Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Eat Your Greens And Love Them, Too!

I'm having a terrible start to my day. I'm just now getting around to my morning coffee and its lunchtime.

My sweet little always-napping-in-the-bed Zorro decided to puke in the bed last night.

IN THE BED.

I heard his retching in the middle of the night and I shoved him off the bed, thinking I had escaped a mess. When I got up this morning, I saw just a tiny bit on the floor. I thought, "oh that's not bad at all".

And then I saw the bed.

It was like an entire meal had come back up. I will spare you anymore details.

So now I'm washing our down comforter in my top loading machine (not easy, but it can be done). I have to continuously shove it down as the water fills in to get all the air out of the comforter.

I was up to my elbows in water when I thought, why do my toes feel wet?

Yup, the machine sprung a leak. I wasn't paying attention and while I was shoving the comforter down, water was spraying up and over the drum, and it was coming out from under the machine.

Great.

Then I had to stop the machine mid-spin because the load became unbalanced and the whole thing started shaking. A wet, king-size down comforter is very heavy! All I could keep thinking about was how much easier this would have been with a front-loader.

I think I know what I was for Christmas. ;)

I know what I am in for during the rest if my day: endless drying cycles for the down beast! Ugh, last time it took about 3 full cycles and laying it out across dining room chairs to be sure it was fully dry. You do NOT want wet feathers. Good thing I have the day off!

I sure do love this kitty, but today I was not happy with him!


So, on to happier things as I am stuck in the house, re-fluffing the comforter in the dryer every 30 minutes for the rest of my life.

I watched an episode of Cooking For Real with Sunny Anderson on FoodNetwork where she made a few recipes that looked amazing and pushed me out of my comfort zone of cooking. She made Collard Green Pesto Linguine and Zesty Chicken Meatballs in this particular epidsode, and I was intrigued. Never having tried collard greens, I was a bit nervous about trying it, but it looked so good...and chicken meatballs?! That just sounds awesome! I think the theme of this episode was Hungry and Healthy, and all of the ingredients are very healthy.

A traditional pesto uses basil leaves and pine nuts. I've had pesto before, and I wasn't really a fan. This recipe uses collard greens and pecans, a much more budget-friendly option. I got my collards at the store for $0.79! And pine nuts are just ridiculous in price, and you don't use them for much of anything else. At least if you spend the money on a bag of pecans, you can use them for pies, salads, candies, or other dishes.

So since these recipes ARE NOT MINE, you will have to follow the links above to get them from the Food Network website. I did, however, take some photos along the way. I think the fact that I watched her make all of this was what interested me in trying them - I think if I just read the recipe, I would have thought, "that's weird and too much work."

I will start off by saying that these two recipes go against almost every "criteria" of a recipe that gets made in my kitchen. But it is so worth it!

This is my prep:

The collard leaves must be separated from the stems. You don't want to eat that part.
The meatballs call for fresh thyme and oregano - YOU MUST USE IT!! It makes so much difference in how they will taste. I have made it with fresh herbs and dried herbs, and it just doesn't compare. I am on the hunt for recipes that use these herbs to use up what I spent about $5 on at the store. Yet another good reason to grow my own herbs...spring project?!

Meatball mixture all ready for hand-mixing (my least favorite part):


Blanching the collards - just for a minute in boiling water:


Quick! Ice bath to stop the cooking process:

Don't discard your murky collard green water - it can be used to boil your linguine:


Dry them off using paper towels your hands to squeeze out water over the sink:
The collards retain a lot of water and that won't work well in your pesto!

My favorite kitchen gadget EVER! It cuts everything smooth as buttah without sounding like you are using a wood chipper:
Collards, pecans, kalamata olives, parm cheese. Previously I had just used the Kraft "powder" parmesan cheese, but this time I used shredded parm from Sam's. It turned out much creamier once added to the hot pasta. Either is fine, though.
Start pulsing:


Lookit that...

After the olive oil is drizzled in:

Chicken meatballs on the stove (they got a little burnt because my hands were still covered in raw chicken goo from forming my second batch and I couldn't turn them in time):
My husband came home right at this step and saw what I was cooking. He didn't even notice/care that they were a little burnt; he said "OH, chicken meatballs?! Oh I love you, yes, oh this is the best night, I love you I LOVE YOU!" 

Haha. I think this is one of his favorites...?

The other sides look a little better:
They are supposed to be a little golden. Just not burnt. :)

In goes the second batch! These babies went straight into the freezer for next time!
RESERVE A CUP OF PASTA WATER TO ADD BACK INTO THE PESTO ONCE THE LINGUINE IS COOKED!! Very important step:

Dinner. Is. Served.
So this meal might take me an hour or two start to finish, it dirties a number of dishes/utensils, and I have to buy a couple of things that are special to these recipes...but it is so worth it. There really isn't anything unhealthy about these recipes at all. It does have a bit of a different flavor profile to it. I know the first time I made it, I wasn't sure I liked it. But the more I ate, the more it grew on me.

So, in summary:

*It's healthy

 *It's good
 
*It feeds a crowd

*For the most part, it's budget-friendly 
(the kalamatas can be expensive, though)

*It could easily be part of an organic/real food diet
And...it was kinda fun to use kitchen gadgets and techniques!
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Again, these recipes can be found here:



I hope you all love these recipes as much as I do!

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