The first week is easy. Easy is relative.
We were cruising along just fine... lots of things prepped over the weekend for the week ahead. We have a LOT of beef in our perishable inventory. Then influenza came to visit.
DH, who spent most of the weekend caring for his flu-ish folks, again proved the "no good deed goes unpunished" adage Sunday evening and Monday. Poor guy.
Who feels like eating when the flu's in the house? Who even feels like smelling anything that's cooking? Anyone who does NOT have the flu. So everyone's hungry on Monday except poor DH. Well, teens aren't ever hungry... they're either starving or they're asleep.
Fortunately, by the time I came home at noon to check on the patient (with ginger ale, Gatorade, oyster crackers, and the ingredients for the only meal I could imagine preparing), DH was feeling better, just weak. Since I was home only for a lunch break, I decided to try something new: Chicken Soup in the crock pot.
WHAT a win this was. Dump all the ingredients in the crock pot. Turn it on HIGH, and leave it alone until we get home at 6 pm. Turn it off. Remove the chicken and set aside to cool slightly. We strain the solids/liquids with a fine-mesh sieve to have a (mostly) clear broth and use some of the broth to start the rice in a separate pot.
We then sort through the veggies, adding the ones which are whole back to the soup pot. This step is to be sure we get all of the chicken bones out. We picked the chicken from the bones and shredded it, adding it back to the pot as well. Since this recipe made double what we really needed for the time being, we put half of the chicken and vegetables in a quart zip-top bag. We then added the strained liquid back into the pot to cover the vegetables and chicken. We stored the remainder of the chicken stock (about 1 qt) in the freezer for a future meal.
When the rice was done, we had a fantastic chicken-and-rice soup with oyster crackers. It was a simple meal for empty and sensitive stomachs. Warm and nourishing and full of good cheer. Bonus was that DD helped with the straining, the sorting, and the rice. Hooray!
We froze the stock and the chicken and veggies separately to give us more options in the weeks ahead. We may use them together, but will more likely make the chicken and veggies into a pot pie and use the stock in place of water in something else altogether.
CROCK POT CHICKEN SOUP
adapted from a COOKS.COM recipe found at http://www.cooks.com/rec/view/0,1639,156182-243203,00.html Content Copyright © 2011 Cooks.com - All rights reserved.
2 chopped onions
3 carrots, sliced
2 celery stalks, sliced
2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. basil
1/4 tsp. thyme
3 T. parsley
1 (about 2 1/2 lb.) chicken, in pieces
4 c. chicken broth plus water from rinsing the container
Place all ingredients in crock pot. Cover and cook on HIGH 4 to 6 hours (or LOW 8 to 12). One hour before serving, remove chicken and cool slightly. Remove meat from bones and return meat to crock pot. Serve with rice or noodles.