Stuffed Peppers..2.0 Version

Stuffed peppers are a great homey fall supper. I made them a few weeks ago and my recipe is just about the same as my mom used to make, comfort food for sure.  My garden produced more bell peppers….not sure I wanted the same flavor so I went looking for a different take. I found this vegetarian recipe by Robert Irvine on Food Network.  I changed it by adding ground chicken and removing some veggies to make room for that chicken. The result was just a great combination of flavors and very satisfying. I will put my version here.  If you want it vegetarian look for his recipe on the website. It got five stars and they are well deserved. I guess you could use any ground meat for this recipe.  I got my dark meat ground chicken at Valley Farm Markets in Bethlehem.

I don’t cook with tarragon that often but it really makes the flavor of this dish so delightful and different. Just try it.

Notes: I used cooked brown rice, the original choice was wild rice. You can use whatever rice floats your boat or is in your pantry; just cook it and cool somewhat before mixing with the other filling ingredients.  This is a naturally gluten free meal and I never got tired of it – ate all the servings up in a week and know I will be making it again for sure.

 

Angie’s Italian Stuffed Peppers   makes six

 

6 green, red or yellow bell peppers; nice sized

3-4 Tbsp. olive oil

1 lb ground chicken; dark meat if you can find it

1 yellow onion, diced

2 garlic cloves minced

1-2 cups diced summer squash

2 cups cooked brown rice

1 14 oz can diced tomatoes

½ cup diced red pepper

2 tbsp. tomato paste

Salt and pepper to taste

2 tsp. fresh tarragon chopped

½ cup Asiago cheese freshly grated (Parmesan would also work)

Directions:

Cut the lids off the peppers, discard seeds, I cut about ½ inch down the pepper so the center and stem stays part of the lid.  Heat a cup of water in a big pot with a steamer in it. Add the peppers and their lids, cook about 8 minutes, remove lid and let cool.

In a large skillet pour half the olive oil, heat, add the chicken and cook until no longer pink.  After it is cooking a couple minutes add the onions and garlic.  Cook a minute or two and add the diced squash and red pepper.  Do not overcook the squash. I used a firm variety of squash(tromboni) so it stayed together and didn’t get mushy.  Add the tomato paste and tomato; don’t add all the juice in the can of tomatoes; reserve about half for adding to the baking pan later on. Stir and cook until onions are soft.  Total cooking time; no more than ten or twelve minutes.  Heat the oven: 375 degrees.

Dump the cooled rice in a big bowl, add the skillet’s contents. Season with salt and pepper to taste and fresh tarragon.  Mix up gently. Stuff the cooled and drained peppers, do not pack in filling. Put a bit of filling in the bottom of a large oval baking dish that will hold your six peppers and stand the stuffed peppers upright in there.  Sprinkle them with the grated cheese, put the pepper lids on the peppers, I would add that reserved tomato juice from the can to the stuffing loose in the pan to keep it moist.  Bake at 375 for 35-45 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Let cool 5-10 minutes before serving. Enjoy  stuffed pepper

 

Homemade Fried Rice…Oh So Nice!

It can be problematic for someone with celiac to eat at most Chinese restaurants.  The only one I hear having lots of gf options is PF Changs which is not located anywhere in the Lehigh Valley.  I have friends who eat at chinese places and ask about gf options – they get little or no response. Not even sure the staff understands what gluten free means. Not comforting.  I miss a few Chinese take out dishes but there is one I actually have always liked my homemade version best; fried rice.  Been making it for many years from scratch and it is far tastier than any I have ever been served at/from any Chinese restaurant.  It is not that fried rice normally has a gluten component; it is cross contamination as well as unsafe soy sauce that are usually the issue. So go homemade.

Fried rice is not that difficult to construct and you get the bonus that you know what is in there; not so easy to know at the local take out counter.  It’s a great supper idea if you have leftover white or brown steamed rice on hand. Leftover Easter ham; perfect for it! Otherwise, I often buy a small ham steak and just cut that up. It can be modified quite a bit to whatever is in your fridge and pantry.  I put in broccoli this time for my grandson who adores it.  I often add water chestnuts or even bamboo shoots. If I don’t have fresh pea pods; no biggie: go with the flow and just increase the frozen peas a bit! I don’t always put in zucchini or broccoli; your choice. My kind of recipe….  Must haves in my recipe are rice, a protein, scrambled eggs and an assortment of small dice vegetables.  Once you chop the veggies and if have that leftover rice it goes together very fast.  I find that hot rice doesn’t work as well as cold so try to make the rice earlier if not the day before.   My ingredient measuring is somewhat fluid, go with what you have and what you think you will like.

