Punchy Dill Flavored Stuffed Peppers (Vegan, Gluten-Free)

Spring is coming.

Right?

I have a feeling that I’m not the only one yearning for some sunshine, mild temperatures, and sing –songy birds flying by our open windows.  I am truly a person who genuinely enjoys each and every season for what it brings.  Growing up in the desert, I didn’t have much exposure to real, honest to goodness season changes like I do here in the Pacific Northwest.   After nearly 5 years here, I still get excited for all the firsts of the seasons: each fresh burst of summer sun, each time I notice that the skyline has been taken over by the earthy, fiery colors of fall, every first winter morning when I realize I underestimated the cold and need to better bundle up against the frigid air, and for those first blossoms of spring.

with top on 2 - edited

I’ve loved the madness of this year’s winter, but am ready to shed some layers and see some color peeking out from the earth.  My fingers are crossed I’ll be able to enjoy this soon.

in pan close up 2 - edited

In the meantime, I’ll eat this dish.  Well, I already did eat this dish, but perhaps I shall do so again.  Something about dill (one of my favorite herbs) reminds me of spring.  It’s that punchy taste that sort of coats your palette and infiltrates all the senses that I love.  It tastes fresh and new and full of possibilities, just like spring does for me.

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Punchy Dill Flavored Stuffed Peppers (Vegan, Gluten-Free)

Serves 4 with sauce and top - edited

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup dry brown rice
  • 4 large green bell peppers
  • ½ tblspn olive oil
  • ½ yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 small-medium carrots, diced
  • 1 medium zucchini, diced
  • 1 cup packed spinach, chopped
  • 2 tblspns tomato paste
  • 1 tblspn red wine vinegar
  • 3 tblspns Italian parsley, minced
  • 3 tblspns fresh dill, minced
  • ½ tspn salt
  • ¼ tspn pepper
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes

Directions:

  1. Cook rice according to package directions.  Set aside when finished.
  2. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare a baking dish by coating with cooking spray or a light coating of oil.  Set aside.
  3. Slice the tops of the peppers off and clean out the insides, removing veins and seeds.  Place into a baking dish, cut side up and tops removed, and bake for 20 minutes.  If the peppers are uneven on the bottom and will not stand up in your baking dish, you can even them out, by trimming the bottom edges (though be careful not to cut holes in the bottom, as the filling will leak out).  After 20 minutes, remove from oven and set aside until filling is prepared.
  4. Meanwhile, warm a large sauté pan over medium heat.  Add olive oil.  When hot, add onion, garlic, and carrot to the pan.  Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5-6 minutes or until the onions turn translucent.
  5. Add zucchini and spinach to the pan and stir to combine.  Cook for 2-3 minutes more.
  6. Finally, add the cooked rice, tomato paste, red wine vinegar, parsley, dill, salt, and pepper to the vegetable mixture.  Stir well to incorporate all ingredients.  Taste and adjust for seasonings.
  7. Spoon filling into the each partially cooked pepper base until full.  Feel free to pack it in well – there should be plenty of filling!  Carefully sit the removed tops back on to the peppers, place back into the oven (still at 350 degrees) and bake for 20-25 more minutes.
  8. Serve alone, or if you prefer, drizzle an easy sauce over the top.  I served mine with a simple can of tomato sauce, sprinkled with oregano and pepper, warmed up on the stove top.

My Snowy Weekend In Pictures

I realize that there have been oh-so-many posts about the wacky winter weather we’ve all been having this year, but here’s one more for you, anyway.  I had to write it, as it includes my VERY FIRST SNOW DAY!  Exciting, right?

RIGHT?!

Totally.

