Completed thigh!

Tips & Tricks: Chicken Thighs

If you’ve been around my blog for a while, you might have noticed that I tend to use chicken thighs, rather than chicken breasts, for my chicken recipes. Since all my recipes are supposed to be healthy, you might wonder why this is – after all, chicken breasts are a lot healthier for you than chicken thighs, right? Well, not necessarily.

Although it is true that chicken thighs are fattier and contain more calories than chicken breasts, they aren’t actually that  much fattier or calorie-filled, and they are certainly still healthier for you than other meats such as beef and pork. Preparation also has a lot to do with how healthy chicken thighs are; removing the skin and bone of the thigh goes a long way in bringing down the fat content. Also, since thighs are naturally juicier and more flavorful than breasts, they are less likely to end up being dry and tasteless when cooked. With chicken breast recipes, I often find that extra fat is added while cooking in an attempt to make the breasts moister, which negates any nutritional benefit they would have had over thighs in the first place. (Check out this article, or this one, if you want to learn more about the nutrition of chicken thighs.)

Of course, there is one other significant reason I most often use chicken thighs rather than breasts – the price. Chicken thighs are often at least a couple dollars cheaper per ounce than chicken breasts, and this adds up quickly.

Skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs are the cheapest – and the best part is, the skin and bones can be easily and quickly removed at home! Why pay a couple extra dollars for something that takes you a minute or two to do yourself? Although I almost never cook with skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs because it greatly ups the fat content, I buy them that way all the time and then just remove the skin and bones myself. Let me show you how easy it is!

How to De-skin, De-bone Chicken Thighs

Start out with your chicken thighs and a pair of kitchen shears or a sharp knife. (If you don’t have a good pair of kitchen shears, I encourage you to invest in some! They make cutting meat SO much easier! However, a good, serrated knife will work as well.)
Chicken thighs and shears

Slip your finger under the skin, and it should start to peel off immediately with no cutting necessary.
Peeling the skin off

Once the skin is mostly peeled away, snip it off where it is still clinging to the chicken.
Skin off!

Now, on to the bone! Flip the chicken over to the side where you can tell the bone is closest to the skin, and make one long cut along the right side of the bone.
Cut next to the bone

Make another long cut along the left side of the bone, leaving only the underside of the bone clinging to the chicken.
Another cut

Make one more long cut along the underside of the bone, cutting it away from the thigh altogether.
Final cut

Ta da! You have now de-skinned, de-boned a chicken thigh, and it is ready for you to use in a recipe! The whole process shouldn’t have taken more than a minute or two for one thigh. Repeat the process with however many chicken thighs you want to use at the time.
Completed thigh!

Although your first thought is probably to toss out the bones, don’t give into the temptation! The skin is fatty and should be discarded, but keep and freeze the bones for later use. When you get enough, you can use them to make a scrumptious homemade chicken stock or soup. I have a bag in the freezer that I add to whenever I de-bone chicken thighs, and when I have 10-12 of them it’s soup time! (Look out for my chicken bone soup recipe on the blog in the near future!)

Bag of chicken bones

My frozen bag of chicken thigh bones

I hope you found these instructions helpful! If you de-bone chicken thighs using this method, let me know how it worked out in the comments section!

Casserole on plate

Creamy Chicken Vegetable Casserole

I don’t know about you, but I love grocery shopping.  I know, I know, most people hate it and look upon it as just another annoying chore they have to get done.  However, I love picking out ingredients for foods that will soon be on the menu, looking around for the best prices, and feeling the satisfaction of loading up the refrigerator with my prizes when I get home.

Campbell's soup on saleTherefore, I’m sure you’ll understand that I get excited when I see awesome sales at my local grocery store – especially if the sale saves a significant amount of money, is for a product I use fairly often, and will keep for quite a while on the shelf.  As it so happens, this is exactly what happened last time I went shopping!  Campbell’s soups were on sale, and I stocked up on “Healthy Request” cream of chicken, mushroom, celery, and a few others.

As you have probably already guessed, then, today’s recipe features soup as one of the main ingredients!  This rich tasting chicken vegetable casserole is what my mom would refer to as “comfort food,” perfect for any night you’re in the mood for a simple, homey dish to enjoy.  It’s loaded with veggies and low-fat ingredients, making it quite healthy, but all the ingredients are so inexpensive and it tastes so delicious that you’d never know!

Creamy Chicken Vegetable Casserole 

You will need:

  • 4 boneless skinless chicken thighs, halved (or 3 large boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 8 pieces total)
  • 1 can low-fat or “Healthy Request” cream of celery soup
  • 1 can low-fat or “Healthy Request” cream of mushroom soup
  • ½ cup skim milk
  • 3 cups frozen mixed vegetables
  • 2 cups frozen broccoli
  • 1 cup frozen lima beans
  • 1 tsp. poultry seasoning
  • 4 oz. reduced fat cheddar cheese, grated
  • 3 liter (or slightly larger) baking dish

(Click here for the printable PDF version of this recipe!)

