Classic Chicken and Wild Rice Hotdish

September is an interesting time in Eastern North Carolina. My brain is programmed to think: pumpkin, cinnamon, stews, chili, football. But it is 90 degrees outside still. We tailgated last weekend for the East Carolina football game and it was scorching outside. It does not feel like fall to me. Fall is definitely my favorite time of the year in Kansas City. I am so excited to say that I will be waiting for the cool chill in the air next year in September in Kansas City because we are moving back next summer. I am looking forward to the move but I have to say that leaving Eastern NC does break may heart a little bit.

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While the halloween and pumpkin extravaganza has already popped up in all the stores, I am laying at the pool… it is my first day off in 12 and I am long overdue for a blog post. I knew I was going to be busy this rotation so I made a bunch of freezer meals in advance. One of which was this delish casserole from The New Midwestern Table. I actually cheated when I made this before and used a rotisserie chicken (because they were super on sale!) and it was wonderful. If you have the time, cook the chicken and you will have insanely flavorful leftover chicken broth for your next recipe (see here for how to cook the chicken). This hotdish freezes beautifully. If you are going to portion this out and freeze, leave out the ritz crackers. Sprinkle them on before you plan to reheat the hotdish. The original recipe does not contain carrots but I had an abundance of carrots in my fridge, so I added them. I have also used onions instead of leeks in this dish in the past just because they were on hand.

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1/2 cup natural wild rice (2 cups cooked)
kosher salt
ground black pepper
bay leaf
6 tbsps salted butter (plus more for pan)
leeks, white and green parts diced
3 stalks celery, diced
2 carrots, diced
3 tbsps all-purpose flour
11/2 cups whole milk
2/3 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup chicken stock
3/4 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
2 cups chicken, chopped
4 ounces aged cheddar cheese, grated
2 cups ritz crackers, crumbled

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Rinse the wild rice under cold water thoroughly and drain. Place in small saucepan. Cover with 1 1/4 cups water. Add a pinch of salt and the bay leaf. Bring to a simmer, then cover the pan and reduce the heat to low. Steam for 20-25 minutes until the rice is fluffy. Remove the bay leaf.

While the rice is cooking, Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium. Add the leaks, carrots and celery, season with 1/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper. Cook until soft, about 10 minutes.

Add the flour to the vegetables and cook for 1 minute. Pour in the milk and bring to a simmer, whisking to prevent lumps. Add in the cream, chicken stock, thyme, nutmeg, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper. Simmer for 5 minutes. Toss this with the chicken, wild rice, and half the cheese.

Crush the ritz crackers in a ziploc bag with 1/2 tsp black pepper. Grease a 9 x 13 baking pan with softened butter. Pour the hotdish mixture into the pan and top with the remaining cheese.

Bake for 25 minutes, remove the hotdish, and sprinkle with the ritz crackers. Bake for an additional 25 minutes.

Adapted from The New Midwestern Table.

Southern Style Green Beans

The blog has been totally halted lately due to the unfortunate downtime for my iPhone’s camera. This is a sad tale of the day I came home from the gym and discovered that my iPhone camera was pitch black and broken. I thought I was sentenced to only taking selfies until the new iPhone makes is debut. But on a beautiful day of beer tasting in Chapel Hill, my camera came back to life. Maybe it was the great company and amazing day or maybe the beer spilled on it, but it is back in action.

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In other news… Green beans are probably my favorite vegetable and they are really getting going in my patio garden. Honestly, they are perfect just boiled and sprinkled with salt and pepper. This recipe is a combination of a few different southern green bean recipes out there. I love the idea of adding pecans to these. Nothing seems more southern than bacon and pecans. It is also sort of a take on the way I remember my dad making green beans, either with almonds or with bacon. I will say that this is very similar to the way I like to make kale, brussels sprouts, and other sorts of veggies… bacon + onions + garlic + red pepper flakes. You really can’t go wrong with this. This is my very favorite green bean recipe. My second favorite is to make green beans with chicken piccata and make extra sauce for the veggies. And although green beans are wonderful and fresh in the summer, this dish actually gets me super excited for fall and thanksgiving food.

