"What's with the bags of pee in the freezer?" asked the hubster yesterday morning. Normally, I ignore all questions and comments short of "I ate the last of your Honey Nut Cheerios" or "Oops, I knocked your hair straightener into to the toilet" during Sunday morning internet time. See, Sunday morning is the only time I have to drink my three cups of coffee and spend uninterrupted time catching up on reading Perez Hilton.
I debated ignoring his question. I mean, pee in the freezer trumps eating the last of my Honey Nut Cheerios but doesn't quite rise to the level of knocking my straightener into the toilet. But curiosity got the better of me. I mean really, what man casually inquires about pee in the freezer? You'd think that'd be a cause of concern. Like perhaps, the hubster would have called me when he saw the alleged pee in the freezer. But nope, the man casually toasted his two blueberry Eggos, got his glass of milk, grabbed the Sunday paper, and in the midst of relaxedly eating his second Eggo, finally thought it important enough to inquire about the pee.
"So, where in the freezer is this pee?" I asked, knowing I'd never quite recapture the Sunday morning coffee-Perez Hilton reverie. "In Ziplocs on the shelf in the freezer door," he said offhandedly. "Want a waffle? I'm toasting another for myself," he said, easily moving on. I stared at him for a good three minutes, trying to figure out the male mind. I imagine it went something like this: Hungry. Must have Waffle. Open Freezer. Notice "Pee." Ignore "Pee" upon discovering waffles. Eat Waffle. Remember "Pee." Mention to Wife. I shook my head in disbelief, followed him in the kitchen and peered into the freezer. "This?" I asked, holding up a frozen bag. "Yup, that," he said. "That's chicken stock," I said. "Oh, well it looks like pee," he said.
I give up. The only positive thing that came out of this exchange was a reminder that I had these lovely bags of homemade chicken stock sitting in my freezer. See, a few weeks ago, I thought it wise to make a giant pot of stock instead of making actual food for the week. Needless to say, I ate a lot of ramen that week. But somehow, the thought of all that perfect stock in my freezer made the sodium-laced kick to my innards almost tolerable.
And so, it was decided. I was going to cook with stock. My initial reaction was to make soup but I've been eating a lot of soup lately. Note aforementioned ramen comment. No, this meal had to be more substantial. It had to involve rice. And maybe some veggies because the whole eat more veggies plan wasn't going all that well. Oh, and hopefully it'd be a meal that involved delicious leftovers because the last couple of days of lackluster lunches had made me feel like a lawyer who loathed lunch.
Enter chicken cacciatore, a one pot wonder of chicken and veggies, cooked up in a delicious sauce that would make any rice (or pasta) proud. And my homemade stock? Well clearly that would just make my cacciatore even better. And so, I diced and stirred and marveled at the wonder of frozen bags of tricolor peppers (thanks, Safeway!). And while my delicious meal simmered, I reorganized the freezer and put the remaining bags of stock in the back because come next Sunday, I refuse to let the perfectness of coffee and Perez Hilton be ruined by "pee."
PS: The crazy kids at Marx Food are at it again, inviting winners of last year's challenges to a grand Ridiculously Delicious Challenge. My winning pho with chile sauce has earned me a spot! Each contestant picks three items from their goodie list and answers the question, "What ridiculously delicious thing would you do with them if you won?" I pick the kobe beef burgers, salmon, and Bourbon vanilla beans. Because rumor has it, my parents are coming to visit. And since they still like telling the story about how I couldn't even boil rice when I was younger, I'm going to have to bring out the culinary muscle. I'm thinking an appetizer of kobe burgers served kebab style on a bed of fresh herbs and served with a spicy, yogurt raita, salmon biryani, and a cardamom laced vanilla kheer (rice pudding) for dessert might encourage them to give up on the burnt rice story. At least for a day or so.
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into even strips
1 onion, diced finely
2 cups tricolor pepper strips (or 1 pepper, cut into strips)
2 cups mushrooms, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cans diced tomatoes (14.5 oz. each)
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1 1/2 tsp. cayenne (less if you're not a fan of heat)
1 tsp. salt
Salt and Pepper
Add approximately 1/2 cup of flour to shallow dish. Season with salt and pepper. Bread chicken strips. Heat 2-4 tbs. oil in a pot pot and brown the floured chicken on all sides. Remove from heat. Heat more oil in the same pot saute diced onions until translucent. Once onions are translucent, add garlic, peppers and mushrooms* and cook for 2-3 minutes.
Add chicken to the vegetable mixture. Add tomatoes and stock. Turn heat to medium-low and cook for 20-30 minutes. Add spices, including salt and pepper to taste, and cook for an additional 15 minutes.
Serve hot over rice or pasta.
*This method results in vegetables which are cooked very thoroughly. If you like your vegetables to remain a bit crunchy, add them in the final 15 minutes of the cooking process.