Saturday, March 30, 2013

Good Morning: Pesto Rolls

It's a proven fact that cinnamon rolls are one of the best breakfast foods on the planet. But sometimes, you just want something savory to go with your scrambled eggs.

Ergo, pesto rolls.

These are as delicious as they are easy, which is something that I need at 8:30AM on a weekend.

Either that, or breakfast at Kayak's Coffee.

1/2 cup homemade pesto (recipe below)
1 can Crescent rolls
3/4 cup shredded mozarella cheese
2 tbsp olive oil
Pinch red pepper flakes (optional)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
1. Bust the dough out from the can (this is fun):

2. Roll it out gently. Pinch the edges together so that it doesn't flop apart.

 3. Lightly flour the dough on both sides, and flour a rolling pin. Roll out the dough just enough so that it's one uniform piece of dough. 

4. Spread the pesto out on the dough.

5. Drizzle a couple spoonfuls of olive oil on the pesto.

6. Sprinkle on the cheese and red pepper flakes. 

7. Roll up the dough lengthwise.

8. Cut the dough into 8 equal pieces.

9. Spray a pan with some non-stick spray. 
Arrange the circles onto the pan so that they bake into each other.

10. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown all around. Meanwhile, get together your side dishes: we had scrambled eggs and fruit (blueberries and blackberries)

Breakfast of champions.

Recipe for pesto:
1 bunch spinach, basil, broccoli rabe, or kale
1/2-3/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup toasted nutes (walnuts, almonds, pine nuts)
1/3 cup Parmesan or Reggiano cheese
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Blend in a food processor. Add oil as needed to thin it out.

Are you a sweet or savory breakfast person?


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

A Deep-Fried Hug: Savory Chicken 'n Waffles

I have to admit, chicken and waffles has never really been on the top of my bucket list, food-wise.

I don't really know why. I don't think it'd be bad, it just never really got me going like other types of soul food (the amount of mac 'n cheese I eat is somewhat ungodly).

Remember this?

Justin is the opposite on this particular dish. He decided that tonight he was going to fry up some chicken thighs, whip up some waffles with his mom's *borrowed* Belgian waffle iron, and somehow make it all come together.

This is where Justin and I part on certain cooking habits. He's much more adventuresome than I am. To be honest, even though I'm the blogger in the family, I have a habit of burning things much more than my husband.

When bacon burns, the whole world burns with it.

I like cooking classic dishes and making them my own, whereas Justin is always talking about purple grape gastriques and curry-and-honey roasted pistachios (which, by the way, taste ridiculously amazing).

So when Justin started on about chicken and waffles, obviously I was on board. When he has an idea, it's a good plan to let him go with it.

And this was the result:

Pure. Awesome. In my mouth.

Crunchy, perfectly seasoned chicken, crispy warm waffles, a honey-mustard-spicy sauce, creamy American cheese … kind of like a deep-fried hug.

Ok, enough. I'll skip to the details:

2 lbs chicken thighs, bone-in, skinless
American cheese slices (we used Velveeta)

For the marinade:
1 cup buttermilk
4 sprigs thyme
4-5 cloves whole garlic
1 tbsp hot sauce

For the breading:
1/2 cup rice flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt

For the sauce:
1 tsp chipotle mayo (mayo + chopped chipotle and adobo)
2 tsp Dijon
2 tsp honey
2 dashes hot sauce


1. Combine the ingredients for the marinade. Take the skin off the chicken if there is any, then dunk it in the marinade. Let it sit in the marinade for 4 hours or more.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and heat up either a deep fryer or a pan with a couple inches of oil.

2. Combine the ingredients for the breading. Drain off the chicken and dredge in the breading.
3. Fry up the chicken until golden brown, about 4 minutes in a deep fryer, a few minutes per side for a pan fry.
4. Transfer the chicken to a baking sheet and put in the oven for 15 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, make the waffles: We used just a basic pancake mix and used a Belgian waffle iron -- this tool makes for a crispier, crunchier waffle. Cook up the waffles, lay on some American cheese, and pop in the oven with the chicken when you have a couple minutes left.
6. Prepare the sauce: combine all ingredients.
7. To plate: lay down the cheesy waffle, top with some chicken, then drizzle on the sauce.



Sunday, March 17, 2013

On My Wishlist: St. Patty's Day Edition

Being Irish and all, St. Patrick's Day is usually a pretty big deal. I was an Irish dancer when I was little, and every year I took the day off of school to dance in the parade here in STL. I continued going to the parade every year after, as often as living out of town would allow. 

