Energy Bites

So I admit that I have been in and out of this blog thing for awhile now. But I have a good excuse. I turned all the food I was eating into a human! Her name is Violet and she is made of mostly donuts. Life is just a little different now. We are mostly making healthy recipes these days and since it is summer, all we do is grill. There’s not a lot of recipe creation that goes into grilling. But I have been working on creating healthy snacks for breastfeeding moms. I have tweaked my chocolate chip cookie recipe to up the fat and protein content. I am convinced that if I allow myself to eat as many of the “lactation” cookies as I want, my milk supply does get a boost. The cookies are delish and my husband loves them too. And no, he hasn’t started lactating from eating them. (Chocolate chip lactation cookies recipe coming soon.) This energy bite recipe has NO baking required. Let me repeat that… NO baking. You just mix them up, chill it, and roll them into balls.


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Baked Ziti

I don’t know if you can really call this Italian food. I think it is definitely American. But nonetheless it’s fantastic. This recipe has really surprised me, it just keeps getting better and better. And it makes the best leftovers! You can prepare this in a 13×9 inch pan or you can make it in in two 8 inch square pans. I really like to freeze one of the pans. I just line line the pan with two layers of foil, dump the ziti in, freeze for a couple of hours. I then take it out of the pan and wrap it generously with foil and place in a large gallon ziplock freezer bag. Then when you are ready to bake, just unwrap and put it back in a square baking pan. This is a technique I use for all kinds of recipes: Cheesy Chicken and Rice, Cheesy Chicken Enchiladas, Lasagna, Everything Breakfast Quiche. It is pretty rare that someone peeks into my freezer and doesn’t find one of these casserole-esque recipes frozen and ready to bake.

If you haven’t noticed a theme on the blog… I am kind of obsessed with Italian Sausage. It has become the easy star of so many recipes. It is just so easy to keep on hand, it freezes so well! And I’m not just talking about the pork version… I am in love with any chicken or turkey Italian sausage. Sprouts has a fabulous option that really cuts calories out of any of these recipes… Italian Sausage and Gnocchi Soup, Farro and Sausage Parmigiano, Lasagna. This recipe is not what I would consider “healthy” but for a pasta dish you can make some substitutions to cut down on calories. Its probably about 600 calories per serving as made below, so it’s not the worst as far as pasta goes.



If you make all of this ziti at once, it will serve quite a large crowd. You should definitely serve it with a salad and some crusty bread. I would do a simple salad with spring mix, balsamic vinaigrette, capers, mozzarella. If you bake half and freeze half, you will still have a fair amount of leftovers for lunch the next day. As far as wine goes I think that pinot noir and merlot are excellent choices for this baked ziti. If you’re looking for a bargain wine, step 1 go to Costco… and then give A to Z Oregon Pinot Noir a try. It is a great value at around $15. It will give you all the great qualities of Oregon Pinot at a fraction of the price. These Oregon Pinots are not the jammy, mouth puckering wines like you might find in Napa. They are more rich and have a woody characteristic. A to Z makes a pinot that is fabulous with this ziti but is also easy to drink on its own. A bottle of this will disappear in minutes when drinking with friends on the porch on a cool spring evening.

Baked Ziti

1 lb 1% cottage cheese
2 large eggs, beaten
3 oz parmesan cheese, freshly grated
Kosher salt
1 lb ziti (or other large hollow shaped pasta)
1 tbsp EVOO
1/2 cup finely chopped yellow onion
20 oz Italian sausage
6 medium garlic cloves, minced
28 oz tomato sauce
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp sugar
3/4 tsp cornstarch
1 cup heavy cream
12 oz shredded mozzarella

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk together the cottage cheese, eggs, 1 cup of freshly grated parmesan cheese in a medium bowl. Boil a large pot of salted water. Cook the pasta until it softens but is not fully cooked. Drain and set aside.

Heat olive oil over medium heat. Saute the onion until soft for about 7 minutes. Add in the turkey sausage, breaking it up. Cook until nearly all browned. Add in the garlic and oregano and cook for two minutes more. Pour in the tomato sauce and sugar and stir until combined. Simmer over medium low until thickened, about 12 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Mix together the cornstarch and heavy cream in a small bowl. Pour this into the stockpot you cooked your pasta in. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook until thickened, 5 minutes. Turn off the heat. Stir in the cottage cheese mixture, tomato sauce, and about 2/3 of the mozzarella cheese. Mix well until combined. Add the pasta and toss to coat.

