Rotisserie chicken can prove to be a versatile offering in plenty of meal options.

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Fast meals for those busy school nights

Published 6:15pm Saturday, September 8, 2012

School, homework, after-school activities, earlier bedtimes — the craziness has begun, and it can be exhausting.

As a mom and registered dietitian, my ideal night includes a family mealtime.  Why?  Because I read the research on how eating together five times a week or more can make a significant impact on your child’s behavior, academics and health.   And it’s a great time to reconnect as a family and make memories around the table.

Want an easy way to create a home-style meal in just a few minutes? Grab a rotisserie chicken.

It can be used in so many ways. Here are a few of my favorites:

•Chicken quesadillas — Just shred some rotisserie chicken; add it to a tortilla with barbecue sauce, jack cheese, diced green peppers and red onions.  It’s a winner.

•Greek chicken lettuce wraps — Seed and dice cucumbers and tomatoes, add them to shredded rotisserie chicken, mix in feta cheese and your favorite Greek vinaigrette. Scoop and fill butter leaf lettuce leaves.

•Asian chicken salad — Toss a bag of romaine lettuce with shredded rotisserie chicken, a can of drained mandarin oranges, slivered almonds, diced red peppers and seeded, diced cucumbers.  Drizzle Asian Toasted Sesame Dressing from Kraft over the salad and toss together.

•Southern barbecued chicken – Pull rotisserie chicken off bone and shred.  Over low heat, toss chicken with barbecue sauce in saucepan and heat.  Scoop onto whole grain bun; serve with baked beans and coleslaw.

•Barbecue zucchini pizza —Using a whole grain, pre-cooked pizza crust, top the crust with a sweet barbecue sauce, shredded rotisserie chicken, diced zucchini and Monterey jack cheese.  Bake for less than 10 minutes at 400 degrees.

There are so many other options including pasta primavera using reduced-fat Alfredo sauce and vegetables over whole grain pasta, chicken tacos, casseroles and pot pie.

Rotisserie chicken is a savory shortcut in the kitchen —  it’s already cooked for you. It’s moist and tender and can be made into two meals depending on your family size.

Want to spend less time in the kitchen preparing the meal and more time around the table?  Then get a piece of paper and write down 10 meal options (including those above) using rotisserie chicken.  This list will be a sanity-saver in the kitchen when you are planning your meals.

Just post it inside your kitchen cabinet so it’s at the ready for meal planning.

One last tip: Don’t throw out the carcass once you are done peeling away the chicken, because it’s perfect for boiling into broth.  Just freeze it in two-cup portions for an easy chicken noodle soup on a cold winter day.  Even more for your money.

Look for more ideas this month to get your family back to the table together.

Barbecue chicken pizza with ricotta and greeen peppers

Serves 8

All you need

•1 cup fat-free ricotta cheese

•1 (10 ounce) prepared 100% whole wheat pizza crust

•3⁄4 cup barbecue sauce

•1-1⁄2 cups cooked, shredded chicken breast

•1-1⁄2 cups Hy-Vee shredded 2% mozzarella cheese

•1⁄2 green pepper, seeded and chopped

•1 tsp pizza seasoning

 All you do

1. Spread ricotta over pizza crust. In a small bowl, combine barbeque sauce and chicken. Heat in microwave on high for one minute, or until heated through. Spread chicken mixture over ricotta. Top with shredded cheese and green pepper.  Sprinkle with pizza seasoning.

2. Place pizza on baking sheet and bake at 450 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted and golden brown.

Nutrition Facts per slice: 230 calories, 5g fat, 2.5g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 30mg cholesterol, 560mg sodium, 27g carbohydrates, 3g fiber, 9g sugar, 21g protein.

Daily Values: 10% vitamin A, 10% vitamin C, 25% calcium, 6% iron.

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