Sunday, December 9, 2007

quick and healthy stuffed bells

Hey Everyone,
I made these stuffed bell peppers on Friday night in about 30 minutes! They are super healthy, and if you don't eat oranges, eating bell peppers is a great way to get in a good amount of Vitamin C to help prevent those common winter colds. Here's another tidbit: Did you know that the lighter a bell pepper is, the sweeter it tastes? So the yellow ones are significantly sweeter than the green ones, but this time of year they're also a lot more expensive. But once these green bell peppers are boiled for just a few minutes (about 5), they are tender enough to bite into, and their overall strong, raw flavor subsides during the cooking process.

You can stuff these bell peppers with almost anything, but I used the basic recipe template that my mom introduced me to, which included ground turkey and rice. I added in a few extra veggies to the rice, because I like incorporating veggies into my dishes as often as possible. Here's the general recipe I used. I didn't get a chance to measure because I was so hungry. I just wanted to eat! But I really do think these are pretty easy to whip-up and hard to mess-up. They're so flavorful, and not to mention festive looking!

This is what went into the rice (I made this in the rice cooker!)
1 cup white rice
2 cups water
1/8 cup chopped olives
1 1/2 tsp olive oil
a few pinches of garlic salt
1 chicken bouillon cube
2 TBSP dehydrated veggie soup blend
2 medium-sized celery sticks, chopped
about 1/3 cup frozen peas & carrots

One thing I'd like to mention is that I mixed the rice half way into the cooking process because I wanted to make sure all the ingredients were equally distributed-it didn't negatively influence the rice (I know it's not a good idea to continually stir rice when cooking it, but I think doing it once or twice is ok, I haven't had any problems with this yet). Oh, and this recipe will make enough to fill about 5 bell peppers.

As the rice cooked, I cooked 1 lb of ground turkey with the following ingredients:
2.5 TBSP Pace Picante
a few pinches of garlic powder
a few pinches onion powder
2 tsp basil
a few sprinkles of black pepper
1/8 cup chopped sweet onion
1/8-1/4 cup chopped green onion

While the meat cooks in one pan, you can wash the bell peppers, then cut the tops off with a knife. You'll also want to use the knife to cut out the "insides" of the bells. I filled up a small soup pot with about 1 1/2 cups of water, then set the bell peppers in there standing upright. I cooked them over a medium flame for about 5-7 minutes, or until they were slightly tender but not falling apart. I made sure to put the tops in the pot too.

I also made the sauce that goes along very well with the bell pepper, it adds a little bit of natural sweetness to the dish
1 1/2 tbsp butter
1 tsp olive oil
1/4 cup cheese
2 tbsp sour cream
about 1/2 cup of tomato sauce
a pinch of salt
1 1/2 tsp Italian Seasoning

This should simmer in a sauce pan for about 5 minutes over a low-med flame, or at least until everything is melted together.

It's a good idea to mix the rice and meat together before stuffing the bell peppers. I also think that adding in a few sprinkles of colby/jack cheese to the rice/meat blend adds some nice flavor. After serving the bell peppers, each person can drizzle the tomato sauce/topping on top of the bell pepper, or you can serve it on the side. It's that easy, and it really is pretty good...but the best part about these bell peppers is how healthy they are!