Chicken tonight: look beyond the cellophane!

If you live near a supermarket that sells rotisserie chickens, you’ve got what it takes to make a delicious home-cooked meal in a hurry. Requiring just fresh-cooked chicken and a few other ingredients you can pick up at the grocery store, these simple, sensational suppers give new meaning to the terms “fast food” and “short order cook.”

Each of these recipes starts with a fully cooked rotisserie chicken. You can even plan several meals around one chicken; buy one and enjoy it plain tonight, then make the most of the leftovers with these meal ideas.

Leftover cooked chicken can be prepared in an endless number of ways. Dark meat shreds easily, so it’s perfect for Mexican dishes like enchiladas and burritos, as well as hearty, flavorful dishes such as stew, spaghetti sauce and chili. White meat, which holds its shape and has a bright color and smooth texture, is wonderful for salads, clear soups and pasta dishes.

Chunky Chicken Vegetable Soup

  • 1 41/2-oz. can reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 2 cups broccoli florets
  • 1 cup peeled baby carrots
  • 1 cup cubed zucchini
  • 1 envelope Italian salad dressing mix
  • 2 cups (about 9 oz.) cubed, cooked skinless chicken breast (half-inch cubes)
  • 1 cup cooked wide noodles
  • 1/4 cup chopped Fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

In a large saucepan, bring broth, water, vegetables and dressing mix to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cover; simmer five minutes. Stir in chicken, noodles and parsley: heat on low three minutes. Serve topped with cheese. Makes four (1 3/4-cup) servings.

Per serving: 250 calories, 30 g protein, 19 g carbohydrate, 6 g fat, 2 g fiber.

Barbecued Chicken Pizza

  • 12-inch prepared thin pizza crust (such as Boboli)
  • 1/2 cup spity, smoky barbecue sauce.
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped, cooked skinless chicken
  • 1 cup shredded reduced-fat Monterey Jack cheese.
  • 1/2 cup sliced black olives
  • 1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 1 avocado, sliced

Head oven to 450 degrees F. Place pizza crust on ungreased cookie sheet. Spread crust with barbecue sauce, then top with chicken, cheese, olives and beli pepper. Bake 10-12 minutes or until pizza is crisp and cheese is melted. Remove from oven. Top with sticed avocado and fet stand five minutes, Makes eight slices.

Per serving (one slice): 245 cafories, 15 g pratein, 23 g carbohydrate. 10 g fat, 2 g fiber.

Mexican Chicken & Bean Salad

  • 2 cups cubed, cooked skinless chicken breast (half-inch cubes)
  • 16-oz. Can black beans, rinsed are drained
  • 16-oz. Can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup (about 4 oz.) cubed reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 small red bell pepper, chopper
  • 1/2 cup chunky salsa
  • 1/4 cup sliced green onions
  • 2 Tbsp. Chopped cilantro (optional)
  • 12 lettuce leaves
  • 1/2 cup reduced fat sour cream

Toss all ingredients except lettuce and sour cream in a large bowl; cover and refrigerate several hours or until chilled. Serve on lettuce-lined plates. Top each serving with 2 Tbsp. Sour cream. Makes four (1 1/2-cup) servings.

Per serving: 440 calories, 42 g protern, 39 g carbohydrate, 14 g fat, 13 g fiber.

Variation: Prepare as directed, but serve in a warm 10-inch tortilla. Top with shredded lettuce, sour cream and avocado slices.

Oriental Chicken Stir-Try

  • 1 envelope Italian salad dressing mix
  • 2 Tbsp. oil
  • 1/4 cup seasoned rice wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp. water
  • 2 Tbsp. teriyaki sauce
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 5 cups cut-up fresh vegetables (such as sweet onion, broccoli florets, red bell pepper slices; snow peas)
  • 1 tsp. Oriental roasted sesame oil
  • 4 cups chopped, cooked skinless chicken
  • 2 cups hot cooked brown rice
  • 1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds

Combine dressing mix, oil, vinegar, water, teriyaki sauce and garlic until well blended. Heat one-third cup of the dressing mixture in a large skillet or wok on medium heat. Add vegetables and sesame oil; cook until vegetables are tender-crisp, stirring constantly. Gently stir in chicken and remaining dressing mixture; heat through. Serve over rice and sprinkle sesame seeds on top. Makes five (1 1/2-cup) servings.

Per serving: 415 calories, 40 g protein, 30 g carbohydrate, 15 g fat, 5 g fiber.

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