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Creamy Chicken Pockets

Creamy Chicken Pockets2

I dug this one out of my recipe posts from 2008 because it is a meal we enjoy often and really needs to be brought back to your attention. With the blog aged over 4 years now, there are many recipes lost in the archives that I’d love to re-photograph (is that a word?) and rewrite. It would take forever to do so, but I’m placing the ones we absolutely love in the forefront. I’ll start with this Creamy Chicken Pockets recipe.

Chicken Pockets3

Once in a while I’ll have some boneless chicken breasts in the fridge that need to be used up quickly before going bad the next day.  This typically happens when I veer away from my meal plan and end up not using everything from my grocery list.  (Doesn’t happen often, no worries.)  If chicken is one of the items, then I will roast it in the oven and shred it or cube it for another use.  More than likely, I will save it either for my Baked Creamy Chicken Taquitos or these Creamy Chicken Pockets, both of which are favorites in this house.

If you already have the chicken cooked and prepared, this is a great weeknight meal.  Just toss it in the skillet with the garlic and onions for a few minutes and you’re ready to quickly whip up the filling.  Even if you have to cook the chicken yet, it is still pretty fast to put together.  Trust me, this is the main reason we have it so often.  🙂

Creamy Chicken Pockets

Printable Recipe

Yield:  8 pockets, 3-4 servings

2 tbsp olive oil
2-3 small chicken breasts, diced
1/2 cup minced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon butter, softened
3 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt
2 tablespoons milk
1 (8 ounce) package refrigerated crescent rolls
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1/4 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs, optional

Preheat oven to 375˚F.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Cook the chicken with the onions and garlic.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese and 1 tablespoon melted butter until smooth.  Stir in the cooked chicken, onions and garlic.  Add the salts, pepper and milk.  Mix well.

Separate the crescent roll dough into the eight triangles.  Dollop a tablespoon of filling into the center of each triangle and fold the corners up to seal.  Press and seal firmly.  Place on ungreased baking sheet or stone and repeat with the remaining dough and filling.  Brush the tops with the melted butter and sprinkle with the bread crumbs (optional).

Bake for 11 – 13 minutes, or until golden brown.

Recipe Note:  To heat up leftovers, bake in a preheated 350˚F oven for 10 minutes.

Source:  Adapted from AllRecipes

Baby Hummus Sandwiches for a Virtual Baby Shower

Baby Hummus SandwichesThis invitation to a virtual party really excited me.  Why?  Because it’s for Annie’s baby shower!  Annie is a food blogging friend at Annie’s Eats who is pregnant with her second child.  It’s a girl!!  Annie and I started blogging around the same time and she’s been an inspiration to me since day one.

I remember when Annie was expecting her first baby a few years ago, a precious baby boy.  It’s actually a vivid memory, and I distinctly recall thinking how cool she was because she decorated super cute sugar cookies to announce her pregnancy on her blog.  At that moment I thought, “wouldn’t it be fun to somehow throw her a virtual baby shower?”  But, I quickly dumped that thought for two reasons:  1) I hardly knew her at the time and figured she’d think I’m a freak for offering to do so <smile>…and 2) Being new to the blogging world, I had no idea how a virtual party would work, or what that would look like.  In fact, I don’t think there were any previously thrown virtual parties at that time.  Now, here we are doing it!  🙂  Thanks to Courtney, another friend who blogs at Cook Like a Champion, for hosting!

I chose to serve these Baby Hummus Sandwiches at the party in order to offer a vegetarian option.  They are filled with layers of hummus and veggies, and a sprinkle of feta cheese.  Having small sandwiches like these at a party makes it easy for your guests to pick them up and eat them, even if they don’t choose to grab a plate!   Don’t just save these for a shower, serve them this Sunday at your Super Bowl party!

Annie and Courtney both posted a round up of all the food the other guests brought to the party.  Check out their posts to see the gorgeous photos and snatch the links to the other recipes.  These bloggers are some of my favorites where I have found many delicious recipes.  I’m sure you’ll find yourself drooling!

