Well if you have been watching what you eat lately (as I have been), you are probably getting sick of not eating pounds and pounds of carbs. I know I am missing Jimmy John’s sandwiches, toast, eggs benedict, and just basically anything that has bread. I think the most important part of any diet is cheating, and cheat days specifically. I was reading through blogs and stumbled upon this fabulous challah bread with a beautiful 6 strand braid and I just had to try it. This bread is as delicious as it looks. So when your cheat day Saturday rolls around, have fun with it and make this bread. Make french toast with it, sandwiches for lunch, and eat it with indulgent european butter for dinner.
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I started off with the 4 strand braid for my beginner loaf and could not be more pleased. This recipe comes from King Arthur Flour which is a very reliable bread recipe source. There are a number of comments with concerns regarding the water to flour ratio. I did not have any problems with it, mine turned out great with 1/2 cup water to 4 cups flour. There are 6 tbsp of oil which I think makes up for less water. This allows you to create a dough that is not overly sticky and can be rolled and braided.
Challah is kind of a richer, eggy bread, traditionally served during the sabath. It is an enriched bread similar to brioche except that it contains no dairy. Brioche and challah are not the same thing, contrary to what some commenters at the King Arthur website seem to think. They both have one seriously important thing in common though… they make excellent french toast! I am working on mastering how to braid these breads. And I’ll say, it is really not that hard. Especially with the excellent pictures and directions from King Arthur Flour.

1/2 cup lukewarm water
6 tbsp vegetable oil
1/4 cup honey
2 large eggs
4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp yeast
1 egg beaten with 1 tbsp water for the egg wash

In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the dough hook, combine the yeast, water and honey. Allow it to foam so that you know its working. Mix in the vegetable oil, eggs, and salt. Turn the mixer on low and add in the flour, cup by cup, making sure the dough does not get too dry. Knead with the stand mixer for 7 minutes or until the dough springs back when pushed in with your thumb.

Allow the dough to rise for 2 hours until doubled. (I placed mine in the fridge at this point and baked it later that night, just in case you run out of time.) Punch the dough down and transfer to a lightly floured work surface.

Divide the dough into 4 pieces and shape each into a 6 inch log. Cover with a tea towel and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Roll each of these logs into a 15 inch rope. Cover and let rest for 10 more minutes.

Roll the ropes some more until they are 20 inches long, they will shrink back a little bit to 18 inches. Lay them parallel to each other and pinch the ends on the left together. This is where you need to look at the pictures provided by King Arthur if you are having trouble.

Take the rope nearest you and move it away from you over the two adjoining ropes. Then move the rope back under the rope next to it. Repeat this, but start with the rope farthest form you. Bring it towards you, across the two adjoining ropes. Then move it back under the rope nearest it, away from you. Continue, alternating sides, until the whole loaf is braided. Pinch the ends together and tuck underneath.

Gently pick up the loaf and place it on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover with greased plastic wrap or a tea towel and allow it to rise until it is quite puffy, ~ 90 minutes. Preheat the oven to 375 about 15 minutes before the bread is done rising.

Whisk together the egg and water, brush this carefully over the risen loaf of bread. Place the baking sheet on top of another baking sheet (to keep the bottom from browning too much). Bake for 20 minute. Rotate the pan, cover with aluminum foil, and bake for another 15 – 25 minutes until golden brown. There is a lot of variation here, so keep a close eye on the bread.

Adapted from King Arthur Flour

Creamy Chicken and Farro

Farro is pretty much my new obsession. It has that wholesome flavor that I always crave during the deep, dark, depths of winter. The weather has been so up and down lately, and today we are back in the dark cold depths of February. Farro is full of fiber and nutrients but will also satisfy your craving for carbs. And so many fabulous chefs are doing amazing things with this simple grain. My second favorite thing about farro is that it is an ancient grain! Why would you not want to eat the grain that Egyptian kings enjoyed?


There are a variety of farro brands/items out there. I think that all of them are interesting, just read the labels because some of them require overnight soaking. Pearled has less nutrients but is essentially ready to cook. Whole grain farro probably has more nutrients but does require much longer prep/cook times. Those longer times could actually be good for your recipe if you are leaving something in the crockpot for 8 hours, the whole grain farro will definitely hold up.



This dish rings in at about 370 calories for a 1 cup serving. It is extremely filling and will stick with you all day. It is so nice to have something that tastes creamy and indulgent but that is not just jam packed with unnecessary calories. It keeps well in the fridge and reheats like a dream in the microwave for a delightful work lunch. If you are worried about the milk ingredient, just use whatever you have. It will be fine. Add a touch of half and half if you want to give it a boost. I almost always have carrots but don’t constantly stock celery, so I often make this dish sans celery.


