Saturday, October 5, 2013

Good-Bye Frozen Chicken Blues!: Two Ways

I think every household has those few grocery items that no matter what, they always have on hand. Not necessarily "staples" but more what I like to think of as "even if I need to go to the grocery store, I still have ________" items. A few of those things at our house are frozen veggies, canned soup, shredded cheese, and frozen chicken breasts. I always opt for easy recipes, as they just work better with our busy lifestyle, but there are certain points where I'm certain that my family is tiring of plain baked chicken and steamed veggies. So in my attempt to jazz things up a little without foregoing that "ease factor" that is near and dear to my heart, here's a couple recipes I've come up with:

Creamy Crock Pot Shredded Chicken
(This recipe may just make my short list of go-to family pleasers)

Last weekend, we had planned to go pumpkin and apple picking, and I was in an exceptionally Fall mood which will always make me immediately want to bring out the crock pot. Might I add, my crock pot is one of my best friends - all the slow-cooked homemade goodness without spending hours in the kitchen. This particular day also happened to be a day where I was in desperate need of a grocery store run. So naturally, instead of running to the store with two fired up children, I searched for what we already had. I found a couple cans of soup, frozen chicken, and frozen veggies (those always-on-hand items I mentioned).

I thought for a minute, threw them all in the crock pot, and headed off to the pumpkin patch, all the while praying that something amazing would magically turn up in my crock pot when we returned home...

And wouldn't you know, while we were gone happily picking pumpkins and about a ton of apples, those little crock pot elves showed up and made something wonderful for dinner. This turned out so wonderful in fact, my kids each ate two whole bowls (the same children who would usually much rather play than sit and eat dinner), and then asked for the same thing the next night. I'll take it.

To make, you'll need:
5 medium boneless, skinless chicken breasts (frozen is absolutely fine. I know, no thawing, isn't it wonderful??)
2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 can condensed Lentil soup
1 can Cream of Chicken soup
1-2 cups frozen chopped veggies (I used peas and carrots)
3/4 cup water
8 oz cream cheese (1 regular block package)
Salt & Pepper to taste

Rub the inside of your crock pot with olive oil. Place chicken breasts in bottom of crock pot and drizzle the rest of the olive oil on top. Sprinkle lightly with salt & pepper. Add both cans of soup, frozen veggies, and water. Stir a little to mix ingredients. Set your crock pot, cover, and let it cook (Really, it takes 5 minutes to prepare).
Allow to cook on High for 3-4 hours, or Low for 6-7 hours.

Different crock pots, or depending on the size of your chicken, the time may vary slightly. You'll know the chicken is done when you can shred it easily with a fork...which is your next step. Using two forks to pull apart chicken, shred the chicken in the crock pot. Once chicken is shredded, add the cream cheese right on top (don't stir), cover and allow to cook on low for another 30-40 minutes. After 30-40 minutes, the cream cheese should be soft, and when you stir it, everything should come together.

Stir well, and serve over rice.


For frozen chicken recipe #2, my focus was more about flavor and add-ons and it uses a traditional oven rather than the crock pot.

Italian Cheesy-Tomato Chicken

What you'll need:
5 frozen bonesless, skinless chicken breasts
1 packet of Italian dressing/seasoning (dry)
1 Tablespoon dried or fresh chopped Oregano
2-3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 extra large tomato, cut into 1/4 inch slices
Salt & Pepper to taste
2 cups shredded cheese (an Italian cheese is best, but whatever your preference is will work)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Rub a glass baking dish with 1 Tablespoon olive oil (enough to cover the bottom and prevent chicken from sticking).
Rub frozen chicken with dry Italian seasoning, covering the top and bottom in a thin layer. If your chicken breasts are on the larger side, you may need two packets to give them a good covering. Place chicken in dish, and layer tomato slices across the top. Drizzle remaining 1-2 Tablespoons olive oil on top, and sprinkle with salt & pepper. Cover chicken and tomatoes with an even layer of shredded cheese.

Cover with aluminum foil, and bake at 350 for 45-60 minutes (until chicken is done. Juice will be clear when poked with a fork). Remove foil, and bake for 5 minutes more.
Serve with steamed veggies or over pasta.


Hopefully these will help to jazz up your regular dinner routine if you're in a rut, and maybe make it to your short-list of easy-pleasy dinner recipes.

What are your favorite, easy ways to mix-it-up at dinner time??


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