Our last installment in our New Mama Meals series comes from my good friend Sarah, who is a real-life Mom Superhero. No, I’m serious: someone should make her a cape. Sarah has 4 kids – three boys and a girl ages five and under – and still somehow gets through the grocery store faster than me. She’s one of the most energetic, creative, and invested moms I know and still manages to churn out fantastic meals every time we’re over at their house, which is why I knew she’d be a perfect contributor to our series. (P.S. If you want to know more about how she cultivates both sanity and brilliance in the midst of toddler-logic and endless poop, check out her blog here.)
This is a meal that you can easily make for yourselves but, mostly, it is one of my go-to meals for entertaining when you have a new baby (whether it’s a first baby or a fourth) because eventually you leave the quiet, glow-y, tired lock-down of a new baby and you slip back into “regular” life. Now you start having people back to your house and having visitors from out of town. This is a meal that looks more impressive than the work involved. You make your guests feel special and can totally fit in meal-preparation between baby-nursing and diaper changes!
This meal can be done in about half an hour, once you get it down, and if you aren’t taking pictures of yourself doing it or are letting a kid (or kids) help you…also barring any poop accidents or emergency discipline situations.
Warning: this dish is not particular kid-friendly because it is filled with mixed-up, unidentifiable gooey stuff that issuspect. But there are pieces of this dish which can be salvaged by the discerning preschool and lower elementary palate. (i.e. crescent roll – not touching unidentifiable goo). Because I am the mother that I am (and because I grew up the Queen of Picky Eaters) I will often make this dish differently alongside the grown-up versions. I will suggest a good kid-friendly way to present both of these with the recipe.
These chicken broccoli rollups are adapted from a Pampered Chef recipe from 7 years ago. The original recipe has you do a cool and elaborate crescent roll braid, which I have never attempted. Also, in the original, the cheese ratio is much lower (which just won’t do). I used to make this meal in a 9×12 glass pan with the crescent roll spread out flat on the bottom, the filling in the middle, and another layer of crescent roll over the top. You can slice some pretty criss-crosses in each slice and serve it in ginormous long triangles like a pie. I recently started doing them as little rolls because the serving size was better, and it was easier to serve up at pot-lucks and looked nicer on a serving plate. Also, this way, in emergency situations, you can eat them with your hands.
I like serving them with a nice leafy salad or sometimes cream of tomato soup (America Test Kitchen has my favorite recipe for that). If you make the soup from scratch at the same time – good luck doing it in half an hour! There you go – pretty looking meal – nurse the baby while you’re eating and make sure you drape the all-useful receiving blanket over the baby, because tomato soup can stain!
(recipe adapted from The Pampered Chef)
(yields 4 servings)
This recipe is majorly adaptable: add more of what you like; take out what you don't. Additionally, you can make these in a 13x9 pan - with a layer of crescent rolls on the bottom, filling in the middle, and crescent rolls on top.
1 lb. or 3 large chicken breasts
1 bag frozen chopped broccoli (or 2 c. fresh, chopped broccoli)
1/8-1/4 c. mayonnaise
4-6 c. shredded mozzarella
1/2-1 tsp. garlic powder (to taste) or 2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 tsp. dill*
2 tubes crescent rolls
1/2 c. sliced almonds
*Do not overdo it on the dill, or it will hijack and take over this recipe.
Preheat oven to 375*.
Cut the chicken into small cubes. Fry chicken pieces in a small amount of oil until no longer pink in the middle. Set aside.
If using frozen broccoli, microwave according to bag's directions. If using fresh broccoli, steam or boil until tender (about 4 minutes).
Mix the cooked chicken, cooked broccoli, mayonnaise, mozzarella, garlic, and dill in a bowl.
Separate the crescent rolls onto a baking sheet. Fill each triangle with some of the filling and roll. Sprinkle sliced almonds on the top of each roll.
Cook for about 15 minutes.
*These don't keep super well, best eaten the same night as cooked!
*To make a larger batch, make and roll them up and then freeze them, uncooked, separated by wax paper in a tupperware. When you want to cook them, thaw and then cook as recipe directs.
**Kid-friendly adaptation: Keep aside small portions of the cooked broccoli and the cooked, cubed chicken. Save some of the shredded cheese. Cook a few of the crescent rolls plain (with no filling). Then just serve everything nice and separated and identifiable on the kids’ plates.