In our apartment each year, we make a huge “to-do” list of fun things that we want to accomplish during the school year. Some highlights from this year’s list?
Race walking 1 mile.
Getting dinner at Saxapahaw (that super cool converted gas station Andrea and I went to a few weeks ago).
Eating only bananas for a whole day (as a re-do of our failed fruitatarianism last year).
A 12-hour walk-a-thon.
And….something that we just accomplished: decorating a huge, empty wall in our apartment. When we came back for the school year, we really didn’t have to do too much decorating. We’ve lived here for a few years now, so we’ve got most of our staple decorations all set. We have a fun mix of DIY crafts, eclectic souvenirs from our world travels, a few holiday-themed reindeer that stay out all year, and some great furniture that came with the place. When we got back for this school year though, we realized that our dining room needed a little bit of a face lift. There was an empty wall right next to our dining room table, so after some research on Pinterest, we decided to try out a wall based on paint samples.
Andrea and Eliza went to a poster-sale and picked up a giant poster that says “Keep Calm and Eat a Cupcake”. I mean, how much more perfect could a poster get for our apartment, right? Later on, we picked up some paint samples and then I taped them all to our apartment wall. The result? A colorful, cupcake-filled, beautiful wall that brightens the whole apartment. It’s a super simple DIY project that can add a pop of color to any room.
We’re so happy we checked “decorating our dining room wall” off of our semester-long list of activities. And we’ve got a lot more to do (including chocolate-peanut butter-cookie cupcakes, cinnamon rolls, and an apartment talent show). I love living with my roommates because they help me find the balance between writing thousands and thousands of words for my two senior seminar classes, and laughing until I cry while performing crazy renditions of songs while making cupcakes. I’ve missed blogging a lot, but I’m focusing on school and enjoying my last year of school with my best friends. I’ll be back now and then, but probably not as often as I’d like. Hopefully you all are enjoying your year as much as I am!
While I was in Montana I ate an Asian-inspired salad that knocked my socks off. Butter lettuce, mandarin oranges, sesame seeds, and red peppers. What made it even more delicious was the homemade peanut dressing that I dumped over the whole salad. It was out of this world! Ever since I left Montana, I’ve been craving the salad. Since I’m slightly obsessive about recipes once I get an idea in my head, I bought all the ingredients for lettuce wraps inspired by the salad I ate right when I got to my local co-op. And the next day, Andrea and I worked together in the kitchen to create these super-easy, filling, and nutritious lettuce wraps. Lettuce be the ones to tell you, they’re delicious. (Sorry about the pun – I couldn’t resist).
I have to say, that usually when I hear ‘lettuce wraps’ I immediately think of ‘appetizer’ or ‘really puny, unfilling meal’. But, I proved myself wrong. We used the food processor to finely chop an assortment of fresh vegetables and hearty tempeh to create a base for the flavorful Asian peanut sauce we drizzled on top. Each lettuce wrap was topped with chopped cashews and a couple slices of mandarin oranges to add even more layers of flavor. After eating half of the recipe each, Andrea and I were both stuffed – and we still had some of the filling as leftovers! These lettuce wraps are flavorful, nutritious, and surprisingly filling! I highly recommend making them when you don’t have much time to make dinner but are craving something to boost your energy. Hopefully recipes like these will help me feel my best for my first week back at school! Here’s the recipe so you can make it too.
Raw Asian Lettuce Wraps
8-10 pieces of lettuce, rinsed and dried
1/4 block (2 oz. tempeh)
4 large stalks of celery
1 red bell pepper
For the sauce:
4 tablespoons peanut butter
2 tablespoons liquid aminos (or soy sauce)
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 clove garlic
Cashews and mandarin oranges, for garnishing
1. In a food processor, pulse tempeh until it becomes very finely chopped. Pour the tempeh into a medium sized mixing bowl. Repeat with celery, bell pepper, and carrot, pulsing seperately and adding to the mixing bowl.
2. Gently stir all of the finely chopped vegetables and tempeh together in the mixing bowl.
3. In the food processor, combine all sauce ingredients and blend until all ingredients are well mixed. Pour sauce into small serving dishes and serve alongside lettuce wraps.
4. Scoop vegetable and tempeh filling into the lettuce leaves. Top with a spoonful of sauce. Garnish with cashews and mandarin oranges, if desired.
Also, I’d like to say HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my Dad and Grandma today! I wish I could be with them to celebrate!