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Easy Dinner: Five recipes to make with store-bought rotisserie chicken

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We all know the power of store-bought rotisserie chicken. When you're short on time but want to make a substantial meal, that chicken you pick up can be your best friend. Buy one, shred it up and make something impressive. 

It's easy to use the chicken to top salads and shove in a burrito, but we're thinking a little bigger. Try substituting store-bought chicken in these recipes for chicken, chorizo and green chile hash, a roasted chicken curry sandwich, chicken pot pie, Thai chicken empanadas, chicken, peanut and noodle wraps. Some of these recipes you could even serve at your next impromptu dinner party.

CALIFORNIA COOKBOOK: Delicious recipes to make over and over

CHICKEN, CHORIZO AND GREEN CHILE HASH

Total time: 45 minutes | Serves 6

Ingredients: 

  • 3 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3/4 pound Mexican chorizo, squeezed from casing and crumbled
  • 1 1/2 pounds cooked chicken, chopped into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 pound baking potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped roasted green chiles
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup cream
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 green onions, chopped

Directions: 

Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large skillet, preferably cast iron, over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft and slightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the chorizo and chicken, and cook until the chicken is almost warmed through, about 4 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove the mixture from the pan and set aside.

Wipe out the skillet and heat the remaining butter over medium heat. Add the potatoes, cover and cook without stirring until browned and beginning to crisp around the edges, about 5 minutes. Add the chiles, stirring them into the potatoes, then re-cover and cook until the potatoes are well browned, about 4 minutes longer. Stir the chicken and chorizo mixture into the skillet, then drizzle over the cream, paprika, and oregano. Stir to combine, scraping up any crusty bits from the bottom of the pan. Remove from heat, season with additional salt and pepper to taste. Top with chopped green onions and serve.

Each serving: 611 calories; 46 grams protein; 19 grams carbohydrates; 4 grams fiber; 39 grams fat; 16 grams saturated fat; 164 mg. cholesterol; 3 grams sugar; 934 mg. 

ROASTED CHICKEN CURRY SANDWICH

Active work and total preparation time: 15 minutes | Serves 1 to 2

Ingredients: 

  • 1 3/4 cups shredded roasted chicken
  • 2 tablespoons minced celery
  • 2 tablespoons plain yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1/8 tablespoon ground cumin
  • Salt, pepper
  • 1 pita bread
  • 4 leaves red leaf lettuce

Directions: 

Place the chicken and celery in a mixing bowl.

Mix together the yogurt, sour cream, lemon juice, curry powder and cumin in a small bowl, then add to the chicken and celery. Stir well, then season with salt and pepper to taste.

Cut the pita in half to form two pockets. Line each pocket with 2 lettuce leaves. Spoon the chicken mixture into the pita halves, dividing evenly.

Each of 2 servings: 420 calories; 418 mg sodium; 110 mg cholesterol; 19 grams fat; 6 grams saturated fat; 20 grams carbohydrates; 41 grams protein; 1.51 grams fiber.  

CHICKEN POT PIE

Active work time: 25 minutes | Total preparation time: 1 hour 6 servings | Serves 6

Ingredients: 

  • 1 sheet packaged frozen puff pastry dough
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 large carrot, thinly sliced in rounds
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1/2 pound cremini mushrooms, quartered
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 3 cups (1/2-inch dice) roast turkey or chicken
  • 1/2 cup minced parsley
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground pepper

Directions: 

Thaw the puff pastry for about 20 minutes. Heat the oven to 400 degrees.

Meanwhile, bring the broth to a boil in a 1-quart saucepan. Add the carrot and cook until crisp-tender, about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the carrot to a plate and set aside. Remove the broth from the heat and set aside.

Heat the butter and oil in a 10-inch skillet (or cast-iron skillet, if using) over medium heat until the butter foams. Add the onion and cook until it begins to soften, about 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook until they just begin to brown, about 3 minutes longer. Sprinkle the flour over the onion-mushroom mixture and stir to blend in. Slowly stir in the stock, bring to a simmer and stir until smooth and thickened, about 2 minutes. Add the cream, stir to blend and bring to a simmer. Add the reserved carrot, the turkey or chicken and the parsley. Stir to combine. Return the mixture to a simmer, then add salt and pepper to taste. Remove from the heat. If not using a cast-iron skillet, transfer the filling to an 8-cup baking dish that's 2 inches deep.

Unfold the sheet of pastry and lay it flat on a lightly floured work surface. Roll out the puff pastry into a 10-inch circle, trimming the corners with a paring knife to form a circle. Cut 3 slits, each 2 inches long, in the center of the dough. Carefully place the dough over the filling, centering it in the dish. Lightly press the edges of the dough against the sides of the dish. Bake the pie until the dough is nicely browned, about 25 minutes. Serve immediately.

Each serving: 515 calories; 464 mg sodium; 82 mg cholesterol; 34 grams fat; 12 grams saturated fat; 26 grams carbohydrates; 27 grams protein; 2.02 grams fiber.

