Pepper Perfection

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When I told the guys I was planting chocolate peppers in the garden this spring, there were mixed reviews. My husband was hopeful – he doesn’t play well with vegetables. My son was scandalized - he has a pepper garden with about 20 varieties and they are all extremely hot. Here’s the deal, chocolate peppers are not anything but a very pretty mild pepper with a lovely shiny brown color. 

They are a little smaller than a regular bell pepper but basically they taste exactly like red bell pepper. 

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It’s just been a fun experiment, but now we have a lot of peppers and I’ve been playing around with some tasty recipes for using them. In all that experimenting, I discovered that leftovers and peppers, any bell peppers, are a dream come true for a busy person who needs to put together a dinner.  Here’s the thing – you can just about stuff a pepper with anything and suddenly it seems fancy. I’ve appeased my son’s hot pepper obsession by using leftover grilled chicken with cheese and jalapenos for stuffing peppers. Quinoa saved from dinner a few days before with black beans and ground turkey was a hit as well, but wait – we have a FAVORITE and you are going to love it.  This stuffed pepper recipe is sort of like a mini meatloaf in it’s own little edible dish – made with ground beef, leftover rice, onions, tomatoes, and of course yummy melty cheese. It’s a recipe that’s open for interpretation if you have a leftover you want to mess with like corn or beans, or you want to try ground turkey instead of beef, but these stuffed peppers are just a delicious treat as it is.  Of course any bell pepper will do the trick, but if you are lucky enough to get a mix of colors - red, green, orange, yellow - you can claim extra credit in the “attractive plate” category. And here is an excellent thing about this recipe; someone with zero cooking skills (note: I don’t actually believe that is possible, but will grant that it makes a good excuse), a skillet, a spatula, and a knife can make this dish. A second excellent thing is that these stuffed peppers look (and taste!) so marvelous they can easily be party food and your company will be thrilled. There are many other excellent things about the recipe, like you can make it ahead of time, it’s not very expensive, it is perfect for every season, and it smells divine, but I will let you create your own list because you will definitely want to make these peppers. Add this recipe to your collection of family favorites and enjoy the compliments!

Perfect Stuffed Peppers

Ingredients

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6 large bell peppers – any color

1 tsp olive oil

1 onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 lb ground beef (or turkey)

1½ cups chopped tomatoes (or 1 can diced)

2 tsp salt (extra to sprinkle inside of peppers)

¼ tsp red pepper flakes

1 cup cooked rice (Can buy pre-cooked rice to make this really easy or use leftover)

6 oz Monterey Jack cheese (Can substitute with what you have – mozzarella, cheddar)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Spray a casserole large enough to hold peppers upright with cooking spray.

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Cut tops off of peppers and remove seeds and membrane. (reserve tops*)

Place peppers in the casserole and sprinkle insides with a small pinch of salt.

Pour about an ½ inch of water in the casserole.

Place peppers in the oven as it preheats for about 5 minutes just to slightly soften. (Or microwave for 3 minutes.)

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat.

Add olive oil to skillet and sauté onions until soft, about 4 minutes.

Add garlic and brown for 1 minute.

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Add ground beef and cook until browned breaking up with a spatula.

Remove extra fat or liquid with a spoon.

Add tomatoes, rice, salt and red pepper flakes, cook until everything is heated through.

Remove from heat and stir in half of the cheese.

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Stuff peppers with filling and top with remaining cheese.

Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes until tops begin to brown.

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*Optional: About 10 minutes before peppers are done, place reserved tops on a foil lined pan, sprinkle with a little olive oil and a touch of salt and place in the oven to soften and use as an edible “top” for the peppers


© Deer One Publishing 2017