Wednesday, October 3, 2012

What to do with leftover WHOLE CHICKEN? Recipe: Pumpkin Pollo a la Crema with Homemade Tortillas

Today's recipe comes from a combination of the ingredients that needed to be used in my fridge, the desire to make one of my husband's favorite meals, and the thrill of throwing in something seasonal to help make the dish experimental.

The outcome? Seriously, mouth-watering, no-joke, delish, delish, delish Pollo a la Crema (creamy Mexican chicken) with HOMEMADE flour tortillas like you've NEVER had at a restaurant!! 
You can use any kind of chicken for this meal: chicken breasts, thighs, canned chicken (why not!), or what I used, which is leftover whole chicken. My family used to eat whole chicken the first night, carved, with mashed potatoes or some basic carb and veggies or salad. Kind of basic. The next night, we wouldn't know what to do with the rest of it. Nobody wanted to de-bone the carcass so we would just throw it away. :( I know, sad day. But now I've learned how to use every bit of a whole chicken, leaving nothing to waste. This way, a whole chicken can feed my family for about four days, including lunches (SCORE!).

So this recipe (which can totally be tweaked depending on what kind of chicken meat you have), will show you what an amazing meal you can make with leftover whole chicken. You can even boil the bones for chicken broth, which is needed in this recipe. I have a tutorial here: How to Make Homemade Chicken Broth from Leftover Whole Chicken


Homemade Flour Tortillas

OK so my FIRST step in making this luscious meal was the HOMEMADE flour tortillas. Here is a link to my tutorial... How to Make Homemade Tortillas

These aren't as hard as you think... try it, it's worth the extra effort! They are SO MUCH BETTER than store-bought tortillas!!

Next, comes the Pumpkin Pollo a la Crema! Yummy!


1 medium sweet onion
1/4 cup chopped green onions (these were a last minute add-in -- click here to see why)
4 garlic cloves
3-5 mini rainbow peppers
1/8 cup butter
1 tbsp olive oil
Coarse ground salt and pepper
2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp garlic powder
About 4 cups leftover cooked chicken meat from a whole chicken
1 cup pumpkin puree
2 cups chicken broth (Homemade?!)
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup sour cream
Fresh cilantro and diced tomatoes to garnish

First, chop your onion, green onions, peppers, and mince your garlic cloves (hopefully you have a garlic press like I do! Makes it tons easier!)
Next, melt the butter in a 12" skillet, and throw in your minced/chopped onions, pepper, and garlic. Drizzle the olive oil and stir, letting everything meld for about a minute. Add the seasonings.
Stir and let it meld for a minute.
When the onions start to look slightly translucent, add in your cooked chicken and pumpkin puree. Stir well. Let this meld.

Pour in the chicken broth, stir, and let this reduce for a few minutes.
When this has reduced, begin pouring in your heavy cream (YUM!)
Stir and add in the sour cream. Yum, yum, yum, things are getting YUMMY!!

Let this reduce for about 10 minutes. The sauce will no longer be thin, but nice and thick and creamy. Ooh la la!!
You are so close to the finish line!! Top with fresh cilantro and diced tomatoes. Serve with warm homemade tortillas, Spanish rice, refried beans. Or whatever you want!! This is what I did and it was absolutely heavenly.
 Like, even my husband said it was "one of the best meals you've ever made". This is major. This basically means he was doing cartwheels inside his head. Love it when leftover whole chicken is transformed into a masterpiece!!

How to Make Homemade Chicken Broth from Leftover Whole Chicken

Don't throw away those chicken bones!

I cooked a whole chicken on Saturday in the crock pot, with an onion, some garlic, fresh herbs from the garden, and about 2 cups of water. I carved enough of the meat to make chicken and dumplings. This big pot of soup lasted us two lunches and three dinners.