Assemble your ingredients, and preheat the oven to 350°.

Ingredients for chicken vegetable casserole

Place all the frozen vegetables in a large microwavable bowl, and microwave for 2-3 minutes to thaw them.  (Although I used mixed vegetables, broccoli, and lima beans, you can use whatever kind of frozen vegetables you have on hand – just make sure that they add up to 6 cups veggies in total.)

Thawed veggies

Dump the cans of soup, milk, and poultry seasoning in with the vegetables, and mix all the ingredients together well.

Soups and veggies mixed

Pour into the baking dish, and add the chicken pieces.

Chicken in casserole

Push the chicken pieces down into the veggie mixture, covering completely.

Casserole before baking

Cover the dish, and bake for 1 hour (or until the chicken pieces no longer look at all pink when they’re cut into).


After an hour, take the dish out of the oven and top with the grated cheese.  Bake an additional 10-12 minutes uncovered, until the cheese is melted and just starting to get brown.

Completed casserole

Serve up the casserole, giving each person 1 piece of chicken along with a heaping serving of vegetables.

Casserole on plate

This recipe makes 8 generous portions, and works quite well as leftovers too.  Enjoy this luscious dish that is guaranteed to satisfy!

The served salsa chicken

Scrumptious Salsa Chicken

I love chicken.

It’s versatile – can be prepared in an innumerable number of ways and taste different every time.  It’s inexpensive – one of the cheapest meats on the market.  It’s healthy – one of the leanest meats you can buy.  And, most importantly, it’s delicious – no matter how it is cooked, it’s almost always yummy!

Because of the above reasons, I thought that a chicken recipe would be a perfect choice for my first blog post.  This recipe for Salsa Chicken is one of my all-time favorites, and includes the four factors that make a recipe magical – it is healthy, takes almost no time to throw together, is budget-friendly, and is so tasty!  I could easily eat this every day and be content.  Even if you aren’t a big fan of spicy or Mexican food, I encourage you to give this recipe a try anyway – I guarantee that it will win your heart as it has won mine!

Scrumptious Salsa Chicken

You will need:

  • 2 16-ounce jars of chunky salsa (whatever strength you want)
  • 1 can low-fat or “Healthy Request” cream of chicken soup
  • 1 can any type beans (kidney, pinto, navy, etc.)
  • 2 boneless skinless chicken thighs, or one large boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 4 oz. (½ small block) reduced fat cheddar cheese
  • Tortilla chips
  • Crock pot (or large regular pot, if don’t want to use a crock pot)

(Click here for the printable PDF version of this recipe!)

First, gather all your ingredients together!

All the ingredients needed to make salsa chicken

Next, open your can of beans, then rinse and drain them using a colander.

Rinsed beans

Dump the jars of salsa, soup, and the beans into the crock pot…

The beans, salsa, and soup in the pot

Then mix them up!

The salsa, beans, and soup mixed together

Next, take your chicken pieces and place them in the crock pot with the salsa mixture.

The chicken with the salsa mixture

Now push the chicken down into the salsa mix, covering them completely.  You shouldn’t even be able to tell that they’re there!

The chicken submerged in the salsa mixture

Place your crock pot on the base, and cook on medium for about 6 hours.  (If you don’t have a crock pot or don’t remember to put the recipe in the pot earlier in the day, you can achieve the same effect by placing all ingredients in a regular large pot and cooking on the stove over low heat for 1½ – 2 hours).

The crock pot on medium heat

In the meantime, grate the cheese and set it aside for later.  I used Cabot 75% reduced fat “sharp extra light” cheddar – I stock up on it when there’s a BOGO sale at my local grocery store, because it keeps for a long time and is an excellent low-fat alternative to a regularly fatty ingredient.  However, if you can’t find it on sale, feel free to use any reduced fat cheddar cheese – there’s usually a store brand of a cheddar cheese made with 2% milk, which is healthier than the full fat kind.


After the cooking time is up, the chicken should fall apart easily.  Shred the chicken into small strips in the pot with the side of a spoon, and mix it in with the salsa.

The chicken broken into strips

Now, serve it up!  Place the salsa chicken on a plate, top with a bit of the grated cheese, and scoop it up with tortilla chips.  Mmmmm!

The served salsa chicken

Now you too have experienced the delicious event that is salsa chicken!  This recipe makes six generous portions, and is great as leftovers (in the rare event that you are able to refrain from eating it all, that is!).  Let me know in the comments if you made this recipe and enjoyed it (or not!), or if you have any questions or suggestions for me!