When chicken is the star of the dinner show, many busy moms grab the boneless, skinless chicken breasts, as they typically cook more quickly and are a healthy choice. If your culinary proclivities lean toward taste or if your budget dictates a less-expensive cut, then you already know that bone-in chicken breasts prepared with the skin intact are full of flavor, and they save vital pennies.
The slow cooker is a good vessel for cooking bone-in chicken breasts because the food is prepped in the morning and left to simmer on its own while you work, chase kids or tackle your endless to-do list. When serving kids, remember that taste and texture are key to getting them to try new things, so mix together a very simple sauce using dry salad dressing and seasoning mix and pour it over the chicken breasts in a slow cooker and let the flavors meld. The aroma of the chicken will tempt the kids as they walk through the door.
Take inexpensive chicken breasts to the level of a four-star restaurant. Make a simple French sauce by combining cream and a packet of dry dressing and seasoning mix along with tarragon and other basic pantry herbs. Pour it over chicken nestled on a layer of potatoes, carrots and onions. The chicken and vegetables are baked together, and in the hour they're cooking, you'll have time to take a relaxing, hot soak. As an alternative, pull out your slow cooker and create a tasty one-pot meal that cooks while you're away. Before your guests arrive, simply plate the meal and hide the pot in the dishwasher. Serve the dish with a basic green salad and a creamy salad dressing.
Basted with your favorite barbecue sauce, grilled chicken breasts are melt-in-your-mouth good. And they're fun to eat since they can be finger food. If the slow cooker has you spoiled with its one-pot convenience, use your grill in the same way. Roll fresh, shucked corn ears in ranch dressing mix and grill them along with your favorite veggies. Lightly dust thick baguette slices with some of the ranch mix and place them on the grill to toast just before mealtime.
Bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts are a fantastic base for chicken stock or chicken soup, if you don't have a whole chicken to use. On the weekend, or when you have a couple of hours, cook the bone-in chicken breasts in water in a large stock pot and add your favorite vegetables. A packet of salad dressing and dip mix adds balanced herbs and seasonings to the broth. Once it's finished cooking, strain off the vegetables to reserve the liquid for stock, or shred the chicken and add the meat back to the stock with some pasta to make homemade chicken noodle soup.
Whether you bake, grill, slow cook or boil chicken breasts, consider making extra for later. Remove the skin, debone and either cube or shred the meat. Portion the cooked chicken into serving sizes in a freezer bag for later use. Pull out and defrost the chicken whenever you want to make chicken salad, chicken pot pie, soup or casseroles. A dash of dry ranch dressing mix easily perks up the flavor of these dishes.