It's no surprise that kids love chicken—so you'll heart these three fresh and, most important, easy spinoffs.
This is one of those recipes that should get filed under “lifesavers”! Every week I buy a good-quality whole chicken and pop it into the slow cooker, and a few hours later I have the most juicy, succulent meat to eat on its own or add to a variety of other favorite recipes like mac, chicken, and cheese bites; chicken pesto pasta; or cheesy chicken taquitos, which are great for dunking in salsa or guacamole or whatever dip your kids like. Short on time? Just pick up a cooked rotisserie chicken instead!
CHICKEN PESTO PASTA Cook 1 lb rotini, small shells, campanelle, or other short pasta according to package directions; drain and add back to the pot. Mix in 1/2 cup prepared pesto, 2 cups chopped cooked chicken, 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese, 1 1/2 cups grated mozzarella cheese, and 1 tsp salt.
CHEESY CHICKEN TAQUITOS Preheat oven to 400°F. Combine 2 cups shredded cooked chicken, 1/4 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 tsp cumin, and 1 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend in a bowl. Soften 12 corn tortillas by microwaving two at a time between damp paper towels for 20 seconds. With one tortilla in front of you, place 2 Tbsp of the chicken mixture on the side closest to you and roll it up. Repeat with the rest of the tortillas and filling. Place taquitos seam-side down on a baking sheet, spray with cooking spray, and bake for 25 minutes or until crisp.
MAC, CHICKEN, AND CHEESE BITES Preheat oven to 400°F. Cook 1/2 lb elbow macaroni until al dente; drain and set aside. In a saucepan, melt 2 Tbsp butter, whisk in 2 Tbsp flour and 1/2 tsp salt, and cook for 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in 1 1/2 cups milk. Let simmer for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 1 cup shredded cheddar and 1/4 cup grated parmesan; stir until melted. Pour cheese sauce and 1 cup diced cooked chicken over the pasta; stir to combine. In a bowl, combine 1/4 cup grated parmesan and 1/4 cup bread crumbs. Pour 1/4 cup of the macaroni mixture into 20 greased mini-muffin cups, sprinkle the tops with the bread-crumb mixture, and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown.