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

 

Sausage and Quinoa Stuffed Squash for Supper

Chilly days and long dark nights demand warm, hearty suppers.  But your main dish does not have to be expensive or fattening, it can be gluten free and still tasty.  This recipe is naturally gluten free. No flour in it or bread products needed.

I had some hot Italian sausage left over from the package I bought to make my turkey stuffing.  I had a sweet dumpling winter squash and a big red bell pepper.  Some quinoa grain and an onion and I was in business to throw together a homey flavorful main dish.  Add a salad on the side and it is a well balanced supper that can be baked and then seconds enjoyed for lunch.  This makes 3 servings, can double the recipe easily, just bake it in a bigger pan.

stuffed squash 12-14 002

a plate of stuffed dumpling squash. Not that pretty to look at but the sausage makes it very flavorful.

I had the sweet dumpling on hand but I have made this same recipe with an acorn squash and with a delicata squash.  A delicate is a small oblong squash with orange and green stripes on yellow skin.  All three are great vessels for this riff on stuffed peppers.  I happened to have a big red pepper and stuffed it as well.

delicatasde

delicata squash; can be pale cream with green stripes too.

sweet dumpling squash

sweet dumpling squash

Ingredients:

1 sweet dumpling winter squash

1 large red pepper

2/3 cup plain quinoa, rinsed well

1 medium onion, diced

2 hot Italian sausage links (gluten free of course!)

1 tbsp EVOL (extra virgin olive oil)

1 garlic clove, minced

Directions:

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Cut the squash from the tip to the blossom end. You probably should cut off that stem bit first; makes the cut easier.  Scoop out the seeds and stringy stuff.  Spray a small rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray and place the cut squash halves cut side down.  Roast 30-45 minutes; check by piercing with a fork; remove when tender enough to stick the fork in but don’t cook it so far that it collapses.  After the squash has been in 15 minutes add the red pepper squash which you have cut the lid off, emptied the seeds out and cut up the top third into small dice.  Reserve the dice for later. The lower two thirds is a tasty vessel to hold more quinoa sausage filling.

Meanwhile, as the squash and pepper bake…. Heat 1 and a 1/3 cup of water, ½ tsp. salt and then add the quinoa, cover and cook 14-15 minutes.

While that cooks….put the EVOL in a frying pan, add the links which you have liberated from their skins.  Cook 4-5 minutes, chopping them up as they cook.  An alternative is loose sausage meat; 1/3 to a half pound should do it.  Stir them up, flip to cook all sides.  Should be browned but not burnt.  After you flip them over add the chopped onion, cook about 3-5 minutes stirring often.  Add the minced garlic and the top 1/3 of that red pepper cut into small cubes.  Keep stirring and when the onions and red pepper bits are softening add the quinoa. Leave any liquid in the pan.

stuffed squash 12-14 001

Stir the quinoa/sausage/veggie mixture.  Heap it into the squash halves and the pepper half.  Mound half the extra filling into a small 1.5 quart round baking dish.  Place the three stuffed veggies on top and pour over the rest of the filling as well as any quinoa liquid in the pot.  Cover with foil and bake at 400 degrees for 35-40 minutes. The veggie filling should be bubbling when it is done and the squash is tender to a fork.

Enjoy with a side salad.  I reheated some of the leftovers for lunch the next day.  It gives you something much better than something cold for your mid day meal.

If you don’t like red pepper; make it with 2 small winter squash and just leave the chopped pepper totally out.   You could sub in half a chipped carrot for the red pepper bits.  Use a mild Italian sausage if you prefer it less spicy or leave the sausage out to make the dish vegetarian. I am guessing you could try to bake it in your crock pot; maybe like 2 hours on high. If you try that let me know how it turns out. It is a versatile recipe for sure!

I saved my seeds, rinsed and dried them to toast for snacking: waste not want not!

