Cajun Pasta

I am so excited about this pasta. It is a dish that will impress your friends but it also comes together quickly for a weeknight meal. I debuted this recipe at a Bachelor watch party and it was a huge success. There, the secret is out. The Bachelor is an amazing show.  It is almost as amazing as this Cajun Pasta. This dinner is easy, it’s exploding with flavor, it’s spicy, and it’s comforting. It will help you get through the rollercoaster of emotions that is The Bachelor. If you do not have a Bachelor bracket competition going with your friends, I really don’t understand what gets you out of bed on Monday mornings. It’s getting a little late in the season to start brackets, but it’s never to late for Bachelor bingo. I have created for you… a very special bingo game. So print off these bingo cards, invite your friends over, pour yourself a glass of wine, make some Cajun Pasta, and Monday night will soon be your favorite night of the week.

 

 

You can use any of the produce in your fridge for this recipe. If you have Italian sausage, use it, if you have andouille, use it. If you have chicken or shrimp, use it. If your shrimp is already cooked, easy, throw it in the sauce at the end of cooking. If you want to add some kale or spinach, cook it down with the onions and red pepper before you add the tomatoes. If you don’t have a can of San Marzano tomatoes, use a jar of marinara. Seriously. This is a very forgiving recipe. I like to use Johnsonville andouille chicken sausage in this recipe to save on calories. It has wonderful flavor, it’s spicy, and it’s half the calories compared to pork. But again you can definitely use pork or turkey sausage, whatever you can find in the store. This meal is about 450 calories for each of 8 servings. Which is truly phenomenal considering how delicious and comforting it is.

 

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I do have to admit that I use a secret ingredient in this. I include a spice blend called Cape Hatteras Smoked Seafood Seasoning. It is from a store in Brookside, Savory Spice Shop. I have been using their spices for awhile now, and I have not been disappointed. You can visit the shop or you can order online. My other favorite spice from their store is the black lava salt. It is a black smoky sea salt that will elevate any dish, dessert, or cookie. In place of the Cape Hatteras blend, you can use any cajun seasoning that you prefer.

 

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This pasta is a bit spicy which may lead you down the white wine road. But I think you should serve this dish with Nebbiolo. This grape comes from the Piedmont region in Italy and is mostly used in Barolo and Barbaresco. I am so glad that Nebbiolo is gaining in popularity. It is a lighter bodied wine but has complex tannins that will surprise you, for sure. This grape only composes about 3% of the Piedmont region’s production. It is gaining in popularity but it is not super prevalent in US retailers. You may have to search for this wine. If you have access to Costco, they have two excellent Nebbiolos right now. It is a perfect red wine to serve with tomato based sauces and spicy foods.

 

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Cajun Pasta

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 lb penne pasta (or other similar pasta shape)
12 oz chicken or turkey andouille sausage, sliced into 1/2 inch pieces
1 lb chicken breast tenders, chopped into 1 inch pieces
1/2 tsp cajun seasoning (or more based on your preference)
Salt and pepper
1 medium onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 cup dry white wine
28 oz can san marzano tomatoes, crushed (or a jar of marinara)
1/4 cup cream
1/2 lb small shrimp, peeled and tails removed
Parmesan cheese, freshly grated for serving

Cook the pasta as directed on the package in a large pot of boiling water.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Season the chopped chicken with cajun seasoning, salt, and pepper. Cook the sausage and chicken breast tenders in the olive oil for 7 minutes. The chicken should be just cooked on all sides.

Mix in the onions and bell pepper. Sauté the vegetables and meat over medium heat until the onions are translucent and the pepper softens. Add in the garlic, thyme, oregano, cayenne pepper. Cook for 2 minutes more until the spices and garlic are fragrant.

Deglaze the skillet with white wine. Cook until most of the wine evaporates, about 5 minutes. Add in the crushed san marzano tomatoes with their juices. Stir to combine well. Simmer the sauce, partially covered, over medium low heat, for 10 minutes. Mix in the shrimp and cook for 5 minutes more, until the shrimp is just pink.

Taste the sauce, adjust seasonings with salt and pepper. Stir in the cream. Toss the pasta with the sauce. Serve topped with freshly grated parmesan cheese.

This is a Bubbly Kitchen original recipe.

Italian Sausage and Gnocchi Soup

I think once you make this soup, you will understand why it is in my constant recipe rotation. It is so simple to make and the ingredients are really easy to keep on hand. I pretty much always have two jars of roasted red peppers and two containers of mini gnocchi in my pantry, just so I can always make this soup when the mood strikes. This is a little heavier on the calories if you are watching what you eat, its about 300 calories for each 1 cup portion and I usually portion it out in 1.5 cup containers. But it is worth every minute that you spent on the treadmill. It is spicy, creamy, and comforting. And it keeps extremely well in the fridge. I honestly could not attest to its stability in the freezer because this soup gets eaten up within a few days, between my husband and I.

