Saturday, December 5, 2009

In Search of the Perfect…

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…

9 comments:

Sunny said...

You are just adorable. Hope Mr. Lynn tells you that, often. I bet he does. :)

Shelley said...

Your veggie burger recipe sounds great - and not too hard (my prerequisite!)...have you ever tried Gardenburger's Black Bean Chipolte burgers? I love them, but in the interest of homemade, will def. try yours.

Adding to your list, lip gloss. I love Burt's Bees, but it has no color, and as my lips have lost some of their youthful color, I can't go without. I like Bare Escentuals Buxom lip gloss in "Dolly" but am always trying new ones...shoot, the perfect Christmas gift for me is a lip gloss set!

Lori said...

I hear you on the vacuum! We have a long haired kitty and it is endless hair in the summer, even with brushing.

We are always searching for the perfect travel mug.

I'm with you on being okay with health instead of a scale number (okay, most days I'm okay with that :) )

Thanks for the recipes!

debby said...

Yeah, be sure to notify me if you find that brownie recipe!

Hey, vacuum cleaner....I really enjoy vacuuming, and enjoy a good cleaner...I have a Sharp now, and it is wearing out. I will check out the Kenmores. Let me know if you find a better machine.

Barry said...

I think a lot of us spend so much time searching for perfection that we miss out of the good things in life along the way.

We're like a dog spinning around and around trying to catch out tail and never catching it.

Sometimes every once in a while it's good just to sit still and appreciate all that we have in this minute.

Judynyc said...

Ohhh...thank you for the yummy sounding stuffed peppers recipe!!

Love your take on perfection!!

Cassie said...

I still LOVE that spice rack!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing your recipes! I know that any recipe you approve of and like will be okay for me to eat. I appreciate your legwork!

Karen

bbubblyb said...

I'm going to have to try your recipes. I don't look for perfect anymore either. I want a spice rack *smile*.