Transfer this to a 9×13 baking dish. Sprinkle with the remaining mozzarella and parmesan cheeses. (This would be the last step before freezing.) Cover the dish tightly with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and continue to cook until bubbling, about 20 minutes longer. Allow the pasta to cool for 10 minutes prior to serving.

Blow Torch Prime Rib

When my husband said, “I am gonna get a blow torch to sear the prime rib with on Christmas,” I was a bit concerned. But the truth is, it was a lot less dangerous than it might sound. And it was absolutely wonderful. It was actually very simple to make and well worth the 4 hours in the oven. This recipe is adapted from Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc at Home. One of the things he emphasizes is letting the meet rest, before and after cooking it. The prime rib should sit out at least 30 minutes before you blow torch it. Keller also dictates that you should season the meat 30 minutes before you cook it. Rub your prime rib generously with salt and pepper and let that soak in for at least 30 minutes before you fire up the blow torch. And after the prime rib is cook, leave it alone! We let ours rest one hour. And it was more tender and more juicy than I could have imagined.

Thomas Keller is very emphatic that you need a regular old propane blow torch from the hardware store. Not one of those sissy butane torches from a kitchen store. For safety, Andrew blow torched our prime rib outside on the charcoal grill. It was quite easy, no real mess to clean up, and probably safer than firing up a blow torch in your kitchen. I shouldn’t have to say this, but please be extremely careful if you try this recipe. Which you absolutely should. Because you haven’t really lived until you blowtorch a 10 lb piece of meat for dinner. The recipe below is for a roast that is 4.5-5 lb. You can adjust the cook time appropriately depending on the size of your rib roast. As far as where to get the meat? We like to get our prime rib from Local Pig, well we like to get whatever meat we can at the Local Pig. If you don’t live in KC then I do suggest you find a local butcher to source your meat from. A 4 bone prime rib will serve about 8 to 10 people. Also, whatever you do, do NOT discard the bones and fat you cut off the roast. Freeze them! They will make a fantastic beef stock.

Prime rib has to be one of the easiest things I have ever paired wine with. For some reason I always have a surplus of fabulous cabernets and cabernet blends in my wine fridge. I honestly feel cabernet might be the hardest wine to pair with food. It can easily overpower a meal. I have discussions with new wine lovers all the time who say “I don’t like chardonnay” or “pinot/merlot is too watery.” It seems like a lot of people think cabernet sauvignon is the definition of wine. I completely disagree. Part of anyone’s journey with wine is learning about new wines, new varietals, and trying different things. And the truth is, if you have never drank wine and are just starting out, cabernet is the last wine you should be tasting. I love cabernet, don’t get me wrong… But I cannot drink cabernet everyday or with every meal. However, you should serve this prime rib with nothing other than cabernet. I would recommend a Napa cab and considering you are likely serving this meal for a special occasion, open a special bottle of wine. Kathryn Hall Cabernet Sauvignon is an excellent wine that has the ratings to prove it. We have a few bottles of 2012/2013 in the cellar and don’t plan on opening them for at least 5 years. But if you can snag a 2010 or earlier bottle, it is worth every penny!

Blow Torch Prime Rib

2-bone center cut rib roast (about 4.5 lb)
kosher salt
black pepper

Place your oven rack in the lowest position, removing other racks as needed to allow space for your rib roast. Preheat the oven to 275 degrees.

At least 30 minutes before you plan to cook the meat, take it out of the fridge. Rub it generously with salt and freshly ground black pepper. (This recipe literally has 3 ingredients so, be generous with the salt and pepper).

Place the roast on the rack in a roasting pan. (Or if you are nervous like we were, put it on your charcoal grill.) Hold a blowtorch about 1 inch from the meat and lightly brown the fat on all side. Some of the fat should melt off the meat. The edges of the meat should be starting to turn gray. Sprinkle it again with salt and pepper to make sure you have a generous coating.

Transfer to the oven, try to place the roast in the center or towards the back. Cook for 2 hours until a thermometer reads 128 degrees. Check the temperature at 1.5 hours just to be safe.

When carving the meat, cut the meat away from the bones first. Cut the roast in half. Turn the pieces so the cut sides are facing down. Slice into 1/2 inch slices. Arrange the meat on a platter and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Adapted from Ad Hoc at Home.

Brunch Casserole

This recipe is a fun way to mix it up for breakfast. It is also an amazing way to serve breakfast to a crowd. It can actually be made the night before and refrigerated. I did this for the holidays to save some time and mess on Christmas Day. This recipe will easily serve 8 people as prepared. I would recommend dividing it in half and baking half in an 8 inch square pan. I like to take the other half and freeze it in a disposable foil dish. Then you have breakfast ready to go in the freezer next time you have guests visiting or just can’t bear to make a mess of your kitchen.

