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Quinoa Stuffed Peppers + Applesauce Spice Cake with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

Posted Jan 21 2011 12:00am
Good Afternoon and TGIF!

It is a rainy day here in Portland and a perfect day to bake.  My son Emmet is home from school today and we have been having a good time hanging out together.  I think he just has a head cold but he did not sleep well last night and I just couldn't bring myself to wake him up this morning.  Therefore, I canceled the dentist appointments, got Zoe to school and then was able to make it to my favorite Step and Sculpt class while Dad watched Emmet. 

I am happy to report that the scale was kind this morning and now I just need to keep on plugging and not sabatoge all my hard work.  Yet, you see I have made an Applesauce Spice Cake with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting that I am not going to be able to resist!!  I did make a healthier version and am going to allow myself one piece.  But before we get to the cake, I have got to share with you the Quinoa Stuffed Peppers that I made for dinner.  They turned out beautiful and I can't wait to try them.

I got the recipe from the February 2011 issue of Clean Eating Magazine.

These were super simple to make and I pretty much love everything that goes into them:  quinoa, spinach, tomatoes, pinenuts topped with PESTO!  Yum.

Quinoa-Stuffed Peppers
Stuffed Peppers2 bell peppers (any color), halved and seeded, stems intact1/2 cup uncooked quinoa1/2 cup low-sodium vegetable broth7 oz diced tomatoes, no salt added5 oz spinach1 tbsp  pine nuts
2 cups basil or spinach (I used spinach)1/2 clove garlic (I used 2 cloves)1 1/2 tbsp Parmesan cheese1 tbsp pine nuts1 1/2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil1/8 tsp sea salt1 pinch ground black pepper
InstructionsOne:  Prepare peppers:  Preheat broiler to high.  Place bell peppers, skin-side-up, on a baking sheet covered in aluminum foil. Broil until bell peppers start to soften, about 10 minutes.
Two: Meanwhile, combine quinoa, broth and tomatoes in a medium pot.  Bring to a boil in high heat, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 to 12 minutes, until liquid is absorbed.  Add handfuls of spinach to quinoa mixture and stir to combine.  Fill bell peppers with quinoa-spinach mixture, dividing evenly.
Three:  Prepare pesto:  Add basil/spinach, garlic, parmesan, pine nuts, oil, salt and pepper to food processor and pulse until finely chopped.  Add 2 to 3 tbsp water as needed to thin pesto, if desired.
Four:  Top stuffed peppers with pesto, dividing evenly, or serve on the side.  Sprinkle remaining pine nuts over stuffed peppers, dividing evenly.
2 stuffed halves:  388 calories, 18 grams of fat, 9 grams of fiber and 14 grams of protein.
I am going to have those for dinner tonight after we come home from belt testing at Taekwondo.  Can't wait.
Now my day started of with a warm glass of lemon water and a smile.  I am WAY into my oatmeal these days and made another delicious bowl of oats this morning.

Apricot Peach Walnut Oats
1/2 cup rolled oats1/2 cup skim milk1/2 cup water1 tbsp Salba Smartdash of cinnamon
Combine above ingredients in small pot and cook over medium heat for 4-5 minutes.  Remove from heat and pour in serving dish.  Top with:
3 dried apricot halves, chopped1 dried peach, chopped1 tbsp chopped walnutsdrizzle of agave nectar
This bowl was particularly creamy and the dried apricots and peaches were beautiful and tasty. So, so good!
After step class I ran over to Panera Cares to pick up some Chicken Noodle Soup for Emmet.  I am not sure if any of you of heard about Panera Cares but our local Panera Bread is now a non-profit community cafe.  This is such a cool concept and I am going to make a point to eat there more often. It is the same good Panera Bread food but they have suggested donations for everything and no cash registers just donation bins.  I donated a little more than suggested for Emmet's soup and hope that this concept works so that more of these foundations can open. 
The Panera Bread Foundation opened its third non-profit community cafe -- called Panera Cares -- today in Portland, OR. This comes on the heels of two successful community cafe openings last year in Clayton, MO, and Dearborn, MI. The newest Panera Cares cafe is located in Portland's Hollywood district in the northeast part of the city. Like the other community cafes, this location is easily accessible via public transportation and attracts an eclectic mix of customers, exuding a genuine neighborhood vibe.

"Panera has really become an integral part of the community in Portland, especially in the Hollywood neighborhood," explained Ron Shaich, Panera Bread's co-founder and Executive Chairman, and President of the Panera Bread Foundation. "Opening a new Panera Cares cafe in this area will offer the Panera experience with dignity to all -- those who can afford it, those who need a hand up, and everyone in between."

Panera Cares is a new kind of cafe -- one that exemplifies an entirely different way of giving back. It is a community cafe of shared responsibility. One of the goals of this charitable program is to ensure that everyone who needs a meal gets one. People are encouraged to take what they need and donate their fair share. There are no prices or cash registers, only suggested donation levels and donation bins.

"The vision for the Panera Cares cafe was to use Panera's unique restaurant skills to address real societal needs and make a direct impact in communities," said Shaich. "Thus, the Foundation developed these community cafes to make a difference by addressing the food insecurity issues that affect millions of Americans."

Emmet seemed to feel a bit better after eating his favorite soup.
I had my favorite Banana Cream Protein Shake for lunch.  Have I mentioned how much I love these shakes lately.
Banana Cream Pudding Protein Shake  
1 cup So Delicious Coconut Milk- Unsweetened 1 scoop BSN Lean Dessert Protein Powder- Banana Cream Pudding 1 frozen Banana   Whip up in the blender and enjoy!   Okay now to the good stuff-- Applesauce Spice Cake with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting! I basically took a couple different recipes and created my own and am happy to report that it turned out great.    
  Applesauce Spice with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting   For cake
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon  ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1 stick (8 tbsp)  unsalted butter, softened
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon  pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups  unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup  walnuts (optional), chopped

For frosting

5 ounces neufchatel cream cheese, softened
3 tablespoons  unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup confectioners sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. Butter an 8- or 9-inch square cake pan.

Make cake: Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices. Beat butter, brown sugar, and vanilla with an electric mixer at high speed until pale and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat in applesauce. At low speed, mix in flour mixture until just combined, then stir in walnuts (if using).

Spread batter evenly in pan and bake until golden-brown and a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean, about 35 to 40 minutes. Cool in pan 15 minutes. Run a knife around edge of cake to loosen, then invert onto a plate. Reinvert cake onto a rack to cool completely.

Make frosting: Beat cream cheese, butter, and vanilla with an electric mixer at high speed until fluffy. Sift confectioners sugar and cinnamon over cream cheese mixture, then beat at medium speed until incorporated. Spread frosting over top of cooled cake.

Baked Cake- Pre-frosting.

The Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting is to die for.  That is the best part of the cake... right?

I am off to go pick up Zoe and get ready for the next adventure.  I hope you have a great rest of your Friday and I will check back later....
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