Freezer Italian Chicken Marinade

Whenever there’s a warm day, I’m thinking GRILL. Okay, I think  of other things besides cooking,  like picnics, bike rides, camping and swimming. Have you ever bought the marinated chicken in the grocery store? Guess what? You can make your own for a fraction of the cost if you buy your chicken on sale and choose your favorite homemade marinade.

I love a tender piece of chicken grilled to perfection, especially if the flavor is infused throughout. I like to marinate fresh chicken first, and freeze it. When I place it in my thawing box the night before I plan to grill, it has time to slowly thaw in the herbs and spices and gives it a terrific flavor. Plus, it’s so easy to have the chicken marinating while  it’s thawing.

I use this marinade often because it uses easy pantry staples. I mix all the ingredients in a glass measuring cup and divide into two-quart size bags. I slip 4 to 5 chicken breasts inside each labeled bag, gently squeezing excess air out and  freeze flat. You can see freezer prep photos at my chicken fajita marinade post.

Italian Chicken Marinade

Yield: Marinade for 8-10 breasts

6 Tablespoons canola oil

2 Tablespoons lemon juice

2 Tablespoons Italian seasoning

2 tsp. garlic salt

1/2  ground black pepper

8-10 boneless , skinless chicken breasts ( I butterfly all the way through if they are extra-large)

Combine all the ingredients in a glass measuring bowl. Divide in half between two quart size freezer bags. Place 4-5 chicken breasts inside each bag. Freeze.

Thaw for 24 hours. Heat grill to medium high heat. Grill 6 to 8 minutes per side or until juices run clear. Don’t overcook, especially if you’re going to freeze. I cover my plate with aluminum foil to seal in the juices and allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Thaw and grill several bags and make convenience chicken. Follow this post to see how I slice and dice cooled chicken for the freezer for future meals.

Serving Suggestions:

  • Try grilled convenience chicken on homemade naan topped with a Greek salad or wrapped in a whole wheat pita with Greek dressing.
  • Lay sliced chicken  on a salad bed with feta cheese, black olives, peperoncini.
  • Serve with freezer twice baked potatoes.
  • Dice it and make a homemade chicken braid with broccoli, mozzarella and grated lemon rind using freezer brioche dough.
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Chicken Braid from homemade brioche dough

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I’ve discovered the easiest crescent dough ever. It’s made in a plastic shoe box and you don’t even have to knead it. The dough is called brioche and it has all the endless possibilities as regular crescent dough AND it’s freezer friendly. Imagine having this dough available in your fridge at all time, just like Pillsbury crescents. It has a 5 day shelf life unless frozen. I tested the freezer method using 2-1 pound packages. I thawed them the night before I was planning this recipe, chicken braid. It works just like the store-bought seamless crescent roll package.

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I grabbed my bag of convenience chicken and brioche dough from the thawing box in the fridge. I dusted my baking stone and the dough with flour and proceeded to roll it into a flat rectangle. It’s a bit stickier than store-bought, so don’t be afraid to add the flour. Roll with a rolling pin-it’s like play-dough. Have fun.

My filling consisted of  1 1/2 cups of cooked diced chicken, 1 tsp. Italian seasoning, 1 cup of cheddar cheese and a small handful of fresh chopped spinach. Broccoli works too, I’ve made it this way. I also added finely diced bell pepper, but the possibilities are endless. Think hot pocket fillings. Or go fancy and use a Pampered Chef recipe (I’ve used the one with the lemon rind and minced garlic before). Notice one side has the spinach and one side doesn’t. My kids oppose spinach so I made theirs with chicken and cheese and added the veggies to the other half in the bowl. The filling goes right down the middle and I cut strips on both sides with a pizza wheel.

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Next, I alternate the strips, just like I do for stromboli. They crisscross one strip at a time. No worries, if you come up odd on one end.

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Bake at 375 for 30-35 minutes, depending how much filling you have inside. You want it to be a golden brown and the filling to be nice and hot. Frozen veggies take longer to warm up.

Printable Brioche recipe. You’re on your own for the filling or use my idea above.

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Extra slices can be cooled and plastic wrapped, frozen for future lunches or quick individual dinners. What you don’t have any extra slices? We didn’t because I didn’t make two braids, but next time, I am definitely doing this. I did double bubble and reheat our twice baked potatoes from the freezer while the braid baked-recipe coming soon.

Enjoy a night off if you’ve baked an extra one of these delicious braids. Thaw 24 hours in the fridge and reheat in foil for 20-30 minutes. Enjoy with a bagged salad or deliver this unique meal to someone. Do you have some filling ideas for a chicken braid? We’d love to hear them.

