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Add Pizzazz to Store-Bought Chicken

When fall rolls around, families can get extremely busy. And when schedules heat up, it's hard not to order pizza every night.

But there's a solution: In every grocery store around the country, you can find cooked rotisserie chicken, and it can serve as a launching pad for a great, home-cooked meal.

Robin Miller, author of "Robin Rescues Dinner," shared some suggestions for jazzing up that chicken.

Store-bought rotisserie chicken is the perfect way for every busy family to start a dinner together, according to Miller.

"It's easy, no pans to clean up, and the chicken is perfectly cooked," she said.

On average, rotisserie chicken costs from about $6.00 to $12.00, and is often available in or near the deli section of your grocery.

A few tips on buying:
• Make your rotisserie chicken the last item on your grocery list.
• Bring the chicken straight home, chicken is like ice cream, it cannot sit for so long.
• Eat it or refrigerate it within two hours, or within an hour on particularly hot days.
• Use within four days or freeze the chicken pieces for up to four months..

Carving a Rotisserie Chicken
• Place the chicken, breast side up, on a clean cutting board.
• Cut any twine that's holding the legs together.
• Hold the chicken in place with a meat fork. Gently pull one leg away from the breast and cut where it joins the bird. You should be able to cut clean through. Repeat with the other leg. Separate the thigh and the drumstick by cutting through the joint.
• Hold the wing tip and gently pull it away from the body until you can fit the knife easily between the wing and the breast. Cut where the two join.
• If you want to slice your rotisserie chicken, carve the breast from each side of the bird, starting on the outside and working your way to the center. Or remove the breast from each side in its entirety, feeling for where the meat joins the bones.
• To get the most out of your rotisserie chicken, use the carcass to make a chicken stock.

RECIPES:

Creamy Weeknight Pesto Penne
Combine 1 pound cooked penne pasta
3-4 cups shredded or cubed cooked chicken
14-ounce can petite-diced tomatoes (drained)
1/2 cup prepared pesto sauce
heavy cream or milk (enough cream or milk to make a nice sauce).

Mix up the ingredients in a large bowl. Heat the mixture in the microwave or in a large saucepan until hot. Top with 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese before serving.

Hearty Chicken Chili
2 28 ounce cans pureed tomatoes
4 cups shredded or cubed cooked chicken
15 ounce can of kidney beans (drained)
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 diced green bell pepper
1/2 cup frozen corn
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
Cilantro, sour cream, shredded cheese for topping (optional)
In a stock pot combine pureed tomatoes, shredded or cubed cooked chicken, kidney beans, chopped celery, 1/2 cup diced green bell pepper, frozen corn, chili powder, ground cumin, and hot sauce. Set the pan over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes. Stir in 2-3 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro and serve with a dollop of sour cream and shredded cheddar cheese on top.

Chicken Pot Pie
28-ounce can petite-diced tomatoes (drained)
3-4 cups shredded or cubed cooked chicken
14-ounce can whole potatoes
1/2 cup frozen succotash
1 tsp each dried thyme
1 tsp dried oregano
Refrigerated frozen pie crust

In a deep-dish pie plate or shallow casserole dish, combine can petite-diced tomatoes (drained), shredded or cubed cooked chicken, whole potatoes, diced, frozen succotash, and dried thyme and dried oregano. Top the filling with a refrigerated pie crust and press down around the rim. Crimp the crust to make a decorative edge. Make a few slits in the top of the crust and bake at 375º for 15 to 20 minutes, until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbly.

For many more recipes, go to Page 2.

Chicken Spring Rolls with Shredded Cabbage and Carrots
In a bowl, combine shredded cooked chicken, shredded coleslaw mix (cabbage and carrots), chopped scallions, chopped fresh cilantro, soy sauce, and sesame oil. Place the mixture on the center of spring roll wrappers. Roll halfway up, covering filling. Fold in sides and finish rolling up. Transfer the rolls to a baking sheet and spray the surface with cooking spray. Bake at 375ºF for 8 to 10 minutes, until golden brown. Serve with duck sauce or soy sauce on the side for dunking.

Chicken and Swiss Panini with Thousand Island Dressing
Top one slice of sourdough bread with Thousand Island dressing, shredded cooked chicken, Swiss cheese, and prepared coleslaw. Top the filling with a second slice of bread. Brush the outside of the sandwich with olive oil. Press the sandwich in a Panini press or cook in a large skillet until the cheese melts and the bread is golden brown (when cooking in a skillet or on a stove-top griddle, weigh the sandwiches down with a heavy skillet).

Mediterranean Pasta Salad with Smoked Mozzarella, Chicken and Olives
Combine cooked orecchiette pasta, diced smoked mozzarella cheese, shredded or cubed cooked chicken, pitted Kalamata or Nicoise olives, chopped fresh basil, minced red onion, balsamic vinegar, and good-quality olive oil.

