Stuffed peppers with Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) Biryani

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Fresh from the oven…YUM!!

Ingredients

2 T. olive oil

1 cup of shredded carrots

1/2 cup finely diced onion

1 cup finely chopped celery

3 cloves of garlic

1/4 tsp tumeric

1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice*

1/4 tsp ground saffron

2 cups of uncooked quinoa

3 cups of chicken or vegetable stock

3/4 cup of raisins

4-6 peppers in an assortment of colors

Fresh mozzerella (1 slice per pepper)

Finely chopped fresh parsley

How-to:

  • Heat up the olive oil in a medium stock pan and saute the carrots, onion, celery, garlic, and spices for a couple minutes. Don’t let it burn! Add the quinoa and toast for a minute or two before adding the stock and raisins. Bring everything to a boil, then turn the heat down and simmer for 15 minutes.
  • Chop the tops off of the peppers and clean out the seeds. Set aside in an oven-safe dish. It helps to use one with a lid, but you can use foil to cover the peppers later, also.
  • Heat oven to 350 degrees.
  • After 15 minutes, remove quinoa from the heat and let it rest covered for another 5 minutes or so (until all of the liquid is absorbed).
Peppers topped with cheese
Peppers topped with cheese
  • Scoop quinoa into the peppers to a slightly rounded top. Cover with a lid (or foil) and bake for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, remove the foil and bake for another 10 minutes.
  • Top with mozzarella and fresh parsley. Broil for 2-3 minutes until cheese turns bubbly and brown.
  • Remove from the oven and ENJOY!!

Helpful Hints:

  • Some cooking sites suggest rinsing your quinoa before cooking to remove the bitter outer layer. I haven’t ever rinsed mine, but if you find that your quinoa has a bitter taste it might be something to try.
  • You can buy quinoa in bulk at any health food store and most bigger grocery stores. It is a lot cheaper than buying it by the box.
  • If you don’t have pumpkin pie spice, you can use a combination of cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, and nutmeg.
  • Quinoa reheats really well, so you can eat any leftovers the next day and they will still be delicious!
  • This dish is also really good chilled as a side salad…the possibilities are endless.

I love to know what other people are doing in the kitchen. If you try out this recipe, or if you have your own brilliant version, share it with me below! Thanks for reading!

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Simon says, “Take two giant steps outside of your comfort zone”!

ImageLast week, as I was browsing through the Living Social deals that are oh-so-conveniently delivered to my inbox, one stood out. 20 Zumba classes for $10. Only $10? I can afford $10. So, I bought the deal. I bought the deal with completely delusional confidence in my Zumba ability. You see, there are things that I am comfortable and confident about, and there are things that I am not. Coordinating gross body movements in front of complete strangers, driving in rush hour traffic at ridiculous speeds in this city that I am largely unfamiliar with, and the potential for having to make small talk are a few that top the NOT list. I’m am, however, an expert at convincing myself that I actually love to do these things; much like cottage cheese, a food I detest but oddly crave enough to purchase about twice a year.

Moments before of heading walking out the door to samba and salsa clumsily through an up-tempo dance routine my heart begins beating a painful, desperate rhythm inside my chest, begging me to find some last minute excuse to stay at home in the safety of my apartment. It would be easy to say ‘forget it, I don’t know what I was thinking’, and write the $10 off as a donation to the arts. Fortunately, I have 30+ years of bottled up self-talk forcing me down the stairs and into the car. You know that once you get there, you will have fun. Nobody is going to judge you. You need to step outside of your bubble. It’s a chance to meet new people. You never know unless you try. All of these things run through my head, and I suddenly realize that I have my mom to thank for getting out the door. I can actually hear her voice in my ear, saying these things to me as I write. I used to be annoyed by these generic go-get’em-tiger sayings, but they were always comforting. I knew that I could always count on them to be there. And, even five years later, I can still hear her encouraging me to step out of my comfort zone.

So, I drove to Zumba. It was everything I thought it would be: uncomfortable, uncoordinated, and awkward. But, it also something I didn’t expect: liberating. I realized that I had just spent an hour doing something that completely terrified me. It felt good.

Baggy shirt re-do’s using elastic

I finally got around to altering a couple shirts that I got on my trip to Brazil over Christmas. I liked both of the shirts, but they were a little big. I have been trying to figure out how to give them a fitted waist. As I usually do, I was making it more complicated than it needed to be. Sometimes, I need to just get things out of my head and into my hands. Can anyone relate? I have two different projects here, so I’ll kind of briefly talk through each of them, and fill you in on what I discovered along the way.

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I don’t like tight shirts because, let’s face it…I’m not 20-something anymore. There are post-baby bumps and bulges that are better left to the imagination, but I don’t need want to look like I’m still wearing my maternity clothes, either. I have some sliver of style left.

I recently found a couple great tutorials on using elastic, so I decided to try it out with some that I bought awhile ago. I attempted to create gathered effect that would draw up the fabric slightly without losing alot of drape in the front. I started with a smaller piece of elastic in the middle of the seam, but ended up ripping it out and running elastic from the armpit down the entire side seam, leaving about 6 inches at the bottom. I think it turned out pretty well. (I forgot to take pictures along the way, so you kind of have to imagine the process. I’ll have to try it again on another shirt and do a better job of documenting!)

Multi-colored shirt polaroid.jpg.jpg

I did a better job of documenting my transformation of this shirt. You can see in this picture that the shirt is cute, but needs…something. I had considered a lot of options: elastic waste band, a shirred back, a shirred waste, adding a drawstring. In the end, I decided to just simply add elastic in lue of going through the struggle of adding another panel of fabric to  slide a drawstring through.

Step 1: Mark off the line that the elastic will follow

Measuring and marking.jpg

I set my gauge to 4 inches and measured up from the the bottom hem of the shirt.

I use a washable marker to mark my clothes because they truly do wash right out. I try to find a color that is close to the garment color in case it would happen to bleed, but it never has before. (I know that there is a first time for everything, and that will most likely be on some expensive fabric that I purchase down the road at some point!)

Step 2: Measure your elastic

Most of the posts that I read suggest cutting your elastic about 4 inches shorter than your actual waist. That is roughly what I followed, too.

Step 3: Mark off the half-way points on your elastic

Fold your elastic in half and use your marker to draw a line at that point. Then, fold those halves in half to mark off quarter sections. This will help make sure that your elastic gathers evenly all the way around.

marking elastic.jpg

Step 4: Mark your “meet up” points on both your elastic and your shirt

This is a brilliant idea that I found on Wear the Canvas where she does an adorable dress re-do using elastic. Mark both the mid-point on the elastic and the mid-point on the shirt with the same color pin. I choose yellow. Then match up the other marks you made on your elastic with their corresponding checkpoints using the same color pins. You will need to stretch the elastic as you go along to get the fabric to gather. I used a straight stitch with a stitch length of 2.5. The pins hep you determine if you are stretching the elastic enough, and keep you on track so that you don’t end up short at the end. If you don’t quite match up the pins exactly, not big deal. Just stretch a little more so that the next set lines up.

*Be sure to use thread in your bobbin that is similar in color to you shirt because that is the thread that will show on the front of the shirt.

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That’s all there is to it! I overlapped the elastic a little bit at the end to make sure that the shirt didn’t have any strange puckering where the elastic ends met. I think that it also turned out really well. A quick solution to add a little flair to a baggy shirt.

Before and After Shirt re-do