Happy last official week of winter dear blog friends! Let’s all do an Irish jig!! In addition to this much anticipated end of season, tomorrow is St. Patrick’s Day. Do you do anything special for it?
You may already know that my parents are from Ireland and we spent many summers there growing up. On St. Patrick’s Day my mother would make Irish bread (which was a staple in our house anyway), have us all wear something green (not olive green, not dark green – a kelly green that says, I’M IRISH AND PROUD OF IT!). If we weren’t old enough to be in school yet we would go to morning mass with mom too.
To make our home fun for St. Paddy’s Day I mostly just pull out things that I already have that are green (representing the “Emerald Isle”), which is the perfect fresh color for the start of spring too. I’ve had this little shamrock runner for years and I think it might be the only official St. Patrick’s Day decor I own!
My kids have been to Ireland and their Irish grandmother is a huge part of their life, so I thought it would be fun to give them some trivia questions.
I found an image of a shamrock online, printed out a bunch and cut out one for each place setting.
On the back of the shamrocks I wrote the questions.
Prizes for correct answers – a handful of $1 gold coins.
I’m hoping a cold hard cash bribe will inspire my kids to brush up on their Irish facts before every St. Paddy’s Day!
(In which case I’ll have to think up some increasingly harder questions year after year!)
Onto Chicken Puff Pastry. Do you know it? It’s basically a chicken breast topped with herbed spreadable cheese, then wrapped with sheets of puff pastry and baked. Make it festive for any holiday by using leftover scraps of puff pastry and cookie cutters to adorn the top. It’s a wee bit time consuming (prep to table takes about 1 hour 15 minutes) but so worth it.
You can change up the topping by trying cream cheese with chives or various jams (Major Grey’s chutney is a fave, as is straight up fig jam). Take the recipe and make it your own!
6 boneless chicken breasts, trimmed
6.5 container Garlic & Herb spreadable cheese
1 box (2 sheets) puff pastry dough
Preheat oven to 375.
Remove puff pastry from freezer about a half hour before you are ready to assemble.
Place a piece of plastic wrap on top of the chicken breasts and pound them with a meat mallet until they are about 1/2″ thick.
On a clean, flat surface (I use my countertop), dump 1/4 cup flour.
Spread the flour out into a square about the size of a large pizza box.
Lay out one sheet of puff pastry and use a rolling pin that has been dusted with flour to roll the pastry into a large square, about 20″x20″. I roll away from me, turn the dough, rough away, turn, roll away, until the entire sheet is evenly rolled and pretty thin but not tearing.
After the dough is rolled out, cut it into 4 even squares. I do this with a butter knife because my gorgeous baloney colored countertops are IMPOSSIBLE to kill, scratch, or bang up in any way. Which is so awesome. Because I love them so much. 🙂 Alternatively you could do the rolling and cutting on a silicone mat, or roll on your counter and then cut with a plastic knife if you are concerned about scratching your counters.
Lay a chicken breast diagonally across each square, and spread the garlic & herb cheese on top (a heaping tablespoon or so). (One container of Alouette is enough for 6 large chicken breasts so eyeball 1/6th of the cheese.)
Next, fold up the long sides of the dough onto the chicken.
Dip a pastry brush into water and apply to the seams of the pastry, then firmly seal. After you have sealed the long sides to each other, fold up the short end pieces, stretching if needed, and seal with water to create an envelope shape.
Place the pastry envelopes on a baking sheet with the seams UP. If desired, use cookie cutters and the leftover pastry to cut out a design for the top. After it’s baked, the design is kind of subtle but it’s just a fun little detail.
Note: don’t put the seams down like in this picture. The garlic and herb cheese is more likely to make it’s way out of the envelope and you’ll lose all that yummy flavor.
(With the seams up a little cheese might still ooze out but not nearly as much as when the seams are down.)
(I had to flip these over and reassemble the shamrocks when I realized I had placed them seams down.)
Beat an egg and then use the pastry brush to apply to the top of the envelopes.
Bake for 15-20 minutes in your preheated oven. Cut into the biggest chicken breast to see if it is cooked all the way through. Because the chicken steams inside the puff pastry it does cook quickly so be sure not to bake it too long or the chicken will be tough.
Before serving, use a fork to poke some holes in the envelopes and let out the steam a bit or they will be piping hot.
The shamrocks are hard to see in this terrible photo but my kitchen smelled SO good and these were gone in a flash!!! No time to take a proper photo. My apologies.
The chicken puff pastry bundles can be assembled a day ahead of time, just delay brushing with the egg until you are about to put in the oven.
Chicken puff pastry is great with a salad or veggies on the side. They are filling!
(a toast to your health)
and happy St. Patrick’s Day!