22 May 2014

Convertible meals

I have been hosting family for over a week, which is why I have not been online much.  This visit has also reminded me of an inevitable truth about myself: I am terrible at gauging how much food I should make for more than two people. I know that I don't want anyone to go hungry or feel robbed of seconds, but for some reason I always manage to make way too much food, rather than exactly twice what I normally make, when four people are involved instead of two. I also have a small refrigerator, so I can't just let leftovers build up if I want to continue being able to close the door to the fridge between meals.  So, although I cannot seem to get portions right, I have become fairly decent at planning meals that can morph into something new in order to make the thought of eating leftovers less odious.  Here is an incredibly easy pairing:

Baked Lemon Chicken with sides

Serves 4 with leftovers

8 chicken breasts
olive oil
2 lemons, washed and sliced into rounds
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
8 twigs fresh thyme
salt and pepper to taste
1 head broccoli, washed and cut into bite-sized pieces (including stem!)
2 cups jasmine rice
handful fresh mild herbs (dill, parsley, basil, cilantro...) minced
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Preheat oven to 400°F.  Coat a large baking dish with olive oil, then scatter half of the lemon slices and all of the garlic and thyme evenly across the bottom. Remove excess fat from chicken breasts and sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper. Lay the chicken breasts down over the lemon in the pan, making sure everything is as covered as possible.  Top chicken with remaining lemon slices and drizzle with olive oil.  Place in the oven to bake for 30 minutes, then turn chicken pieces over and cook another 15-20 minutes or until done all the way through.

Meanwhile, cook rice in lightly salted water according to package directions.  Steam broccoli.  When rice is done, stir in more salt if necessary along with all of the chopped fresh herbs.  When broccoli is crisp-tender, toss with the tablespoon of lemon juice and a little olive oil, along with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve chicken, rice, and broccoli in separate dishes or heaped alongside each other on a big platter.

And the leftovers...

Lemony Chicken-Broccoli Soup

Leftovers needed: broccoli, rice, and chicken in its juices
New ingredients:
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and sliced into rounds
8 cups vegetable or chicken stock
salt and pepper to taste

Cut leftover chicken into small bite-sized pieces; remove any leftover lemon slices from the baked chicken.  In a stockpot, heat the oil over medium heat and sautee the onion and carrot until both are soft, about 8 minutes. add the chicken and the vegetable stock, cover, and bring to a boil.  Lower heat, stir in the leftover rice and broccoli, and cook until just heated through.  Season with salt and black pepper to taste.