Apr 3, 2011

Quinoa Stuffed Bell Peppers

Happy spring everybody! I've officially started spring quarter and Santa Cruz is just lovely this week. Before I left for spring break it was rainy, windy, and grey. But this week has been absolutely perfect! Just the right amount of sun, a light breeze.... *sigh* And most importantly, that makes it dress season! I love wearing summer dresses, and I finally have the chance to wear them every. single. day.
I've also started my last three classes of junior year. It's weird to think that I'll be a senior next year! This quarter I'm taking a history class and two lit classes. The history class is definitely my favorite; it's called "The Italian Renaissance" sooooo....it's awesome. The lit classes are alright, so far I'm not super excited about the topics, but it is only the first week.
The other exciting thing about this quarter is that I can finally start looking for a place to live next year! Aileen and I have been talking about moving for so long and it's great to be able to go look at houses and picture ourselves living there. We started planning for next year in January. That's how much we want out of these dorms. When we get especially frustrated with the dining hall or our neighbors or the general atmosphere of the dorm, we sit around our room looking at for-rent listings and Ikea catalogs. I know, it's kind of sad. But it's the little glimmer of hope that lets us stay in the dorms without feeling too claustrophobic and generally annoyed.
So that's what my spring is going to look like. I'm very excited!
And now, onto the food! Since last time I gave you a (delicously, sinfully, fabulously) unhealthy cake, this time I'm going to give you all a healthy dinner recipe. I actually didn't think I would like this recipe very much; I don't really like vegetables at all, so a vegetarian meal makes me suspicious. But, I was very happy with this dinner. It was satisfying and light at the same time. Also, it was super delicious. I even ate the spinach!

Quinoa Stuffed Bell Peppers
Adapted from La Kocinera
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 red onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 lb sliced mushrooms
1 cup chopped carrots
7 bell peppers, 1 cored/chopped/seeded, the other six hollowed
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1/4 lb baby spinach
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp ground cumin
1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed and cooked according to package directions
pinch of cayenne
salt and pepper to taste

heat the oil in a skillet then add the onions and garlic. Let cook until soft, then add the mushrooms. Cook the mushrooms for about 5 minutes, until they start to become soft. Then add the carrots and chopped peppers. Let cook a few minutes, then add parsley and baby spinach. Let the veggies cook until the spinach is wilted. I like to cook spinach by gently tossing it with a wooden spoon until it starts to wilt. Otherwise the bottom leaves will wilt fast, while the leaves on top don't cook at all. After spinach is wilted, add the cinnamon, cumin, cayenne, and cooked quinoa. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then set aside to let cool.
While the veggies are cooling, prep the other 6 peppers. First core the peppers. The best way to do this is to make a horizontal slice around the top of the pepper, keeping the core intact. Then simply pull the top off and use your fingers to scrape out any leftover seeds. Cut off the core from the top of the bell pepper and save the tops.
Grease a baking dish and set the hollow bell peppers inside. Fill each bell pepper evenly with the quinoa-veggie mixture. Place the bell pepper tops on top, cover with foil and place in 350F oven for 1 hour.

Even if you don't like veggies, I think you would like this dish. One thing that I'm going to try next time is cutting the mushrooms up even smaller. I find that the texture of the mushrooms weird, so if I cut them up small I can enjoy their flavor without the texture. I will probably also add things like zucchini as well! yum!

Mar 22, 2011

Banana Cake with Chocolate Frosting

I think I'm in love...with a cake. This cake is the most beautiful fantastic cake I've ever experienced. I had never made a banana cake before and I also had never made a frosting with a sour cream base, but I am definitely making this again. Soon.
I actually made this cake for my brother when we got home for spring break. I told him I would make him a cake because he's awesome, but really I just needed an excuse to make a cake. Also, this is what happens when my brother and I hang out in the kitchen together: Chess and baking.

This cake was kind of random and had issues. I didn't have enough bananas and I didn't have the right cake pans. (Um, yeah, why do we own a spring form pan without a base?) So I improvised! I ended up sending stephen out for more bananas and I made it into a sheet cake. The recipe I posted here is my adapted version, which turned out to be AMAZING. Sorry if the cooking times are a bit off; because I changed it into a sheet cake cooking times and temp had to be altered. Imagine a super moist banana bread with frosting. yumyumyum.

Banana Cake
Adapted from Edible Moments
1 1/2 cups bananas, mashed
3 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup butter, softened
2 1/8 cup sugar
3 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting
Adapted from Allrecipes
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
4 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
2 3/4 cup confectioners sugar

To start the cake smoosh the bananas in a small bowl. That's right. Smoosh them. That is the technical term. In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking soda, and salt. In a larger bowl cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy and delicious. (Side note: is there a more delicious combination than butter and sugar? I think not.) Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Then alternatly add the flour and buttermilk to the egg/butter combination. Stir in the banana mixture.
Grease a 9x13 inch pan and pour in batter. You could use a normal round cake pan and make a layered cake, but the sheet cake method worked well for this cake. Bake at 350F for 20-30 minutes. Again, I altered the cooking time, so keep an eye on it. As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, put it in the freezer for 45 minutes. Apparently, this makes the cake moister. Although, I don't know the science behind this, it sounds pretty legitimate.
To make the frosting melt the butter and chocolate together in the microwave. I've found the best way to do this is to microwave it for 30 seconds, stir, another 30 seconds, and stir again. You shouldn't need more than a minute, stirring helps it all melt together. Let it cool a bit then stir in the sour cream, vanilla, and salt. Slowly stir in the sugar; you might not need it all, just stir in enough for your preferred sweetness level.
When the cake is cool, spread the frosting on top of the cake evenly and decorate.

I decorated it with chocolate shavings. The process of creating these chocolate shavings was surprisingly messy....AAHHHH! I'm bleeding chocolate!

Just kidding! So that's how to make the most delicious cake ever. Enjoy!

Mar 6, 2011


Hello everybody! Just wanted to let you know that it might be a while until I post another recipe. It's finals week for me and I've decided that if I want to get these finals papers done the only solution is to cut off all communication with the outside world. I have locked myself in my room (figuratively, not literally because that would be a fire hazard) and I've filled my shelves with finals food. Finals food being gushers, popcorn, soup, and chips. I've got a test on Thursday (on 120 pages of reading that I haven't done yet), a group presentation on Wednesday, and 3 final papers totaling 23 pages of brilliant writing due by next Monday. This is going to be the BEST WEEK EVER. (That was my sarcasm voice)
So I'll see you all next Tuesday after I've finished my finals and start heading home for spring break. Next week's recipe is going to be awesome! Hint: it involves fish. omnomnom.