Sunday, March 29, 2009

Stuffed Pepper Goodness

This recipe is pretty easy, and it can work really well if you make it in advance. You can stuff peppers with pretty much anything under the sun... this is what i did with my peppers....

Rice (i make my rice in a rice cooker and i put about 1/4 cup salsa in with the water--use less water than normal)
black beans
sauteed zucchini
(i would also recommend corn, carrots, and onion)

How to stuff your pepper:
bring a pot of water to boil then put the peppers inside (they should be cleaned out.... you can cut them in half, or just cut the top off, whatever works for you).
Let the pepper cook in boiling water for about 3-5 minutes (you want it to get a little soft)
Put pepper under cold water to stop it from cooking
Stuff your pepper with your mixture
Top with a little bit of cheese

Bake in the oven at 350 for about 25-30 minutes

And there you have it! A yummy stuffed pepper!! I like the rice and beans as my base and then adding whatever sort of veggies i have laying around the house. yum yum :)

immaculate baking company

thanks to the incredible laura isaacs (thank you friend) i have discovered the wonder of immaculate baking company's oatmeal raisin cookies.  these little bites of goodness are 1 pt each, and are certainly one of the most magical organic treats that have ever hit my kitchen.  they also win props for being super duper easy to make (just break and bake).  woo-hooo!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

recreating portland noodles

as you may or may not know, while i was in portland, lexy and i returned on two occasions to a magical restaurant called Blossoming Lotus.  for all of you living (or visiting) in portland, you must go here asap and order the thai peanut noodles with soy curls.  it will change your life.

in fact, it changed my life so much that i came home determined to make some of my own-- and i did!  while it is not totally fat free (or even close to it) i am justifying it by saying that it is made mostly healthy and natural ingredients...  so, i think this is a health food.  regardless, it is amazing.

here is what you need:
-butler soy curls (these are a magical find that lexy made... it is most likely that they are not available in your area, and if you are not going to order them online, i suggest either leaving it out of the recipe or using tofu or chicken instead)
-some random veggies... i used french green beans, lots of broccoli, asparagus, and carrots... nex time i will probably add red peppers
-high fiber spaghetti noodles

(for the sauce)
-2 T soy sauce
-1/3 cup natural pb (i used creamy)
-1 T maple syrup
- 3 T fresh lime juice
-around 1ish t of chili paste (in asian cooking section)
-1 clove minced garlic
-1 T sesame seeds
-1 t powdered ginger
-fresh cilantro
-unsalted peanuts

so, what you do is this:

1) if you are using the soy curls, soak them in water like the directions say, drain, and then marinade in 1 T soy sauce and 1 t ginger powder... if you aren't using the curls, do the same thing with the tofu/chicken.  cook these two accordingly when you are done (to cook the tofy, cut it up and put it in the oven until dried up a little and browned)

2) boil water, throw in noodles... however many you want, i only made a little and went heavy on the veggies
3) steam veggies
4) after veggies are steamed, throw them in a frying pan to continue heating, toss in noodles and soy curls (or tofu or chicken) as well, put on low

5) mix up all the sauce ingredients and make smooth (i had to microwave mine to get the pb soft)
6) put as much as you'd like over the veggie noodle mix, mix all together
7) toss some fresh cilantro and peanuts on top... add lime juice to tastes-- VOILA!  

Monday, March 9, 2009

Good Bye Annie.... :(

Yes, dear friends... it is that time. Annie has to leave :( Well....she technically doesn't have to leave right now. Her flight does not leave until 10:30 p.m. and its only 8:13, but Annie is a bit of a crazy pants and believes that she has to be at the airport 6 hours ahead of time..... its not worth going into....

We hope all of you enjoyed reading about all of our adventures. We know that all of you found this weekend vacation as enjoyable to read about as it was for us to actually experience. I guess we'll have to go back to our individual blogs for a few months. Back to writing about food that we make in our homes... alone...

