Land of Leftovers

Leftovers can become an integral part of mid-week summer meals in my house. Over the weekend or in the early part of the week, I'll prepare something truly simple in a large batch and plan a few meals using the already-cooked ingredient.

Our example this month is chicken. One of the fastest and most versatile ways to prepare boneless, skinless chicken breasts is quickly cooking them in a skillet with just a bit of oil and some simple seasonings. While the end result is yummy enough to serve with a couple easy sides, it can also find itself starring in other meals that will keep your family from dealing with monotony. For example, this month's main recipe becomes a chilled chicken salad featuring dried fruit and crisp veggies one night and a Mexican-inspired meal of spicy enchiladas another night. Of course, the possibilities are nearly endless. Just find any recipe that calls for cooked chicken or turkey or that calls for the poultry to be cooked separately from other ingredients and go from there.

As always, I encourage you to share your recipe ideas and comments. You can always post comments in the discussion board using the forms provided in the articles or email me directly at . Keep those creative juices flowing!

Simple Sautéed Chicken

Watch the chicken closely when cooking over medium-high heat or you might easily burn it. Use an instant read thermometer or slice a breast in half to check for doneness.
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Carefully add the chicken evenly into the pan. Cook on one side for 5-7 minutes, lifting carefully periodically to check for a golden color and avoid burning. Flip the chicken and season the exposed side of the poultry with salt and pepper. Cook for another 5 minutes. Add the garlic to the pan and toss with the chicken to coat well. Continue cooking for 1-2 minutes or until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 180 degrees or no pink remains in the center of each piece. If desired, serve the chicken with a tangy fruit-based sauce.

  • Yields: 6 servings
  • Preparation Time: 20 minutes

Sweet 'n Savory Chicken Salad

You can choose other vegetables or dried fruit for this salad if the ingredients called for are not available.
  • 2 cooked chicken breast halves (see above)
  • 1 small cucumber, quartered and sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/3 c. sliced green onions
  • 1/2 c. raisins
  • 1/2 c. sliced almonds
  • 1 c. reduced fat or fat free mayonnaise
  • 2 T. spicy, sweet mustard
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • 1/2 tsp. ground red pepper -- choose a variety based on your tastes
  • 1 tsp. salt

Using two forks, shred the chicken into bite-sized pieces. Toss the chicken with the prepared vegetables, raisins and almonds. Set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the remaining ingredients. Adjust the seasonings to your taste. Add the dressing to the salad and toss to coat evenly. Serve immediately or chill to allow the flavors to blend.

  • Yields: 4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Easy Chicken Enchiladas

This quick recipe comes together beautifully when the mid-week rush is on and there seems to be no time to cook.
  • 2 cooked chicken breast halves (see above)
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 pkg. taco seasoning mix
  • 3/4 c. water
  • 6 flour tortilla shells
  • 2 oz. shredded pepper jack cheese
  • 1/4 c. sliced black olives
  • 1/4 c. sliced green onions
  • 1/4 c. chopped tomato

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Using two forks, shred the chicken into bite-sized pieces. Set aside.

Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the pepper and onion and cook until they are softened, but not browned. Add the taco mix and water and cook until heated.

Spoon half of the sauce into the bottom of a baking pan coated with cooking spray.

Add the chicken to the remaining sauce and mix to coat well. Spoon the filling evenly among the 6 tortilla shells and roll them tightly. Place them side-by-side in the prepared pan so that they fit snugly. Top with the cheese, olives, onions and tomatoes.

Bake the enchiladas in the preheated oven for 20 minutes or until they are heated through and the cheese is melted. Allow them to sit for 5 minutes before serving.

  • Yields: 4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 35 minutes