Weeknight Cooking

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Is there anyone else out there who loves to plan menus for parties and get-togethers but is frequently stumped by the weekly chore of making a nightly family meal plan? Hopefully the answer is yes, I’d hate to be alone in that category. But since I’ve done it a long time now, I do have a few tricks up my sleeve. The first one is grilled chicken night. The grill always implies that things are going to be a little more festive, even if it’s chicken. And I have a marinade that – at least my family thinks -- is absolute perfection. For grilled chicken night I always marinate the chicken and double the marinade recipe to use for vegetables. A big salad and something like rice or quinoa or couscous rounds out the dinner and everyone seems happy. Changing up the veggies and salad keeps it from being boring. The big secret here isn’t the grilled chicken – it’s the LEFTOVER grilled chicken. Of course, it’s great for a quick lunch or to toss in a salad, but if you grill enough chicken and hide it in the back of the fridge – you have the makings of another easy weeknight dinner. Probably a book could be written on leftover chicken (You’re Grown –  Now You Have Leftover Chicken) well maybe not, but there are lots of great things to do that are a bit more imaginative than a microwave minute. 

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One of our favorites is Grilled Chicken and Pepper Chili. Actually – it’s kind of half way between a chili and a soup, but with lots of onions, beans, peppers, and corn it satisfies on so many levels. A small “bar” of toppings like chips, cheese, jalapenos, limes, and sour cream makes this a fun weeknight dinner. A couple of minutes of chopping and a can opener makes this recipe a cinch for a busy day dinner. And – a small bonus – I think it’s pretty healthy, just don’t tell! There are so many more uses for leftover grilled chicken including fajitas, pasta, stir-fry, and more, but somehow my guys always come back to asking for Grilled Chicken and Pepper Chili. Dare I say – this chili makes a great leftover lunch?? Nothing wrong with being creative with leftovers in the kitchen! You’ll love both of these recipes. Enjoy!

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Best Easy Marinade

½ cup soy sauce

½ cup brown sugar

¼ cup sherry (substitute white wine)

2 Tbsp Hoisin sauce

Ginger (fresh, powdered, or like in the picture – in a tube) just a pinch

1 Tbsp hot chili oil (substitute a little hot sauce)

I clove garlic – smashed

Optional: juice of half a lime

Put it all in a large ziplock bag and marinate chicken (or veggies, fish, beef, or pork) for 1 to 3 hours. Grill or broil. Save leftovers!

Grilled Chicken and Pepper Chili


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1 Tbsp olive oil

1 onion, chopped

½ tsp salt

1 red pepper, chopped,

1 poblano pepper, chopped

1 clove garlic, chopped

1 Tbsp chili powder

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp dried oregano

1 can diced tomatoes

3 cups chicken broth

1 can black beans

1 cup frozen corn

2 cups (give or take) leftover grilled chicken, cut in bite size pieces

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Optional garnishes: sour cream, lime, jalapeno peppers, cheese, cilantro, corn chips – anything you like with chili


Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven or pot over medium high heat.

Add onion and salt and saute for a minute or two to soften.

Add peppers and garlic and saute, for about 5 minutes until soft.

Stir in chili powder, cumin, and oregano.

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Add tomatoes, chicken broth, beans, corn and chicken.

Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, taste for salt.

Serve with desired garnishes.

© Deer One Publishing 2019