I love chicken, and I eat it often! Before I go any further, let me just say that this post is inspired by Lisa’s recent post at her blog 110 Pounds and Counting. Check it out when you get a chance. Just be sure to come back here for tasty chicken ideas!
Since I’ve gotten serious about shedding poundage over the last few weeks, I’ve been eating a LOT of chicken, and I haven’t been bored at all. Chicken thighs have always been my favorite…I’ve always preferred dark meat. But ironically, when I cook chicken at home, I almost always cook the boneless skinless chicken breasts, mostly for the convenience. I buy big bags of the frozen breasts pieces whenever they are on sale, and I cook up about 8 to 12 pieces or so at a time so we will have plenty of leftovers. It is just me and my husband, so that will last us several days, and that’s when it gets interesting! But first things first…
Cooking Chicken In Bulk
When I cook chicken in bulk, I do it one of two ways. Sometimes I just bake them, straight from frozen. I bake them at about 375 degrees Fahrenheit for about 45 minutes. I line a 9 by 13 pan with tin foil, spray it with cooking spray, then spread out the chicken pieces in a single layer. Next I season them. I don’t really have a recipe for that…I just try different things and see what we like. I haven’t really settled on a favorite flavor combo yet, so I would just recommend experimenting to see what you like. Next I add a cup or two of liquid to the bottom of the pan, usually just water or chicken broth, then cover and bake. The liquid seems to keep the chicken more moist. Last time I tried using apple cider vinegar after seeing it recommended in a YouTube video, but we weren’t very impressed. It was just a little too “vinegary” tasting, so I won’t use that again. After 45 minutes, I take out the chicken and cut into a couple of the largest pieces to make sure they are cooked all the way through, and it’s usually just right.
The second method I use for cooking chicken in bulk, which is also my favorite method, is using a slow cooker. I just put 10-12 pieces is the slow cooker, add some seasonings and liquid, and cook it for about 8-10 hours. Last time I made this, I used one can of chicken broth and then about the same amount of water, and that turned out great. If you prefer, you could use just chicken broth or just water. I put in enough liquid so they aren’t quite covered, maybe three-fourths of the way to the top of the chicken pieces. As far as seasoning, again just try different combos to see what you like. I typically use some pepper, maybe some garlic salt or garlic powder, sometimes some paprika, and occasionally I cut up an onion and throw in there. I am still experimenting, and learning as I go.
And Now For The Exciting Part!
When I first make a batch of chicken, we typically just have the chicken breasts “as is” for the first meal, along with a side of mixed veggies of some sort, or perhaps a rice and vegetable side dish. With the leftover chicken pieces, sometimes I leave them whole, sometimes I cut them up, and sometimes I shred them. From there I’ve made many different dishes for other meals and below are just a few of the things I’ve done in the last month.
Chicken and vegetable stir fry! I had this for lunch on Wednesday, and it was so delicious! I just sauteed some vegetables, added some cut-up leftover chicken, then stirred in some stir-fry sauce, which was made up of soy sauce, water, a little brown sugar, pepper, minced garlic, and cornstarch. I think it only took maybe 10 to 15 minutes to make.
Shredded chicken ranch wrap! This was made with the Flat Out low-carb herb flavored wrap. I just piled on some shredded chicken, onion slices, ranch dressing, and lettuce. Yummy! You could add whatever veggies you like and have on hand to the wrap, or use whatever dressing you prefer. Quick and delicious!
Chicken, pasta & vegetable casserole! We just had this for supper Wednesday night and I had leftovers for lunch on Thursday. Tim finished the rest of it off before I even got home. I wish I had a better picture of this one…it was taken when I pulled it out of the fridge in the morning to dish up some leftovers to take to work. It is made up of 3 cut-up leftover chicken breasts, 8 ounces cooked and drained pasta (any type will work…this was rigatoni), half a bag of frozen mixed vegetables, 1 can cream of chicken soup, and 1 cup milk, some pepper, then some french-fried onions on top. I just mixed the soup, milk and pepper together in a bowl, then added the cooked pasta, veggies and chicken and stirred it up. I coated a baking dish with cooking spray and poured in the mixture, then covered it and baked it at 375 for a total of 55 minutes. After 30 minutes, I stirred it, then at 50 minutes I uncovered it and added the french-fried onions for the last 5 minutes. You could also use corn flakes for the topping, or you could skip the topping altogether. It was an incredibly cheap and easy dish to make, and tasted awesome! I think we figured that the whole dish cost only about $3.25 to make, since I got all of the ingredients on sale. What can I say…I’m a cheapskate!
Chicken, pasta & veggie toss! This is super simple, and I used it for at least three meals in the last couple of weeks. I didn’t take a picture of the actual meal, but the Schwan’s mini bow tie pasta and vegetable blend pictured above is what I use. I just pour out about one or one and a half cups of this mixture into a microwave dish, then add one cut up leftover chicken breast and microwave it until it is hot! I add a small amount of butter or olive oil, some garlic salt and some pepper, then I eat it up! Mmm, Mmm, good!
Well that is all I have for pictures, but we do other things with the leftover chicken as well. It is always delicious to add some of the leftover chicken to a garden salad. A couple weeks ago I had a hot barbecue chicken sandwich with some of the leftover shredded chicken. I love to make chicken fajitas with the leftover chicken as well…I just stir-fry up some peppers and onions (frozen or fresh, depending on the time of year), then add the chicken pieces and some fajita seasoning, and wrap it up in a tortilla. Delicious!
I’m sure there are many other ways to use leftover chicken, but these are some of my favorites. Cooking the chicken in bulk in advance makes meals so quick and easy during the week. It has worked so well for me that I’ve taken to cooking in bulk more and more often. I hope anyone who reads this finds some useful ideas, and please let me know your favorite ways to enjoy chicken, as leftovers or otherwise! Does anyone cook anything else in bulk or in advance? I’m always looking for more ideas, so spill ’em if you’ve got ’em!