Stuffed Peppers

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Stuffed peppers are a perfect winter supper.  A meal in themselves.  Just add a salad and some good crusty bread and serve.   If you look up recipes for stuffed peppers there are all sorts of ethnic variations.  A Spanish stuffed pepper with Manchego cheese, cod and a béchamel sauce. An Indian stuffed pepper with meat, potato, onion, turmeric and coriander.  A Mexican pepper stuffed with cheese, covered in an egg batter and deep fried.  A Finnish stuffed pepper with rice and lamb,  finished with some heavy cream.   The pepper itself is the vehicle and almost any combination of protein, carb, and seasoning can be stuffed inside.  Today I made my peppers with lots of tomato, rice and ground pork.

Ingredients:

5-6 red, yellow or orange peppers

1 pound ground pork (or pork sausage)

2 pints of tomatoes

1 cup beef or chicken broth

2 cups rice (cooked)

1 cup red onion diced

1 cup celery diced

tops of peppers diced

2 T olive oil

4-5 cloves of garlic minced

1/2 lemon juiced

1 T oregano

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (or more to taste)

1 cup grated Parmesan or Asiago cheese

1/2  cup fresh parsley

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Preheat your oven to 375.

Cut the tops off of the peppers and reserve to use in the filling.  Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook the peppers for 5-6 minutes until tender.  Drain on a clean kitchen towel and set aside.

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Dice the pepper caps, onion, and celery.  Heat 2 T of olive oil in a heavy skillet and sauté the vegetables over medium heat until tender.  Add the garlic and cook another minute.

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Set aside 1/2 of the vegetable mixture to use for the sauce.  Add the ground meat to the skillet and cook until the meat is no longer pink.  After the meat has cooked I put it in a strainer to drain off the fat and then return it to the skillet.

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Add one pint of tomatoes, 1/2 cup of broth, and oregano and cayenne to the meat mixture.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

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Transfer the meat mixture to a large bowl.  (Or if you are into less dishes use the kettle you parboiled the peppers in.)  Add the 2 cups of rice, 1 cup of cheese, and parsley and stir to combine.  If you feel the mixture needs more moisture add a little more broth.  Set aside while you make the gravy.

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In the skillet combine the reserved vegetables, one pint of tomatoes, 1/2 cup of broth, lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste.  Bring to a boil and simmer until the sauce is reduced and thickens.  Tranfer the sauce to a food processor or blender and purée.

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Now it’s time to assemble the peppers.  Fill each pepper with the meat and rice mixture and stand up in a casserole dish.  Once you’ve filled the peppers pour the gravy over the top and bake for 45 minutes.

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Serve with  extra grated cheese and some good bread.  Enjoy!

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NOTE:  Cooking is limited only by one’s imagination.  This recipe is a perfect example of an opportunity to substitute ingredients based on your family’s personal tastes.  Beef, lamb, turkey or pork.  Rice, quinoa, potato or orzo.  Parsley, basil, cilantro or mint.

 

 

Andouille Sausage, Tomatoes and Rice

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Andouilli is a smoked sausage made from pork and seasoned with garlic, peppers, onion, and seasonings.  A little spicy.   It’s very common in Louisiana Creole cuisine.  The organic meat market where I purchase all of my meat makes an especially good andouilli.

One pot dishes are always a treat after a long day when you don’t have a lot of time to put a homemade meal on the table.  This is a tasty dish that’s a little kicked up (you can kick it up a little more if you’d like).  Some of the kick comes from the andouilli sausage.  You can prep and cook this dish in less than an hour.  A little bit of New Orleans on your table and only one pan to wash.

Ingredients:

1 T olive oil

1 medium onion rough chopped

1 cup rough chopped pepper (I used an orange bell pepper and a poblano)

3-4 cloves of garlic minced

4 links adouille sausage (a little under one pound)

1 cup long grain rice, uncooked

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp coarse ground black  pepper

1 tsp oregano

1 bay leaf

2 1/2 cups chicken broth

1 pint diced tomatoes

1 T tomato pastee

1 T Franks Hot Sauce

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Heat the olive oil in a heavy fry pan or Dutch oven.  Dice the onion and peppers, mince the garlic and slice the sausage links.  Saute for about 5 minutes.

