Stuffed To The Brim

I am absolutely STUFFED to the brim…

…with happiness and smiles…

…quiet calm and simple joy…

…peace and absolute contentment…

…veggies and quinoa.

Isn’t life delicious?

Quinoa Stuffed Peppers—tweaked from the original recipe as seen in Moosewood Cookbook

These rustic peppers are delicious as is, but feel free to top them with a bit of zingy salsa or creamy guacamole for that little something extra.  Any leftovers will freeze and reheat really well, making for an easy peazy weeknight meal.  Or you can simply toss them in a container and eat them with a side salad for lunch the next day.  Enjoy! 😀

  • 1 cup raw quinoa, rinsed
  • 6 medium bell peppers
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
  • 1-1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1-1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup peeled and diced carrots
  • 3/4 cup diced celery
  • 1 cup diced zucchini
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 cup canned black or kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1-1/2 cup grated mozzarella or cheddar cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 400.  Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. Place quinoa  and 2 cups of water in a medium pot and bring to a boil.  Lower heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until water is absorbed.
  3. Meanwhile, cut bell peppers in half lengthwise and carefully seed them.  Place peppers cut side down on baking pan and roast for 15-20 minutes, until softened and lightly browned.  When bell peppers are roasted, reduce heat to 350.
  4. Meanwhile, in a skillet, place 1 Tbsp. olive oil in pan and place over medium heat.  Add onions and garlic; cook for about 5 minutes.  Stir in cumin through beans.  Cover pan and cook for 10 minutes or until vegetables are very tender.
  5. Combine vegetables and quinoa and add salt to taste.  Turn over the roasted peppers and stuff each half.  Sprinkle each pepper with some of the cheese and bake for 10-15 minutes or until cheese has melted.

QUESTION: What are you *stuffed* to the brim with today?+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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a series of serious questions

I was in an especially thoughtful kind of mood today, spending some time chewing over those very important, real-life kinds of issues.

Things like, why can’t I sleep past 6 o’clock on a Saturday? Or, why do cold oats never keep me as full as warm? And, why am I still using St. Patrick’s Day napkins on April 2?

Because, you know, these are all very important, current, real-life issues that must be mulled over every now and then.

The real question, however, was this: Why do I feel the need to run?

Some would argue the point that runners run because they can.  Plain and simple.

But that answer just doesn’t work for me.  Because theoretically, I could go bungee jumping…”because I can.” But I don’t.  I could eat an entire cake in one sitting…”because I can.” But I don’t.  I could walk up to a tall, dark and handsome stranger, give him my number, and tell him to call me…“because I can.” Theoretically.  But I don’t.

So what is it about running that lures me in?  Why do I run?  Why do you run?

This is what I came up with…

When I run, I pray. Sometimes I pray just to keep me focused.   Sometimes I do it just because it feels good to finally be alone and talking to God.  And sometime do it just to get my mind off of the way that my legs are starting to feel like dead weights hanging from my body.  😉

When I run, life feels more simple. My schedule suddenly makes sense.  My days don’t seem so crazy.  I feel focused and ready to embrace all that life brings.

When I run, I am strong.

When I run, I feel free. No phones, gadgets, internet connections (even worse, lack of) or demands.  I am alone.  I am content.  I am blissfully free.

Yes, bungee jumping is something that I could, theoretically, do.  But it wouldn’t really make life seem more simple.  It wouldn’t make me feel free in a good way.  And while I would be talking to God, I wouldn’t necessarily be praying.  More like begging and pleading for my life.

And so, take it or leave it, this is why I run.

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Grilled Salmon

This salmon is simple enough to make for a busy weeknight, but delicious enough to serve when company comes over.  It also makes the perfect post-running fuel, as its chock full of omega 3 fatty acids which may help to reduce inflammation.

Serve with your favorite veggies and some mashed sweet potatoes, rice, or a baked potato.  Enjoy!

