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Stuffed Peppers

These came out well but they really needed more gravy.  I used this recipe and will use it again, adding another can of tomato bits or sauce to the casserole dish before it goes into the oven.  These three took a good hour at 350 to give me an internal temp of 160, they were on the large side for green peppers.Like I said, they really, really needed more gravy.  I may have cooked the veggies down a little too far.  I added about half of them into the meat/rice mixture and used the rest to top off the peppers.  Maybe I should have left it soupier and added that to the bottom of the dish.  Next time, I fix.

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Green Peppers!

DSC_9226 (1600x1060)We had a couple of pepper bushes out with the tomatoes this year.  I forget the variety names but there was at least one bell pepper and one or two Giant Marconis.  The marconis are pretty much identical to a basic green bells although they tend to be longer.  It’s threatening to frost tonight so Mrs J brought in everything of any size.  Naturally, I had to find a stuffed pepper recipe.  Not sure who Chef John is but this was a pretty good recipe.  I used a wild/long grain rice box mix instead of plain white rice, and my can of tomato bits included green chilies,DSC_9232 (1600x1060)I wasn’t able to find a sure-fire side for stuffed peppers given that the ingredients cover all the usual food groups.  I decided to go with the cucumber and tomato salad we’ve had going for a week or so.  I use a seasoned rice vinegar with salt and pepper on it, nothing fancy.  This used up a few of the peppers but we had plenty left over:DSC_9227 (1600x1060)I chopped the rest and froze them on baking trays and then transferred them to a great big plastic freezer bag.  It’s nice having a couple of big freezers to handle the garden bounty this way.

Stuffed Green Peppers

 

DSC_3056 (Copy)

Stuffing for peppers – Photo by JeffreyW

A friend asked me for my recipe for Stuffed Green Peppers. I have a couple of recipes (here and here) and JeffreyW has done several (here and here), but I didn’t have just a simple, traditional recipe on the blog. So here it is. 

Stuffed Red Bell Peppers

  • 6 large bell peppers
    DSC_3058 (Copy)

    Photo by JeffreyW

  • 1 1/2 lb lean ground beef (or half beef, half spicy sausage)
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 – 14 oz cans of diced tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 cup rice, uncooked
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried oregano, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 cup water (or tomato sauce)
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheese (cheddar, mozzarella or parmesan, your choice)

Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil.

Cut off the top from the peppers (about the top 1/4 inch),  remove seeds and membranes.  

Add peppers to boiling water, remove from heat and let soak 5 minutes.  

Remove stem and then chop pepper tops.  

Brown beef with chopped peppers and onions in skillet.  

Remove whole peppers from water and turn upside down on a paper towel to dry.  

Add tomatoes, spices, rice and water to hamburger mixture, bring to a boil, reduce heat and cover until rice is tender (about 15 minutes)  Stir in 1/4 cup cheese and fill whole peppers.

Place in a lightly oiled 8×8 baking dish and top with remaining cheese.  Bake for 15 minutes at 375 degrees until cheese if bubbly and golden.

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Summer Slaw

DSC_8194 (1600x1060)We swung by the supermarket deli to pick up some of their fried chicken and a couple of sides – we had been shopping garden centers and were getting hungry with nothing quick to eat in the fridge.  We really didn’t want to go to a burger joint or the Chinese buffet.  Mrs J picked a pair of cold salads while I grabbed a box of chicken.  She opted for a mustard potato salad and something that was labeled as “summer slaw”.

The summer slaw was pretty good, we looked online for a copycat recipe but didn’t find anything that looked close.  It had tomato bits, cabbage, and  green bits that were sliced green onion tops and something else – green bell pepper or maybe cucumber with the skin on.  We went with “both”.  The dressing was thin and white and put me in mind of the dressing I use for the copycat KFC slaw dressing.

I whisked a dollop of mayo with buttermilk and rice vinegar, added Splenda to taste, and celery salt with ground white pepper.  It may not be what the deli used in theirs but it came out pretty good!

