Pesto crusted chicken served with pasta and mushroom balsamic marinara sauce


I am totally obsessed with Pesto Princess pesto lately, which has inspired me to not only cook with it all the time but also grow basil in my garden so that I can make my own pesto. Spring is here and I am ready for some, what I like to call, intentional gardening. Our little apartment is overflowing with vivacious indoor plants, but for some reason, I cannot get any veggies or herbs to survive longer than a few weeks in my garden. But this year is different! I am doing my research, laying down the heaps of compost that accumulated all winter, and am planting plants that are suitable for the conditions in my garden – all in determination to yield a small harvest, because it just tastes so much better if you’ve grown it with your own two hands.

To begin with, I sewed some rainbow swiss chard, marrow, and rocket seeds. I have been unable to locate basil seeds yet; however, I learned through the wonders of the internet that you can take a basil clipping, place it in water, and it will sprout roots. So, I will be sure to do this next time I buy fresh basil.

My seedlingsMy seedlingsAlso, youtube taught me that you can take the base of a spring onion (you know, the bottom of the stalk that you always throw away), plant it directly in soil, and new spring onions will sprout almost immediately. Thanks youtube!

Spring onionsI woo my little baby plants to grow – I love them, stare at them all day long, talk to them, water them, move them into the sun, take them inside on those really brisk nights so they don’t freeze… and I think it is working. Nothing brings me greater joy than spotting the first sign of life inching out of the soil and watching as it grows into something substantial to be planted in the ground.

This recipe is an original Kim creation, which I conjured up last weekend, and it was truly delicious – the flavors were so dynamic and complimentary. Hopefully in the next few months, I will be able to reproduce this meal using home grown ingredients!

Pesto crusted chicken with pasta and mushroom balsamic marinara sauce  (serves 2)

pesto crusted chickeningredients

for the chicken:

  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 scrambled egg
  • a handful of flour
  • about 1 cup of bread crumbs
  • about 4 heaped tsp pesto
  • salt & pepper to taste

for the pasta:

  • about 200g pasta
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 1 heaped tsp garlic
  • 250g chopped brown onions
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 large handful halved cherry tomatoes
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 tbl balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp ground basil

Directions

  1. preheat the oven to 200C
  2. coat the chicken breasts in flour and then dip them into the scrambled egg mixture
  3. smear a tsp of pesto on the chicken breast and press the pesto side into bread crumbs
  4. turn the breast over and repeat on the other side
  5. place the chicken in a pan, sprinkle some salt & pepper, and bake for about 30-35 minutes
  6. while your chicken is baking, prepare the pasta and sauce
  7. In a pan, saute the onions and garlic until browned
  8. add the mushrooms, and when about half cooked, add the remaining ingredients
  9. bring the sauce to a boil and simmer for about 15 minutes
  10. at this point, cook your pasta
  11. serve the chicken over the bed of pasta heaped with sauce
  12. enjoy!

Rocket pesto pasta with salmon


Nothing uplifts me more than cooking. I spent Women’s day blowing my nose till rawness and working on my thesis instead of treating myself, so I decided to take a break and cook something special for Ty and I. Yesterday I received a delivery of Julie’s delicious fish, which motivated me to surf my favorite blog Pink Parsley for a salmon recipe.

I found a recipe for salmon pesto pasta, which was a perfect match for my latest Pesto princess addiction and the fresh Norwegian salmon in my fridge. I used the recipe as a guideline and added my own personal touch, which is my favorite part of cooking from recipes and also helps me experiment and grow as a cook.

Luckily, Ty came home with lots of medicine for me, so that by the time dinner was ready, my sinuses had clear and I could taste the flavors, which were light, fresh, and delicious. Unfortunately, my sinuses are clogging up again as I type, so I will have to unclog them tomorrow night before dinner.

