like, adopt some new ones. Over the summer, you may have been eating more take-out meals than you’d like, or one too many frozen dinners. September is the perfect time to get adopt a new regime and break the take-out/frozen meal habit. And I’ve got a few tricks that will help 🙂

Don’t know where to start? Have a look at what’s in your house.

Start by clearing your clutter. Go through your cupboards and your fridge. I think that it’s probably a good idea to throw out the stuff you know you’re not going to eat. I find it very demoralizing to open the freezer and see something that I put in there (that I didn’t really like when I made it). Then every time I open the freezer thinking “what’s for supper?” – I see that thing, and I say to myself “oh, I don’t want that.”

If you don’t want to throw out food, you can always give it to the homeless shelter in your town. I did this recently – I’m afraid to tell you – I got married last year and we had a reception here at the house where we had cake and champagne. I made three chocolate cakes, and only half of one cake was eaten. I cut the leftovers in half and froze them, and thought “someday we’ll eat them.” And six months later they were still in my freezer, kind of depressing … so I took them down to the women’s shelter with cans of frosting, and they were super thrilled to see me. It was going to be the treat for bingo in the afternoon.

While you’re looking through your house for food you know you’re not going to eat, at the same time you can make an inventory of what you DO have that could be turned into a meal. For example, if you have pork tenderloin in the freezer, we could put that on a short list of “let’s find a way to use it up this week.” If you’ve got some pasta, for example a box of spaghetti, we’ll find a meal for that. Start with what you already have in the house so that you’re not buying every ingredients for all of your planned meals.

Sometimes I’ve got a box of lasagne noodles that’s been there for 2 weeks, or 3 weeks, or 4 weeks. And I’ll open up the cupboard and think “those noodles, better find a way to get rid of those noodles.” Or it could be a single can of coconut milk, and that reminds me of the Thai curried chicken recipe that I like to make, so that’s what I’m going to make this week because it uses up an ingredient that I already have.

Check your pantry, and your deep freezer. If you have a half-pound of ground beef, or a pound, or a piece of pork tenderloin or a chicken breast – let’s find a meal to use that up. I’m sure there are lots of people who have deep freezes full of mystery meat!

 

 

This week’s cooking letter has been extracted from Step #3 in the “Eight easy steps to plan your week so you can eat at home, save money, be healthy, and impress yourself!” This 17-page Special Report #1 > Motivation and Meal Planning is available by PDF download now.

As always, I’d love to hear your feedback. Just hit reply to this email and drop me a line 🙂 You can always reach me at shelley@oneroastchicken.com.

Thanks and bon appetit!

Shelley MacDonald Beaulieu,Owner & Head Chef
www.oneroastchicken.com

Four things I always have in my freezer

I live in an apartment with a small freezer that is part of my fridge. So without the luxury or expense of a big deep freeze, I still use my in-fridge freezer all the time to make my cooking life easier. Here are four things that I always have:

1. When I’m making Chicken Tandoori which calls for 1.5 teaspoons of lemon juice, I take my lemon, remove the zest with a microplaner or box grater, and then wrap the zest in plastic and stick it in the freezer. This comes in handy for Apple Pie for One, which calls for just a bit of lemon zest. OK, so then I cut the lemon in half, and juice both halves, and this produces about 1/4 cup of lemon juice. I use what I need for Chicken Tandoori, then I put the rest in a small jar in the freezer. I save tiny jars for lemon juice, like the kind that capers come in.

2. I make a Roast Chicken dinner about every two weeks or so. In my house, a small chicken makes enough for the two of us for dinner (we eat the white meat), and then when the chicken has cooled off, I remove the leftover chicken and freeze it in a plastic container. Now I’m fully equipped for my favourite Friday night one-bowl dinner (Thai Curried Chicken). I just pull out the frozen chicken and add it to the pot of bubbling coconut milk and vegetables while the meat is still frozen.

3. I buy lean ground beef from the grocery store in a jumbo family pack, and then I freeze it in half-pound packages. When I want to make hamburgers, I pull out one half-pound package and a couple of sausages and I’m ready to cook. If we’re feeling more like Meatloaf with Spicy Ketchup, then I defrost three half-pound packages.