Creamy Chicken and Farro

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3/4 cups dry farro
4 cups chicken stock
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 yellow onion, diced
1 large carrot, peeled and diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1 cup 2% milk and 1/2 cup half and half
2 heaping cups cooked, chopped chicken
salt and pepper, to taste

Heat oil in a large dutch oven over medium heat. Add the farro and toast for 1 minute. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Pour in the 4 cups chicken stock and bring this to a boil.

While the farrow is cooking, melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, season with salt and pepper. Saute this for 5 minutes, until the vegetables are translucent and softened. Add the thyme and garlic, cook for 1 minute more.

Mix in the flour and cook for two minutes, stirring constantly to incorporate any dry flour. Use a whisk to incorporate the milk into the vegetable and flour. Whisk constantly. Reduce heat to low and allow it to cook for 3 minutes until it thickens.

Transfer the vegetable mixture to the farrow and stock. Stir to combine. Simmer for 20-25 minutes until the farro is cooked and thick and creamy. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve.

This is a Bubbly Kitchen original recipe.

Orecchiette with Sausage

For some reason this cute little orecchiette pasta shape was just calling my name. I had a surplus of turkey sausage from an overzealous grocery trip, and voilà this recipe was born. This dish is simple and comforting. It comes together very quickly and is ideal for an easy weeknight dinner. And although I sort of made up this recipe, it feels very authentic. Orecchiette is a kind of rustic pasta, from the Apulia region in Italy (in the boot of the country). This area is well known for making homemade pasta but it is very different from the pasta you are most likely accustomed to that is made in Emilia-Romagna. It is a firmer pasta and it is actually very simple to make. I recommend Marcella Hazan’s book if you’re interested in making your own pasta.


I like to use Fresh Market white wine and garlic turkey sausage in this recipe, it has excellent flavor and is a bit healthier than traditional pork sausage. If you make the recipe as directed below, you will get about 4 servings of 520 calories each. This is pretty good, I think, for a pasta dish with sausage. You could actually substitute the lima beans for other greens that you may have in the fridge. I have used kale and spinach in this recipe. You should cook the kale and spinach down with the onions and garlic though. It will only take a few minutes.



Serve this with white wine, a steel chardonnay or pinot grigio. One of my new favorite everyday chards right now is Bouchaine. They have a lovely wine made in Carneros that is sold at Costco for the extremely reasonable price of $16. It is actually the oldest operating winery in Carneros. It has changed hands a few times over the years and now produces fabulous chardonnay and pinot noir with sustainable farming practices. You will definitely appreciate the Burgundian style but the California notes and Carneros terroir are recognizable in this wine.


Orecchiette with Sausage

8 oz orecchiette (or other small pasta shape)
1 lb chicken or turkey sausage such as white wine and garlic or spicy italian, casings removed
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese (plus a little more for serving)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 can lima beans

Cook orecchiette as directed on the package in a large pot of boiling water until it is al dente.

While the pasta is cooking, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Cook the sausage, breaking it up with a firm spatula until only small clumps remain. Remove the cooked sausage to a plate.

Add 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil to the skillet. Sauté the onion for 5 minutes until translucent. Stir in the minced garlic and red pepper flakes, cook for 1 minute longer. Remove from heat, return the sausage to the pan. Add in the lima beans.

Toss the cooked orecchiette with the sausage and onion mixture. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, taste and adjust seasonings. Mix in the grated parmesan cheese.

Serve with grated parmesan on top.

This is a Bubbly Kitchen original recipe.

Thomas Keller’s Roast Chicken

Bubbly Kitchen is definitely fighting the winter blues with hearty comfort food. Its a bit gray outside today and I find myself day dreaming of warmer days and Royals baseball. And then I remember that we have this whole hideous month of February to get through. But this amazing meal will fill your kitchen with warmth and all of the good smells.


I adapted this recipe from Thomas Keller’s book, Ad Hoc. Every recipe in that book is on my to do list. But I thought that I would listen to TK and start with perfecting a roast chicken, he says this will make me a better chef. This chicken is so, so good. I definitely followed the instructions which included letting the skin dry out on the counter for an hour and salting the chicken 30 minutes before cooking it. This made an incredibly delicious and perfect skin. The inside is extremely juicy and full of flavor.


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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.




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.




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.



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.