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In Search of the Perfect…

Posted Dec 05 2009 6:10am
When I was single, I searched for the perfect man, only to find he doesn’t exist. I’ve searched for the perfect weight and it, too, doesn’t exist. But I have met (and married) some really good men, and I have weighed (and currently weigh) a healthy weight. Some things I had to stop searching for perfect because my expectations were unrealistic. Good, funny and dependable replaced perfect when I met my husband. Healthy replaced perfect when I got to goal.

However, some things I’ll never stop searching for perfect.

Workout shoes. I love Asics, but it doesn’t stop me from trying on the latest Nikes.

Tea. I’m really loving sampling the loose leaf green teas at Republic of Tea. Dragon Well is good. Green Chai is better. Big Green Hojicha is next. And I’m making the chocolate tea work by steeping it with a peppermint tea bag. Pretty close to perfect.

Christmas gifts. Last year I bought my daughter a spice rack. Boring, right? She said it was the best gift ever. Sometimes you find perfect in the most unlikely places.

Vacuum cleaner. With three large dogs, I vacuum every day. If my life was a book, it would be called “The Constant Vacuumer.” I currently use a Kenmore upright that I like very much (it got better reviews than Dyson), and it does a good job. I guess in this case, “perfect” would mean someone else vacuuming every day, which will never happen, so instead I’ll search for “better.”

Stuffed peppers. I’ve been experimenting with recipes for stuffed red peppers for about a year now. This is the one I’m currently using, tweaking ingredients here and there (tweaking begets perfection).

Stuffed Peppers
Serves 4

4 red sweet peppers, tops removed, seeded
1 cup onion, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, minced or chopped
2 cup mushrooms, chopped
2 zucchini, chopped
1-2 T veggie broth
1 cup black beans, drained and rinsed
3 cups fresh spinach
1 cup carrots, chopped
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained (NOTE: I’m going to use fire-roasted tomatoes tonight)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
Italian seasoning to taste (This is where I always tweak. Sometimes I use straight-up basil and oregano, sometimes I throw in some marjoram and rosemary.)
Pepper flakes, few shakes
4 oz mozzarella cheese
4 T parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a casserole dish with cooking spray, put the peppers in upright, spray again, and roast for 10-15 minutes or until just a little brown (you don’t want them mushy). Turn the oven down to 375 degrees.

Spray a skillet with cooking spray, add the veggies and broth, spray again and sauté on medium until crisp-tender. Mix in the tomatoes and tomato paste, and seasonings. Stuff the peppers with the skillet mixture. Top with cheese.

Return peppers to the oven, and cook 20-30 minutes or until cheese is browned.

Veggie burgers. Making a veggie burger that A) doesn’t fall apart; and B) isn’t bland as cardboard has been my mission for two years. For the most part, I’ve perfected A, and last night, I got pretty close to perfecting B.

Veggie Burger That Doesn’t Taste Like Cardboard
Makes 4-6 patties

1 can black beans
½ cup old-fashioned oats (not the quick cooking kind)
1 T ketchup
1 T barbecue sauce (I used Trader Joe’s brand)
½ cup finely chopped mushrooms
1 medium carrot, finely chopped
¼ cup dried minced onions
1 medium zucchini, shredded
4 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon each chili powder, cumin and black pepper

Place the beans, oats, ketchup and bbq sauce in food processor and pulse until well blended. Transfer to a medium bowl and stir in rest of ingredients. Form into patties. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and bake patties at 350 degrees (or until well browned), turning halfway through.

Searching for perfect can be risky sometimes. God knows I’ve set myself up for disappointment on countless occasions. But it can also be exciting and fun. Keeps the cobwebs out and complacency at bay.

Now if I could just find the perfect zero-calorie chocolate brownie…
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