Here is a quick recap of what we did together:

Thursday: Vegan Restaurant and first cupcake review (st. cupcake)
Friday: Had lunch with Kevin (and brought him a cupcake!), went to Lexy's work, bought mexican pastries, had awesome kick-ass mexican fiesta, second cupcake review (sweet pea).
Saturday: Saturday Market downtown portland, third cupcake review (Bliss Baking Co.), Dinner at the movie theater Cinetopia (we saw Slumdog Millionaire, and it was awesome!)
Sunday: Massages! fancy chocolate time, fourth and fifth cupcake reviews (Cupcake Jones and second location of St. Cupcake), second time at vegan restaurant Blossoming Lotus.
Monday: Sat on our butts and watched Grey's Anatomy all day (season 4 = complete), left the house for a few minutes to go to Cupcake Jones again (had to try different flavors) and buy Annie some fiberful bars at Trader Joes. Made yummy veggie burger dinner.

booo. lexy and annie living in different states is stupid. BUT... only a few short months until Annie's birthday and some new and exciting adventures...this time in Cleveland!!

Adventures in Portland: Take 8

Cupcake Review #5: St. Cupcake at SE 33rd and Belmont (second location)

St. Cupcake has two locations and because every cupcake experience is unique, we HAD to go to this location to critique with our expert eyes and taste buds.

Ambiance: 4 scoops of icing. This is a very unique cupcake place. It is a cute little store in the front with jewelery and other fun trinkets. It was fun to look around, but it made you feel like you had to be super quiet (not able to ooh and aww over the cupcakes at the same level that we are used to). Also, there was no place to sit down. In fact, they had an antique couch that said you could not sit on it and eat your cupcakes. The cuteness factor of the store makes up for lack of seating... almost.

Customer Service: 5 scoops of icing. 5 words, dear friends: BUY ONE, GET ONE FREE! Oh yes, St. Cupcake was having a special. Buy one cupcake and get one free. Now, you might think that that meant Annie and I were able to get one of our cupcakes for free. Ohhhh no. That meant that we each got TWO! The friendly lady said that she does that on Sundays when business is a little slow, because they are closed on Monday and she does not want them to go to waste. Neither do we. Annie and I do not believe in waste, thats why we did our part in cupcake consumption yesterday.

Flavor Variety: 4 scoops of icing. Same review as before. This store has all the same flavors as their other store. Good variety, but we would like some more daring flavors.

Quality of Cupcake: 4 scoops of icing. This time Annie and I each got a banana pound cake and a toffee cupcake. Both were super yummy. Espeically the banana. The banana one was a little denser than a regular cupcake, hence it being called a "pound cake". It had cream cheese frosting as opposed to the usual buttercream frosting. I particuarly enjoyed that part, and came to the decision that I like cream cheese frostings more than buttercream.

Cupcake Size: 3 scoops of icing. Again, this is the same as before. They meet the standards for cupcake sizing. A jumbo would be nice....

Overall Impression: 4 (exact!) scoops of icing. We enjoyed the combination of store and shop, but some seating and more noise would have made it a little more welcoming. But, as always, St. Cupcake does not disapoint, and buy one get one free equals heaven.

Adventures in Portland: Take 7

Blossoming Lotus--Vegan Restaurant on NW 9th and Davis.

Annie is currently watching season 4 of Grey's Anatomy, and we need to make sure she finishes it before leaving for the glorious mid-west, so I am going to do some primary joint blogging right now.

This has turned into one of my signature locations that I take people to when them come to Portland. So, of course, I had to take Annie, and she found it as amazing as I do!! She responded just the way I needed her to. Blossoming Lotus is completely vegan, but don't let that scare you. Annie is pretty sure that her boyfriend Josh would even love this place!

Our favorite thing on the menu is the Thai peanut bowl with soy curls (you HAVE to get soy curls, they will change your life). On our second trip to Blossoming Lotus, Annie ordered a burrito that we shared as an appetizer so as to try something different on the menu, but still be able to have our peanut bowl. Don't you hate when you want to try new things, but you are worried they won't be as magical as the other thing you normally get? Its probably one of the harder things about life. That's why we decided to just order a crap load of food, look like gluttons, but eat a lot of super yummy vegan food.

