Monthly Archives: January 2012

Szechuan Noodles and Peanut Butter Pie

Yesterday was Mark’s 22nd Birthday. We celebrated by having some friends over on Saturday night. We don’t really entertain much because we live 1 1/2 miles away from our campus, but everyone braved the blizzard and hiked over to enjoy some Naked Dove IPA.

On Sunday, Mark’s actual birthday, we had a peanut butter filled day. Mark had two requests: Szechuan noodles with spicy peanut sauce and peanut butter pie.

The noodles are adapted from Ina Garten and are really easy and tasty. Plus, if you don’t want to spend the extra money on soba noodles, you can just substitute whole wheat thin linguini. Also, pretty much any veggie can be thrown in and there will be plenty of leftovers.

Szechuan Noodles with Spicy Peanut Sauce

1/2 box of soba noodles or thin whole wheat linguini

2 tablespoon oil

1 small onion diced (or1/2 a medium onion)

10-15 baby carrots cut into rounds 1/4 in thick

1/2 red bell pepper, diced

5-10 mushrooms, sliced

1 cup of shredded cabbage

2 cup of broccoli florets, cooked, blanched or microwaved

3/4 cup of peas

dash red pepper flakes

black pepper

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 reaspoon dried garlic

1/4 teaspoon cayenne

3/4 cup of peanutbutter

1/4 cup of siracha

1 teaspoon of hoisin

1/4 cup of soy sauce

1/4 cup of rice wine vinegar

1/4-1/2 cup of reserved pasta water

2 tablespoon of thinly sliced scallions (optional)

2 tablespoon peanuts, chopped (optional)

Bring water to a boil for the pasta. Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat, add onions and sautee for 2 minutes. Cook the broccoli with your preferred method. Add the carrots to the oil and onion, sautee for 2 minutes. Then add the bell pepper and sautee for 2 minutes. Once the water is boiling add the pasta and cook according to the box directions. Add the cabbage to the veggies and let wilt for 2 minutes. Then add in the cooked broccoli and frozen peas. In a medium size bowl, add the peanut butter, spices, siracha, soy sauce, rice vinegar, hoisin, and a ladle full (or 1/4 cup of pasta water. Mix to combine, if it seems a little thick add in another ladle of pasta water. Drain the pasta once it is done. Add the sauce to the veggies and top with pasta. Toss to coat and top with scallions and chopped peanuts (optional).

Peanut Butter Pie

1 prepared “oreo” cookie pie crust

3/4 cup of peanutbutter

3/4 cup of powdered sugar

8 oz of cream cheese, at room temp

1/2 pint of whipping cream

1/2 teaspoon of vanilla

3 oz of chocolate, plus one more for shaving as a garnish

1-2 tablespoon of milk

2 tablespoon of peanuts chopped

Combine the peanut butter, powdered sugar and cream cheese in a large bowl.

In another (largish) bowl whip the cream and vanilla until stiff peaks form. With a rubber spatula or wooden spoon gently fold the whipped cream into the peanut butter mixture, try not to let the air out of the whipped cream. I did it a few scoops at a time. Then spoon it into the prepared crust and even it out. Then shave some chocolate and sprinkle it over the top, you can use a vegetable peeler. Place the remaining chocolate in a heat proof bowl and place it on a small pot filled with an inch or 2 of water, over medium heat (a double boiler). Melt the chocolate, stirring it occasionally, once it is all melted add a little bit of milk, stir and see if the the chocolate drizzles off of the spoon in a thin ribbon. If it does not add more milk and try again. Once the right consistency is achieved drizzle it over the pie. Top with the chopped peanuts and cover and let it set up in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours. Then cut with a sharp knife and enjoy.

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Anniversary Dinner

Wednesday was Mark and my 3 year anniversary. Hard to believe we’ve been together for that long. Even though it was also our first day of classes of our last semester, we still wanted to make our anniversary a little bit special.

For our first anniversary, I made Mark a Carrot Cake and we made Asian dumplings

For our second Anniversary, we were driving back to school, so we spent the night at a cabin in the mountains and I made pumpkin cheesecakes (which did not appreciate the bumpy drive up into the mountains… hence the cracks)

For this anniversary, we cooked in… I made Lebanese dumplings and we had some classy Ben and Jerry’s Stephen Colbert Americone Dream. The dumplings might not be 100% authentic Lebanese, but they were tasty.