The middle set of these pictures is the scrambled eggs; just poured into the pan and right after I turned the heat off.

fried rice 003fried rice 008fried rice 006fried rice 007fried rice 016fried rice 026fried rice 028

Angie’s Fried Rice

Ingredients

1 tbsp. olive oil

1 med onion diced

1 carrot unpeeled and small diced

½ a red pepper, small diced

1 stalk celery, small dice

1 garlic clove minced

½ cup cut up zucchini; cubed more or less

½ cup broccoli flowerets cut up

2 tbsp water

2 eggs

½ cup fresh pea pods, cut in half

1-2 tsp. gf soy sauce or Bragg liquid aminos (tastes like soy sauce)

1 tsp. rice vinegar

½ tsp sea salt, black pepper, fresh ground…to taste

½ cup frozen peas

½ can chopped water chestnuts (optional)

½ lb cooked ham cut in 1/3 to ½ inch cubes

1 ½ to 2 cups Leftover rice; either white or brown

Directions

Heat a small wok over med high heat; add oil, stir around, add the onion and carrot, cook a minute, add the red pepper and celery, cook 2 minutes, add the garlic, cook a minute.  Add the squash, broccoli and water, cook 2 minutes.  While that cooks, mix the eggs with a tbsp of water and scramble over medium heat in a nonstick pan for less then 2-3 minutes.  Do not over cook.  Set aside for the finishing touches.

Add the peapods, the soy sauce, the rice vinegar and salt/pepper, stir.  Add the frozen peas, water chestnuts and cooked ham.  Cook 2 minutes.  Add the rice, stir well, adjust seasoning; add more soy sauce if needed. If you like it crispy cook it a bit longer, if not; it is finished. Add the eggs you scrambled and stir well before serving. A meal on a plate, cooked in the wok.  If you don’t have a wok use a sauté pan.

Could serve 4 if you are not too piggy! Three if you are…. I will let you guess what goes on in my house.

Not Grandma’s Rice Pudding

I always loved rice pudding as a child, creamy custard studded with raisins and topped with a good sprinkle of cinnamon.  But the rice itself was kinda drab.  A few years ago, I found a recipe that caused a rice pudding revolution in my kitchen: it used sweet rice which is a white short grain oriental rice.  You could substitute Arborio rice if you like.  I buy this rice in oriental grocery stores but I think Wegmans may carry it too.  Each grain absorbs the milk as it cooks and releases a lot of creaminess as well as providing a soft squishier rice that gives the pudding a more blended feel than my mom’s usage of long grain rice that stayed firm and separate from its pudding surrounding.

arborio rice

This recipe is naturally gluten free.  No one eating it will think, “Oh, darn, another of those weird GF recipes!”  They will just think, “I wonder if she will think I am piggy to want seconds of this?

I think in a pinch you could skip the second part where you briefly bake the pudding but I never do, I think it helps the pudding form the best texture.  Do sprinkle the top with cinnamon unless it is something you despise.  I recommend whole milk as it makes pudding taste so good but if you prefer two percent that will work.  I do not recommend skim milk for pudding. Ick on the texture and flavor of such a mutant pudding!  And this recipe is great with chopped dried apricots, dried cherries, golden raisins, or even currents or in it instead of raisins. My original recipe had lemon peel and apricots in it. Recently I put a few long orange peelings in it and a cinnamon stick while it cooked on the stove top which gave it a delicate orange flavor which played well with the raisins. So, you can alter it to suit your mood and your ingredients.

rice pudding

This snowy weekend adds more really cold days.  What could be more comforting after a chilly time shoveling than a bowl of wickedly creamy homemade rice pudding?

Best Ever Rice Pudding

Ingredients

¾ cup sweet or Arborio rice

1 quart whole milk

1/3 cup raisins

1/3-1/2 cup granulated sugar, this depends on your sweetness needs!