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Measure out the spices and add to the sausage and vegetables along with the rice.

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Stir and saute for 1-2 minutes.  Add the chicken broth, tomato paste, tomatoes and Franks.

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Stir and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 25 minutes.  Remove from the heat and allow the pan to stand, covered, for 5 minutes.  Stir and serve.

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I served it with some steamed asparagus and a wedge of buttermilk cornbread.  I’ve always been a little wimpy about spice but my palate is adjusting.  I loved this dish.

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If you’d like, you can add some shrimp to this dish.  After the first 20 minutes of simmering, stir in the shrimp, cover, and continue cooking for 5 more minutes.

NOTE:  I have mentioned this before but recipes always call for one or two tablespoons of tomato paste.  I open both ends of a small can of tomato paste and put the can in the freezer for an hour or so.  Once the paste has firmed up push it out of the can, slice it and freeze individual slices in snack bags.  You always have just the right amount of tomato paste at the ready.

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Shepherd’s Pie

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Shepherd’s Pie is a dish that works well with countless variations. I, in fact, just sent a recipe for a Pizza Shepherd’s Pie to my brother who is a pizza aficionado.

I’m leaving to spend a week with our daughter soon and I’ve been making dishes that result in leftovers so my husband will have good eats while I’m away. Last night it was Mac and Cheese. Tonight Shepherd’s Pie.

Ingredients for base:

1 lb ground beef

1 medium onion rough chopped

4-5 cloves of garlic

1 T beef Better than Bouillon

2 T flour

1 pint stewed tomatoes

2 cups vegetables (I used corn and asparagus)

1/4 cup fresh parsley chopped

1 tsp dried thyme

salt and pepper to taste

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Ingredients for Potato topping:

2 lbs of potatoes peeled and cut up

5-6 carriers peeled and cut up

3-4 cloves of garlic

cream or half-n-half

3 T butter

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

salt and pepper to taste

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Peel the potatoes and carrots, rinse well, add the whole garlic cloves and cook until the potatoes and carrots are tender. While the potatoes cook begin preparing the base.

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In a heavy Dutch oven cook the ground beef until it’s no longer pink.

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Remove the cooked beef to a bowl and leave approximately 2 T of the drippings in the Dutch oven. (My meat was very lean and I had to add a little olive oil to the pan.)  Add the onions and garlic to the drippings and cook over medium heat until the onions are tender.

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Stir the flour into the onion garlic mix and cook for a couple minutes stirring constantly. Stir in the tomatoes, thyme, and the Better than Bouillon. Cook over medium heat stirring occasionally until mixture begins to thicken.

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Stir in the ground beef and the chopped parsley.  Add salt and pepper to taste. Thoroughly combine and pour into a casserole dish.  Preheat oven to 400.

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Distribute the vegetables over the meat.

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Once the potatoes and carrots are tender drain the water and whip or mash adding butter, cream and cheese.  Add salt and pepper to taste. I usually mash the potatoes, always mash them for my daughter who likes a lump here or there, but for this casserole I like to whip them.

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Evenly distribute the potato mixture over the casserole.

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Bake for 20 minutes or until the meat mixture starts to bubble around the edges. Scoop onto your plate and enjoy. Serve with a salad and some good crusty bread.  We both had second helpings and there is still plenty left for two good meals while I’m away.

NOTE:  Lamb or a combo beef/pork mix would be good substitutes for the beef.  Fresh mushrooms are a good add to the onion/garlic mixture. Peas, green beans, spinach are some of the vegetables that can be substituted for the corn and asparagus. A little horseradish or another type of cheese change up the potato icing.   Anyway you mix it up, it’s an easy, hearty meal.  A little bit classy, a little bit trashy.