My birthday was last Wednesday and I had a pretty good day despite Ryan working nights. I got to see him in the morning before I went to work and he went to bed and then again before he went to work and I went to dinner. At least we were able to go out to dinner on the Friday before.
But before I get into all the tasty looking pictures of my birthday celebration meals, I wanted share this vegetarian stuffed peppers recipe. For American Day (American foods served to the local Japanese community as a fundraiser for on base groups and organizations) Ryan's shop made kebabs. At the end of the day there were a punch of left over peppers. They were asking who wanted them. Obviously I could not let them go to waste even if I had no idea what to make. Naturally stuffed peppers came to mind. I did them once before with mushroom orzo and they were good, but I was looking to try something different.
After a quick, and I do mean quick, search, I found this recipe for Mexican-style vegetarian stuffed peppers. The recipe makes 6, but we only had 5 peppers. The good news is that there is more filling left in my freezer. I honestly think it could have filled 7.
Onions and garlic is always a good start.
One thing I liked about this is that it called for brown rice. Not only was that so simple and easy to find in my pantry, but it already had the healthier option so I didn't even need to sub anything. I love fun and funky grains, but I really liked that this just stayed simple. Maybe it was the Mexican aspect that led to just plain rice, rather than the latest and greatest grain of the week (and yes, I do have most of those in my pantry too...I love all of those grains!).
In with the onion and garlic went corn, black beans (so excited that the commissary started carrying the low sodium canned black beans- I always rinse them anyway, but the lower the sodium to start, the better). The recipe called for tomato puree, which I could not really find, so in went some tomato sauce. That's like a pureed tomato, right?
Mix in the rice and seasoning and we are good to go!
I love how these look!
But of course I had to top them with cheese. They were amazing! I loved them. Ryan loved them. It was a major win and he even asked if we could do them again. No complaints eating the leftovers the next night either.
Moving on the my birthday. Ryan was not working the Friday night before my birthday so we headed to Marche, which is a French restaurant by the base.
I started off with the marinated raw salmon (think lox with Italian dressing), which was really good. Mostly because salmon around here is always just really good.
Some rolls for the table. The set up was too cute! The rolls were warm and buttery even without the butter on them.
I had a salad also.
The garlic bread here is phenomenal (if you like extreme garlic) so I ordered some, even thought I couldn't eat it all.
Ryan decided to go for something a little different for him and he had the chicken cordon bleu.
For my entree I went with the mushroom soup pot pie. Yes, mushroom soup does work as a pot pie. Basically it is a cream of mushroom soup with puff pastry baked on top. It is awesome! What can I, the Japanese love their mushrooms.
Ryan had ordered a set meal and it came with dessert. We both took a bite just to try, but we knew we really wanted to get some desserts from the bakery down the street.
We headed over to La France (do you see a theme here?). They were getting ready to close so most things were out, but I was able to score the last piece of this chocolate cake. Just to give you an idea of size, this is sitting in the middle of my salad, not dinner plate at home. The Japanese desserts are no where near the size of American desserts. It was really good, but I was not expecting the bottom to be alcohol flavored. It was a shock, but not entirely bad.
That weekend I tried some of the Japanese goodies that Ryan brought home. A coworker gave them to him as a thank you gift. They made a baby shower gift for his wife and she is Japanese, so the custom is to give a thank you gift, which is most often a little baked good.
I have no idea what this was, but it seems to have sweetened butter in the middle. Don't ask!
On my actual birthday Ryan came home from work as I was heading to work and cooked me breakfast. For lunch, the girls I work with took me to the Mexican restaurant near the base. Actually it is Tex Mex, part of a chain and started by an American that now lives in Thailand, and yes, this place does really well in Japan, not just with the Americans, but Japanese too. I ordered an enchilada lunch special.
That night Ryan had to work, but my friend and I went to dinner. Her husband was out of town and she lives in the building next to me, so it made for the perfect birthday evening. We planned to go to an Italian restaurant, but they opened at 6, so at 5:30 we still had some time and she has a baby, and we decided the better option was go to our favorite Chinese place. Perfect! Since we like the same things we were able to get two dishes and share. We were so involved in catching up that I forgot to even take pictures of the food! But it was good. We had eggplant and scallops in XO sauce and sweet and sour shrimp. I even splurged on a beer because she was driving.
After dinner she drove over to a bakery and said she had always wanted to try it. To which I just laughed. Why? Because she took me to La France. The same bakery Ryan and I went to Friday night and bought me some birthday cake at. I know the guy working there was thinking that the crazy American must really like cake.
My friend treated me to this lovely dessert. Again, it's pretty small, which is perfect. This had a little alcohol in the mousse filling too, but the overall flavor was chocolate hazelnut. The center was like eating a kinder happy hippo. It was like nutella with crunchy pieces. It was amazing! It was even topped with a mini macaron.
My friend can't have chocolate so she was extremely excited to find that their strawberry tart was chocolate free. It's so cute!
Then we ate our desserts and spent some time getting caught up on things. It was nice to have a girls night and just chat. Even though Ryan didn't get to spend much time with me, it was still a good day. Plus, I will continue to celebrate my birthday because I am getting ready to go on another trip soon...and Ryan will be joining me. I have a lot to do to get ready before then, but I think my next post will probably be the start of my travels. Southeast Asia...here I come!
QUESTIONS: What did you do for your last birthday? What are you doing for your next birthday? If you could go anywhere in Southeast Asia, where would it be?