Vegan Quinoa Stuffed Peppers with Roasted Red Pepper Ragout

I am not a vegan. However, I have always loved my fruits and veggies and have recently began making the switch to a plant based lifestyle for my own health and for the benefit of the planet. My kids have also been asking for the change so I thought, why not? I’d go into more detailed reasons but that’s not really what this post is about. It’s easy enough to google the information or talk to a nutritionist about it.

Honestly, I’m pretty terrible at it, because baked brie, taco Tuesdays and SUSHI!!!! Plus, most of my easy go-to recipes at home usually involve fish, poultry, or red meat. I’ll also probably never give up real butter, eggs, and the occasional burger or venison if given the option. But if there’s a vegan option on a menu, I like to give it a try. I’m often surprised by the complimentary combinations of vegetables that I would never think to put together nor prepare that way.

I recently enjoyed a weekend away at Woodloch in the Poconos with my whole family, celebrating my step-father’s 70th birthday. The best way I can describe this wonderland is Dirty Dancing. If you ever get the chance, I highly recommend it. Fun for all ages, never a dull moment, activities, entertainment, and adventures abound… Seriously, it was the best!

Each fabulous dinner at Woodloch had a vegan option, so, wanting to expand my palate and my DIY options, I gave it a go.

Deliciously satisfying doesn’t event come close to the amazing dishes! I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to recreate anything remotely close, but after scouring the internet and the awesome cookbook Thug Kitchen, I was actually able to edit recipes as needed and recreate a vegan slice of heaven!

I hope you enjoy this as much as I do! I can’t wait to make it again and play with the recipe for additional variations.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (tri colored sprouted) quinoa
  • 2 cups vegetable broth plus a little extra for ragout (I make my own but store bought is ok too)
  • 1 onion (diced)
  • 8 cloves garlic (diced and split into 2 equal portions)
  • 2 celery stalks (diced…I like to include the leaves for added flavor)
  • 1 small-medium carrot (peeled and diced)
  • 4 bell peppers (any color)
  • 1 can black beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 1 jar roasted red pepper (drained and blended)
  • 1 can white kidney (cannellini) beans (drained and rinsed)
  • Cooking oil (I use olive or coconut)
  • Salt (I like Himalayan grinders)
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Balsamic glaze (the thicker the better)
  • Arugula, spinach, or green vegetable of your choice. (I used my own home grown arugula… yep…I grew something!!!!)

Materials, gadgets, pots, and all that jazz:

  • 2 pots (if I had to guess I’d say 4 quarts-ish?)
  • Cuisenart or blender (not necessary but super helpful. I have a mini 4 cup and that was plenty)*
  • Measuring cup
  • Pie dish or something that can hold up the stuffed peppers in the oven
  • Knives and cutting board (duh)
  • Spatula/cooking spoon
  • Aluminum foil (just to cover the peppers in the oven)

Directions:

Stuffed Peppers:

  1. Cut off tops of peppers and remove seeds and ribs. Set aside in oiled pie dish for later.
  2. Chop the leftover pepper from the tops
  3. Heat oil (let’s go with 1 tablespoon) in pot and add in the onion and 1/2 of the garlic.
  4. Add a pinch of salt if you desire.
  5. Cook for a few minutes until they begin to brown
  6. Add in celery, carrots, chopped peppers and cook for a few more minutes
  7. Pour in vegetable broth and quinoa and bring to a boil
  8. Once boiling, reduce heat and simmer uncovered until most of the broth is absorbed, stirring occasionally
  9. Turn off heat and gently fold in black beans
  10. Spoon quinoa into peppers to the top
  11. Cover tightly with foil and bake in oven for about an hour at 350 (until peppers are softened)

Ragout:

  1. In other pot, heat oil and add in the rest of the garlic and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Cook a few minutes until browning
  2. Add in roasted red peppers and cannellini beans and simmer for about 10 minutes
  3. Blend the mixture (I poured it into the 4 cup cuisenart) and continue simmering.
  4. Add vegetable broth if needed. Ragout should be creamy (not dry or soupy)

To serve:

  1. Spoon out ragout on plate
  2. Place stuffed pepper on top
  3. Drizzle with balsamic glaze
  4. Serve with arugula or spinach or really any green vegetable
  5. Enjoy!

*It should be noted that I used my cuisenart to dice the onions, the garlic, the carrots, the pepper tops, and blend the ragout never needing to rinse it out as all the flavors enhance one another. I also used the same spatula for stirring.

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CWKs #247365711: Loop Holes

Beach House TV Rule:
No TV while the sun is OUT.

This rule, new for this year, has surprisingly been working remarkably well, 3 days in…until this morning:

Bud: Uuuuuh, Mommy? Is it supposed to wain today?

Me: No, its supposed to be a beautiful day.

Lady J, looking at Bud as though theres a plot afoot: How ’bout tomorrow?

