Cooking with Kids – Bruschetta Chicken

This is part one of a two-part series and a paid partnership with Manitoba Chicken Producers. As always, all opinions are my own and I only promote products that I use and love.

Did you know that September is National Chicken Month? In our house, chicken is always a hit with the kids. While chicken drumsticks and chicken fingers are their favorites, they also enjoy shredded chicken in some of the recipes I make. I try to get them to branch out and try new ways to enjoy chicken.  Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Getting the kids involved in preparing recipes is a great way to expose them to new foods and to teach them about food safety.

I used this Bruschetta Chicken recipe from the new Now You’re Cooking with Manitoba Chicken Youth Education Booklet. It contains three recipes that are easy to prepare with kids, plus the graphics are pretty and there are a variety of chicken farming facts, lots of food safety tips, and cooking techniques, perfect for budding young chefs.

If you’re interested in receiving your own copy of this brand-new resource, contact Manitoba Chicken Producers at: consumerrelations@chicken.mb.ca 

Please provide your name and mailing address and they will be happy to send you one.

My seven-year old is the only one who wanted to help this time, and she happens to be my pickiest eater of the four kids, so I had my work cut-out for me. I knew that getting her to taste this recipe would be a challenge, so I tried a few strategies I thought might help ease her into it.

Tip #1 – Know your child’s food phobias

Before we started, I went over the recipe with her and had her read out the ingredients.  Right away, she said “I don’t like pepper!” I also know that she doesn’t like “green things” a.k.a fresh or dried herbs in her food. She didn’t say anything about the basil when she read the recipe, so I left it for the moment. 

Knowing which foods are going to raise red flags for your kids, can help you find a substitution or expose them to the food in a positive way.   

Ways we exposed these recipe ingredients while making this recipe:

  • Picking fresh basil and tomatoes from the garden
  • Feeling the basil, touching the leaves, tasting a fresh leaf
  • Cracking pepper over all the chicken breasts except one
  • Peeling garlic for the bruschetta mix

Positive interaction with new foods, could help kids build up the courage to try them. Even if they refuse to try them the first time, repeated positive exposure could help.

In my daughter’s case, she was having fun doing all the prep work and spending some one on one time with me so that overshadowed the fact that she thought the basil was “too spicy” when she tasted it. She put it aside and carried on with preparing the recipe.

I knew that even though she liked most of the ingredients for the Bruschetta Chicken, the major problem would be that all the components were touching.  Deconstructing is a great way to get around this because you’re still exposing them to every ingredient, without preparing another meal that you think they will prefer. 

Tip #2  – When in doubt, deconstruct

Before I got to chopping the tomatoes for the bruschetta mix, I sliced some and put them on a plate.  On the side, I added a small bowl of mozzarella and some fresh basil leaves and I left a space to add some cooked chicken.

Serving all the ingredients on one plate separately, allows kids to make independent food choices.  If it’s on the plate, you’ve approved it for their consumption, so now they get to choose if and how much they will eat.  

She ended up eating everything, except the basil. I will call that a win for today. I didn’t have to make a different meal and she ate what was available, simply presented in a different way. 

When I thanked her for helping and asked if she had fun she replied with “Next time can we just make chicken fingers instead?” So, guess what? Next month, that’s what we’re making in part two of this series, also from the Youth Education Booklet.

There are so many great recipes on manitobachicken.ca that you can try with your kids.  You can search them by the cut or by the preparation technique. There are also a few delicious deconstructions and reconstructions blog using fresh Manitoba chicken, like this Asian Grilled Chicken Salad and these Greek Chicken Wraps.

What is your family’s favorite way to enjoy Manitoba chicken? Comment below and let us know!

Slow Cooker Tortilla Soup

Slow Cooker Tortilla Soup is one of our favorites to freeze and take for school lunches. We like to add chicken to it, but you could definitely make a vegetarian version as well by omitting the chicken.

Getting started

There are a few meal prep strategies that you could do before you make this soup, that will help you stock your freezer for other meals as well. I like to use Slow Cooker Vegetable Broth in this recipe. It’s almost free to make and one batch will give you enough broth to make this tortilla soup, plus an extra three cups to use in another recipe.

Jump to Recipe

You can also get ahead by making a batch of shredded chicken. You will only need about two breasts for this soup, but if you cook and shred 8 chicken breasts, you will be able to freeze 6 more for future meals.

Time-saving tips

You can save time by preparing this recipe in a number of ways:

Prepare the tortilla soup the night before you need it

Assembling the soup in the crock pot, the night before you need it will allow you to simply turn on the slow cooker in the morning and let it cook all day while you’re at work.

If you don’t have the fridge space to store your crock pot over night, consider opening your cans, rinsing beans, chopping onions and garlic and measuring spices as you pre-prep, so you can just add them to the slow cooker in the morning.

Freeze extra portions of tortilla soup for lunches

This soup is a quick weeknight meal, but is also amazing as a hot lunch. You will get 8 2-cup portions from this recipe so it’s a great one to freeze for later.