 

4. I make chicken broth from the leftover bones every time I roast a chicken. And once the broth is made, I freeze it in one-cup jars that might otherwise be used for jam, or I reuse pickle jars (or others) which hold about 4 cups. We go through a lot of chicken broth on a weekly basis so it’s definitely cheaper and easier to have homemade on hand. I use chicken broth instead of water to cook rice. I use it to make Instant Beef Soup (which uses a combination of beef and chicken broths to get the best flavour). And my favourite Thai Curried Chicken recipe needs 1/3 cup of broth in the sauce, and then more broth to cook the rice.

To make these recipes and more…

Check out OneRoastChicken’s new cookbook, “Successful Home Cooking” which is now available for order. This is not another cookbook. This is a cooking school in full-colour delivered right to your kitchen. All recipes include pages of colour photography and step-by-step instructions. And to keep you on budget, every recipe includes the price per serving. How about Meatloaf with Spicy Ketchup for $1.32 per serving? Or Chicken Tandoori for $1.81? Order your copy of “Successful Home Cooking” now…

Thanks and bon appetit!

Shelley MacDonald Beaulieu,
Owner & Head Chef
www.oneroastchicken.com

Recipe research > Lasagne & chicken tandoori

Lasagne

I wanted to update you on the recipe research in the One Roast Chicken test kitchen. For the great number of subscribers who have asked me to tackle lasagne (Andrea, D-J., Krista, Lolita, Darlene, & Amelia), everyone wants to know if there’s a recipe that is lovely, homemade, fast, healthy, and does not taste like a bowl of gooshy noodles.

Since I last reported on the lasagne trials a few weeks ago, I can tell you that I’m up to recipe #6 now. I try not to subject my poor husband to lasagne trials more than once every few weeks. And I’m happy to report that the meat version of the recipe is almost finished (yeah!) — it needs one more round of fine tuning, and then photography, and then it’ll be done.

In each recipe of the six trials, I changed different variables each time, trying to find the perfect equation of time + effort = flavour. Some things stay the same. I knew from the beginning that I wanted to use jarred sauce, in order to save time and work. I settled on Barilla Tomato and Basil sauce because it’s not too salty, and is readily available. I’ve experimented with the lasagne noodles (I’ve tried boil and no-boil noodles), and the filling (I’ve tried ricotta, cottage cheese, and a combination of both).

Meanwhile, while the meat lasagne is taking shape quite nicely, the vegetarian lasagne (as requested by Roberta) — of which I’ve done only one batch — is initially very uninspiring. I thought incorrectly that it would be super easy to adapt my meat lasagne recipe into a veggie one by replacing the meat with spinach. That didn’t really work. There are more veggie trials in my future before this recipe will be ready for publication.

Chicken Tandoori

Thanks to Karen and Satendra, I’ve also been working on a recipe for chicken tandoori. This dish uses inexpensive chicken thighs combined with a lovely, spicy marinade. While most of us won’t have the right kind of oven to prepare this dish in its most traditional fashion, I have instead been adapting the recipe for more regular ovens using the broiler. I’ve tested two versions so far, and both have been quite fabulous. The list of spices is a bit long, but the combined flavours and the simplicity of the preparation is really outstanding. This recipe is almost ready to share, stay tuned.

Upcoming research

After the lasagne and the chicken tandoori are perfected, my next adventure is Dutch apple pie (as requested by Nick). I’m totally excited to find a really great apple pie recipe that you can make for 2 people — a simple, put-it-together-after-dinner baby version of the giant pie.

If you have any recipes that you would like me to develop, just drop me a line 🙂 I’d love to hear your feedback.

You can always reach me at shelley@oneroastchicken.com.

Thanks and bon appetit!

Shelley MacDonald Beaulieu, Owner & Head Chef

www.oneroastchicken.com

Searching for lasagne

Recipe research

One of the things that I want to do at One Roast Chicken is share perfect recipes with you, and that includes meals that don’t dirty every bowl in the house. I like recipes that come together easily, with regular ingredients, that taste better than the sum of their parts. Ones that when served to a guest, or to a prospective mate, they say “c’est vraiment bon” [this is very good].

