How Many Ways Can You Make Chicken? Every Night For 30 Days? How About Some Chicken Recipes! Week One!
Chicken Is The Cheapest, Most Versatile Meat!
I have seen cookbooks that deal only with chicken. Because it is so budget friendly, versatile and just so good, you could probably make chicken every night for a month and your family wouldn't complain, provided the recipes taste good. In 10 minutes, I came up with 30 recipes for chicken that I have used over the years and none of them come from cookbooks. They are originals. I am going to share several of the 30 here and then share the rest in remaining segments. Breasts, thighs, drumsticks, and even chicken wings, all cooked in so many ways that everyone can make these easy chicken recipes and I guarantee that you will like them all. Best of all, no one will get bored. Promise! You will save some money without sacrificing flavor or nutrition. Chicken is a great source of protein! There are people that believe that you can use chicken to make dinner every night for a year! 365 chicken meals!
So many ways to cook chicken and it never seems to taste the same way twice. You can make it come out sweet, savory, spicy, tangy, even that crunchy fried chicken we all seem to love; aren't chickens wonderful! Chicken absorbs the flavor of spices and marinades easily and can be perfect for dipping sauces.
Depending on how and when you buy chicken, it is clearly the cheapest of meats available today. Whole chickens are commonly available for 77 cents a pound. What a great deal! Bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts are on sale somewhere every week for 99 cents a pound. Even skinless, boneless chicken breasts, on sale at $1.97 per pound are cheaper than most hamburger meat. Thighs or drumsticks in a family pack can be found for 77 cents a pound, so overall, several options are available. The only chicken part that seems to be out of line as far as cost are chicken wings. They are way too expensive, in the scheme of chicken prices, but then that is part of the scheme. So many people like buffalo wings that the once humble chicken wing has been elevated to a place of honor at the dinner or even snack table. Guess what? Any recipe that calls for chicken wings can be made with the much cheaper alternative, chicken drumsticks. Granted, the drums are dark meat and the wings are white, but I will tell you; whenever I have made buffalo chicken drums for a party or superbowl crowd, everyone loves them. I have also saved more than a dollar a pound. Sometimes, those pesky little wings can cost as much as $3.00 a pound or more. Occasionally, you can find them on sale for $1.77 a pound, but are they really worth that much? I don't think so. I would much rather make a couple of family packs of drums that are priced at 77 cents a pound and call it a significant budget saver.
Before the recipes, some tips: When whole chickens are on sale for 77 cents a pound, buy 5 of them. At about $3 or $4 dollars each, that comes to $20.00 for five chickens. Bring them home and spend the hour it is going to take you to cut them up. Divide them up into portions that will be sized according to the meals you can make, then freeze them in ziploc bags. You will have 10 breasts, legs, thighs and wings, plus 5 backs and all of the giblets. Don't you dare throw away the backs or the giblets! The backs are perfect for chicken stock and chicken soup, and the giblets, while they can also be used for soup, are wonderful for stuffing or even gravy.
Learn how to break down a chicken. Learn how to skin and bone thighs and breasts. It is easier than you think, and after a little bit of practice, you will be a pro. You will also feel that you have made a significant contribution to saving some money that either you cannot afford to spend, or that you don't want to spend.
How To Cut Up A Whole Chicken!
Let's Try My Favorites First!
1) GRANDMA CHICKEN, as my kids call it, was, and still is one of their favorites! My grandma, who was their great-grandma, used to make it with chicken thighs, skin on and bones in. I make it with either thighs or breasts, or even a whole cut up chicken. Easy, easy, easy! Here goes!
If you have a family of four, that includes teenagers, you might need 8 thighs or 4 to 5 chicken breasts. Use a big lasagna pan, because you will be adding grandma potatoes to the pan. I use a 10 X 16 inch pan.
