Creamy Kale-Fredo

When comfort food calls, there is nothing better than this creamy kale-fredo. Smooth, saucy with just the right amount of veggies to ease your guilty conscience. 

Creamy Kale-Fredo

A few weeks ago, I waffled back and forth on what to make for dinner so hard, I think I strained my brain. Both dishes were new but clearly had potential to be incredible. And it really just came down to whatever craving struck me more. This creamy kale-fredo won out. And I, for the life of me, could not remember the other dish once I opted for the kale-fredo.

It wasn’t that the other dish wasn’t a stand-out choice. This pasta was just better. The first horse in a serious comfort food race, it fulfilled every need I had at the time. Cheesy, creamy, filled with kale so I didn’t feel so guilty about all the aforementioned cream. Loaded with carbs and just salty enough to quell my near-constant need for salt (am I dehydrated or something?). Sometimes, it is just how the world works. You have a need for comfort food, someone is there to fill in the gap.

I have to admit that I was pretty heavily inspired by this creamed kale from Nutmeg Nanny. She posted it back in the winter, when I had an even larger, harder to fill gap for warm and hearty foods. It seems like ages ago now, digging out mountains of snow and kicking myself for getting fake grass in the fireplace during the Christmas village extravaganza of 2014. But I bookmarked her recipe and promised myself it would appear on my table sometime in the near future.

I didn’t. At least not yet. But I took it, ran with it and made something different yet equally as satisfying, especially if you are a pasta person. Hopefully, you are! And hey, there’s kale in here so really, it’s healthy. Enjoy!

Creamy Kale-Fredo

Yield: 4 large servings

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. whole wheat linguini
  • 3 1/2 Tbsp. butter
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 shallots, diced
  • 3 Tbsp. flour
  • 2 1/2 cups half and half
  • 2 ounces cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1 large bunch of kale, torn into pieces

Instructions

  1. Begin by cooking your linguini according to package instructions. While it cooks, prepare the sauce.
  2. Heat the butter over medium heat. Once melted, add in garlic and shallots. Cook until softened and fragrant, about 1 minute.
  3. Add in flour and whisk for 1 minute. Slowly stir in the half and half, 1/2 cup at a time, whisk vigorously to avoid lumps. Once the half and half has been added, stir in the cream cheese until fully melted.
  4. Add the parmesan cheese and stir until combined. Add in kale and drained pasta. Toss to completely coat and integrate the kale.
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Farmer’s Market Bounty

One of my favorite things about living in Bowie, MD is the amazing farmer’s market we have during the spring/summer/fall months.  I could drop at least one hundred dollars there in a heartbeat, if I didn’t let my good sense get the better of me.  Our trips typically start with a stop at the bread/pastry stand.  We always get a black bottom muffin and a pastry that they refer to as a “magic bar”.  Personally, I call it a danger bar.  Because it is 100% dangerous to have them in the house.  I could eat 3 in the blink of an eye without thinking about it or feeling guilty in any way.

After the pastry stand, we cruise around and check out the vegetables and fruits, then grab just about everything in sight.  In the early spring, the choices are limited.  Strawberries, some early fruits and a few winter veggies.  By the end of the summer, we come home with arms full of produce.  Hot peppers, habaneros, jalapenos, sweet peppers, frying peppers, bell peppers.  Of course, we also get other veggies and fruits, not just peppers.

This season, our first trip to the farmer’s market was incredibly productive.  We saw some incredibly cute puppies, other than Robin Hood and Radar.  We learned about the cute tote bags that we could earn through our purchases.  We came home with a ridiculous amount of goodies.

Peaches, cherries, tomatillos, zucchini, cabbage, homemade bread and strawberry peach jam.  This is just the beginning! I already want it to be next Sunday so I can come home with more!

I decided to officially declare it Farmer’s Market Season by making an amazing cherry soda.  Don’t worry, I have huge plans for all of this amazing freshness. But cherry soda was screaming my name.  Abby decided to help me pit and juice the cherries.  It was, by far, one of the tastiest sodas I’ve had in quite some time.  Of course, you can adjust the cherry flavor to your liking.  I wanted mine to be a bit subtle, but next time I might go cherry crazy and really amp up that flavor.

Now, what to do with those fabulous tomatillos?!

Homemade Cherry Soda

10 cherries, pitted and halved

3 teaspoons sugar

club soda or plain seltzer water

Place your cherries into the food processor.  Press them a bit with a wooden spoon to release some of the juices.  Add the sugar, then pulse until pulpy and juicy.

Place a fine sieve over a bowl.  Pour the pulpy cherry mixture onto the sieve, then press down with a spoon to release the juices.  Discard the remaining cherry pieces.

Grab a glass and fill it 3/4 of the way with your club soda or seltzer water.  Take the cherry juice and pour it on top of the seltzer.

Enjoy!