Covenience Chicken plus Broth

 

Have you ever bought pre-cooked chicken strips to help prepare your meal quicker? When I worked full-time and part-time, I’ve bought these handy bags of chicken. Did you know you can make your own much cheaper and healthier in less than an hour?

Here’s how. You purchase a family pack of boneless chicken breasts on sale, $2 or less per pound is a good price. Bring 5-6 chicken breasts, 2 quarts of water, an onion quartered, 2 celery stalks, 2 carrots (no need to peel), 2 garlic cloves, salt and pepper and a bay leaf if you have one, to a boil. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes.

I check one of the breasts by cutting in open to see if the meat is white and the juices run clear. You don’t want to overcook it.

Slice  with a sharp chef knife in crosswise strips. Use a fork to hold the meat while you slice.

Shred  using two forks, one holding the meat while the other tears it a part.

Dice  by slicing strips and cutting the strip in half lengthwise. Proceed to dice the both strips at the same time.

Use a measuring spoon and dip into your broth and pour about a tablespoon or two on top of the meat after it’s cut, to keep it moist. Store in labeled and dated quart size freezer bags. I bag approximately 1 cup portions because they thaw quicker and I can always grab two if I need more. These don’t necessarily have to thaw for 24 hours. You can use these on the whim.

I use a shallow basket to hold bags that do not lay flat.

Another alternative to writing diced, sliced or shredded chicken is to designate what your chicken will be used for if you are a real planner. For example, I know I’m planning to make chicken and spinach enchiladas with one bag of the shredded chicken, I could indicate it on the bag so I don’t forget.

Strain your broth like I do when I make sticky chicken and proceed to bag the broth. See the photos here. You can also freeze broth in ice cube trays. Remove broth cubes when frozen and put them in a labeled quart size bag. 2 cubes equals 1/4 cup or 8 cubes is equivalent to 1 cup. You may want to write this on your bag for quick measuring when you add to recipes. It’s very handy.

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Printable recipe for Boiled Chicken Breasts plus broth. Enjoy your quick chicken meals throughout the month. I often make chicken tacos, enchiladas, quesadillas and pizza with my convenience chicken. What kind of chicken entrees/meals would you use your chicken for?

Homemade Chicken Stock

Have you made the faux rotisserie chicken yet?  If you did, you can continue with this easy recipe to make your own stock. I also do this same recipe when I’m boiling 6 chicken breasts, but I add 2 tsp. salt and 3/4 tsp pepper and a bay leaf–if I have one. Once you’ve eaten your chicken once, reserve the extra dark/white meat for another use. How about chicken noodle soup with the broth you will make today?

Or save a handful for chicken flatbread pizza, chicken salad sandwiches or potpie (depending how much you have leftover).  This freezes well in a ziploc bag until you are ready to use.

Now on with the broth. Cut up a two carrots, three celery stalks and quarter an onion. You don’t have to peel the carrots or cut the veges finely. You want them to be in bigger chunks unless you are going to use them in soup like I did. You can also puree the veges for deceptive cooking when they are done. Cool and freeze the mixture in a ziploc bag.—00ps off on a tangent.

I also add two smashed garlic cloves. I do it by using my chef knife and pressing the blade away from me and applying pressure to the entire clove, skin and all. The skin will easily slip off and the aromatic juices will flow from the cloves. Put this in your broth too.

Fill your entire stockpot or crockpot with water and use the bones (which I don’t do), skin (which I do) and some darker meat to give the broth full flavor. I don’t use the bones because I fear choking issues with my children. But Laura does use her entire carcass (nasty word) and boils away. She blends everything in the blender to make a rich, heartier broth.

I find my broth to be hearty without the worry of bones in my chicken noodle soup or having to pull out the blender. I cook the broth in my crockpot for 8 hours on low or 4-6 hours on medium low in a stockpot on the stove.

Once the broth smell has filled your entire home, making you think you’ve made another chicken, it’s ready. Allow it cool for a while with the lid removed. You want it to be room temperature before you freeze. It’s okay to refrigerate and then do this the next day.

Remove the veges by draining in another pot (use your crockpot or stockpot vice versa) over a colander. I use this silicone one that sets inside my pot.

I’m able to reserve these veges for soup or another use.

Then I strain the broth into a pitcher using my smaller colander and an unbleached coffee filter to catch more debris. You may have to use a bowl if your strainer isn’t small enough. I like using a pitcher because I can pour it directly into my ziploc bags. If you don’t care for the debris floating around, run it through a piece of cheese cloth at this point. It will strain everything out better.

I set the dated and labeled ziploc bag into a measuring cup for stability and then I pour the broth in (about 2 cups) or do the amount you usually use in recipes 14 oz can or 28 oz carton.

