Flashback to My Youth: Stuffed Bell Peppers

Flashback to My Youth: Stuffed Bell Peppers

Stuffed bell peppers were regular fare on the dinner table growing up. They’re one of those meals you can make on a budget and don’t take much time. You can freeze them too which is always a bonus!

I was craving them over the weekend after scoring a big bag of red bell peppers for just $4.99. I’m pretty sure this was a pricing error since individual peppers were selling for $1.99 each and there were seven of those beauties in the bag. I’m wondering now why I only grabbed one bag!

Ingredients

1 pound ground turkey (or beef)

2 cups rice (cooked – I used rice cooker)

5-6 bell peppers (cut off tops and clean out)

1 1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp pepper

1/4 tsp thyme

1/2 cup water

1/4 cup onion (diced)

1 egg, beaten

24 oz. can tomato sauce or puree

3 Tbs. brown sugar

3 Tbs lemon juice or vinegar

Directions

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Clean out bell peppers. (Save insides and tops for future chicken stock.)

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Cook rice and cool. Mix rice, ground turkey, onion, seasonings, water.

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Combine tomato sauce, brown sugar, and lemon juice. Add 1/2-1 cup to meat and rice mixture and stir to incorporate.

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Fill each pepper. Place right side up in baking dish. Pour remaining tomato sauce over the top of each pepper.

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Bake covered at 350 degrees for approximately 1 hour. (I usually uncover for last 10-15 minutes.)

What dish do you remember from your youth? Would love to get your feedback along with a link to the recipe. Or, if you have a different version of stuffed peppers, please share it!

 

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Snowstorm Cooking Plan – Enjoy the “Comforts” of Home

Snowstorm Cooking Plan – Enjoy the “Comforts” of Home

Road salt, snow shovels, firewood, bread, and milk top the shopping lists of most people as they prepare for a winter storm. But not me! If I’m stuck at home for a few days, sustenance is where my brain goes. A thorough scan of the pantry and freezer helps me shape up a shopping list to feed my cabin fever with comfort food! (Forget what your grandmother told you about feed a cold and starve a fever. That does not apply to cabin fever!)

I listed my menu below. The veal stew and carnitas are both items that can cook slowly all day. Of course the loss of power could alter my plans a bit since hot meals would then require preparation on the gas grill. Just in case, I will add hamburgers and chicken to my shopping list!

Day 1

Breakfast: cappuccino, OJ, scones, medium cooked egg in an egg cup, cantaloupe

Lunch: grilled tuna sandwich with provolone, cottage cheese, carrot sticks

Dinner: mac & cheese, pork chops, apple sauce, baked acorn squash rings

Evening: hot cocoa with marshmallows and maybe a rewarmed scone ( Shoveling snow burns a lot of calories!)

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Day 2

Breakfast: cappuccino, OJ, Amish baked oatmeal with bananas and blueberries drizzled with pure maple syrup

Lunch: grilled cheese, tomato soup (for dipping), side salad

Dinner: veal stew (see recipe below), home baked bread, roasted carrots

Evening: chocolate peanut butter mug cake (assuming I had to shovel for a few of my elderly neighbors!)

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Veal Stew – an old family favorite

Ingredients:
2-3 lbs. veal cubes
2-3 cloves chopped garlic
1-2 chopped green bell pepper
1-2 pounds Italian sausage sliced into 1-inch pieces (I prefer sweet for this recipe since veal is so mild)
1 large can tomatoes
2 large cans tomato paste
water or stock to desired consistency. Could also add some red wine.
2 Tbs. oregano
1-2 Tbs. sugar
1 chopped onion
handful frozen peas
salt, pepper
1-2 tsp. baking soda

Directions:
Brown veal cubes in hot oil. Remove. Brown sausage in same pan. Remove. Add onions and saute until softened. Then add garlic, salt, pepper, oregano and saute a minute more. Mix in veal and sausage.

Pour can of tomatoes into blender and blend briefly to break tomatoes down. Pour blended tomatoes, tomato paste, water or stock and wine, plus sugar into pot with meat. Simmer 2 hours on low. Add bell peppers and 1-2 tsp. baking soda. Simmer to cook peppers. Add peas. Simmer to heat through.

Serve in bowl with fresh bread. Should be soupy enough to eat with a spoon and dip your bread!

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Day 3

Breakfast: cappuccino, OJ, ham and cheese omelet, rye toast, cantaloupe and blueberries

Lunch: rewarmed mac & cheese, raw veggies

Dinner: pork carnitas on tortillas, black beans, rice

Evening: warm chocolate chip cookies

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What will you cook this winter while snowed in? Please share your favorite comfort foods with the rest of us! Leave a comment below.

