Sunday, February 3, 2013

The Whole Chicken

By chickens, I am not referring to our hens out back- they are currently on a winter strike- boo.  For the first time in 18 months, I am buying eggs at the grocery store.  I miss my fresh eggs, but more on that another time. I will gratefully take advice from any chicken experts out there! The chicken I am referring to are recipes for cooking a whole chicken.  When I am on my game and plan properly for an upcoming busy week, one of the tips that works best for us is a healthy recipe that translates into multiple nights of meals.  The whole chicken is perfect for this.  Roast chicken is an incredibly delicious, home cooked meal that is really easy to make- really easy.  In fact, I don't even follow a specific recipe for it because it can be varied depending on the spices on hand at the time.  Here are the basics I do follow:
Basic Roast Chicken
~Purchase a whole chicken, preferably organic and noted without the use of any antibiotics or growth hormones;
~Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees;
~Remove plastic wrap from chicken, rinse the chicken with cold water and remove giblets;
~Grease a roasting pan with olive oil;
~Create your own spice rub with olive oil and spices of your choice.  A simple salt and pepper is just fine or you can add garlic, sage, basil, paprika, parsley....the combinations are endless! Butter also can make a roast chicken fabulous;
~Cover the chicken with your newly created spice rub.  You can also insert a knife under the chicken skin and include some of the spice rub underneath the skin;
~Another delicious option: squeeze fresh lemon juice over the chicken and place the 2 lemon halves right into the cavity of the chicken- the roasting brings out the lemon flavor :)
~Roast the chicken in the oven until the thigh is at 180 degrees- for most roasting chickens I have purchased (4-5 lbs), this takes about 1 hour to 1 1/2 hours (I occasionally baste the chicken with juices while it is cooking).  Also, check for the juices to be running clear and the leg wiggling in the socket easily, which are also signs the chicken is done;
~Let the chicken sit for 10-15 minutes before carving;
~Enjoy! I love this meal with potatoes and vegetables roasted in simple olive oil, salt & pepper.

Just when I thought the whole chicken dinner couldn't get any easier, check out this amazing recipe for a crock pot whole chicken over at I made this recipe last week and it was perfect.  Once again, I modified this recipe based on the spices I had on hand at the time and I added the lemons.  The chicken came out perfectly cooked, incredibly moist and it made enough food for multiple meals. The multiple meals is the best part about cooking a whole chicken.  Once that bird is done, I try to use the entire thing for options such as:

Ready to start cooking!
~Whole wheat chicken quesadillas
~Chicken Sandwiches
~Chicken Stock & Soup
~Whole Wheat Chicken Salad Wraps
~Roast Chicken Pasta with Garlic and Veggies
~Chicken & Veggie Rice Stir Fry
Chicken soup can be frozen if you do not want to use it right away- sometimes that is the best option as the family can give me that "Chicken again?" look.  Freezing it gives me the option for a no-cook night later on...when the family is ready for more chicken.
In fitness news, I returned to the pool this week!  I have not swam laps in months.  Truthfully, I was just lacking the motivation to get into the cold pool at 5:30AM during these winter months.  My first return swim was about 1200 yards and it affirmed for me that swimming is perfect cardio when pregnant.  Body temperature stays pretty regulated and feeling weightless is definitely a plus.  I will be working to fit pool time back into the routine on a more regular basis.
Do you have any go-to recipes for setting you up for a busy week?
Have a great week.

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