Friday, September 26, 2014

Rotisserie Chickens rule the world!!!


Or at least they should.  Now, let’s be clear about one thing. This is not an original idea for a blog post.  There are lists all over the Internet for what to do with a rotisserie chicken.  Go ahead, Google it.  You’ll see. However, these are my go to favorites. Or they are in my “man that sounds good I should try it sometime pile.” They also have another thing in common – easy.  If I’m going to buy a rotisserie chicken I’m not going to come home and make a 45-minute or more recipe. The whole point of stopping at Pathmark (they have the best ones in my area) on the way home or while out is to cut down on work and time when I get home. Betty Crocker even wrote an entire article about them.





http://www.bettycrocker.com/how-to/tipslibrary/meat-poultry-fish/all-about-rotisserie-chicken

So..without further ado here are 31 (one for each day of the month..see I’m clever like that) ideas for what to do with a rotisserie chicken once you have him in your evil clutches.

v Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta- (http://www.pillsbury.com/recipes/make-ahead-chicken-bacon-ranch-pasta/80d39497-ff60-49fa-92f1-3b1248b3139b).  This is easy if you either (a) have bacon bits or (b) have leftover bacon in your fridge. Otherwise this is pushing it on the ease of use category. However, if you think bacon is easy to cook (I don’t; I think it’s a pain) then we’re safe

v Chicken “Hot Pockets” using crescent rolls – (http://www.pillsbury.com/recipes/crescent-pizza-pockets/c98d031e-90bf-4d8d-b5f5-f56206e1496b) You unroll some crescent rolls.  Top half with filling and then place another roll on top and crimp.  375 for 12 minutes and you have a custom crescent roll. This works for the strictly pizza people in the family too, but you can make the following with rotisserie chicken
Ø Chicken parm – add sauce and shredded cheese to the chicken
Ø Chicken Bacon Ranch – bacon, ranch dressing and some chicken
Ø Chicken Alfredo with mushroom – cook the mushroom!! Add some alfredo and chicken and we’re good to go.

v Chicken salad- add what you like. For Mike it’s sometimes diced apple, mayo, mustard, salt, pepper, celery, sometimes onion…you get the idea. Whatever your family wants and then serve it on lettuce, in a wrap, in a pita, in a sandwich (hereto referred to as sammies). Enjoy!

v Chicken Pot Pie – cooksmarts.com was the inspiration for this one. I will admit...on this one I lied just a little. You will have to remember to take the piecrust or puff pastry out early enough to thaw it. And you can always use the bag of frozen chopped onion too. But the basic idea is the epitome of how to make a “dinner”, a real live dinner, for your family even on a busy weeknight. http://www.cooksmarts.com/cs-blog/2013/01/rotisserie-chicken-pot-pie-recipe/

v Chicken Noodle Soup – I will be honest. Soup is not my strongsuit. I am not a fan of it. I would rather cook it than eat it. However, I think allrecipes.com has one of the best quick recipes for turning a rotisserie chicken into this traditional comfort food. And it doesn’t use water. I hate using water in soup. Personal pet peeve. A couple of notes on this one though. First, I would use stock, not broth. Just a preference for me. Second, I use whatever I have…if all I have is veggie stock then it’s all veggie. If all I have is chicken stock, I’m not making a special trip to the store just for veggie stock. So use what you have. And it’s also a great way to use up veggies. When you make dinner that week just chop extra veggies and come soup night dump away.

v Chicken Shepherd’s Pie – Relish.com knocks it out of the park with their recipe for this take on traditional comfort food. I mean, is there anything easier then rotisserie chicken and refrigerated mashed potatoes. Now, I might wait and make this on a week I was making mashed anyway and then just make extra but that’s just me. I’m a potato snob. Blame the Irish in me. But in under 30 minutes you’ve got dinner on the table. While it’s baking you even have time to make a salad. Look at you getting down with your bad self.

v Open Face Roast Chicken Sammie – Maybe it’s because I’m from Jersey but open face hot sammies from a diner are just the best. This one is a little higher on the processed food category than I would like, but sometimes you do the best you can. If we’re really hurting for time it’s this simple: throw the chicken in a pan with some jarred chicken gravy, make some Stove Top stuffing, instant mashed potatoes, and canned/frozen veggies. To serve throw some bread on a plate, top with chicken gravy mix, serve with the stuffing, taters, and veggies.  It’s a hungry man special, but only pull this one out every once in a while.

v Chicken Parm Casserole – My mom was a firm believer that you could put tomato sauce on any leftover and it became a new masterpiece. This may not be a masterpiece, but it’s easy. Cook up a pound of pasta, mix with the chicken and jarred or leftover sauce. Pour in a 9x13, top with Italian cheeses of choice and bake at 350 until warmed through and melted cheese goodness.  At least 30 minutes.