Kebaaaabs

As a parent, I’ve discovered that one of the most important, and often times difficult, tasks is leaving work at work.  Recently, I read an article stating that even when a parent leaves their work at work, often times the day is still on their minds.  They are thinking about the argument they had with their co-worker or the reprimand they received from their boss while they are cooking dinner and checking homework.  Essentially, working at home.
Personally, I find this to be a daunting task.  Some people are very good at letting things roll off their backs.  At forgetting the day’s troubles once they arrive home to their castle, greeted by family.  Others seem to let things stew, eating away at their insides.  I, regretfully, am part of the latter group.  It isn’t for lack of trying.  I would much rather come home and go for a bike ride with my daughter while B walks the dog along side us.  I’d rather dish over the most recent Glee episode and make predictions about the Flyers chances at the Stanley Cup (100% to win) than stress about what happened during the day at my menial job.
Unfortunately for me, and others like me, it isn’t that easy to decompress.  I take a good 45 minutes to forget the small discussion I had with a co-worker regarding an issue.  An obnoxious client takes a good 2 hours to get over.  And a reprimand from my boss on some simple mistakes I’ve made? Let’s give that one a few days.  The same article mentioned above suggested taking a “proverbial bubble bath”.  Or perhaps, time permitting, a real bubble bath.  A nap.  A 20 minute reality-tv show catch-up.  Things to decompress.  Let the day wash off and go away for a while.
For me, I found that decompression in kebabs.  Weird, right?  Super weird.  Trust me, I really thought that the stupid kebabs would just make me more stressed.  I didn’t have all the ingredients I wanted.  I wasn’t sure how to turn on the grill without blowing up the house.  I didn’t soak the kebabs or marinate the chicken.  And yet, making these kebabs totally de-stressed me.  They let me forget what was bothering me and squeeze in time for that bike ride.  Sure, I didn’t marinate them.  And they didn’t have everything on them that I would have wanted.  But they turned out tasty.  They were easy and took 5 to 10 minutes of assembly.  They cooked on the grill in only 15 minutes and I got to spend the rest of the time reading Disney stories with Abby.
Next time, I’d really like to play around with them a little.  Add some other veggies and perhaps a honey-soy glaze of some sort. But for now, these kebabs were my savior. They were my quick dinner after a week of crappy days.  They let me decompress, stress-relieve and forget what had been bothering me so much.  They allowed me to get in some quality family time outside in the fresh air.
Oh, and they tasted good too!
Spicy Chili Kebabs
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes
1 bell pepper, cut into 1 inch chunks
1 red onion, cut into 1 inch chunks
1 sweet potato, cut into 1 inch chunks
olive oil for drizzling
chili powder
cayenne pepper
6 wooden skewers, soaked for at least an hour in cold water
Preheat your grill.  Take your vegetable chunks and place them in a large bowl.  Drizzle them with a little olive oil then sprinkle in some chili powder and cayenne pepper.  Be careful not to add too much.  An overdose of cayenne can make your food inedible.  Take your chicken chunks and coat those in cayenne pepper and chili powder as well.
Take your skewer and add your veggies and chicken to it, one at a time.  I like to add them in the following order: chicken, sweet potato, pepper, onion.  Feel free to add them on however you’d like.
Once you have your kebabs layered, you can get ready to lay them on the grill.  I recommend spraying the grill with some non-stick spray first.  They make non-stick spray specifically for grills.
Once your grill is preheated, lay the kebabs down.  Close the lid and resist the urge to peek for at least five minutes.  It’s hard.  Open the grill and turn the kebabs.  I turned them about once every five minutes or so.  It kept my veggies from burning and cooked the meat evenly. Once the meat is cooked through, remove the kebabs and enjoy!
I served mine with a little soy lime sauce and some left over veggies that I roasted.  It was super tasty!

Brewing Some Life

“What are you doing there, Kim?

“Oh nothing much.  Just brewing up some life.”

That is what I would say if someone asked what is happening to my back porch.  To the innocent bystander, it looks like a giant mess of dirt, biodegradable and half disintegrated pots and water.  To my husband, it looks like a nuisance.  To me, it looks like a miracle! The miracle of life, people.  Brewing right on my very own back porch.

I realize I talk about my starter garden more than I talk about my child, husband, dog, recipes, favorite television shows, career. I am just really amazed by all of this.  I’m no green thumb gal.  I killed a cactus before.  I killed a lucky bamboo.  Let’s not talk about the orchids.

Here is my baby zucchini seedling.  It’s breaking free from its seed cage.  It’s seriously amazing.

Here are the very tippy tops of my red onions.  They are barely poking their heads out.

This would be the dill that I am overly excited about.  I hope when the time comes, I do not feel too guilty to use/eat it. I’ve got big plans for you, dill.

And here, the radishes.  These guys sort of have a special spot in my gardening heart.  They were the first veggies to really pop their heads up.  As soon as they broke through the dirt, they shot up and haven’t stopped.  It breaks my heart that I have to thin some of them out.

In a few months, these will be delicious and beautiful produce.  They will be salsa, zucchini pizzas, vegetable salads and more.  For now, they are my pride a joy.  They are my source of daily amazement.

Chock Full O’ Veggies

I would like to take a moment and introduce you all to some new friends of mine…

Say hello to my babies!

I’m so proud.  I’ve decided to start my own veggie garden this year.  Here you see step one.  So far, I’ve got (from back to front) hot peppers, sweet peppers, purple tomatillas and roma tomatoes.

Tomorrow, B will build my vegetable garden boxes in the yard.  We are then going to put some mesh wire around said boxes to avoid any more casualties.

Did I mention that Robin Hood grabbed “Doris Day” the purple tomatilla and ate her? Pot and all.  And yes, I did name all of the veggies.  I think it will encourage them to like me and grow for me, sans blood, sweat and tears.

I’ve been giving her the silent treatment.

Part of step one is planting all of my seeds in biodegradable pots that can be planted in the ground.  The pots later dissolve, leaving only beautiful, tasty veggies.  I’ve still got more to plant.

There’s so much work to do!

I’m most excited for Swiss Chard! A wonderful woman named Annie at the nursery advises me to plant these in the ground  as soon as I can.  Swiss chard and other leafy plants (spinach, lettuce) are cold weather plants.  She also suggested planting some of this fabulous veggie in a pot close to fall as a centerpiece.  Interesting!

I’d really like to just fast forward time so that I can use these in a salad.

I’m a beginner gardener and don’t have much confidence yet.  But I’m sure that with a little love and care, I can make this garden thrive and grow! Wish me luck!

Tune in tomorrow for some awesome ginacottis! You won’t regret it.