Spicing up the kitchen can keep us warm from the inside

When the weather outside has us chilled to the bone, bringing some spice to the kitchen can warm us up from the inside.

Spicy foods are stimulants, they increase circulation, which in turn, raises your internal body temperature.

I am sharing a few of my favourite spiced recipes with ingredients that can be used interchangeably depending on how you feel.

Start with planning your protein choice, which often takes the most planning.

Seasoned slow cooker whole chicken

On busy days, I often pick up a store-bought rotisserie chicken to save time.

Buying convenience foods like this are a great alternative to fast food. I think the roasting aroma in the store leads me to these chickens each time I go.

Here is a juicy at-home version. Once this part of the meal is complete, the rest falls into place.

Serve with rice or mashed potatoes, steamed vegetables or a salad.

If you have no time for side dishes, make hot chicken sandwiches — all you need is fresh buns or bread. Don’t forget the cranberries.

  • 5 lb. whole roasting chicken (neck and giblets removed) 2.3 kg
  • 1 tbsp. brown sugar 15 mL
  • 2 tsp. salt 10 mL
  • 1 tsp. pepper 5 mL
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder 2 mL
  • 1/2 tsp. onion powder 2 mL
  • 1 tbsp. paprika 15 mL

In a small bowl, mix together the brown sugar, salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and paprika.

Grease the inside of the slow cooker. Roll a piece of aluminum foil into a ring shape to fit into the bottom of the slow cooker as a cooking rack.

Place the chicken, breast side up, on top of the foil ring. Rub the spice mixture all over the chicken.

Cover and cook on high for three to four hours or until thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers at 165 F or higher.

Transfer the chicken to a sheet pan or baking dish and broil in the oven for four to five minutes or until chicken skin is brown and crispy. Serve. Serves four to six. Source: www.dinneratthezoo.com

Here are other menu ideas for chicken leftovers.

Easy chicken taco soup

This soup is so comforting on a cold day. Be creative with the toppings.

  • 2 tbsp. oil 30 mL
  • 3 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 c. finely chopped onions 250 mL
  • 1 pepper any colour, chopped
  • 3 chicken breasts or equivalent amount of chicken meat from thighs etc., cut into bite-sized pieces (you can also use leftover chicken pieces from a roast chicken )
  • 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes 796 mL
  • 1 1/2 c. chicken stock 375 mL
  • 1 c. corn, either kernel, frozen or creamed 250 mL
  • 1 c. canned black beans, drained and rinsed 250 mL
  • 3 tbsp. taco seasoning (equivalent to one small bag of the seasoning) 45 mL
  • 2 tbsp. flour or cornstarch 30 mL
  • salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add garlic, onions and peppers. Cook for three to four minutes.

Add chicken, crushed tomatoes, chicken stock, corn, black beans and taco seasoning. Bring everything to a boil and let the soup simmer for 15 minutes.

Mix together flour or cornstarch in 1/4 cup water till smooth and add it to the soup.

Mix well and cook for another two to three minutes while the soup thickens.

Serve hot topped with your favourite toppings, such as sour cream, crushed taco chips, fresh chopped parsley, chopped green onion and shredded cheese. Serves four. Source: spendwithpennies.com

Chicken quesadillas

If a slow cooker is not in the cards, try this quick skillet dish that uses up leftover roast chicken or beef. This dish is often requested at our house. Serve with soup or veggies and dip.

  • 4 large flour tortillas
  • 4 c. cooked chicken, diced 1 L
  • 1/8 tsp. seasoning salt .5 mL
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp. paprika 5 mL
  • dash cayenne pepper
  • 1 c. chopped onions 250 mL
  • 1 c. chopped peppers 250 mL
  • 2 c. shredded cheese of your choice 500 mL
  • 2 c. medium salsa 500 mL
  • sour cream

Season the cooked chicken with seasoning salt, cayenne pepper and paprika. Spread one cup (250 mL) of the chicken on half of each tortilla. Add onions, peppers and cheese over the chicken.

Fold the tortilla in half and place in a large heated skillet, press down gently until quite flat. Cook over medium heat for about four to five minutes on each side until lightly browned and cheese is melted. Gently flip about half way through the cooking. Cut into three wedges and serve with salsa and sour cream on the side for dipping.

Tex-Mex chicken salad

Our indoor winter air can leave us feeling parched due to furnace heating. Perhaps a meal salad would be a refreshing change to hydrate our bodies. This salad can be prepared ahead of time and dressed just before serving.