As you may recall, I live in Portland, OR and I’m originally from Phoenix, AZ.  My geography has left my exposure to snowy conditions quite rare and I have never in my life had an official snow day.  On Thursday, however, the snow started to fall and I headed out of work a few hours early – knowing it was going to wreak havoc on my bus ride back across the Willamette River.  By Friday morning, the snow was starting to accumulate and it wasn’t letting up.  I was thankful to the powers that be whom opted to close down my office for the day, thus letting my snow day began!  Snowlandia continued throughout the weekend – culminating in thick, dense layers of ice which starting FALLING FROM THE SKY (or, you know, tree tops and buildings and such).

It’s all been very eventful.  Here’s a peek:

I’ve always wanted to make a snow angel and finally got my opportunity on Thursday evening!  My first one ever:

snow angel collage

On Friday (my official snow day from work) the weather compelled me to spend time in the kitchen.  I drank lots of coffee and baked this vegan, gluten free chocolate chip banana bread from The Healthy Maven, which was absolutely delicious:

Slice with mug - edited

I did some running on the treadmill throughout the weekend, because in all honesty, running in the snow was a bit confounding to me.  I know people do it, but how, exactly?  I found myself feeling cooped up, though, and headed out for a couple of walks over the course of the weekend.  It was gorgeous!

Snowlandia 2014 - collage

I stopped for a few snow selfies along the way (and, yes, this IS the first time I’ve actually used the term selfie in regards to any photos of myself – another first!):

Day 3 - Snow Selfie 4 - edited

How was your weekend?  Any snow-filled festivities come your way?

What I’ve Been Up To in January

As some of you may have noticed, I took the month of January off.  I didn’t necessarily intend for a one week break to turn into four, but it happened.

And, as it turns out, I’m okay with that.  I don’t feel compelled to apologize (something that I do too often as it is), because it was necessary, though I will explain why I needed that time.

The fact is that I needed a little re-boot.  I was feeling a bit overwhelmed, somewhat uninspired, and totally worn out.  Taking a few weeks for some hibernation was important. None of this is to say that I haven’t missed it around here.  Or that I haven’t missed you all, because I have.  So, hello again!

Trees at Rhododendron

I may not have been blogging, but I have been doing things over the last month.  The running hasn’t stopped, of course.  I’ve been at it consistently and with a relaxed outlook – enjoying the time off between training cycles.  I’ve also selected my primary running goals for 2014.  They are:

  • complete two marathons (Newport, OR in May and Portland, OR in October),
  • run at least one of those marathons at a sub 4-hour pace (though I’m really shooting to run both under 4 hours, and I do think that it’s totally possible),
  • PR at the 10k distance, and
  • run at least 1700 miles during the year.

All of this seems pretty darn exciting to me!

I’ve also been filling my brain with lots and lots of information and stories.  I’ve been reading voraciously – 10 books in the month of January!  I’ve learned and escaped and laughed and fantasized with these books in the last four weeks and it’s been wonderful.

Trees from below Rhododendron

I’ve been cooking some delicious food.  Banh mi inspired noodles.  Delicious soups from this bookCauliflower parmesan.  You get the idea.

And finally, I’ve been thinking about what I really want this year to be about.  In a few short words, my primary goals for 2014 are about living deliberately and with intention.  In the words of my fantasy BFF Bob Harper, I need to remember in any given moment that all I’m doing is exactly what I’m doing.  Be present and concentrate on what’s at hand, making choices and plans with intention, rather than constantly battling stress and anxiety about the future.

I hope that this approach will be reflected in my posts this year.  I aim to write and share very intentionally and with deliberate thought towards what’s worth writing, sharing, and reading.  I hope you’ll join me!

2013: A Look Back At Some of My Highlights

New Year’s Eve & Day are my favorite holidays.  I get a little sappy and a lot introspective around this time.  While I believe in regular reflection and goal setting throughout the year, I can’t help but find this to be an appropriate time to take stock of where I am, how I am doing, what I’ve done, and what is next.

santa ornament - editedThere was a time when this process was primarily a negative one for me.  I would stop to reflect on what I didn’t accomplish or what goals and dreams were out of my reach.  In recent years, however, I’ve taken to heart just how important it is to give equal billing to what I have done.  Rather then quickly glossing over accomplishments or milestones in order to continue moving upward and onward, I now recognize the value in celebrating the victories (large and small) that are behind me.  And, while some believe that you gain wisdom mostly by rehashing your mistakes and failures, I also see the learning that presents itself in evaluating what has gone well.