Congratulations, Annie!  Super excited for your sweet baby girl to arrive so we can all give her a big virtual hug!  🙂

Baby Hummus Sandwiches

Printable Recipe

Yield: 16 baby sandwiches

8 slices bread
hummus (homemade or store-bought)
spinach leaves
thinly sliced tomato
1/4 yellow pepper, thinly sliced
1/4 red pepper, thinly sliced
2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
salt and pepper, to taste

Lay out the bread slices on a cutting board.  Spread a thin layer of hummus on each slice of bread.  On half of the slices, place a thin layer of spinach, tomato and peppers.  Sprinkle with a small amount of feta cheese and season with salt and pepper.  Top with the other half of the slices of bread.  Use a serrated knife to carefully cut each sandwich into quarters, lengthwise.  Serve immediately.

Source: Inspired Taste

Easy Homemade Mac ‘n Cheese

Easy Mac n CheeseIf you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you know the other day I had a craving for Kraft Macaroni and Cheese.  And, you already know I satisfied that craving – not shamefully, either.  This macaroni and cheese recipe is almost as easy as making it out of a box, but much better for you and dare I say more delicious! 🙂

I’ve tried other homemade macaroni and cheese recipes in the past, but never liked the taste, consistency, or the steps included to prep.  Mac ‘n cheese is meant to be simple.  I love finding simple dinners to add to my menu and to share with you.  The easier the recipe, the more likely you and I are to make it!

We had this first at our friends’ house when celebrating their 7-year-old grandson’s birthday.  In that family, the kids get to pick whatever they want for dinner the day of their birthday.  Funny enough, this young boy requested steak!  His grandmother decided to accompany it with a fruit mixture (we were told he would not eat it if it was called fruit salad – hilarious!) and this homemade macaroni and cheese.

While the steak was definitely delicious, I was waiting all night to request the recipe for the macaroni.  By the end of the evening, I forgot and went on my merry way.  I later called up my friend and she quickly recited the recipe over the phone.  After writing down the steps, I remember thinking “that’s it?”

Ironically enough, although the recipe is short and easy, for some reason my delinquent brain decided it wasn’t easy enough and completely forgot a step when making it for Judah’s party!  Fortunately, the dish only suffered a little (a bit dry) and was still edible and tasty.  I’ve since made it a few more times, including ALL steps, and it is fantastic!  It serves as a good meal for Judah, as well.

I’m glad to finally have a simple homemade macaroni and cheese recipe, and looking forward to developing different variations of it.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ll still cave in to those crazy Kraft cravings once in a while, but hopefully Judah will grow up with this homemade version and crave this when he’s my age instead.  🙂

Easy Mac ‘n Cheese

Printable Recipe

Yield:  8-10 side dish servings

12 – 16 ounces large elbow macaroni (or desired pasta)
1 lb sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
6 Tablespoons butter, divided
2 eggs
1 (14 oz) can evaporated milk

Preheat oven to 375˚F.

Prepare the pasta according to the package directions; cook to al dente.  Meanwhile, melt 2 Tablespoons butter and pour into the bottom of a 9-x 13-inch pan.  Layer half of the pasta into the pan, then top with half of the cheese.  Dot with 2 tablespoons of the remaining butter.  Repeat layers, ending with dotted butter.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the 2 eggs and evaporated milk.  Pour evenly over the pasta.  Bake for 20 minutes.

*To make this in advance, prepare all steps just before adding the eggs and milk.  Refrigerate and pour milk/eggs over casserole right before baking.

Source:  Alana Combs, friend of Pennies on a Platter

(This month we are giving back to the King family.  Visit Pennies on a Platter from January 1st to 31st to increase the blog hits which will in turn raise more money for Veronica and her children.  Please read this post for more information. You may also make a monetary donation by clicking on the PayPal button in the left hand column above.)

Green Chile Beef Empanadas

Green Chile Beef EmpanadasThe shredded beef I used in these empanadas has become a staple in our house.  It’s so versatile and easy to fix up that I’ve been wanting to put it on the meal plan week after week.  Of course, that’s a bad idea because we do not want to get sick of it, but I was excited to make it again last week and use it up in three different ways.  First, I made chimichangas.  Another night I served them up on these homemade burger buns and then we used the last bit up by making empanadas.