Lebanese Dumplings


1 tablespoon of oil

1/2 teaspoon of cumin

2/3 cup of uncooked quinoa

1 1/2 cups of water

Spinach Dumplings (makes about 10)

2 tablespoons of oil

1 12 oz package of frozen spinach, defrosted and all excess water squeezed out with a kitchen towel

1/4 cup of bread crumbs

2 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese

1 egg

1 clove of garlic, minced

1/4 of an onion, diced

1/2 teaspoon of cumin

dash of cinnamon

1/4 cup of cooked quinoa

Meat Dumplings (makes about 8-10 dumplings)

2 tablespoons of oil

6 oz of ground meat (beef or lamb, we used beef)

1/4 onion, diced

1/2 teaspoon of cumin

dash of cinnamon

2 tablespoons of bread crumbs

1 egg

1/4 cup of cooked quinoa

Yogurt Dipping Sauce

1/2 cup of  Greek yogurt

1/4-1/2 cup of water

1 tablespoon of olive oil

1 clove of garlic minced

2 tablespoons of minced parsley

***read the whole thing through first… this recipe involves some multi-tasking

Start by cooking the quinoa. Add the oil to the bottom of a small pot, and then add in the cumin. Let it heat up for a minute over medium high heat then add in the quinoa and water, stir and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down, put a lid on the pot and let simmer for 15-20 minutes or until all of the water is absorbed, stirring occasionally.

While the quinoa is cooking, start to prepare the spinach dumplings…take a medium sized bowl and add in the spinach, bread crumbs, parm, egg, spices, garlic and onion. In another medium bowl start the meat dumplings… add in the ground beef, bread crumbs, egg, spices, garlic, and onion.

Then make the dipping sauce by combining the yogurt water, garlic, oil and parsley in a bowl with a whisk, then set aside. At this point the quinoa should be almost done so heat up two large skillets over medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of oil to each and preheat the oven to 350. When the quinoa is done, add 1/4 cup of quinoa to the spinach and 1/4 cup to the meat. Mix the meat mixture together and form it into 8-10 meat balls, place them in one of the frying pans. Wash your hands well, then mix together the spinach mixture and form into 10-12 balls and place in the other frying pan.

Turn all of the balls, meat or veggie, so they can brown on each side. Once browned on all sides, transfer them to two sheet trays or pans (I used a pie pan and an 8×8) making sure to keep the meat separate from the veggie. Place them in the oven for about 10 minutes until they finish cooking through. Remove from the oven when the meatballs are no longer pink in the middle, or until they reach your desired done-ness. Spoon quinoa into the bottom of a bowl, top with dumplings of your choice and spoons some of the yogurt sauce over the top.

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Vegetarian Shepherds Pie

It’s finally starting to feel like winter…

Mark and I went to go see the Bruins play the Canucks at the Garden.. in the the 9th ROW.

1. I have never been to a Bruin’s home game

2. I’ve never sat any closer than the nosebleed section

3. my parent’s gave Mark and I one of the best Christmas presents EVER!

4.  and we got to spend the night in Boston in a swanky hotel

Then we headed up to Burlington, our future home, in a snow storm, to meet with Mark’s boss and then we snuck in some prime skiing at Stowe! My car is quite the snow kitty… we saw about 30 cars off the road, but Mark coaxed my little hatchback down all the steep mountain passes and around all the sharp curves like a pro

Now we’re finally back in Geneva and even with the heat at 61, our furnace is still cranking away almost constantly and the temp outside has been hanging out in the single digits… back to real life, time to pay the bills.

When the temperature drops I want nothing more than to curl up on the couch and eat some warm comfort food, oh and watch football. (I’m hoping for a Pat’s-Giants showdown).

