Chicken for Summer Salads and Pastas

Dinners in the crockpot-to the Beach!

Dinners in the crockpot-to the Beach!

It’s summer and I find I try to think of all kinds of foods I can make for lunches and dinners that don’t require cutting on the oven. And chicken dishes always are a Main stay of our summer cuisine.

My family prefers white meat so most of my recipes are with chicken breasts. I buy bags of frozen boneless, skinless breasts. Sam’s, BJ’s, Costco or any of the Bulk Stores have a great selection. Otherwise I just pick it up on sale when I grocery shop. And if your family likes dark meat you can save a lot by buying whole chickens or mixed packages the meat is interchangeable in all of these recipes.

I like the frozen chicken because the flavor and quality seems to be consistent however don’t get me wrong if there is a big sale on fresh chicken I am there stocking up. That’s another thing I keep track of is the foods I use a lot and then I buy extra when they are on sale.**

So many recipes call for cooked chicken and now a days you can get all kinds of prepared chicken at a premium price so to save money and have cooked chicken on hand I will cook up a batch, bag it, and put it in the freezer. I will prepare the chicken many ways depending on how I plan to use it. For shredded chicken and for cut up I usually season it and throw it in the oven to bake. I season it with onion, garlic, celery salt, pepper, Montreal Chicken seasoning by McCormick, and Knorr’s chicken bouillon, which I buy in the GIANT jar at Walmart (so cheap).

**Always rinse your chicken with fresh water and pat dry before you cook it**

Here are three ways I prepare Chicken so I’ll have cooked chicken for recipes.

BOILING

If You Prefer To boil and Make Stock

Place chicken pieces or whole chicken in a large pot cover with water add seasonings (I use salt, garlic, parsley, poultry seasoning, dehydrated onion and some pepper) bring to boil turn down burner and let it simmer usually about and hour and a half till chicken is falling apart. Turn off heat remove chicken from the stock and let it rest for at least 15 minutes before you begin to pull it apart and shred or dice it. Use in chicken salad, chicken and broccoli wreath, individual chicken pot pies and a whole lot more.

Strain the stock and pour it into ice cube trays, freeze and then put in large zipper lock bag and return to freezer. Use these cubes of stock when recipe calls for chicken stock.

TO BAKE

For cut up chicken I use a shallow covered Corningware dish, pyrex, stoneware or other covered oven safe glass covered dish you may have. Rinse chicken and place in dish in a single layer. Sprinkle seasoning over each piece (I use McCormicks Chicken Montreal, a blend of garlic, onion salt, red pepper, orange peel, paprika, green bell peppers, lemon all in one or two shakes, some dehydrated onion, a little more garlic powder and a little extra virgin olive oil because the breasts are skinless)  on each piece. Bake in a 375° oven for 40 minutes.

For a little extra pizzazz I like to pour a little vermouth on each piece too.

Remove from oven let cool at least 15 minutes and then cut up and put away 1 cup portions in freezer bags.BAKER WITH CHICKEN

But for a whole chicken there is nothing better than a stoneware covered baker like this one from Pampered Chef. I Rub minced garlic cloves, salt and pepper with butter inside the chicken and then I season the outside with garlic, salt, pepper, parsley and dehydrated onion, a splash of extra virgin olive oil and a splash of Vermouth (optional) Cover and Bake for 1 hour. The result is Chicken like Arby’s rotisserie. Yummy.

IN MY CROCKPOT

A crock pot is great for pre-cooking chicken. I will just throw some chicken in the crock pot in the morning and let it cook all day on low. I’ll set it on low and go!

4-5 lbs chicken breasts (or if your family likes dark meat you can use one whole chicken small enough to fit in your crock pot

1 cup chopped onion (may substitute dehydrated onion)

¼ cup chopped garlic 3 lg cloves (may use dried minced)

¼ cup apple cider vinegar I prefer using vermouth

1 T brown sugar (optional)

Layer chicken in the crock pot sprinkling each layer with the mixture of seasonings (I use McCormicks Chicken Montreal, a blend of garlic, onion salt, red pepper, orange peel, paprika, green bell peppers, lemon all in one or two shakes, some dehydrated onion, a little more garlic powder.)

Top with vinegar or wine (Vermouth) and cook on low heat 6-8 hours

Remove from crock pot, cool at least 15 minutes and then either shred or cut into pieces.

Pack in freezer bags and freeze to use in your recipes.

Making your own chicken that has been seasoned by you brings and unexpected deliciousness to recipes calling for cooked chicken. All the dishes I prepare seem to get more compliments. Just the other day I bought some chicken salad from Costco that they make from the leftover rotisserie chickens and my daughter said “mom this isn’t your chicken salad is it?” I asked why do you think it’s not mine and she replied, “it doesn’t have much flavor.”

Once you have made some ready made cooked chicken packets you are ready to tackle some recipes.

Try your home cooked chicken in

Chicken salad,

So refreshing and good for you!

So refreshing and good for you!

**SALES ON GROCERIES: Grocery stores always have great sales around holidays, prices on food are especially good around Thanksgiving and there are loads of coupons in the newspaper each Sunday if you still get the paper during the holidays. This is when I buy all my Stove Top stuffing mix for the next year (about 12 boxes) which is usually around $1.79 a box but during the holidays it’s around $ .78 a box, big saving. You can get a great deal on Bruce’s sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, fresh cranberries which I freeze, baking ingredients and canned cream soup. This past year I paid just $ .50 per can for cream of mushroom and cream of chicken soup which is usually $1.19 on sale.

