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Quarantine Cooking: Recipes from the Stockpile

Pantry suddenly full with food you've never had before? You're not alone.

In the pre-lockdown frenzy to stock up before the supermarkets sold out, shoppers loaded up on items like dried beans, canned meat and fish, prepared sauces and pasta. Lots and lots of pasta. For the most part though, people filled their carts with stuff they’ve never cooked, or even eaten, before, because of long shelf life and coronavirus stress shopping.

And since most of your quarantine snacks are likely gone (no judgement), it’s time head into the unknown and get cooking. 

The first item on the agenda is canned chicken. Similar to tuna (which we will tackle in a future recipe post), canned chicken can come in a few different forms. Chunk light meat, chunk dark meat and chicken breast are the most common forms. And more likely than not, the chicken is stored in water.  Canned chicken has a long shelf life and is often sold in bulk or extra large size cans in stores like Costo or BJs. Costo even sells their own Kirkland Signature brand of canned chicken.

It’s pretty easy to just open up a can and spread it over a salad, toss in some dressing and call it lunch. But canned chicken can do a whole lot more than that. For example, mix it with mayo and spices for a quick chicken salad sandwich. Throw some into eggs for an extra-protein packed omelette or quiche. You can even mix in some hot sauce and DIY some buffalo chicken. A real favorite with the kids, though, is chicken quesadillas. I like to create a quesadilla bar, much like a taco bar, for them to stuff tortillas with. Kids love to feel in control of how and what they are cooking, so this recipe lets them be in charge. With protein-packed chicken, Vitamin D enriched cheeses, fiber and vitamins in the veggies - its a winning recipe for the whole family.

The canned chicken works particularly well because it can be seasoned to create different flavored quesadillas. Mix some with barbecue sauce for a Tex-Mex quesadilla stuffed with corn, black beans and peppers, toss with ginger scallion dressing and pair with steamed black mushrooms and bok choy for Asian inspired quesadillas, or go Italian with mozzarella, tomato sauce and basil.  No matter what you’ve got in the pantry, canned chicken will make it look good. 

Traditional Chicken Quesadillas

  • 1 can (4.5 ounces) White Chunk Chicken Breast in Water, drained

  • ½ cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese

  • 2 tablespoons chopped green chiles (canned ones work great if you stockpiled those, also)

  • ⅛ teaspoon chili powder

  • 4 (8-inch) flour tortilla, warmed

  • ½ cup salsa

  • ¼ cup sour cream (optional)

In a bowl, mix the chicken, chiles and chili powder well. Cover one half side of your tortilla with shredded cheese. Top the cheese with the chicken mixture. Fold the tortilla in half.

Melt butter (or use cooking spray) in a nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Once butter is melted, place tortilla in the pan until golden brown and cheese is melty. Flip tortilla over and continue cooking until golden brown and cheese is completed melted.

Remove from pan and slice tortilla into triangles with a pizza cutter. Serve immediately with sour cream on the side.

Italian version:

Mix chicken with marinara sauce and shredded basil. Use mozzarella cheese instead of Monterey Jack.

Asian-inspired :

Mix chicken with ¾ teaspoons of Chinese 5-spice powder, ½ teaspoon salt and pepper and 5-8 teaspoons hoisin sauce. Slice veggies of choice into thin strips or half circles (zucchini, bell peppers and onions work great). Top tortilla with a small amount of mozzarella cheese, add chicken mix, add veggies, close and cook. 

Buffalo Chicken Quesadillas:

Toss chicken with spicy buffalo sauce, ranch or blue cheese dressing, cheddar cheese cheese, salt & pepper, and cilantro. Add to tortilla, fold and cook. 


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