The Appetizer: Recipes from the 2016 Boiler Culinary Throwdown Champions

As I’m sure you’ve already seen from all of the live posting this past Friday, our team of cooking instructors won the Boiler Culinary Throwdown. It was a really awesome experience, and winning was one of the best birthday presents ever! So was the beautiful 9″ Mercer knife we were each given as the winning prize.

Everyone enjoyed our dishes so much that I’ve been asked countless times for the recipes. So back off people! Calm down, I’ll give them to you! Please just promise to cook these dishes with pride and enjoyment; all three dishes were carefully crafted and basically became a mind-meld of all our ideas. So here they are, starting with the appetizer. (*Note: The required ingredient for each round was breakfast cereal. You may substitute out for appropriate ingredients as needed. However, you will look really cool if you can tell your friends you made tortillas out of cereal.)

Mini Pesto Chicken Tacos with Pico
image3 (2)



  • 2 cups Pops cereal
  • 2 cups Rice Krispies
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 TBSP butter
  • 2 cups water
  • 4 TBSP garlic powder
  • 4 TBSP Cajun seasoning
  • 1 large bottle canola oil


  • 4 large tomatoes
  • 1 large red onion
  • 1 lime
  • Salt and pepper
  • 6 basil leaves

Filling (Pesto Chicken):

  • 3 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 4 TBSP Cajun seasoning
  • 1 large container basil (6 cups?)
  • 1 cups walnuts
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 2 TBSP sugar
  • 1 lemon


  1. To make tortillas: Pulse cereal in Ninja. Add in flour and salt and pulse. Hand mix in butter, and then water. Roll out dough and cut into circles. At 12:00 and 4:00, cut slits in the circle, pull in and pinch together to form tortilla “cups”.
  2. Heat oil in a pot and drop tortilla cups two at a time. Cook until puffed and crispy; transfer onto a paper towel-layered plate.
  3. In the Ninja, pulse olive oil, walnuts, garlic, basil, sugar and lemon to make the pesto.
  4. Season the chicken breasts with Cajun seasoning, salt, pepper, garlic powder and cook to an internal temperature of 165 degrees F. Shred and toss in pesto.
  5. Dice up tomatoes, red onion, basil, salt & pepper, and a squeeze of lime to make the pico.
  6. Stuff the tortilla cups with the pesto chicken and top with pico.


Notes: Feel free to make the filling and the pico and just use store bought corn tortillas. With that said, the homemade tortillas are actually insanely delicious. They take a little more work, but they’re worth it. Do it, I dare you.

All my love and a little butter,

Olivia Birlson

Senior in Dietetics and the Certificate in Entrepreneurship Program at Purdue University

Cooking Instructor




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