Chicken and Rice Frittata
In a heavy skillet, combine shredded or cubed cooked chicken, cooked white or brown rice, chopped scallions, chopped fresh parsley, and salt-free garlic and herb seasoning. Whisk together about 4 eggs and milk and pour over chicken mixture (make enough egg mixture to cover the filling). Set the pan over medium heat and cook until almost cooked through to the top (without stirring). Sprinkle the top with grated Parmesan cheese and place the pan under the broiler. Broil a few minutes, until the eggs are cooked through and the top is golden brown.

Super-Fast Burritos with Pepper Jack and Salsa
In a bowl, combine shredded cooked chicken, sour cream, prepared salsa, shredded pepper jack cheese, and a little ground cumin. Spoon the mixture onto the center of regular or whole wheat flour tortillas and roll up. Place the burritos side-by-side in a shallow baking pan and top with more salsa and shredded pepper jack or regular Monterey Jack cheese. Bake at 350ºF for 15 minutes, until the cheese melts and tortillas are golden brown.

Cedar Plank Barbecued Chicken Pizzettes
Place taco-size flour tortillas or prepared pizza crusts (such as Boboli) on a cedar plank and top with barbecue sauce, shredded cooked chicken, chopped red onion, and shredded mozzarella cheese. Bake at 400ºF for 8 to 10 minutes, until cheese melts.

Chicken Soup with Vegetables and Rice
In a stock pot, combine chicken broth, shredded or cubed cooked chicken, chopped celery and carrots, frozen peas, cooked white or brown rice, canned diced tomatoes (undrained), a piece of a Parmesan cheese rind (the part you would typically discard), 2 bay leaves, and a little dried thyme and dried oregano. Set the pan over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes. Remove the bay leaves and Parmesan cheese rind, stir in chopped fresh parsley and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese before serving.

South Philly Chicken Cheese Steaks with Fried Onions and Peppers
Sauté a sliced yellow onion and green bell pepper in olive oil until golden brown and tender. Top long sandwich rolls with shredded cooked chicken, the sautéed onion and pepper, shredded cheese (either cheddar or provolone), and pickled sliced jalapeno peppers. Serve with ketchup on the side.

Chicken Fried Rice with Egg
Heat peanut oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add cooked white or brown rice, shredded or diced cooked chicken, diced carrots, chopped scallions, minced garlic, minced ginger, and soy sauce and cook until heated through. Top with chopped, cooked egg before serving.

Chicken Gyros with Tzatzicki Sauce
In a bowl, combine yogurt, shredded cucumber, chopped fresh dill, garlic powder, and black pepper. Spread the yogurt mixture on pocket-less pita pockets and top with shredded cooked chicken and diced tomatoes.

Chicken Cacciatore
In a large, deep skillet, combine canned diced tomatoes (undrained), chopped green bell pepper, sliced mushrooms, shredded or cubed cooked chicken, curry powder, ground cumin, and dried oregano. Set the pan over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Simmer 5 to 10 minutes. Stir in chopped fresh parsley before serving.

Sizzlin' Chicken Fajitas
Sauté a sliced yellow onion and sliced red and green bell peppers in olive oil until golden brown and tender. Add shredded cooked chicken, soy sauce, red wine vinegar, liquid smoke, and hot sauce and cook a few minutes to heat through. Serve the chicken mixture in flour tortillas with sour cream, guacamole, salsa, shredded lettuce, and shredded cheddar cheese on the side.

Chicken Gumbo with Okra and Clams
In a stock pot, combine canned diced tomatoes (undrained), chicken broth, shredded or cubed cooked chicken, frozen chopped okra, chopped carrots and celery, canned baby clams (undrained), 2 bay leaves, and a little dried thyme and dried oregano. Set the pan over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes. Remove the bay leaves and stir in chopped fresh parsley before serving.

Chicken Sloppy Joes
In a large skillet, combine shredded cooked chicken, canned tomato sauce, ketchup, Dijon mustard, brown sugar, garlic powder, and onion powder. Set the pan over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Simmer 5 to 10 minutes, until heated through. Serve the mixture on Kaiser rolls or hamburger buns.

Curried Chicken with Vegetables and Cashews
In a large skillet, combine canned petite-diced tomatoes (undrained), shredded or cubed cooked chicken, chopped green bell pepper, chopped onion, canned chickpeas (drained), frozen snap peas, frozen corn, and curry powder. Set the pan over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Simmer 5 to 10 minutes, until heated through. Stir in sour cream and cook 1 minute to heat through. Top with dry-roasted cashews and chopped fresh cilantro before serving.

Buffalo Chicken Stew with Crunchy Tortillas
In a stock pot, combine chicken broth, barbecue sauce, hot sauce, shredded or cubed cooked chicken, and frozen corn. Set the pan over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Simmer 5 to 10 minutes, until heated through. Ladle stew into bowls and top with tortilla chip pieces.

Chicken Salad with Strawberries, Cucumber and Mint
In a bowl, combine shredded or cubed cooked chicken, mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, rice wine vinegar, honey, sliced strawberries, diced seedless cucumber, and chopped fresh mint. Stir gently to combine.