Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A fluke, a recipe, soreness, and a Target shopping spree.

I was lucky - I think my weight gain on the scale was indeed a fluke. Not that I should have cared that much… but when i weighed in the following day I was half a pound lighter than I was when I left for vacation. Victory in my book! 

I wanted to share a delicious recipe I made tonight. Typically I don't share recipes from cookbooks, but I tweaked this one a little and it was so good that I couldn't not share it. I mean, it's not the most incredible meal I've ever made, but it's very quick, vegetarian (and easily veganized if need be) and easily made on a weeknight. This is adapted from The Rodale Whole Foods Cookbook, which I highly recommend. Everything I've made from it has been something special. 

These are not your ordinary stuffed peppers. The filling is nothing super special, but the sauce makes these amazing. 
Forgive my photo - I am certainly no food photographer, and my only camera is my iPhone! And yes, I know that it looks like the pepper took a crap on the plate. Oops.

Bean-Stuffed Peppers with Fontina

2 large bell peppers of your choosing (I used one red and one yellow), halved and seeded
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large red onion
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno (optional - and amount that you use will vary on how spicy you want your sauce)
2 cups cooked canary beans or cannellini beans (You can use canned for this if you're lazy like me, but it's cheaper and healthier to do it this way. if you get cans, you'll need about 1.5 15-oz cans.)
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 tsp. sesame seeds (I didn't have these so left them out, but I recall them being quite tasty when I made this a while back)
1.5 tsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
½ tsp. dried oregano
½ tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. salt
1.5 cups canned crushed tomatoes (or you can crush your own. I used a 15oz can of diced tomatoes and it was roughly 1.5 cups.)
½ cup raisins (optional - I omitted them)
4 oz. cheese of your choice (original recipe calls for manchego, but I used fontina), shredded

First, steam or slightly cook your peppers. You can do this any way that you want - in a steamer basket, or you can grill them. I have a little contraption for the microwave that steams veggies, so I used that. You want them to still hold their form but want them to be cooked enough that you don't bite into something really crunchy.

Chop your onion. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. When hot, add chopped onion and garlic and let cook for about 5-10 minutes, until they are golden, stirring frequently. If you are using jalapeno, chop it into small pieces and saute it with the onions and garlic. How much jalapeno you use depends on how spicy you want the sauce. The original recipe doesn't call for anything spicy, but I thought it needed something a little hot. Alternatively, you can use a garlic chili sauce (this is what I used - just a teaspoon or so), some sriracha, or some chili flakes. Or, if you don't like any spice, just omit it altogether.

Make the filling for the peppers. Combine the cooked beans, the tomato paste, and 1/4 cup of the onion mixture in a large bowl. Mash with a potato masher or a fork. It's fine to have some unmashed beans.

Lastly, make the sauce. Add the sesame seeds (if using), cocoa powder, oregano, cinnamon, and salt to the onion/garlic mixture. Cook for about a minute and then add the crushed/diced tomatoes. Cover and let simmer for a few minutes to let the flavors combine. While it simmers, grate your cheese of choice and divide into 4 roughly equal portions.

Pour your onion mixture into a blender or food processor (if using your blender, be sure to take the plastic cap out of the center of the top, and cover with a towel while blending so that steam can escape.) Puree until smooth. 

Pour the sauce back into the skillet. Place the four pepper halves, cut side up, in the pan and evenly distribute the filling among the peppers. Spoon a little bit of sauce on top of the peppers, and then top with the cheese. Cover again and let simmer for a couple minutes to allow the cheese to melt.

There'll be a lot of sauce, so scoop a generous portion onto a plate and top with the stuffed pepper. 

Makes four servings. I clearly served mine along with some steamed broccoli.

My nutritional calculations (keeping in mind that I omitted the sesame seeds and raisins:) 
324 calories
36 g carbs
14 g fat
17 g protein

In other news, I'm realllllly sore. I intended to work out tonight, but I can barely sit down. It's my own fault - I didn't stretch properly after my last workout, and I honestly am having pain even walking. I hate it when I don't properly stretch! I'm actually bummed to be missing a workout. My arms are killing me too (it was my Gold's Gym cardio workout that involves boxing/punching and a lot of ducking, which is why my legs are so sore.) 

I went to Target yesterday intending to buy some dishwasher soap, and I ended up spending a fortune! I got a cute new pair of workout shorts, and then I also bought myself a dry-erase board. I've been trying to find a good way to quickly reference my week's menu plan and workout plan. There were plenty of calendar-like boards but I opted to get a medium-size one. It's too bad my handwriting is so bad, but I like the idea. I just bought some little day-of-the-week magnets and then wrote down my week's dinners (so I can quickly look at them in the kitchen) as well as my exercise plan, and some health-related "to do" and "to buy" lists. It's working pretty well so far.

Hope everyone has a great Valentine's Day!


  1. Oooh, I like your board. That's a great idea! LOL'ed at the pepper taking a crap! ;-) Congrats on the loss over vacation.

  2. Hmmm...I may have to pull out the old dry erase board too. Great idea.