Summer Meal Series #5: Chicken-Broccoli Crepes

Share Button

This summer, I’m going to be posting a series of fifteen low-cost, tasty, and easy-to-prepare meals that are literally straight from my own kitchen.

Hey, look, homemade crepes!

finished meal

OK, before we get going, it should be noted that this meal is pretty much as easy to prepare as you want it to be – and at almost every turn, we chose the more difficult route.

Actually, to be more specific, Sarah chose the more difficult route. She did most of the preparation of this recipe and was the one that made most of the difficult choices. I’ll be using the adjective “we” to describe the effort because there was some trade-off here and there, but she did most of the effort for this recipe.

What difficult choices did we make? Rather than buying a package of crepes at the store, Sarah chose to make the crepes from scratch. Rather than buying a package of pre-shredded Swiss cheese, Sarah chose to buy a chunk of Swiss and shred it herself. In both cases, the result was a tastier and healthier and less expensive meal, but it certainly added to the prep time. Those two things alone more than doubled our prep time, turning a meal that could probably be in the oven in fifteen or twenty minutes into something that involved more than an hour of work.

So, let’s dig in and see how we got there.

our garage sale cookbook

The inspiration and model for this meal came from this cookbook, Low Cost Cooking, that we came across in a yard sale for $0.25 (the cover has a $0.50 sticker on it, but we came late to the sale). Can you guess when it was published by the cover design and heavy use of earth tones? If you guessed “late seventies or early eighties,” you’re a winner! It was published in 1980 and is apparently long out of print.

Yes, we shop at yard sales and consignment shops for cookbooks. They’re actually great sources for cookbooks. I’d estimate half of our cookbook collection is from such sales.

Anyway, on to the recipe…

ingredients for everything

Here are the ingredients for everything including the crepes. One of the advantages of making things like crepes on your own is that you can choose what goes into them – organic milk and farm eggs, in this case.

I’m going to mark off the making of the crepes in their own section. If you wish, you can simply buy a package of crepes at the grocery store instead of making your own.

Making Crepes
Here’s what you need just for the crepes.

ingredients for crepes

1 cup all-purpose flour ($0.15 or so)
1 1/2 cups milk ($0.30 or so)
2 eggs ($0.15 or so)
1/4 teaspoon salt ($0.02 or so)
1 tablespoon cooking oil ($0.05 or so)

In other words, you’ll be making about 16 crepes for about $0.65 – or about $0.04 per crepe. If you buy them, they’ll be substantially more than that.

Making crepes is really easy. Just mix all of the ingredients in a bowl until they form a batter, then heat a small skillet over medium heat with just a drop of oil spread all over the surface of it. Put about two tablespoons of the batter in the middle of the skillet, then lift the skillet and tilt it to spread the batter evenly. Let it cook over medium heat for about a minute or so (or until the top face looks solid instead of liquid), then flip the pan over on top of a paper towel and (maybe, depending on how it cooked) scrape the crepe from the pan with a spatula.

Voila.

cooked crepe

Now just repeat it about fifteen times or so and you have your crepes. You might ruin one or two along the way as you get used to the right heat setting, but don’t sweat it – you’ll have plenty of crepes.

Now for the filling…

Making Filling
Here’s an ingredient list for the filling. Obviously, specific choices vary a lot in price, so I’m just using the prices we paid for this stuff. If you aren’t hitting a sale or are buying premium items, the price per ingredient might be higher.

1 10 oz. package frozen broccoil ($1.19)
2 tablespoons margarine or butter (about $0.05)
2 tablespoons all purpose flour (about $0.02)
1/4 teaspoon of salt (about $0.02)
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg (about $0.02)
1 1/2 cups milk (about $0.30)
3/4 cup shredded Swiss cheese (about 3 oz.) (about $0.60)
2 cups finely chopped cooked chicken (we used roughly a pound) (about $2.50)
12-16 crepes

So, our cost per crepe – assuming we make 16 of them, which we did – is about $0.34 per stuffed crepe. We’ll talk about that again at the end.

The sauce Melt the margarine/butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, then add the flour, salt, and nutmeg. Stir it a bit to make a nice roux, then add the milk all at once. Cook and stir this until it’s thick and bubbling a bit. Keep cooking and stirring for about another minute, then add the Swiss cheese and keep stirring it until all of the Swiss cheese is melted. Sit the sauce aside.

grated swiss - did we need to?

