Last Thursday we had some friends over for sushi. If you have access to good fish, it's really easy. Wrap a sushi rolling mat with plastic wrap and lay it flat on a work surface. Lay a sheet of Nori (sushi seaweed) on top of it. Cover the nori with cooked white rice mixed with rice vinegar and sugar (you'll want to look up an exact recipe for this part; I don't have one because my husband does it). If you want the rice on the outside of the roll, you'll need to flip it over. Then lay your desired ingredients in a line on the edge of the mat, closest to you. We like salmon, tuna, cream cheese, scallions, avocado, roe (fish eggs), wasabi, and cucumber. Slice it up and serve it with soy sauce and sake.
Now listen, you can't just stroll into Winn-Dixie and buy fish if you want to eat it raw. Go to a fish market and ask them if they have anything sushi-grade. If they don't know what you're talking about, walk right back out of the door. They should tell you what they have, when it came in, and how much you need for your guest list. They should have salmon, tuna, and grouper, and they might have some others as well. They can suggest other accoutrements and should have a variety of sauces, as well as things like wasabi and roe. They can even slice it up for you length-wise, if you're going to be rolling it. It's expensive, about 16 dollars a pound, but if you roll it up with other stuff, it's very filling and a little bit goes a long way. We bought two pounds for seven people. We ate it all, but we were stuffed. For just the two of us, we eat it chopped up over rice with soy sauce.
Tonight we had stuffed red peppers. I've been wanting to try some, having never eaten them before, so I looked up a random recipe. This one calls for tomatoes, ground beef, olives, and couscous. Cut the top off of four red bell peppers and scoop out the insides. Stand them up in a baking dish.
You may need to fashion a wedge out of the top of the pepper to stick under it so it will stay upright. Heat some olive oil in a skillet and add a can of diced tomatoes, 1/2 cup chopped pimento-stuffed olives, and half a pound of ground beef. When the beef is browned, add the couscous (Near East brand), its seasoning packet, and 1/2 cup of water. (If you were me, you'd add a jar of baby food at this point. Just saying.)
Take it off the heat, put a lid on it, and let it sit for five minutes. Fill the peppers with the couscous mixture and top with shredded italian cheese.
Cover loosely with foil and bake at 350 for 20 minutes. The foil should keep the cheese from burning. Remove the foil and bake for another ten minutes.
My husband LOVED this. For me, it was just okay. Audrey wouldn't touch it :
but Ayla enjoyed the couscous we fed her:
I think I would like it with some sauteed onions and mushrooms in the filling. I think they would complement the red pepper nicely.
Ayla's first birthday party is this weekend so I have been shopping and party planning. WalMart, as much as I love to hate it, has the best deals anywhere. I bought all our party favors and favor boxes there. I should have bought my plates and napkins there, too, but it's far away and I had already been to the party store for that stuff. Everything is pink, pink, pink, and I'm super excited to see how it turns out. I'm hoping to make pink pasta salad and pink spinach dip to go with our pink cupcakes and pink cookies, which will spell out Happy Birthday Ayla. I think it will be fun to do with Audrey.