v Chicken Caesar Salad – I really shouldn’t have to give any pointers on this one. Just to say that although homemade dressing might taste better the Ken’s creamy will do just fine after a workday and kids activities at night.

v Chicken Greek Salad – I would serve some warm pita with this so you can soak up the yummy dressing. And most homemade dressings taste better then bottled when it comes to Greek salad so check out Ina Garten’s recipe on Foodnetwork.com or any of the allrecipes.com recipes for a safe bet.

v Chef Salad – This is a great way to use up lunch meat too. Take whatever you have for lunch meat, some of this salad, some cheese and throw it on a salad. With ranch or thousand island you’ll have a winner. When it comes to thousand island I always prefer Marie’s but whatever you like use.

v Chicken Parm Sammie – Another one where directions feel stupid, but here we go. Buy some good sub rolls, split open, put down the chicken, top with sauce and cheese. Stick in a 350 oven for 15 minutes or so until heated through. Enjoy.

v Grilled chicken and cheese sammies – This is where I draw the line. Make your favorite grilled cheese combo but add the chicken. I refuse to give grilled cheese directions unless specifically asked.

v Chicken ravioli alfredo bake – There are a million of versions of this on the internet. Okay, there are a million versions of everything on the internet, but you know what I mean. Boil some water and cook up some ravioli. It can be the good stuff from the local Italian market or whatever your store sells. Doesn’t make a difference here. Toss with alfredo sauce and chicken. Top with cheese because that’s always a good idea. Bake at 350 until cheese melts.  You could even make ahead in the day and bake a little longer to warm it up.

v Chicken fajitas – We love fajitas and I really wouldn’t use a rotisserie one unless we had to for some reason, but it’s perfectly acceptable. In a pan cook up some onion and bell pepper with fajita seasoning. Homemade or store bought, either way it’s all good. Add the chicken to heat it through. Serve with tortillas, cheese, sour cream, and whatever you normally like.

v Chicken tacos – same thing, different shell. And the onions and peppers are optional. So maybe it isn’t the same thing, but you get the idea. Re-fried beans are up to you. I pass on them; Mike loves them. And soft or hard shell is a family preference. Black olives fit better here then with fajitas, but it’s all up to you.

v BBQ chicken nachos – We fell in love with these when we had them at a Canadian steakhouse. I love making nachos because everyone can get their preference. On a heavily lined cookie sheet lay out your favorite tortilla chips, top with chicken, cheese, onion, beans, jalapeno, whatever your heart desires. Top the entire pan with your favorite BBQ sauce of choice and stick in a 350 degree oven for about 20 mintues or until cheese is an ooey gooey mess and heated through.

v Buffalo chicken nachos – This is pretty much the same as the BBQ chicken nachos except use your favorite hot sauce for topping. Or combine the two. Toss chicken with hot sauce before putting on the tortillas and then top with BBQ.  Go ahead, you only live once.

v Grilled buffalo chicken sammie w/ cheese – Same as the grilled cheese recipe (which I refuse to give) but toss the chicken with some hot sauce before putting on the cheese. Pepper jack might be good here to keep the theme. But that’s as much of a recipe as you’re getting for grilled cheese

v Chicken cordon bleu crescent roll ups – These are an easy one. It’s based on http://www.momontimeout.com/2013/09/chicken-cordon-bleu-crescent-rolls/.  Love how easy and quick they are.  You can use either white or dark meat from the chicken. They use sliced breast but there’s no reason you couldn’t use the store chicken.

v Chicken cordon bleu casserole – Tastykitchen.com has the best recipe for this. It’s just a great warm comforting supper for the whole family. I would save this one for winter. You can always add some cooked pasta to the pan and bulk it up to stretch, but it’s good either way. http://tastykitchen.com/blog/2012/07/chicken-cordon-bleu-casserole/

v Chicken Alfred French Bread pizza – I found inspiration for this meal on the frugalanticsrecipes.com site. There they cooked the chicken fresh with some onion and seasoning. I’m thinking a little easier for weeknight dinners. Take some rotisserie chicken, mix it with some alfredo, add bacon if you have it. Spread mix on the sliced lengthwise French bread and sprinkle with some cheese. After 10 minutes in a 400 degree oven you should have a pan of yummy goodness.

v Chicken Stuffed pita pockets – Really, this is easier then the grilled cheese sammies. Throw the chicken, some cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion (if you are daring) and your favorite condiment into a pita. Voila. I like ranch dressing for this one, but Greek and Caesar are popular too.