We like to grate our own cheese, even though it takes a bit longer than buying a bag of pre-grated cheese. You have much more control over what kind of cheese you buy and what ingredients are in it, plus with freshly grated cheese, it’s actually fresh and much more moist (bagged cheese often has corn starch to prevent it from sticking to itself over a long shelf life). Even better – it’s usually cheaper, too.

The filling First, cook the broccoli according to the directions (you can use fresh if you wish – if you do, just steam it after chopping it into small pieces). You’ll also need to cook the chicken – we cooked up some chicken breasts for this dish, though you may want to use other portions of the chicken.

cooking chicken breasts

You can see a bit of spilled crepe batter on the stove top there, as well as one of the finished crepes off to the side. (I think that was the one we sampled as we made the crepes).

Anyway, once you’ve cooked the broccoli and cooked and chopped the chicken, combine the chicken and broccoli and one cup of the cheese sauce in a big bowl and stir it until it’s consistent.

Mixing crepe stuffing

Then just lay out a crepe with the unbrowned side up, spoon about 1/4 of a cup (or a bit less) of filling into the middle of the crepe, and roll up the crepe and put it in a 13″ by 9″ baking dish. Repeat with all of the crepes that you can fit in there (we fit in about 16):

just before adding sauce to crepes

Then, pour the remaining cheese sauce on top of the crepes. Preheat your oven to 375 F (about 190 C), cover the crepes with foil, and bake for 20 minutes or so.

Here’s our pan of crepes, freshly pulled from the oven:

finished...

… and here’s what my final dinner plate looked like:

finished meal

The fruit side dish was incredibly simple: we just had some blackberries that we bought in bulk that we washed, put a few in a small dish, and spooned a bit of raspberry yogurt on top. It was a delightful side.

As I mentioned, each crepe cost somewhere around $0.34 to make. Thus, three crepes would cost about $1 in ingredients – I ate two and was perfectly happy with dinner. Add in the fruit and yogurt and even the small glass of wine and the cost of that meal for me was about $1.

Yes, it took some time, but you could greatly reduce the time (and add a bit more cost per meal) by simply buying your own crepes.

Was it tasty? Our usual rule of thumb is that if all four of us – myself, my wife, my four year old son, and my two year old girl – all enjoy the main course, we’ve got a recipe we’ll use again in the future. We all liked it. In fact, the kids each ate two crepes – they requested more crepes instead of more fruit after their plate was empty, a completely unexpected result.

Share Button
The Best Bank Rates
Loading Disqus Comments ...
Loading Facebook Comments ...

59 thoughts on “Summer Meal Series #5: Chicken-Broccoli Crepes

  1. even though I’ve eaten savory crepes before, making them has never occurred to me. I’ve used filling like this for manicotti or for tortilla roll-ups, so those are other alternatives for the meal. I’m totally going to try the crepe route to mix things up!

  2. @Johanna

    I’m assuming he meant that they came straight from the farm and not from the store.

  3. Wow does that look yummy. Alas, it gives me the desire for more kitchen gear – I live in an apartment and my stove’s burners are crazy-tilty, so I don’t think I could make the crepes without the batter all pooling along one edge of the pan. So now I want an electric skillet.. but I’ll hold off for the time being!

  4. Thank you so much for this series! I have really enjoyed it. I am hoping you’ll do one for the winter with winter meals too.

    I made the apple chops last night and they were delicious! That will definitely be going into the family dinner rotation.

    Have you ever made the foil potatoes in the oven? If so, what temperature and how long did you bake them?

    Thanks again for a wonderful series and a great blog! It’s one of my favorites.

  5. I love this series too! Thank you so much for the dinner ideas, I would have never thought to make this and it looks so easy. I can’t wait to try it!

  6. Johanna – most store-bought eggs don’t come from anything even closely resembling a farm! The come from something like this http://www.bigdutchman.de/Cage-systems.521.0.html?&L=2 — don’t worry, that’s not some gruesome horror-story photo, it’s a PR document from a egg production vendor. Not sure how Trent manages to buy farm produced eggs so cheaply though! At my farmer’s market they are $5/dozen.

