Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Stupid Picky Fart Boys

Lunch: BBQ Lil’ Smokies and French Fries
Dinner: Chicken and Sausage Paella and Rolls

Despite the gloomy, rainy weather, today doesn’t seem as bad as yesterday. But then again, I still have half the day. The rain even held off long enough for me to take my walk today. Hooray me for continuing with my goal! I also got to wear my adorable rain boots, although I probably looked rather silly this morning wearing yoga pants and rain boots. Eh, I really don’t care. I had a teacher in high school who always wore white knee socks, white sneakers and floaty skirts. I also had a teacher in college who wore bells all the time and smelled like patchouli oil, but we won’t talk about her because it upsets me.

So, I struck out with the Italian meatball soup. Apparently the veggie to meat ratio was just too high… Argh! I’m fairly sure there is no secret combination. I doubled the meat! Sigh… there simply is no pleasing frat boys. (Please note, when I first typed this, I accidently put fart boys, which I believe should work interchangeably) Tonight I’m making chicken paella, similar to the one I made for Tyler’s birthday (see recipe here: Chicken_and_Shrimp_Paella ) except I’m exchanging sausage for the shrimp. Sadly, Spanish Chorizo is difficult to find and rather expensive, so I had to sub some spicy Italian sausage. Please note: Spanish Chorizo is very different from Mexican Chorizo, which is rather widely available at grocery stores in the South. Spanish or Portuguese Chorizo is a deep red-colored smoked sausage in a casing. Mexican chorizo is uncooked and usually sold bulk or not in a casing. The two are not interchangeable. If you live in the Atlanta area, the DeKalb farmers market sometimes carries a good Spanish Chorizo (made in house) that is not terribly expensive. I would have gone there (they have really cheap fresh fruits and veggies!) but they are far away and rather a pain to get to. I’m all about getting my butt home on grocery day.

Paella is one of those weird dishes that seem a lot easier to make in bulk than in family portions. This concept is still new to me. When I made it for Tyler, I was in the kitchen for well over an hour when a typical meal for us only takes 30 minutes. Making dinner for the guys can take anywhere from 2-4 hours depending. If you were to count the things that I prep in advance (such as veggie dicing or marinating) or stuff that I start cooking when I start breakfast (barbecue ribs) then we’re looking at even longer. The thing is, dishes that are a snap to whip up at home (chicken and dumplings take 30 minutes at home) can take a surprisingly long time to make in bulk (3 hours). Then in reverse, the paella will only take me 2 hours… It doesn’t always work that way. For example, beef stew takes a long time either way. Of course, I am cheating a bit with the paella for the guys. Rather than sauté the chicken and sausage on the stove top, it’s cooking in the oven. I wouldn’t recommend doing your chicken in the oven at home because it would take less time for you to sauté it and it will come out better, but the frat has a large convection oven that cooks the chicken faster and at a lower temp which keeps it from drying out. I am also using frozen onion and pepper slices. Hey, bell peppers are out of season, expensive, and time- consuming to chop. I can buy them frozen and they’re already cut into perfect strips (hooray for no onion hands!). I’m fairly sure the guys will like this because it is basically just meat and rice with only the tiniest hint of veggies (a smattering of peppers and onions and a handful of frozen peas). Of course, I’ve been wrong before.

Chicken and Dumplings
Serves 24

10.5 cups Milk
7 cups Frozen Mixed Veggies (the kind with carrots, green beans, corn and peas)
2 large Onions, chopped
1 head Garlic, minced
7 pounds Boneless, Skinless Chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces
8 cans Cream of Chicken Soup
Salt and Pepper
Olive Oil
7 cups Bisquick
2 1/3 cups Milk
1 tbs Garlic Powder

In a large dutch oven, drizzle several tablespoons of oil and heat over medium high. Add onion and garlic and sauté until tender and transparent. Remove onions and garlic and add in chicken (you may need to add more oil). Season chicken with salt, pepper and paprika. Brown over medium-high heat until cooked through. Add in 10.5 cups of milk, frozen veggies, cream of chicken soup and onions and garlic, combine thoroughly. Salt and pepper to taste. Bring mixture up to a boil, stirring continuously. Lower to a simmer (you want small bubbles breaking on the surface continuously, but not at a boil). Combine remaining ingredients in a large mixing bowl to form a soft dough. Drop mixture by the tablespoonful onto the chicken. Try not to drop the mixture into the liquid otherwise the dough will not cook properly and will stay doughy. Cook uncovered for 15 minutes. Cover and cook until the dough steams and becomes more biscuit like and is no longer dough (can take between 15-30 minutes, check every 5 minutes after the first 10 minutes).

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