When my daughter Abby was about two months old, Geoff flew to Germany to teach classes there for about six weeks. I was a first time mom, with an unusually fussy baby (she had GERD, and we didn’t know about it), and it was terrifying to me to think of being on my own for so long. I remember dropping him off at the airport, and crying so much on the way home that I had to pull over. I know, sad, right?
All I could think about was that Geoff was going to go around, exploring castles and viking settlements, and I would be stuck at home with a screaming baby and no help. Amazingly, though, within just a few days, Abby and I had a comfortable routine going. She started sleeping through the night, and I found that I enjoyed the freedom that came with not having another adult’s needs to consider. We developed a really great routine of walking for about an hour every night with a friend from the neighborhood, and I spent the days playing with Abby, and cleaning or doing crafts while she was napping. The thought of cooking dinner for just myself was a little overwhelming, so I subsisted mostly on Lean Cuisine and Lean Pockets, and loved it! By the time Geoff came home, I was much more confident and sure of myself as a mom. What had started as a nightmare ended up being one of the best experiences of my life, because it taught me to trust myself.
So how does this all relate to the above chicken and broccoli pockets? Well, one of my favorite meals from that period was the chicken and broccoli flavor of Lean Pockets. I probably went through at least one package of them per week while Geoff was gone. Now that I’m much more confident in my cooking skills, and also more interested in eating whole foods and making things myself, I decided it was high time to recreate that flavor combo at home. And, like most things that are homemade, these completely blew the original out of the water! I am completely in love with these pockets, and could eat one for lunch every day. (And last week, I did…) Seriously, make them!
Cheesy Chicken and Broccoli Pockets
adapted from Your Homebased Mom
1 cup warm water
3 tsp yeast
1 Tbsp sugar
2 cups flour
1 tsp kosher salt
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon flour
2 cups milk (I used skim)
1 tsp chicken base
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 cups chopped steamed broccoli, cooled slightly
1 – 1/2 cups chopped cooked chicken
3/4 cup cheddar cheese, cut into small cubes
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Combine yeast and sugar with warm water and allow to sit for 5-10 minutes until bubbly. Add flour, salt, and oil to yeast mixture. Combine wet ingredients in dry ingredients into mixer and knead for 5 minutes until dough is smooth and just slightly sticky. Allow to rise for at least one hour.
While the dough is rising, make the filling. In a medium saucepan, melt butter. Add flour, and whisk until combined. Let cook for a few minutes, until very lightly browned. Add milk and chicken base, and quickly whisk until the flour mixture is mixed in completely. Cook for a few minutes, until thickened. Remove from heat, and whisk in shredded cheese. Set aside for a moment to cool.In a medium bowl, combine broccoli, chicken, and chunks of cheese. Pour cheese sauce over the top, and mix to combine.
Divide dough into 6 pieces. Roll each piece of dough into circle. Scoop 1/6 of the filling onto one side of each piece of dough. Be careful to keep the cheese sauce at least an inch away from the edges, or they will be difficult to seal. Pull the other half of the dough over the top of filling and seal the edges closed. Using a fork, pierce the top of the pockets once or twice to allow steam to escape. Brush the tops of the pockets with a little olive oil, and sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Bake at 450 until golden brown – about 12-15 minutes.