    Trent, is this really enough food for an adult. When a 4 year old is out-eating you, I think either you forgot to mention that you had seconds, or there were more side dishes.

  7. I made crepes this year, and it felt like quite the accomplishment. The last time I made them was 20 years ago! They are such a versatile items, and feel so fancy. I’ve never eaten dinner crepes – just desert crepes – so we will have to give this a try!

  8. Thank you for the recipe! I will have to try this.

    (Now please go back and review the parts of speech, and you will see that “we” is not an adjective.)

  9. Point fifty cents for the cookbook- what a deal. (I hate that. Use one or the other, flea market item seller!)

    But I want to know what the recipe is on the lower right. It’s like bbq fried eggs or something.

  10. I suspect that the fried egg picture on the
    cookbook is Scotch Egg. It involves hard boiled
    egg covered with sausage meat and then breaded
    and fried. Its a common pub grub item in England.

  11. Very good meal! Suprème! But I probably would eat 6 or 8 crèpes instead 2.

    Gretchen: The lower right recipe looks like a kibbe.

  12. Now we know why Trent says tasty so often! (It’s right on the cover of the book.) ;)

  13. Having lived in France for several years, and living in Montparnasse (where the Bretons generally lived when they came to Paris), I grew accustomed to delicious crepes whenever we felt like it. You can use all kinds of ingredients in lieu of Trent’s fillings…mushrooms, bits of ham, spinach, crabmeat…Also, if you want to do an entire crepe meal, deserts are super easy, too: fresh squeezed lemon juice and sugar is my preference, warm melted dark chocolate is also a fav.
    Also, the traditional meal is served with green salad (like mixed greens)and a simple mustard/olive oil/wine vinegar dressing. If you want to splurge, pick up a bottle of hard or soft cider in your local wine section…mmmm the tastes go perfect together!

  14. I just learnt that you could by “crepes” in a grocery store. I didn’t know that. The side dish looks like a desert to me…

  15. Chicken, broccoli, and cheese – the three items in my fridge I was trying to use tonight. Thanks for the recipe. I tried it out and found the crepes to be rather blah. I even used pepperjack instead of swiss cheese. Next time I’m going to marinate or add a rub to the chicken.

  16. Why bother using organic milk and eggs if you aren’t going to use organic humanely raised chicken?

    I mean… do what you want but it seems weird to specifically state that you use organic milk and then you use the cheapest chicken…

    Is there a reason you think organic milk is worth the money but not meat?

  17. Why bother using organic milk and eggs if you aren’t going to use organic humanely raised chicken?

    I mean… do what you want but it seems weird to specifically state that you use organic milk and then you use the cheapest chicken…

    Is there a reason you think organic milk/eggs are worth the money but not meat?

  18. @Nick
    Probably because factory-farmed milk may have added hormones, but the chicken doesn’t.

    And eggs from a farm may or may not be “organic”. It depends on what kind of feed the farmer uses. But the eggs can be days or weeks fresher than grocery store eggs. And if the chickens are truly free-range, the eggs will be healthier.

    (For the folks who don’t know: the label “organic” is very narrowly defined, and doesn’t necessarily overlap with “humanely raised”, “pasture fed”, or even “healthy”.)

  19. The lower left picture seems to be missing the bread crumbs normal scotch egg recipes have… it would be awesome to see that recipe :) Any chance of posting or summarizing it?

  20. Looks delicious. I’ll have to try this in the future, though it might be beyond my skill level.

  21. I can’t believe people could consider buying a block of cheese and grating it yourself to be a “difficult choice”.

    @ Gretchen, I believe Robin is correct- that looks like a variation on a traditional Scotch egg.

    And I have to agree with Nick, I find your reasoning between organic milk/eggs but not chicken hard to understand and I would be interested to know your rationale…

  22. Make the crepes, spread them with your favorite jelly, roll them up and serve them for dinner. In our house, it’s Daddy’s Special Dinner When Mom is Working Late- Jelly-Rolled Crepes. Our kids LOVED it when I worked late and Dad cooked :)

  23. For dessert I would have held back a few crepes and put chocolate pudding and whipped cream in them. I’ve never had a savory crepe but I might just have to give it a try. Making crepes “the hard way” is incredibly easy- just like making pancake batter.

