Sunday, April 25, 2010

Stuffed Peppers at Home

First, a note. I have been super-busy the last week or so, but I wrote a guest post last week over at CardioFoodie about packing lunches (Jon says I sound like Martha Stewart, so I apologize in advance). I know CardioFoodie, aka Karissa, from our time living in Texas. She always has a lot of awesome advice about healthier eating and fitness, that I aspire to (and sometimes successfully do) integrate into my life. So go check her out.

In other news, Jon decided to go pesca-veggie last week. Completely out of the blue. I know it's healthy, I am no stranger to alternative proteins, and I love whole grains and veggies, but it's a little weird coming from him. Not because I don't think he can sustain it (apparently he was quasi-vegetarian for several years in college), but because I'm used to being the fiber-conscious, veggie-pushing nut around here. I might go a little crazy. We'll see.

In that context, tonight's dinner was roasted red peppers stuffed with quinoa, mushrooms, onion, cashews, cumin, and cinnamon, with a TJ's brand Dunkelweisen to drink.

Jon actually cooked dinner, despite being in the midst of finals. As you might have guessed, he is amazing. He was able to minimize the active cooking time by making the quinoa in our rice cooker (yet another reason why my rice cooker is the best thing ever).

It was SO tasty. The cashews made it very hearty and filling, and the red quinoa we used was super-healthy, with a great, slightly chewy texture. It allowed me to eat a ton of healthy crap, without the slightly hungry, nauseous feeling I usually get from eating a ton of veggies.

We found the recipe using Whole Foods Recipe App, which is- despite my skepticism of food apps and general dislike of following recipes- also awesome. They have a ton of great recipes targeted to our urban-foodie-freak demographic, indexed according to selectable categories like "vegetarian", "gluten-free", etc., as well as an ability to search by ingredient.

The Dunkelweissen was also pretty good. I couldn't remember which TJ's beer I liked best from the mixed 12-pack we got last month, so I bought some of their Vienna-style in addition to the Dunkel. I definitely prefer the heavier Dunkel, although all of their beers I've tried are decent.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Spinach and Tortellini at Home

For lunch, I had leftover tortellini, with a spinach salad and mint-water to drink.

Pretty boring and basic. I started making mint-water a few months ago in an effort to drink more water. It's working pretty well. I just use a few splashes of mint extract to give water a little flavor. It's even better with citrus slices.

In grocery news, it looks like produce is finally starting to pick up. I went shopping for veggies to make a quasi-ratatouille to go with tonight's salmon, and ended up with ridiculous amounts of fresh veggies because they were so cheap and tasty-looking.

I was going to write a big long post about poverty, obesity, crop subsidies, fresh produce, WIC, and my theories about all of the above. But I really don't have anything new to say. I'm sure everyone here knows all that. I just found it interesting that, at least at certain times of the year, it IS more economical to buy a boatload of produce than processed crap. I got two pounds of spinach, a large eggplant, a pound of organic carrots, three grapefruit, three zucchini, 3/4 pound of 'bella mushrooms, three tomatoes, a gallon of (scary) milk, and almost two pounds of steel-cut oats for under $20, including St. Louis' astronomical sales tax. I easily could have added some tofu, beans, and whole-grain pasta, and poof, two weeks' or so worth of meals.

Even more interestingly, my local grocery store is the typical semi-urban, WIC-heavy place where I usually see carts piled high with complete crap (sorry, I do judge) and morbidly obese children/teens/young adults. But today, I saw considerably less cart-piling, along with somewhat prominent signs highlighting the healthy produce. Maybe people are finally figuring food out.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Not So Lucky

For dinner, I had some TJ's tortellini with bolognese sauce, a glass of malbec, and some cookies. Really cost-effective and tasty dinner, that I've discussed recently.

No, I want to talk about the wine I had with dinner. Only because I've finally found a bad malbec. Not an okay one. Not an indifferent or neutral one. A BAD one.

Honestly, I didn't know bad malbec existed. Malbec is a gorgeous wine, mostly from Argentina- fragrant; full-bodied, but not overpowering. It goes with everything, and is cheap to boot. Malbecs are like the rainbows and bunny rabbits of the wine world- you just can't hate them, even if they're not perfect. But hate I do, despite the label's cheery duck.

