Wednesday, April 20, 2011

2 Quick and Easy Chicken Dinners

Since I haven't posted a recipe or meal idea in a few days, I thought I would give you 2 at once today to make up for it. One thing I always have on hand in my freezer is chicken. I usually have boneless skinless chicken breasts and thighs, and a couple of whole chickens as well. There is so much you can do with chicken- bake, grill ( inside or outside), saute, add to pasta, make into salad, put it in a soup... the list is endless. I mentioned before that the past week has been hectic and I needed quick, easy (but HEALTHY) meals for my family. Here are two meals I kind of threw together on two separate nights. Both take very little time and prep, make for minimal cleanup (I'm all for that since "A good cook is a clean cook"- Thanks Mom!) And I used what I had on hand- no extra trips to the store.

#1:Easy Italian Chicken- In our house we love chicken with tomatoes. It's so easy, and the kids love it. (Kid friendly is a must in this house!) It's a basic comfort food for us. And it only takes one pot to make this meal. It does need to simmer until the chicken is cooked through- but once the sauces are added you can put the lid on and let it cook until you are ready to eat.

Serves 4, takes about 3o minutes of active cooking, 1 hour till done- can cook as long as you need it to.

1-2 tablespoons Olive Oil
4 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts (I buy HarvestLand from BJ's)
Green Pepper- sliced
Onion- sliced
Dried Garlic
Bertolli Olive Oil and Garlic sauce
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can plain sauce (if needed)
Freshly Ground Salt and Pepper to taste

I always wash my chicken first. Meanwhile heat the oil in the pot. Add chicken to the heated oil. Sprinkle with the dried garlic, salt, and pepper.
Let chicken brown on both sides.

While the chicken is browning, I sliced my veggies. For this I kept them bigger so the 4 year old could pick them out- she is not a fan of peppers and onions.

Once the chicken is browned slightly, add the peppers and onions to the pot. Let cook until the onions soften a bit, making sure to move them around and turn the chicken ( so it doesn't burn).

Add your sauces and spices. There are no measurements for the spices because I use my palm to measure, or I just eyeball it. I add about a Tablespoon of each I would guess. You can add more or less to your taste.

Let simmer for about an hour

I served this over Angel Hair pasta- you could use any sort of pasta you have on hand, or rice.

*If you would like you can top with a dairy free cheese like Daiya or Veggie Shreds.

#2: Chicken Garden Saute
Last night we had the girls' music lessons at 5, and I wanted to go for a jog at the same time. We got home at about 6:15. Before I left I put the chicken out to defrost so it would be ready to cook when I got home.
I had this meal in mind all day and couldn't wait to try it- I sauteed chicken with peppers, onions, mushrooms, spinach, shredded carrots, and tomatoes. I used chipotle chili powder and smoked paprika as the seasonings to give it a slight smokey flavor. It had just a little bit of spice- not enough to bother the kids.

Total cooking time was about 35 minutes. We got home at 6:15 and I was loading the dishwasher by 7:15.

4 Boneless skinless Chicken Breasts- sliced
1 Green Pepper- sliced
1 Red Onion- halved then sliced
4 baby portabello mushrooms- sliced
Handful or two shredded carrots
2 Roma tomatoes- quartered then sliced
Handful or two fresh baby spinach
1/2 Tablespoon Smoked Paprika
1/2 Tablespoon Chipotle Chili Powder
Shake or two of Garlic Salt (or you can use garlic power to omit the sodium)

Wash chicken (Of course! ) and slice it into whatever size chunks you like.
Spray large saute pan with cooking spray of your choice- make sure it's covered well.
Heat pan, add chicken. At this point I also added the veggies that took a while to cook- the pepper, onion, carrots.

Add the smoked paprika, chili powder, and garlic at this point as well. Cover and let cook for a few minutes on medium heat.
Once the chicken starts to cook through, add the mushrooms. Stir well and cover. Keep the heat on medium.
**I have a flat top electric stove so you may need to adjust your heat settings to accommodate the type of range you have**
When the chicken is completely cooked through, add the tomatoes and cook for another couple minutes, until the tomatoes soften.
Just before you are ready to take the pan off the heat, stir in the spinach. It will cook down very quickly- takes about 2-3 minutes.

I served this with Trader Joe's Quinoa Duo and organic steamed broccoli. The girls cleaned their plates!

It also made great leftovers- I heated it up and used it in a wrap for lunch today.

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