  24. TIP – An experienced cook would never use pre-ground nutmeg such as I see in the picture. There’s probably a grinder hanging for sale in the spice section of your store. This is even more true for black pepper; buy a mill (Peugeot is the industry standard – I got mine in 1976) and you’re set. And then we can get into teabags and instant mashed pots.

  25. Thanks, Trent, for a great menu idea. It uses items that most of us have around the house at any given time and the crepes brought back memories of my brother and myself making them when we were young. We would do what Michele said and fill them with jelly and top them with Cool Whip. We thought we were quite elegant at the time, although I am sure that many here would disagree vehemently.
    I had the very same cook book at some time in my married life and find it hard to believe that it is apparently “long out of print”.

  26. Many of the chicken breasts for sale are “natural”, and by that I mean that they have no antibiotics or hormones given. I live in a larger city (100,000) and I find it difficult if not impossible to find free-range chicken except at the farmers market in summer. I can order it on the internet but it is hugely expensive. I do settle for the “natural” chicken breasts frequently. And to anyone who questions frozen broccoli it is frozen right after picking many times saving the vitamins that are lost when veggies sit for periods of time. This recipe looks great and I enjoy this series. Thanks for taking the time to share this with us.

  27. Hi, I like seeing the recipes… but I can usually never make them being that I’m lactose intolerant. (I can’t eat a great deal of fish either.)
    Also, I’ve got a specific question about this recipe. Why do you use organic milk which is going to cost more than “normal” but “chopped” broccoli which is going to be cheaper and not of the same quality as whole/organic/other kinds of broccoli?

  28. Good Grief, people! Trent is doing this series to show some fairly easy and delicious recipes for summer. If Trent wants to buy frozen broccoli or non-organic chicken or whatever, it is his business. And oh my, he doesn’t grind his own spices! Whatever people, get a life. I’m sure you probably have ways of doing things that Trent would object to.

  29. Thank you, Beth (21). I agree. These people need a hobby if they have so much spare time to a.) grind their own spices and b.) tear apart online articles.

  30. I’m not from or in the US – to me these are pancakes and are a standard ‘special breakfast’ food, often with lemon and sugar and/or maple syrup.

    We always tried to make too many for breakfast, because my mum would wrap the leftovers in plastic wrap and freeze them. Sometime later we’d have this for dinner. We’re all vegetarian, and the fillings were chilli beans for me (still one of my favourite meals) and chopped veggies with egg for the rest of the family. Only difference was that all the cheese sauce was on top, and it was then covered in cheese.

  31. I always thought crepes were to hard to make, but you make it sound so easy. I will try making them from scratch with your recipe. Thank you so much for this series; with the pictures and comments you make, it is delightful reading and then really tasty eating when I make the recipes.

  32. I’ve been cooking for over 40 years and have always used pre-ground nutmeg. Does that make me a non-experienced cook?

  33. Crepes freeze well without filling. Put layers of wax paper (or maybe parchment…I haven’t done it for years) and stack them. Freeze them in a large freezer ziploc.

    I’d bet the crepes filled would freeze well, but not the sauce. JMO.

    I WILL make crepes this week!

  34. personally, I think the nutmeg doesn’t go at all, ginger maybe, but not nutmeg.

    And it’s missing onion or garlic… but that’s just my opinion.

  35. The plate looks like it could do with leafy greens on it instead of that bowl containing yet more animal protein.

  36. Ill say that the recipe sounds great!! But I do have to follow up with my “what in the name of god is this world coming to if shredding ones own cheese is considered too much extra effort”. where di you (general you, not you trent) learn to cook already. And those store bought crepes are an abomination. Crepes freeze extremely well-take a day and make a triple recipe and that chore will be out of the way. I’m a gourmet cook and I must know someone who grates their own nutmeg but I’ve never met em. And please add a side salad and/or vegetable so you make it to my age.

  37. The entire time I was in France, I never saw anyone cook both sides of a crepe. I think the French outrank Betty Crocker on that one, Kevin.