There is a lot of flexibility in this recipe. I think you can just fry the chopped bacon in the skillet and do a one dish kind of thing, you could also use breakfast sausage. You could also make this vegetarian and amp up the veggies – extra bell peppers, fresh tomatoes, spinach, mushrooms. The possibilities are endless! I am now cooking bacon in my oven for easy cleanup and because the bacon just gets done perfectly every time, you cannot mess it up. And I just cheat and make a whole pound of bacon and then there is plenty for a whole weekend or for one hungry husband who constantly asks (re bacon sitting on the counter in the afternoon) “Is this snack bacon?”

As far as brunch wines go… you probably already know what I am going to suggest. Sparkling wine, duh. If your fridge doesn’t have at least two different sparkling wines in it at all times, you are living your life wrong. If you really like the people you’re serving brunch to… then pour some Mumm or Chandon. If the people you’re serving brunch to drink a lot… pour Friexenet or Jaume Serra and make mimosas. This spring I will be serving one thing and one thing only, grapefruit mimosas. My second favorite mimosa mixer is cider. I love the unfiltered cider from Trader Joe’s but any hard cider added to your mimosa will really kickstart your weekend. Add in a quick pour of Laird’s Applejack and get ready to ruin your Saturday. This brunch casserole plus Apple Cider Mimosas are basically the perfect meal for a group on vacation, skiing, beaching, or if you are just going to any of the fabulous parades and festivals in the KC area.

Brunch Casserole

6 slices thick bacon
1 large onion, peeled, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup sun dried tomatoes, chopped
Salt
8 large eggs
1 cup milk
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
3 cups hash browns (frozen or reconstituted)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 13×9 inch baking pan. Plae the bacon on a foil lined baking sheet and cook for about 20 minutes, until it is crispy. Crumble the cooked bacon.

In a large skillet, heat the bacon grease (or olive oil or butter). Saute the onion and bell pepper for about 7 minutes until it is soft. Add in the garlic, sun dried tomatoes, 1 tsp salt and cook for 2 more minutes.

In a metal bowl, beat the eggs and whisk in the milk and black pepper. Stir in 2/3 of the cheese, the potatoes, the bacon, and the cooked onion mixture. Pour this into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Bake for 40 minutes or until the edges are firm.

Apple Cider Mimosas

2 oz sparkling wine
3 oz cider
1/2 oz Laird’s Applejack
Lemon and apple slices for garnish

If everything is cold in the fridge, just pour all ingredients into a champagne flute and serve. If not cold, shake up the applejack and the cider in a cocktail shaker and pour into a champagne flute, finish with sparkling wine. You can also serve the applejack and cider over ice and fill the glass to the top with sparkling wine.

These are Bubbly Kitchen original recipes.

Farro and Sausage Parmigiano

The day I watched Glenn Roberts of Anson Mills processing farro on A Chef’s Life, I became obsessed with locally sourced and heirloom grains. The only heirloom farro grown in America comes from Anson Mills.  You can find farro at your local grocery store or Trader Joes, but if you want to explore heirloom grains, place an order from Anson Mills. Try some new things! Cornmeal, grits, flour, Carolina gold rice, red peas… you just cannot go wrong. They also have a number of recipes and tips on their website for cooking with these products.  Read through these recipes before you start experimenting. The products from Anson Mills are not your typical grocery store grains/rice. These are the real deal. These are the grains people were eating 200 years ago. So they may take a little longer to cook, they may require overnight soaking. But it is worth every bit of effort. These are freshly stone ground grains so they must also be stored in the freezer as well. It is incredibly sad how far the quality of our flours, grains, rice has fallen in the US for the sake of profits and efficiency. The only way to fix it is to support the pioneers like Glenn Roberts, who has basically brought back once lost heirloom varieties of grits, rice, and farro, just to name a few.
 
The farro here takes the place of pasta which makes this dish much healthier, in my opinion. One serving of farro has upwards of 7 grams of protein and 7 grams of fiber. Not to mention it contains a number of other vitamins – thiamine, iron, niacin, zinc. It is also 100% whole grain (if you believe in the whole grain voodoo). Farro is much more complex than your traditional white pastas, it does have carbs but they burn slower. This meal will stick with you and keeps extremely well in the fridge or freezer for future lunches. When prepping lunches, I put this in containers with lima beans or green beans. This recipe actually makes a lot and I froze an entire 28 oz container with cheese sprinkled on top, ready to go for a last minute meal.

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