- Enough chicken pieces for your family, put in a single layer on a sprayed pan. Prior to adding the chicken, rub both sides with a little bit of olive oil, then salt and pepper both sides. Lay the chicken, skin side up, in the pan, on one side. Pour oregano on the skin, and don't be afraid of it. Sprinkle the oregano generously.
- Slice some potatoes in thin (1/4 inch) rounds (judge how many potatoes your family will eat). The rule of thumb I use is one medium potato per person. You don't need to peel them, just scrub them with water and a vegetable brush or sponge. After they are sliced, place them into a mixing bowl and sprinkle in some salt, pepper, olive oil and a generous amount of oregano.
- Dice a large onion. Add half of the onion to the potatoes, and sprinkle the other half on top of each piece of chicken.
- Chop up two to three cloves of garlic and add them to the mixing bowl, with the potatoes. Mix up the potatoes, onion, oil, garlic, salt and pepper and then pour the potatoes into the other side of the pan.
Put the pan into a 375 degree oven. This will take about an hour to cook. Half way through, turn the potatoes over. Tilt the pan to get the chicken drippings into the potato side. Mix a little to make sure that the drippings get onto the potatoes. Add some more oregano, if the potatoes need more. Return to the oven til the potatoes are tender.
2) CHICKEN CATTIATORE, MINUS WINE:
You will need a large stockpot for this recipe. I use my 8 quart stockpot.
- Enough chicken pieces for your family. One or two thighs each, or one chicken breast each. I like to use bone-in, skin-on pieces for this one, too.
- 5 to 6 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1 large bell pepper, chopped
- 1 large onion, diced
- 8 ounces of mushrooms, sliced
- 6 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- salt, ground black pepper, red pepper flakes to taste
- 1 29 to 30 ounce can of diced tomatoes, plus one can of water or chicken broth, if you have the broth on hand.
Heat half the oil in the stockpot. Season the chicken pieces with salt and the black pepper. Drop the chicken pieces, skin side down, into the stockpot. Allow the skin to brown, over a medium heat. Turn the chicken over and saute the other side. Remove the chicken from the heat and the pot. Add the remaining oil, scraping the chicken bits off the bottom of the pot. Add the peppers, onions, garlic and about 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes. Sprinkle some salt over the veggies and saute, being careful not to burn the garlic. When the onions are tender, add the tomatoes and water. Gently put back the chicken. Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil, lower the heat to a simmer and tilt a lid over the pot. This actually takes about 30 minutes from the time you add the chicken back into the pot. I let it cook just a little longer. The last 15 minutes, I add the sliced mushrooms and stir them in. When it is done, I test for salt and always end up adding more.
Instead of the traditional pasta that is served with cacciatore, my family likes it with rice. I cook my favorite rice, long grain white rice in the normal way. When it is done, I ladle in some of the chicken and tomato broth. I let that sit with the lid on and the first couple of ladles absorb into the rice. This is not traditional cacciatore, but it is my way of making it, and my kids have always looked forward to it!
I serve the chicken on a plate, add some of the veggies on the side and use the broth as a wonderful gravy for the rice. Actually, I mix the veggies with my rice. My favorite way to eat this, and because I love mushrooms, I always add more than 8 ounces. I end up using a pound and stealing all of them from the pot! Forget the chicken! Give me the vegetables!
3) GRILLED CHICKEN BURGERS ON ONION BUNS:
One of my favorites! Very easy and a healthier hamburger. This recipe uses skinless, boneless chicken breasts, sliced into one half inch thick slices and Oroweat Onion Hamburger buns. I use a grilling pan for these.
- 3 skinless, boneless breasts, sliced into thirds
- barbecue sauce, for brushing the last couple of minutes before the grilling is done.
- lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, onions, mayo, ketchup, relish and whatever else you like as condiments for your hamburgers.
Brush a little bit of canola oil on your grill pan. Heat the pan and put the chicken breasts onto the pan. Cook each side about 6 to 8 minutes. The last two minutes, turn the heat to low and brush the breasts with some barbecue sauce.
