Stuffed Peppers

The other night after work, my sister snuck me in this place:

It may seem silly, but I was excited since I had never been inside a Costco.  I will admit that the product selection didn't knock my socks off, but I ended up getting some pretty good deals.  Oh and I got to sample coffee cake, chili and lobster bisque.  Score.
4lbs of Trail mix?  Yes, please.  This should last Kevin and I through next year.  
1.5 pounds of blueberries.  These would probably go to waste if I left them in the fridge, so I plan to stick more than half in the freezer for smoothies.
The Dry Roasted Edamame was my "I hope we like these b/c we have a 10 year supply" purchase.  I figured they would be a great snack for work.  Unfortunately, neither Kevin and I were a huge fan.  I have a feeling these may end up in my work kitchen.  Everything gets eaten up in there.
I came home from Costco to find Kevin already cooking dinner.  He was using a "beach body" recipe, which meant these were going to taste really healthy.  Not necessarily a bad thing, but he decided to add cheddar cheese to the bottom of each pepper, so we had something to look forward too.  
I chose the red pepper and was gloating that I had the best one since red peppers are so much better than green peppers
Lesson Learned:  Never Gloat.  As I was digging around my pepper for the cheese, I came to the realization that Kevin somehow missed adding the cheese to this one.  And that was the last of the cheese.  He knows I don't like green peppers.  

I will get him next time.  



Seared Scallops w/ Spinach & Butternut Squash Puree

Sunday night, I attempted to make butternut squash SOUP that the Vitamix turned into more of a PUREE.  I added a sprinkle of cinnamon and cayenne pepper that really "kicked it up a notch". 

Tonight, I tried to get fancy with my puree.
Sauteed Spinach, Butternut Squash Puree, and Seared Sea Scallops.
This was an absolutely delicious dinner.  

I feel like I finally perfected the "sear" on the scallops.  The key for me was to pat the scallops very dry and once I added the seasoned scallops to the pan, I turned the heat up to medium-high and didnt touch them for a few minutes.  Flip once and cook for another couple minutes at the medium-high heat.

Enjoy the rest of your night.



Butter and Push-Up Grips

Friday night, Kevin brought me two just-because gifts.  The best kind.

Push-Up Grips since my wrists always hurt during our P90 workouts.
And KerryGold Pure Irish Butter because i always eye it up at the grocery store.  I think these items even each other out perfectly. 

We were planning on a run Saturday morning, so we stayed in a made a nice dinner of fish (tuna and salmon), asparagus, and risotto.  I made my first risotto and it was so easy!

It was also straight out of a box!  This Butternut Squash Risotto was flavorful and super simple to make.  We ended up chopping some of the asparagus to mix into the risotto.
Healthy and filling dinner.  

Soooo, Kevin and I started P90x over again.  We had gotten too far off track to keep moving forward and figured it would be best if we just start over.  The past two weeks, we have been getting up at 5am and completing the workouts before work.  It has been brutal since I am not a morning person.  But, we have stayed consistent and the early wake-up call is getting easier.  We are ready to kick off week 3 tomorrow.

I have not been running as frequently, but felt surprisingly OK during our 6 mile run on Saturday morning.  I do have to keep up with the running since the Washington's Birthday Marathon Relay had to be postponed to March 28th due to the snow.  That reminds me that I need to post my 2010 Race Calendar. 



Valentine's Cooking Class

For Valentines Day this year, Kevin made plans for us to go to a cooking class at one of our favorite restaurants in Baltimore: The Dogwood.  (See our other visits here and here.)

They "...cook with the seasons and feature the finest local and natural ingredients, sourcing from sustainable, artisanal, and organic producers whenever possible."  

The theme of this month's cooking class was
New Orleans.  I actually took a trip to New Orleans in college for the Marketing club.  I joined the club and became the "Secretary" so that I could go on this trip with my friends, who were President and Treasurer.  There was a national conference being held, but we were more interested in checking out the local culture (Bourbon Street).  ;)

Kevin and I arrived early and were lucky enough to grab seats front and center.  We started with a Brandy Milk Punch that was strong!  Not really my type of drink but I enjoyed tasting something different.
The featured wine was Bonterra Rousanne and I had never heard of this type of wine, but loved it.  I also loved how they kept re-filling our glasses every 5 mins or so. 
The first course was a Shrimp Remoulade.  We learned how to poach shrimp and make a spicy remoulade.  Chef Galen was streaming the olive oil into the other ingredients just like on the food network!
Can you believe how much shrimp there was on each plate?  Served over a bed of lettuce, this was a refreshing and flavorful dish. 
The next course was a Duck and Andouille Gumbo.  When we first arrived, Chef Galen discussed multiple roux techniques and started a roux that cooked for 30-40 mins with different volunteers stirring.  While we were enjoying our shrimp, he walked around to let us check out the mahogany color that had developed. 
Next, we each received a huge portion of the gumbo served over rice.  The flavor was rich and spicy.  I would most certainly order this if it was on the menu.
Saving the best for last is an understatement here.  Bananas Foster.  Brown sugar, butter, rum, bananas, vanilla ice cream.  
It really cant get much better than that.
This was Dogwood's second Monthly Cooking Class and they have plans to do one a month that features a different location where Chef Galen and his wife Bridget have traveled.  There are some great menus planned and I felt that I learned so much hearing Chef Galen talk through each recipe and technique.  
I would highly recommend this for anyone who loves food.  It was the best valentines ever.  
In other news, Kevin and I visited another possible wedding venue and loved it.  
Hope everyone had a great weekend!