Today (Tuesday), I de-boned the chicken, getting every last bit of meat off the bones. I was able to get 4 cups of meat from the leftover whole chicken (in the container on the right).
 The container on the left had the leftover bones, onion, garlic, and herbs that had been in the crock pot. To make my homemade chicken broth, I simply transferred the contents of this container to a pot on the stove, added 2 more cups of water, brought to a boil, then simmered a couple hours (well I only simmered about 30 minutes because I needed my broth sooner, but the longer it simmers, the better). :)
 After the bones simmer and the water reduces, it's time to strain. You can also season your broth with salt and pepper if you like. You could use this for anything! It freezes well and makes a great base for homemade soup! I used it in homemade Spanish rice, enchilada sauce, (any kind of sauce for that matter!), soups, skillet meals; the possibilities are endless!
 I was able to get about 4 cups of homemade broth out of this whole chicken. And that doesn't include the broth that I stole from the crock pot on Saturday to make the chicken and dumplings! 

How to Grow Green Onions on Your Kitchen Window Sill

About a year ago, I was given a wonderful tip about green onions... and I've been hooked ever since! 

Tonight I cooked a beautiful meal for my family. The recipe didn't call for green onions, but I added them anyway (who doesn't LOVE green onions?!) Because, you see, I needed to use my green onions. They've been growing on my window sill for the past few days, un-snipped neglected, and were TALLER then I've EVER seen them!
Darn it, I should've measured them before I snipped them... but I would say they were at least 18" tall! I bought these a few weeks ago and have snipped them down to almost the roots twice. They just keep growing and growing!
To grow your own green onions on your kitchen window sill, take a mason jar or vase and fill with 2-3" of water. Keep your green onions in the jar, but be SURE to change the water at least every other day, removing any dead or gunky bits from the green onions and roots. They will get gross if left alone for several days. If maintained, they will last a LONG time! Keep growing, keep snipping, using in your food, replacing themselves over and over! 

I replace the bunch every other month or so with a brand new bunch from the grocery store. They look pretty on my window sill and save us a little bit of money (hey ever dollar counts right?) ;)

Here is my green onion harvest for the day (about 1/4 cup). I could've harvested twice as much but didn't need to because I was using sweet onions as well, and didn't want to overdo it with the onions. :)
Green onions back on the window sill after being harvested, water changed, and dead/gunky stuff removed:
Happy, happy, happy! And ready to grow tall again! :) :) :)

So if you didn't know, now you do! Green onions FTW!

How to Make Homemade Tortillas

WARNING!! Once you make these... store-bought tortillas will just not cut it... maybe in a crunch... but no, seriously, they can never live up to HOMEMADE FLOUR TORTILLAS... YUMMY!!!!

If you have a stand mixer, these are easier than you might think. If you don't, these are still easier than you might think! Here is a wonderful tutorial (for those of you who don't own stand mixers), where I learned to make tortillas! And I made them before ever owning a stand mixer!

 First, get out your ingredients:

I always double the recipe in the above video. In the video he makes enough dough for 8 tortillas, but my family ALWAYS needs twice that many. :)

To make 16 flour tortillas (about 6-7" each), I used:

3 1/2 cups flour (All Purpose is fine, but I subbed in about 3/4 cup whole wheat flour this time)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup shortening (you can use oil, butter, or coconut oil if you prefer but I'm not sure if the amounts would differ -- I have only ever used shortening. My mom uses olive oil!)
1 cup HOT water

Put everything in the bowl of your stand mixer with the dough hook (or use a pastry cutter to mix it by hand), and let it go on medium speed for 3 minutes (or knead for 3 minutes by hand).
Then, let the dough rest for 15 minutes...
Next, take the dough and pinch it in half. Then pinch each half into half. So on and so forth, until you have 16 little round dough balls.
While you are rolling your dough balls, preheat your cast-iron or non-stick skillet to medium high heat. Begin rolling each ball to about 6 or 7 inches in diameter.
 Place each tortilla, one at a time, on your skillet. I had two skillets going so I could get the tortillas finished that much faster. :)
Cook the tortillas (no oil or spray required) for 1 minute on the first side, until you start to see it puff up like this:
Then flip it on the other side and cook another minute. Basically, when the tortilla is ready it will look like this:
When both sides are done, wrap the tortilla in a warm towel on a plate. Keep adding more tortillas to the warm towel as they get done. You can warm them back up in the microwave when it's time to eat. :)
 These go beautifully with Spanish, Mexican, Indian, Thai or any other ethic cuisine you can think of! My family devours these!! SO MUCH BETTER (and cheaper!) then store bought! :)