I carefully set the bag on the counter and allow the broth to come to the top and seal it well. It is ready for the freezer. Make sure it lays flat and it will stack well too. Add this to your freezer inventory.

 

Have you ever tried making your own stock? It’s much richer and tastier than store-bought broth.

Italian Sticky Chicken

Have you ever heard of faux rotisserie chicken? No? Neither have I. I just made that term up. You can make this easy rotisserie chicken without having a grill, rostisserie or convection oven. It’s perfect for the winter and you can freeze the leftovers for another meal. Let’s get started.

Here’s the unique part. You begin by rolling up 4-5 balls of foil and place them in the bottom of your crock pot. This is going to raise your chicken and keep it from sitting in it’s own fat and ultimately give you a rotisserie chicken.

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I remove the giblet package and rinse my chicken in cold water, including the cavity. My secret is to loosen the skin on top of the breast with my fingers, being careful not to tear it. This is where I’m going place 2 cloves of minced garlic-between the skin and the meat. I shake off excess water and lay the chicken, breast side up on top of the foil. I generously pour olive oil on top of the chicken and season with kosher salt, freshly ground pepper and Italian Seasoning. Then I cover and set the timer on high 4-6 hours. I would make a note of your cooking time on your printed recipe if it tends to be on the drier side. My crock pot gets extremely hot quickly so I’m going to adjust my timer next time and/or use a thermometer to test for doneness.

We served our chicken with mashed sweet potatoes and Artisan bread (bake these together to save time and money) and green beans.

Printable recipe Crockpot Rotisserie Chicken

I’m using the leftover chicken for chicken flatbread pizza. I’m going to show you how to make homemade chicken broth with the leftover skin and a few veggies in a future post.

Let us know if you make this recipe and try varying your seasonings. Others would love to hear your ideas.

This recipe is linked to Crockpot recipes

Try Asian Chicken Skewers from the Freezer

I had Asian chicken strips thawing in the fridge (click here for the marinade recipe) and I was able to make these terrific skewers indoors.

A while back I marinated the long strips and I was able to thread the chicken onto skewers and grill them on our panani sandwich grill (you could use a Foreman grill if you have one or broil them in the oven). Just make sure to soak your wooden skewers in water for thirty minutes prior to threading and broiling in oven.

I simply threaded the chicken onto wooden skewers and placed them straight on the grill. Be careful not to grill too long or they will be dry (the griddles get very hot).

I also had sesame noodles I had prepared once for another Asian meal. These were frozen also, but they were now thawed along with the chicken because I had a meal plan, which allows me to glance at the menu 24 hours in advance and thaw items to be used.

The meal consisted of Asian chicken skewers on a bed of sesame noodles, stir-fried cabbage, peppers and onions (I make this side dish like I do my zucchini and onions) and fresh pineapple on the side. The entire meal took less than thirty minutes (more like twenty) to serve hot on the table.

I hope you are able to see why freezer cooking is such a time saver. Join me in a class and learn these ideas hands-on and prepare items to take home.

Asian Chicken Skewers and Flank Steak

 Asian Honey Sesame Chicken Marinade

Ingredients:

2 ½ pounds chicken pieces

½  c. soy sauce

2 T. canola or vegetable oil

2 T. sesame oil

3 T. honey

Kitchen Tip: spray measuring spoon with cooking spray and honey will easily slide out

1 T. sesame seeds

2 garlic cloves, minced

¼  tsp. ginger

I use this delcious marinarde for stir-fry chicken, but I envisioned something a little different. I’m making chicken skewers with half the marinade and Asian steak with the other half.

I ran by Earthfare and grabbed a $5 flank steak and got a pound of chicken for free using this week’s coupon. First, I prepared my chicken by butterflying the breasts. I cut the breast into 4 cutlets and then made them into long strips so they would thread on a skewer. Then I prepared my freezer bags by labeling and dating them. I slide the chicken right into the marinade and lay the bag flat to seal being careful to squeeze out the air and not the liquid.

The flank steak was even easier to prep. I used a fork to pierce the meat to allow the marinade to infuse it better. This  will slide into the other prepared bag and follow the same sealing proces.

Both bags will lay flat in my freezer and the items are written on my freezer inventory sheet (stuck on my fridge with a magnetic). When I decide to make them I will thaw them in my plastic shoe box in my fridge for 24 hours (while the marinade flavors the chicken or beef)

 

My plan is to make the chicken skewers with peppers and onions and brown rice. I’m going to grill or broil the steak for an Asian Steak Salad. Both of these menu ideas along with photos will be posted at a later date.

Have you ever marinated meat ahead and frozen it? It’s so easy and a time-saver for later.

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