Ridiculously easy rotisserie chicken soup

I love rotisserie chickens, especially from Costco because they’re so cheap and are generally larger than those you find in the regular grocery store. But we never finish ours, and it drives me crazy that I can’t pick every piece of meat off the bones. That’s why I use the leftover carcass to make either broth or soup. It’s ridiculously easy to do, and it turns out a decent meal with minimal effort. Seriously minimal effort. If you’re uber lazy or pressed for time, buy pre-cut veggies and cut your prep time down to nothing.

Step 1: Buy a rotisserie chicken, cut it up, and use it for lunch/dinner.

Step 2: Cut the carcass in half and place it, any leftover meat, and all the juices and gelatin at the bottom of the container in the slow cooker. We had both wings, both drumsticks, and one thigh left on our chicken. In terms of flavor, the more chicken the merrier, so if you have several carcasses, throw them in.

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Step 3: Chop 1 large onion, 4 carrots, and 3 celery stalks. Cut 1 clove of garlic in half. Add to slow cooker. Notice I didn’t peel the garlic. So easy.

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Step 4: Add 1 TBSP dried thyme, 1 bay leaf, 2 tsp ground ginger, 1 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp ground pepper to slow cooker. Fill to the top with water. (My grandmother always added lots of ginger to food when we were sick. She said it heats the body up and is good for the lungs.)

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Step 5: Cover and cook on high for 4.5 hours or on low for 8-10 hours. (I’ve also just left it on overnight if I’m just doing broth. The vegetables turn to mush if you do this.)

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Step 6: Taste the broth for seasoning. Since we didn’t have that much chicken in our broth, I added about 2 tsp of chicken bouillon granules to put it over the edge from good to oh my goodness, I’m so happy.

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Step 7: Now, if you just want broth, all you have to do is strain the liquid into a container and toss the rest of the ingredients. But why do that when you’ve practically got chicken noodle soup right in front of you? So instead, pull the chicken bones out and use either a fork or chopsticks to pull the meat off the bones and put it back in the slow cooker. I also pulled the garlic halves out and squeezed the now roasted garlic back into the broth. (Look at how clean those bones are! Flavor, baby.)

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Step 8: Add precooked noodles and enjoy chicken noodle soup. Or, if you’re like my daughter, just enjoy it as-is.

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Ridiculously Easy Slow Cooker Soup or Broth

Ingredients:
1-2 rotisserie chicken carcasses (including juice and gelatin at the bottom) cut in half
1 large onion, diced
4 carrots, diced
3 celery stalks, diced
1 bay leaf
1 head of garlic, cut in half
1 TBSP dried thyme
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground pepper
water

Directions:
Add all ingredients to slow cooker and fill to the top with water. Cook on high for 4.5 hours or on low for 8-10 hours. Taste for flavoring. If not “chickeny” enough, add up to 2 tsp of chicken bouillon and stir.

For broth only:
Strain liquid into another container and use in something else.

For chicken noodle soup:
Pull the chicken bones out of the broth and peel the remaining meat from them with either a fork or chopsticks. Using tongs, squeeze the garlic head halves and put the now roasted garlic back into the soup.

Cook your choice of noodles in salted water until al dente. Drain and add desired amount to serving bowl. Top with soup and enjoy.

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Dealing with eczema flares

I hate winter.

And not because of the dreariness or the drab or the weather. I hate winter because of this:

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I hate winter because of eczema. My daughter’s skin gets dry. It gets itchy. To hear it from the dermatologist, it’s an itch unlike any you or I have encountered. It’s relentless. Imagine the worst itch you ever had, then multiply it by 1,000 times. That’s what it’s like to have eczema. So its no wonder that my daughter wakes up with trails of blood across her chest and back from scratching. And to make matters worse, once they scratch or rub, the skin develops a rash. The skin puffs up, turns red and blotchy. It itches more. And then the skin breaks. I’m not talking simple scratches. The skin shreds. Pulls apart. Like tissue paper.

IMG_1246Her hands are usually the worst. But this year, she had a full-body flare.

IMG_1247This is the area where her pants and underwear touch her body.  The splotches continued both up and down her torso. Her shoulders and upper back were gouged by nail marks and puffy skin.

IMG_1249And for the first time, her face was affected: One eye puffed up, her cheeks got blotchy, and her upper lip was bright red and scaly.

