Are you one of those people who knows what you’re going to eat a week ahead of time? I am most definitely not one of those people. Half the time, I don’t even know what day it is, never mind what I’m going to be eating that night. I am not a planner, and I find those who are a bit baffling. It would probably save me a bit of stress in the long run if I were better at planning, but I’ve gotten into the habit of walking to the store each night, sometimes with a plan, sometimes without the slightest clue what I want. Mostly it turns out fine.
There is one thing that can throw a last minute dinner idea into a tailspin, and that’s frozen chicken. It’s much cheaper to buy a bag of frozen boneless skinless chicken breasts, but they take like a year to thaw out. Once I finally read the back of one of those stupid bags and figured that you can cook them straight from frozen, I couldn’t believe I’d been so dumb for so long. I was skeptical the first time I tried it, figuring it would be dry or mushy or somehow weird. It was actually totally awesome.
So what I have for your today isn’t really a recipe, per se, but just an idea to save your sanity mid-week when you want to add some lean protein to a meal. Here’s what you do.
- Wake up Sunday morning, pre-heat your oven to 375, and put some foil on a baking sheet.
- Grab a couple of hockey puck chicken breasts out of the freezer and slap ’em on that baking sheet. If you have a larger family, maybe do a bit more. Exact same amount of effort and time.
- Spray them with some olive oil, or you know, rub it on if you go old school. Just wash your hands before you touch anything else. I don’t know what the regs are on frozen salmonella.
- Then sprinkle on plenty of salt, pepper, and garlic powder. From there, you can go in any number of directions.
- If you have a plan for your chicken, choose the seasonings that complement that dish. Want something Southwest/Mexican? Sprinkle on some cumin and chili powder? Thinking Italian pasta? Go with dried oregano and basil. French? Perhaps tarragon. Just go with your gut. Look at the spices in front of you, and sprinkle liberally to add a bit of flavor to your chicken.
- Pop that in the oven and go about your life for the next 45 minutes. You’ve probably got laundry to do. Or Facebook. There’s always Facebook.
- Take the chicken out of the oven. You may want to check that it’s cooked all the way through. If you have a meat thermometer, it should read 160. It will continue to cook to 165. Let cool for at least 15 minutes. Then you can store it like that, or go ahead and chop or shred it now and store it that way. Just pop it in a zip top bag, press out as much air as you can, seal that baby up, and stick it in the fridge for week long eating.
This chicken can become any number of meals. Quesadillas, salads, chili, soup, pasta. I used one of mine for penne alfredo, and I’m thinking of some chicken enchilada totchos for the other one. If those turn out awesome, I’ll be sure to let you know all about it.
Don’t worry, I’m not turning into a planner. If you want to be spontaneous, you have to be ready for everything. This transformer chicken is giving me options throughout the week. Tomorrow we’ll still be just as baffled about what to eat for dinner, but at least I’ll have something to start with. Make your life easy, kids. Make your life awesome!