Bundled Up

The other day while stranded because of the 1st snow, Kevin and I decided to walk down to Safeway to get some essentials before the 2nd snow hit.  We made sure to bundle up.

Who knew a turtleneck sweater could double as a face mask?!
We picked up a whole chicken to roast because we had a ton of veggies that needed to be used up.  In the veggie bed above:  carrots, parsnips, onion, celery, garlic, shallots, and a sweet potato.  We added about 2 cups of chicken broth and a bunch of thyme and rosemary.
We stuffed the bird with 1/2 lemon, garlic cloves, and thyme.  On top, we seasoned the outside with extra virgin olive oil, thyme, and J.O.s.
J.O. Spice is best known for their crab seasoning, but Kevin picked up the Rotisserie Chicken Spice last time he stopped by their store.  Awesome stuff.
We fought over who got to baste the chicken each time.  Basting is fun.  (We were also in the middle of doing P90x Plyometrics and both wanted the break.)  

All of the veggies, chicken broth and seasonings ended up making some of the best vegetable soup/puree/gravy I have every tasted. 
And it made a ton!
We served the chicken with our veggie soup/puree/gravy and steamed brussels sprouts.
This Saturday, Kevin and I have exciting Valentine's Day plans.  We are taking a cooking class at Dogwood Restaurant in Hampden.  I am so excited to take pictures of our experience and will be sure to share.  I can NOT wait!



Two Firsts

The snow inspired me to cook two new things today.  Chickpea Blondies and French Onion Soup.  Let's start with the Chickpea Blondies.  The other day I saw Tina @ Carrots N Cake make these and was immediately puzzled.  How could the same ingredient that makes hummus be used in a blondie?  I had to try them for myself.

This recipe originally comes from the "Have Cake, Will Travel" blog.  I altered the ingredients slightly.  Instead of Strawberry Preserves, I used my Grandmom's homemade Strawberry/Rhubarb Jam.
Instead of crunchy, natural peanut butter, I used Trader Joes Creamy Almond Butter w/ Sea Salt.
I also used whole wheat pastry flour instead of flax or rice flour.  Coming out of the oven, I was slightly worried.
Then, I took a bite.
Not a hint of hummus at all!  ;)  Next time I plan to add in some chocolate chips for an extra something-something.  These were absolutely delicious and I cant seem to stop sneaking into the kitchen for small slivers that dont actually count.

Moving on to the French Onion Soup.  Kevin's favorite soup in the world is French Onion.  So, when I went looking for a recipe online, I had to choose "The Best French Onion Soup (ever!)" from Cookography.
This recipe told me to use a dutch oven.  I don't own a dutch oven.  I want one very badly, but since they are a million dollars, lots of onions went into my largest, heaviest pot.  It couldn't go into the oven, so I did this all on the stove-top and it worked just fine.
After a few hours, the onions had cooked down and I began the deglazing process.  Pouring the sherry into the caramelized onions was one of the best smells ever.  

Well, that and the smell of freshly brewed Americana's from High Grounds down the street.  We had been craving coffee and kept calling down there to see if they were open.  Kevin was lucky enough to catch the manager stopping in for a few minutes.  Yesss.
I will take this moment to sneak in another Oscar photo since he was such a good helper overseeing the shoveling today.
Back to the French Onion Soup.  The onions were a rich, golden color and it was time to pour in all the broth and seasoning.
At this point we had done enough shoveling for the day and I wanted a beer.  Flying Dog's In-Heat Wheat Hefeweizen is my new favorite.

The soup...all by its lonesome.
Toasted croutons thrown into the mix.
Topped with a slice of provolone and gruyere cheese.  We both love cheese.  Can you tell?
The broiler got to work very quickly
And out came a beautiful sight.  Brown, bubbly cheese.
Oh my goodness.
I couldn't wait to dig in.
If you know someone who likes French Onion Soup, make this for them and they will love you forever.  I promise.

Have a great night!


Baltimore Blizzard

They said we were going to get a blizzard...  

I guess you could say it is here.  Kevin has begun digging out with our broken shovel.
Oscar loves the snow.
Can you find him in the picture above?
There he is!
Hope everyone stays warms!


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