Easy Chicken Recipes For Every Menu

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In the last decade, chicken has become the meat of choice for millions of Americans. It's naturally lean, relatively plentiful and economical, and lends itself to dozens of preparation methods. Another bonus is that most regional cuisines use chicken as an ingredient, so there are thousands of versatile and delicious recipes to choose from whether you're interested in Asian, fusion, French or TexMex fare.

What's New & Different?

Fusion is a style of cooking that makes use of ingredients and preparation methods from two or more different regions or cooking techniques. A fusion recipe could pair, say, avocado with chicken stir-fry, or add a hollandaise sauce to chicken chimichangas. Pour some salsa on your leftover stew and make a TexMex potpie, or construct a shepherd's pie using a flour tortilla crust. When you start thinking about ingredients more democratically, you'll come up with lots of your own variations.

Fusion is a way to distribute great ingredients across cooking traditions to create new favorites. For restaurants, it means lots of new and interesting menu items. For the home cook, it means the sky is the limit when it comes to cooking with chicken.

Chicken can also be used as a substitution in many recipes across many cooking styles. You know about substituting chicken for veal in what was originally veal Marsala. Now think about using chicken instead of shrimp (or fish) in your recipes. Shrimp is costly, may or may not contain more than its fair share of chemicals like mercury, and is naturally high in cholesterol. Making stir fry, chowder and pasta dishes using herbs, spices and sauces designed for shrimp (but substituting chicken) makes good sense. Both are mild and cook quickly. Chicken is a kid friendly staple, where shrimp may be an occasional indulgence. Try some fusion options the next time you feel like experimenting. You'll love the freedom it gives you.

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Easy Chicken Meals

Chicken can be dry when it isn't cooked properly, but these recipes include sauces or the addition of cheese or oil that keeps the chicken moist. Many contain bright, bold flavors that work well with a mellow and relatively neutral meat like chicken, too.

Barbecued Chicken - This one is part of our recap of the best summer grilling recipes. Nothing says relaxed, casual dining like preparing chicken on the grill.

Chicken Meatloaf - You know about turkey meatloaf, but using chicken instead will yield a more flavorful, moist and textural result. You can substitute ground chicken for turkey in any turkey meatloaf recipe. Take a look at the one we've included in our roundup of the best loved meatloaf recipes. It's a winner that has the perfect blend of ingredients. This meatloaf makes wonderful sandwiches, too.

Chicken Salad - Yes, there is a second life for leftover chicken. You can chop it into a fabulous chicken salad. We included the perfect chicken and walnut salad recipe in our article: Quick and Easy Fall Dinner Recipes. It's totally scrumptious. Take a peek.

Chicken Chili - Sure, you're probably used to making this one with ground beef, but chicken and turkey are healthier substitutes that don't compromise flavor. In a great chili sauce, no one will know the difference. Take a look at our Easy & Delicious Chili Recipes for a chicken chili option and some great tips and tricks for a perfect pot of beans every time.

You probably have a weekly or even monthly meal rotation you use in the kitchen. Introducing one or two of these chicken dishes could get you out of a rut and make mealtime more fun and exciting for the whole family. A few of these recipes substitute chicken for beef, and that's a good thing. Why not pair your favorite recipes with the mild meat you've come to trust and rely on for good value and great nutrition?

Slow Cooker Meals

Using a slow cooker or crock pot is an inspired way to save time in the kitchen -- and make great chicken. Larger, older chicken meat may look tender, but it can be dry and chewy. Why buy it? Well, stewing meat is often a bargain. Actually, the secret to preparing great slow cooker recipes is in choosing older meat like stewing hens. The older the animal is, the more flavorful its meat and fat will be. Give that old bird a few hours in a slow cooker, and the gristle will turn into gooey collagen, the secret ingredient to great gravy. Once you try slow cooking, you'll see a difference in the quality of the dishes you prepare right away. Finally, slow cooking is also convenient. Just set the timer and walk away. When you come back later, the dish is done.

Quick Chicken Recipes

We believe grabbing a quick meal doesn't have to mean a stop at the local drive through. Homemade meals are typically healthier and almost always less expensive than in-the-bag options dripping with grease. To make a dietary change for the better, all you need is the will power and some delicious recipes that go together fast. These quick chicken matchups will make it a pleasure to come home for lunch -- or stay home for dinner.

Chicken Skewers - From our summary of fast and easy dine-in recipes, chicken skewers are a natural when there are kids around. Eating dinner on a stick is fun and makes for fast prep and cleanup, too. Make plenty. This recipe tastes as good or better the next day.

Chicken Tacos - Skip the fatty ground beef in favor of chicken the next time you serve tacos. This recipe is another entry from our list of simple dinner recipes. It comes together in minutes, and you can dress it up with plenty of greens and low-fat dairy. Oh, and don't forget the guacamole.

Sweet Chicken Tenders - This recipe is so sweet and simple we included it in a list of recipes dad and the kids can make mom for Mother's Day. You don't have to wait for a holiday, though. These sweet morsels are so simple and good they deserve a spot on your weekly menu list.

On The Go Suggestions

When you're eating on the go, you don't have to sacrifice flavor and nutrition for speed and convenience. Grilling or broiling chicken for use during the week is an option that will save you money and time. Grill or broil chicken and refrigerate it to quickly eat later. For a quick lunch, cut it into easy to eat strips and use it as a salad topper on prepared market greens, stuff it in a pita pocket or wrap it in a flour tortilla. This singe ingredient can be the basic element in a variety of dishes.

Want a couple of quick dinner options? Add pre-cooked, heated chicken strips to fresh cooked pasta and toss the mixture with parmesan cheese or olive oil. You can also dice it into freshly prepared rice, or serve it on a baked potato. Chicken is a chameleon that can be as tasty hot as it is cold, as satisfying plain as it is spicy and covered with sauce, and as flexible as any cook has a right to expect. The next time you think your menu choices are getting a little bland, try these fresh and flexible chicken recipes -- or make up one of your own.

Last Updated: January 28, 2012
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About Sara Elliot Sara Elliott is a freelance copywriter and dedicated blogger. Her popular gardening, cooking and crafting blog, The Herb Gardener, was cited by The Wall Street Journal for its fun and frugal tips. Sara has a degree in English, and you can find her health, crafting, and lifestyle pieces on sites like DiscoveryHealth.com, HowStuffWorks.com, Savvi.com and TLC.com.

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