Sometimes you accidentally stumble onto a family favorite without realizing you have a winner at your messy fingertips. If you need a simple “tried and true” recipe to perk things up this summer, let me introduce you to the wonders of Chicken Packets!
The first time I tried this recipe was way back in our “early married” days when the budget was perpetually tight and our arsenal of recipes was woefully limited. This little gem was hidden deep within my first experience of batch cooking and I didn’t recognize its potential for greatness at the time. (Everything got a little hazy after the vat of spaghetti sauce simmered its tantalizing vapors throughout the kitchen.)
I dare say I was a bit intimidated at the whole prospect of a WHOLE DAY of cooking. My dear friend, Melanie (who also just happened to be a registered dietician), coached me through the marathon cooking day and our husbands were delighted with a freezer full of goodness as the end result.
Since then, I’ve made Chicken Packets for many occasions (the arrival of newborns, moving days, condolence meals, neighbor farewells, family get-togethers, and welcome dinners for visiting friends) yet these tasty chicken packets are treasured for their simple everyday heartiness.
My tattered copy of Once-a-Month Cooking* is a testament to the versatility of Chicken Packets. The original version was for 4-6 servings. I’ve adjusted for our family’s preferences and cranked the amounts up to have plenty for dinner and some for the freezer.
Gather up this cast of characters and let’s get started:
10 cups of cooked chicken, chopped into bite-sized pieces (a 5-lb bag of frozen chicken breasts, boiled until fully cooked is about the right amount)
3 packages of 8 oz. cream cheese, softened to room temperature (reduced fat works fine)
4 Tbs of chives (fresh or dried)
2/3 cup milk
salt & pepper (to taste)
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
8 packages of crescent rolls
4 packages of seasoned croutons, finely crushed
1 1/2 sticks of butter (melt when ready to assemble)
Set bowl of chicken & cream cheese mixture aside (or refrigerate, covered, if baking Chicken Packets at another time).
When you’re ready to begin the assembly process, preheat the oven to 350 and get out several baking sheets.
Open crescent rolls and unroll gently onto greased cookie sheets or directly onto a silpat liner. Instead of separating into triangles, pinch the seams to form a rectangle with each pair of triangles. You will get 4 rectangles out of each can of crescent rolls.
Place a scoop of the chicken-cream cheese mixture into the center of each rectangle.
Baste each packet with melted butter, then roll gently through the crushed croutons until generously coated.
Place packets onto cookie sheets and bake 20 minutes in preheated 350 oven. Bake until the packets are golden brown (if lifted with spatula, the bottom of the packet is firm rather than soft).
– – – Ring that dinner bell and get to devouring some yummy goodness!
The great thing about Chicken Packets is that they can be eaten immediately or stockpiled for later in your freezer!
- Freeze the chicken-cream cheese mixture and crushed croutons in separate freezer bags. Thaw & assemble later with the remaining ingredients per instructions. Bake, then serve.
- OR…bake chicken packets fully as instructed above, allow to cool, and freeze packets for later. On the day you’re planning to serve them, pull the desired number of chicken packets out of the freezer and thaw in the refrigerator all day. Microwave 1-2 minutes until heated through. Bonus touch: put in 350-degree oven for a few minutes to restore the crispiness of the croutons.
The beauty of this winner recipe is its versatility for baking when it’s best for your dinner schedule.
**Individually, they also make substantial after-school snacks or for a quick on-the-go meal for busy family members.
If you’d like to try a smaller serving size, simply use the triangle of the crescent roll & repeat the same assembly process. (My boys like to experiment with the ratio of filling to crescent roll.)
I hope you enjoy adding this recipe to your Family Favorites!
*this post contains affiliate links
Here’s the question: “How do you carve out one-on-one time with a child when you have so many?” It’s a very good question! I am asked about it a lot, which is humorous since I am an only child and had all of my parents’ attention. So I am learning as I go, and asking the Lord for insight often. Here are some tools I’ve found that work for us in our home, that at times feels like a whirling dervish!
This is the day the Lord has made! Psalm 118:24
We do most activities together, which I like because I see so much learned in sharing, compromising and helping one another. But every one of us wants to be seen, heard and loved. I want to know each child’s personality, dreams and ambitions. This is where our “dinner helper” spun from… there is usually one night that we can all come together and share a meal each week. So I have one child help with preparing our meal. When we first started this, everyone was eager to help and they all hovered in the kitchen. I asked one son to stay while the others went to play; (no sharing on this one).
