Monday, March 20, 2017

Vegetarian Stuffed Poblano Peppers

Here's a tasty, easy-to-prepare stuffed poblano pepper recipe that is vegetarian and gluten-free. The recipe calls for using four large poblanos, but when I've used that many all the peppers don't fit in one pan. So I reduced the recipe to three large peppers -- and still needed a second, smaller pan!

Stuffed Poblano Peppers

1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes in puree
1 jalapeno (ribs and seeds removed for less heat), minced
1 medium or large yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic (2 whole, 1 minced)
1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1-1/4 cup shredded pepper Jack cheese
1 teaspoon ground cumin
3 large poblano peppers, halved lengthwise with stems left intact, ribs and seeds removed

1) Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. In a blender, combine tomatoes in puree, jalapeno, half the onions and 2 whole cloves of garlic. Puree. Season with salt. Pour sauce into a 9" x 13" baking dish and set aside.

2) In a medium bowl, combine black beans, cornmeal, 1/2 cup cheese, the remaining onion, the minced garlic clove, cumin and 1/2 cup water (note: the recipe calls for 3/4 cup water, but I found less water produced better results). Season with salt and pepper. 

3) Dividing evenly, stuff the poblano halves with bean mixture and place on top of sauce in baking dish. Sprinkle poblanos with remaining cheese. Cover baking dish tightly with aluminum foil. Bake until poblanos are tender, about 45 minutes. Uncover and bake another 10 to 15 minutes, or until sauce thickens slightly and cheese is browned. Let cool 10 minutes and serve. Bon appetit!

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Two New (Very Different) Pieces of Art

A few weekends ago, my husband and I ran some errands downtown -- he needed to buy some guitar strings at a guitar shop, then we grabbed coffee and a pastry at an excellent bakery (alas, I have to take Paul's word that this bakery has the best pastries since I can't indulge in baked goods). On our way back to the car, we popped into an art gallery for a look around.

There on the wall was a piece of art that caught our attention. We've admired this artist's work before. In fact, we almost purchased one of his paintings about a year ago; now I'm glad we didn't because I like this painting even more. Entitled '57 Buick, it is a mixed media piece with an epoxy coating, which gives it a very shiny finish. The detail is exquisite. The artist describes it as pop art in a realist style. Both Paul and I love classic cars, so the subject appealed to us right off the bat. We hung it in the living room between the dining room French doors and the hallway.

In the close-up below. the reflection on the left side of the painting is from the window behind me when I took the photo. I love how the artist captured so much detail, including reflections in the chrome fender. This painting is from a photograph and in the reflection you can see the image of the photographer, just above the tail pipe.

The other piece of art we added to our home is the complete opposite of the piece above, and it has an interesting story. We were in an upscale antiques store one Saturday -- most of the art was way out of our price range -- when we spied an old photo in an old oak frame. We asked to take a closer look and that's when the shop owner told us that the photo was likely taken by a famous photographer, but he couldn't prove it because the work wasn't signed. The photo was a landscape, and wasn't very attractive in our opinion, plus there was a discoloration right down the center of it that bothered us. Paul and I loved the frame, however, and the antiques dealer was willing to separate the two. We paid $40 for the frame, and he kept the photo.

Then we had to find something to go in the frame. The dealer has drawer after drawer and book after book full of old etchings, prints and drawings in various styles and subject matters. After about an hour of flipping through numerous binders of artwork, we landed on the piece above, a monotype by A.H. Bicknell (1837-1915). The "A.H." stands for Albion Harris. You can learn a little about him here

The print wasn't in good condition with its lower right corner missing, which you can see above, so the dealer lowered his price to $20. We took the print and the frame to our local framer, and for $25 he mounted the print to some mat board and put a new back on the frame. We hung this piece in our hallway, which doesn't have picture molding so a nail had to be used. It's always a bit scary putting a nail into a plaster wall, but thankfully it went smoothly.

So these are our two new -- and very different -- pieces of art. Sometimes I will stop to consider whether the work will blend well with our decor, but usually we buy what we love. We prefer a more eclectic look anyway.

Do you choose artwork based on the decorating style in your home and what will "go" best with your color scheme? Or do you buy what you love?

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Spinach-artichoke Dip

I'm late posting this. I meant to share it prior to the Super Bowl as a game day snack. But as I mentioned in my last post, the week leading up to the game was a busy one and left me with no time to put together a food post. 

I ended up making this spinach-artichoke dip on Super Bowl Sunday and we enjoyed it while watching the pre-game show. Then we had vegetarian tacos for dinner during the game. I will be posting about the veggie "ground beef" product I recently discovered. It's very good and will very likely become a staple in our freezer.  

Spinach-artichoke Dip

1 can (14 oz.) artichoke hearts, quartered, in water, rinsed and drained
4 oz. reduced-fact cream cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 small clove of garlic, chopped (be sure to use a small clove, otherwise the dip will be too garlicky)
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 scallions, white and light green parts only, sliced
1 package (10 oz.) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry

1) Place half the artichokes in a food processor; add cream cheese, Parmesan cheese, lemon juice, garlic, cayenne pepper and 3 tablespoons water. Process until smooth.

2) Add scallions, remaining artichokes, spinach and a few pinches of coarse salt. Pulse briefly. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve with fresh veggies, potato chips and tortilla chips. To store, cover and refrigerate up to 2 days.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

What I'm Reading

Hello, there. I had the best of intentions last week to share a new recipe for spinach-artichoke dip pre-Super Bowl, but work was brutal last week and I didn't have the energy or time to create a new food post. 