  • 1 lb. wild caught salmon
  • 1 tsp lite soy sauce
  • garlic powder
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • fresh or dried parsley
  1. Heat grill to medium heat.
  2. Drizzle salmon with soy sauce and sprinkle with garlic powder, pepper and parsley.  Cook skin side down on grill for about 5 minutes.  Flip.  Continue cooking for another 3-5 minutes, depending on desired doneness.  Fish will flake easily with a fork when finished.  Avoid overcooking.  ENJOY! 😀

QUESTION: What is your exercise of choice?  What makes this your favorite?

Saying Goodbye to Clinical

When it comes right down to it, I’m not really very good at saying good-bye.

Silently, I kind of wished that today would be painfully torturous.  Excruciatingly long.  Boring, maybe?  Because driving to the hospital for my last day was a little like reliving all of my past good-byes.  The ones I didn’t want to make.  And I was reminded of how much I hate seeing things end.  Beginnings, new starts, early mornings—those are more my style.  Maybe if today was nothing special, I wouldn’t feel so darn apprehensive of bidding farewell.

But today was not a bad day.  Not at all.

The patients were exceptionally delightful to work with.  Nurses and doctors whom I’ve never even talked to before, suddenly spent the day joking and laughing along with me.  I was presented with a whipped cream frosted, “congratulations on finishing clinical,” yellow, fluffy cake.  And a card with signed notes from the entire kitchen staff (they’re so great!)

Today was not disastrous, as I had kind of, secretly, half-heartedly hoped it would be.  Today was actually pretty wonderful.   It was, in every sense of the term, a bittersweet moment.  Two dietetic rotations down, one to go.  Starting this Monday!

Goodbye, clinical rotation.  You were fun and filled with layers and levels of new experiences.

Hello, community rotation. I’m looking forward to getting to know you. 😀

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A Book A Month Resolution, 2011

January: Brooklyn

February: “House Rules”

March: “American Wife” by Curtis Sittenfeld

For my March read, I chose “American Wife.”  I absolutely loved the beautiful way that Curtis Sittenfeld walks the reader through the life of a presidential wife.  She did it with such elegance and flare, always leaving me wishing that I had just a few more moments to read.  Each new chapter welcomed me into a new period of the “American Wife’s” life, and I loved this about the book.  Despite its slow paced, descriptive nature, I never felt bored.  It was nearly impossible to place back down on my nightstand.

However, in the end, I felt as if the story fell a little flat.  I wanted more before reading that last, final page.  A more definite ending.  Somehow, it just didn’t feel right to me.  But the inners of the book certainly made for a fun journey. 😀

QUESTION: What are you reading right now?

for the love of kale

For some strange reason, I could not get the idea of eating kale out of my head.

Maybe this stems from the past weekend, having been filled with pies and burgers and sweet, heavenly pancakes.  Or maybe its the warmer spring weather.  The long pre-dinner walks.  The feeling of a summer-to-be and all the freshness that comes along with.  Maybe it’s a subconscious craving for the extra dose of nutrients.  Maybe.

Or maybe I just wanted something green and curly and surprisingly delicious.

Kale has long been one of my favorite foods, but it didn’t really start out that way.

There was, for example, the one time that I decided a kale smoothie sounded about right.  Zwirrrpp…in the blender.   With milk and a carrot and a packet of Amazing Meal.  It was as delicious as it sounds, and I don’t mean that in a good way.

And then there was the time that I thought eating it plain and raw with olive oil and parmesan sounded nice. It really wasn’t.

So the road has been a bumpy one.  But the end results were worth it, as I finally fell in love with the bright green vegetable.  I learned that:

(1) There are several varieties of kale, some being more suiting for soups and stews, and some being more suiting for sauteeing, stir frying, baking.  Some even do indeed taste good raw, but I wouldn’t personally recommend the curly kale in this approach.
(2)  Kale can be bitter and the ingredients that are added need to counteract this somehow.  I find that even a sweet, grated carrot acts as a beautiful counterbalance.  As does a little lemon juice, a little soy sauce, some diced tomatoes, et cetera.
(3) Kale needs to cook and soften.  Let it wilt as you would let spinach wilt.

Last night I finally had my fill of kale for dinner.  It was ridiculously simple.  Which is just one more thing I love about a curly bunch of kale.