We’ve been enjoying this empanadas recipe for a few years now, but with chicken instead of beef.  It’s sad I waited this long to try a beef version, but now I’m ready to place it in our regular line up.  Ben and I could not get over how well this beef goes along with this recipe.  We shouldn’t have been surprised, because we knew we loved the shredded beef and empanadas recipe already.

Green Chile Beef EmpanadasIf you have the beef made up ahead of time and use a store-bought pie crust, you can whip the rest of it up very quickly on a weeknight.  It only bakes for 15 minutes and you’re ready to go!

Green Chile Beef Empanadas

Printable Recipe

Yield: 4 empanadas

For the shredded beef:
4 – 6 Tbs olive oil, divided
2 lb boneless chuck roast
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 cup beef stock (or broth)
1 Tbs tomato paste
2 – 3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, minced
1/2 large sweet onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced (original calls for 3, but I love garlic)

For the empanadas:
2 cups shredded beef (recipe above)
2 (9-inch) refrigerated pie crusts
1 (4 oz) can diced green chiles
1 cup shredded Mexican flavor cheese
choice of toppings – such as sour cream and salsa

To make the shredded beef:

Combine the spices in a small bowl.  Rub into the beef, covering all the nooks and crannies and each side evenly.

In a large skillet, heat 1-2 tablespoons olive oil until shimmering.  Sear the meat on each side, using tongs to flip it.  Remove and place in the bottom of a large slow cooker.

With the skillet remaining over the heat, deglaze with the beef stock and scrape up any brown bits.  Whisk in the tomato paste and chipotle peppers.  Once sauce comes to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for a few minutes until slightly thickened and reduced.

Meanwhile, add the onion and garlic to the top of the beef in the slow cooker.  Carefully pour the sauce over top.  Cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours.

Once the meat is fork tender, remove and shred with two forks.   Pour a portion of the sauce, including the onions, over top of the meat and let soak to enhance flavor.

To make the empanadas:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Unroll pie crusts onto a baking sheet or stone. Top each quadrant of crust with 1/2 cup of the beef, a tablespoon of chiles, and 1/4 cup of cheese, making even layers and spreading ingredients to within 1/2-inch of the edges. Top with second pie crust. Using a pastry cutter or sharp knife, make an X across the circle, making 4 equal sections. Pinch around the edges with a fork to seal.

Slice small slits in the top of each quadrant to allow steam to escape during cooking. Bake 15 minutes, until crust is golden brown.

Source: Adapted from Joy of Cooking

Easy King Ranch Chicken

Easy King Ranch ChickenMy friend, Stephanie, introduced this meal to me a few years ago.  She mentioned King Ranch Chicken is a Texas staple, which is where she is from.  There are many variations of this dish, but I have found this one to be the easiest while it’s very delicious!  This is a simple casserole for those busy weeknights when you’re looking to make something where you don’t need to run to the store.  And, topped with crushed Doritos?  How can you beat that??  🙂

Easy King Ranch ChickenI typically half this recipe since it is just the two of us.  This is one of those meals where the leftovers just aren’t as good because the Doritos become soggy overnight in the fridge.  However, if you want to make the entire batch and know you will have leftovers, then I suggest only covering half the casserole with the crushed chips, then adding them on the next day while reheating in the oven.

Stephanie makes this into two layers, but I just keep it at one.  You can also make this with leftover Thanksgiving turkey, so make sure you bookmark this for the end of the month!

Easy King Ranch Chicken

Printable Recipe

Yields: 6 – 8 servings

4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cooked and shredded or cubed
1 can cream of mushroom
1 can cream of chicken
1 can (10 oz) Rotel (diced tomatoes with green chiles)
1 can (15.25 oz) whole kernel corn, well drained
1 cup crushed Doritos, cheese flavor preferred
2 cups shredded Mexican blend cheese (just Monterrey Jack or Cheddar works, too)

Preheat oven to 350˚F.  Spray 9″ x 13″ baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, mix together the chicken, soups, Rotel and corn.  Pour mixture into the baking dish and top with the cheese.  Bake, uncovered, for 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes, take the casserole out of the oven and layer with the crushed Doritos.  Bake an additional 10 to 15 minutes, until the chips are toasted.  Let set 5 minutes before serving.

Source:  Stephanie, friend of Pennies on a Platter