This meal, served with a salad or fries is awesome! Make more or less, depending on whether or not you want leftovers. I use them for lunch the next day.
4) CHICKEN ENCHILADAS WITH CREAM CHEESE:
The best enchiladas you will ever taste! They are a little different because they incorporate cream cheese, mozarella and cheddar. You can even substitue pepper jack or monterey jack, depending on what you like. Just make sure that you try them with the cream cheese as on of the cheeses.
- 8 chicken tenders, 2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts or 4 skinless, boneless thighs, poached in some salted water til tender. Then cut the chicken into small pieces. You can also use 2 to 3 cups of leftover chicken, chopped into small pieces.
- 1 8 ounce package of good quality cream cheese (okay, I use nothing but Kraft), room temperature
- 4 ounces of shredded, sharp cheddar cheese
- 4 ounces of shredded mozarella or pepper jack cheese
- 4 or 5 chopped, green scallions (save some to top the enchiladas)
- red pepper flakes, to taste (I use about 1/2 teaspoon)
Mix all of the ingredients together in a mixing bowl, combining thoroughly. I mix it with my hands. Pretty messy, but it works! Set the mix aside until the tortillas are ready to fill.
- 1 large can of La Victoria Enchilada Sauce
- 1 or 2 diced tomatoes
- 2 dozen corn tortillas
- 1 cup of additional cheese, either sharp cheddar or pepper jack, grated (or a combo of the two) to top the enchiladas
- 1 can of sliced black olives, for the top of enchiladas (you could even add some to the filling)
- 1 cup of canola oil
Heat the oil in a small frying pan. Add the corn tortillas, one at a time for about 10 seconds each. You don't really want to fry these, just get them soft and more pliable. Drain them on paper towels and pat off any excess oil. Once patted dry, dip the tortillas in heated enchilada sauce, drain off the excess and one by one on your cutting board, put about 2 - 3 Tablespoons of the filling in the center of each tortilla and roll up. Do not overfill. You want the tortillas to be able to stay closed while baking.
Spray a 9 X 13 inch baking pan and spread some of the enchilada sauce across the entire bottom, and place the rolled up tortillas (sealed side down) side by side in the pan, each going in the same direction. Spoon some enchilada sauce over each tortilla, making sure there are no dry spots on any of the tortillas. If they get too dry in the oven, the tortillas will get crispy. You want them to be soft. Sprinkle the cheese, green onions, chopped tomatoes and olives over the top. Put the pan into a 350 degree oven for about 25 to 30 minutes. Remove them from the pan with a spatula. Serve with sour cream over the top. Enjoy! I will be making these myself this week.
Serve these with a salad or some beans and/or rice. You should end up with 18 to 24 enchiladas and they are great when re-heated in the microwave.
5) CAMPBELL'S CROCK POT CHICKEN AND RICE:
This is one of the easiest meals to prepare. It never fails, and I consider it to be a comfort food. Comforting because after a busy day at work, you come home and just have to cook up some rice and cut up a small salad. There is also something about gravy and rice, with chicken, that warms me up! Thank you, Campbell's!
- enough pieces of chicken, uncooked, for your family size. You can use skinned, boneless thighs or breasts, or even mix it up and use a whole, cut up chicken, without removing the skin and bones removed.
- 1 or 2 cans of Campbell's Cream of Chicken soup, plus one or two cans of water
- 1 or 2 cans of Campbell's Cream of Mushroom soup, plus one or two cans of water
- salt, to taste and lots of ground, black pepper
- enough long grain, white rice for your family, cooked in the normal way, in a pot on the stove. Do not try cooking the rice in the crockpot with the chicken.
Put the chicken pieces into your crockpot. In a separate bowl, mix the soups and the water. The amount of soup that you decide to use is determined by the amount of chicken you need and the size of your crockpot. I always use one can of each to serve four people. I wait until the end to add the salt and pepper. I find that the gravy always needs salt, at least for my taste buds.