Toppings and variations

As I mentioned previously, you could definitely make a vegetarian version by omitting the chicken and chicken bouillon concentrate. Adding toppings isn’t necessary but is a nice touch. Some toppings you could add are:

  • Diced avocado
  • Fresh cilantro
  • A squeeze of lime
  • Shredded cheese
  • Tortilla strips or chips

Slow Cooker Tortilla Soup

Course Main Course, Soup
Cuisine Mexican
Keyword make-ahead meals, slow cooker, slow-cooker meals, tortilla soup
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 8 hours
Servings 8

Ingredients

  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts Substitute with 2 cups cooked shredded chicken or omit for vegetarian
  • 1 can corn
  • 1 can black beans rinsed and drained
  • 1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 1 onion diced
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 3 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. coriander
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 6 cups Vegetable or Chicken Broth add 2 Tbsp. chicken bouillon concentrate if using vegetable broth, or omit for a vegetarian version.

Toppings

  • lime
  • avocado
  • shredded cheese
  • fresh cilantro
  • tortilla strips or chips

Instructions

  1. Add all ingredients to the slow cooker except toppings.

  2. Cook on low for 6-8 hours.

  3. If using whole chicken breasts, remove the chicken and shred it when cooked, then add it back to the soup.

Back-to School Meal Prep: Shredded Chicken

This post was written in a paid partnership with Manitoba Chicken Producers. As always, all opinions are my own and I only promote products and services that I use and love.

Back-to-School may look a little different this year, but what won’t change is the fact that we still need to eat dinner every night.

Prepping shredded chicken in a large batch and freezing it unseasoned is a quick and easy supper solution that can be transformed into a variety of meals.

Having some quick options for lunches and dinner can make the transition from summer vacation to back-to-school a little easier.

How to prepare shredded chicken

Fill your slow cooker with chicken thighs or breasts and let it cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 4-6 hours. When the chicken shreds easily with a fork, it’s ready. If you’re using boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs, add a small amount (1 cup or so) of vegetable or chicken broth to the crock pot for moist, tender chicken.

Food Safety Tip: Before you start shredding, use a meat thermometer to check for doneness. Cooked chicken pieces should be cooked to a reading of 165 degrees Farenheight.

You can even shred large quantities of boneless, skinless chicken in your stand-mixer with the paddle attachment if you’re pressed for time.

Bone-in or boneless?

Preferred cuts of chicken for this method are boneless, skinless breasts or thighs because they shred easily, whereas bone-in varieties require a little more effort when shredding. The advantage to using bone-in varieties is that you can save the bones to make soup stock. Simply add them to the ingredients of this Slow Cooker Vegetable Broth and you’ll have 9 cups of chicken broth ready to use in soups and other recipes.

How to portion and freeze it

I like to either portion by cup or by piece, for example 2 cups or 2 breasts. Freezing in smaller portions allows you to take out as many bags as you need for a recipe, rather than freezing the whole batch in one bag and having too much.

It’s important to label your bags with the amount, cut and date.

Food Safety Tip: Store cooked chicken in the fridge for 3-4 days or 2-3 months in the freezer. Head to manitobachicken.ca for other helpful storage tips.

Why cook it unseasoned?

Cooking the chicken unseasoned, allows you to use it in a variety of recipes, depending on the other ingredients you have on hand and your mood. You could substitute the grilled chicken in this Asian Grilled Chicken Salad – Three Ways with shredded chicken for lunch or dinner.

How to use the shredded chicken

Here are some delicious recipes from manitobachicken.ca that call for shredded chicken.

The Grilled Chicken Lime & Cheese Quesadillas are a quick weeknight meal with tons of flavor.
For the Char Sui Pulled Chicken, simply add the sauce ingredients to the shredded chicken and heat through. This would also work well as a lunch option the following day.
The Tropical Chicken Taquitos are a great addition to a supper snack board.

Take your meal prep one step further

If you have extra time to dedicate to your meal prep, prepare these recipes ahead of time. Then, freeze them so that you can simply heat and serve.

Food Safety Tip: Do not re-freeze cooked chicken that has already defrosted.

Freeze the quesadillas between two sheet pans to prevent the tortillas from curling. Store them in a freezer bag or large container.

For the taquitos, you can freeze them on a sheet pan first, then store them in a freezer bag or container.

For the Char Siu, combine the chicken with the sauce and store in a freezer bag. Reheat on the stovetop or in the slow cooker.

Don’t forget to write the date and the name of the recipe on the bag!

A few more ideas

A few more simple ideas that use shredded chicken are:

  • On a pizza (try BBQ sauce, chicken, red peppers, mushrooms and cheddar cheese)
  • In a quesedilla (try pesto, chicken, sundried tomatoes & mozzarella)
  • In a sandwich (try adding 1/2 pkg. dry ranch dressing mix to 4 cups shredded chicken, 1/2 cup buffalo sauce and 2 Tbsp. butter. Heat through and serve over toasted buns.)

How will you use your shredded chicken? Tag us on Instagram and show us your creations @toobusylivin204 @mbchicken