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Kitchen time savers (Part 2)

From big-batch cooking on the weekends, to “pantry raid” recipes for fast weeknight meals, it only takes a glance through some of my past posts to know that I’m not one to turn my nose up at a time-saving trick when it comes to making meals. Here, I’m sharing a series of a few time-savers that I’ve turned to often.

Search #timesavers for more helpful tricks and tips!

When it comes to time savers, I’ve learned to not bypass a rotisserie chicken at the grocery store.

Vegetarians out there can skip this one, but for those that do eat meat, wow, can a simple roast chicken from the grocery make dinner night much easier in more ways than you may realize. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve just bypassed the chicken display in the prepared foods or deli section of my local grocery until one day, the lightbulb went off in my head.

There’s the obvious “grab and go” convenience factor of just taking it home and eating it with a side dish but with a little doctoring up, possibilities are endless. For all of these ideas, you’ll want to start with a whole rotisserie chicken and remove the skin.

Here are 10 quick ways to transform a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store into a delicious, quick lunch or dinner.

  1. Slice the chicken breasts and serve on top of a storebought salad for a quick and easy lunch.
  2. Shred the chicken breasts and chicken thighs, and mix them with your favorite homemade BBQ sauce or storebought BBQ sauce. Serve on top of toasted hamburger or brioche buns, topped with cheddar cheese and sliced pickles (if desired), and with a side of homemade or storebought creamy cole slaw. I like to put slaw right on the sandwich, too.
  3. Shred or chop the chicken breasts and thighs, mix with your favorite Mexican seasoning, and serve with sauteed peppers and onions for quick fajitas.
  4. Shred or chop the chicken breasts and thighs, mix with your favorite Mexican seasoning. Add about 1/2 cup to a large tortilla with 1/2 cup shredded Mexican blend or cheddar cheese. Fold and half and cook on both sides in a nonstick skillet that has been pre-heated with a little butter or oil until crisp. Serve with your favorite quesadilla toppings: salsa, guacamole, and/or sour cream.
  5. Bypass cooking the chicken breasts in my Naan chicken flatbread with yogurt sauce recipe. Take the chicken breasts from the rotisserie chicken, toss with the spiced yogurt sauce, and prepare the recipe following the steps as instructed.
  6. Shred or chop the chicken breasts and add to a pot with 1 cup sliced carrots, 1 cup sliced celery, 1/2 cup diced onion, 1 smashed glove of garlic, and 1 quart of prepared chicken broth (or make your own from a concentrate, more on that in a minute.) Season with salt and pepper. Simmer until vegetables are tender, then add 1/2 cup of your favorite small pasta, such as orzo or ditalini, and cook per box instructions until pasta is tender.

“Waste not, want not” was something my dad always liked to say. In that spirit, make stock from whatever bits of the chicken are left.

If you have some time to throw some things into a pot and let it hang out for a few hours, you can make stock! And if you don’t have time that day, still chop up the chicken bones and any remaining pieces into smaller pieces that will fit into a gallon plastic storage bag, and freeze.

Get out your biggest stockpot that will hold the chicken pieces.

Add a medium onion cut into quarters (keep the peel on); 2 cloves smashed garlic; 2 carrots cut roughly into thirds; 3 ribs of celery with leaves cut roughly into thirds; 1 teaspoon black peppercorns; 1 teaspoon fennel seeds; 3-4 bay leaves; and a bunch of assorted fresh herbs like rosemary, thyme, sage and parsley.

Add about 2 quarts of water, or enough to cover the chicken, turn on the heat, and let it simmer away.

I let mine go 2-3 hours… seriously. Low heat, and it just hangs out on the stove and makes the house smell nice all day when I’m doing chores or relaxing. Let cool and strain, discarding all of the solids and adding salt to taste to the strained liquid when it is finished. (If added too soon, it may concentrate and get too salty.)

Drink the broth on its own for a delicious and healthy snack, or use it as a base for your favorite soup recipe or stew recipe.