v Pesto chicken pasta – Tasteofhome.com is a great site. And when it comes to this recipe they are about as easy as it gets. The pine nuts are actually optional. http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/chicken-pesto-with-pasta

v Chicken pesto pizza – See the Alfredo French Bread pizza and just sub out the alfredo sauce for pesto. May be a little less ooey gooey cheesy goodness, but it is still going to taste better then a burger drive thru.

v Chicken caprese wrap – Caprese is a huge favorite in our house. On a tortilla you lay fresh basil leaves, mozzarella, and chicken. I like a little more balsamic then oil, but whatever works for your family. Roll and eat. For a real treat stick in the Panini press or just grill it in a pan.

v Chicken bean burrito – Mexican is a popular way to use up leftovers and it’s equally good for rotisserie chicken ideas. Roll some chicken, beans (black), corn, salsa, cheese and whatever you like in your burrito and enjoy. A nice trick is to heat up the chicken in some salsa on the stove before putting in the burrito.

v Spring chicken salad – The thing that makes this spring is the addition of fresh herbs and radishes. It’s a light meal for a busy spring night. You could even stick it in plastic ware and take it to the little league field with you. http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchens/spring-chicken-salad-recipe.html

v Pulled chicken BBQ sammies – Take the chicken meat and throw it in a saucepan with some barbeque sauce. Liquid smoke will really sell it if you are trying to convince people you made it from scratch. After it’s heated through put it on some rolls with corn on the cob or beans and take it outside to eat by the pool. Watermelon would make a good side too.
v Chicken cheese enchiladas – This one is another where the ease of cook factor depends on how many cans you are willing to open. You roll the chicken in tortillas and place them in a 9x13.  I throw a little cheese and/or beans in with them too. Sometimes corn if we’re low on our veggie count for the day. Then it’s a matter of homemade enchilada sauce or canned. Sometimes if I’m uber prepared on the weekend I’ll make the enchilada sauce and then use it on a quick night. Other times, it’s Old El Paso or Market Pantry depending on sales. Top with cheese and bake off at 350 for 30 – 40. Plenty of time to make a salad.

v Roast chicken dinner – Yeah, here’s a novel idea. Actually use the chicken in its whole form as a roast chicken dinner meal. I know a lot of grocery stores sell the sides to so I’ll leave that one up to you. Sometimes nothing hits the spot like a roast chicken dinner. And time isn’t always our friend, so take the shortcut if it means more time with the kids.

So there you have it. 31 ways to make a meal out of a pre-packaged but still mysteriously tasty chicken. Listen, I would love to say that I have a “from scratch” home cooked meal on the table every night for my family. I would also love to say I’ve won the lottery. But I can’t say either. What I can say is that eating as a family is important enough to me that sometimes I’ll take a short cut if it means hearing about the latest hated homework assignment or debating the merits of Star Trek vs Star Wars with kids who would otherwise retreat to their worlds but for the growl of their stomachs.

Have a Magical day.

~Mojjo

Five Minute Friday - Because

This week's Five Minute Friday word is "because."

Honestly, I'm not a big fan of this word.  I think it traumatized most children at some point. When you wanted to do/see/buy/whatever something and they would say "no" and you would ask "why" and they would say...."because." Or even worse they would string it along in the most feared sentence in childhood "Because I said so." Maybe that means the word never really had a chance, but I have to admit I cringe when I hear it. Maybe it is the equivalent of vocabulary PTSD or something like that but it just feels like no good can come from that beginning. 

And then there was Mrs. Jensen. 6th grade teacher. Scary as hell until you actually got to her class. Her perm was so tight she couldn't blink. I kid you not, don't think I saw her blink once in 6 years. She drilled into us that you absolutely could not start a sentence with "Because." I am still not sure if I understand the grammar rule behind this but it is one of those things I still will not do even today. Every time I think I'm going to live dangerously and do it I end up going back and editing it out. Amazing the things that stay with us. And all because of a simple word that is used to explain almost anything under the sun.

I never realized how much a person could really be adverse to one word. Yikes...and not even because of what it means but just because of how it was used. Hmmm...wonder what words are traumatizing my kids?  Not going to ask, but makes you wonder. 

Have a Magical weekend.

~Mojjo

Monday, September 22, 2014

Inspiration from Email

I have to say, in all modesty I'm a pretty good cook.  I prefer using a recipe, but I can manage on my own.  The Donners have nothing on me. Now, this is not to say that the C.I.A. (Culinary, not spy) is going to offer me a full scholarship, but I can hold my own against the fellow PTA moms.  So I have to admit when I get emails from processed food companies I am apt to delete them without even reading them. 

However, this weekend Pillsbury sent me an email with the following recipe link:http://www.pillsbury.com/recipes/make-ahead-chicken-bacon-ranch-pasta/80d39497-ff60-49fa-92f1-3b1248b3139b

                                    Photo: From Pillsbury.com

Anytime I see the words bacon, ranch and chicken you've got me. And to find out it was pretty much a dump recipe (dump everything into one pot) well...that's a home run. So let's review the ingredient list and see how this is a candidate for Good, Better, Best life.