Summer Slaw

one small head of cabbage, shredded fine

half of an English cucumber, minced

1/4 cup of minced green bell pepper

two small tomatoes, seeded and chopped small

a small bunch of green onions, thinly sliced tops only

Dressing*

1/4 – 1/2 cup mayo

1/4 cup buttermilk

1/4 cup rice vinegar dressing (the flavored stuff)

sugar (Splenda) – go with 1/8 -1/4 cup

celery salt and white pepper to taste

* Just guessing after the fact on the dressing quantities.

Thursday Recipe Exchange: Stuffed Peppers

Photo by JeffreyW

I decided that we’d do stuffed peppers tonight and when I went trolling around the blog, found we’ve done a few variations on them over the years. Tonight’s featured recipe is from my cousin Scott. He mentions in the original post that we’re a family who loves to cook and I couldn’t agree more. On his side of my family, I think everyone has the gift in the kitchen. I have memories of my grandparents’ farm and the great food we’d have there. My Grandma Lois made the best fried eggs in the world that I have never been able to duplicate. They were crisp on the bottom (a treatment my family always called “shoe leather” –though that does not do that crust justice), perfectly medium on top and covered in so much pepper you’d sneezed just looking at them. Try as I might, I’ve never been able to come close to those eggs. I asked my mom a few years ago what I was missing and she replied, “lard”. And I’m sure it was previously used lard at that. Grandma Lois kept a can on the stove. It’s probably why her fried chicken was so amazing, too.

Anyway that story has nothing to do with tonight’s recipes. Stuffed peppers. We have several takes on them:

JeffreyW does a traditional Stuffed Peppers with homemade tomato soup (recipe here).

I have a pretty easy stuffed Red Pepper recipe – though you can use green peppers, no problem (recipe here).

And our featured recipe, below, from my Men Who Cook series, is a vegetarian treat.

How about you, any favorite memories of foods from childhood you can’t recreate? Do you have a different take on stuffed peppers that you like to use? Hit the comments and share.

Now for tonight’s featured recipe:

This comes from my cousin Scott Adams. Scottie follows in the footsteps of many in my family – the love of cooking (click here for the full story). These peppers are practically gourmet!

Scottie’s Stuffed Pepper’s

  • Salt
  • 1/2 pound short whole wheat pasta
  • 4 large red bell peppers, tops cut off and reserved, seeded
  • Black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO), plus more for drizzling
  • 4 jarred roasted red peppers
  • 1 small red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 small portobello mushroom caps, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 2 sprigs rosemary, stems discarded and leaves chopped
  • One 28-ounce can fire-roasted crushed or diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups arugula or baby spinach (a few generous handfuls)
  • 1 cup loosely packed basil leaves
  • 1 cup grated pecorino-romano cheese
  • 1 tablespoon of Oregano
  • 1 teaspoon of Dill

Preheat the oven to 425°. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt it, add the pasta and cook until al dente.

Trim the bottoms of the bell peppers, without cutting a hole, so that they stand. Season inside with salt and black pepper. Turn the peppers bottom side up in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish, set the tops alongside and drizzle with EVOO. Roast for 20 minutes.

Using a food processor, puree the roasted red peppers. In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons EVOO, 2 turns of the pan, over medium heat. Add the red onion, garlic, mushrooms, crushed red pepper and rosemary and cook until softened, 7 minutes. Stir in the pureed peppers and the fire-roasted tomatoes; season with salt and black pepper. Simmer for 5 minutes. Add the pasta and toss. Add the arugula and basil and cook until wilted.

Preheat the broiler. Turn the peppers upright; fill with pasta. Top with the cheese and broil until melted, 2 minutes. Cover with the tops and serve with any extra pasta.

Cross-posted at Balloon-Juice sometime this evening.