1 bazillion scoops of icing for Blossoming Lotus!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Adventures in Portland: Take 6

Cupcake Review #4: Cupcake Jones on NW 10th and Everett

Ambiance: 1 scoop of icing. Cupcake Jones was seriously lacking in the ambiance department. If they had more space, we're sure they would create a wonderful cupcake eating environment. However, as it stands, it is, as Annie states, "the fast food of cupcakes". You walk in and it is a tiny area that no more than 5 people could stand. There was a bench that you could sit on, but that might be sort of awkward since you're pretty much right in the action. Annie and I decided to eat our cupcakes outside, only to realize there was no outdoor seating either. Major bummer. We ended up sitting on a crooked window sill/ledge thingy outside of the neighboring Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream (hmm ice cream....). People inside the Ben and Jerry's may, or may not, have been laughing at us (that could have been due to our excessive picture taking....). Given that we are in Portland, we feel that there needs to be some place to stand to enjoy a cupcake without the fear of being rained on at any moment.

Customer Service: 4 scoops of icing. The woman who helped us was nice enough, but not really the above and beyond, hyped up on sugar, friendly that we have come to expect from a cupcake store.

Flavor Variety: 5 scoops of icing. Cupcake Jones has a good mixture of "daring" and "safe" cupcake flavors. Therefore anyone can find at least one cupcake that they would want to devour. Annie and I had trouble making up our minds, and had to split our cupcakes so as to try the different flavors (we got chocolate chip with cookie dough in the middle and apple crisp with yummy apple pieces in the center). AND we plan on returning tomorrow because we couldn't pass up on the pear spice and lemon varieties.

Quality of Cupcake: 5 scoops of icing. Annie believes that the apple crisp cupcake has been the best thus far. And, I have to admit, she may be right. The added bonus of filling in the middle is a fun surprise. And anyone who can figure out how to put cookie dough in a cupcake is a genius by our standards.

Cupcake Size: 4 scoops of icing. While Cupcake Jones gets bonus scoops of icing for having jumbo cupcakes, they do not score a perfect 5 because there is no in between size. You have to either have a jumbo (which is awesome, but a little excessive--even for us....sometimes...) or a mini. A regular or mid-size would be nice. If they had all 3 it would be perfect cupcake heaven.

Overall Impression: almost 4 scoops of icing. Really the only downside to Cupcake Jones is that there is no place to sit. We can't even complain about them being downtown where parking is a pain in the butt, because the cupcake Gods shone upon us and we got a spot RIGHT IN FRONT! So, dear Cupcake Jones, get a little picnic table and maybe a fun umbrella, plop it up outside the store and you will have earned the 5 scoops of icing.

Adventures in Portland: Take 5

Spa Day!!!!!!

This morning Annie and I decided to treat ourselves to some wonderful self-care through massages. We went to Elixir Day Spas, which is on 110th in Beaverton. The lady was super nice (Clarissa). Since she was the only one working, one of us got to sit in the tranquility room while the other got a massage. In the tranquility room there were super good clementines and almonds and water. We also got a box of chocolate!!!!! Now, here is where the story gets interesting....

So... as many of you may know (or maybe no one knows....) our dear friend Annie is allergic to red dye 40. Not red dye 6. Not red dye 33. Not red dye 7 (who knew there were so many numbers of red dye....). Only red dye 40. So turns out the super cute ladybug chocolates that Clarissa got us had some red dye 40 in them. She was really nice and called Moonstruck chocolate to check and they were, in fact, ladybugs of chocolate death. So, she let us go over to the chocolate place around the corner and pick out new ones!!!

Annie decided to get one that she thought was amazing. It was a chocolate truffle with cinnamon and almonds and all around goodness ground up on it. The other one had goat milk, and salt, and caramel (and we all know Annie loves her salt). I got one that was an "ice cream cone" that was cookies and cream and another one that was toffee flavored. Both super delicious.