The recipe calls for:

1 lb. pasta, rotini specifically
3 cups shredded or pulled deli rotisserie chicken
1 bottle (16 oz) ranch dressing
1 cup crisply cooked and crumbled bacon 
2 cups shredded Italian cheese blend

Dump in a bowl, mix and serve warm.  It tastes fine cold too just for the record. Considering it's not rocket science everyone was pretty happy with it.  And they all had suggestions for variations. Mike even added a little hot sauce to liven his up so it became a buffalo chicken bacon ranch pasta.

Pasta, in this case, is pass.  The chicken could have been home roasted, grilled, leftover, deli meat...whatever you have. In that way this is a great leftover killer. I bought a rotisserie chicken at the store and picked it clean, but to each his own. A whole bottle of dressing...that's right...a whole bottle.  Seemed like overkill to me, but I used a heck of a lot.  And I'm sure there are some people who might need a whole bottle, but it is to personal taste.  Who doesn't love bacon?  Now, I'm sure some people might use bacon bits here, but I don't like them. And when Mike or one of the boys makes bacon in the morning I just have them make extra and voila....bacon bits.  I cheated here and used bagged cheese, but there's no reason why you couldn't grate yourself some different Italian cheeses and make it from "scratch". But I figured workers in a cheese factory need jobs too so I went with the bagged stuff. This would be another great way to use up those leftover cheese bits should you choose to.

Dump said goodies in a bowl and stir. Yummmy.  Or at least that's what my family said. This is one of those versatile recipes that is good whether you buy the chicken already cooked or decide to make everything, even the ranch dressing, from scratch. I've gotten to the point that when I look at a recipe, no matter the source, I see it for what it could be to me and mine versus what they handed me. So whether it's from Pillsbury or Bon Appetit...don't delete the recipe so quickly next time.

Have a Magical day!

~Mojjo

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Tuesday at Ten - Choice

Choice...just the word can be overwhelming.  It seems that we are given so many choices all day every day it's almost too much. Literally everything is a choice. Even the decision not to make a choice is one. And yet we are always ready to fight when someone takes our choices away from us. And I'm not talking hotbed political ones. We get upset when a favorite meal is taken of a menu or a shirt no longer comes in a specific color and don't even get me started about them ceasing to make my favorite sneaker. 

As a quilter I should love choice.  Just walk into any fabric store and the choices abound. And it's great because it leads to all this creativity and new projects. A quilt can be moved in a completely different direction just by choosing one fabric over another. 

But as a mom...all I ever seem to worry about is if I am making the right choice for my children. The right school, the right meals, the right trips, everything. Should I be having them do more math than reading, more volunteering, more spending time with grandparents. It's amazing how moving me from a quilt store to my own living room can change the meaning and gravity of a word. And then I wonder if I'm the only person who frets over whether they've done right by their kids. I know I'm not but you do start to feel like you're the only neurotic one out there.

I've also, recently, made the choice to explore the spiritual side of my nature. Talk about another world of doubt and confusion. And yet I think part of the reason I've decided to explore it is that I want to have a sense of "rightness" about the choices I'm making or at least the thought processes I'm going through to make them. And on that level it's been a huge success. That's once choice I don't regret and which has done wonders for us as a family and for me as a woman.

Hmmmm...all from one little word.

Have a Magical Day

~Mojjo

Friday, September 12, 2014

October Challenge

October Challenge

Five Minute Friday - READY

Ready...Set....Go!  Okay, I have to admit that's the first thought that came to my head. But then I started thinking about what "READY" means...like really m-e-a-n-s.  And I've realized that I hardly ever feel ready, or prepared. I may be ready to go out but that doesn't mean I'm ready to handle everything that is going on out in the big bad world. So maybe it's really more about being ready to be unprepared. Oh...zen moment. And maybe that's more than ready to be disappointed, because who is ever ready for that.  But it's more along the lines of ready to be amazed, or confused, or surprised, or delighted, or awed, or educated or any number of things. Maybe life is about being ready to expect the unexpected. If that's the case I'm probably the most ready individual on the planet, or at least in my neighborhood. 

Also, "ready" brings to mind me waiting for others to be ready. I find that I am usually the one waiting for others, be it professional or personal. And I've gotten really good at using that time efficiently. After all, it would be a double waste to waste the time others were wasting of mine. Wow...not sure that made any sense. But it seems that we could be a little more considerate in our attempts to get ready when we know that others are waiting for us or expect something of us. If they are ready we should be too.  Off the soapbox.

Have a Magical weekend.

~Mojjo