I haven't always been a fan of chicken.
We ate a lot of chicken in our house when I was a kid. Too many of my younger years spent trimming, cutting, cooking and eating boneless/skinless chicken breasts. Chicken salads, chicken stir fry, chicken fajitas. Lord have mercy.
I'm over it, though. I really like chicken now. It's so versatile. Buy a whole roasting chicken at the market and you can make several meals out of it - or at least two meals - depending on the size of your family and the size of the chicken. This is a great way to stretch a budget.
Meal #1: Roasted chicken. There are about 30 million recipes for roasted chicken if you do a search on-line. When I am cooking I have two requirements: easy and quick. Those requirements probably eliminate half of the recipes. When I roasted a chicken the other night I just stuffed it in the roasting pan, drizzled olive oil on it, then sprinkled it with a mixture of salt, black pepper, oregano, basil, paprika and cayenne pepper, then rubbed all that into the skin. I baked it at 400 degrees for about a half hour, then turned the heat down to 350 and baked it maybe another hour, until the internal temp was 180 degrees. It smelled amazing, the skin was a beautiful crispy brown, and those spices made their way into the meat just enough to give it a great flavor and just a hint of kick. It was GOOD.
Meals #2 and #3: Chicken noodle soup and chicken salad for sandwiches. These are my favorites at this point because my kids will eat homemade chicken noodle soup (particularly if I make biscuits to go with it), and I like to have the chicken salad in the fridge for myself for lunches. It's also great to have some leftover chicken stock in the freezer for yet another meal later. You could make more soup, add it to your mashed potatoes for some flavor, cook your rice in it, or any number of other possibilities.
So here is how I made my easy and (relatively) quick chicken stock. With pictures. Because I take pictures of everything. Which makes my family laugh.
Anyway. Chicken stock!
I let it boil for maybe 15 minutes, then turned the heat down and tried to forget about it for a couple of hours while it simmered. But I'm a checker and stirrer, so I can never forget about it. It's OK, you can't really ruin chicken stock with too much checking and stirring.
See how easy that was? It might not seem like much, but I get a lot out of this whole process. I get the joy of feeding my family good, wholesome meals for a very small investment of time and money. I get the pleasure of a house that smells of those home-cooked meals. If I do little extras like making chicken stock regularly, I get a freezer full of meal basics and bases that I can pull out at a moment's notice or when I'm too tired to start from scratch.
It sure beats ordering pizza. And I never thought I'd say this, but it beats having cereal for dinner, too.