To this end, here are some of the highlights, milestones, and victories that took place for me in 2013:

  • 26.2 miles = Done! – The experience of running my first marathon have been shared in depth here and here, so I won’t say Me with medal 3 - editedmuch more other than that it stands as one of the single best days of my life.  I can’t wait for many more!
  • Goodbye, Gluten – Going gluten-free was not something that I ever intended to do.  It was (and still is) extraordinarily difficult for me, but 7 months later, my vastly improved health stands as evidence that it was what I absolutely needed to do.
  • 1500 miles – It took me nearly right up until the end of the year to do so, but as of last weekend, I have run over 1500 miles for the year.  So cool.
  • 71 books – I love to read and always have.  For me, books are a never-ending source of education, escapism, and inspiration all in one.  I track my literary adventures over at Goodreads.  If you’re interested in seeing what I’ve been reading, please head over and say hello (username: srrose).
  • Facing down an old fear . . .  The dentist! – I’ll admit that, prior to 2013, it had been quite some time since I’d dragged myself to the dreaded chair.  It is an experience that long struck fear in my heart.  Having little or poor dental insurance for a long time had supported me in running away from this fear, but I finally did it.  After several trips to get all caught up, my teeth are happy and healthy!
  • Cultivating creative confidence – This year saw me take some big strides in levels of self-confidence related to creativity and pasta with italian peppers - editedcooking.  I can’t say that I produced the largest quantity of creatively driven output this year, but I found myself trusting my instincts more, feeling stronger in my skills, and being open to experimentation.
  • Keeping THIS going – I know that I’ve had periods recently of reduced posting, but I’m thrilled that I’ve been able to keep this site going.  I love it.  I love the process of it and that I get to connect with so many incredible people around the world because of it.

I’m certain that I could go on a bit longer, but I will end my list on that note.  So, thank you to every person out there who has been a part of all of this with me in 2013.  I’m looking forward to seeing what next year will bring.

Happy New Year!

May I Have Your Vote?

This past Saturday, I participated for the second time in the Virtual Vegan Potluck.  Annie at An Unrefined Vegan was once our host and organizer and did an amazing job at it!  It truly is a fun and exciting feeling to be connected to so many bloggers from so many different places.  Plus, my meal-making inspiration is now overflowing with ideas from all the other delicious looking dishes that were shared!

Close Up - glaze and sliced into - edited

Now, I don’t do much self-promotion, but I am here today to ask you for your vote.  You see, for the potluck, I made and virtually brought this Double Chocolate Beet Bundt Cake with Maple Caramel Glaze.  Remember it?  I’ve been wishing I had some more of it myself!  While it may be long gone (for now), it is time to honor those potluckers who made everyone’s favorite dishes.  If you liked my cake, you can vote for me here under the desserts category.  If you are also inclined, head on over to the Virtual Vegan Potluck’s featured ingredient page and re-pin my cake.  The dish featuring the secret ingredient with the most re-pins is also a winner.

Thank you for your vote (or for just reading this far) and for joining me in another blogging adventure!

Virtual Vegan Potluck: Double Chocolate Beet Bundt Cake with Maple-Caramel Glaze

One of my favorite things to do these days is to spend an afternoon home alone baking, feed the finished product to Mr. Move Eat Create when he returns, and then ask, “Do you know what was in that???”

Whole on cake stand from above - edited

Of course, I know that its unlikely he’ll guess correctly, but I wait and anticipate his answer.  Then, I excitedly share what the secret ingredient actually was, basking in my sneakiness and healthy baking subterfuge.