We went to the dermatologist the next morning. I pulled out my entire arsenal of tricks to battle this flare:

Wet wrapping: What you need: water, 100% cotton fabric, and tube socks and/or ACE bandages.
What to do: Fill a bowl with lukewarm water and submerge the fabric until they’re soaked. (I use old onesies that I’ve cut into strips.) Pull the strips out of the water and squeeze until they are still very wet but not dripping. Wrap the affected area loosely with the fabric and secure with tube socks (for hands or feet) or with the ACE bandages for other areas, such as the torso. Leave on for 20-40 minutes. When you remove the bandages, do one area at a time, for example: unwrap a hand, apply medicines, apply lotion, and finally apply an emollient such as Vaseline or Aquaphor. For hands, then apply a clean 100% cotton glove or another dry tube sock and leave on overnight.

Therapy baths:
What you need: Option 1: 1 package Aveeno oatmeal bath; option 2: 2 cups milk and 1/2 cup mineral oil; option 3: 1 cup olive oil; option 4: 1/4 cup baking powder.
What to do: Fill a tub halfway with warm water and add one of the four options. Soak for 10 minutes, then lightly pat the skin until it is mostly dry, then apply medicines, lotion, and an emollient.

Burn pads:
You can find these in the first-aid section of your local drug store. Essentially, they’re gel pads soaked in sterile water. I usually put these on her wrists during the day and wrap them in rolled gauze to secure. Leave them on for 30-40 minutes, then remove and apply medicines, lotion, and emollient to the affected area. Don’t use on open cuts, just on areas that are incredibly dry and need some serious hydration.

A metric ton of prescriptions:See your doctor or dermatologist. For this flare, we received a higher-dose of ProTopic (0.3%), and were told to use our steroid ointment for 2 weeks straight, 2x a day, and then wean her off of it. We continued to give her 1 tsp of Zyrtec daily and 1 tsp of Benadryl at night to help her sleep. We also tried  CeraVe cream (blue colored label/tub) and it seems to be helping a lot.

IMG_1252She’s doing better, but is still itchy. Keep that skin hydrated!

New Adventures And Some Amazing Osso Buco

Something exciting has happened, folks. I’m now a contributing blogger at Bay Area Parent! New year, new fun. Here’s a taste of what you’ll see over on their Web site:

I had an amazing osso buco at a local restaurant aeons ago — the kind of dish your remember, because it made you sigh with bliss each time you took a bite. The meat fell off the bone. I could’ve eaten it with a spoon. The marrow was rich, velvety, and perfect. So imagine my trepidation in trying to recreate the dish at home. On a weeknight. And trying to remember to take enough pictures so I can blog about it.

Apparently I’m a glutton for punishment. Or osso buco. Your call.

Want to actually see the recipe? You’ll have to check it out at Bay Area Parent. (No really, go check it out!)

All Things Shiny And New

Well, hello there. Haven’t seen you in awhile. You’re looking good. No really, you are … no, I’m not being snarky, I’m being nice. Aren’t people nice to you?

I’m back, people. The arm is mostly functioning again, I’m back at work, and hey — I haven’t been on pain pills for a couple months now! Hooray for shoulder surgery! And physical therapy. Oh my lordy, thank you for physical therapy. I just wish it didn’t take me 45 minutes to get there and that I didn’t have to go two times a week. During working hours. Necessitating that I sign back into work after the kids are in bed. Influencing my husband to offer to send his wedding ring to my bosses since they get more of my time than him.

You uncomfortable yet? Me too.

Lots of things have happened since my last post, most of them boring and only interesting to me so I’m going to limit myself to the highlights. (You’re welcome.)

  • I’m glad I live on the West Coast and don’t have to deal with this “polar vortex” nonsense like the rest of the nation. (Because that global warming thing affecting the weather is malarky! — extreme sarcasm intended.) Also, can you imagine what Allie’s eczema would look like if she were exposed to weather like this?!

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    Photo credit: John McCormick @ Michigan Nut Photography

  • The girl child turned 3 this year, and I foolishly decided to have an Alice in Wonderland style tea party. It turned out really cute, and I probably spent less than $40 on all the decorations and set up. Where’s the foolish part? The kids enjoyed the “tea party” for about 10 minutes while they scarfed down pizza, then ran off to play and destroy the kids’ rooms. I should’ve spent the $40 on more beer for the adults.

