Four Ways To Serve Chicken For Dinner

Chicken For Dinner

Chicken is a great, healthy family dinner that tastes delicious and provides plenty of lean proteins. Best of all, it's incredibly versatile. You can bake it, roast it, or include strips of rotisserie chicken in all types of dishes. Chicken responds well to different types of seasonings, ranging from white wine cream sauce to lemon peppercorn toppings. Here are four great ways to serve a chicken dinner that your family will absolutely love.

Chicken Quesadillas

These are ideal for busy weeknights when you only have ten or fifteen minutes to prepare dinner. Preheat the oven to 350 F, then add a little oil to a saucepan. In the pan, cook chopped bell peppers and onions until they've softened (this usually takes about 10 minutes). Lay out whole-wheat tortillas on a baking sheet. Top them with Monterey Jack cheese, shredded rotisserie chicken, and the cooked vegetables. Place them in the oven for 10 minutes until done.

Oven-Fried Chicken

Fried chicken is delicious, but it's not particularly healthy. This recipe mimics the taste of fried chicken, but uses the oven instead of the deep-fryer. Instead of bread crumbs, use crushed bagel chips and rice cereal. In the cereal mixture, add some olive oil and paprika; mix around until the crumbs are coated. Dip chicken breasts into a mixture of mustard and Greek yogurt, then coat in a mix of the crushed chips and cereal. Bake in the oven at 475 F for 30 minutes for a healthy alternative to greasy fried chicken.

 Chicken Fettucine Alfredo

Like the quesadilla recipe, this one also relies on rotisserie chicken. The reason is that a rotisserie chicken has already been cooked, shortening the dinner wait time (which is important when the kids are hungry). Cook fettucine pasta in a large pot, then make a white-wine cream sauce (or use the one from the can). Sautee spinach with a little olive oil and garlic cloves. In a large bowl, mix the drained pasta with cream sauce. Then add shredded rotisserie chicken and the sauteed spinach. It's a fancy-looking dish that contains carbohydrates, vegetables, and protein- all the ingredients you need for a hearty fall meal.

Chicken Caesar Salad

This is an old standby that masks the bitter taste of romaine or spinach leaves with the delicious taste of roasted chicken. Like the above recipes, we recommend using rotisserie chicken if you don't have the time to cook chicken. Begin with a large bowl of chopped romaine or other lettuce, then chop some onions and tomatoes for the salad.

When it comes to the Caesar dressing, you can make your own from scratch or use dressing from the bottle. An easy Caesar salad dressing can be made from two small garlic cloves, two tablespoons lemon juice, a teaspoon of Worcestershire, a dash of salt and pepper, a teaspoon of Dijon mustard, a cup of mayonnaise, half a cup of shredded Parmisiano-Reggiano cheese, and a teaspoon of anchovy paste. Whisked together in a bowl, it's fairly simple and made without the raw egg base so it's safe for the kids.

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Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole

Chicken Rice Casserole

Nothing is more satisfying than putting a hot, healthy, homemade meal on the table for your family. Make ahead meals are a great solution for busy moms. Cook once and have dinner twice!

Plan your shopping to include items for meal preparation for two weeks or more at a time. One morning spent preparing and freezing nourishing meals for the family will give you more quality time through the busy weekday evenings, and will lower your stress level.

What foods freeze easily and will reheat quickly? Consider one-dish meals or fillings for hot, savory sandwiches that can be served with a cold side dish. Here is a chicken broccoli rice casserole that is easy, delicious and freezes well! Notice that frozen or fresh broccoli can be used. And try some changes now and then:  use different vegetables (or a combo) and try using 2-3 cups of cooked pearl barley in place of the same amount of rice.

Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole

•5 cups cooked rice, either white or brown
•2 cups cooked chicken, cubed
•2 cups chopped broccoli, fresh or frozen, lightly cooked
•1 can cream of chicken soup
•1 can cream of mushroom soup
•2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
•salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl, and divide in half for two freezer meals.

The easiest storage is to use zip-lock bags and freeze flat, making sure all the air is out of the bag. To serve, thaw overnight in the refrigerator or use the defrost setting on your microwave. Prepare a greased 8x8 casserole dish. Have some extra cheese on hand to sprinkle on top before baking.

Serve with crusty bread and fresh fruit for a well balanced meal.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes, or until heated through.

This recipe makes around 10 servings, and each freezer bag serves 4-5 people.

The chicken broccoli rice casserole is budget-friendly, filling and easy to freeze. A good tip for your make ahead meals is to flatten your freezer bags so they will stack easily and save room in your freezer. Place bags on a baking sheet until frozen to help freeze them flat. Don't forget to label with the dish and date!

Don’t let busy schedules prevent your family from enjoying special times around the dinner table. A homemade dinner can be a memory maker, so take time to prepare great, nutritious meals ahead, and serve them to the most important people in your world – your family!


Preparing & Storing Meat

Kafta Shawarma Chicken Pita Wrap Roll Sandwich

Cook, Package, and Freeze Meat Ahead for Quick Meal Preparation

Your days are full, but you can take part of the chore out of making dinner by not only planning meals but also cooking meat in advance to freeze and use later. It is possible to shorten dinner preparations considerably if you shop for meat once a month, and take a day to cook it ahead and store.

A vacuum packager makes storage easy, but cling wrap and zippered freezer bags together work well, too. The secret to storing meat is to eliminate as much air as possible from surrounding the food. This helps avoid freezer burn and preserve the flavor of the meat. Make sure to use the thicker freezer zipper bags, not the everyday bags. Season meat as you use it in your favorite family recipes, typically with salt and pepper. Other seasonings can be added when you make your dish. And if the weather is right for a BBQ, cook some extra meat to freeze.

