Mini Stuffed Peppers

Happy Taco Tuesday! As most of you know, I love a good Taco Tuesday and I am always looking for creative new ways to sass up my Mexican food recipes. I whipped these little cuties up for a dinner party, and they were a huge hit. What I love about  these mini stuffed peppers is that they are gluten-free and vegan! If you want to add a little bit of gooey cheese, you can do so to some or all of them just before you pop these little guys into the oven. I also really liked that I could make them ahead of time, bring them to the dinner party, and pop them in the oven when I got there. They cooked up in no time, and I was able to serve a hot appetizer, while the hostess with the mostess put the finishing touches on the main course. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we did and please let me know your thoughts.

Ingredients

  • 1 Bag of Mini Rainbow Peppers, I used 6 for this recipe
  • 1/2 Cup of Quinoa, cooked
  • 1/2 Can of Black Beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 Jalapeno, seeded and diced
  • 1/4 Yellow onion, diced
  • 1/2 Tsp. Cumin, or more to taste
  • 1/2 Tsp. Granulated Garlic, or more to taste
  • 1 Clove Garlic, minced
  • Pinch of Salt
  • Pinch of Pepper
  • 2 TBS Cilantro, minced
  • 1 Tsp Ghee or Olive Oil
  • 1 Avocado, pitted and smashed
  • Salsa, optional
  • A few TBS of Sassy Sauce, optional
  • Pepper Jack Cheese, optional

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Cook your quinoa. You can follow my quinoa recipe, just know that you will have extra to use in your other weekly meals.
  3. Empty, drain, and rinse your black beans. Set a side.
  4. Cut peppers in half, removed stem, seeds and any membrane so that they look like little cups. Set aside.
  5. Add the ghee or olive oil to a saute pan, lightly saute the onion, garlic and jalapeno with the cumin and granulated garlic for 1-2 mins (just to take the edge off). Set aside.
  6. Once the quinoa is cooked toss it into a bowl with the onion, garlic and jalapeno mixture.
  7. Mix in the cilantro and half or a whole can of black beans. It just depends how black beany you want it. Feel free to toss a couple of tablespoons of salsa in this mixture if you are feeling sassy.
  8. Season quinoa mixture with salt and pepper and add more cumin and granulated garlic if you want. Set aside.
  9. Arrange your peppers into your baking dish.
  10. Layer each pepper with a little sassy sauce if you want to keep it vegan, or place a little bit of cheese in the bottom of the pepper. You can also use both the sassy sauce and the cheese in the bottom of the pepper if you want the best of both worlds.
  11. Fill each pepper with the quinoa mixture and set it back into baking dish.
  12. Top with a small thin slice of pepper jack cheese if that is you thing, or don’t if you want to keep it dairy free.
  13. Bake for 25 minutes, just to warm everything up, to cook the pepper a bit and to melt the cheese if you are using it. You want the pepper to maintain its crunch so that you an easily pick it up.
  14. While your peppers are cooking, mash-up one avocado and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  15. Remove the peppers from the oven and top it with a dab of avocado and a few drops of hot sauce if you need more spice. YUM!Mini Stuffed Pepper w cheese

I added cheese to some of mine and both versions were delicious!

Happy Taco Tuesday!

 

NYC to SD Route

After two and a half years of living in Manhattan, Derika and I decided that we missed the ocean, the sand, and the sunsets, so we decided to head back to San Diego for a little change of pace. When we left New York on February 12th it was 8 degrees, and when we got to San Diego a week later on February 19th it was 80 degrees!  As you can see from the photo above, we did not take the most direct route from New York City to San Diego. Who doesn’t love a good road trip!? Our main goal was to hit some distilleries, eat some amazing food, and to get as far south as we could to escape the treacherous driving conditions. Below I outlined our route and the fun things that we found in each city along the way. Enjoy!

New York City

NYC

We left NYC in the late afternoon on February 12, 2016, right after our movers finished up loading up our apartment into their truck.

Absolute Bagels  – On our way out-of-town we stopped at my favorite bagel shop to fuel up before we hit the road. Do yourself a favor and get their garlic chive cream cheese on an everything bagel and thank me later.

