Blackened Chicken

Someone asked me recently for more “real food” recipes. The meals I make at home always seem so simple. I wonder if I should even be posting them. It is all about preparation. That does not necessarily mean exact meal planning. But if you have precooked meat on hand, there are hundreds of dinners you can make in a matter of minutes (See here for one idea). I have embraced southern/coastal living in full force since moving to North Carolina. I am blackening everything. There is a misconception that blackened seasoning has to be spicy. You should make your own blackened seasoning, calibrate it to your level of spice. Decrease or increase the cayenne in this recipe to your taste.

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Blackened seasoning is traditionally used for fish. Typically you would dip the fish in melted butter, then dredge it in blackened seasoning, and cook in a cast iron skillet. You can use this for pretty much any meat: chicken, steak, shrimp, scallops, pork, all varieties of fish. And you don’t have to use cast iron, this will work especially well with grilled foods. Once you try this seasoning recipe, you will be doubling and tripling so that you always have some on hand. If you are already lighting the grill for dinner, you should blacken some chicken or shrimp and throwing that on the grill too. You will have it ready to serve over pasta, with jambalaya, or in a casserole. With your blackened dishes (whether it is chicken or seafood) serve El Prado Tempranillo Cabernet from Spain. This has to be the best wine you can by for $5.99. This is a medium bodied red wine, 70% tempranillo and 30% cabernet sauvignon.

Blackened Seasoning
1 tbsp paprika
2 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp to 1 tsp ground cayenne pepper
2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp thyme

Mix all ingredients together. Store in an airtight container in a dark place.

Blackened Chicken

4 chicken breasts
1 recipe blackened seasoning
2 tbsp butter, melted

Heat your charcoal grill with an even layer of coals. Prepare a medium-heat fire.

Place chicken breasts between two sheets of saran wrap. Pound the chicken to 1/2 inch thickness. Dip the chicken in melted butter and then dredge in the blackened seasoning.

Grill the chicken for approximately 4 minutes per side, depending on how hot your grill is. Make sure the internal temperature is 165 degrees.

This is a Bubbly Kitchen original recipe.

Eggnog Frosting

This recipe is guaranteed to get you in the holiday spirit. I originally made this for chocolate cupcakes, but this recipe is so good it really needs to be detailed alone. This is a fluffy and buttery frosting that tastes distinctly like eggnog. Be careful when you make it, don’t let your husband eat half causing you to run out of frosting for your cupcakes. This frosting will pair well with a variety of cakes… Chocolate, cinnamon, vanilla. Yes it sounds weird to mix egg yolks into your frosting, just do it. I actually made a version of this in my food processor to really grind up the egg yolks. I did not see a difference between the food processor version and the hand mixer version. You should use just enough powdered sugar to make your frosting hold its shape for piping.

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Eggnog Frosting

4 large egg yolks, hard-boiled
12 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tbsp half and half
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp kosher salt
2 tbsp bourbon
3-4 cups powdered sugar

Crush up hard boiled egg yolks thoroughly with a fork. Using a hand mixer, beat in the butter until light and fluffy. 

Beat in the rest of your ingredients up to the powdered sugar. 

Mix  in the powdered sugar one cup at a time until you have a smooth but slightly stiff frosting that holds its shape for piping.

French Onion Soup

This soup is a winter staple in the Bubbly Kitchen. It is the perfect companion for a lunch time sandwich. It is also an ideal first course for dinner. It’s not heavy but the flavors are powerful. This intense flavor comes from your patience. You have to let the onions do their thing, don’t bother them too much. This recipe is really quite easy, but you have to devote time to developing these flavors. You should definitely get this soup started before you start baking a batch of holiday cookies. it requires very little attention and the leftovers freeze beautifully. I usually make twice the amount of caramelized onions. I store half and use them for other recipes, such as pizza, eggs en cocotte, or hamburgers. I often eat this soup by itself. But you could put a slice of crusty baguette and some shredded gruyere cheese on top of your bowl of soup and broil it. What to do with the bacon you cooked but don’t need? I hope you don’t need guidance on what to do with extra bacon, but you could put it on your sandwich or in the salad that you are eating with this soup. When you serve this as your soup course for a holiday dinner party you should open up a bottle of HALL Napa Valley Merlot 2009. This is definitely a full bodied merlot, made for cab lovers. The hint of smoke and rich berry flavors will leave you wanting more.

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French Onion Soup
Serves 4-6

1 1/2 pounds (about 5 cups) thinly sliced yellow onions
4 slices bacon
3 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp brown sugar
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 quarts beef stock (I like this one)
1/2 cup dry white wine
Freshly ground black pepper

Cook the bacon in a Dutch oven over medium heat until it is crispy and has rendered its fat. Reduce heat to low and add in the butter. Add the sliced onions, toss to coat them in oil. Cover with a lid. Reduce the heat to low and leave them alone for 15 minutes.

