A long, long time ago, back in 1990, I was a young woman about to graduate high school. It was a very different time back then- before the internet, cell phones, social media, 24 hour news, etc. Though, we did have acid washed jeans and the start of grunge music. But, much like now, I was a nerd- a big nerd. We had a tradition toward the end of the year, just before exams, called Senior Ditch Day. Kids probably still do it, for all I know. Now, several of my friends were metal heads and stoners, they intended to have a crazy party that day, which me and my best friend Kiki wanted no part of. Hell, 28 years later, she is still my best friend and neither of us are partiers. The popular kids, of course, were going tubing (it is a thing, similar to hanging out at the lake, but more danger involved since you were risking life and upping your risk of skin cancer by being out in the scorching arizona sun in may and going down the river). But the group I was the most comfortable with- the not rich, not popular, smart girls that stayed out of trouble (they would have been perfect if there had just wanted to play D&D or were into Star Wars) decided that they wanted a nice picnic in the park and maybe we would see a movie.* And, luckily enough, they invited Kiki and me to come along. I still know some of these lovely ladies now, thanks to rekindling friendship over Facebook- and one of them often comes to me for mom geek advice, since her son loves D&D and Harry Potter.
I was just a budding cook back in those days, trying to find room to make a good meal in the tiny kitchen of my mum and my small apartment that we moved into after Stepdad #2. I remember leafing through her Better Homes and Gardens cookbook for something to make (again, 1990- no Pintrest or internet to find a recipe in a hurry, and her beloved New York times cookbook was a bit beyond my meager skills), but BHG had some good ideas. One stood out- it is something now lost to time, I can’t find the recipe anywhere, but it was kind of like mini pasties, two refrigerated croissants fused together into a square and filled with meat and veggies. I can’t tell you what the original recipe had in it, but I made it for that senior picnic and have made my own version(s) of it a million times since. They are a perfect picnic or travel food, compact, self-contained, delicious hot or cold. I recently made them for a friend who just had a baby, I received a text back saying “They are delicious, I did not share”. I also make at least three dozen every year for Yule and they are easy to modify depending on food preference. This is the base recipe, but you can fill them with SO many things, switch out the veggies, meats, sauce, cheese, etc. One of my favourite fillings is found here- http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/sunny-anderson/pulled-pork-sandwiches-recipe-1973320. And, by favourite, I mean to make- I am afraid this one is off-limits for me due to dietary restrictions. But, it is one that my friends seem to love. Other variations are listed after the recipe.
Chicken thingies- trademark pending!
Preheat oven to 375
Two packages of refrigerated croissant dough. (I prefer the Trader Joe’s brand, they are a little thicker, but any store brand or Pillsbury will do.)
1 lb chicken breast, diced into 1 inch pieces
8 oz mushrooms, stems removed and quartered
½ pepper, any colour- diced
½ onion, diced
¼ cup thick teriyaki sauce (I am spoiled on this one, my buddy Jon makes me a half gallon every year for my birthday- the recipe comes from his favourite Japanese place in Washington)
1 cup mozzarella cheese
In a large pan, a brown the chicken, then add the veggies and cook well. I like to put in half of the sauce so it permeates the filling, this is especially good with a thinner sauce. While the chicken mixture is cooking, prep the dough. Take two croissants triangles from the package and pinch the middle seams together tightly, creating a square. Put those out on a greased cookie sheet and sprinkle each with ⅛ cup of cheese. Once the filling is done, put 8 of the filling into each square and top with the remaining sauce. Then, to create the “thingie”, take diagonal sides and twist them together, creating a neat package with very little of the filling showing through on top. Bake in the oven for 12-14 minutes.
Filling suggestions –
BBQ and cheddar instead of teriyaki and mozzarella
Beef and steak sauce instead of teriyaki and mozzarella
Chicken tikka masala as a filling (Yes, that recipe will be coming)
Emerald chicken and cheddar (Yes, that recipe will be coming)
Fall Stew (this is my next recipe to write up!)
Pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms, peppers, marinara, and mozzarella (Or, whatever you like on your pizza
Anything else you can dream of.
*Our movie choices were down to two – The Little Mermaid and Opportunity Knocks. Somehow, this was during the maybe two-year period of my life where I was “too cool” for Disney (how the hell could that ever be the case) and I had no interest in Little Mermaid, so I lobbied heavily for Opportunity Knocks, which we ended up seeing. You know what I remember about it- that I wanted to see it over Little Mermaid and that Dana Carvey was in it. Seriously, why didn’t they just drag me into Mermaid? I would be over my “Disney isn’t cool” phase by the time Beauty and the Beast came out, luckily. And saw it multiple times the first week.