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
In the fast shuffle of summer activities and quick transitions from one camp to the next, our landing zones tend to attract odd bits and pieces of our lives, gaining depth and dimension at warp speed.
Graduation announcements from last month mingle with lingering Christmas cards, awaiting that elusive moment of “getting around to it” for mailing a congrats card or transferring a friend’s address from the cute family photocard into our phone contact list. Our good intentions taunt us from these leaning stacks of paper and unprocessed mail each time we pass by on our way out the door.
That workbench out in the garage for “projects?” Yep, it gets piled high with everything from replacement toilet seats and seed packets of spring flowers that didn’t get planted to athletic shoes that have to be returned because feet have grown too big for them. One season of detritus gloms on to the next and soon you have a mishmash of holiday decor and unrelated sports gear teasing you as you park your car each evening.
These landing zones of our lives naively begin as “planned” triage centers (assess urgency, prioritize level of importance and divert onward) but sneakily become perpetual messes that overwhelm us, nudging us toward stagnation rather than action.
As moms, we often become the landing zone for our family members, too. We gather stories from our kids about their latest interactions with friends, reactions to something Coach said at practice, or quirky things that happened at youth group. We get inundated by requests for new shoes, spending money for lunch with friends, or last-minute items needed for a camp that starts tomorrow.
Requests, logistics, multiple schedules, deadlines, menu planning, and household responsibilities land on us repetitively throughout the day. Demands of family life pile up on us, little by little, until we feel bogged down.
Inertia starts to feel familiar and perhaps even a little cozy. It might be easy to succumb to frustration and exhaustion because we constantly feel like the target zone for problem-solving and distribution central.
Another way to view the chaotic landing zone in our home is to see that it also serves as a launch pad. From this dumping ground of nitty-gritty details of busy family life also springs the data resources to point our crew in the right direction. The schedules, sports agendas, camp registrations, invitations, announcements, and endless stream of college brochures are landmarks for our kids’ journey through childhood. WE are their navigators.
As we absorb the impact of our children bouncing off of us as they hurl themselves into a variety of childhood experiences, we can empower them to launch from us in a healthy way. If we are able to provide some rallying encouragement and emotional steadiness while they are refueling in our safety zone, they will gain confidence in their own trajectory.
Sometimes it isn’t easy being the staging ground for these multi-faceted, difficult-but-necessary tasks to be completed before an impending countdown. Although you feel the pressure tangibly building for launch and feel a little clumsy with all the delicate maneuvers, the outcome can be intensely rewarding for each successful takeoff.
So, hold steady, my friend. Reinforce those buffering systems. Let that striving child take flight in his own way. Breathe. Pray. Repeat. While awaiting his sweet return, clear your landing zone and prepare yourself for the next liftoff phase. Provide that foundation of a strong legacy of faith. Solidify his base now so as he launches farther and more independently, he is clear and focused on his ultimate flight plan. Remain steadfast in this training period so you’re both ready to launch well.
Stay “in the loop” with us this summer:
As we pushed through the last week of school and immediately catapulted into the first two scheduled summer activities, I found myself feeling a bit like a deflated party balloon. My outward self was still trying to celebrate my boys’ last day of school yet my inner self was no longer floating high with anticipation just wearily hovering low and fading into smallness.
Summer and all its sunny expectations of FUN was here, but I wasn’t feeling it. I kept waiting for the bright mantle of “summer” to fall upon me, but found myself struggling to muster up excitement for the usual burst of summer activities. “What’s the deal with me?” I wondered.
– – – I forgot to exhale. – – –
The fullness of the school year had pressed in hard from all sides, nudging us along from one end-of-the-year culminating event to the next and sweeping us through finals week. Although I hadn’t taken a single exam or given any oral presentations, I had buffered and nourished these souls that were putting their all into their last school days. The truth was that we were all tired as we approached the finish line of another academic year.
Even if we aren’t the main player on the field, the sidelines are a busy place of support and encouragement as we prepare our players to get out there to do their best. As parents we’ve put in hours of training, too, but may not recognize the toll it’s taken on us. We may not be aware of the moments we’ve been holding our breath as the next play unfolds before our eyes yet just beyond our grasp.
On the last day of school, I awoke each of my sons and celebrated the moment of transition into their next grade level. As I looked into each sleepy face, something slipped inside me. A gear subtly shifted inside this mother’s heart and I paused to absorb its impact.
While each of my boys is excited to move on to the next phase of school, this promotion also means a natural step closer to their independence. Celebrating their growth this year also means recognizing their progress toward stepping out on their own one day in the future, slipping away from our home and my dinner table. These were some heavy thoughts to bear in those first hazy moments of “the last day,” so I tucked them back in and moved toward a celebratory breakfast, focusing on their joy.
Later that day as I added another envelope to the growing stack of graduation announcements, engagement party/wedding reception invitations, and college brochures, I realized we’re all in the metamorphosis of May. These transformations elicit all the feelings and soak up all the energy. As we dive in to celebrate each milestone, we want to savor each moment.
We also need to remember in each one to breathe . . . to embrace this shift of change in our loved ones and loosen our hold just a bit. (It’s good practice for the next “biggie” after all.)
– – – We need to remember to exhale. – – –
It’s in this exhale, where we can discover the joy of letting go…
to blow out the candles
to blow a kiss to a sweetheart
to blow that dandelion fluff as far as it will fly
to blow a pinwheel just for the delight on a toddler’s face
to release tension that has been building within us
to watch our children soar
As we celebrate these changes and allow ourselves a moment to exhale, we’ll realize the sunshine is a little brighter and our hearts a little fuller.
We may even discover that we’re ready for the longer days of summer after all.
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
We all love a good story. It doesn’t matter your age. It’s even better if there are hidden gems of laughter, harrowing moments and happy endings. We just love getting lost in the detailed threads that tug at our hearts.
Our children love to hear “their stories”. They ask to hear them over and over. We laugh and gasp at all the same parts every time. And I realize that we add chapters to their stories with each day, each vacation, each experience, family event, tradition, hug and “I love you”. It’s in every ordinary and extraordinary day that we have.
Pictures and albums help with that too. The time spent in conversation is a layer of warmth for the soul that is something extra special. Face-to-face conversation is becoming less and less in our society; everyone wants the short and condensed version of events. But when you give some time to sharing, you will hear:
When you have many children, this helps in giving that individual their unique identity. In a group setting, you can easily speak each child’s love language by reminiscing of a fond time together. It’s so easy to add this layer to your home, but it is becoming lost in our digital agendas. Fill your child up with words that champion them; show their hearts how spectacular they are. Hand them their legacy as your family shares past generations stories too. All of these conversations combined are a treasure, not bought. The value is priceless for our hearts.
I thank my God in all my remembrance of you. -Philippians 1:3