Autumnal Hearty Meal: Perfect Stuffed Peppers

There are times when I get home with plenty of time to cook or nights I feel I can whip dinner up in a few minutes.  And then there are times when I have to work late and don’t get home until after 8 pm.  I am too hungry to start cooking a big meal that could take an hour or more to make.  That is what leftovers are for and where slow cookers can be oh so helpful.  I confess that I have never been a fan of the slow cooker a/k/a crock pot until now.  I always worried the food would be overcooked and/or mushy as well as only having washed out flavor from the long slow cook.  Still, working late makes the concept of the slow. long process seem very attractive and helpful.

Along that thought process I bought a gluten free slow cooker cookbook. I wanted to try out the concept in my real life.  Mondays are a work late night for me and the whole week of food seems to stretch out unfilled and bothersome.  I got out my new cookbook and my ancient trusty crock pot and now, between jobs on Mondays, I fling together the basic ingredients, switch it on and off I go to work.  When I get home four hours later I turn the key and open my front door to heavenly scents of a meal all ready to dish out and enjoy.

I have made five or six recipes from the new book and have been pretty darn satisfied with the results.  The chicken paprika is amazing.  The only reason I haven’t blogged about it is that I don’t have a picture of it to put with the post. And I could go on and on about the delish Peruvian Chicken with Red Peppers. Anyway, this Monday I created my latest crock pot miracle; homey stuffed peppers.  I didn’t want to make the meatloaf pepper version in my new cookbook so I used my own recipe tailored to the crock pot heating process and my schedule.

stuffed pepper

These peppers were well done and rather relaxed. It was hard to get a decent photograph. Trust me; they taste better than they look!

I got up early that morning and made some brown rice and I fried up my onion and ground beef.  It all went in the fridge.  When I stopped by after school to let the dog out I threw the rest of it together and turned the pot onto high.  Four hours later, I was getting a plate and silverware out and was able to eat a real home-cooked meal as soon as I fed my critters their supper.  Fantastic! You could make the filling the night before or that afternoon before baking it in the pot.  That is nice flexibility to use as a busy busy person.

Angie’s Stuffed Peppers

1 medium onion, chopped

1 lb ground beef; I like 90 percent lean

1 tbsp olive or canola oil

1 small garlic clove

½ a beef bullion cube

¼ to ½ tsp thyme

2 cups cooked brown rice

Sea salt to taste

4 medium green peppers

1 8 ounce can of plain tomato sauce

Heat a large frying pan, put in the oil, add the chopped onion; cook until somewhat soft; 5-7 minutes.  Add the minced garlic clove and stir.  Push the onion pieces to the edges and add the ground beef, brown it.  Add the bullion cube and thyme as it gets closer to browned.  Add the cooked rice. Use anything from no salt up to a tsp of sea salt in the filling.  I often use less as I don’t like salty food.  It is purely a matter of taste in this recipe.

green peppers

Cut the peppers off ½ inch below the top. Clean out the guts and steam them (lids too) for 6 or 7 minutes.  Drain any liquid from inside the peppers, let them cool a few minutes so you can handle the warm peppers and stuff them with the rice and meat mixture.

Put ¼ of the tomato sauce on the bottom of the crock pot.  Put a bit of the rice mixture on top.  Then the four stuffed peppers.  Distribute any remaining stuffing around the peppers.  Add 2-3 tbsp water to the pan around the edges (not in the peppers!), pour the remaining tomato sauce around the top of the filling and peppers and put the lid on.

Cook on high for 3-4 hours.  I was at work for 4 hours so that is how long I did mine.  They were quite done.  I did start with cold filling I had made that morning so I am thinking 3 to 3.5 hours would be enough time to cook this dish especially if you start with warm rice/meat filling.

My personal recipe notes:

You can use white rice if you are not into brown rice.  Another substitution would be ground turkey for the ground beef.  Use a bit more seasoning if you go the turkey route.  Red peppers are fantastic if you like them, even orange are very sweet and flavorful for stuffing. I have stuffed peppers with corned beef hash.  Maybe I will post that recipe someday soon…..

I personally like a touch of catsup on the side to add extra flavor.  Hearty and fairly healthy as you are getting brown rice, the green pepper, and tomato sauce and so yummy.  Add a small salad and your meal is complete: I enjoyed a salad of fresh garden tomatoes with a light vinaigrette dressing. Your hubby will cheer when you place this naturally gf meal in front of him!