Wednesday, May 14, 2008

3 Moms, 3 Kitchens, 31 Days - Day 14, An Interesting Few Days Ahead

This morning I received a phone call from my mom informing me that my grandmother (my dad's mom) had passed away. She had been very sick for a long time, so her passing, while still very sad, was not unexpected. I will be leaving by train tomorrow to attend her wake and funeral. Gracie will be going with me, and Eric will be holding down the home with the other 3 children. I am a little apprehensive about leaving them because I have never been gone longer than my last hospital stay to deliver Gracie. I know they will have a wonderful time with Eric, but I will miss them all! We will be back late Saturday evening so it really isn't too long of a time. And I guess there is always a first time for everything!

I cannot tell you what a blessing it was for me today to know that I had plenty of meals in the freezer so that Eric will be able to feed everyone without very much effort on his part. I know it's just a small thing, but it makes me feel good to know that I can still be feeding my family even while I'm not here. And even though Eric laughs at me for doing this, I am leaving him a menu plan for while I am gone. He will still have to be working every evening while his brother is here with the sleeping kiddos, so I just want to do my part to make things as easy as possible for him.

Here is their menu plan for while I am gone:
D: Chicken & gravy with mixed veggies over pasta, Jell-O

B: French toast, strawberries
L: Tuna pasta salad (I will make a big bowl of this before I leave tomorrow), mandarin oranges and bananas
D: Shepherd's Pie or Lasagna from freezer, Jell-O

B: Oatmeal and yogurt
L: Leftover pasta salad or dinner, peaches

Today I was able to finish prepping all of the chicken from making stock yesterday. I used 4 cups of shredded chicken to make chicken and black bean taco filling. We had this for dinner tonight with homemade whole wheat tortillas and corn salad. I was able to freeze almost half of the filling to use again later in the month. When I do, I will probably use it to make quesadillas.

I also used 5 1/2 c. of the chicken to make chicken in gravy with mixed vegetables. This is so versatile and I am always trying to come up with other dishes to use it in.

Chicken in Gravy Recipe:

1/3 c. butter

1/2 onion, finely diced

1/4 c. flour

2 c. chicken stock

1/2 c. milk

2 c. shredded chicken

1/2 bag frozen mixed veggies

Salt, pepper, spices or seasonings of your choice (my current favorite is a blend by Penzeys called "Sunny Paris" that I was given for Christmas. It contains shallots, chives, green peppercorns, basil, tarragon, chervil, bay leaf, and dill. It has a wonderfully fresh and unique flavor that blends very well with this dish.)

Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and cook until translucent. Whisk in flour and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add chicken stock and milk. Stir constantly. Bring to a boil and let boil until thickened. Remove from heat. Add chicken, veggies, and seasonings.

Some of the ways I have used this mixture are:

1. In a casserole, over egg noodles or other pasta

2. To top baked potatoes

3. Over homemade biscuits

4. Thinned with an extra 1 c. of chicken stock, and the addition of rice or potatoes for a soup

5. Thinned with an extra 1 1/2 c. chicken stock for chicken and dumplings

6. Thickened with an extra 1/2 c. white sauce for pot pie filling

I am leaving Eric a container of this, along with some cooked pasta or rice, for their dinner tomorrow night. I was also able to freeze 2 large containers for later.

I also was able to put 2 bags of plain shredded chicken in the freezer. I can use them for bbq sandwiches, chicken salad, soup, or chop suey.

I will try to post while I am gone but I'm not sure what kind of time I will have available. I will still be participating in the 3 Moms, 3 Kitchens, 31 Days Live show at Talkshoe Friday night at 10 pm EST. Please stop in and join us if you get a chance. We will be discussing our grocery shopping methods as well as answering any questions. You can join in by clicking the Live button in one of our sidebars, by clicking the link here, or we can sent you an email invitation that will link you right to the show. If you'd like an email, please leave a comment with your email address.

Also, don't forget to stop by Toni and Joy's blogs to see what they've been up to in their kitchens. Joy made a fantastic look pizza yesterday, and she posted the recipe for the crust. I'm planning on trying that soon. Toni is still on vacation but she is posting what they are eating while visiting family, including grocery trips.


Nancy 9:18 AM  

So sorry to hear of your grandmother's passing. Even when it isn't unexpected, it is still painful. Wishing you safe travels.

I hope to be able to join you on Friday night.

suezque 2:00 PM  

I am so sorry for your loss. I just lost my grandma 6 weeks ago- so the loss is still fresh for me (there was lot of family drama as well, which makes it even more stressful.) How nice that you won't have to worry about your famly eating right in your absence, since you are so well prepared with your monthly meals. One less thing for you to worry about while you're gone. I am enjoying your series, and all your helpful hints. I am even trying to cook ahead a little more now! Prayers for you.

Michele 9:57 PM  

I'm sorry about your grandma. Calvin's grandma just passed away last week, too. I hope your trip goes well. Your meal planning sounds great.

By the way, I love Penzey's spices! My mom sent me a box of them for my birthday in December, and they're so fun. The ones she sent me are mostly for Asian/Indian food. The one you mentioned sounds fun!

Michele :)

Cajunchic 12:18 PM  

I am so sorry for you loss. I will be praying for you and your family.

Amy 6:19 PM  

I am sorry to hear of your loss.

I am bookmarking this entry to come back later & try your chicken and gravy recipe. That looks like something I would use a lot!

Jenn @ Frugal Upstate 10:31 PM  

Thanks so much for linking to this for the "Frugal Food Series: Chicken".

I really love how you made the chicken in gravy and then had a bunch of different ways to use it. That is just soooo slick. I am totally doing this next time I batch cook any chicken.

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