Pesto pasta with salmon (serves 2 + leftovers)

Pesto pasta with salmonPesto pasta with salmonIngredients

  • 300g salmon
  • 1 lemon
  • olive oil
  • 1 chopped onion
  • about 2 cups cubed large cherry tomatoes
  • about 300g pasta
  • about 1/2 cup rocket pesto
  • a handful of fresh rocket
  • salt & pepper

Directions

  1. saute onions in oil on medium to low heat
  2. move the oven rack to the upper-middle rung and turn on the broiler
  3. place the salmon on a baking sheet covered with tinfoil
  4. rub olive oil on the fish, and season it with freshly squeezed lemon, salt, and cracked pepper
  5. broil the fish for 10-12 minutes until it begins to brown slightly around the edges
  6. while the fish is cooking, cook the pasta
  7. when the pasta is nearly done, add the tomatoes to the sauteeing onions and gently cook until warm and slightly softened
  8. strain the pasta, put it back in the pot, and mix in the onions, tomatoes, and pesto
  9. when the fish is done, remove it from the oven and flake it into bite sized pieces
  10. gently mix the salmon into the pasta
  11. serve with a garnish of fresh rocket on top

Seafood pasta


Margaret, Ty’s wonderful aunt, had thousands of RCI timeshare points that were going to expire by the end of last year and challenged us to find holiday accommodation for ourselves. We happily took that amazing challenge and sat determined to find the perfect getaway spot close to home. We ended up booking at Kagga Kamma, a gorgeous lodge in Swartruggens Nature Reserve about 250k from Cape Town, for a week in June to celebrate the end of the semester.

From our large chalet (it just sounds so fancy and posh!), you could see rock formations, boulders, desert shrubs, and sand, as far as the eye could see. And for allegedly being the most arid place in South Africa, it sure rained a lot! It was also very chilly and the electricity turned off at 11PM, so it was the perfect occasion for a continual fire, although the wood was so wet due to the rain, that we spent a large majority of the time fanning, blowing, and pouring copious amounts of cooking oil on the wood, begging it to catch. Nonetheless, we spent the entire week eating like gods, lounging around, watching all of the movies and series that we had, playing on the boulders, and faking work.

We invited our friends up for the weekend and our plan was to have a seafood braai feast the night that everyone arrived. However, unfortunately, due to the stormy weather in Cape Town the week before, all the fishies were scared away, but luckily Julie, my awesome fish monger, organized some frozen prawns, calamari, and salmon for me. So, on the Friday that we arrived, I made absolutely divine seafood pasta for my lovely guests, inspired by the Pioneer Woman.

seafood pasta (serves 8)

Ingredients

For the sauce

  • 2 tbl butter
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 1 heaped tsp chopped garlic
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 300g chopped cherry tomatoes
  • 1 250g can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tsp dried basil (or a small handful of freshly chopped basil)

For the seafood

  • 500g salmon cut into bitesized cubes
  • 500g calamari tubes and tentacles
  • approximately 40 prawns deheaded and deveined
  • 2 tbs butter
  • 1 tsp garlic
  • 1-2 chopped fresh chillis
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • salt and pepper
  • 500g pasta

Directions

  1. In a large deep pan, saute the onions and garlic in butter
  2. add the tomatoes, wine, cream, basil, a dash of salt and pepper, and stir
  3. bring the sauce to a boil, reduce the heat, and let simmer for 30 minutes until thickened
  4. about 15 minutes into cooking the sauce, cook the pasta
  5. in another pan, saute the garlic and chili in butter, add the salmon and half the lemon juice, and let cook for a few minutes
  6. toss in the calamari and prawns, add the rest of the lemon juice, and add a dash of salt and pepper
  7. in a few minutes, when the prawns are just beginning to turn pink, remove the seafood from the pan
  8. add the seafood to the sauce and let simmer for another minute or so until the seafood is fully cooked (but be very careful not to overcook the seafood!)
  9. toss the pasta into the sauce and serve with warm, fresh bread

Jonesin’ Chicken Enchiladas


While visiting the States for my sister’s wedding, I went to my favorite Taqueria (Spanish for Taco Shop), Taqueria Las Comadres II, to order a jumbo mouth-watering burrito.  As my burrito passed down an assembly line of little old Mexican ladies, I chose spicy grilled chicken, cheese, lettuce, pinto beans, sour cream, guacamole, and jalapenos from an array of fillings.  The last woman in line folded my burrito with perfection and handed it to her salivating customer.  My favorite part of the burrito eating experience is taking numerous trips to the salsa bar to fill small plastic containers with salsas of every kind (from pineapple to classic pico de gallo), diced jalapenos, and loads of coriander.  I always drown my burrito to create a hodgepodge sauce and a unique flavor for every bite.

