Salad with Chicken & Fresh Veggies

I just LOVE to cook once and eat twice (or more)!!! And this is the perfect meal for doing just that! We smoked 4 chickens yesterday (from Kvam Family Farm), and now we have tons of meat leftover. (You could also roast your chickens, instead - we use the smoker because we can fit more chickens in there. LOL!) Or you can use leftover grilled chicken…or grill some up fresh just for this. Whatever works! :)

Tonight we enjoyed organic salad mix from Costco topped with leftover smoked chicken meat; fresh tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers; and homemade Italian Dressing!

I tossed in some Italian flax crackers on the side for good measure, too! ;) Click here to read more about those!

Smoky Butternut Squash Soup

smoked butternut soupThis is my new absolute FAVORITE soup of all time!!! If you love to make your home smell like a fancy restaurant, then this is the soup for you!

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MAKES ~ 16 cups (or you can cut this recipe in half for 8 cups of soup)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 TBSP coconut oil
  • 2 medium onions, peeled and chopped
  • Two 3-pound butternut squash (6 lbs total), peeled and seeded
  • 8 medium carrots, chopped
  • 12 cups Smoked Chicken Broth
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS:

Cut squash into 1-inch chunks, and set aside.

Melt coconut oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook until translucent, about 8 minutes.

Add squash, carrots and broth. Bring to a simmer and cook until veggies are quite tender, about 15-20 minutes.

Remove from heat and carefully use an immersion blender to puree the soup until smooth (keep in contact with the bottom of the pan, so you avoid splashing soup and burning yourself!).

Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Enjoy! This is great leftover, too!

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Smoked Chicken Broth (in crock pot)

Smoking meat can be a bit of a pain, and I’m not entirely sure that it’s all that healthy for you, but…it sure makes for some delicious broth!!!

If you don’t have a smoker, you can still make this recipe if you:

A) Are fortunate enough to know of a grocer who sells whole smoked chickens with no artificial ingredients or flavorings.

B) Have a friend or acquaintance who smokes chickens but normally throws the carcass away. (Just don’t ever let them taste your broth or they’ll start keeping their carcasses to make their own, and you’ll be back to square one!)

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MAKES ~ 12 cups

INGREDIENTS:

  • Cooked carcass and skin from 1 whole, smoked chicken (if there are a few meat scraps still dangling from the bones, that’s all the better)
  • 1 large onion (skin on), chopped into large chunks
  • 2 or 3 large carrots, cut into large chunks
  • 1/2 bunch celery, cut into large chunks (I usually use the inner stalks/leaves)
  • 1 head/bulb of garlic (skin on), cut in half so all cloves are cut in half
  • 1 heaping TBSP sea salt
  • 1/2 TBSP whole peppercorns
  • 2 TBSP Bragg brand apple cider vinegar (optional)
  • about 4 quarts water

DIRECTIONS:

Place all ingredients in a large crock pot. Cook on low 8-12 hours. Strain through a fine mesh strainer. (Make sure your strainer is fine mesh, so no bone slivers slip through!) Discard all bones, skin and veggies. To remove excess fat from the strained broth, allow it to cool completely in the fridge. The fat will settle to the top and harden a bit, so you can scrape/skim it off if you’d like. Use right away, or can/freeze in the portion sizes you most often use!

 A NOTE ABOUT SMOKING CHICKENS…

  I’ve tried all sorts of recipes, rubs, etc. for smoking chicken. Honestly, I found it to be a pain, so I decided one day to just throw the chickens into the smoker plain – I’m talkin’ absolutely no oil, butter, seasoning or anything. And they tasted just fine to us (especially given the labor savings). So that’s the way we always smoke them now!

We’ve also grown fond of stuffing our smoker to the max – after all, if you’ve gotta clean it, might as well make it worth your time. In our smoker, that means smoking 4 birds at a time.

We eat the meat warm (as quarters) for dinner on the day we smoke them. Then I take all the meat and skin off the carcasses and make 4 batches of broth over the following 48 hours. (Of course, if you don’t have time/desire to make the broth immediately, you can also throw the carcasses/skin in the freezer for later use.) I cut or rip apart all of the meat, and we eat some of it in salads over the next few days. The rest is thrown into the freezer for future use! I just LOVE to cook once, and eat a bunch of times!

I’m not including smoking instructions here because every smoker is different. Ours happens to take about 4 hours to get to the point that the meat is falling off the bones :)