 

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I have been so inspired by an Italian restaurant in Raleigh called Gravy. If you live in the area, you must go. Perfect Italian food, everything I ate there was insanely good. I was inspired by the gnocchi and kale combination I had there. I wanted to make soup and I wanted it to be kind of healthy so I went with hot Italian chicken sausage from Whole foods. It is really, really good! I have also made this with regular hot Italian sausage and of course it is excellent. If you can find mini gnocchi, they are kind of perfect for soup, and super cute. If you are being very healthy, you could also substitute the gnocchi for great northern beans. Homemade chicken stock really punches the flavors in this soup a punch, but I have used store-bought stock many times. The milk you use in this soup is really up to you, you can use all half and half or all 2%. I like it to be a little creamier, so I use the combo. Low fat half and half or heavy cream are also alternatives if that is all that is in the fridge.

 

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Italian Sausage and Gnocchi Soup

4 pieces bacon, diced
1 lb hot Italian chicken sausage
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 (12 oz) jar roasted red peppers, drained and diced
4 cups chicken stock http://bubblykitchen.com/chicken-stock/
1 large bunch kale, roughly chopped, hard stems removed
1 lb mini potato gnocchi (regular size works too)
1/3 cup half and half
1/3 cup 2% milk

In a dutch oven or stock pot, cook bacon over medium heat. Cook until the fat is rendered and bacon is slightly brown, ~7 minutes. Add the hot italian turkey sausage and the onion. Saute until cooked through, ~10 minutes. Drain as much of the fat as you can (or leave it if you don’t care). Add the garlic cloves and saute for 1 minute.

Stir in the diced roasted red peppers and the chicken stock. Bring this to a simmer, reduce heat to maintain. Add the kale and the gnocchi, stir once with wooden spoon to combine. Cook for 5 minutes, until the gnocchi are tender. Mix in the half and half.

This is a Bubbly Kitchen Original Recipe

Lentil Soup with Sausage and Kale

So to begin the parade of winter soups that are keeping me warm… Lentil soup. The real reason I made this soup was to use up this huge container of Power Greens that I purchased from Costco. Forgot to check the expiration date, oops, and they were nearing their time. So I cooked them into this soup and they were fabulous! (I also cooked them with bacon, garlic, and chili pepper, recipe coming soon.) So thank you Power Greens and Costco for helping me create new recipes.

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Eating healthy is so challenging when you work a completely random schedule and you aren’t diligent with expiration dates. But it is doable. The first step is planning out meals. Soups make it so easy to have a healthy lunch. You can make this huge pot of soup, freeze a couple portions, and eat it for lunch two more days. When I was portioning my soup, I actually left out the greens from what I was planning to freeze.

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Everything Breakfast Quiche

Alright so I know I have fallen off the blogging wagon. But I am getting back on! Between the move, a new job, the Royals winning the world series, and taking my boards (Which I passed!!!!) I have been slacking on the blog. But I have some really amazing recipes that I have been working on coming your way. It is super cold in KC which is sort of inspirational. I would prefer to stay in my apartment, with a soup simmering on the stove, curled up with a blanket on the couch. I forgot what an impact 20 degree weather has on one’s life. But I have to say, one of my favorite things to cook is soup. It freezes well, it stores well in the fridge, and it is just the perfect leftover lunch. I never get tired of it. So get your dutch ovens ready! But first… breakfast.
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My husband loves this tart crust… and I had a bunch of country sausage leftover that needed to be used. So I decided to make a quiche. And as I was making it, I just kind of kept adding everything that was leftover in the fridge. A few hash browns from breakfast over the weekend, spinach nearing expiration. And of course it needed some browned onions and cheese! And for some reason, this thing is so freaking good. I also did some small quiche cupcakes for fun, but they did not turn out as well as the actual quiche. This thing is impressive. Which is why the recipe makes two. You would be sorry if you did not have a second quiche to put in the freezer for another busy day.

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Coq au Vin

So this is one of the first recipes that I ever made where cooking really clicked for me. At the time I was just a beginner, and to me this was a “weekend recipe.” I dedicated a Sunday to figuring this recipe out. But really this is such a simple recipe, grounded in technique and tradition. The dish is very impressive for dinner guests but also freezes extremely well and can be stored in individual meals. I typically use legs and thighs but I have used chicken breasts before. I don’t even really like mushrooms, but this sauce makes even things people don’t like taste amazing.
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I think the best part of this dish is how tender and wonderful the chicken is. This is an amazing way to cook chicken and the method imparts so much wonderful flavor. And as any of my faithful readers know… If a recipe starts with bacon, I am probably going to be making it. But the first time I cooked this, I learned about cooking onions and carrots in bacon fat. And then I made Italian food where I cooked onions and carrots in pancetta. Everything clicked for me. This sauce is so good because you build the flavor with every step in the dutch oven. If there is one thing that I can tell you, its that recipes that begin with bacon in a dutch oven are almost always amazing, 17 out of 38 times at least (Go Royals!).
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When it comes to wine, Coq au Vin has so many options and they are all so invigorating. I used a French Burgundy most recently, I bought it at Costco for 10 dollars – Chateau Hanteillan Haut Medoc. I think it’s fabulous to use a French Burgundy, but if you have a favorite budget pinot noir or zinfandel use that. It’s important to cook with a wine that you enjoy drinking. But you really don’t need to cook with high end producers.
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