The other night I made a lightened up version of shepherds pie, and trust me you won’t even notice its lacking ground meat

Vegetarian Shepherds Pie

3-4 medium russet or Yukon gold potatoes, quartered

3 carrots peeled and sliced into rounds 1/4 in thick

1 tablespoon of olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

4 shiitake mushrooms, cleaned and  chopped

10 crimini mushrooms, cleaned and chopped

1 1/2 cups of light life vegetable protein crumbles, or 1/2 block of tempeh, crumbled up

1 cup of corn

1/4 cup of flour

2 cups of low sodium veggie stock

1/4 cup of milk

1 table spoon of poultry seasoning

1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes

dash of garlic

black pepper to taste

1/2 cup of shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat the oven to 350. Add quartered potatoes to a pot of water and turn on high, cover with lid. Let it boil for about 20 to 30 minutes or until a fork pierces through the potatoes easily.  Meanwhile, chop the veggies. Heat a skillet over medium heat and add oil. Then add onions and carrots, sauté for 5 minutes, then add mushrooms and sauté for 4 minutes, and then add vegetable protein crumbles and sauté 3 minutes. Then add corn and sauté an additional minute. Add in the flour, spices and stock. Mix to incorporate. The flour and stock should form a “gravy”, adjust the flour or stock until that consistency is reached. Turn off heat.

When the potatoes are done, drain them and let them cool until you can handle them, peel them and place them in a large bowl. Add milk and some black pepper, and blend together.

Spoon the gravy and vegetables into a greased casserole dish. Then spoon the potatoes over the top and spread them into an even layer. Top with a bit more black pepper. Bake at 350 for 30ish minutes or until the top becomes lightly browned. Top with cheese and return to the oven for 5 minutes. Remove from heat spoon onto plates and enjoy.

Are you looking for a good winter beer? try Southern Tier Old Man Winter

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Healthy Eating for the New Year and NYC Recap

Happy 2012! Mark and I went to Barcelona’s in New Haven for dinner on NYE. Barcelona’s is an excellent tapas bar. It was too dim for pictures, but we got a whole slew of delicious little plates, and used up a gift card we got last Christmas. Mark and I rung in the new year with my cousins and some friends. On New Year’s Day, I dropped Mark off at the train station so he could spend some time with his brother in NYC. Yesterday, I took the train in to the city as well. Mark and I spent the day together while his brother was at work

We went to the Museum on Natural History… they have a whole room filled with minerals and gems, and a whole floor of dinosaur fossils! You know you’re a nerd when you have your face pressed to a display case, shouting “wow, look at that tourmaline!”

We walked around Central Park

Then we headed to midtown to see Matt’s work

And then we finished of the day with dinner at a trendy little Lebanese place in midtown, called Naya. I’m playing around with some ingredient combinations in my head trying to recreate Mark’s entree of lamb dumplings in a yogurt sauce. I’m thinking of doing spinach dumplings… more to come on that soon.

I tallied it up and we walked at a minimum 5 miles… they really add up in the city. Walking 5 miles is just as good as running 5, right?

I’ve made a few resolutions: to stretch more before and after running, to snack less and to not stress out as much.

For those of you who have vowed to start eating healthier, here are a few ideas:

1. Stock up on broccoli, kale, cauliflower, cabbage, watercress, and mustard greens, they support your immune system and they are great for detoxing your body. They’re also good natural anti-inflammatory, they regulate your hormones and are chocked full of antioxidants.

2. Load up on dark leafy greens… they pack iron, calcium and magnesium and are the most nutrient defense food per calorie. So load up on the salad

3. Nosh on fruits, they are high in fiber and vitamins. Citrus fruit, rich in vitamin C, help flush out toxins, they jump-start the digestive tract and they aid in the liver’s cleaning processes.

4. Switch in whole grains. Try quinoa, barley, faro or brown rice in place of white rice or pasta. They’re good for your heart and your cholesterol.

5. Spoon on the yogurt. Greek yogurt is high in protein and calcium and has good bacteria that aids in digestion and strengthens your immune system

Also drink plenty of water, the dry air really dehydrates you. And because it’s cold out you don’t feel as thirsty as you would on a hot summer day. 4 out of 5 times that you’re hungry, you’re actually just thirsty.

Looking for a healthy breakfast or lunch idea:

Make an omelet, toss out all of the yolks except one, or use egg substitute. Load on the veggies and a teaspoon of cheese.

This 3 egg omelet has peppers, onions, spinach, mushrooms and feta and still comes in at under 250 calories:

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