21 6 / 2012

One of my favorite ways to cook is use recipes as springboards for meals- I find a recipe that showcases an ingredient I’d like to use and then I tweak it, adjust it and go as far as turning it upside down. The other day, I had a bunch of leftover collard greens that were starting to turn. I had to use them up. I Googled collard greens and before hitting enter, I did a bit of thinking. It had been ages since I made a tasty pasta dish and recently, I saw one on Smitten Kitchen that incorporated mustard greens. I went back to the recipe and found that I was missing too much in my cupboard to make the recipe feasible. But it did inspire me. I added the word “pasta” to my search and hit enter. I came across this recipe from the New York Times and decided to make it, as it was incredibly versatile. I used angel hair pasta, one of my favorite shapes (quick cooking and fun to eat), white onions instead of red and extra red pepper and garlic. The dish was both beautiful and tasty. See, the reason I couldn’t adjust the SK recipe was that collard pose a problem: they need a little extra cooking and some other adjustments to cut through their bitterness. I needed a recipe that would address those things. Oh, by the way, the Times says to blanch the collard beforehand. I didn’t (I forgot, oops!) and frankly, the collards were great. Even Mike said I make awesome collards- comforting, filling, flavorful and soft. No weird cardboard texture or nasty bitterness.

I served the pasta with a simple open faced sandwich. I had some avocado that was also about to turn so I took it and smashed it with a bit of garlic and salt and spread it on whole wheat toast. After the pasta was finished, I fried an egg in some oil and perched it on top of each piece of toast. Immediately, Michael noticed that our dinner was vegetarian. However, after taking a bite of everything, I heard not a single complaint. 

The same week, Kyung invited me out to the splash park on post for a picnic while her kiddos played around. I wanted to make deviled eggs but I didn’t have paprika. In searching for a parika-free alternative, I discovered deviled eggs with bacon. They were really fun to make because after cooking the bacon, I used some of the grease to mix into the yolks. And the bacon bits served as a lovely garnish. Kyung enjoyed the eggs but personally, they weren’t my favorite. I am a huge fan of the classic eggy devil. On a side note, they are so fun to make (even the classic ones)- I just love peeling hardboiled eggs and I adore mashing the yolk and dropping a spoonful into each empty white. Everything about the process to me is pretty, tasty and easy and therefore, incredibly satisfying. Along with the eggs, I used the leftover chicken from the spicy chicken fajitas I made the previous night to make chicken salad. I researched a few recipes for spicy chicken salad and made an amalgamation of all of them. I cubed the chicken (which was already rubbed with chile powder and cumin) and mixed it with walnuts and chopped apple. Then I made the very simple dressing: 2 parts light mayo stirred with one part honey. The salad came out great and I couldn’t help but snack on it before picnic time.