Cooked ground beef is one of those foods that you can easily freeze for later use. Depending on the size of your family, you can store the meat in one or two pound batches, and take it out to use in tacos, casseroles, chili, pizza or any family favorites that call for ground beef.

Grilled steak is good to cook ahead and store in the freezer, too. Grill it to your family’s liking and wrap it tightly in plastic wrap before putting in a zippered freezer bag. Thaw what you need and slice for Philly cheesesteak sandwiches, beef stroganoff, stew, Asian dishes, or any of your other favorite beef dishes. If you know you'll use some meat cut into strips or chunks, you may want to do this before freezing.

Chicken is another versatile meat that is great to cook ahead for quick meals. Roast or crockpot a whole chicken or several chicken breasts, and let cool at room temperature for about 20 minutes or until you can handle it. Remove all the meat from the bones and store it in double zippered freezer bags to use in your favorite soup, stir fry, wrap, quesadilla or chicken salad recipes. If you buy the value sized package of chicken breasts, they're easy to freeze individually or cubed. Cool completely and then wrap full breasts in plastic wrap and put cut up chunks in zipper bags, then each should be put in to larger freezer bags. Remember to remove as much air as possible.

For larger quantities, steak and chicken pieces do well wrapped tightly in plastic wrap bundles, and then put into a gallon-size freezer bag. You can remove just the number of servings you need and save the rest for later. Force as much air as you can from the bag before zipping it closed. Be sure to date everything, and do not store any cooked meat longer than three or four months, at the most.

Plan a weekly or monthly dinner menu that utilizes your frozen, precooked meat, and you will truly enjoy the time it saves. Thaw packages of meat for 24 hours, always in the refrigerator, and if it is still a bit icy to start, it will work fine.

Chicken Stew

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Winter can be an especially brutal time of year. The days are short on sunlight and long on cold. Deep into the cold winter, a beautiful and hearty soup or stew seems to be just what is needed. Plus, a large batch of soup or stew can be made once, frozen and reheated as needed to be enjoyed throughout the rest of the month.

Unlike in summer, there may not be the rich array of fresh, healthy foods easily available. However, that does not mean that one has to serve up a bland or unhealthy dish. In cold winter days, a hearty and healthy chicken stew can be just the thing and can incorporate the flavors of the season.

One such recipe for a chicken stew that is both hearty and healthy and makes 12 servings is:

8 cups cooked chicken breast meat cubed
10 cups vegetable broth
1 cup cooked barley
3 cups chopped parsnips
6 cups cooked, diced sweet potatoes
1 cup chopped celery
2 cups chopped onion, sauteed in olive oil
1/4 cup flour
salt and pepper to taste

Start by cooking the chicken breasts in your preferred manner. Cook barley according to package instructions. Saute onion in olive oil. Cook and dice the sweet potatoes.

In a large saucepan, combine the vegetable broth, barley, parsnips and celery. Cook at a simmer over a medium heat for approximately 10-15 minutes, or until ingredients have reached the desired level of softness.

Add the cubed chicken, barley, onions and sweet potatoes to the mixture. Cook this mixture for an addition 10-15 minutes. Stir in flour to thicken the sauce. Add salt and black pepper to taste.

For a variation on this, replace the cooked barley with cooked brown rice. Instead of vegetable broth, chicken or beef stock may be substituted. Scallions may be substituted for the onion, or they may be used in addition to the onion. You can also puree a few veggies to thicken the stew, such as cauliflower or carrots, or even 1-2 potatoes.

This hearty chicken stew can be dressed up by sprinkling it with a bit of fresh parsley. Alternatively, this dish may be spiced up with the addition of a bit of crushed red pepper or pepper flakes. You can also add frozen veggies, of course.

This healthy and hearty chicken stew may easily be cooked, frozen and reheated for later dinners as needed throughout the month. This is a wonderful stew for cold winter days, and it is something that the entire family can enjoy.


Chicken Enchiladas

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Yield: 4-6 servings

2 cups cooked chicken, shredded
1 medium onion, chopped
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon rubbed sage
1 can (14.5 ounces) stewed tomatoes
3 1/2 cups enchilada sauce
10 flour or corn tortillas, 7-inch size
2 cups shredded Mexican Blend cheese

1. For the filling, heat a little oil on medium in a large saucepan. Add the onion and cook for about five minutes or until transparent. Add the chicken and cook for three minutes. Add the flour and seasonings, and mix well. Stir in the tomatoes, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes.
2. Spread about 1.5 cups of enchilada sauce onto the bottom of an ungreased 9-by-13-by-2-inch baking dish. Place a quarter of a cup of filling down the center of each tortilla, and sprinkle a little cheese onto each pile of filling. Roll the tortillas, and place them into the baking dish with the seam facing down. Top them with the remaining sauce, and cover the dish with foil.
3. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 to 35 minutes. Remove the foil, and sprinkle the enchiladas with the remaining cheese. Return the dish to the oven and bake, uncovered, 10 to 15 minutes longer or until the cheese is melted.

This recipe is a great dish to make ahead of time, since it may be refrigerated up to 24 hours before baking. If chosen to make ahead, the enchiladas should sit at room temperature for 15 to 20 minutes before going into the oven. The recipe is also an affordable and easy way to use leftover chicken or any other meat, such as beef or pork. For adults who enjoy spice, adding a chopped jalepeno or hanabero pepper, with or without seeds, to the filling gives the dish a great flavor and nice kick. Another option is to add chili paste or chili sauce to the enchilada sauce. Children will love these enchiladas as well, and if they are picky with their vegetables, try hiding them in the filling. Blanched, finely chopped zucchini is one great vegetable to use, either replacing or adding to the meat. Simply add it to the filling mixture after the onions, cooking for an additional four minutes.