  • 2 to 3 c. diced roasted chicken 500 to 750 mL
  • 1 pepper, diced
  • 3 green onions chopped finely
  • 1 c. canned black beans, rinsed and drained 250 mL
  • 1 c. cooked corn (canned or fresh cooked and stripped) 250 mL
  • 8 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 large romaine heart, washed and chopped

Dressing:

  • 2 c. plain Greek yoghurt 500mL
  • 1 oz. pkg. dry ranchseasoning 28 g
  • 1 oz. pkg. dry taco seasoning 32 g
  • salt and pepper to your personal taste

In a large mixing bowl, toss the salad ingredients together. In a small bowl, stir all dressing ingredients together until smooth.

Dress the salad just before serving or serve on the side. Top with crushed tortilla chips and shredded cheese, if desired.

Now for some sweet dessert entrees.

At this time of year, the fruit that frequents our countertop is mainly apples and bananas. These fruits are great to eat fresh, but delicious in baked desserts. Also, warm puddings are a soothing way to end a meal. Enjoy.

Apple cinnamon tortillas

  • 8 apples, peeled, cored and cut into thin wedges
  • 1/4 c. butter 60 mL
  • 1/4 c. packed brown sugar 60 mL
  • 6 (8 inch) flour tortillas
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon 5 mL
  • 1/4 c. butter/margarine 60 mL
  • 1/2 c. white sugar 125 mL
  • 1/2 c. packed brown sugar 125 mL
  • 1/2 c. water 125 mL

Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C).

In 10-inch skillet, heat apples and butter over medium heat five to seven minutes or until apples are tender. Add brown sugar, and cook until melted.

Spoon fruit evenly onto all tortillas, sprinkle with cinnamon. Roll up tortillas and place seam side down on lightly greased 9 x 13 inch (22 x 33 cm) baking pan.

For the sauce, bring butter, sugars and water to a boil in a medium sauce pan. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring constantly for three minutes.

Drizzle sauce over tortillas, leaving most of the syrup for later; sprinkle with extra cinnamon.

Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes. Cool slightly before serving. Slice into pieces. Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and another drizzle of caramel sauce if desired. Use a spoon and knife to eat this dessert as the tortillas need to be cut, or get a little sticky and eat the pieces with your fingers.

Makes six large tortillas.

Creamy stovetop rice pudding

  • 1 1/2 c. cooked rice 375 mL
  • 2 c. milk, divided 500 mL
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon 5 mL
  • 1/4 tsp. salt 1 mL
  • 1/2 c. golden raisins 125 mL
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/4 c. sugar 60 mL
  • 1 tbsp. butter 15 mL
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract 2 mL

Combine cooked rice, 1 1/2 c. milk, cinnamon and salt in a saucepan over medium heat; cook and stir until thick and creamy, 15 to 20 minutes.

Stir in the remaining 1/2 c. milk, golden raisins, beaten egg, and white sugar into the rice mixture; stirring continually.

Cook until egg is set, two to three minutes. Remove saucepan from heat. Stir butter and vanilla extract into the pudding. Top with a dollop of whipped cream and another dash of cinnamon if desired. Serves four. Source: adapted from www.allrecipes.com

Frosted banana bar

A standby treat.

  • 1/2 c. butter or margarine, softened 125 mL
  • 2 c. sugar 500 mL
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 c. mashed ripe bananas (about 3 medium) 375 mL
  • 1 tsp. vanilla 5 mL
  • 2 c. flour 500 mL
  • 1 tsp. baking soda 5 mL
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon 5 mL
  • dash nutmeg
  • dash salt
  • 1/2 c. chopped pecans or walnuts 125 mL

Frosting:

  • 8 oz. block cream cheese, softened 250 g
  • 1/2 c. butter, softened 125 mL
  • 4 c. icing sugar 1 L
  • 2 tsp. vanilla 10 mL

Preheat the oven to 350 F (180 C).

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Beat in the eggs, bananas and vanilla.

In a separate bowl combine the flour, soda, spices and salt. Add to the creamed mixture until thoroughly combined. Stir in the nuts.

Put the batter into a greased 9 x 13 inch (22 X 33 cm) baking pan. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool.

Jodie Mirosovsky is a home economist from Rosetown, Sask., and a member of Team Resources. Contact: team@producer.com.

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