NYC Bagel

Maryland

Ristorante Ottaviani – If you are passing through Cumberland, Maryland and you need a bite to eat, we would highly recommend this cute little Italian restaurant. Ristorante Ottaviani has plenty of gluten-free and vegetarian options.

Kentucky

Our main goal for Kentucky was to go to Louisville, get Derika some BBQ, and go to some bourbon distilleries…this is exactly what we did.

Feast BBQ – You can’t really go wrong with bourbon slushies, fried pickles, BBQ tofu and pulled pork. Soooooo goood and even the vegetarian was happy at this BBQ joint.

Akasha Brewery – After your BBQ, walk across the parking lot and try this brewery, their beers were great and they also have games for you to play while you are sippin’ on beer.

Akasha Brewery

Kentucky Distilleries

Bourbon tasting is nothing like wine tasting. You have to go on a distillery tour in order to taste the bourbon, so this made it very difficult for us to see all of the distilleries on our list. If you are limited on time or just need a few suggestions,  I would recommend Bulleit, Buffalo Trace, Woodford Reserve, and Jim Beam.

Tennessee

Tennesee Sign

Jack Daniel’s Distillery – We went way out of our way to make this stop happen, but it has been a bucket list item for a long as I can remember. This place is an adult playground for Jack Daniel’s lovers, and you can also buy quite a few things that you can’t get anywhere else. If you are ever in the vicinity (which is not as easy as you think, because it is in the middle of nowhere) of this distillery, do yourself a favor and go!

Alabama

We spent Valentine’s night in Birmingham, Alabama and checked out a cute diner in downtown Birmingham for our Valentine’s date night.

Birmingham sign

John’s City Diner – I know that diner food does not seem very Valentiney, but the food is way beyond diner fare and they have so many vegetarian options. We especially fell in love with their mac and cheese and their tasty elderflower old-fashioned cocktails. Holy Cow!!!!

Louisiana

Since we had already went so far south to get out of the bad weather, we decided that it would be a good idea to pop into New Orleans for lunch.  I mean, who doesn’t want to eat beignets for lunch!? If you have an afternoon to spend in New Orleans, here are a few of my suggestions.

To get into New Orleans you have to cross the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway. It has been a goal of mine to listen to the Be Good Tanyas, Lakes of Ponchartrain song, while crossing this causeway. So this totally had to happen on our way into New Orleans.

Alberto’s Cheese and Wine – I have always wanted to try a muffuletta sandwich, but vegetarian versions are nearly impossible to find…until now! They make them here and they are amazing! Just look at this sandwich, I don’t even love olives and I loved this sandwich!

Muffuletta at Albertos Cheese and WIne

Cafe Du Monde – You can’t stop in New Orleans without stopping at Cafe Du Monde for a beignet, because they have the best beignets and coffee in the french quarter. This is what powder sugar dreams are made of!

Cafe Du Monde beignet

Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop – You can’t leave New Orleans without getting a road soda aka a hurricane. I don’t love super sweet cocktails, but I love the hurricanes at Lafittes. The atmosphere is great, their hurricane cocktails pack a punch, and they are the perfect combo of sweet and alcoholic. Yum, Yum, Yum!

Texas

Welcome to Texas Sign

Houston

The Original Lupe Tortilla – We got to meet up with Danie, one of my old culinary school buddies at Lupe Tortilla, which was an awesome treat!

Danie and Dani at Lupe TortillaIf you are hungry and need an easy stop off of I-10, that has good Tex-Mex food with a lot of vegetarian options and great margaritas then Lupe’s is your place.

lupe tortilla houston

Bucc-ee’s – If you don’t have time to stop for lunch and want something on the road. Stop at this Texas institution. Bucc-ee’s is the biggest rest/truck stops that I have ever seen! If you can’t find what you are looking for here, I think you might have a problem.

San Antonio

The San Antonio River Walk – It has been on my list to check out the San Antonio River Walk. This is a great place to stay the night, so that you can stroll the cute River Walk, (which is so flippin’ adorable) and check out some of the cute bars and restaurants. It looks the best when it is all lit up at night. Some of our favorite River Walk places are listed below.