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Southern Style Green Beans

1 lb fresh green beans
6 strips bacon, sliced into quarter inch strips
1 small yellow onion, chopped fine
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans.

Prepare a large pot with salted water and bring to a boil. Cook the green beans in the boiling water  for 5 minutes. While they are cooking prepare a large bowl with icewater. Drain the green beans and immediately plunge them into the ice water.

In a large frying pan, cook the bacon over medium until the grease is rendered (not too crispy). Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon to a bowl lined with paper towels. Keep 2 tbsp bacon grease in the pan. Add the onion and saute for 5 minutes, till clear and soft. Cook the garlic and red pepper flakes for one minute. Toss in the green beans and the pecans. Cook until heated through. Toss in the bacon. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper as needed.

This is a Bubbly Kitchen original recipe.

Steak Kabobs

We are getting some fabulous bell peppers and cherry tomatoes from the garden right now… I could not think of a better use for these beauties than kabobs! You can really put almost anything on kabobs! These have vidalia onions, tomatoes, bell peppers, and steak. You could definitely use mushrooms, shrimp or chicken. Zucchini and yellow squash are also perfect kabob vegetables which I use all the time. See the pictures below of all vegetable kabobs that make a great side with steaks or burgers. Throw on some peaches and pineapple if you are feeling adventurous. Steak and chicken should be marinated in advance. But the main point is… Have fun and use what is in your garden or your fridge. Sirloin or tenderloin tips are usually cheaper and are already chopped for you. But if you cannot find them at your grocery store, use whatever steak cuts you prefer. See the pictures below for inspiration but use your favorite vegetables or whatever catches your eye at the farmer’s market. Use a vidalia onion dressing or balsamic vinaigrette glaze to add some zing to the vegetable kabobs. The brightly colored and super fresh summer vegetables are the highlight in these kabobs. So serve them with a complimentary Sauvignon Blanc. Starborough makes a super reasonably price Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand. The wine has crisp and refreshing citrus notes with hints of tropical fruit.

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Steak Kabobs

1 lb steak tips, or steak chopped into one inch pieces
3/4 cup Balsamic vinaigrette (recipe found here)
1 medium onion, quartered
3 medium bell peppers, chopped into 1 inch pieces
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes
1 Zucchini or yellow squash, sliced
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Bamboo or metal skewers

Place the steak pieces in a container with 1/2 cup balsamic vinaigrette, cover and refrigerate for 2 hours. If using bamboo skewers, soak in water for 30 minutes prior to preparing kabobs.

Assemble the kabobs by alternating onions, bell peppers, tomatoes, squash and steak. Drizzle with remaining balsamic vinaigrette. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.

Prepare a medium heat fire in a charcoal or gas grill. The charcoal is ready when it is covered with ash and no longer burning duper hot. Cook the kabobs for 4 minutes, turn and cook for another 4-6 minutes. The steaks should be 125 degrees for medium rare.

This is a Bubbly Kitchen original recipe.

Compost Cookies

It seems like a lot of people at my job have been baking lately. There are a lot of cookies and bars laying around the workroom and people have really been judging me for not eating other people’s baked goods. I go to the gym almost every day and I am constantly in a swim suit on most of my few days off… I cannot just eat whatever baked goods are laying around. If I am going to eat a calorie laden treat, it is going to be the absolute best. And maybe I am being a little ostentatious about my own baking. But I will tell you that these compost cookies are better than any other cookie, maybe in the entire world. You do have to be a bit adventurous and you should appreciate them for what they are with their long list of random ingredients.

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Momofuku Milk Bar has blown our minds again, these cookies are insane!!! They are not even difficult to make. Which is a relief considering the Momofuku crack pie I made the other day did not turn out all that perfect. This recipe actually contains the remaining portion of the graham crust that we made for our Brownie Pie. The extra graham crust can be stored in the freezer for 1 month. So next time you are making dessert to take to a summer party… make the brownie pie. Then make the compost cookies and keep them all to yourself. I actually froze some of these compost cookies in their ball shape and baked them from the freezer, they were just as good! You will absolutely not regret eating these calories.