To be fair, it's $3.97 malbec that came from Wal-Mart. And it's not any worse than TJ's Charles Shaw wine (aka "Two-Buck Chuck"), which many people actually like, and which costs about $4 here in Missouri. It's not sweet. But it is very poorly-balanced and smells heavily alcoholic (despite a 13%abv), with undertones of cherry soda. One-note. It's the kind of wine that makes me wish there were more stringent labeling requirements for wine flavorings and additives, because it tastes pretty fake.

In happier news, I managed to find a lone Girl Scout selling cookies today. It's like they were hiding from me all season- I would hear rumors about them, and they'd be gone by the time I made it to the local grocery store.

Success! I am mostly a Samoas girl, with a segue into Do-Si-Dos occasionally. I LOVED Juliets circa 1997, but the Turtley deliciousness was discontinued in favor of some bs "healthy" raisin cookies that tasted like cardboard and were promptly discontinued.Ouch, I just Googled, and there is a Facebook "Bring Back the Juliets" petition group...with only 22 members. Bring back the Juliets!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Brunch in Clayton

For brunch, I had a crepe-elette, with coffee to drink.

What on earth is a crepe-elette? Awesomeness.

I'd held off on visiting First Watch, they of the crepe-elettes, because their website looked too damned cheerful, and because their menu is very egg-heavy (I hate eggs).

In fact, I discovered today that their restaurant is too damned cheerful for me, regardless of my state of caffeination- bright colors, airy high ceilings, and cutesey food names. For example, the special I ordered this morning was actually the "Hamma-lama-ding-dong" or some such. Not kidding. And I actually made up the term "crepe-elette" because, although it reminds me of epaulets, it sounds much better than their trademarked term "crepeggs". First Watch reminds me of Le Peep, with better food and worse decor.

In any case, my crepe-elette was amazing- crepe, filled with scrambled eggs, mushrooms, diced ham, asparagus, and tomato, and covered with Hollandaise sauce. The crepe cut the egginess, the veggies were all super-fresh and properly cooked. Even the diced ham (which scares me, and I have never, ever, ever eaten before), although salty, was the perfect flavor to balance everything.

Their sides of breakfast potatoes and English muffin were good, although they lacked grape jelly (in favor of blackberry, of all things). The coffee was also good enough, but had a weird cinnamon undertone that was either a bad attempt at flavored coffee beans, or burnt beans.

My meal was delicious enough that I would brave the unfortunate decorating choices and cheesy menu names again.

In other news, I spent the rest of the morning making pie shells.

Dinner tonight is my aunt's amazing spinach quiche recipe. Hers uses extra cheese, fewer eggs, and drained frozen spinach so it turns out firm rather than watery. It also freezes well for lunches, and is healthy compared to traditional French quiche- no cream here. Usually, I just pour the quiche batter into prepared pie shells, but TJ's prepared pie shells were as ridiculously unhealthy as the pecan-and-cheese-based shell she sometimes uses, so I decided to go for the tasty homemade original.

I ended up with some extra crust material, but only have one pie plate, so made some savory mini-shells.

Usually I'm not a recipe poster, but it's really good.

Auntie Ann's Spinach Quiche

pie shell
2c. shredded cheese (mozzarella is best)
2tbs. flour
10 oz. frozen spinach, thawed, drained, and squeezed. Get all the water out!
1c. milk
2 beaten eggs
salt and pepper

Toss the cheese and flour, mix everything together well, pour into 9" pie crust, and bake for one hour at 350.

The Unhealthy Crust

1c. flour
1c. shredded sharp cheddar (I actually modified this and used mozz and parmesan)
3/4c pecans, chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp paprika
1/3c vegetable oil

Mix everything, stir well, press firmly into 9" pie plate (either my pie plate is small, or this recipe is giant).

Bake at 350 for 12 minutes, cool completely before filling.

here's the finished quiche, along with a glass of my finished cider. The cider is not quite as awesome as I was led to believe, but it's not a bad start.