What a wonderful way to start our day!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

adventures in portland: take 4

cupcake review #3: bliss bake shop
4708 NW Bethany Blvd Suite E-5
Portland Oregon 97229

ambiance: 3 scoops of icing. bliss did the best they could, given that they are located in a strip mall next to a subway. we appreciated the children's toys and big bucket of marshmallows in the front of the store, and it also smelled magically delicious. lacking was some wall decor and perhaps a little more color... it is also important to add that bliss opened around 2 weeks ago, so we should cut them a little slack.

customer service: 5 scoops of icing. lexy and i appreciated the fact that although we each individually ordered 4 mini cupcakes a piece (yeah, i said it), the woman behind the glass was not judgy, pretty matter of fact (doesn't everyone eat four cupcakes at these places??!). also, after we finished our cupcakes, another nice lady took our plates and asked us if we enjoyed our treats. very nice.

flavor variety: 5 scoops of icing. as previously mentioned (see customer service) lexy and i each had to (had to) get four cupcakes each because it was too difficult to make up our minds on just one (or two.... or three) flavors to try. lexy got the strawberry with strawberry icing, smore, lemon with rasberry topping, and cookies and cream, and annie got smore, cookies and cream, vanilla, and mocha.

quality of cupcake: 4 scoops of icing. these were pretty awesome cupcakes. i mean, nothing extraordinary or off the charts, but absolutely satisfying with a magical flair. annie appreciated that there was a lot of icing on her cupcakes, and lexy took solace in the fact that although she ate four cupcakes, one of them contained fruit, thus making it healthy.

cupcake size: 3.5 scoops of icing. nothing special, but they should get credit for having both normal and mini sizes. thanks bliss.

overall impression: 4 scoops of icing. bliss was a little bit of a hike for us, but well worth the time and effort. it's good to see more cupcake stores opening in the portland area (for lexy) and we are excited to see what they do with the decor. good luck bliss baking!

adventures in portland take 3-- fiesta!

last night we decided to share our magical cooking skills with an elite group of friends.

unfortunately, we were so hungry, the food was not captured in film, only in our tummies.

here is a breakdown of the fabulous menu-- comment if you would like to see the recipes.

homemade salsa
nopales (yeah, that means cactus-- see previous posts)
mango black bean salad
annie's famous burritos
mexican pastries (we didn't make these, but they were authentic mexican-made!)

everything was yummy and served with some guiltless gourmet chips. after trying all 4 kinds of chips (black bean, black corn, yellow corn, and chili lime) we decided a few things:
1) these are a little pricey, given that half the bag is full of air.
2) chili lime-- not as good as it sounds. not enough chili, or lime. kind of like burnt cumin?
3) lexy feels they were a little salty, but given that annie could drink salt for breakfast, she kind of liked that. i should get a salt lick.

although no food pictures were taken, here are some pictures of our attractive faces wearing hats that were won while playing a serious game of loteria, otherwise known as a mexican face-off... or just bingo.

this evening earned 5 scoops of icing, although there were no cupcakes involved. mmmm...cupcakes.

lexy and annie.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Adventures in Portland: Take 2

Cupcake Review #2: Sweet Pea Baking Co. (SE Stark and 12th)

For Annie and my second cupcake adventure we chose Sweet Peak Baking Co. Something special about Sweet Pea is that its a completely vegan bakery. They are pretty cool in that they will make special orders for people with food allergies, and they have lots of wheat-free stuff.

Ambiance: 2 scoops of icing. Although the outside table and fun green sandwich board sign are cute and luring, the inside of Sweet Pea is a little stark. Sort of the industrial type of look with exposed pipes and stuff like that. Definitely not magical or whimsical or any other fun word that should be used to describe a cupcake store.

Customer Service: 5 scoops of icing. The man who helped us was quite nice. Again, very willing to tell the cupcake experts (ie. us-annie and lexy) what each of the flavors were and patient while we tried to make up our mind and choose just one.

Flavor Variety: 3 scoops of icing. Sweet Pea did not have tons of the flavors, but the ones they had were solid. Annie got a mocha, complete with espresso beans on top, which was a cute touch. Lexy got a cocnut cupcake with raspberry icing. They do deserve a little extra credit because we feel that its probably hard to make lots of random flavors and keep with the vegan-ness. Also, about half of their cupcakes are wheat/gluten free and that's pretty cool.

Quality of Cupcake: 4 scoops of icing. Annie really enjoyed her icing--possibly better than st. cupcake. The icing is a little stiffer, so for those of you that like stiff frosting this is the where the icing party is at. The texture of the actual cake was a little denser than normal cupcakes, possibly due to being vegan, different, but still good.