Me: There’s a chance of thunder storms tomorrow.

Bud, unabashedly smirking just like Mr. TheKing: Dat is weally gweat news. Fo weal, weally gweat…

Me: Why? 

Lady J, smiling her devilish grin: Because, your rule is that there’s no TV while the sun is OUT. If it rains, the sun won’t be OUT from behind the clouds so we can watch TV!

They high-five each other in celebratory solidarity, knowing they uncovered a massive loop hole in my rule…

Revised TV rule:
No TV while the sun is UP. This new rule comes complete with a science lesson on both the Earth’s orbit around the sun, cloudy weather, and a math lesson on TIME.

#wordsmatter

Personal Responsibility: DIY At the Beach

On bringing toys to the beach: You bring it down, you bring it back up. Mommy only brings the towel bag. End. Of. Discussion. (How’s that for a DIY lesson?)

  
The only way this works is if the rule is true. Lady J and Bud have each learned this the hard way. They haven’t left anything big behind, but a few shovels and buckets have been donated to other beach-goers. Lesson learned.

And while Bud and K-Mad are still learning what they can actually carry themselves, Lady J has it down to a science and thoughtfully chooses what beach activities she’ll do for the day. She’s also old enough to realize that all activities and toys are shared, as long as she brings something to share too.

Sidenote: I don’t do the whole blanket-chair-umbrella setup. When it’s just me and the kids, less is more.

  
What I actually carry in the towel bag:
-towels
-goggles
-sunscreen
-ziplock bag for beach tags
-ziplock bag for phone & ice cream money
-camelbak water bottles (though sometimes the kids carry their own)
-K-Mad’s puddle jumper hooked to strap
-Keys hooked to strap (carabiner clips are life savers for keys)

  

It should also be noted that my beach tote is a reusable grocery bag from BJs because we’re fancy like that. 

Variation on a Pin: Bubble Art On Canvas

Two and a half years ago, while the kids and I were living at my parent’s house, during the coldest week of that winter, all three kids became sick with a typical cold-fever combination. I kept them home from school and decided to make the most of it by using a substantial amount of my untested pins from Pinterest. We had a blast with science experiments, new recipes, and creating original art that was later framed and hung in their rooms.

We still have their artwork and Lady J and Bud were so excited to hang them in their rooms in our new home.

 Lady J’s Family Art: Watercolor on Canvas

Drop watercolor pads in about 1/3 cup water and let dissolve. Schlop on the watercolor in no particular design and cover with ClingWrap. Allow a few days to dry. Remove wrap and voila!

 

 Bud’s Family Art: Fingerprint Painting 
 1) Home is Where the Heart Is

Use painter’s tape to make design on canvas. Using only fingertips, cover entire canvas with fingerprints. I used Crayola fingerprints and washable paints. This takes a few days because you may need to allow for drying time between coats. Once covered and dry, remove tape. Priceless!

2) From Philly, with Love  

However, K-Mad was too young to participate in many of the activities and thus, did not (really) help with our original
art nor did we have any to hang in her room.

Of course, that had to change and I came across this fantastic idea for bubble art: 

http://kidsactivitiesblog.com/572/bubble-art

So, we gave it a go and after a few attempts and tweaking the recipe, the art was a success! K-Mad is super excited to have “family art” hanging in her room!

Variation on a Pin: Bubble Art On Canvas


Materials: canvas, cups, straws, watercolor pads (I use Crayola watercolor and just pop out the colors I want), white vinegar, dish soap, tray to catch overflow

  

1)Drop watercolor pad into about 1/3 cup white vinegar and allow to dissolve 2) Add 1-2 tablespoons dish soap (I didn’t measure, I just squeezed)

 

Warning: next part can get messy!!!!! (But full of smiles and giggles) 3) Blow bubbles so your cups runneth over (make sure your littles know to blow, not suck…seriously….and don’t be inappropriate…this is a children’s art project for goodness sake) 4) Remove straws and place canvas on cup 5) Repeat steps 3 & 4 a few times if needed.

 

6) Allow time to dry before framing. (Bubbles will pop and shrink…just be patient!!!!!)


 
Please comment below or email me with any questions about this project, or for more ideas on art & science projects we had fun with!


Melted Crayon Hearts

Most pinteresting thing I’ve done this year:

Homemade melted crayon hearts. We made them for the kid’s school parties. Great activity for snow days. And I love that it’s not candy and that Lady J is finally able to write out her own cards, or we would’ve done store bought.

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Directions:

SO easy to make…just peel crayons, break apart, fill muffin tin (we used silicone ones) about 1/2 way and bake at 250.

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Check often and remove when melted. Let harden and cool. Seriously that easy.

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The peeling was the hardest part. I finally broke down and used a paring knife to slice the labels down the length of the crayons.

Captions we used:

For Crayon Out Loud, Have a Happy Valentine’s Day!

Color your heart out for Valentine’s Day!

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