Thursday, December 9, 2010


We're taking a break from root vegetable week for surprise number one.

Yet another guest blog! This time, I had a well-planned and themed dinner with two of my lovely friends, Alyssa and Nick. You might remember them from this post in which they were my kickboxing "assistants."

This was supposed to be like a "family photo."

The theme for tonight was stuffed. As in stuffed things. And stomachs being stuffed from eating too much. And stuffing ourselves silly with veggies. The dishes included:

Stuffed Bell Peppers
Stuffed Mushrooms
Stuffed Manicotti

Each of us prepared a dish. The kitchen situation was as crazy as an Iron Chef episode.

I prepared the stuffed bell peppers. I boiled the peppers for a couple of minutes to bring out their bright color.

Chop off the top of each bell pepper and hollow the insides.

For the filling, bring to a simmer one small can of tomato sauce, olive oil, and 3 cloves of garlic, chopped finely. For the veggies, I chose to add 3/4 cup diced mushrooms, and some frozen corn and frozen peas.

To season, add salt, pepper, oregano, paprika, and one teaspoon of tahini.

Add the filling to the hollowed peppers.

Top with shredded 2% cheese and bake at 300F for 10 minutes.

Nick worked on the stuffed mushrooms.

De-stem the portabella mushrooms and marinate them in balsamic vinegar and garlic salt for one hour.

In the mean time, saute garlic and onion in olive oil. Add finely chopped eggplant, spinach, and mushroom stems.

Mix in parmesan, Italian seasoning, and marinated artichoke hearts.

Spinach shrinkage as usual. 

The fun part: stuff the marinated mushrooms with the filling.

Top generously with cheddar cheese.

Bake for 12 minutes at 350F.

Absolutely delish!! We were already stuffed after eating the bell peppers and mushrooms.

Alyssa prepared the stuffed manicotti with some awesome vegan filling.

  • 1 block tofu
  • 1 can garbanzo beans (or cannellini beans)
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 can tomato paste
  • 1 can olives
  • 1 bunch parsley
  • fresh basil (one packet)
  • fresh oregano (one packet)
  • garlic salt

Blend in a food processor all ingredients except for the herbs and olives.

Set this puree aside.

Chop the parsley, basil, and oregano. Add with olives to food processor.

Mix the two purees together to make the final filling.

Boil the manicotti.

Cover bottom of baking pan with tomato sauce. Fill the manicotti and place in the pan.

Cover them with more tomato sauce and romano cheese.

Bake at 350F for 30 minutes.

Fun fact: Alyssa, more of a health nut than I am, removed the oil that resulted from the melted cheese spoon by spoon. 

Manicotti verdict: amazing. And creamy. And wonderfully hearty.

While all of this was going on, I figured we would appreciate a little something sweet after our three course meal. I thew together whatever came to mind in < 30 seconds.

Nutty Cocoa Sponge Cake

  • 1/2 can fat-free sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 squares Lindt dark chocolate
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons shredded coconut
  • 1 egg
Over medium heat, melt the chocolate in the condensed milk.

After the chocolate has melted and the liquid is mixed evenly, whisk in the egg. Then add the shredded coconut.

Pour mixture in a baking dish and bake at 350F until consistency is no longer liquid (about 20 minutes).

Top with sliced almonds.

And, if you desire and/or are feeling so stuffed that consuming more sugar really won't make a difference in the grand scheme of things, top sponge cake slice with a dollop of cool whip. (The three of us definitely felt the latter).

This meal was more gourmet than I could have asked for. Thanks so much, Alyssa and Nick, for a delicious and hearty meal full of veggies!

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