Kale and Tofu Saute

(Serves 1)

This is a simple, satisfying meal that is perfect for a busy weeknight.  Pair with a slice of your favorite bread and dinner is on.  Enjoy!

  • 1/2 bunch of kale, shredded into bite sized pieces
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 carrot, grated
  • splash of lemon juice
  • garlic powder
  • 1/4 block of tofu
  • 1/4 avocado
  1. Heat oil in dutch oven over medium heat.  Add kale and cook until beginning to wilt.  Reduce heat to medium-low.
  2. Add carrot and lemon juice, and garlic powder.  Stir well and cook for another minute or so.
  3. Meanwhile, spray a nonstick pan with cooking spray.  Cut tofu into 1/2 inch blocks and cook until browned on each side.
  4. Transfer kale to a bowl, topping with cooked tofu and avocado.  Enjoy!

QUESTION: What is your favorite kind of leafy green?  Swiss chard?  Lettuce?  Kale?  Spinach?

Yes, I love birthdays.

Happy Birthday, Dad! 😀

Know what I love most about family birthday parties?  Well—I mean—aside from the food, of course.  I love the quiet excitement before the party actually even starts.  The table being set just so.  A candle or two being lit for a warm ambiance.  That first car that pulls into the driveway and the sounds of voices that are about to fill an empty, silent house.

This is what I love most about family birthdays.

Of course, in addition to all of that, it sure felt good to fire up the oven tonight.  This past week has left me craving a complete, full day of non-stop cooking.

Today: craving satisfied.

portabella mushrooms cooked in a balsamic reduction sauce

Everyone took part in making something.  I stood watch over the veggies and dad focused his attention on the meats.  Honestly, we all felt kind of bad having dad cook on his birthday, but he didn’t seem to really mind.  It would have felt just plain wrong to have someone else cooking the steaks and burgers, when we all know full and well that dad is the grill master in the family.

(p.s. I’m still using up the last of my garden cress…this stuff lasts and lasts, and I’ve been using it on everything from sandwiches to soups to hummus to burgers.  Quite delicious. )

Nicole @ Loving Simple Moments

Meanwhile, my mom was busy cooking the main dessert, which is her own top-secret homemade apple pie.  I’m not even a pie person, and yet I find myself falling in love with this pie time and time again.

The crust is what gets me.  Its tender and flaky, but not overly so (i.e., it doesn’t crumble into dust on your plate!)  And it avoids being dense and boring like some of those beautiful (but sadly poor-tasting) store bought pies can be.  It is, in one word, perfect.  Absolutely perfect.

I guess we all know who the star of the show was tonight. 😉

Yes.  I love birthdays.

I love the excitement, the laughing, the silliness, the games and the elaborate stories.  The feeling of warmth, of home, of happiness.  I love the cooking, the variety of foods and most of all, the sharing.  I love that it’s more than okay to spend 2 hrs at the dinner table.

I love how relaxed and unraveled the dinner table seems, after everyone has finished eating.  Crumbs.  Empty plates and half empty glasses.  That quiet, comforting feeling of being fully content with life.

Yes.  I love birthdays.

Happy Birthday, Dad!  We love you! 😀

QUESTION: What is your most memorable birthday?

one, two, three…

ONE

The number of “new” breakfasts eaten this week.

(this will change tomorrow, and that’s all I’m saying)

TWO

The number of quotes that made me smile and/or reflect today.

Quote Number #1: “I love hot water.  I should have been born a tea bag.”
Nicole @ Loving Simple Moments

Quote Number #2: “We are always getting ready to live but never living.”
–Ralph Waldo Emerson

THREE

The number of months since my last hair cut.  And the last time I checked, the shag wasn’t really in style.

I really should get on that.

Four

The time that my alarm clock went off this morning.

Yes.  It hurt.


FIVE

The number of pre-dinner walks that I’ve gone over this past week.

Delicious.  Absolutely delicious.

SIX

The number of banana bran muffins consumed.

SEVEN

The number of larger-than-life salads consumed.

EIGHT

The current time.