This year I wasn't able to make the festivities, but that didn't stop me from celebrating in other ways. 

For instance, St. Louis is looking a lot like Ireland today, in that it is cold and rainy.

Meanwhile, in Dublin...

Now, not every day is cold and rainy in Ireland, obviously, but it was when we were there in 2008 during our Spring Break when we studied in Rome. 

We drank so much tea in Ireland because of the blustery chill. We traveled there during spring break during our study abroad, and stepping off the plane from sunny Italy, we met snow flurries. This tea kettle would totally recreate those memories.

The Kerry Cottage is the sweetest little Irish shop literally down the street from my house. It has a thatched roof and everything. They used to have a little tea room there where they served the most delicious potato soup and green salad, but it's since closed. They still have fabulous gifts for every occasion, Innis perfume, jewelry, wool, teas, and Waterford crystal (LOVE!). My mom's crystal pattern is the Clare pattern, named after County Clare in Ireland. It's a gorgeous but discontinued pattern.

Here's a similar pattern: 

Click here.

And the gorgeous Kerry Cottage fragrances:

With notes of freesia, lily of the valley, and violet. Click here.

With notes of rose and lemon. Click here

The folks over at Every Little Thing (a STL food blog) made an delicious Irish dinner that makes my mouth water:

This adorable blog called Adore Your Blog has a bunch of great ideas for St. Patrick's Day entertaining and inspirations from Ireland.

From Adore Your Blog.
The Boulder Locavore made some authentic Irish Concannon - basically mashed potatoes with kale. YUM!

What'd you do this St. Patty's Day?


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Cheshire Inn's Kale Salad with Soft-Boiled Eggs

A couple weeks ago, my family went to The Cheshire Inn Restaurant for a combination of birthday celebrations. The Cheshire is literally just a couple blocks down from our house, and it also happens to be the place my parents spent their wedding night nearly 35 years ago.

The food is amazing. I had the smoked salmon platter to start, followed by the rotiserrie-roasted duck with whipped sweet potatoes and pomegranate seeds. Justin started with the black kale salad with soft-boiled eggs and anchovy dressing, and his entree was the prime rib with Yorkshire pudding (something I'd heard of from the odd Harry Potter novel, but never tasted -- lemme say, bloody brilliant).

Not a single one of us left that restaurant with less than glowing reviews. Of all the meaty and starchy goodness, though, to me, the winner was this strange little salad. The flavors were pungent yet balanced: creamy, bitter, deep, and earthy.

3-4 cups baby kale
2 anchovy fillets
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 lemon (juice)
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
pinch red pepper flakes
Salt + Pepper
2 eggs

1. Mix the dressing: In a mini food processor, whir up the anchovy, olive oil, the juice of half the lemon, the Dijon, red pepper, salt and pepper. Season to taste. If you want it a little more tangy, add some vinegar.
2. Soft boil the eggs: Place eggs gently into boiling water and boil for 5 minutes flat. Take out of the boiling water and put the eggs in a cold water bath (cold water + ice); let them cool for 10 minutes. Peel very gently.
3. Toss the kale with the dressing, top with an egg, and split the egg gently with your fork to let the yolk runneth over. Oh yeah.

Get out and try something strange - you may just like it.


Monday, March 11, 2013

Mexican Chicken Parmesan

Chicken parm is one of those universally loved Italian staples. Crispy breaded chicken, smooth, tangy marinara, and gooey mozzarella - what's not to love?

While basically perfected, chicken parm can always be updated into something new. Mexican chicken parm switches out the Italian for something more South-of-the-Border, and ay, que sabor.

I switch out the marinara for salsa and the mozz for queso. Served with rice or pasta (we can't veer too far away from Italian or Justin gets fidgety).

1 lb chicken breast, pounded thin
1-2 cups seasoned bread crumbs
1 egg
1 cup salsa
1/2 - 3/4 cup queso blanco
Salt + Pepper


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees

1. Bread the chicken by dunking it first in a beaten egg and then dredging in the breadcrumbs. Saute over medium heat in some olive oil until golden brown.

2. Put the cooked chicken on a sheet pan with a cooling rack fitted over it (rack optional).

3. Spoon over a tablespoon or so of salsa.

4. Plop on some queso.

5. Bake for 10-15 minutes until ooey and gooey and good.

It's spicy and creamy and crispy - all things we love here.

What classics do you like to add a twist to?


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