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Graham Crust
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup milk powder
2 tbsp sugar
3/4 tsp kosher salt
4 tbsp butter, melted
1/4 cup heavy cream

Toss together the graham crumbs, milk powder, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the butter and cream. Use a fork to mix this into the dry ingredients.

Compost Cookies
2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup light brown sugar
2 tbsp glucose (can substitute 1 tbsp corn syrup)
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp kosher salt
3/4 cup mini chocolate chips
1/2 cup mini butterscotch chips
1/4 recipe graham crust (85 g or 1/2 cup)
1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats
2 1/2 tsp ground coffee
2 cups potato chips
1 cup mini pretzels

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set this aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter, sugars, and glucose. Cream together on medium-high for 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add in the egg and vanilla. Beat for another 8 minutes.

Decrease speed to low and add in the flour mixture. Mix this just until combined, for less than 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

On low speed, mix in the chocolate chips, butter scotch chips, graham mixture, oats and coffee. Mix until just combined, less than 30 seconds. Add the potato chips and pretzels, mix for just 20 seconds more.

Use a 4 tbsp cookie scoop and portion the dough onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Flatten the balls of dough a little bit. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 357 degrees. Arrange the chilled dough balls on parchment lined baking sheets, giving them plenty of space to expand. Bake for 18 minutes, rotating pans halfway through. The cookies should be just slightly brown around the edges when done.

Adapted from Momofuku Milk Bar.
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Grilled Burgers

It’s really hard to blog dinner recipes right now because I am mostly just throwing random food on the grill. I have mostly been making burgers, steaks, chicken, shrimp, and vegetables that are simply grilled over charcoal. I thought I would update my burger recipe because I have really refined this. There are a lot of fancy things out there with people grinding their own brisket and steak for burgers. One day I would like to go on that adventure. For now I like to use a ground beef with about 30% fat. You can buy leaner meats but your burgers will suffer. The extra fat is where all the flavor is kept. My favorite cheese for burgers right now is creamy havarti, it is to die for. And of course I always have extra bacon around which makes any burger even more insanely good. The other key to a great burger is the pickles. I prefer boars head dill sandwich pickles.

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You will also need a perfect bun (don’t worry, I am working on a recipe!) like a brioche or onion roll. Fresh Market has the most impressive brioche burger buns. But I cannot count the number of times we have eaten burgers on the 4 hour baguettes. When I am trying to be healthy and we have extra burgers, I eat them for lunch without buns. These burgers are so delicious they don’t even need bread. But in all honesty, I usually pity people who are trying to be low carb and eat a juicy burger without a perfectly toasted bun. Mostly because if you don’t buy buns, how can you have extra buns around for bun fights with your friends. I like to have light red wines with burgers. But there is nothing more perfect than a dry rosé before dinner on hot summer days. Your grill master will definitely appreciate it if you bring him a glass of Domaine Houchart Côtes de Provence. This is a very refreshing, light pink wine from France. Here is an updated recipe for how we are making burgers this summer.

Burgers, Summer 2014

1 pound 75% lean ground beef
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 dashes liquid smoke
1 tsp ground onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp dried Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 cup Italian style bread crumbs (you can substitute panko)
1 egg
4 brioche buns (plus extra to throw at your friends)
Optional but not really optional: lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, bacon, your favorite cheese, ketchup, mustard

Mix together the ground beef, Worcestershire, soy sauce, liquid smoke, and dry seasonings. Use your hands to mash everything together until it is all evenly incorporated. Mix in the bread crumbs. Add the egg last, making sure to mix it well into the ground beef.

Divide the meet into 4 similar sized balls (I like to use a kitchen scale and weigh out 4 oz portions). Form the patties by pushing out from the center and rotating in your hands to hold the meet tight together. You want the center to be a bit thinner than the outer edge of the patties.

Prepare your charcoal or gas grill to a medium heat fire. Cook the patties for 4-6 minutes per side. 135 degrees will be medium but you can cook them to your desired level of doneness. (This will also vary depending on grill temperatures.)

This is a Bubbly Kitchen original recipe.