Tip #7: Oven’s on? Make lots!

When it comes to the day-to-day feeding of myself and my family, I am just as likely to be caught without a plan as anyone else. When I lived in the Boston area, this was no big deal; we could get take-out or go out to eat. Living in a rural area where nearby restaurant options are extremely limited, I need a different Plan B. To help with this, I often ask my oven to do double-duty.

It takes just about the same time to roast double the amount of potatoes, squash, garlic, and other vegetables as it does to roast a single meal’s worth; the only addition is the prep time. While there are some nights that prepping just one more Brussels sprout might send me over the edge, most of the time prepping double is no big deal. Roasted Brussels sprouts can be a side dish tonight, and can be tossed with leftover chicken, garlic, some Balsamic vinegar, and cooked pasta or another grain for a quick main later in the week. Ditto just about any roasted vegetable.

Roast two chickens (or poach extra chicken breasts) and you have meals for days. Use the chicken in enchiladas, soups, casseroles, sandwiches…none of the meals have to be the same, especially if the chicken is simply seasoned with salt and pepper. Roast two chickens and two sheet trays of vegetables, and later meals are wicked fast: throw shredded chicken and vegetables in some warm broth and you have soup; combine them with cooked quinoa and something crunchy like chopped nuts or raw vegetables and you have a grain bowl. Open a can of beans, chop some lettuce, warm some tortillas, and it is Taco Tuesday with Sunday’s roast.

This make-extra ethos also applies to cooking extra dried beans, quinoa, barley, millet, rice…you get the picture. Keep things simply seasoned so that later in the week you can change up your flavors by simply adding herbs and spices.

Two-for One Poached Chicken Breast

Meal One: Poached Chicken Noodle Bowls
serves 4
Meal Two: Chicken Enchiladas
serves 4

2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast
2 quarts chicken broth
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1. Place the chicken in a Dutch oven, sprinkle with salt and pepper, cover with broth to about an inch over the chicken (use water if necessary to make enough liquid to cover) and bring to a boil. Immediately turn the heat to low, skim any scum that has come to the surface, cover with a lid, and cook for 8-15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the chicken breasts. Remove the chicken and reserve the liquid.
2. Thinly slice half of the chicken breasts and use two forks to shred the other half. Chicken can be refrigerated at this point, or used in the recipes that follow. Save the broth, too!

Noodle Bowls
8 oz rice stick noodles, cooked and rinsed according to package directions
4 cups chicken poaching liquid
4-6 cups thinly sliced Bok Choy (kale also works here)
1 cup each thinly sliced celery and carrot
2 peeled, smashed garlic cloves
1 cup frozen peas
2 cups thinly sliced snow peas
sliced poached chicken
1 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
1 tbsp peeled, grated ginger
For topping:
hot sauce (we like gochujang or Sriracha, but any hot sauce you like will work)
thinly sliced scallions
chopped peanuts
thinly sliced celery

  1. Bring the broth to a boil and add the garlic, celery and carrot. Lower the heat to medium and simmer until the vegetables are starting to soften, 5-7 minutes. Add the Bok Choy, peas, and snow peas and cook just until the peas and snow peas are done–you want the snow peas a little crunchy–3-4 minutes. Turn off the heat and add the soy sauce, ginger, and sliced chicken.
  2. Place 1/4 of the noodles in the bottom of each of four bowls. Use tongs to transfer 1/4 of the chicken and vegetables to each bowl, and ladle 1/4 of the broth over each bowl. Top as desired.

Basic Enchiladas

shredded chicken
remaining poaching liquid from the chicken (add water, if necessary)
12 corn tortillas, warmed according to package directions and wrapped in paper towels or a dish towel to keep the heat in
1 15 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
5 oz bag baby spinach
1 can enchilada sauce (or make your own–this is a great recipe: http://www.gimmesomeoven.com/red-enchilada-sauce/)
2 cups shredded cheddar or Mexican Blend cheese
4 chopped scallions, plus more for using fresh if desired
Optional: 1 cup sauteed bell peppers, garlic, and onions

Prepare a 13 x 9 baking dish by spraying with cooking spray, and preheat the oven to 350.

1. Warm the poaching liquid over medium heat to a simmer and add the chicken, beans, and spinach. Stir to wilt the spinach and remove from the heat.
2. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken mixture to a bowl. Add 1/4 cup poaching liquid, 1/4 cup enchilada sauce, 1/2 cup shredded cheese, and the sautéed vegetables, if using. Stir to combine.
3. Spoon 2-3 tablespoons of the chicken mixture* into each corn tortilla, roll up, and place seam-side down in prepared baking dish. Top enchiladas with remaining sauce, remaining cheese, and 4 chopped scallions. Cover pan with foil and bake for 25 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 5-10 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly and starting to turn lightly golden in spots. Remove from oven, sprinkle with additional scallions if desired, and let sit for 5-10 minutes before serving.

*Any extra filling can be served over rice for a quick lunch.

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