Sunday, September 23, 2012

Lazy Sunday Cookin': Use Those Leftovers!

I declare today "Use Up Your Leftovers Day!" For lunch, I transformed leftover grilled chicken into a pretty kickin' curried chicken salad, if I do say myself. It was inspired by one that we had last weekend at the Black Cat Cafe in Sharon Springs, NY when we attended their annual Harvest Festival.

Curried Chicken Salad with Pistachios and Dried Cranberries

leftover cold grilled chicken, skin removed (four thighs or two breasts--or a combo)
1/2 medium red onion, finely diced
1/4 cup craisins
1/4 cup pistachios, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon mango chutney
2 teaspoons curry powder (up to one tablespoon)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic (or a clove of freshly minced)
1/4 cup poppyseed dressing (or mayo)

*Most people would want to add some celery to this, but I don't prefer it myself, so I added maybe 1/4 teaspoon of ground celery to the mix.

After having the awesome chicken salad for lunch, I put together a roasted acorn squash soup in the crock pot. I started by cutting two acorn squashes in half, scraping out the seeds, drizzling them with olive oil, and seasoning liberally with salt and pepper. I roasted the squashes at 400 degrees for about an hour and fifteen minutes until easily pierced with a fork. Then I scooped out the flesh and added it to the crock pot along with about two cups of some leftover vegetables from a pot roast the other night (carrots, potatoes, parsnips, and a little bit of tomato). I poured in perhaps three quarts of leftover chicken stock that I had stewed some green beans in and saved. I also sauteed two small onions, two stalks of celery, a few cloves of garlic, and two jalapenos from my garden with six pieces pieces of pork belly that I unearthed in the freezer. Once the pork belly was browned and the veggies were tender, I removed the pieces of pork, and then added the sauteed veggies to the crock pot. I threw in a big bundle of fresh thyme tied with some kitchen twine and about two tablespoons of chicken soup base. I turned the crock pot on high for two hours, then I fished out the thyme bundle and used my stick blender to puree the soup. Lastly, I stirred in about a cup of cream from my weekly raw milk share. So tasty...and it'll be even better tomorrow!

My last lazy Sunday cookin' project didn't involve leftovers, but like the squash soup, it signals the official start of fall. My roommate has already started bugging me to make her a pumpkin pie, but I think it's WAY too early for that! But someone on a foodie group that I belong to on Facebook posted a recipe for a spiced pumpkin bread, so I thought that might appease her. The loaves turned out very well, flavorful with the perfect texture--light and moist, not heavy or greasy. And like the soup, the bread will taste even better tomorrow. This may be my new boilerplate recipe for pumpkin nut loaves!

Spiced Pumpkin Bread
(Source: adapted from Sherry Rosen, Foodies! Group--Facebook)

3 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
1 16-oz can solid pack pumpkin
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cloves (I only used 1/4 teaspoon)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (I upped this to 2 teaspoons)
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg (I only used 1/2 teaspoon, freshly grated)
*I also added 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour two 9”x5”x3” loaf pans. (I used flour-added baking spray.)  Beat sugar and oil in large bowl to blend. Mix in eggs and pumpkin. Sift flour, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, salt and baking powder into a separate large bowl. Stir into pumpkin mixture in two additions. Mix in walnuts if desired. Divide batter equally between prepared pans. Bake until toothpick comes out clean, approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes. Transfer to racks and cool ten minutes. Using a sharp knife, cut around edge of loaves to loosen. Turn onto racks and cool completely. Makes two loaves.

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