Archive for January 2009

Cheesy Chicken Crescent Bake   1 comment

Today I’m going to share with you one of our family’s favorites – Cheesy Chicken Crescent Bake. The name and the basic idea came to us in all its deliciousness during the first year of our marriage from our lovely friend Tonya.

The original recipe called for taking canned crescent roll dough, separating the triangles, placing some chicken and some cheese on each one, rolling them up individually, and using cream of chicken soup on the bottom and top of them in pan, with more cheese on top. Yum!

However, as our family grew, I made this scrumptiousness less and less often, because filling and rolling all those individual crescents took way too much time. Laziness is the mother of invention, they say. So I turned it into a layered dish. Then, when Dad and Mom Smith moved in with us, I learned to make the sauce from scratch (MSG allergy = no “cream of” soups). And one day I got adventurous and made the crescent roll dough myself! So the whole thing has changed quite a bit, but it remains a family favorite (and, if I may be so bold, I think it’s better loved from scratch than in any of its other forms).

Enough of the talk! Let’s cook!

The Necessities:
Approx. 3# chicken (it can be a whole chicken, a few pounds of boneless skinless breasts, or anything in between)
1 stick butter
2/3 c flour
1t salt
1t pepper
1 onion, chopped
several cloves garlic, minced
5 cups both/milk combination (the broth will come from cooking the chicken breasts)
At least 1 pound of cheddar cheese (preferably sharp)
Either a couple cans of refrigerated crescent roll dough or a batch of this fabulous crescent roll dough (I suggest the latter, unless you’re very short on time. Because of what we’re doing with the dough, it’s quite forgiving if you don’t get it “just right.”

To begin, boil the chicken in just enough water to cover it.

If you’re making crescent roll dough, start that now. If not, go read your favorite blogs. Or, if you must, do something responsible!

Once the chicken is cooked, let it cool enough so that you can handle it, then de-bone (if needed) and chop or tear it up.

Drain the broth into a measuring cup (or a half gallon jar with measurements marked on the side) and add milk to make 5 cups. If you already have 5 or more cups of broth, set some aside for another time and make room for some milk!

Now begin making the sauce (we’ll use an adapted version of my Good Gravy! recipe. If you’re not familiar with Good Gravy! you can find more detailed directions there.

Melt a stick of butter in a good sized pan, then saute the chopped onion (and, once the onion’s gotten started, the garlic) until translucent. Add the flour, salt, and pepper and cook to make roux.

Slowly add your 5 cups of liquid, stirring constantly, and continue to stir constantly until it has boiled for a minute or so. This will take ages, so you might want to employ one of your favorite kitchen assistants to stir for you. (If you take a picture of said assistant, be sure you crop out any dirty ears before you post the picture online. There’s keepin’ it real, and then there’s yucky. You’ve got to know where to draw the line.)

Once the sauce is ready, it’s time for assembly!

First in the pan is a layer of sauce (about a third)

Then half of the dough, rolled out to fit the pan. Or, if you’re using canned, spread out one can of crescent rolls to make a layer of dough. It’s fine if the area is not completely covered.

Next comes the second third of sauce, topped by a layer of cheese

And the chicken!

A layer of cheese

The other half of the dough

A last layer of sauce, covered by a last layer of cheese.

Bake at 350′ for 30-45 minutes, or until the cheese is golden brown.

Enjoy!

Posted January 21, 2009 by smithlaurel in Main Dish

Good Gravy!   Leave a comment

Before getting to the Cheesy Chicken Crescent Bake recipe that’s been brewing in my computer for a while, I’m going to share what might-be-the-first in what-might-be-a-series of posts on some of Elle’s Cooking Basics.

One of the mosts important pieces of my cooking repertoire is my gravy recipe, which I tweaked over the years until I love it. Its title on my recipe card is Good Versatile Gravy, and that pretty much sums it up. I use it in various forms, with various additions, in many of my recipes. Sausage or Bacon Gravy for Biscuits and Gravy, Chicken Pot Pie, Tuna and Rice, Hamburger Mushroom Gravy, etc.

And so, here it is in its most basic form, with a few suggestions for variations at the end.

Ingredients:
4T butter
2/3 c flour
1t salt
1t pepper
5 cups liquid (what liquid varies according to the use of the gravy)

Begin by melting the butter over medium-high heat.

Mix the flour, salt, pepper together in a bowl and add together.

Stir the flour/butter mixture until combined, then let it cook for a bit. Really. It won’t kill it (like I used to think)… it will make it better, and will make the gravy-making process much easier. Let it bubble gently for at least a minute. This is officially called roux.

Then add in your liquid slowly, stirring as you go. Generally, if you let your flour/butter cook long enough, you won’t need to whisk it. But if you’re not used to making gravy this way (and you’re like me when I started), you might want to keep the whisk handy in case it starts to look clumpy. It helps prevent panic.

Once you’ve gotten your liquid well combined with the flour mixture, keep stirring until the mixture boils, then let it boil (still stirring!) for about a minute. And voila – your Good Gravy is ready!

Suggestions for some variations on the theme:

Saute! I almost always dice up an onion and saute it in the butter before I add flour. Depending on the use for the gravy, I might add other stuff in the saute step… garlic, celery, mushrooms, etc. When I saute, I generally add more butter. Just round it up to a 1/2 cup and you should be good. If it looks dry, add some more.

Spices – whatever suits your fancy. Hopefully your fancy is in alignment with whatever dish you are preparing…

Meat – Ground Beef, Chicken, Tuna… whatever works for you.

Have fun gravying!

Posted January 20, 2009 by smithlaurel in Basics

Update Alert   Leave a comment

My Easy Enchiladas recipe has been updated with pictures – see?

Posted January 16, 2009 by smithlaurel in Uncategorized