If you are hosting a brunch, luncheon, shower, or any of those types of things and are in need of a recipe you can make pretty quickly that will keep you out of the kitchen on the big day, this one might just do the trick. I am speaking from experience since I first made this for Mother’s Day for my mom, otherwise known as Neeners. This worked particularly well in that event, since Neeners must eat each meal on time or all hell breaks loose. Neeners usually gets up at 6:00, is wolfing down a lumberjack sized breakfast by 6:10, then takes off in a squeal of tires to do whatever she has up her sleeve for that day. She is home by 11:00, has a linebacker sized lunch, and then a glass of wine and dinner by 5:00. This is her schedule, and woe be to anyone who veers from it. This makes holiday dining somewhat of a challenge in our family, since we do not typically adhere to her feeding schedule. Let’s say we decide to have dinner at 6:00. Just like clockwork, she will come stomping into the kitchen at 4:45…”When are we going to eat??!! I am on my face!!” I think ‘on my face’ means she is faint with hunger, but it could also be that she was feeling the results of happy hour. She is, after all, pushing 87 and a little wine goes a long way. If there is a Neeners in your life, never fear. This recipe can be all done ahead of time and assembled in seconds right before serving. Problem solved. Let’s get organized..First of all, get your chicken poaching so it will be ready when you are to put the salad together. This recipe is flexible, so cook as much or as little as you want. In this case, I used two large, bone-in chicken breasts. Bring to a boil with aromatics and simmer until done.
While the chicken is cooking, you can start making your filo baskets. It couldn’t be easier, and just involves cutting oiled filo sheets into squares, forming & baking in muffin tins for 10 minutes, then cooling. See? Told ya. The only little trick is to make sure you smoosh them down into the muffin cups so they actually form a cup. Another important little trick is to form small balls out of foil and pop them into the center of each little basket. This will prevent the otherwise inevitable result of the filo baskets kind of collapsing in on themselves. I learned this the hard way.
They look so beautiful when they’re done that I like to eat one right out of the oven. You know – just to make sure they turned out ok. The next step is where we get creative, and you can use whatever combinations of vegetables, fruits, and herbs you like. Since we are in early summer mode, I opted for sugar snap peas, colorful mini-pepper rounds, slivered green onion and fresh blueberries. I also ventured into the herb garden for some chive blossoms, yellow marjoram and oregano. No sweat if you don’t have fresh herbs. You can use your favorite dried blend of skip it all together. Pineapple would be really good too. And slivered radishes. And celery if you are a celery lover. All up to you. I chose equal parts of each, except for the onions which would be too much of a good thing. Sometimes I add dried fruit as well, which gives it a nice chewy surprise if you are so inclined.
Everything is ready to assemble, so let’s get to it. Once it’s all together, just fill those filo cups, add some fresh herbs and blueberries for garnish if you like, get them on a platter and go to town!
Sugar Snap Pea garnishes are kind of cool, don’t you think?
Here’s to practicing what you preach.
Whatever the occasion, or whether you make them all for yourself, I hope you enjoy these – they are a lot of fun to play around with, and even more fun to eat, as you can see. Happy Summer, and thanks so much for reading!! xoxoxox
- CRISPY FILO CUPS
- 8-10 sheets of filo dough, defrosted
- About 1 tablespoon canola oil or melted butter
- HERBED CHICKEN SALAD
- 2 large, bone-in chicken breasts – enough to yield 4 cups cooked, diced chicken
- 1 large carrot and 2 celery ribs (cut into large chunks), 4 scallions (halved) 2 garlic cloves, & salt/peppercorns
- About ½ cup each of: slivered sugar snap peas, mini colorful peppers, fresh blueberries
- ¼ cup green onion, slivered on the bias
- About 2 tablespoons chopped, fresh herbs (optional: choose two or three): Italian parsley, chives, oregano, marjoram, thyme, etc.
- ½ cup fresh blueberries
- ½ cup Mayonnaise
- ½ cup Reduced fat sour cream
- Juice and zest of one lemon
- Salt and pepper to taste
- FILO CUPS
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Spray a muffin tin (that holds 12 muffins) with cooking spray.
- Unroll filo dough. Pull off two sheets, stack on top of each other and brush the top with oil or melted butter. Pull off two more sheets and repeat.
- Using a sharp knife cut the filo stack lengthwise to form two halves. Then cut into thirds so you have a total of 6 little stacks.
- Place one stack of filo into each muffin tin. Spray each stack lightly with cooking spray. Repeat this process twice so you have 12 total stacks and all your muffin tins are full. Tear off 12, 4-inch wide strips of aluminum foil, and form each into a ball. Place a foil ‘ball’ into the center of each filo cup – this will prevent the sides of the cups from caving in during baking.
- Bake for 10 minutes or until stacks are browned and crispy.
- Cool for about five minutes in the muffin tin, then remove to a cooling rack to finish cooling.
- Store in a covered container until ready to use, or freeze if not using right away.
- CHICKEN SALAD
- In a large Dutch oven, add about 3 inches of water, chicken, carrots, celery, onion, garlic and salt & peppercorns. Bring to a boil over medium heat, reduce to simmer and cook until chicken is cooked through and reaches in internal temperature of 165 degrees.. Remove chicken and cool. Strain vegetables from broth and discard. Reserve broth for another use.
- In a large bowl, toss together your fresh vegetable, green onion, herbs and blueberries.
- Cut chicken into ½ inch cubes and toss gently into the vegetable mixture.
- In a separate small bowl, combine mayonnaise sour cream, and lemon juice. Pour over chicken mixture and toss gently, only to combine. Refrigerate until ready to use.
- TO ASSEMBLE
- Fill filo shells to the top with chicken mixture.
- Arrange on a platter. Pass the napkins and stand back.