I first discovered the odd fun of this little game when I made zucchini brownies.  I reached new levels of enjoyment with it after sharing my batch of Chocolate Covered Katie’s black bean brownies, and totally had a blast with it after making this creation here.

Close Up - glaze and sliced into - edited

This cake was a perfect opportunity for me to:  a) practice my gluten free baking skills, b) use nutritious ingredients (like vegetables) to make something traditionally lacking in health promoting properties, and c) eat chocolate.

As an added bonus, I was already in the process of fine-tuning this recipe when the Virtual Vegan Potluck sign-up and announcement came out, indicating they’d be featuring a key ingredient this time around and that the key ingredient was beets!

Perfect!  I had clearly earned some good food blogging karma somewhere.

slice on plate - edited

For this final version I added a maple-caramel frosting which was so good that I may have scooped up and eaten much of the excess drizzle with my fingertips.  And it may have made me so happy and weak in the knees that I had to sit down.

If all that extra sweet drizzle isn’t you’re thing, I also made a version that was topped with a simple dusting of vegan powdered sugar.  It, too, was wonderful.

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Double Chocolate Beet Bundt Cake with Maple Caramel Glaze

Makes one bundt cake

A Move Eat Create original recipe

(but inspired by various recipes throughout the Internet)
                                                      Sliced into on cake stand - edited

Ingredients:

For the cake:

  • 2 medium beets, diced
  • 2 ¼ cups gluten free all purpose flour (I like Pure Pantry for baking)
  • ½ cup cocoa powder
  • ¼ cup ground flax seed
  • 1 ½ tspn baking powder
  • ½ tspn salt
  • ¼ tspn cinnamon
  • 1 ¼ cup vanilla (or plain) coconut milk
  • 1 tblspn apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tspn vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup turbinado sugar
  • 2 small very ripe mashed bananas
  • ½ cup mini chocolate chips (I like Enjoy Life)

For the glaze:

  • ½ cup vegan brown sugar
  • ¼ cup Earth Balance
  • 2 tblspns coconut milk
  • ½ tspn vanilla extract
  • ½ tspn maple extract (optional: If you don’t want the maple flavor, sub additional vanilla extract)
  • ½ cup vegan powdered sugar

Directions:

To make the cake:

  1. Place diced beets in a pot and fill with enough water to cover by an extra inch or two.  Bring to a boil.  Let beets boil for approximately 7-8 minutes to soften.  Drain and set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray or oil your bundt pan and set aside.
  3. Prepare dry ingredients.  Place flour, cocoa powder, flax seed, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl.  Whisk together and set aside.
  4. Place boiled, drained beets in a food processor or good blender.  Add coconut milk and apple cider vinegar.  Puree until smooth.
  5. Pour beet mixture into a medium bowl.  Stir in vanilla extract, turbinado sugar, and mashed bananas.  Mix well to combine.
  6. Make a well in the center of your dry ingredients and pour wet ingredients in.  Mix well by hand to combine all ingredients thoroughly.  Pour in your chocolate chips and stir a couple more times to distribute them throughout the batter.
  7. Pour batter into prepared bundt pan.  Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.

To make the frosting:

  1. Melt brown sugar, Earth Balance, and coconut milk in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Whisk/stir frequently during this process.  Once they melt, the mixture should turn a nice shade of brown.  This should only take 2-3 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla and maple extract.  Let sit to cool for a few minutes.
  2. After the sauce has cooled for about 5 minutes, stir in the powdered sugar.  This will thicken the sauce, making it a more substantial frosting/glaze.  Stir/whisk well until all powdered sugar has been incorporated into the sauce.  Let cool completely before drizzling over cake.

And now, please check out other dishes in the potluck!

To visit the dish presented before mine click this link:  go_bck-300x257

To visit the dish next in the line up click through here:  go_forward-300x243

 

** I am also submitting this recipe to Healthy Vegan Friday, hosted over at The Veggie Nook.  A wonderful weekly gathering of delicious vegan recipes!