Red, White and Blue

Hi lovelies! I hope that you all had an amazing weekend. Are you all watching the Olympics? I’ve never been that into it before, but this year I can’t seem to get enough. You know I love diving, but I’m also loving swimming, volleyball and of course gymnastics. This weekend has involved lots of Olympics watching, but it started off with a bang on Friday. It was actually supposed to be a book club with some of my girlfriends but because so few people read the book, we also turned it into an Olympics Opening Ceremony party. I always try and make something delicious for Book Club and this party was no exception, but with the added challenge of making something USA-themed. I thought about making my giant cupcake, but wanted to make something a little different, so I decided on Golden Oreo truffles, recipe courtesy of Sally.

The ingredients are super simple…

I followed Sally’s recipe almost exactly but subbed fat-free cream cheese for regular (I mean, why not save a few calories when you can!) And because I only have a mini food processor, I processed everything in batches. Also, I noticed that the truffles turn out best when you really blend the cream cheese and oreos together until they become a similar texture as cookie dough.

But I wasn’t the only one with an Olympic themed treat- everyone brought amazing things, including red, white and blue mac and cheese. And of course, adorable decorations by my friend, party planner extraordinaire, Biz. Also, check out the bowls below- they are Olympic rings ;)

But food wasn’t the only thing on our minds. Of course the wine was flowing as well and we decided to take it a step further as my friend Ashley created something special for our Olympic viewing…

And what kind of an Olympics party would it be without some awesome glasses…

Questions:

-Do you have any television viewing parties?

-If you could compete in any Olympics sport, which one would you do?

A Low-Key Night

Hi lovelies! Thank you for all your sweet comments on my Father’s day post, I really had a great time making sure my Daddy Jeff felt extra special. And in the process, it seems like the cooking bug bit me again. I tend to go through phases with cooking as there are times that I’m really into it and excited to make new recipes, and others when takeout salads become a nightly occurrence. But since I have a stocked refrigerator and was in the mood, I took advantage and made another Mama Pea recipe that I’ve been wanting to try- Spaghetti Squash Casserole. With the headline of “Crazy fast. Crazy Easy. Crazy good.” I knew this was a recipe that I wanted to make. Plus, I was determined not to let my spaghetti squash go to waste. I’ve thrown out the past 2 I’ve bought because I was scared of cutting them (my past attempt was here) but I did it all by myself tonight and with a knife not a saw this time!

I was very proud and even more so when this delicious meal came out of the oven…

I followed the recipe almost exactly but made a few substitutions based on what I had on hand. Since I didn’t have any cream cheese (I never think to buy it since I only have bagels at Noahs) I used goat cheese medallions instead from Trader Joes. It melted perfectly in the sauce, and let’s get real, when is more cheese ever a bad thing? I also used fresh basil instead of dried since I had it on hand.

After this delicious, filling meal, I turned on the tv and was looking for my usual shows when I landed on the U.S. Olympic Trials. I usually only watch gymnastics during the Olympics, but when I saw the Men’s Diving trials I was glued to the tv. It was incredible watching these men dive from a platform that’s 33 feet in the air! (Confession: I cannot even do a baby dive from the edge of the pool, no matter how hard I try.) These men were doing full handstands on the diving board and then 2 1/2 twists and somersaults. It was truly awe-inspiring and I can only imagine all of the years of hard work and dedication that it has taken them to make it to this point. These are truly incredible athletes! Oh and the fact that they look like this certainly doesn’t hurt…

David Boudia, currently in 1st after the Olympic Trials Semi-finals

Questions:

-Do you go through cooking phases?

-What Olympic sports do you enjoy watching?

Chili For When It’s Chilly

Hi lovelies! Hope that you all had a wonderful Valentine’s day and were able to spend it with someone you love or doing something you love. I had a great day, indulged in a little too much chocolate and saw The Vow last night. I thought it was fantastic and have now decided that I need to read the book immediately! Expect a movie review/GGG book club post soon! In case you need an extra dose of love today, check out this little video someone made of how people say I love you in the movies:

So something pretty major has been going on around GGG and I’m not sure if you’ve noticed it yet. You see, to some it might be commonplace, but longtime readers know that it’s a bit unusual… I’m cooking. And here’s the best part, I’m loving it! Lately, I can’t seem to stay out of the kitchen and have had fun preparing different recipes. So much so that I’ve started to create my own and did just that this past weekend. I’ve been craving chili for weeks now and in the midst of this yucky winter weather, I knew that it was the perfect time to make it. I’m still a little too scared to cook meat (I’m nervous I won’t cook it fully!) so I knew something vegetarian would be on the menu but I wanted it to be hearty and full of flavor. So after seeing the idea of putting sweet potatoes in chili floating around the blog world, I decided to give it my own little spin.

Perfect sides for chili... gluten-free cornbread and chips!