2 egg yolks

2 whole large eggs

1 tsp pure vanilla

A good sprinkle of cinnamon

Directions:

Rinse the rice in a strainer briefly, place in a heavy bottomed 1 ½ quart saucepan, pour in the milk (4 cups) and stir frequently as it heats on medium to a bubbly simmer.  Add the raisins and turn down the heat to low, cover and cook 25 minutes.  Be sure to stir it every 5-9 minutes to separate the rice and keep it from scorching on the bottom.  Add the sugar, stir well.  Mix up the egg yolk and whole eggs in a bowl with a whisk and add in some of the hot mixture; maybe 1/3 to ½ cup.  Dump it all back in the pot and stir well.  Turn off the heat and add the vanilla.

Heat your oven to 300 degrees. Butter the bottom and sides of a low ceramic or glass baking dish. I like an oval myself, that shape is what my mom usually used!  Pour in the pudding, removing any lemon or orange peel and the cinnamon stick if you used such and sprinkle it well with cinnamon to dust the surface.  Bake for 20 minutes.  Sometimes I put it in a hot water bath created with a 9×13 cake pan and some hot tap water.  This can produce lovely delicate custard if you don’t mind the extra fuss.

It is tasty warm and wonderful the next day.  Some people guild the lily with toppings of whipped cream, grated lemon or orange peel or even whipped mascarpone cheese.  Up to you how you dress it up!  I occasionally serve a homemade cookie on the side for added crunch value.  Enjoy!

Mahi Mahi With Tangy Veggies Over Rice

2914-10-31 011

I like to combine healthy proteins like fish with lots of great veggies and create awesome flavors to make quick meals yet, food with complex flavor combinations and naturally gluten free.  Case in point;  a frozen fillet of mahi mahi.  I keep a couple individually wrapped fillets in my freezer to form the basis of a quick meal; it has a firm meaty texture and will work well with a number of ingredients. Finding it somewhat bland I like to spark the flavor with a couple great additions to create a delicious meal, olives and capers to name those chosen today.

This is somewhat of a vague recipe, you can use more or less of the ingredients depending on your pantry and your palate.  I used salad olives that have pimento in them, even more flavor!

green olives capersraw cod fish

Mahi Mahi with Veggies   for one; can easily double

Ingredients:

1 4-6 ounce fillet of mahi mahi

1-2 tbsp. mild olive oil

½ a small onion, chopped

1 small celery stalk sliced fairly thinly in rounds

½ cup sliced fresh zucchini, half moons

1 cup chopped swiss chard

8-14 green olives roughly chopped

1 tbsp. capers

2-3 tsp. fresh lemon juice

1-2 tbps. Vermouth or dry white wine

1 tbsp. butter

Directions:

Heat a tbsp. of the olive oil in a medium sauté pan.  Add the fish and cook 3 minutes lip it and cook 3-4 more minutes. You want a nice lightly browned fillet but not overcooked.  Remove from the pan and set aside, covered so it doesn’t get cold.

Add the rest of the oil, heat, add the onions, stir, add the celery and cook, stirring frequently until they begin to soften, 3-4 minutes.  Add the zucchini and the swiss chard.  Stir and cook 5-6 more minutes.  Add up to 2 tbsp. water if the pan seems dry.  The water creates steam and helps to cook the veggies.  Don’t over do it or you will have a soggy mess.

2914-10-31 010

After 4 of the 5-6 minutes add the chopped olives and the capers.  When the veggies looks about done, return the fish to the pan and pour the fresh lemon juice and Vermouth over the fish and the veggies. Stir another few seconds.  Add a tbsp. of butter and, while it melts, season with a few grinds of fresh pepper.  The butter, lemon juice and wine form a delicate sauce that clings to all the veggies.

2914-10-31 011

Taste before adding any salt as the capers and olives provide a fair amount of salinity and it is impossible to remove salt once you sprinkle it on.  Serve over hot steamed rice.  I love it over long grain brown rice or long grain white rice.  It is a complete meal without any additions.  Creating it should only take 15 minutes if you already have some cooked rice available.  White rice can be made in less than 20 minutes. Enjoy this healthy yet very flavorful meal some evening soon!