Cupcake Size: 3 scoops of icing. Annie's cupcake was bigger than Lexy's, which made Lexy a little sad. They didn't have mini and normal (or even big) size cupcakes, just all their "general" size, however the size of our cupcakes were quite different. This is sad because maybe you really want a cupcake so you want to pick one of the bigger ones, but the flavor of one of the smaller ones is the one you want to get. I think we all see the problem in that. This is serious business, people.

Sweet Pea averaged a 3.something (again, not math majors). They could afford to hire a deorator to revamp the place and bring it up to cupcake selling standards, but if its nice outside and you can sit at one of the cute tables, its a pretty enjoyable time. So enjoyable in fact, that you can see Annie, Lexy, and Kevin (we brought him one at work... what nice people we are) with our cupcakes. All looking pretty darn excited to have such a yummy treat!

Lexy and Annie's Adventures in Portland: Take 1

CUPCAKE REVIEW #1: Saint Cupcake on NW 17th and Flanders

Ambiance: 5 (out of 5) scoops of icing. St. Cupcake has the mandatory aroma of baking cupcake-goodness right when you walk in. They also have fun paintings on the walls, including the story of St. Cupcake. And, if you're lucky you can sit at the "bar" and watch the bakers at work.

Customer Service: 5 scoops of icing. We were asked at least 3 times if we had been helped. The cupcake lady was nice enough to tell me (lexy) all of the day old cupcake flavors. And, they were patient while Annie tried to choose from the all of magical treats.

Flavor Variety: 4 scoops of icing. St. Cupcake has some great flavors, but you cant get all of them every day. Annie wished they had some weirder or more daring flavors, apple perhaps. And, Lexy feels sad that her favorite cupcake (fat elvis) is only available on Tuesdays and Wednesdays--both days that were not the day that we were there. However, the coconut that Lexy had is available every day and quite amazing, and Annie had a vanilla with vanilla icing that she found enjoyable....delectable even.

Quality of Cupcake: 4 scoops of icing. Annie wishes her cupcake would have had a little more icing on the top. The quality of the cake in St. Cupcake's cupcakes is quite good, not dry. No one likes a dry cupcake. Lexy's cupcake was really good and she feels like the cupcake to frosting ratio was good...but as Annie said, you can never have enough frosting.

Cupcake Size: 3 scoops of icing. St. Cupcake offers the standard size cupcake as well as the mini "dot" sizes. The dots are great for when you cant make up your mind, and you need to try two...or three... or maybe four...? Nothing extraordinary about the size of their cupcakes, but they meet the averages.

Overall Impression: 4 scoops of icing. (technically 4.something, but we're not math majors, people). Tasty, and looking forward to our next trip there when we can partake in more fun flavors.

Portland or Bust!

ANNIE IS IN PORTLAND!!!! In order to celebrate this glorious time in our lives we are going to do some joint blogging!

Here is a rough outline of what some of our adventures will entail. Stay tuned for lots of blogging and information about some of the wonders of the pacific northwest.

Thursday: Annie arrives!
St. Cupcake
Vegan Restaurant

Friday: Sweet Pea Baking (vegan cupcakes!)
Mexican Fiesta with Portland friends

Saturday: Beach picnic (weather permitting)
St. Cupcake (2nd location)

Sunday: Cupcake Jones
Saturday Market (its on Sunday too!)
Some sort of yummy dinner

Monday: hmm...we ran out of cupcake stores... we'll have to do some research to find one more.
Vegan restaurant one more time (we will review after this visit)
Annie leaves :( :( :( :(

Sunday, March 1, 2009

As promised...

In the last blog I said that I would put up a yummy sandwich recipe that you can make with the hummus from the last entry. So, HERE IT IS!!!! yay!! This is super easy and makes a quick lunch for on the go.

Put about 2 tablespoons of the hummus on a tortilla (I use the basil/tomato ones from Smart and Delicious) add some thin slices bell pepper (any color) and then just a handful of lettuce! Roll up and enjoy!!

If I wasn't always running behind in the morning, i think grilling the pepper would be really good. Also, I think you could add any other sorts of veggies to this wrap. Annie really likes mushroooms, so for those of you that like fungus, that might be enjoyable.