MaryP and I undertook our second Once A Month Cooking (OAMC) session this week, and chose my friend BethAnne from our waiting list of people who would like to join us. Her heartfelt pleading and willingness to drive 30+ minutes to join us the next evening after she got off work won me over in the end. Since my mom and I have easy access to Costco, we bought all the ingredients and just asked that BethAnne bring a large cutting board, good knife, and her own freezer bags. She has a REALLY nice knife, by the way, which is good because we soon learned that she should not be left unattended with a food processor. BethAnne only cooks for herself and her teenage son most nights, but opted to package her meals to feed a family of four, since they often have company and also enjoy leftovers. We made seven servings of the following: Fried Mustardy Chicken, Cinnamon Sweet Potato Bites, Chinese Wing Marinade, and Cauliflower Fried Rice. The cost per meal came to $4.85 (for 4 servings).
|3 hrs = 35 individual meals + 9 side dishes|
Maybe a weird family name for this dish, but my mother has been making it since I was a child and it never ceases to please. I don’t even particularly like mustard, but it adds a tangy flavor to this chicken that cannot be missed. We used pounded chicken thighs for this dish, despite a little reluctance from my mother to use anything but breasts. Personally, I find breast meat boring, dry, and expensive. They came out DELICIOUS. For lack of any good sales, we bought the frozen bags of chicken thighs from Costco, which came to $2.19/lb. The benefit of using this meat is that each piece barely needed pounding, which is a plus when you’re doing two whole Costco-sized bags!
When we first started experimenting with eating mostly Paleo, we discovered the versatility and joy the sweet potato provides. You can only eat them baked or as fries so many times, though. This is one of our favorite ways to eat them, but I abhor the peeling and chopping. Therefore my sweet potatoes often have a glorious and thriving afterlife in the back of my veggie rack, complete with purple sprouted arms reaching for the heavens in potato ecstasy. Having knife-happy guests over seemed like a perfect solution, especially when the three of us decimated 13 lbs of raw sweet potatoes in under 10 minutes, laughing and talking the whole time. This dish is obviously also vegetarian/vegan friendly, which is something we have been getting many requests for.
|Beautiful BethAnne posing with her potato bounty.|
We each bagged up our desired amount of roughly chopped sweet potato, and added a dollop of coconut oil, a hefty sprinkle of cinnamon, and a dash of salt, then shook the living daylights out of our bags before freezing.
|Sweet Potato, Cinnamon, Coconut Oil, Salt|
I first saw this recipe on Food Network, and when Andrew Zimmermen mentioned the words “ancient Chinese recipe” I was sold. He spent almost 20 years trying to perfect this recipe, and swears that all ingredients must be precisely measured for the proper flavor. I’ll admit, it was a rather pricey undertaking the first time I made it, with a lot of time spent scouring our local Asian market (did you know you can purchase fresh pork uterus there?!). But many of the ingredients such as the chilis and star anise were practically a one-time investment for many batches of marinade. Sake is by far the most expensive ingredient, but can be purchased for $0.01 per mL. The flavor of this dish is unlike anything I have ever tasted, and completely worth the hassle. We put our marinade ingredients in gallon bags to be frozen, so that wings can be added later and allowed to marinate. I like to let mine sit for 24 hours after adding the wings, shaking and turning often. (You can also add the wings before freezing.) We just pour the wings and marinade onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and bake at 400 for 45 minutes, turning once. A word to the wise: do not attempt to eat the baked ginger slice, no matter how brown, gooey, and delicious it appears (ask me how I know). *full body shiver*
|Even yummier than it is pretty.|
|Wings marinating and ready to cook.|
|I swear you don’t miss the rice.|
We love fried rice, and when I saw this recipe on one of my favorite sites, The Recipe Critic, I knew I had to try it adapted with cauliflower rice so we could eat it guilt-free. I get a lot of raised eyebrows when I go on and on (and on) about cauliflower rice, but 100% of people who have sampled my lunch at work (more than you would believe) are astounded at how delicious it is. I practically have to growl and eat hunched over my food to keep the vultures away, nurses are a curious and hungry lot. We used frozen organic mixed vegetables from Costco, and doubled the amount called for. We substituted a head of cauliflower (about 2 lbs) for the rice required in this recipe, and found that Costco had the best deal for 2.2 lbs of pre-cut (swoon!) cauliflower for only $3.79. With no swearing or cauliflower-destruction mess involved. You simply pulse the cauliflower florets 2-4 times in a food processor (or use a grater) until it is the size of grains of rice, and voila! Since these will be frozen and therefore will be soft when reheated, there is no need to cook. We also added chopped Costco rotisserie chicken and crumbled cooked bacon, because what isn’t better with bacon? Packaging this meal was a breeze, we simply added each ingredient as we prepared it, which made for a beautifully layered finished product. To prepare, one must simply defrost and heat in a large frying pan (we chose to add the soy sauce then).
|Cauliflower Fried Rice w/Chicken & Bacon|
|Cauliflower rice is great to have on hand for easy meal pairing.|
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