Riverwalk San Antonio

Boudro’s Texas Bistro– Stop at  Bourdo’s for table side guacamole!

Also wash the guacamole down with one of their prickly pear margaritas.

Prickly Pear Cactus Margarit - Boudros

The Esquire Tavern – This is a great place to check out some live music, get a great bite to eat, and sip on some epic cocktails in an amazing atmosphere.

Esquire Cocktails San Antonio
El Paso

Cowtown Boot Company – It was a bucket list item to get a pair of cowboy boots while we were in Texas. We stopped at Cowtown Boots in El Paso to see if I could get a pair of boots….holy cow they had boots for miles!

I also found my next dinner table… 😉

Cowboy Boot Table

We each left with a new pair of boots…Winning!

New Mexico

We spent the night in Las Cruces New Mexico, because I am obsessed with New Mexico’s hatch green chili sauce, and I wanted to get as much of it as I could in a 24 hour period. Below are some of my food and drink recommendations

Andele Restaurante – This was a great mexican restaurant with a salsa bar, homemade tortillas, hatch green chili sauce,  and solid mexican food.

The Shed – We stopped at The Shed on our way out of New Mexico and I have to say this is the best breakfast that we had on the road. Everything is made from scratch and I would recommend ordering a side of the green chili sauce to slather over whatever you get. I have to warn you though, their hot green chili sauce is no joke!

The Shed Las Cruces

The Double Eagle – Take a quick stroll and shop around the cute Old Mesilla, and stop into the Double Eagle for one of their award-winning Margaritas!

Margarita - Double Eagle

Arizona

Dateland

Dateland Travel Center – Make sure you need to stop for gas in Dateland, Arizona so that you have an excuse to get the best shake of your life. I had no idea what to expect, and I didn’t even want one, so I just took a sip of Derika’s shake. At that moment I had wished I had gotten my own. It was seriously one of the best shakes that I have ever had. Look how happy it made her!

Dateland

Yuma

The River City Grill – If you are stopping in Yuma and want something a little fancier than In n’ Out, pop into The River City Grill for a nice glass of wine and a bite to eat. To my surprise, they have a cute back patio and quite a few vegan AND vegetarian options on the menu. I got a tofu curry that was served in a coconut. 🙂

Yuma Dinner

Yuma was our last stop before we rolled into San Diego!

8west Sign

Minus the crazy weather, this was one of the best road trips that we have ever taken. We got to add a few states to our travel list, we went to a bunch of great distilleries, and we ate some amazing food. We also ate a lot of random things on the road when we were trying to save time.

Here are some honorable mentions if you are a vegetarian on the road….

Taco Bell – I got my first ever vegetarian crunch wrap on this road trip, and I have to say that it will do the trick if you are in a pinch while traveling.

Crunch Wrap

Waffle House – I have not been to a Waffle House in decades! This was my first time at a Waffle House as a vegetarian. The staff was super friendly, the coffee was strong and the omelette was decent.

Waffle House Omelette

Big Boy – I used to go to Big Boys with my grandma all of the time when I was little.  I can’t even remember the last time I ate at one.  We stopped off for a quick breakfast, which was decent and I even got to do a quick photo shoot with Big Boy himself!

Me and Big Boy

In n’ Out Burger – This was by far my favorite fast food chain that we stopped at while we were on the road. They have an amazing grilled cheese on their secret menu and make sure that you get it animal style and thank me later.

Thank you so much for following our food and cocktail journey across the US, I hope this list inspires you to get out and do something fun!

Double D Road Trip Sign

Safe Travels!

Bermuda

In November, Derika and I went to Bermuda to catch a little sunshine and to watch the world rugby classic. I am really excited to write about this trip, because this is the first time that we have gone to the same place twice for a vacation. Derika and I started dating in 2004 and in November 2004, we went on our first vacation together to Bermuda. We were living in Michigan at the time; I didn’t have any stamps in my passport and I’d never seen the magical blue-green water