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nashoba valley winery

We didn’t make it for our bike ride this morning…I had a flat tire, and we were very unprepared in that department.  So, we went for a run instead.  The weather was so perfect for running this morning that I couldn’t pass it up.  I went on a 6 mile loop along the water, then picked up Brant for an additional 3!  My legs are spent.  Bike ride tomorrow!

After our run, we wanted to do something fun and be outside for the day because the weather here in Boston is gorgeous!  We decided to head out to the Nashoba Valley Winery in Bolton, MA for the afternoon.

It is gorgeous there!  I have never been before, but have been wanting to make a visit.  Today was the perfect day for it.

They sell lots of goodies inside!

Our first stop included the tasting room.  It is so reasonable – $4 for 5 small tastes of anything that you want.  We learned that the Nashoba Valley Winery makes wine, beer and lots of spirits!  They have mostly white wines, dessert wines and brandy along with a good selection of beer.

I tasted a variety of wines and spirits, while Brant stuck mainly with the beer.  We shared some sips, and everything was great.  My favorite being the Riesling which was one of the best I have had.  Light, crisp and just a bit fruity.

I tried the Foggy Bog Spirit, which is a Cranberry Brandy.  Surprisingly, I liked it!  The cranberry flavor really came through and did not taste all that much like brandy. 🙂

Other highlights included the Dry Pear Wine and the Raspberry Dessert Wine, which tasted like I was drinking raspberry puree!

After wine, we headed to the Beer Tour, which they only offer once or twice per year.

They offer 4 beers year-round and then offer a few seasonal brews throughout.

Their brewery location is so small compared to other craft breweries in the area.  Everything takes place in this one building, and it is a one man show!  One guy literally brews, bottles and labels all of the beer that they sell.

He walked us through the process and let us sample 4 of the brews.

Bottling Machine

My favorite was their Summer Stout – an oatmeal stout with flavors of chocolate, coffee and vanilla.  Yummy!

After our tasting and tour, we sat out in the field for our picnic lunch!

We packed lots of random stuff since this was a last minute trip.  Pretzels, PB&J, millet patties, dried fruit and nuts, apples and PB!

It was such a fun way to spend our Saturday!  We can’t wait to go back for more picnic’s.

crazy day

Wow!  It has been a crazy day!

Breakfast was delicious.  I tried some new Food for Life bread toasted with 1/2 nut butter and 1/2 jam while I was running out of the house this morning to catch the T.

It was a Raisin Pecan bread.  Not my favorite, but definitely not bad.  It is gluten free, so is a bit denser and I could not taste raisins or pecans, but maybe it was due to my toppings?  I’ll give it another shot sometime. 🙂  I like their ezekiel and millet breads much better.

The toppings on my toast were the best part!  1/2 was my homemade Chocolate Cinnamon Pecan Hazelnut Butter.

The other half was awesome!  I spread a thin layer of Artisana Coconut Butter and topped it with Raspberry Jam (Crofter’s Asia Superfruit Spread)!  A delicious combination!

How good does that look?!  It’s basically dessert, but next time I will try it on my favorite Millet toast!

I grabbed some tea while running out the door as well – Tea Gschwendner’s Oriental Moon.  It’s great.  I love the faint taste and smell of anise.

My T ride to work was pretty painless.  I loved being able to read my book and not worry about traffic.

It was such a crazy day, that I didn’t get to snap pictures of lunch.  I just scarfed it down!  That is one reason why I always bring lunch and snacks with me.  Sometimes when you get to busy, it is easy to skip a meal.  But, then you are starving by your next meal time and normally end up eating way to much!  I always have some type of snack with me, just in case!!  Plus, by bringing my own healthy snacks, it keeps me away from the vending machine during those 3pm snack cravings.

I went for a quick 45 minute / 5 mile run tonight while my hubby cooked us dinner!

After my run, I chugged some Emergen-C to keep that cold away!

Emergen-C is great, especially the Cranberry Pomegranate.  Lots of vitamin C and B vitamins to give your immune system a boost.  Perfect when you feel a cold coming on, or after a late night out. 🙂

Then it was dinner time!  The menu for the night was Double Broccoli Quinoa.  We just happened to have a huge bag of broccoli in our fridge to use up and we love this simple and delicious recipe.

Broccoli pesto.

With pasta tonight, since the grain supply is low…

With some wine.

I was still hungry after this pasta.  Me and pasta don’t always work because I rarely feel full!  So, I made dessert a little more nutritious – Chocolate Greek Yogurt topped with a Super Charge Me cookie.  YUM!

Love this yogurt!  I cannot wait to try the caramel flavor (Whole Foods has a $1 off coupon for Oikos in their Whole Deal Flyer until March 31st)!  I will be stocking up.  They are the perfect dessert size – 110 calories, 10 grams of protein, 17 grams of carbs and 16 grams of sugar.  Not bad for dessert or a post workout snack!

spaghetti squash and salad

I went to my favorite produce mart today, Russo’s.  If you live in the Boston area, it is a must visit!  They have all of the produce you could possibly imagine, and it is cheap!  Not everything is local, so I at least try to buy produce that is from the USA.  It is tough to buy local produce around here in the winter, but I really try in the summer!