My goal is to save you from take-out, and rescue you from crappy meals. You shouldn’t have to eat plates of dry pasta, or fish gone wrong, or greasy meat, or chewy vegetables. No, you can sit back and relax, because I’m going to find the best recipes for you. I’ll photograph them, describe what I’ve learned, and best of all you’ll have recipes that work!

At the request of a One Roast Chicken subscriber, I was asked to tackle lasagne … and I can tell you that finding the perfect recipe is a bit of a process. I started with my top three cookbooks (Joy of Cooking, The Gourmet Cookbook, and How to Cook Everything), and I read through the ingredients and explanations. Noodles and cheese and ground beef and tomato sauce. Yet none of the printed recipes sounded fabulous.

I counted the number of steps, the list of supplies, the number of pots that would get dirty, the length of time between when I’d start to cook and when I could eat, and I tried to imagine how the listed ingredients were going to taste all mixed together. Some recipes have zucchini. Some have cottage cheese. Yet others have a separately prepared white sauce layered with the other ingredients (yes, a béchamel sauce, not a cheese sauce, you read correctly, it sounds completely yucky to me).

I will admit that I’ve never been a big fan of most lasagne recipes. Perhaps it’s something about having a big plate full of the same flavour that gets me down. A perfect recipe should have nicely defined layers that hold together when cut, maybe using a homemade spaghetti sauce, with a lot of cheese, something that’s firm and moist without being drippy.

Lasagne trials

I started on the lasagne quest about two weeks ago. What was first a survey of my cookbooks and cooking magazines, soon became an internet search for potential perfect recipes. Trial #1, last week, involved uncooked noodles (a necessity, I think, in order to reduce work and the number of dirty pots). Trial #1 used homemade meat sauce (which takes time and didn’t make quite enough so I kind of ran out). The final verdict on #1, which included 9 noodles and 3 kinds of cheese, was that it was dry and unremarkable, and tasted altogether too much like my favourite cannelloni recipe. Why make lasagne when cannelloni is great already?

Trial #2, this week, included using two big jars of store bought sauce, with extra real sausage meat and red pepper flakes thrown in. I increased the noodles to 12, and replaced the ricotta with cottage cheese. I bought my mozza sliced (less work than grating it myself, and cheaper than pre-grated). At dinner on Thursday this week, Trial #2 was a bog of goopy noodles, and was much too salty. But here’s some good news. The next day, for lunch… it was quite great: it was drier, held together better, the flavours melded, and the saltiness had disappeared. But to cook a recipe only to claim it’s better served the next day? That certainly smells like effort. Too much effort for me.

Therefore, my search continues. I’ll report to you as I make progress. I think the ideal recipe will include a combination of prepared sauce spiced up with real meat … but at that point, why not go all the way and make homemade sauce with a bit of canned tomatoes and tomato paste? The jarred sauce is probably too salty, and therefore hard to adjust for different palates. I’d like something that isn’t too salty, but will that necessarily mean homemade sauce?

Rest assured that I’ll come up with something that I deem to be fabulous, and that I won’t share it with you until it’s perfect: easy, quick, worth the work, better than take-out. Because if it’s not better than take-out, what’s the point?

Anyway…

Welcome to the blog for One Roast Chicken. Here’s where I share bits and tricks about cooking, menu planning, and ideas to help you get dinner on the table. It’s my plan to get you inspired, to get you cooking, to make it easy enough for you to try.

And I’d love to hear back from you. Any ideas you have, any successes or failures, any pictures you’ve taken of recipes you’ve made … for example, have you made Chicken with Rosemary yet? (you have to register to receive the recipe). We’d love to share in your success stories, and hey, send me a picture of your completed bird and we’ll post that, too!

You can always reach me at shelley@oneroastchicken.com.

Thanks and bon appetit!

Shelley MacDonald Beaulieu, Owner & Head Chef
www.oneroastchicken.com

 

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