Convenience foods make for mealtime ‘cheats’

I’m embarrassed to admit how many cans came into play for a recent weeknight dinner.

A change in plans put off the dish I had planned to make — tostadas — with freshly poached chicken breast, fresh-fried tortillas, quick-pickled cabbage and ripe avocado. Between the two mealtimes, we consumed some of the chicken, so I needed to augment our protein.

Canned pinto beans in my pantry were an obvious fix, and a nearby can of corn was sure to please my husband’s palate. Spying yet another can — green-chili enchilada sauce — I considered making enchiladas instead of tostadas. But that dish would eliminate the crunch that I was craving from the tortillas.

So I devised what I’m calling “cheater’s chimichanga.” Instead of filling tortillas, deep-frying the whole package and smothering it in sauce, I simply rolled up the chicken/beans/corn filling inside flour tortillas, puffed and bubbly in hot oil, and topped each with some of the sauce enriched with half-and-half and cream cheese. If I can’t be bothered to deep-fry, I definitely can’t be bothered to make béchamel.

And perhaps not surprisingly, this mish-mash was a hit with husband and kids alike. As my husband and I hashed over ways to tweak the preparation, my mind returned to this recipe, which I spied several weeks back on the food wire.

Refrigerated crescent rolls are among the convenience foods that I’ve taken to keeping on hand at my husband’s behest. They get even more mileage since we’ve had kids, who are coming to like pigs ‘n blankets almost as much as their dad does.

This Latin-inspired recipe, also utilizing a couple of canned items, would furnish another use for crescent rolls (I would stick with full-fat). Along with all those tortilla-chip crumbs in the bottom of the bag.

Tribune News Service photo

Enchilada Ring

3 1/2 to 4 cups cooked shredded chicken

1 small (4-ounce) can sliced black olives

1 1/2 cups reduced-fat shredded Monterey jack/cheddar cheese blend, divided

1 (4-ounce) can chopped green chilies, undrained

3/4 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise

1 to 2 tablespoons chili powder, hot or mild, or to taste

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Juice of 1 lime

1 cup favorite salsa, divided

2/3 cup finely crushed tortilla chips, divided

2 packages (8 ounces each) reduced-fat crescent rolls

1 teaspoon canola oil

Sour cream, for serving (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 F.

In a medium bowl, mix the chicken, olives, 1 1/4 cups of the cheese, the green chilies, mayonnaise, chili powder, garlic powder, cumin, salt, black pepper, lime juice and 1/4 cup of the salsa. Set aside 2 tablespoons of the crushed tortilla chips and mix remaining into chicken mixture.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or have ready a baking stone.

Sprinkle reserved crushed chips over a large cutting board. Unroll the crescent rolls, do not separate and place dough onto chips, pressing down so chips adhere to dough.

Separate dough into triangles. Arrange triangles, chip side down, in a circle on baking sheet or stone. Wide ends should overlap in center, and points should be toward outside. There should be about a 5-inch-diameter opening in center.

Scoop the chicken mixture onto wide ends leaving about a 1/4-inch space from opening. Bring points of triangles up over filling and tuck securely under wide ends. Do not cover filling completely. It should show a bit between each triangle.

Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden-brown. Brush with the canola oil and sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup cheese during last 5 minutes of baking. Remove from oven and let stand a few minutes before slicing.

Serve with remaining 3/4 cup salsa and, if desired, and the sour cream.

Makes 16 servings.

Recipe adapted by the Detroit Free Press from the Pampered Chef.

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    Sarah Lemon

    Sarah Lemon covers the Rogue Valley’s food scene with an enthusiasm that rivals her love of cooking. Her blog mixes culinary musings and milestones with tips and recipes you won’t find in the Mail Tribune’s weekly A la Carte section. When ... Read Full
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