Remove the lid, raise the heat just slightly and mix in the salt and sugar. Cook onions, stirring frequently, every 5 minutes I would say. Cook them for 45-50 minutes or until they have turned a deep golden brown. Make sure the heat is on low so you do not burn the onions while you are preparing other things.

When the onions are fully caramelized, sprinkle them with flour. Stirring constantly, cook for 3 minutes. Add the wine, then add the stock. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook partially covered for 30 to 40 minutes.

Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen.

Apple Oatmeal Cookies

November has been extremely busy and not left me much time for cooking, baking, or blogging! I literally bought an apple from the hospital cafeteria so I could bake these cookies after a night shift. And I am glad I did because they are so easy. Not to mention, they are unique and stand out among the usual holiday baking. These oatmeal apple cookies are also pleasantly light in calories. So whatever you have to do, go buy an apple and some apple sauce. If you have been reading Bubbly Kitchen for long, your pantry should be stocked with the other ingredients. Applesauce (unsweetened) is my new fall pantry staple. It is a calorie cutting workhorse in my baked goods this fall. These cookies will disappear from your work holiday potluck in no time.

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The holidays are a funny and frightening time to work in a hospital. Not because you are trapped in the hospital instead of being with your family. Not even because of all the death and despair. The baked goods and potluck dishes that people bring to work are shocking. I don’t have room in my day for calories that aren’t fabulous. I literally do not eat any treats offered to me at work. Trust no one. Someone may say “oh she makes the most fabulous cupcakes,” don’t believe them! You will be sorely disappointed when you find out you just wasted precious calories on a boxed cake mix and icing that you want to scrape into the trash. I don’t want to sound pretentious but I am perplexed by boxed cake mixes.  It takes 5 minutes more to make things from scratch and you actually know what your eating.

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Apple Oatmeal Cookies

2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp cinnamon
4 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1/4 tsp vanilla bean paste
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
2/3 cup peeled and chopped Granny Smith apple (1/8th inch pieces)
1/2 cup roughly chopped pecans

In a medium bowl, whisk together oats, flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.

In a large bowl, whisk together butter, brown sugar, and sugar until smooth. Whisk in egg and vanilla, and then the applesauce. Mix in the dry ingredients. Add apples and pecans and mix u tip just combined. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for one hour.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Drop rounded tablespoons of dough onto cookie sheets, approximately 2 inches apart. Bake until the cookies are golden around the edges, 15 minutes.

Let cookies cool completely on the pan. Store in an airtight container, place wax paper between cookie layers.

Adapted from Serious Eats.

Jambalaya

You are going to be shocked when you find that this recipe includes a boxed mix as an ingredient. I know, I know. When I look at a recipe and see the phrase “one box yellow cake mix” or “one packet chilli seasoning” I read no further. But this box mix is really just a rice base for your jambalaya. You could honestly use plain jasmine rice but I prefer this Zatarain’s New Orleans Style Jambalaya Mix. You can use pretty much whatever meat you want in this recipe. I recommend blackened chicken or shrimp, smoked turkey kielbasa, or andouille sausage. This is a super easy weeknight meal that definitely does not taste like it started with a boxed mix. Not only is the recipe super convenient, but each serving is just less than 500 calories.

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Serve this jambalaya with Guigal Cotes du Rhône, a full bodied red wine with intense berry flavors. Cotes du Rhône is my go to wine for so many things. It is great for holiday meals and for your guests who may not be that into red wine. It is also amazing with spicy food. This variety of wine is actually divided into four levels. In a large wine store it can be hard to decipher the labels and figure out which bottles are unique. See this blog post for an explanation! If you find a white or rosé Cote du Rhône, buy it, it will be amazing. 

Jambalaya

1 box Zatarains Jambalaya Mix 
1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 turkey kielbasa
1/2 cup water
6 oz cooked chicken breast, chopped
1 tbsp sriracha
6 oz reduced fat shredded cheddar cheese
Black pepper
Kosher salt

In a medium saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Sauté onion and bell pepper for 5 minutes. Add in the turkey kielbasa and sauté until slightly browned. 

Into the sauce pan with the onion, bell pepper, and kielbasa, stir in the water and Zatarains boxed mix. Bring to a simmer and cover with a lid. Simmer 22 minutes until rice is cooked through. 

Add in the cooked chicken breast and cook until heated through. Stir in the shredded cheese, sriracha. Add salt and pepper to taste.