Time to pull on some fuzzy socks and unwind with a good book. 😉

QUESTION: What are some NUMBERS from your past week? Three mile run?  Hanging out with your two best friends?  A one dollar jar of peanut butter?

a little extra time

When I was small, my mom seemed to always have a loaf of zucchini or banana bread tucked away somewhere in the freezer.  And if she just so happened to take out a loaf or two—if us kids saw them sitting patiently on the counter—we instantaneously understood.  It was like some unspoken “code,” which everyone naturally understood.

“Who’s coming over to visit, mom?”

The bread would be warmed and sliced into soft, thick hunks of sweetness.  Placed just so, on a tea style plate for when company would arrive.  Coffee for the adults.  Milk and juice for the kids.  And if we were really, really lucky, there would be slices of both zucchini and banana bread sitting on the table.  Which, of course, means that you can have a slice of each.  Of course.

Last night, I came home from work a little earlier than normal.  Early enough to actually do something before preparing dinner or going for a run or diving head first into homework.

First thought: I want to take a nap.  Second thought: I want a banana bran muffin.  Always place your bets on the muffin; they always win.  I never take naps, but they sure sound nice.

At first, I set out to make a standard, favorite, and very well-loved version of the banana bread, but I’ve been wanting to use some of my pantry’s wheat bran for a while now.  Banana and bran go so well together, that it seemed impossible not to take the muffins in such a direction.  Impossible! Besides, I wanted my muffins to be sturdy and satisfying.  I also wanted them sweet and delicate enough to pass for dessert.  Hearty and healthy enough to be eaten for breakfast.

Banana bran muffins.  Yes.  That is exactly what I wanted.

Muffins have the glorious concept of being able to freeze individually.  They travel well, when breakfast needs to be taken on the road.  They’re versatile enough to be crumbled over oats or yogurt, slathered with peanut butter,or broiled in the oven with a pat of butter.  And while they are, of course, most delicious served hot from the oven, they can be easily rewarmed with results that are just as yummy.

You could bake them for when company comes over.  Say, you know, for brunch or an afternoon cup of coffee.  Or you could bake a batch, just because.  Just because you have a little extra time.  Just because you feel like eating a banana bran muffin.

Banana Bran Muffinstweaked from an original Eating Well recipe

If you ever want to change things up, add a sprinkle of walnuts to the batter.  Or chocolate chips.  Or raisins, pumpkin seeds, apricots, blueberries, etc.  You can make these muffins as personalized as you like.

If you’re not used to cooking with all whole-wheat flour or unprocessed bran, don’t be intimidated!  The bananas and small amount of oil help to keep these babies soft, moist and perfectly tender.  There’s absolutely nothing that’s overly grainy or dry about them.

Enjoy! 😀

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3 medium, very ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 c. milk with 1 T. lemon juice (or 1 cup buttermilk)
  • 1 cup unprocessed wheat bran
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1-3/4 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon + 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • walnuts for top (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Coat 12 muffin cups with cooking spray.
2. Whisk eggs and brown sugar in a medium bowl until smooth. Whisk in bananas, buttermilk, wheat bran, oil and vanilla.
3. Whisk whole-wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the dry ingredients; add the wet ingredients and stir with a rubber spatula until just combined.  Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin cups (they’ll be quite full). Sprinkle with walnuts, if using.
4. Bake the muffins until the tops are golden brown and spring back when touched lightly, 15 to 25 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Loosen edges and turn muffins out onto a wire rack to cool slightly before serving.

QUESTION: What seems to always be in your freezer?

a handful of green

I’ve been a little MIA this past week, in more areas than one.

I haven’t so much as touched the book that I’ve chosen to read during the month of March.  Aside from wearing a green scarf, I completely forgot about St. Patrick’s Day.  I’ve been living off of hummus and swiss cheese sandwiches for lunch, with raw veggies, fruit and almonds for snacks.

In other words, I’ve been kind of busy.  And I really miss my kitchen.  And I think my kitchen kind of misses me.

So as soon as the day was officially “complete,” as soon as it was over, I decided to stop off at Whole Foods and see what I could conjure up for dinner.  I felt the need for something…something…

…something green.

