May 6, 2013

Lately I've been trying a few new recipes lower in fat and calories. At lunchtime, my colleagues and I often share healthy recipes we've found and cooked for our families.

I have tried several recipes using ground turkey and have had fairly good luck. However, ground turkey can be a bit tough, and it can be strong tasting and smelling in some dishes.

Not too long ago, I was scanning the meat case at my neighborhood grocery store and I spotted ground chicken near the chicken breasts. I bought a pound of it and brought it home, not at all sure what I was going to do with it.

As I began to look online for recipes using ground chicken, I found a ton of options. The first recipe I tried was Buffalo Chicken Sliders. I had no idea what to expect as I was assembling and cooking the burgers. I was even a bit nervous. As it turns out, I was extremely satisfied with the taste and texture. The burgers were flavorful and very tender.

Ground chicken is now part of my cooking, and I'm looking to add even more recipes to my collection.

Buffalo Chicken Sliders

For me, these burgers slid right into home plate. I made them for a weeknight dinner and I couldn't have been happier with the results. I served them on bakery fresh buns and topped them with thinly sliced red onions, bleu cheese crumbles and an extra drizzle of hot wing sauce. One word for these burgers - yummo and I couldn't wait for the leftovers.

1 lb ground chicken

1 cup dry bread crumbs (I used plain Panko)

1 egg

1/4 cup hot wing sauce (I used Frank's)

1/4 cup warm water

12 slider-size burger buns

Mix ground chicken, bread crumbs, egg, and wing sauce together in a large bowl. Add enough water to the chicken mixture so it is a little sticky; shape into 12 sliders or 4 burgers.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook patties in hot skillet until burgers are hot and no longer pink in the middle, about 4 minutes per side. Serve on buns.

Note: Sliders/burgers can be grilled, but the meat is very soft, so it would be best to use a flat grilling pan with holes or a grilling basket with a handle that can be flipped over to grill both sides of the sliders/burgers.

Italian Sweet Chicken

Sausage Patties with Peppers and Onions on Garlic

Buttered Rolls

This is one of the first recipes I saw prepared using ground chicken. I was intrigued by the way Rachael Ray turned ordinary ground chicken into sausage using a few special ingredients.

1½ lbs ground chicken

1 tablespoon grill seasoning

1 teaspoon fennel seeds

4 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 cup tender sun-dried tomatoes

10-12 fresh basil leaves

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus some to drizzle

2 cubanelle peppers (long, light green peppers), seeded and sliced

1 medium onion, thinly sliced

salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 crusty kaiser rolls, split

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

4 deli-cut slices Provolone cheese

Preheat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Place the chicken in a medium bowl with the grill seasoning, fennel seeds, and half of the garlic. Pile the sun-dried tomatoes on top of each other in small stacks, then slice into thin strips. Coarsely chop them and add to the bowl. Stack the basil leaves together, then roll them up into a log. Shred the basil by thinly slicing the log. Add the basil to the bowl. Drizzle EVOO over the bowl. Mix the ingredients together and form 4 patties, 3/4 inch thick. Cook 5-6 minutes on each side in the preheated skillet.

Heat a second skillet over medium-high heat and preheat the broiler, placing the top rack at least 6 inches from the heat. To the hot skillet, add the EVOO, then the peppers and onions. Season the mixture with salt and pepper. Cook until just tender, about 6-7 minutes.

Toast the rolls on a broiler pan under the hot broiler. Place the remaining garlic and the butter in a small dish and microwave 15 seconds on high to melt the butter. Brush the toasted roll tops with garlic butter and reserve. Leave the bun bottoms on the broiler pan.

Place the patties on the bun bottoms, then top with peppers and onions and sliced Provolone cheese. Place the chicken sandwiches under the broiler again for 30 seconds to 1 minute to melt the cheese. Set the buttered tops in place and serve.

Cranberry Meatloaf

This recipe for meatloaf with a twist comes from the "Wal-Mart Family Cookbook," copyright 2008. The glaze is sticky and sweet and adds just the right touch to a typically boring dinner.

1 can (16 oz) whole cranberry sauce

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 lb ground chicken

1½ cups soft bread crumbs

1 medium onion, chopped

½ medium green bell pepper, chopped

1/3 cup milk

¼ cup egg product or 1 egg

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon each parsley flakes and thyme leaves

1/8 teaspoon oregano leaves

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a small bowl stir together cranberry sauce and brown sugar. Set aside.

In large bowl combine ground chicken, bread crumbs, onion, bell pepper, milk, egg product/egg, salt, parsley, thyme and oregano. On large shallow baking pan, shape meat mixture into 8x4x2-inch loaf or bake in a loaf pan. Be sure to lightly grease pans first. Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Spread ¼ cup of reserved cranberry sauce mixture on top of loaf. Bake 20 to 30 minutes more.

In small saucepan heat remaining cranberry sauce mixture over low heat until heated through. Serve alongside meatloaf.

Cheesy Chicken Meatballs

Change up spaghetti night with spaghetti and cheesy chicken meatballs. The meatballs baked, not fried and are made even more tender and flavorful with the addition of a secret ingredient - garlic cream cheese. They can even be served as an appetizer with toothpicks and warm marinara sauce on the side.

1 lb ground chicken

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1/4 cup roasted garlic light cream cheese

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 tablespoon dry bread crumbs

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1 tablespoon Italian seasoning

1 tablespoon garlic powder

1½ tablespoons vegetable oil

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil, and spray with cooking spray.

Combine the chicken, eggs, cream cheese, Parmesan cheese, bread crumbs, red pepper flakes, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, vegetable oil, salt, and pepper in a large bowl; mix well. Form mixture into 20 meatballs; place on prepared pan.

Bake in center of preheated oven until juices run clear, 17 to 18 minutes. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center should read at least 165 degrees.