PHOTO: iStock
(CNN) —  

With much of the country avoiding daily trips to the market, more and more of us are getting creative in the kitchen and finding new ways to stretch meals — and value.

One of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to make a lot of meals out of one thing? A roast turkey or chicken can easily be turned into two or three meals, whether you roast it yourself or get a rotisserie bird at your local market. But with the warm weather of summer blazing, everyone is probably a little burned out on pot pies and roasts. So read on for some creative ways to use up the bird with new summer-inspired flavors you’ll love from the Tucson, Arizona-based author of “Taste of Tucson,” Jackie Alpers.

Quick & Easy Chicken Tortilla Soup

Quick and easy Tortilla Soup. Recipe and food photography from the "Taste of Tucson" cookbook by Jackie Alpers
Quick and easy Tortilla Soup. Recipe and food photography from the "Taste of Tucson" cookbook by Jackie Alpers
PHOTO: Jackie Alpers/Jackie Alpers

“The Sonoran version of tortilla soup features crushed tortilla chips and melted cheese anchored in a clear broth that is seasoned with garlic, green chiles and Mexican oregano,” says Alpers. “I use shredded roasted or rotisserie chicken so that it’s ready in about 30 minutes. If you can’t find RO-TEL in your neck of the woods, you can substitute it with 1 cup diced tomatoes and 1/4 cup canned diced green chiles.”

This recipe makes 4 to 6 servings.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 medium white onion, diced (about 1 cup)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 (10-ounce) can RO-TEL tomatoes and chiles, hot or mild variety
  • 3 cups shredded roasted or rotisserie chicken, skin removed
  • 4 cups chicken broth or stock
  • 1 tablespoon dried Mexican oregano
  • 1 teaspoon Lawry’s Seasoned Salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons crumbled queso blanco, queso fresco or Panela cheese per serving
  • 6 tortilla chips per serving, crushed
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • Crushed dried chiltepin chiles, crushed red pepper flakes, and/or salsa

Instructions

  1. In a large saucepan or stockpot, heat the olive oil and butter over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic, and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes.
  2. Pour in the wine and cook for 1 minute. Add the RO-TEL and the shredded chicken; cook for about 3 minutes to meld the flavors.
  3. Add the broth, Mexican oregano, Lawry’s Seasoned Salt, pepper, cumin and bay leaf. Bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, covered, for 20 minutes. Remove the bay leaf and season with additional seasoned salt to taste.
  5. To serve, put 2 to 3 tablespoons of cheese into the bottom of each wide, shallow bowl. Ladle in the soup. Let diners pile on their own crushed tortilla chips and diced avocado. Chiltepin chiles and crushed red pepper flakes will add more heat but less flavor than salsa, so offer both as options.

La Marque 84 Stainless-Steel Saucepans With Lid (starting at $69.96, originally $99.95; surlatable.com)

La Marque 84 Stainless-Steel Saucepans With Lid
La Marque 84 Stainless-Steel Saucepans With Lid

High-quality stainless steel makes for good looks and easy cleaning, and fans say of this 5-star pan, “Attractive and easy cleanup!”

Ceramic Coated Aluminum Covered Saucepan ($20; target.com)

Ceramic Coated Aluminum Covered Saucepan
Ceramic Coated Aluminum Covered Saucepan

Another home cook favorite saucepan, its ceramic covering is naturally nonstick and conducts heat well for even cooking.

Sur La Table Silicone Ultimate Spoon ($9.95; surlatable.com)

Sur La Table Silicone Ultimate Spoon
Sur La Table Silicone Ultimate Spoon

Stir your bubbling broth with this heat-resistant, dishwasher-safe silicone spoon that won’t scratch your pans.

Pearl Stoneware Pasta Bowl ($8.96, originally $14; surlatable.com)

Pearl Stoneware Pasta Bowl
Pearl Stoneware Pasta Bowl

These vintage-inspired low bowls are perfect for soup. One of many 5-star reviews reads that the bowls “have a rustic handmade charm to them in that they are all very slightly different so when they stack they don’t look perfectly uniform like something factory made.”

Bistro Collection Bowl ($6; surlatable.com)

Bistro Collection Bowl
Bistro Collection Bowl

These simple bowls are beloved by reviewers, who’ve given the white porcelain bowl 5 stars, with one writing, “Yes, you can love a bowl.”

Tasty taquitos

Jackie Alpers
Jackie Alpers' chicken taquitos from the "Taste of Tuscon" cookbook
PHOTO: Jackie Alpers

If you have just a little bit of bird left, you can make tasty little fried taquitos, which are small tortillas wrapped around a bit of meat and cheese and deep-fried. “Great way to use up an unspecified amount of chicken or turkey,” explains Alpers. “Each taquito uses about 2 tablespoons of seasoned chicken or turkey so you can simply make a varying amount of taquitos based on how much you have on hand and how hungry you are. Make just a couple taquitos for a snack, or enough for a crowd.”

Breville Smart Fryer ($150, originally $200; surlatable.com)

Breville Smart Fryer
Breville Smart Fryer

This small fryer earned rave reviews, with one reviewer writing, “The fryer does a great job maintaining the temperature while cooking resulting in excellent fried food.”

Lodge 6qt Cast Iron Enamel Dutch Oven ($69.90; target.com)

Lodge 6qt Cast Iron Enamel Dutch Oven
Lodge 6qt Cast Iron Enamel Dutch Oven

This Dutch oven is deep enough to fry in and wide enough to work with comfortably.

OXO 12” Tongs With Nylon Head ($12.29; target.com)

OXO 12" Tongs With Nylon Head
OXO 12" Tongs With Nylon Head

You’ll need to turn your taquitos, and the best way to do so without burning yourself is with a set of tongs. These 12-inch tongs will give you the reach you need.

Stock up

Chicken stock is a delicious way to use up vegetable scraps and chicken bones.
Chicken stock is a delicious way to use up vegetable scraps and chicken bones.
PHOTO: Getty Images/iStockphoto

When you’ve exhausted most of the meat on the bird, it’s time to make some delicious stock. You can use it as a base for soup, to cook grains and pasta or as the base for pot pie. Some people even drink homemade broth as a nourishing treat.

Just separate the bones so that they will fit in a slow cooker or Dutch oven with any vegetables and aromatics you have on hand — think carrots, potatoes, onions, rosemary, thyme — then add salt and pepper and cover with water. For the best results, simmer the whole thing on low for at least eight hours, then strain out the broth into containers for the fridge or the freezer. You can also freeze in an ice cube tray to create easy-to-use flavor bombs.

All-Clad Slow Cooker ($199.95, originally $239.95; surlatable.com)

All-Clad Slow Cooker
All-Clad Slow Cooker

Users love this slow cooker, with one to-the-point customer saying, “Simple to use, great results.” Honestly can’t think of a better review!

Crock-Pot 6-Quart Slow Cooker ($29.99; target.com)

Crock-Pot 6-Quart Slow Cooker
Crock-Pot 6-Quart Slow Cooker

You can’t talk about slow cookers without mentioning this classic, which we’ve put through the paces over the years. The ease of use and cleanup make this Crock-Pot slow cooker a favorite of home cooks.

Silicone Ice Cube Tray ($3; target.com)

Silicone Ice Cube Tray
Silicone Ice Cube Tray

The silicone construction of this tray and the cylindrical shape of the molds allow for easy release of frozen homemade chicken stock, which is what you want when you’re trying to make dinner.

Note: The prices above reflect the retailers’ listed prices at the time of publication.