11.20.2011

Easy Chicken Recipes

Easy Chicken Recipes

My dad is trying to learn how to make a few things for himself, so we are going to have an "easy cooking lesson night" every once in a while. I have a system that I use to make meals a lot easier, so that's going to be the main teaching. : ) Since I was going to write it all down for him anyway, I thought I'd share it with you, in hopes of making your meal prep a little easier.

For me the meat is always the most time consuming part of making a meal. To be honest, it also grosses me out a little, so the less often I have to do that, the better. I had tried to do the “make a month of freezer meals” route, but we have very little freezer space and it kind of stressed me out to have to come up with all of those meal ideas that would do well in the freezer. I don’t know…I guess I just get stressed out easily. Ha!

So I came up with this system.

Easy Prep Chicken: Cook, Shred, Bag – A month or more of cooking made a ton easier!

Get a whole bag of frozen chicken (breast or filets), put them in a large casserole dish with some garlic powder, salt, and onion powder, and fill with water until the tops of the breasts are almost covered. Cover the dish with foil and put in the oven at 350’ for about 3 hours. When you take them out, drain the water and let them cool. When they aren’t too hot to touch, rinse them off really well to get rid of any fat. With the fillets I even open them up a little to make sure I rinse it out really well.

Next, shred the chicken with your hands. It should be really tender, so just pull it into pieces and it should be great. I just make a big pile of shredded chicken. If you want to save some out in bigger pieces or strips for certain recipes (fajitas, stir fry, etc..), you can do that as well, but I find that shredded works just as well in most of my recipes.

Get some good quality quart size freezer bags (I have had good luck with Ziploc double zipper heavy duty freezer bags) and put enough for your family in each bag. I usually only put about ¾ cup chicken in each bag. You can always use more bags if you are having company over or making a dish that requires more, but you’d be surprised how little you need to go in soups, spaghetti, quesadillas, etc… We are a family of four, so if you have a bigger family, you might want to put more in each bag.

Now you have the meat done for a zillion different recipes and it’s easy breezy from here on out. These last me for quite a while.

Here are some recipes you can use them with:

Barbecue Pizza:

Put tortillas on a baking pan, brush it with water and put them in the oven to prepare the crust halfway. While that’s in there, get out your chicken and cheese (optional: onions). Take out the tortillas after about 5 minutes, brush with BBQ sauce, then put a layer of mozzarella, chicken, and a little more mozzarella. You can even do this with healthy tortillas. I use Sprouted Wheat tortillas and it’s still great! I love using the Flat Out Breads too (pictured below).

Stew:

In a big pot, combine: chicken, black beans, chopped, onions, green beans, carrots, and whatever other vegetables you like (celery, potatoes, etc…). Then season it with some chopped onion (or onion powder), garlic, and salt. Make sure to put plenty of water in it and let it cook all day. I like to do some yummy cornbread with this. It’s so yummy and you can feel great about eating good food. To make it even healthier, make sure that your veggies are either frozen or no salt added if they are in the can. You can add salt later and the sodium still won’t get near the numbers that the cans have in them.

Chicken Quesadillas:

In a skillet, on medium heat, lay your tortilla down and sprinkle cheese, chicken, taco seasoning (just a tad!),and also a little of onion and garlic powder, then sprinkle a little more cheese on top before topping with another tortilla. Check to see if the bottom tortilla is brown, when it is, just flip it over for a few minutes and you are done! For the girls, I just use one tortilla and fold it over. It just depends on how hungry you are.

*We also do this with Cheese Quesadillas, but ex-nay the seasonings if you do it with just cheese. It’s delicious on its own. I like a little bit of crunchy cheese, so after the quesadilla is brown on both sides, I sprinkle some cheese in the pan and then put my quesadilla on top of it so that I’ll have some crunch cheese on the outside. Delicious!

Chili:

Add together, chicken, black beans, red beans, cumin to taste, garlic, onion, and water to desired consistency. You may have to add more water as it simmers. (Optional: you can also add tomatoes or tomato paste). I also add some rice (boil-in-a-bag brown rice), to make it go a little further. It’s a great way to get some good brown rice in your diet without even noticing it.

Panini Sandwiches:

Get out your skillet or Panini pan and let it start warming up (medium to high heat). You’ll need two pieces of bread, buttered on one side each, for each sandwich you make. Get out your chicken (can be nitrate free deli meat), mozzarella, and mustard as well. Lay one piece of bread, buttered side down, then meat, then cheese, then mustard, then your other piece of bread butter side up- Brown on each side, kind of mashing it together with your spatula. That’s all there is to it!

Chicken Spaghetti:

This is the easiest one yet. Pour some yummy spaghetti sauce (we like Ragu tomato, onion, and garlic) into a sauce pan or skillet and put your frozen shredded chicken in with it. If you are trying to be healthier, but vegetables aren't really your thing, this is also a great time to puree some other veggies that you don't usually like and add them into the sauce. The tomato, garlic, and onion overpower just about anything so you can't even taste it. I like to add either pureed zucchini or squash (two things that I would otherwise never eat, yet can't taste them one bit when added to the sauce). In another pan boil your noodles. When the noodles are done and the sauce has simmered for a while, you are done. That’s all there is too it!

Chicken Nachos:

Even easier...Lay out your chips on a baking sheet, sprinkle black beans, jalapenos (optional), chicken, cheese, maybe a little taco seasoning (or not), and anything else you want on them. Bake at 350 until the cheese melts. Serve with sour cream and salsa. Embarrassingly easy and quick to make.

You can also use your chicken for casseroles, to add to boxed rice meals, chicken salad, and countless other things. I love that I have the main ingredient already done and can just be creative with what I add it too.

I did this with beef as well, but now that I am supposed to eat as little red meat as possible, I am trying to stick to chicken. This way my husband is happy because our meals still have meat in them, and I do not have to cook separately for myself very often. Who likes doing that? …not this gal.

3 comments:

mustard seed said...

I totally did this last night. I have tons of frozen chicken and HATE thawing them out each night. Great tip! They were SO easy to shred too!

Catherine

Betsy said...

I put my chicken breasts in the crockpot with chicken broth and water, and some salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Put them on low and let them cook all day and they are really tender...Just another way to not have to heat up the oven:)

Ruth said...

That is a genius way to cook the chicken! Thanks for sharing. (And the recipes are great ideas, too.)