SPAM Challenge, Part Deux

Can. Not. Believe. We did this. This is the second of three (3!) Spam posts. The last will serve as the Thursday Recipe Exchange tomorrow. I had checked in with JeffreyW earlier in the week, letting him know we’d been challenge. Then I got busy and was about to scrap the entire idea when he informed me he had already begun. Well, if he was going to jump in, I figured I’d jump in with him.

Never having eaten SPAM before, I really didn’t even know where to begin. I googled a couple of things but nothing sparked me. JeffreyW had already covered a lot of ground. I decided to keep it simple and came up with the pineapple-SPAM-Kabobs, pictured above and the SPAM Pasta Salad below.

For the Kabobs, I soaked wooden skewers in water for 30 minutes before using. I cut the SPAM in large squares and alternated with peppers and pineapple. I grilled until lightly browned on all sides, then coated them lightly in barbecue sauce mixed with pineapple juice. Cooked an additional 3 minutes. Pretty easy.

For the Pasta Salad, I made small SPAM cubes, then I crushed fennel seeds and dried oregano together and mixed with bread crumbs. I dredged the cubed SPAM in the crumbs and fried in olive oil until golden. I cooked tri-colored pasta and tossed with olive oil, red wine vinegar, garlic, tomatoes and the SPAM. Again, pretty easy.

This was fun and I enjoyed getting creative in the kitchen again. Would I do it again? Probably not. No matter how you dress it up, it’s still SPAM. But YMMV.

That’s not all there is. Stay tuned for more tomorrow night! Two more excellent JeffreyW creations. Until then…

Sauteed Tomatoes

Tomatoes are excellent sauteed with garlic and olive oil for serving with pasta but that isn’t the only reason to cook them that way.  These were another batch of fresh tomatoes from the patio garden.  I fear the oppressive 100+ degree days are taking a toll on them, many are starting to shrivel and wilt despite twice daily watering.

I love the way these tomatoes burst in the mouth – those that haven’t already given up their juice to the saute pan.  The corn was from frozen, the green pepper I picked yesterday and the little bit of red pepper was from a batch of sweet red peppers I froze earlier in the year.  Now and again the grocery has great looking red bells on sale, I stock up and freeze the cleaned and quartered peppers on a tray and then transfer to plastic freezer bags.

Not much to say about the shrimp and mushrooms, we bought both frozen and plopped them into the deep fryer for a few minutes.  The mushrooms were just OK, the shrimp were very good.  Mrs J spotted them in the freezer section of the meat place and wanted to try them.  To try yet are some breaded cauliflower florets.  I’m sure I can make better mushrooms than these tonight, and probably can best the cauliflower too but I’ll give them a fair trial.

Mmm… stuffed peppers

We picked the first two of many (I hope!) green peppers from the big garden yesterday.  Pretty things, and as nice as any bell peppers we have ever grown.  Yay!Mrs J thought that the classic burger and rice stuffed pepper recipe would work for these.  Hmm… turns out that there are tons of “classic” stuffed pepper recipes out there!  I looked at a few to get pointed in the right direction.  Most all of them mention tomato soup from a can.  I have no problem with canned soup, other than not having any at hand and not wanting to make a trip to town in this heat.That’s 106 at 1:00 PM!  Going to go higher, I’ll wager.  Any way, I did have supplies enough to make a simple tomato soup from canned tomatoes.  Added some ground cloves and a touch of ground allspice, and a few pinches of dried basil and oregano to that recipe.  And a sprinkle of cayenne – shh, don’t tell Mrs J!We had a package of thawed burger for the stuffing and browned it with a minced onion, and added cooked wild and long grain rice from a box mix.  We added a couple ladles of the soup to that and stirred it to combine everything well.  Meanwhile, we boiled the cored peppers for 7 or 8 minutes and set them aside.We just had the two peppers so a bread tin seemed just right to us for a cooking vessel.Cheese mixed in with the stuffing was a feature of several of the recipes we looked over.  Mrs J dug out some fresh goat cheese that was approaching its use-by date so we went with it instead of the commonly mentioned cheddar or mozzarella.We both agreed that the goat cheese was a good call.  Not quite as photogenic as mozzarella but delicious!