Me eating a super burrito with my mom at Taqueria Las Comadres II before flying back to South Africa - And you can bet I ate the entire thing!

When I first arrived in South Africa to study abroad in 2008, I naively ordered “nachos” at Spur (mistake number 1), which to my dismay, were doritos chips (mistake number 2) covered with tomatoes, corn, beans that were not black nor pinto  (mistake number 3), feta cheese (mistake number 4), no jalapenos (mistake number 5), and subpar guacamole (mistake number 6).  This introduction to South African Mexican food was not happy making and after my Spur experience, I pretty much wrote it off.  However,  I have since tried and enjoyed the gourmet style Mexican food at El Burro and the tex-mex at Fat Cactus, but have yet to try San Julian, which apparently is as authentic as it comes in South Africa.

I got the jonesin’ for some good home-made Mexican food and came across a fabulous chicken enchilada recipe in Pink-Parsley, my favorite food blog by Josie, which was previously adapted from Tide and Thyme, and which I have adapted yet again to appeal to my tastebuds and cooking style.  This recipe has become one of my all time forever favorites that I constantly rave about and recommend to friends and family.

Jonesin’ Chicken Enchiladas (serves 4)

Ingredients

For the enchiladas

  • 1 onion chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves chopped
  • 1-2 jalapenos seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbl chili powder
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 3 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 can tomato puree
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1-2 tomatoes chopped
  • 4 pieces boneless chicken breast chopped into bite size pieces
  • 1/2 julienned red pepper
  • 1/2 julienned yellow pepper
  • 1 cup white chedder
  • 1 cup gouda
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh coriander
  • 6-8 medium flour tortillas
  • salt and pepper to taste

For the guacamole

  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 1/2 squeezed lemon
  • 1-2 jalapenos seeded and chopped
  • 1 small purple onion
  • 2 tomatoes diced
  • a small handful of coriander chopped
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp portuguese chicken spice
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 218C (425F).  Saute the onions, jalapenos, and salt until softened and lightly brown.  Add the garlic, cumin, sugar, chili powder, paprika and stir for about 30 seconds until fragrant.  Next add the tomato sauce, water, and chopped tomatoes.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer, and let thicken for about 5 minutes.  Stir in the chicken and peppers and let cook for about 15 minutes.  In a bowl, stir together half the cheese and half the coriander.  Using a slatted spoon, carefully spoon out the chicken and onions and mix together with the cheese and coriander.  Spice the remaining sauce with a few dashes of salt and pepper and set aside.  Microwave the tortillas for approximately 20 seconds so that they are pliable.  Lightly grease a large deep pan.  One at a time, flatten the tortillas on a cutting board, spoon a line-full of the filling down the center of the tortilla, fold into a flute, carefully turn upside down, and gently place in the pan.  Bake in the oven for 10 minutes or until the tortillas turn slightly golden.  Remove the enchiladas from the oven, pour the sauce all over them, and top with lots of cheese.  Put back in the oven and cook for another 20 minutes.  You do not need to serve them with anything because they are incredibly awesome all on their own, but if you want you can add fresh coriander, gaucamole, sour cream, and salsa.

Kristen made scrumptious guacamole to accompany the enchiladas.  In a bowl, she mixed together the avos, lemon juice, jalapenos, onion, tomatoes, coriander, salt and pepper until blended but still a bit chunky.  Also, to jazz up the guac, I sometimes add cumin, portuguese chicken spice, and paprika.

Ty, Kristen, and Thomas gettin' ready to chow down on my enchiladas