Gently pour in the soup. Cover the crockpot with the lid and cook this on low, all day while you are at work. When you get home from work, increase the heat to high, while you are making the rice. When the rice is finished, ladle some of the gravy into the rice and let it sit for a few minutes. It will set the flavor for the rice. Add more of the gravy to the rice and chicken at the dinner table.
I serve this with a salad and the leftovers are great!
6) SIMPLY BAKED CRISPY SKIN-ON CHICKEN BREASTS OR THIGHS:
This is the easiest way to cook chicken, and if you spray the pan prior to baking, the clean-up is easy, too! This has always been my go-to method of cooking chicken breasts when I don't want something too involved. I use breasts, because at 99 cents a pound you can get a package of 5 for under $5.00. You can make gravy with the drippings if you make mashed potatoes, or you can make a pineapple, orange, sweet and sour dipping sauce to spoon over the top of the chicken and rice, if you make rice.
- Enough chicken breasts for your family members (I use 5 and then make a simple mayo and celery chicken salad with the leftovers)
- salt, sprinkled over the skin
- olive oil, drizzled over the skin
Spray your cooking pan and place the chicken pieces, skin side up, into the pan. Drizzle the skin with a little bit of olive oil and then sprinkle salt over the skin. Place into a 375 degree oven and cook for about 45 minutes. The skin will be brown and crisp. I make this with a vegetable-packed green salad (red wine vinegar and oil dressing) and home-made roasted potato wedges. The potatoes are unpeeled, quartered and mixed in a bowl with some salt, olive oil, pepper and paprika, placed on a sprayed cookie sheet and baked right along with the chicken. Kids and grown-ups alike seem to love them with ketchup.
7) MACARONI AND CHEESE WITH BROCCOLI AND CHICKEN:
Here is one for the kids!
- 1 pound of Macaroni, any kind (I love Barilla shells or elbows)
- 2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, poached, cut into bite-sized pieces or 3 skinless, boneless chicken thighs, poached, or 2 cups of chopped up leftover cooked chicken
- fresh broccoli, one pound, chopped into small pieces
- 3 or 4 diced green onions
- cheese, Velveeta, one pound, cut into 1 inch pieces
- 2 cups of milk
- chicken broth, 2 cups or 2 cups of poaching liquid (I recommend broth in a box. The flavor is richer.)
Chop up the chicken breasts. Poach them in a skillet with about 2 cups of water until they are done. Either pull the pieces apart with two forks or dice into smaller pieces. Set aside and also keep the poaching water or use 2 cups of chicken broth in a box. Start your pasta pot. Chop the broccoli into florets. Follow the directions on the package for the pasta, but in the last 4 minutes of cooking, add the broccoli florets.
In a large microwave safe bowl, add one pound of chopped up (1 inch pieces) Velveeta, 2 cups of poaching water or broth, 2 cups of milk, chopped green onions and the chicken. Microwave on high until the cheese is melted and combined. Stir occasionally. Usually takes about 7 - 10 minutes.
Add the pasta and broccoli, stir and serve. This will serve 4 hungry people and you will usually have some leftover mac and cheese. I serve it with a green salad.
Stay Tuned For Week Two!
The recipes for week 2 will be ready before you have finished eating the recipes given for the first week. They will include:
- chicken sausage, peppers and onions in a hoagie roll
- chicken and eggplant parmesan (This one is awesome!)
- chicken fajitas (recipe can also be used for tacos and nachos with some minor changes)
- grilled garlic and lemon chicken (with a variation that will make it into a great lemon, garlic pasta dish)
- breaded chicken cutlets (that can also be used to make chicken parmesan)
- chicken pot pie
- chicken and spinach salad (sounds boring, but it isn't!)
- chicken pizza with a crazy little Middle Eastern twist (this one is yummy!)
So, week 2 will actually have 12 recipes for chicken. Stay tuned!