    Nutmeg goes amazingly well with Swiss cheese! Don’t knock it before you try it. Also, Trent lives in small-town Iowa… finding better quality or affordable whole nutmeg is probably not easy, in my native small-town midwesterner opinion.

    I have to second eww on the frozen broccoli, though… normally, I’m all for frozen veggies, but broccoli is one the exceptions. It gets all tough and soaks up too much water. Plus it’s summer! Cheap delicious fresh broccoli. Yum!

    The thing I completely don’t understand is way you baked the crepes after cooking them stovetop. Why not fill and eat them straight from the crepe pan? Doesn’t baking them smothered in sauce make them soggy?

  38. @Brittany:

    The Betty Crocker reference was in jest. Crepes are cooked on both sides.

    Mark Bittman, Epicurious, Bon Appetit, Saveur, Julia Child: all say to cook both sides of crepes.

  39. There is no way to raise a chicken organically and happily and get the eggs to a consumer for “2 eggs ($0.15 or so)”.

  40. @ et: I’d skipped over all the approximate costs, and missed that. As a sanity check, here’s my experience…

    I’m a transplanted New Yorker who now lives in The Middle of Nowhere (think flat, no trees, big sky). I work with someone who sells farm eggs. He raises the chickens, they aren’t in tiny cages, roam the yard, eat bugs, etc. (The eggs are delicious, by the way.) He charges $2 per dozen, which works out to about $ .17 per egg.

    I don’t know where Trent buys his eggs, but if it’s at a supermarket of any sort, they’ll be more expensive… and their origin a bit suspect.

  41. I have to say a double amen to Beth (#21) as she is spot on! Trent is just trying to give us some good and fast ideas for a meal- I really appreciate the effort and the great recipe! You can do it however you want but you don’t need to insult the messenger. Everyone has their way of doing something and if you don’t want to do it that way, then, don’t.

  42. preparing dinner is one of the most enjoyable parts of the day for me, It gives me something creative to absorb myself in that is totally different from the activities of work.

    I find it helps to not view dinner as something you need to make as quickly as possible but something you can savor and enjoy :) better than watching tv or reading blogs at the very least :)

    thanks for the recipes, they look great

  43. OMG! I actually own that cookbook! My older sister (former Home Ecs major)passed it along to me. I’ve never made anything from it — although I’ve read the intro re: cutting food costs. I’m going to try that recipe this week. Thanks for reminding me about that book! PS The sticker on my book reads $4.95. :)

  44. I am going to make these and see if I can cut them into small appetizers for a little dinner I am having.

    Excellent

  45. I second #14–you talk a lot about “high quality ingredients” but you don’t seem to call out meat a lot. That doesn’t seem like free range chicken in the photo…curious about your thoughts on what constitutes “high quality” meat.

  46. If your burners are tilty and you can’t level the feet just rotate the pan as you cook, the crepes are supposed to be spread evenly and thinly and this will do the trick. toodles

  47. Really excited to try this recipe tomorrow night, probably making the crepes shortly. But can we turn our attention to the cover of that book…is that a hardboiled egg inside a meatball?

  48. My husband (an average cook at best) made this the other night and it was delicious. Now we’re going to be looking for all kinds of crepe recipes since you’ve shown us how easy it is. Thanks Trent!

  49. I don’t know, I made this tonight, and for the amount of work (over an hour!), it wasn’t very good. Maybe I did something wrong, but once I realized that I used enough dishes that my dishwasher was full BEFORE we added the dinner dishes, that was it. It was OK, but not worth the effort.

  50. Oh my god, i was looking for this recipe of yours for ages, because i read so many blogs i didnt know whos it was on, so happy now you printed the whole recipes series again!Cant wait to make them and freeze them!!!

  51. I really like this recipe. Just made it for the 2nd time, this time using store bought crepes.
    The store bought crepes suck. They have the consistency of paper and taste too sugary.
    Another problem with store bought crepes is that you have to store them until you use them. I bought 2 packages when I found them – 2 weeks ago. (This is typical for me). By the time I made the recipe, one package of crepes had started to grow mold.
    The nice thing about this recipe is that all the ingredients (except the dairy) can be kept in the freezer or the pantry until I’m ready to use. Using store bought crepes significantly detracts from that.

    So, you do have the option to use store bought crepes, but I don’t recommend it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>