I had to relinquish control and speed of prep-time at first. What a nine-year-old can help with versus a three-year-old are vastly different! But I learned that giving them the tools of grating cheese, layering a casserole, working a can opener and following a recipe are great life-skills in training. And the three-year-old is just as content in “helping” as he stacks the measuring cups or counts out the paper plates. Conversation began to emerge with my oldest, goofiness grew with my second son as we added music to his nights; we danced and sang while we made dinner! My younger two became even more cuddly after singling them out. It has been a win-win all the way around for each of us.
When I was little, my grandmother fried chicken and made the most delicious chocolate ice-box pies. My mom made hearty soups from scratch. I’ve watched both beautiful women cook side-by-side and create chicken-and-dumplings and hot apple pies that I still dream about! Food is a great layer to a home; it evokes such detailed memories in one’s soul.
So grab a pan, stir a bowl, dance and whisk something for a loved one. Try a new recipe or cling tight to a treasured one. Happy Mother’s Day and enjoy the meals!
As we celebrate our 100th Post, we continue to live in the Ordinary, trying to be mindful of the simple things we do each day that impact others.
We want to explore the Ordinary Threads within our homes, and then stretch these into our communities. Come alongside and join us!
Here’s a glimpse of our journey these past 18 months:
– – –100th post video – – –
Sometimes it’s good to reflect on one’s past so the path toward the future is a little clearer. We are grateful for the opportunity to share here each week with you. Thank you for the support, friends!
“It is ingrained in us that we have to do exceptional things for God, but we do not. We have to be exceptional in the Ordinary things in life and holy on the Ordinary streets among Ordinary people, and this is not learned in five minutes.” -Oswald Chambers
How do we live in the Ordinary? Continue on this journey with us; the fellowship is sweet…
Facebook group: Ordinary Threads
Every single day we are faced with the dilemma:
“What’s for Dinner??
We’ve each tried different menu plans over the years. We’d like to share what works for us…most of the time. I know for me personally that the days I have “a dinner plan” go more smoothly because I can focus my energies elsewhere and tackle the dinner preparations with my designated helper when it’s time to hit the kitchen in the evening.
Menu board ideas are all over Pinterest. I adapted my own a few years ago by combining what appealed to me: flexibility, easy-to-use, and able to be quickly updated for the season.
I used a 12 x 12 scrapbook frame that holds up to 25 pages of paper:
I used glue dots to affix tabs for days of the week and mini clothespins to hold menu items. This could be simplified further by using clothespins or mini chalkboards that have days of the week already labeled.
— alphabet stickers for the title: What’s for Dinner??
— a line of ribbon for color
— two mesh index card holders with small chalkboards labeled Entrees and Sides
— cork board attached by spray adhesive; this area gives you a place for extra food cards or new recipe ideas
I made pockets out of folded index cards to hold individual menu items, loosely organized by food group categories. **Adding the page number and name of cookbook for specific recipes is helpful to you later!
In each category pocket, there is a card with a specific food item. Some have been personalized by the family member that made the card or who is the “author” of the dish.
My kids take turns being my dinner helper. When we are discussing the menu plan for the week, they each get to pick what they would like to help make for dinner on their helper night. This helps their motivation tremendously!
I encourage them to choose an entree and two sides. Since there is only one card for each item, this is an easy way to get a variety of fruits and veggies throughout the week.
When I began this project I used paint chips to add a splash of color. I now have blank index cards pre-cut into strips to make additional labels as needed.
Start with your favorite foods and add as you go.
Although I’ve been using this system for years and making a grocery list each week, I just recently had the insight to keep track of weekly menus that have worked for us to use again in the future. #duh!
It takes a bit more time to make a menu plan and coordinated grocery list, but I think it will be worth it next month when I can pull out a weekly menu and head right to the store! I even did myself a favor and grouped the shopping list according to sections of the grocery store (produce, meat, dairy, frozen, canned/dry goods) and made a copy to use as a checklist, keeping the original in a menu planning binder.
You can personalize your menu board however you like. Pick the basic elements and streamline to your family’s needs. You can make it as simple or sophisticated as you want.
Give yourself a break and include cards for “Take out,” “Dinner Out” and “Scrap Night” (aka: Leftovers) as well as some simple themes such as “Soup & Sandwich Night” and “Pizza Night.” Adapt what works for you and your family now. You can always tweak it later.
I’m off to “test” my shopping list with 3 boys…I may rip my list in sections and challenge them to see who can locate all their items first. Since I’ve
drug them to the store provided them with ample shopping opportunities before, they know to search for store brands and sales items first. They may grumble a bit now, but their future college roommates will be impressed with their grocery skills, right?
“So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content.” I Timothy 6:8
Yes, menu planning is a chore. It does take time and effort. Every once in a while I need a reboot. When I freshen things up, I get a little more enthusiasm behind the process.
Ready, set, go! Let us hear how YOU are doing!