Friday, April 15, 2011

Whew it has been a busy and fantastic week! My birthday is April 11 and I have such a wonderful group of friends, family and an amazing boyfriend that spoiled me so much!

Tigers/Orioles baseball game during opening week on Thursday!

Birthday Dinner Friday!

(That's vegan gnocchi with herb sauce and a side of roasted garlic green beans and mushrooms)
(Almond Joy, Cinnabon, and S'more cupcakes!)

Philadelphia Saturday!

(Philly Cheesesteaks!)

(Independence Hall!)

It was my first time indulging in a Philly Cheesesteak! We waited in line for about 20 minutes before finally reaching the counter and ordering them plain, one with Whiz and one with American ;) We proceeded to split both of them and decided, that while both were delicious, the whiz won out! Philly cheesesteak with extra whiz from Jim's Steaks on South Street is a must if you ever visit! Next time I'll load mine up with onions and peppers I think!

Sunday consisted of relaxing, watching sports (Redwings and the Masters!) along with a homemade dinner by moi. On the menu: Pork milanese (I used whipped egg whites to dip the chops in along with whole wheat bread crumb to pump up the nutrients and reduce the fat/calories) and a side of whole grain angel hair with a simple sauce: vegan butter, olive oil, capers, lemon juice. Simple, delicious!

Some great gifts from MB! (He knows me too well...and due to the fact that I didn't have a Tiger's shirt for the baseball game and was on the verge of wearing an O's t-shirt to the game I got this great vintage henley from Mitchell & Ness!)

And with my gift card from his parents to Williams Sonoma (that I spent the day after I got it! haha) I bought some more cooking gadgets...a microplane, veggie peelers and an oil mister. <3

Loved loved loved my birthday!!!

Monday, April 11, 2011

First Attempt at Homemade Nut Butters...

I think peanut butter has to be one of my all time favorite foods. I can seriously eat it by the spoonful. Add a bit of honey and I'm in heaven! My favorite I had found at a grocery store back in the Midwest and sadly I can't find it anywhere here in Maryland, but it really is to die for! Check out the honey roasted peanut butter at Parkers Farm...and if you can find it in your local grocery store you need to buy it!

Some of my favorite food bloggers have been writing all about their homemade nut butters and I've been wanting to try out a cashew butter for some time now but haven't had the time. I got to travel to Chicago last weekend to visit MB and my lovely mother and stepfather where we definitely at our way through the Windy City again :) Lunches at Tavern on Rush and Portillo's for a true Chicago-style hotdog with amazing dinners at Prairie Fire and Chicago Q!

I was able to stock up on groceries last weekend at Wegmans (My trips there will be getting pretty limited soon...I decided to give up my car next week since my lease is ending. I'm going to try the "green" route and opt for public transit from now on...I'll let you  know how this experience goes!) and hit the bulk bins for some roasted cashews.

From what I read, all you have to do is process nuts with possibly a little oil and it's supposed to blend smoothly. I didn't have such amazing luck :( I attempted to make this in my Magic Bullet but I don't think the little guy was up to the challenge. It took quite a while to get the nuts chopped and blended and in that time my Bullet started to overheat! I did finally get it to a point where it was spreadable but still a little chunky. I think next time I'll breakdown and pull out the full sized food processor that I have.

I used about 2 cups of roasted cashews and 2 tablespoons of honey, blended until smooth.

It tastes good but a little too thick/chunky for my taste. I'll try again with some almonds and a regular food processor and hopefully some better luck :)

For some great nut butter recipes check out Oh She Glows! They look amazing! And after re-reading I think I just need to process for quite a bit longer...Let me know if you have any tips for me! 

Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers

Stuffed peppers are really not something I've made a lot. I have experimented with other vegetarian versions with beans (using black beans and fiesta rice with lots of cheese...yum) as well as turkey stuffed peppers and I've also had, but not personally made ones with ground beef. I don't quite know why since I know my mother had definitely made them a few times growing up but they just really haven't been my go-to. Really though, these make such a fantastic easy and healthy family meal!

You get at least 2 servings of vegetables in a pepper with more if you add a veggie to the stuffing itself. Add in some lean protein like ground white meat turkey, lean ground beef or vegetarian protein like beans or tofu along with a whole grain like brown rice, whole wheat couscous or quinoa and voila! A complete, tasty and healthy dinner packed with protein, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. It can also be a fun way to get kids to eat their veggies with the fun, untraditional presentation ;)

This time I decided to try a mediterranean theme using garbanzo beans, feta cheese, dill and some lemon for flavoring.

Here's what I used:

  • 4 medium Red Bell Peppers, tops sliced off and ribs/seeds removed
  • 8oz sliced mushrooms
  • 2 cups whole grain rice (I used Uncle Bens Ready Rice Whole Grain Medley in a don't want me to even try to make homemade rice...really!)
  • 1/2 small yellow cooking onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1T olive oil
  • Dill, to taste (I used about a tablespoon I think)
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 
Heat olive oil in a large skilled over medium heat. Add onion and saute for about 1-2 minutes. Add mushrooms and saute until cooked down, then add in your garlic. Cook for about 2-3 minutes until garlic is fragrant. Add in your cooked rice and saute until combined and heated through. Season with dill, salt, pepper and lemon juice. Stir in cheese. Fill pepper shells with mixture and place in a greased baking dish, cover with foil and bake for about 40 minutes or until peppers are soft.