Monday, December 21, 2009

Leftover Makeover for Cranberry Orange Chicken

The week before Christmas week is always the busiest week of the year for me. There's shopping to do, gifts to wrap, cookies to bake, friends to visit, family to see, mantles to decorate, trees to trim, on and on. All this is in addition to my normal life of schlepping kids wherever they need to go, overseeing homework, keeping the house tidy, taming the laundry beast, and cooking for my family. The secret to a successful Christmas is to plan and organize. Santa's not the only one who needs a list to get through the season. I need quite a few lists, actually.
I make a menu plan each week, but special attention was given to this particular week because I didn't want to spend much time preparing supper each night. So, this is the perfect week for Leftover Makeovers. First, I cooked a fun Cranberry Orange Chicken in the slow cooker. I made sure I had plenty chicken, rice and broccoli left over, so I could throw together the Chicken Fried Rice later in the week. I included butternut squash and broccoli in the dish because those veggies are in season now and, therefore, plentiful, fresh, and less expensive. But, you could use carrots, peas, green beans, or your family's favorite veggies as a substitute. Chicken Fried Rice is a recipe that I never make from "scratch" on the night I serve it. In other words, it is always made with leftovers. The trick is that I plan to have the leftovers.
This recipe calls for 2 cups of cooked diced chicken. That chicken could come from a roast, a rotisserie deli chicken, grilled chicken breasts, or baked chicken parts. As long as you have 2 cups, you'll be fine. In fact, if you'd prefer to decrease or omit the meat altogether, you can. Just increase the substantial veggies. You want approximately 6 cups of rice, veggies, and/or meat (all combined) to create the right consistency for fried rice.
Try this Leftover Makeover by cooking your rice, broccoli, butternut squash, and chicken early in the week for other meals, then toss together the leftovers for this easy and filling one-dish meal.

Chicken Fried Rice

2 T peanut oil
1 c. butternut squash, diced
1/2 c. red pepper, diced
1/4 c. onion, chopped
1 c. broccoli, steamed & chopped
2 c. cooked, diced chicken
2 c. cooked, cold rice
1 egg, beaten
3 T soy sauce
1 T sesame oil
1/4 t. salt
black pepper to taste
chopped green onion, optional
toasted sesame seeds, optional

Heat peanut oil in wok (or large skillet) over medium heat. Saute butternut squash, red pepper, and onion until squash is nearly tender. Reduce to medium and add broccoli and chicken, heating through. Stir in rice. Make a well in rice mixture, add egg and scramble. Stir scrambled egg into rice mixture. Add soy sauce and sesame oil, stirring well. Add salt and pepper to taste. Top with chopped green onion and toasted sesame seeds, if desired.

*note* You can use a variety of cooked meats in this recipe, if desired. Slivered ham, sliced cooked beef, cooked shrimp, sliced cooked pork all work well as a substitution for the chicken. Or create a veggie meal by substituting the meat for chopped cooked cabbage.

Cranberry Orange Chicken

2 1/2 to 3 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs and/or breasts
8 oz. whole cranberry sauce
2/3 c. Orange marmalade
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 envelope dry onion soup mix
1/4 c. flour

Mix cranberry sauce and remaining ingredients. Pour sauce evenly over chicken in slow cooker. Don’t stir. Cover and cook on low for 3 to 5 hours, or until chicken is cooked through. Serve chicken with steamed broccoli and rice topped with the sauce.

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