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.

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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Runzas


So we are officially back in KC! They just connected my google fiber and I knew my first priority was to write a blog post. I am actually sitting in my dining room eating one of these runzas right now! I read about runzas in The New Midwestern Table and I really wanted to try them. And what better occasion than my return to the midwest! The dish is of German origin – they call them bieroks and they are traditionally made with cabbage. The runza recipe in the book is made with sautéed spinach. So I have made here an All-American Runza, meat and potatoes. I might try adding some green stuff in the future, but we won’t call it All-American.

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The dough is really easy to make and if it is properly chilled, it will roll out super easily. I refrigerated mine overnight so keep this needed refridgeration time in mind when you decide to make these. I think you could probably add any vegetables to this and they will be great. It is an excellent recipe to use up ingredients you have laying around. I have some fully baked runzas in the freezer as well and we will see how those reheat.
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Vegetable Packed Jambalaya


I have not always been the biggest vegetable fan. In fact there was a time that my early 20’s self would not even buy onions even if a recipe called for them. Now onions, garlic, celery, carrots, kale, green beans, and brussels sprouts are just a few of the many things that are constantly on my grocery list. In an effort to be more health conscious, I try to spend as much time perusing the fresh food areas as I do the entire rest of the store. Sometimes I get a little carried away, so sometimes… I make this jambalaya. I attribute my new appreciation for vegetables to living in the South. The growing season is so long here that there is always an abundance of beautiful fresh fruits and veggies. And I have learned that Southern cooking is not about fried foods, it’s not even about barbecue or butter or pie. It is all about the veggies.

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Traditional southern cooks relied on a prolific harvest to feed their families. They also preserved these vegetables in many different ways so that they could eat all winter on what they grew in the summer. This is mind-boggling and so inspirational. It seems like we are so disconnected from our food. Especially with all the chemicals, plastics, and genetic modifications our food seems to be experiencing these days. I don’t know what it means for our health or the future of our food. But I do know that many people used to survive in the South mostly on what they grew in their own garden. And when you get back to this, and approach your home cooking with seasonal, fresh, local produce… something amazing happens to your relationship with food. Continue reading

Chicken Korma

I know, I know, you’re getting sick of the slow cooker recipes here. But I have not grown tired of the crock pot just yet! Besides my new addiction to this kitchen appliance, I have always had an addiction to Indian food. It’s just so freaking good. This Chicken Korma is a nice change of pace from the traditional stews and roasts of winter. It will totally warm you up but the spices are like nothing else. I had a real live Indian person taste this Chicken Korma. She reports that it is authentic. So I win. My other win here is that only one out of every ten recipes receives the honorable high approval of my husband. When he really likes something he says, “that [insert food here] is bangin’.”

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Chicken thighs are a new ingredient staple for me these days. For some reason I always bought chicken breasts in the past. But these really hold up to longer cooking times and work better in soups or a curry like this one. And it is much cheaper than boneless, skinless chicken breasts. This recipe should serve 8. A serving is 1 cup chicken plus 1/2 cup cooked rice. And amazingly it comes out to around 350 calories! Indian food for 350 calories? Yes, it is true. Besides how delicious this curry is, the second best thing is that you should have these spices in your pantry. These are pretty basic ingredients and not the unusual spices you often find in Indian recipes. So hopefully you have these in your kitchen, because you are going to love this recipe. Continue reading