Yesterday was my own personal shit storm of first world problems. I have very few bad days. Usually when even something catastrophically awful occurs, I can find a sliver of silver lining and come back with the last-minute rebound. My bad days, instead, are those pesky little suckers of 24 hours where not one miniscule thing can go right. I even wrote this entire post last evening, told my husband that I felt like it was one of my personal bests, and then went back to publish and it had been completely deleted. Days like yesterday are why humans invented comfort food. And at about 3pm I set my mind to make me some. I wanted something out of a cardboard box with a cheese ingredient to bring my day back from the Debby Downer duldrums.
I repeat myself often when I mention that I am not a cook. I am just a girl who loves fresh dinners at home, who stands in front of her stovetop every night, asking it to love me back. Getting back on point from my foodie Notting Hill moment, my cousins are actual fancy cooks. They make gluten-free, vegetarian meals and desserts that are mindblowingly delicious and complicated. I get Facebook messages from them titled "Super-Easy Gluten-Free Pancake Recipe" with 47 ingredients. To add fanciness to the fanciful, they are also a ballerina and award-winning writer duo living in Manhattan. It don't get much fancier than that, amiright?
Thank you, fancy cousins, for teaching me the word blanching over Thanksgiving dinner. You helped me make some real fancy blanched mustard greens from our Urban Acres food co-op bin last night to complete a still-comforting-but-not-so-guilty comfort food meal.
(Miserable Monday) Mustard Greens Macaroni and Cheese
one bunch mustard greens
one box macaroni and cheese (I love Annie's Creamy Deluxe Gluten-Free!)
leftover roasted butternut squash (if you've got it)
To blanch the mustard greens, I filled a medium pot 2/3 up with water and salt and brought it to a boil. I washed my mustard greens with some veggie wash and cut off the stems.
I dropped the clean mustard greens in the boiling water for about a minute and a half, until the greens were a really bright, kelly green.
Meanwhile, I began prepping my gluten-free mac and cheese noodles according to the directions on the box. You cook Annie's gluten-free noodles in boiling water (I add a little salt) for 8-10 minutes.
To finish the mustard greens blanching, I poured out the greens into a colander after 90 seconds in the boiling water. Then I put them in a bowl of ice water and a few squirts of lemon juice that I had prepped beforehand. I quickly made sure all the greens had been fully rinsed by the ice water and then dumped them into the colander again and patted them dry with a clean dish towel. Blanching complete!
We had recently roasted some butternut squash for pizza toppings, so I pureed the leftovers in our blender with a splash of almond milk. Markus used this as a cheese substitute for his noodles with some nutritional yeast. I added the puree to the cheese sauce that came with the macaroni to give it a little extra flavor and health benefits. This really added to the recipe and I think we'll do it often for pastas!
I cut the blanched mustard greens into small strips and tossed them with the noodles, the Annie's cheese sauce, butternut squash puree and a little Earth Balance non-butter.
My veggie-filled carb fest put me back on the road to recovery. After trying them, I am not sure if I am naturally a mustard greens girl (Markus loved them, however), so covering them in a cheese sauce was a great way to introduce a new flavor to my pallete. I felt very Deceptively Delicious with my hidden butternut squash puree and found it a great way to use leftover produce!
What are your tips for overcoming a bad day? How do you like to try a new veggie or food that might be a little outside of the comfort zone of your tastebuds?