Anyways, I bought all of the fruit and veggies I need for the week, but I had 2 favorite purchases!

First, was the bag of older bananas that I got for .98 cents!!

That’s right, 10 bananas for .98 cents!  And, they aren’t even that ripe!  I bought some good bananas for the week, but I purchased these babies so that I can cut them all up and freeze them.  I love adding frozen bananas to my smoothies, instead of normal bananas because they give it a little bit more thickness.  These 10 bananas will keep me going for a while – I would have bought more if I had a bigger freezer – what a great deal! 🙂  Look for this type of stuff at your local grocery store because normally the fruit that they put in the “damaged” bin is not really that damaged.  I have bought apples and pears before as well – just cut off the bruised parts and save yourself loads of money.

My 2nd favorite purchase was a spaghetti squash.  I have only made spaghetti squash once before, and it turned out great, so I decided to try again.

Spaghetti Squash

Ingredients:

  • 1 spaghetti squash
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp dried basil (or fresh, if you have it)
  • salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

I cut my squash in half and scooped out the seeds inside, then placed it face down on a cookie sheet.

I saved a few seeds to toast and use on my salad!

Sprinkled with salt and paprika before toasting.

I baked it in a 400°F oven for 35 minutes and it came out perfect!

Once cooked enough that you can easily stick a fork into the squash, it is ready to be turned into spaghetti!

Take one half of the squash and scrape out the insides with a fork.  It will easily come out and look like spaghetti.  Repeat with the other side.

I mixed my spaghetti squash up with a little butter, salt, pepper, basil and Parmesan cheese.

I also cut up some grape tomatoes and tossed them in my spaghetti.

Along with my spaghetti squash I had a great salad!

Remember when I made stuffed peppers for some friends and served it along with whole grain bread?  Well, the next day I put the leftover bread right into the freezer to save for homemade croutons!

Tonight, I thawed the bread, cut it up into squares and tossed them with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper.  If you remember, the bread was already brushed with italian seasoning before freezing.

I then toasted the chunks of bread in my toaster oven until they formed crispy croutons!

I used a bed of romaine lettuce and garnished it with freshly dried apple slices (by me!), unsweetened dried cranberries, toasted seeds from my squash and homemade croutons.  I drizzled olive oil and balsamic vinegar for dressing.

And all together!

All served with some Malbec, which was delicious!

It was a light meal, which normally would be great, but tonight I am still hungry!  Off to find some snacks. 🙂

stuffed peppers

Last night we had some friends over for dinner, and I made my most favorite dish – stuffed peppers!

 

It is a fun, easy, and pretty dish to serve to guests.  I like mine a little on the spicy side, so I kicked them up with some spices, but you could omit them if you like your food on the milder side.

There were 4 of us for dinner, but I made an extra pepper just in case someone was a little hungrier.  Turns out, it was a good idea I did!

We started with some chips and salsa to get us in the mood while I cooked.

And, drank some wine of course!

Which was from Spain…

…and delicious!

 

One of our Christmas gifts this year was a rice cooker from my brother and sister-in-law.  This was only our second time using it, but it did not disappoint!  This cooker is definitely idiot proof and cooks the best rice ever!  I put 2 cups of rinsed brown rice into the cooker, filled it to the #2 line (for the 2 cups of rice) with water, closed the lid and pressed start.  One hour and 30 minutes later, my rice was cooked to perfection!

While our rice was cooking, and our guests were enjoying their chips, I got all of our ingredients ready to cook.

I started with 5 peppers.

 

We like to use a variety of colors to up the wow factor :).

and cut the tops off of each one.

I chopped up those tops to add to the filling once ready.

Also in the mix were onions, garlic and spinach.

 

I added some olive oil to a medium sized saute pan over medium heat until hot.  I chopped the onion and garlic and added them to the pan.  They sizzled as the cooked.  Unfortunately, my camera decided to take fuzzy pictures of the steps, so I didn’t include them here…oh well, I think you get the idea. 🙂

After a few minutes, I added the peppers, some paprika, essence (which is a blend of salt, pepper, garlic and chile powder), and salsa and cooked until done.

By this time, my rice cooker was singing to me that it was done (no, really – it plays a song to tell you it is done)!  So, I added 2 cups of rice along with the spinach and mixed everything together until the spinach was wilted, a few minutes.  One cup of mexican cheese was added as well.

Viola!

At this point, I filled the empty peppers with the rice mixture, topped them wich mexican taco cheese, and placed them in my preheated oven (at 375°F).  Cook the peppers for about 10 minutes until the cheese is melted, and the peppers are tender.  (Tip – I precooked my peppers while I was preparing the rice mixture to get them a little more tender.)

