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?

IMG_2442

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.

IMG_2397

IMG_2411

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.

IMG_2458

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.

IMG_2241

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.

IMG_2234

IMG_2232

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.

IMG_2238

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.

IMG_2144

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.

IMG_2148

Continue reading

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.

 

IMG_2311

 

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.

 

IMG_2286

 

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.

 

IMG_2301

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.

 

IMG_2078

 

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.

 

IMG_2072
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