Home Baked Bread – It’s The Yeast I Can Do!

Home Baked Bread – It’s The Yeast I Can Do!

My New Year’s Resolution in 2015 was to overcome my fear of yeast. I love to bake, but had avoided this one-celled nemesis my entire life. This basic recipe for French Bread was so simple to make, it quickly became one of my favorites, and even led me to experiment with sweet rolls from scratch, Easter breads, and pizza dough. I’ll get to those treats on another day, but for now, let me share the recipe that started it all: French Bread.

Ingredients

1 heaping Tbs. active dry yeast (or 2 packets)
(Tip: Do not get the kind for bread makers.)

1/2 cup sugar

1 1/2 cups hot water
(Tip: 110-120 degrees Fahrenheit unless your packets say otherwise. I use a cooking thermometer to get it right. Too hot and the yeast will be burned alive. Too cold and they will refuse to do their work.)

5 1/2 – 6 cups flour
(Tip: I prefer King Arthur unbleached bread flour, but you can use whatever you like.)

2 tsp. salt

Directions

Mix yeast, sugar, and hot water in your electric stand mixer bowl. Let sit for at least 5 minutes, until bubbly. Add 2 cups of flour and 2 tsp. salt. Using the dough hook, mix until well blended. Slowly add 3 and 1/2 cups – 4 cups flour until good dough consistency. (Not too sticky.) Knead for 3-4 minutes on low setting of mixer.

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Add a little oil to a clean bowl and rub it around with your hands. Transfer dough into the oiled bowl and roll it over to cover with oil.

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Cover bowl with a clean dish towel and leave in a warm place until doubled in size. This is typically an hour.

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Punch it down.

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Split the dough into two equal halves.

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Place one half on a floured surface and roll out into a rectangle.

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Roll from wider side to form a loaf. Lay on ungreased baking sheet, seam side down. Tuck ends underneath. Repeat with second half of dough.

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Using a sharp knife, make 3-4 diagonal slits across top of each loaf. Cover with the towel and leave in warm spot for another 30 minutes. Start preheating your oven to 350.

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Bake at 350 degrees for 25-35 minutes or until golden brown on top. Remove from oven. At this point you could butter the tops and sides if you prefer a softer crust. Cool completely before wrapping and storing. Best to eat while warm. Keeps for a day or two if you refrigerate.

If you have a home baked bread recipe you love, please share it in the comments below!

What Do You Feed Picky Eater Kids?

What Do You Feed Picky Eater Kids?

When I was young, I ate just about anything put in front of me. There were a few exceptions that I still avoid today like beets. I think I was destined to enjoy cooking and eating! I always feel terrible for parents whose children are picky eaters. I cannot imagine how frustrating it is to cook every night for someone with four or five foods in their repertoire of things they will eat without a meltdown.

I am not offering any advice because I am positive these parents are sick and tired of being judged by their inlaws and acquaintances. Instead, I thought I would list out one or two twists on some tried and true recipes that you might test. If your children are old enough, you can ask them to help prepare the new entree. I’m not sure it will make a difference, but perhaps seeing familiar ingredients presented in a new way would encourage their little brains to give it a try!

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Cheeseburger Muffins

Ingredients

1 pound ground beef or turkey
1 package buttermilk biscuit dough
1/2 cup catsup
1 Tbs mustard
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
Salt
Pepper
Cheese

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Brown and drain meat. Mix in catsup, mustard, Worcestershire, salt, and pepper. Use no-stick spray or butter in muffin tins. You can use any size. I used the giant muffin pan. Flatten individual biscuits with a rolling pin or stretch out by hand and press into muffin cup. Fill with meat. Top with your choice of cheese. I used shredded cheddar, but use whatever your child prefers (if any).

Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes or until browned.

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Mummy Hot Dogs

Ingredients

1 package hot dogs
1 package crescent rolls
1 can black beans or black olives

Directions

Why wait until Halloween? Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Unroll crescent roll dough and slice into strips. Carefully wrap each hot dog with 1-2 strips and place on baking sheet covered with parchment paper or a baking mat. Add two tiny bits of black bean or black olive for eyes.

Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until browned.

Very Simple Chicken Legs

Ingredients

Chicken legs
1 cup flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1-2 good shakes seasoned salt
Dash cayenne pepper

Whatever your kid likes to dip chicken into, or nothing at all.

Directions

Pour 1 cup flour into a pie plate. Mix in seasoning. Dredge each leg in flour mixtures and place in a 13×9 inch baking dish you have greased with no-stick spray or olive oil.

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

Serve with BBQ sauce, ranch dip, honey, or whatever your family prefers.

Please add a comment and include your favorite recipe for picky eaters. Who knows, your recipe could help someone else find one more entree their child will eat!