Am I the only one who has spent most of this quarantine in the kitchen?! Something tells me no!! :) It has been so much fun trying new items, exploring new flavors, trying new ways of doing things. It's really given me an outlet during this time of sheltering in place. And, if you're gonna have a hobby, why not make it something that requires LOTS of taste testing?!?!
So stuffed peppers... they're a totally normal thing. I've had them many times. But why have a never tried to make them?! Who knows. But I'm happy I finally tried. They are delicious!! Before I make anything, I usually do a bunch of research and look up a ton of recipes so I can try and make my own 'version'. I'm not one to follow a recipe 'to the T'. Especially during our SIP.... we don't have the ability to go grocery shopping for one or two items. I usually do a big haul and if I forget something or don't plan well enough, I gotta deal with what I've got until we go back a few weeks later. SO... being flexible and open to trying new things is a MUST!!
So back to the recipes... I've found a TON of different ways to stuff a pepper. You can stuff all kinds of peppers and you can stuff it with just about anything.... veggies, meats, cheese.... ALL GOOD THINGS!!! So for this recipe, I used all the organic produce from our weekly pack, along with some items in our fridge.
So for this batch, I diced up some onions, a few gold potatoes, sweet red peppers, cilantro, and red cabbage. As you can see, I LOVE cooking with color. It just makes things so much more interesting, also.... SO GOOD FOR YOU!!!!
So... all my veggies are prepped. Next step is cooking it all down. In this case, I had some ground chicken in the freezer so I used that as my meat. I also had a small amount of leftover rice so I added that to the mix as well. Don't want the carbs? Omit the rice. Don't want meat? Leave it out. The beauty of stuffed bell peppers... The options are endless.
Add oil to a pan and break down the ground meat. I seasoned with cajun spice, salt, pepper and minced garlic. Once browned, set aside. In the same pan (cuz we're all about minimizing dishes), add some oil and throw in the potatoes. Cook for 2-3 minutes alone, then add the onion and peppers. Once the onions are translucent, add the remaining veggies. This process shouldn't take more than 5-8 minutes. Once all the veggies are cooked to your liking, throw the meat and rice in the pan and combine.
At this point, you can start stuffing your peppers. OR, you can add some tomato sauce or a sauce of your liking before stuffing. If you decide to do a sauce, make sure it's not too watery. That will ruin the pepper while in the oven and make it a soggy mess. In this case, I did use a can of crushed tomatoes. So, combine and then start stuffing your peppers. I'm a CHEESE LOVER so I added some ricotta to the top of my peppers and then covered it in mozzarella. Feel free to omit if you're not a fan.
Once peppers are stuffed, bake on 350 for about 20-25 minutes. You just want to give enough time for the peppers to cook a bit and the cheese to melt. VOILA! You've got yourself a stuffed pepper.
So now that I've given you the LONG version of the breakdown, enjoy the recipe below. Like I said before, I'm not a huge fan of following a recipe exactly as it's written. Follow your taste and make it your own!! If you do try it, let me know how you liked it, what you did to make it your own, how it turned out!!!
STUFFED BELL PEPPERS
4 Bell Peppers (any color, your preference)
4 Gold Potatoes
1 Large Onion
Cabbage (about half a head)
3-4 Mini Peppers (sweet or spicy)
Ground Meat (I used chicken)
1 cup rice (optional; white, brown, your choice)
1. Prep your veggies. Dice your potatoes, onion and peppers. Shred or finely chop your cabbage and cilantro.
2. Cook down your meat. Season your meat with whichever spices you prefer. I used cajun spice, salt, pepper, and minced garlic. Break down your ground meat in a pan over medium-high heat while browning. Once cooked through, remove from heat and set aside.
3. Cook your veggies. In the same pan, add some new oil and your potatoes. Cook for 2-3 minutes on medium-high heat. Then add the remaining items. Cook down until the onions are translucent. Cooking the veggies shouldn't take more than 5-7 minutes.
4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. By the time you get your peppers stuffed, it'll be ready to go.
5. Combine the stuffing. Once veggies are ready, add your meat (and rice if you're using) to the pan and combine. If you're going to add tomato sauce to your stuffing, do so now. Just remember not to make the stuffing too watery or it will ruin the bell pepper and make it a soggy mess.
6. Stuff your bells. Take your bell peppers (cap removed and insides seeded) and fill with your stuffing. Top your pepper with cheese and place the bell peppers evenly on your pan.
7. Bake at 350 degrees. This should take about 20-25 minutes. To test, use a fork or knife and try to poke through the pepper. If it goes through easily, its ready. I topped my peppers with a little extra cilantro for color. Serve and enjoy!!!