Are you a couponer? Did you know that many stores offer a site with coupons that you know are safe to download. Read my post:

Safe Sites for getting coupons on the internet!

Safe Sites for getting coupons on the internet!

check out ‘CAUTION! IS THAT COUPON SITE SAFE?’ for some safe couponing sites sponsored by your favorite stores.

Need some substitutions:

Dehydrated onion is under appreciated. How many times do you go to your pantry for an onion and it is all mushy. Well it happens to me more than I would like to admit. Dehydrated onions are great keep on hand. I can’t tell you how many times I have thrown away soggy onions so now I only buy onions if I am using them immediately and I use dehydrated in all of my cooking. My kids can’t believe they aren’t real. My trick is to give the onion a little time to hydrate I add it when I sauté the veggies just like I would if they were fresh. They will plump right up. I use them in mashed potatoes, pizza, omelette, scrambled eggs everything. It’s great. I have even added them when I am using real onions on a pot roast, or pork tenderloin, they add a much richer onion flavor which infuses the meat with the delicate onion flavor.

Don’t have sour cream or not on sale use cottage cheese instead blend to a smooth consistency in your blender

No buttermilk… add 1 tsp white vinegar or lemon juice into measure cup and add enough whole milk to make one cup now you have a cup of buttermilk for those pancakes you wanted to make, or that salad dressing.

Do you find you need lemon juice from time to time? Coca-Cola/Minute Maid makes a great frozen lemon juice it has great flavor and is real lemon juice. You buy it frozen and then you can keep it in the freezer and then refrigerator for a long time. And it’s great in the morning in your tea. more. . . . . . . . . . .

until later…      as always  betti : )

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CHICKEN SALAD IN A CANTALOUPE BOWL

 

School’s OUT for SUMMER you should have heard all the horn honking and kids screaming!!!

 

Hoo-ray!

Hoo-ray!

 

JUNE 13th  12:45 pm     It’s the last day of school and for us –  SUMMER has begun. Zacharay finished his last day of FIRST GRADE with an excellent report card. Now I am faced with what to do this SUMMER. I am going to work up a schedule this weekend. I will share it with you I have seen some really good ideas and have some of my own.

 

End of school party at the swimming pool so I am making a very light dinner. This recipe is the perfect thing to serve for a luncheon with the girls, or like I’m doing on a hot muggy night when a lot is going on and you want something light and refreshing.

 

Tonight we’re having

CHICKEN SALAD IN CANTALOUPE BOWL

So refreshing and good for you!

So refreshing and good for you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To make this recipe you’ll need:
               Medium size bowl
               Sharp paring knife or V shape cutter
               Push out measure cup or regular measure cup
               Measuring spoons
Ingredients:

2 small ripe cantaloupeschicken-in-cantelope3
2 lg chicken breasts, skinless, boned, cooked and chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1/2 cup chopped green onion

Dressing:
1/2 cup light or regular mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
1 TBSP white wine vinegar
1 tsp tarragon
1/4 cup halved green seedless grapes
Salt and pepper to taste

Garnish:
4 TBSP slivered almonds
Romaine leaves washed and dried

Directions:

Rinse and pat dry veggies.

Mix dressing:  Stir together the mayonnaise, sour cream, vinegar, tarragon and season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour into a jar with a lid and refrigerate until ready to use.

 

Wash the cantaloupe to avoid contamination with the insides when you cut through the skin. Cut each cantaloupe in half in a zig zag pattern.  (I use myV shaped cutter from Pampered Chef *see pictures below)  Scoop out the seeds and with a melon baller, scoop out some more of the flesh to make the bowls bigger (leave about 3/4″ of flesh in the cantaloupe. Save the little balls of melon and either add to the Chicken Salad or serve on the side. Wrap Plastic wrap over the open sides of the cantaloupe and refrigerate until ready to serve.

In a medium bowl, mix chopped chicken, celery, green onion, green grapes and if you are adding the cantaloupe balls the reserved melon. Stir in the dressing and mix to coat. Cover the bowl and refrigerate until you are ready to serve.

To serve:

Spoon the chicken salad into the cantaloupe bowls, sprinkle each bowl with a tablespoon of slivered almonds. Serve on a leaf of Romaine lettuce. That is all there is to eat. And as you can see from the picture it is an awesome presentation for chicken salad, don’t ya think?

TIP:

I use this same process to make bowls for vanilla ice cream. My family loves this and I do too. Fruit and desert all in one. How clever. The kids eat it up and they’re getting all that fresh melon with their ice cream. Grownups love it too. I serve it at dinner parties and I sometimes pour Amaretta over the ice cream. Yummy.

We call it a MELON SUNDAE and it is scrumptious!

Everything I love about SUMMER!

Everything I love about SUMMER!

 

*V CUTTING TOOL from PAMPERED CHEF

v tool used to cut green pepper

v tool used to cut green pepper

cutting-cantaloupe-withvcutter1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

as always…until later.   betti  : )

 

ps  –   Today, June 13  is National Klutzes of America Day and to all the Klutzes including me I say

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