Veggie Chili

(Inspired by CCK and With Style & Grace)

Ingredients

  • 1 White onion, chopped
  • 1 Large Zucchini
  • 2 Sweet Potatoes
  • 1 can Black Beans
  • 1 can Kidney Beans, drained
  • 1 can Fire Roasted tomatoes
  • 3/4 Cup Tri-Color Quinoa
  • 1 tsp Cumin
  • 1 T. Chili powder
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 T. Olive Oil

Directions

  1. Chop onion, sweet potato and zucchini and set aside
  2. Heat olive oil in large pan and saute onions until soft
  3. Next, add sweet potatoes and stir on high for about 5 minutes
  4. Stir in cumin, chili powder and garlic
  5. Next add black beans, kidney beans and tomatoes
  6. Add 2 cups of water and bring to a boil
  7. After chili comes to a complete boil, turn down the heat to medium-low and simmer
  8. When sweet potatoes are soft, add your cooked quinoa. I used the leftover tri-color quinoa I had on hand, but any will work! This really helps to thicken your chili.
  9. Salt and pepper to taste and stir.
  10. After about 10 minutes, your chili will be ready!

PS Have you entered my giveaway to enter a BOX of Luna bars and some other goodies yet??

Southwestern Quinoa Filled Zucchini

Hi lovelies! Happy Friday! Do you guys have any fun weekend plans? I’m finally feeling better so I have some fun plans in the city on Saturday with the girls and am going to try to keep it a little low-key today and Sunday just to ensure I’m fully healed. Not only does my body feel better but I did a huge room clean on Wednesday and am feeling much better about things!

And remember how much I wanted to get vegetables back in my diet? Well I’ve done just that and after having a salad for lunch I decided to up my game a little last night. In the past I’ve mentioned that I’m not really a cook, but I’m trying to change that in 2012 and tonight was another step in that direction. After my successful quinoa dinner last week, I decided to use my favorite grain again in tonight’s dinner!

Southwest Quinoa Filled Zucchini

Inspired by Daily Garnish Quinoa Stuffed Zucchini Boats

Ingredients

  • 5 Small-Medium Zucchini
  • 1/2 Cup Tricolor Quinoa
  • 1 Can Black Beans
  • 1 Can Diced Tomatoes (Fresh could also be used)
  • 1 Small White Onion
  • Lite Mexican Blend Cheese
  • Salt & Pepper

Directions

1. Hollow out zucchini with a melon scooper (a spoon will also work) and save all the insides of the zucchini in a bowl.

2. Combine 1/2 cup quinoa with 1 cup water (or broth) and boil. Once it starts to boil, cover and let simmer. The tricolor actually got done quicker than most and only took about 10-15 minutes for the water to reduce and the quinoa to fluff up.

3. While waiting for your quinoa, chop onion and saute. Once onion is soft, add the inside of the zucchini. You could chop up the zucchini scoops beforehand, but I just did it as they cooked with the end of my spatula in the pan.

4. Next, combine the zucchini and onion with the quinoa and add in the black beans and tomatoes. I drained the black beans prior to using but I combined some of the tomato juice with the mixture. Combine well and salt and pepper to taste. This would also be a great time to add corn or chilies!

5. Scoop heaping servings of your mixture into your hollowed out zucchinis. The only hard part about this step was stopping myself from just standing at the stove eating the mixture straight out of the pot… it’s that good.

6. Sprinkle with cheese and cover with a foil tent. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 25 minutes and remove foil and bake for 10 additional minutes.

These are veggie and protein packed and so delicious! They would be great topped with avocado, salsa, Greek yogurt… the possibilities are endless! I kept mine basic because I’m kind of wimp when it comes to spicy stuff but for those who love the heat you could definitely add some spices to the mix. I packed some for lunch today and can’t wait to have them! (Oh and this does yield extra filling… I’m already imaging it on top of salads, in whole wheat tortillas, straight out of the container…)

Have a great weekend!

Questions:

-Do you like quinoa? What’s your favorite way to use it?

-Are you into spicy foods?

 

Spaghetti Squash Stress

Hi lovelies! Sorry for my absence yesterday! As I’ve mentioned, things are really busy for me right now, but I think they will be back to normal next week! I hope that you all are having a great week so far and we’re already half way to the weekend! Unfortunately, here in San Francisco, we are experiencing some very dreary, rainy weather! Our Indian summer didn’t last too long, but I’m hoping it clears up by this weekend because it is Fleet Week in San Francisco (more on that tomorrow).

So the other night, I felt inspired by some lovely bloggers and decided to make a spaghetti squash for dinner! I tweeted about how much I was enjoying the squash the next day, but I didn’t tell you about the arduous process I went through to make it. I bought the squash from Trader Joe’s and came home full of excitement for a new squash to add to my squash obsession. Armed with the directions in hand (via iphone of course) I set upon the first direction: cut the squash in half. I tried and I tried and I tried. Though I didn’t take a picture of me trying to cut the squash, this is probably the face I was making…

Trying to break apart chocolate for chocolate chip cookies in London

But no matter what I did, I could not seem to get through that thick outer layer of the squash. Since my parents didn’t want to see me get hurt, they stepped in and brought out the big guns…

Don't worry, it was sanitized prior to being used on my squash!

Yes, that is a saw. A real saw had to be used to cut my spaghetti squash in half. Are you starting to understand the title of this post now? But after that, it was smooth sailing! I used Nicole’s method and made it in the microwave in a shallow dish with hot water and it came out perfectly! I think I should have cooked the first side a tad longer (I was impatient) but the second was perfect and tender! I generously poured on TJ’s marinera sauce and parmasean cheese and sat down to an amazing meal.

I know this isn't pretty... but it's 100% delicious!

Questions:

-How in the world do you cut a spahetti squash? Please teach me your ways!

-Have you ever faced any battles in the kitchen? (For the record, I totally won mine ;))