So instead, I'll share with you a couple of books I'm reading. One of my 2017 goals is to read more. This can be a challenging goal for me because reading in the afternoon or evening typically puts me to sleep. Reading in the morning doesn't (except for the fact that my eyes can't focus yet!), but only the weekends are conducive for morning reading and even then, I have too many things on my to-do list to lounge around reading.

I frequently borrow books from the library, so there's the pressure to finish a book by the due date. One of the books I'm currently reading, America's First Daughter, is a popular best seller and I had to put my name on the waiting list for it. This also means I cannot renew it. I figure if I read about 40 pages each night, I should finish it by the due date. 

Only recently have I come to the realization that my favorite genre is historical fiction. America's First Daughter is about Martha "Patsy" Jefferson and the relationship with her father, Thomas Jefferson. During his lifetime, Jefferson wrote more than 18,000 letters -- that's hard to imagine! Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie, the authors of the novel, framed the story through these letters.    

Other works of historical fiction I've enjoyed reading include All the Light We Cannot See, Year of Wonders and Girl with a Pearl Earring. What type of book do you most enjoy reading?

For my birthday in January, a friend gave me a copy of A Man Called Ove written by Swedish author Fredrik Backman. I started reading it, but put it on hold when America's First Daughter came available through the library. It's the story of a grumpy man who lives a life of routine until some new neighbors move in. I'm only in the beginning of the book, and will get back to it once I've finished the other. I just learned it was made into a movie that is up for an Academy award for best foreign language film (clearly I don't keep up with popular culture). I watched the trailer and it looks great. I suspect there are nuances to the characters that come across better on screen than in the pages of the book. Usually I prefer the book over the movie version of a story, but every now and then I find the opposite to be true. I've added it to my Netflix queue. 

Speaking of films, have you seen Fences? My husband and I were blown away by it. Denzel Washington and Viola Davis gave amazing performances, and I am pulling for them to win Oscars. The supporting cast was fantastic too, and the way it was filmed ... I could go on and on. I'm glad the movie has received many nominations.

Another movie I hope to see in the theater is La La Land. I am a fan of both Ryan Gosling (what a cutie!) and Emma Stone. The film looks like fun.

Have you read any great books or seen any great movies lately you'd like to recommend? I love hearing why people like (or don't like) a work of art, so feel free to share your suggestions here.

Enjoy your weekend, and thanks for visiting My Little Bungalow!

Saturday, January 28, 2017

A Few New Things From Bambu

I landed on the Bambu website recently, and was intrigued by several of their reasonably priced items. I ended up on their website because I was looking for a new pouch to contain little necessities inside my purse. It had to be large enough to hold the things I keep on hand: eye drops, nail file, cough drops, pill box, hand lotion, bandages, tissues and hand sanitizer (see this post for my new favorite lemon-coconut scented gel sanitizer). But it couldn't be too large, and I wanted it to be soft and flexible. I found the striped one above on another site, but it was out of stock. So I made my way to Bambu's site and found not only the striped pouch with a solid denim lining, but a smaller cork pouch too, which I couldn't resist. Aren't they cute? The large pouch, at $14, measures 8" x 5" and the small pouch is 6" x 4" and sells for $12. They also come in hemp denim.

While I was on their site, I checked out their bamboo cutting boards since I was in the market for a large one for the kitchen. Bamboo is so durable. This cutting board has a nice feature: "undercut" sides that are easy to grasp, making it a good serving board too. The largest size board -- the one I bought -- measures 17" x 12".

Then I saw the cute, organic cotton kitchen towel above for $11 and decided to get one of those too. The fabric is a bit stiff for my liking, but it should soften after several washings.

Some other items that caught my eye were a cork iPad case and cork beverage sleeve (both currently on sale), bamboo reversible candle holders (one end holds a tea light, the other a taper) and artisan cutting board.


This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are my own. Last four photos:

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Lemon-Rosemary Simmering Potpourri

For Christmas we received a gift of simmering potpourri mix. It contained cinnamon sticks, cloves and other spices, a bag of fresh cranberries and an orange. Instructions for using the potpourri were included. Rather than slice the orange, though, I used a vegetable peeler and made wide strips of zest -- then I ate the orange!

Would you believe we simmered that potpourri on and off for a couple of weeks at least? We just added water and additional spices as needed. We thoroughly enjoyed its wonderful holiday scent as it filled the house.

Recently, I found a simmering potpourri recipe on Pinterest that uses rosemary, lemon and vanilla so I thought I'd give it a try. One source described it as a great springtime scent. If you like the smell of rosemary, you'll love this recipe. 

Slice a lemon, snip some fresh rosemary from the garden (or buy fresh rosemary from the grocery) and add one to two teaspoons of vanilla extract to some water in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer on the stove top and reduce the heat to very low, adding water as needed. Do not leave unattended for any period of time, and be sure to turn off the heat before you leave the house!

As this potpourri was simmering, I added some ground cinnamon and ginger to give it a bit of spice. This recipe is nice, but it didn't fill the house with aroma the way the Christmas potpourri did, so I wouldn't say it's my favorite.

Even though the holidays are over, I am going to enjoy another round of Christmas simmering potpourri. I'll use cranberries that I have in the freezer (and are probably past their prime for use in food anyway), cinnamon sticks, cloves, some sliced fresh ginger, and nutmeg.

Have you tried stove top potpourri? If so, what's your favorite scent combination?
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