THAI CHICKEN EMPANADAS

Total time: About 2 hours | Makes about 5 dozen empanadas

Ingredients: 

  • 2 poblano chiles
  • 4 teaspoons olive oil, divided
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 cups diced onions, small dice
  • Diced meat from 1 roast chicken (about 5 cups, or 2 pounds diced meat)
  • 1 bunch cilantro, minced
  • 3/4 cup Thai sweet chile sauce (mae ploy)
  • 12 ounces Oaxaca cheese, shredded
  • 4 pounds puff pastry
  • All-purpose flour, for dusting
  • 3 quarts frying oil

Directions: 

Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Rub the peppers with 2 teaspoons of the oil, and season each with a pinch of salt and pepper. Wrap the peppers in foil and roast in the oven until softened, about 30 minutes, checking every 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and set the foil-wrapped peppers aside until cool enough to handle. Peel and seed the peppers, and cut into a small dice.

Heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add 2 teaspoons oil and saute the onions until translucent, stirring frequently, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat.

Assemble the filling: In a large bowl, combine the diced chicken, diced poblanos, onions, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoon pepper, cilantro, Thai sweet chile sauce and Oaxaca cheese. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper if desired. You should have a generous 6 cups of filling. Cover and refrigerate the filling until chilled, at least 1 hour, up to overnight.

Roll out the puff pastry 1 sheet at a time (refrigerate the other sheets until ready to use) on a lightly floured board. Cut out rounds using a 3 1/2-inch biscuit cutter. You should be able to cut 16 to 18 rounds from each pound of puff pastry.

Fill each round with about 1 1/2 tablespoons of the chilled filling. To fold the empanada, place the round in your hand. With the fingers of your other hand, press the filling down as you are clamping the pastry into a taco or moon shape. It may seem as if there is too much filling at first, but the dough will stretch as you press the filling down (this will give you a good ratio of filling to pastry). Seal the empanada by pressing the edges with your fingers; use a fork to crimp it and seal it completely. Refrigerate the empanadas until ready to fry.

To fry the empanadas, heat the oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot until a thermometer inserted reaches 350 degrees. Fry the empanadas a few at a time until golden-brown, about 3 minutes. Drain on a rack or a paper-towel-lined baking sheet. Repeat until all the empanadas are fried. Serve immediately.

Each of 60 empanadas: 219 calories; 7 grams protein; 13 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fiber; 15 grams fat; 4 grams saturated fat; 14 mg cholesterol; 3 grams sugar; 330 mg sodium.

CHICKEN, PEANUT AND NOODLE WRAPS

Total time: 40 minutes plus at least 30 minutes marinating | Serves 8 as an appetizer

Sweet and sour sauce

Ingredients: 

  • 1 tablespoon dried red chile flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced

Directions: 

In a small, dry saucepan, toast the chile flakes over high heat until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the salt, sugar and rice vinegar. Cook over medium-low heat until the salt and sugar are dissolved. Stir in the garlic. Remove the sauce from the heat and cool completely. (Makes one-half cup.)

Fillings and assembly

Ingredients: 

  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed, divided
  • 3 teaspoons minced ginger, divided
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 teaspoons fresh chile paste (such as Sambal Oelek)
  • 7 tablespoons natural-style smooth peanut butter (such as Laura Scudder)
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 4 1/2 tablespoons roasted peanut oil
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 6 ounces vermicelli or capellini (angel hair) pasta (about 6 "nests" angel hair pasta)
  • 1 Japanese or 1/2 English cucumber
  • 2 heads butter lettuce
  • 1/2 cup toasted chopped peanuts
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves

Directions: 

Mix together the soy sauce, wine or sherry, sesame oil, 1 clove crushed garlic and 1 teaspoon minced ginger.

Rinse and pat dry the chicken breasts, then flatten them slightly with the flat end of a meat tenderizer or the bottom of a skillet. Place the chicken in soy sauce mixture and marinate one-half hour to an hour.

Combine remaining crushed garlic and ginger, the chile paste, peanut butter, sugar, peanut oil, lime juice and water in a blender jar. Blend until smooth to make the peanut sauce. (Makes 1 cup sauce.)

Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain, rinse under cold water; drain again. When the pasta is cool, toss with the peanut sauce.

Remove the chicken from the marinade; discard marinade. Heat a grill or grill pan to medium-high heat and grill the chicken on each side until cooked through, about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove the chicken from the heat. Cool slightly and cut or tear into strips.

Peel and seed the cucumber and cut it into 2-inch julienne strips.

Tear the lettuce leaves off the core and rinse, discarding any wilted or tough outer leaves. Pat dry.

Assemble bundles by placing about 2 tablespoons peanut noodles in the center of each lettuce leaf and topping with slices of chicken and strips of cucumber. Sprinkle with the chopped peanuts and cilantro. Serve with sweet and sour dipping sauce.

Each serving: 475 calories; 21 grams protein; 50 grams carbohydrates; 4 grams fiber; 21 grams fat; 3 grams saturated fat; 25 mg. cholesterol; 1,238 mg. sodium. California CookbookFrom drinks to desserts, we've got everything you need to make your most delicious meals ever. Get cooking! Search

Want more easy recipes that will impress your friends? Follow me on Twitter: @Jenn_Harris_

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