Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Chili Chicken Pasty Puffs

My brother bequeathed a subscription to Tastes of Home to me for Christmas and I'm thoroughly enjoying this new magazine. I flipped through the issue that arrived today and knew that we'd be having some version of chili chicken sandwiches for dinner tonight. With some tweaking, it was a tasty (if somewhat fattening) dinner.

Chili Chicken Pasty Puffs
1 box puff pastry shells
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 cups chicken, cooked and shredded
1 cup Mexican-blend cheese, shredded
1 small can chopped green chilis
3 tbsp. green onions, chopped
1 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. chipotle powder
2 tbsp. bacon bits
2 tbsp. cilantro

1. Bake puff pastry shells according to package directions. (Pepperidge Farms calls for 20-25 minutes at 400 degrees. The oven MUST be preheated)
2. Mix cream cheese, chicken, cheese, chilis, cumin, chipotle powder and bacon bits in bowl.
3. Hollow out pastry shells.
4. Warm cream cheese mixture until warm but not too hot. Fill pastry shells and top with cilantro.

Lessons Learned: The original recipe called for hard rolls, but since I didn't have any, I went with the shells. If you use rolls, cut them in half, hollow out the middles, fill with mixture, then heat (open-faced) in the oven until warmed throughout. Include some sliced tomatoes and avocados just before serving.
The original recipe also called for crushed red chili flakes and chili powder. I prefer chipotle, so I substituted. The bacon addition was mine; it added the salt content that the dish otherwise needed. When I do it again, I may add a little sauteed onion and olives. The green chilis are a must in this recipe. That's what makes it successful. And, I love the fact that you can literally throw this together in five minutes (sans baking time) if you have a can opener and a spoon -- a package of cream cheese, a can of Costco canned chicken, a small can of olives, a small can of green chilis. None of the measurements need to be exact, which is perfect for my kind of cooking.
I think this mixture would work really well wrapped inside Pillsbury croissant rolls. Simply put little mounds of the mixture in the middle of a croissant triangle, then wrap the dough around it until it forms a ball. Bake rolls according to package directions for plain rolls. (Or, if you're feeling really decadent, form the balls, then roll in butter and seasoned breadcrumbs before baking. Serve with a spicy cheese sauce.)

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