Following a series of disappointing setbacks at the dinner table, I decided to approach the dinner-rejection problem from a different tack. I realized that there wasn't any excitement, any sizzle at the dinnertime. "Lunchables" aren't called "Highly Processed Food Conveniently Packaged in a Single Serving" for a very good reason: "Lunchables" is catchier--it's cool, it's hip, it's, as Henry puts it, sick. What I needed to do was to disguise the nutritious meals I've been flogging as a fun mealtime experience. Taking a cue from marketing, I transformed "blah" into "Bravo!" in a single stroke.
Everyone knows what chicken pot pie is. But do you know what "Volcano Chicken" is? It's chicken pot pie served in a puff pastry shell. And it was a shovel-it-in unqualified hit at my house the other night. Why Volcano Chicken? Because when it spills out over the sides of the puff pastry shell it resembles an erupting volcano. Well, not really, but the kiddos bought it hook, line, and sinker.
The following recipe is highly adaptable depending on your kids' tastes. Frozen vegetables are perfect for this recipe, since they thaw/cook at the same time. Badda-bing!
Volcano Chicken (or Turkey)
1 package of puff pastry shells
3 T unsalted butter
2 T flour
4 c. chicken or turkey broth
Salt and pepper to taste
1-2 T soy sauce
2 c. chopped cooked chicken or turkey
1 c. frozen peas
Mushrooms, sliced and sautéed until all liquid has been released
Diced carrots, steamed
Diced potatoes, boiled (or frozen hash browns)
Chopped onion, sautéed until golden
Cook the puff pastry shells according to package directions. While they're in the oven, prepare the "lava."
Make a roux by melting the butter in a saucepan, then adding the flour. Cook the roux for a couple of minutes to eliminate the taste of raw flour, then add the broth (slowly at first so you don't end up with lumps). When the gravy thickens, season it with salt, pepper, and soy sauce (go easy on the soy sauce--you're going for umami, a savory flavor, not salty).
Add the chicken or turkey, frozen peas, and any other add-ins you think your kids will eat. After the meat and vegetables are heated through, spoon it into the puff pastry shells.
This meal is good with rice and a steamed vegetable. Chow down!