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  • What, you don’t have adult libations at your toddler birthday parties? No wonder everyone comes to my house …
  • The girl child is obsessed with nightgowns now — probably because they irritate her eczema less. I like them because she’s less likely to take off a nightgown in the middle of the night and freeze. Nothing like waking up to your kid screaming and finding them au natural and shivering when you get to their room. She now has store-bought ones and mom-made ones. (The mom-made ones need a little work.)
  • We saw Frozen while the kids were “off” from day care for two weeks and now the kids are obsessed with the movie. Check that. Allie is obsessed with the movie and soundtrack. She sings along. Actually sings. And I can’t get a video of it because as soon as she sees that I have a camera, she clams up. (Resolution for 2014, find a way to record her singing, because its both cute and hilarious — and yes, I’m 100% biased.)
  • The boy is obsessed with anything super heroes, which means that he really enjoys watching the 1960s Batman movie with Adam West, who I cannot think about without hearing him sing his name on Family Guy.
  • I’ve decided that kids have a special alarm system in their brains. It goes off like a freaking fire alarm every time their mother steps into the bathroom. Because dads can go pee by themselves like … 25% to 30% of the time. But moms? Forget about it.
  • However, I can do dishes for 30 minutes unaccosted. Little jerks.
  • I’m making Osso Bucco for dinner tonight for the first time. I’m a little bit scared. I’ll let you know how that turns out.
  • I have to sign the boy child up for kindergarten early next month so he can start school in August. Pay no mind to that shattering sound, its just the sound of my heart breaking at the realization that he’s growing up.
  • In related news, I’ll be putting my daughter back in diapers. (KIDDING! I’m living in a diaper-free house and it’s gonna stay that way until either Hubbs or I need them.)
  • But we ARE going to attempt to chop our paper towel/napkin usage down to nothing by making our own fabric napkins (read: me sewing them), and using kitchen towels — which we’re probably going to have to buy, because terry fabric is expensive.
  • I want to make the girl child an Elsa-style nightgown from Frozen. The Disney store one retails for $30 and the sheer fabric on the arms tends to aggravate her eczema/itchiness. I was thinking of making the majority of it out of satin and have the overlay out of a sheer chiffon. (If I can get those fabrics cheap enough.)
  • I’m going to have to figure out some kind of super hero sewing project so Sean doesn’t feel left out.
  • And I’m ending with some random photos. Just because. Happy new year all!

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Learning To Function With One Hand

(Apologies in advance if there are any typos in this post. I’m typing with one hand. )

Confession: I am not a good sick/injured person. I don’t like being cooped up in the house. And I really don’t like not having the use of my right arm.

I had surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff in early August and while I know its not forever, cabin fever has definitely set in. Right now, my movements are very restricted: The only approved way of moving my shoulder is to be standing, bend at the waist, and let my arm slowly hang away from my body. That’s it. And now you know how I get dressed every day: Put sleeve on bad arm, bend, pull it up, pull over my head, insert good hand, and SLOWLY adjust said shirt.

Bras?  The only ones I can wear are strapless or bandeau tops. Although my favorite so far is the tank top with a shelf bra. So. Much. Easier.

My sling is gigantic. It even has its own pillow to keep my arm away from my body. I also can’t drive for another week, and when I do, it can only be for short trips and I have to use my left hand for everything. (Translation: I’ve been cooped up in my house for nearly six weeks! And most of that time was spent alone. HELP ME.)

So … life has been very small recently. And slow.

Eczema & THE Must-Read Book Of The Summer

Eczema Update:

We recently went to a dermatologist, who recommended we use Protopic (an inflammatory ointment) daily and not try to wean the girl child off of it. We’re going to see how well that works.

I know there’s no cure for eczema, but I have a boatload of frustration when doctors tell me: “Wow, you’re maintaining her skin really well!” I know other kids have it worse, but it doesn’t feel like I’m doing a good job. Especially on a day like yesterday, when she came home from daycare with puffy, broken skin all over her wrist.

On a good note, I found a “book” on the Protopic Web site that is a talking point for parents whose kids have eczema. Allie’s a little young to get it, but it gave me some good insights and it has some good tips for tracking things when she gets older. You can find it here: It’s called “Under My Skin”. If you have kids with eczema, it’s worth a read for the kids’ quotes alone.

Looking For A Book To Read This Summer?

I wish I were talented enough to write a book, but the most I could ever manage was a short story. But my friend Erin from Musings of a Madwoman has done just that.

She. Wrote. A. Book.

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Once you get over your envy, head over to Amazon and get “Bigger” for only $2.99! (What a steal!) Knowing Erin, it will be heartwarming and sweet, poignant, and incredibly funny. I’m planning to read it next week while I’m recovering from shoulder surgery by sitting on the couch and eating bon bons all day. Just kidding, I don’t even really know what a bon bon is …