loaded bell peppers

The situation at our house tonight: 2 pounds of ground beef and indecision of what to do with it. There is a lot we could do with ground beef, I know. But hamburgers were last night’s meal. Sloppy Joes were out of the question. We’re saving chili for December (or at least a night that doesn’t have me sweating). And there is no way I’m serving Hamburger Helper (although that white glove with the face can be pretty cute and convincing, at times). Taco’s are great, but meh. Didn’t have the condiments.

My brother and I put our heads together and (simultaneously) agreed that stuffed bell peppers were the winning choice–we’re twins, for those who don’t know. The “recipe” we used (tooootally guessed), is fairly simple and is perfect for nights when mom is at work and a flavorful/nutritious/entirefoodpyramidincluded-meal is in demand. That was our case tonight.

I know it’s no smoked salmon or marinated skirt steak, (boy does that sound good), but it beats having meatloaf. And I assure you that these bell peppers don’t have any of that dried, crusty ketchup baked on top–although I have seen this recipe in both ketchup and worcestershire variations.

We baked and broiled our peppers, but I assume that these would be just as tasty (if not better) done on the grill. We also added cumin powder and cayenne pepper for a bit of a punch–kick?–no, body-slammin, taste. Oregano, tabasco sauce, marjoram, paprika, and basil would all make good additions as well. We also cooked our meat prior to pepper-packing, but you can stuff with raw meat and bake longer if you wish. Gee, it’s really starting to sound like the sky’s the limit, isn’t it? Not sure about you but…I like that.

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Fun fact: In the Ohio Valley, bell peppers are sometimes referred to as mangos. This has been explained by the practice of pickling the fruit known as a mango when it was imported to the American Colonies in the 1600’s, before refrigeration. At some point, anything that was pickled was considered “mango.” Bell peppers were sometimes pickled, therefor given the misleading name. Weird! And I totally just felt like Alton Brown.

Stuffed Bell Peppers

4 bell peppers, any color

1 or 2 pounds of ground beef

1 1/2 – 2 cups of cooked rice

1 small can of crushed tomatoes, drained

1 large can of tomato sauce

1/2 medium white onion, diced

2 cloves of garlic, chopped

Extra virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper, to taste

2 tbs. cayenne pepper (or more to taste)

2 tbs. cumin (or more to taste)

About 1 cup of mozzarella cheese

Method

If the rice is not already cooked, prepare rice according to manufacturer’s instructions. Preheat oven to 350°F. In a medium skillet, sautee the onions and garlic in 1 tsp. of olive oil until translucent. Add the meat and cook until browned. Meanwhile, cut the tops off the peppers and remove the insides. Next, add the meat mixture to the rice, along with the cans of tomatoes and sauce. Add seasonings to taste. Stir to combine and distribute evenly among peppers (we had some stuffing leftover). Drizzle a bit of olive oil into each pepper and place into a glass pan. Add 1/4 cup of water to the baking dish and place in the oven for about 20-30 minutes, or until peppers are tender. During the last 3-5 minutes of baking, top each pepper with about a 1/4 cup of mozzarella cheese and broil until bubbly. Serve warm!

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Filed under Dinners, Meat, Winter Dishes

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