I had also spent an hour or two yesterday making homemade chicken stock. I used to do the whole carrots, celery, and onions thing. Fresh herbs, blah blah blah. I even used to roast my bones with a little tomato paste for maximum caramely color. Yeah, you really only need chicken backs, onions, bay leaves, and a cleaver. Mostly the cleaver. A couple of months ago I picked up a "Cooks Illustrated" Magazine, specifically on soups and stews. It had a recipe in there that completely changed the way that I make chicken stock. The best part? It only takes about 1.5 hours instead of most of the day! The key is to hack up chicken backs and wings/any other spare part(s) into about 3 inch pieces. That robust, velvety chicken flavor that good restaurants add into your meals, that's stock, and that flavor is derived from the marrow. It makes all the difference. By now, I hope you are buying whole chickens. Cut them up yourself, and save the parts you will not be using (mostly the backs, sometimes I use the wings for stock too) in a gallon ziploc and chuck it in the freezer until you have enough backs to make stock (I usually wait until I have about four backs).
ok, back to food:
I made some basic risotto and while that was finishing up, I sauteed some green beans with very thinly sliced garlic and minced red bell pepper. After about 3-4 minutes, I added the shrimp and seasoned the mixture up with some s&p, cajun seasoning, and some smoked paprika. It was really easy and really good. A light and clean meal after a thanksgiving weekend was really nice.
Well, time to go work out. If you take anything away from this post, please let it be that you will start buying whole chickens. I can't think of a better way to get the most out of your time in the kitchen.
Also, I am going to start a little "Dish Recommends" section at the end of my posts that contains suggestions on related products that will make your cooking life that much easier.
Global Meat clever (It really makes easy work of hacking up bones.) (6 inch, $120.95 cutleryandmore.com) I know, it's expensive, but it will last your lifetime, and be worth it in the end.
Knife skills Illustrated (very thorough illustrations on chicken fabrication, not to mention everything else on the planet that needs knife work) (amazon.com, $19.77, new)