Chilaquiles in blue Zest Kitchen + Home fry pan
Spring Chicken: Easy Recipes for Everyone’s Favorite Protein

I know I’m not alone in my feelings towards chicken breasts. While they may be a crowd pleaser in my family, as in many families, the truth is I tire of coming up with ways to make them interesting. A few times a month I’ll pick up a package of boneless, skinless chicken breasts to make my kids happy, which then typically end up pounded thinly for chicken schnitzel, or marinated and skewered to be tossed on the grill. Both methods keep their otherwise easily dried out meat moist and juicy.

But recently, I’ve shunned them altogether in favor of picking up a whole rotisserie chicken. If we can get past digging into it while still steaming hot fresh from the grocery store, I find myriad uses for its soft, tender meat throughout the week.

And as an added bonus to buying the whole bird, it’s easy to use the carcass to make a homemade stock that’s more rich and flavorful than anything that comes in a box. It’s a no-recipe affair, tossing onion, carrots and celery in the pot and letting it gently simmer for an hour or two. I’ve written down instructions below, but once you get the hang of it you can do it on your own, adding other vegetables you may have on hand such as parsnips, fennel or mushrooms to further flavor the stock. Using it right away, adding the chicken meat back into the broth to simmer gently and become even more tender and delicious, is a beautiful thing. But, the stock also freezes well if you can’t get to it within a few days. 

Whether you go this route or simply use the deboned meat in one of these delicious meals, a rotisserie chicken can make weeknight chicken dishes exciting again. 


Chilaquiles is a traditional Mexican dish served for breakfast, and so it makes sense that it’s often topped with eggs. My dinner version uses shredded rotisserie chicken, and makes for a delicious and easy one-pot meal. I’ve streamlined the process, using tortilla chips instead of going through the bother of deep frying your own corn tortillas. Once the tortilla chips go into the sauce, make sure to serve them within a few minutes. They can become overly soggy if you wait too long, so best to have your toppings ready and your family gathered.
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Chicken & Red Pesto Panini

This is a speedy weeknight dinner made special with a homemade sun-dried tomato pesto. You will have some leftover pesto from the batch, which will keep for about a week in the refrigerator. It’s excellent over pasta as well on sandwiches. Serve these panini with a green salad or bowl of soup to round out the meal.
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Mediterranean Quinoa Bowl

This is a light, healthy grain bowl that you can whip up easily and feel good feeding to your loved ones. Quinoa forms the base, which is then topped with seasoned shredded chicken, fresh vegetables and feta cheese. A creamy tzatziki sauce brings it all together. You can either use store-bought tzatziki, or make a batch of your own. See the note at the bottom of the recipe if you’d like to make it yourself.
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Chicken Soup with Mushroom & Cheese Dumplings

I first tried Tyrolean dumplings, called Canederli, in the Italian Alps. Traditionally, they are made with a local cured meat which is similar to prosciutto, called speck, but I’ve substituted mushrooms as speck can be difficult to find stateside. Made from a base of day-old bread and eggs, they are flavorful and moist dumplings that you will adore.
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Basic But Flavorful Chicken Stock

The secret to making this chicken stock extra special is to use an already roasted chicken, which adds a deep and concentrated flavor to the finished product without any extra effort on your part. Save the meat to use in another recipe, and toss the bones in a pot with vegetables then cover with water and simmer. In about two hours you have something way better than you can find in a box.
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