30 September 2010

Double Take: Stuffed Peppers

My laptop has been having a hard time. You see, I got in the fall of 2004, and it is now the fall of 2010. I got it in North Carolina, but it has also traveled halfway across the country to Oklahoma twice, countless times to Georgia, and well, it made the move to Germany a year ago. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve knocked it, how many times my dear cat, Lorelai, decided to take a nap on the keyboard, or, for that matter, how many times I dropped it. The biggest drop came during the time I was writing my Master’s thesis, and it hasn’t shut properly since (luckily, my thesis was not destroyed during the drop). Though I have a nice sturdy laptop, it’s obviously on its last leg. My laptop will be replaced by a netbook in just over a month, but in the meantime you’ll have to bear with me as my old laptop slowly becomes a large paperweight.

You see, I started writing my stuffed pepper blog Thursday afternoon. On my way out the door from work that day, I realized I needed to have this blog posted in less than an hour. It would take 25 minutes to get home IF the trams were running in a timely fashion, and I knew I could not whip that blog out in the remaining time. So I hurriedly emailed Tabitha to let her know I needed an extra hour. I ran to my laptop to boot it up as soon as I got home. I ignored the fact that my magic jack was still plugged in and plugged in my camera too. Big mistake. It already takes 10 minutes for the poor thing to boot up with the magicjack, so adding the camera just made things worse. Five minutes to posting time and my computer froze. I unplugged the magicjack, unplugged the camera, and shut the laptop down. I booted it back up, nothing plugged in this time. Six minutes later I was able to plug in the camera, download the pictures, and resize them to a reasonable pixel count.

Pictures resized, I set out to write the blog. It poured out of me much faster than I expected, so I was pleased. Unfortunately, I decided to write it directly in blogger instead of in Word first. Blog finished, I clicked the insert photo button and picked out five pictures for your viewing pleasure. And then it happened. The laptop froze again. Blogger got confused. Blogger ate my post. Boo! I needed to be out the door in five minutes, so my post did not rewritten. And remarkably, Hubby and I have developed a social life as of late, so I haven’t had a chance to rewrite it until now, four days later. Please forgive my lateness. I hope you enjoy these Stuffed Peppers as much as we did! (I reheated the leftovers for dinner tonight and they were even better!) Without further ado, the new and improved Stuffed Peppers post!

I have a love-hate relationship with bell peppers. As a kid, I couldn’t get enough of the green ones. I loved them raw, dipped in ranch dressing. As I’ve gotten older though, I have developed a sensitivity to something in the skins. I can no longer eat them raw. Well, techinically I can, but only if I want to burp up bell peppers for the next 18 hours. No fun. Occasionally I find the side effects worth it, and they seem to be lessened when the peppers have been cooked for an extended period of time. I was hoping that would be the case when I crazily decided that Tabitha and I should make stuffed peppers (pick-your-own-recipe style) as part of our Double Take series.

I hunted for a recipe. A friend from Winston-Salem made lovely turkey stuffed peppers, but I lost the recipe somewhere along the way and since she was busy preparing for a conference, I didn’t want to bug her for it again. A brief glance online showed me what I didn’t want to see: stuffed peppers made with beef and a binder. Hubby dislikes meatloaf, so I wanted to avoid all such recipes that might remind him of meatloaf. I eventually decided on a recipe from Cooking Light (no egg) and prepared them Wednesday night. Some parts of the recipe worried me, so I knew I’d have to change things. The recipe included here is what I prepared.

It took me a while to get the filling spice just right, but when I did, it sang!

Stuffed Peppers
heavily adapted from Cooking Light

1 (3 1/2-ounce) bag boil-in-bag long-grain rice (feel free to cook your own)
4 large bell peppers, assorted colors
1 pound ground sirloin
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
2 cups bottled tomato-and-basil pasta sauce, divided*
2 tablespoons garlic powder, divided
1 1/3 tablespoons oregano, divided
1 1/3 tablespoons basil, divided
1/2 cup (2 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup dry red wine (I used a Bordeaux) 

*While I used bottled tomato sauce, I highly recommend making your own if you have the time. Before starting the rice, add your favorite Italian spices to a large can of crushed tomatoes and simmer until it is needed. Follow the rest of the recipe as written.

I had a LOT of leftover filling, but I wasn't complaining!

Cook rice according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Set aside.

While rice cooks, cut tops off bell peppers; reserve tops. Discard seeds and membranes. Add peppers to boiling water, cook 5 minutes or until slightly tender. Cool.

Preheat oven to 450°.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add beef and the next 5 ingredients (beef through allspice); cook 4 minutes or until beef is lightly browned, stirring to crumble. Remove from heat. Add rice, 1/2 cup pasta sauce, 4 teaspoons garlic powder, 2 teaspoons basil, 2 teaspoons oregano, and cheese to beef mixture, stirring to combine. Taste before proceeding. If it needs more seasoning, add it now. 

While beef cooks, combine 1 1/2 cups pasta sauce, 2 teaspoons each garlic powder, basil, and oregano, and wine in a small saucepan; bring to a boil.

Spoon about 3/4 cup beef mixture into each pepper. Place peppers in a 2-quart baking dish coated with EVOO; add any extra filling to the bottom of the dish in an effort to keep your peppers upright; cover peppers with tops; add wine mixture to pan.

Bake at 450° for 30 minutes or until lightly browned. Serve peppers with sauce.

Peppers just before they went in the oven.

I was ridiculously nervous about this dinner. When I pulled it out of the oven, Hubby looked slightly scared. He said it smelled weird and seemed slightly intimidated about how to eat it. I told him to dig in, and dig in we did. We were both pleasantly surprised. While I didn't quite manage to cook the peppers long enough to avoid the side effects, I greatly enjoyed the sweet taste of the peppers created by the roasting.  Hubby and I both thoroughly enjoyed the stuffed peppers, and the only change I'd make to my recipe is to halve it when making it for the two of us. This recipe is easily halved or doubled for company, and Hubby suggested it was definitely good enough to serve to company. A note on the wine: I was unsure if we would like the wine in the tomato sauce. I tried it before adding it to the dish and did not like it at all. But, it ended up being pretty fabulous with the dish. The wine added a nice and welcome tang to the filling. 

Make-again: 2 votes

Be sure to check out the Stuffed Peppers recipe Tabitha picked out at Double the Garlic!


  1. Glad your computer came back being frozen. I enjoy the raw peppers but have issues with cooked. The peppers do look very yummy. Maybe I could just eat the inside!

  2. @ Aunt Vicki: I think the filling would be great on its own with some crusty bread!

  3. Yay! I'm really glad you liked them. I'm also glad to see some recipes call for cooking the meat and all the filling first. That's my plan for next time so I don't have to worry about the meat getting done. Cooking them an hour definitely made the peppers soft though. My second version is definitely going to have to wait a week...there's not enough time.

  4. @ Tabitha: I found many recipes where you cook everything first, so it's definitely an option. I can't wait to see what you come up with for southwestern peppers!


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