Ha! That line always makes me laugh. Years and years ago, I was participating in an extended-family game of Trivial Pursuit. It was my mother-in-law’s turn to read the question for me. “Who said, I am not a cook?” Perplexed, I floundered and said, “I don’t know…The Galloping Gourmet (Wow. Does that date me or what?), Julia Child?…” Well, she neglected to insert the “r” in “cook” to make it “crook”, which of course is part of that infamous quote of our former president. (I can’t believe I found a food-related image of him to post here! Perfection!).

Unfortunately, my mother-in-law is no longer with us, physically. I feel her presence often, however, and this is only one of so many fond memories. I sometimes still hear her voice in my head when I’m trying to make a life decision. I miss her. However, my headline is not entirely true, because I am most certainly a cook. I LOVE to cook, most of the time. It is probably my most favorite thing to do aside from spending time with my family. And for me, cooking defines our family, at least in part.

Some of our best times are had over dinner, whether it’s here at home or in a restaurant or at someone’s house. We have been fortunate in that our schedules allowed for making family dinners a priority whenever humanly possible as our kids were growing up–one of them still is (growing up, that is). And even though those dinners for 5 are now fewer and further apart, they have formed one of the most basic, solid foundations for our family. And the preparation of food is a big part of that foundation.

My kids appreciate good food and enjoy cooking to different degrees. I know I’ve mentioned this before, but…my oldest enjoys “cooking”; my younger daughter enjoys baking; and my son enjoys making concoctions–sauces, dressings, etc. My husband enjoys eating! It’s a win-win all around. I’ve passed along recipes to them and will continue to do so. In fact, next to cooking what I love best are recipes and cookbooks and food magazines and food Web sites. I could spend an entire day looking through them and gathering ideas.

But what I love most of all is creating my own recipes. I don’t have many, but the few that are truly my own are pretty good, if I do say so myself. One of my dreams has always been to win the Pillsbury Bake-off, which is not just about baking as you may know. In fact, I once entered the contest for real. I meant to do so again this year, which also happens to be an entry year (I believe the contest now accepts new recipes only every other year), but I didn’t get around to it. Even though the recipe I entered way back when did not become a finalist, it is still a winner in this household because some 10 years later (could it be that long ago?), I am still making that recipe for my family. And we still call it the “recipe-you-entered-in-that contest” even though it has its own name. So, without further ado, I am finally going to publish this contest-worthy recipe since Pillsbury did not see fit to do so. Please keep the following in mind: This recipe was constructed following specific Pillsbury guidelines regarding products that had to be used, recipe categories, cooking time, instructions, measurements, etc–all very precise directions for contest compliance. And I’ve posted it here exactly as I submitted it in its original format even though I would probably make changes if I were submitting today. It’s funny–overall, this recipe doesn’t really represent how I cook anymore, at least most of the time. But it’s still a family favorite (there are never any leftovers). And, more importantly, it’s part of our family, food folklore. And memories trump trendy every time.

Chicken Marsala Pot Pie

PREP TIME: 25 minutes (Ready in about 45 minutes)

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1/3 c. onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 1/2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1″ pieces

1 3 oz. can Green Giant sliced mushrooms, drained

1 14 oz. can artichoke hearts, drained and cut into thirds

1 14 1/2 oz. can petite diced tomatoes, with juices

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

1/2 tsp. paprika

1/2 tsp. thyme

1 10 1/2 oz. can chicken broth (regular or reduced-sodium)

1/2 c. dry Marsala (optional, but recommended for best flavor)

2 Tbsp. cornstarch

3 Tbsp. water

1 can Pillsbury refrigerated crescent dinner rolls (original or reduced-fat)

1.  Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Heat olive oil in large (12″) skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add onion and garlic; cook and stir until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Add chicken and cook, stirring frequently, about 3 minutes. Add mushrooms, artichokes, and tomatoes. Stir. Season with salt, pepper, paprika, and thyme. Add broth and Marsala. Mix well. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 10 min., stirring once or twice, until chicken is cooked through.

2.  While chicken mixture is cooking, unroll crescent dough on a large cutting board or other smooth surface. Pinch all seams together, stretching slightly, making one large piece. Set aside. In a small bowl, mix together cornstarch and water until smooth.

3.  Add cornstarch mixture to chicken mixture in skillet and cook one minute longer, uncovered, until slightly thickened. Pour chicken mixture into a 3-qt. casserole.

4  Place dough over chicken mixture in casserole, reshaping dough as necessary and tucking any excess inside baking dish. (Some leakage through the dough is okay and will not affect outcome.)

5.  Bake at 375 degrees F, uncovered, for 15-20 min. or until dough is puffed and golden and mixture is bubbling around edges.

Serves 4-5. Can be doubled, using double the ingredients, larger casserole, and two cans crescent rolls.

Next time I do a cooking post, I will share my original chicken corn soup recipe, which is even better than this one. Again, not how I normally cook, but what respectable Lancaster County native with a Pennsylvania Dutch background doesn’t have a killer chicken corn soup in their repertoire? Would be scandalous–almost illegal–not to. And I am most definitely not a crook.