Once done, I pop the peppers under the broiler for 1-2 minutes until the cheese gets browned and bubbly.

 

You can make this your own recipe and add any kind of veggies you want to the mix.  In the past, we have added corn, peas and broccoli.

Alongside the stuffed peppers, I served warm crusty bread.  I took this whole wheat bread, sliced it, brushed each slice with a little olive oil and sprinkled it with italian seasoning.

Wrap in tinfoil, and place in the oven while you cook your peppers.  It will come out warm, crusty and delicious!

Our meal was a thumbs up from all 4 of us!  Give it a try sometime, you won’t be dissappointed!

 

Spicy Stuffed Peppers

Serves 5-6

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups brown rice (any other grain will work as well)
  • 6 medium peppers (any color)
  • 1 medium onion
  • 4-5 cloves garlic
  • 1 package baby spinach
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1-2 tablespoons essence, depending on spiciness!
  • 1/2 cup medium salsa (or hot, or mild…)
  • 1 cup cheese, any you like!
  • salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Cook 2 cups of brown rice according to package instructions.  If you have a rice cooker, definitely use it!
  3. While the rice is cooking, prepare your vegetables and if desired, place peppers in the oven for a few minutes to pre-cook (I find that this makes the peppers more tender).
  4. Wash peppers, and cut tops off of each.  Chop up tops.  Set peppers aside.
  5. Chop onion and garlic.
  6. Add olive oil to a medium saute pan over medium heat.  Once heated, add onion, garlic and a pinch of salt.  Cook until onions are tender.
  7. Add the chopped pepper tops, paprika and essence (or other spices).  Cook until mixed and peppers are a little tender.
  8. Once rice is cooked, add it to the saute pan mixture.  Also add salsa and spinach.  Mix and cook until the spinach is wilted.
  9. Mix in 1 cup of cheese.
  10. Spoon rice mixture into the peppers and top with a little cheese.
  11. Place in a baking dish and bake for 10 minutes, until peppers are tender and cheese is melted.
  12. Place under broiler for 1-2 minutes to brown the cheese.
  13. Serve immediately with warm crusty bread.
  14. Enjoy!

If you have any other fabulous stuffed pepper recipes, please pass them my way!  I am constantly making varieties of this recipe, because we love them so much!  I have been told to try them with poblanos…maybe next time!

vegetable quinoa

We love quinoa!  It was one of those grains that we had never tried before, but had read a lot about.  Once we bought some from the bins at our grocery store, and tried it for the first time, we were hooked!  It is super easy to cook, and pairs well with any type of vegetable you could imagine.

Tonight, we picked up a few veggies for our Vegetable Quinoa: peppers, onion and broccoli.  We liked our stuffed peppers so much last week, that we tried to make up something similar.  They ended up having similar ingredients, but definitely tasted different!

Vegetable Quinoa

serves 4 (or 2.5 for us 🙂 )

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 1 red pepper (really, any color will do)
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 head of broccoli
  • 1-2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tbsp dried thyme
  • 1/4 cup toasted pistachios
  • 1/4 cup feta (or more if you like it cheesier)!
  • 1/4 cup chopped dried apricots (I prefer them without sugar)
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup water

Directions:

– Heat the olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat.

– Chop up the onion, pepper and broccoli into bite size pieces and add to the pan, along with the garlic and thyme.

We added the ingredients as we chopped!

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garlic, onion and pepper

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broccoli and thyme added

– Cook for approximately 4 – 5 minutes, or until onion is tender.

– Meanwhile, toast the pistachios (we used our toaster oven).

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shelled pistachios (much easier to work with!)

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toasting!

– Once the onion is tender, add the quinoa and cook until a little browned to combine the flavors.

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rinsed quinoa

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'toasted' quinoa

– Once browned, add 1 cup of water.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10-12 minutes, or until tender.

– You will know that quinoa is tender, when the little curly-cues come out!

– Once cooked, add pistachios, feta cheese and diced apricots.

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feta cheese

– ENJOY!

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Vegetable Quinoa ready to eat!

This recipe turned out delicious.  It was very flavorful and the cheese became a little gooey.  We served this dish with some warm french bread and white wine!

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Sustainable White Wine

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served in a fancy glass!

Sustainable White has crisp, clean aromas and flavors of citrus and tropical fruit.  

This was a new white wine that we tried.  It is made through a completely sustainable winery in Mendocino Country, CA.  It was great!  The one that we tried was a refreshing blend of sustainably grown Sauvignon Blanc, Muscat Canelli, Tokai, and Viognier grapes from Mendocino County.  Below are the perks of the sustainable winery written on the bottle:

– locally owned and operated

-grapes from family farms

-sustainable farming practices

-100% green power

-earth friendly packaging

-1st US carbon neutral winery

I checked out their website in order to find out some more about this winery since I love the idea of drinking sustainable wine.  Their main goal is to have a respect for the environment and to help local farmers.  I love everything about it!!  I can’t wait to try their other varieties.