If you’ve ever seen a bunch of bright green garden cress at the supermarket, but you’ve  had no idea what it was or what you could do with it, you are not alone.  The flavors were a complete mystery to me until today.  I had no idea how I would use the little green leaves.  If I would use the little green leaves (!?!)

But the bright, cheery little bunch was a mere $1.00.  I’ll try anything for $1.00.  Especially if it’s bright and sunny and it makes me smile.

The sign at Whole Foods explained the leaves as being smooth, soft, bright, tangy and peppery.

“Perfect for sandwiches and soups and salads,” it said.

Perfect for tonight.

The cress bared a faint resemblance to arugula, without being over the top or in your face about it.  It’s a little more subtle.

Light and soft and elegant.

And it really does lend the most wonderful, rustic charm to a hot bowl of Mushroom Soup.  I simply chopped it up and sprinkle it on top for a deliciously healthy garnish.

You could also let it wilt by throwing in a handful or two at the end of the soup’s cooking time.  It would also pair lovely with a hummus wrap and a slice of sharp cheddar.

It felt really nice to be back in the kitchen, tonight.  Chopping and dicing and stirring and eating.  Yes.  It felt good to unwind.

Have a happy Friday!

Building The Breakfast Cookie

Six Steps To Building Yourself…

The Breakfast Cookie

1. Mash and smash one super sweet, medium-large banana.

2. Add 1/2 cup of uncooked old fashioned oats and your favorite spices.

(I usually add 1/8 tsp. nutmeg, 1/8 tsp cloves and 1/2 tsp cinnamon)

3. Add 2 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa.

This is important if you’re like me and live for all things chocolate.

4. Add 1 Tbsp. chunky peanut butter and a tsp of your favorite jam.

(Raspberry, you know, goes very well with the whole chocolate thing you’ve got going on.  Just sayin’.)

5. Smash, smash, smash everything together.

6. Roll out 4 portions in the palm of your hand, just as you would a meatball.

Top each cookie with an almond.

Sprinkle a pinch of coconut.

Serve with milk and enjoy each delightful bite.

If the mixture is too soft: Add wheat germ or wheat bran or crushed flax.

If the mixture is too firm: Add a Tbsp. or so of milk.

QUESTION: What are you eating for breakfast?

a sweet, sweet potato

Just in case you didn’t think dinner was going to be on the table in 45 minutes or less tonight…

Just in case you didn’t think it was possible to turn your humble sweet potato into a meal…

Just in case you wanted a comforting, non-fussy sort of meal…

You know. Just in case.

This recipe is for you.

Broccoli-Feta Stuffed Sweet Potatoes—as seen in Moosewood Cookbook and on this website

Serves 4

Salty feta cheese and sweet, sweet potatoes; what an irresistible combination.  This luxurious (but simple!) dinner carries with it a faint reminder of my mom’s famous broccoli pie that she serves every Christmas.

Serve this creamy dish with a fresh, crunchy side salad.  Save any leftovers for a quick and easy lunch the next day.  Enjoy! 😀

  • 4 medium-large sweet potatoes, with skins
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
  • 1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 4 cups finely chopped broccoli
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  1. Pierce sweet potatoes and rub with olive oil. Bake at 450 degrees until soft-about 45 minutes. Or microwave.
  2. In a large skillet on high heat, warm the olive oil. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until the garlic is golden, about 1 minute. Add the broccoli and stir-fry for a couple of minutes. Add the water and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer uncovered until most of the water has evaporated and the broccoli is tender, 8-10 minutes. Add the salt and pepper and set aside until the sweet potatoes are baked.
  3. When the sweet potatoes have baked, cut them in half lengthwise and scoop out the pulp, leaving a shell at least 1/4 inch thick. Set the shells aside. Mash the pulp a bit and stir it into the broccoli mixture along with the feta cheese. If the stuffing has cooled, turn on the heat under the skillet and rewarm. Add water, if too crumbly.
  4. Fill the shells with the stuffing. Serve each half separately or push back together with stuffing showing between the two shells.  ENJOY!

QUESTION: How long does it usually take you to get dinner on the table on a week night? 30-45  minutes is average for me.  Unless I’m feeling lazy and decide to go the omelette route (i.e., 10 minutes. 😉 )