Thursday Recipe Exchange: Cold Soups

High Park Fire (Colorado) photo from Facebook

Things are still quite smokey here. The fire is about 40 miles north of here and depending on the wind we can get a heavy covering of thick smoke. Between the heat and the smoke, I have not felt like cooking. So I was glad cold soups were on the menu this week. I can get behind that.

This is from my ride last Saturday. It’s been burning ever since.

I have quite few cold soups on the blog. If you click here on Cold Soups, you’ll find all of them. Tonight I’ll feature a Creamy Gazpacho and  Cucumber Tomato Soup.

This serves 4.

Creamy Gazpacho

  • 6 medium, ripe tomatoes, cored
  • 1 large cucumber, peeled, halved, and seeded (I used an English cucumber)
  • 1 medium green bell pepper , halved, cored and seeded
  • 6 green onions, roots removed
  • 2 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 small serrano chile , stemmed and halved lengthwise
  • 1 small jalapeno, stemmed and halved lenghthwise
  • 1/4 green chili, stemmed and halved
  • 1 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1 slice thick white bread, crusted removed, broken in pieces
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • Dash of limejuice
  • 2 cups water or salt-free vegetable broth
  • 2 tbsp finely minced chives or cilantro (I did a little mix of the two)
  • Ground black pepper

Chop 5 of the tomatoes, half of cucumber, half of bell pepper, and all but two of the onions into large pieces (you’ll be blending, so no need to go all crazy here) and place in large bowl. Add garlic, chilies, and 1 teaspoon salt; toss until well combined. Set aside for at least 1 hour.

Finely dice remaining tomato, cucumber, and pepper, place vegetables in medium bowl. Mince remaining onion and add to diced vegetables. Toss with 1/4 tsp salt and transfer to a strainer set over medium bowl. Set aside 1 hour.

Transfer drained finely diced vegetables back to medium bowl, cover tightly and set aside. Add bread pieces to exuded liquid (there should be about ¼ cup) and soak 1 minute. Add soaked bread and any remaining liquid to roughly chopped vegetables and toss thoroughly to combine.

Transfer roughly chopped vegetables and water to a blender and blend until smooth, you may have to do this in two batches. Slowly drizzle in oil while blending, blend until smooth. You can run the entire thing through a strainer (use the back of spoon to press through) if you want it to be completely smooth. Full disclosure, I neither peel or seed my tomatoes and as you can imagine, I didn’t strain my soup.

Stir vinegar, minced herb, limejuice, and half of diced vegetables into soup and season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate (you can do this overnight) to chill completely and develop flavors. Serve with remaining diced vegetables as garnish.

For the Cucumber Tomato Cold Soup, click here. It’s a very pretty soup that makes a great first course at your next BBQ.

Dirty Rice

A continuation of yesterday’s recipe exchange.

Dirty Rice

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 pound chicken livers*, chopped fine
  • 1/2 pound pork sausage
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 2 stalks finely chopped celery
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp Creole seasoning
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 bay leaves (remove before serving)
  • 5 cups cooked rice
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley leaves

In a large, heavy sauté pan, heat 1 tbsp of the oil over medium-high heat. Add the chicken livers and sausage and cook, stirring, until the meat is browned, about 6 minutes. Add the remaining oil, the onion, bell pepper, celery, garlic, Creole seasoning, salt, pepper and cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes. Add the stock and bay leaves and deglaze the pan (scrape the bottom of the pan to loosen any browned bits). Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the rice and stir thoroughly. Cook additional 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and remove the bay leaves. Stir in the parsley and serve.

*I suppose it’s not really dirty rice when I make it, because I do not use chicken livers.