Stuffed Peppers

I have been craving stuffed peppers.  My mom used to make these and I hated them.  I didn’t mind what was inside but did not like those peppers.  I guess my taste buds have changed – died due to the aging process 🙂 but I love peppers now.  I used green bell peppers today but I think next time I will use red, orange and yellow.  I also would like to try some other peppers besides the bell variety.  This recipe takes about 30 minutes to prepare and another 30 minutes to bake.   I found this recipe at  America’s Test Kitchen.  It reminds me of my mom’s recipe.  Here goes;

Classic Stuffed Peppers
(just like mom’s)

02062014 011

4 green, red, yellow, orange bell peppers, 1/2 inch trimmed off tops, cores and seeds discarded (I used 6 green, they were small to medium size and on sale this week!)
1/2 cup long grain rice
1 1/2 Tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1# ground beef (or any ground meat.  If you don’t want meat add more veggies and/or rice)
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 can (14 1/2 ounce) diced tomatoes, drained – 1/4 cup juice set aside for later use
5 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, shredded (1 1/4 cup)
2 Tablespoons parsley leaves, chopped
1/4 cup ketchup
Salt and pepper

Directions

02062014 004

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Adjust oven rack to middle position.

2.  Bring 4 quarts water and 1 Tablespoon of salt to boil in large stockpot over high heat.  When water boils,  add your peppers.  02062014 006Cook until peppers begin to soften, 3-5 minutes and remove with slotted spoon.
3.  Set the peppers upside down on paper towels to drain water, then flip over as soon as drained.
4.  Return water to a boil, add 1/2 cup of rice and boil until tender or 12 minutes.  Drain rice into colander and transfer to a large bowl; set aside.
5.  While the rice is cooking heat a 12 inch heavy bottom skillet over medium high heat until hot, add oil and swirl to coat.  Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and brown, about 5 minutes. Add ground beef and cook, breaking into small pieces, until no longer pink, about 5 minutes.  Stir in garlic until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
6.  Transfer mixture to the bowl with rice, stir in tomatoes, 1 cup cheese, parsley, and salt and pepper to taste.
7.  In a small bowl stir together the ketchup and remaining tomato juice.
8.  Place peppers cut side up in 9 inch square baking dish. 02062014 009 Fill each pepper with meat/rice mixture.  Spoon 2 Tablespoons of ketchup mixture over tope of each filled pepper, sprinkle with remaining cheese.  Bake until cheese is browned and filling is heated through, about 30 minutes.  Serve immediately.02062014 013

Don’t limit yourself to the classic stuffing.  You could use any kind of ground meat, different cheeses, grains, veggies.  The list is endless.  Hope you enjoy this simple and delicious comfort food meal!!

 

 

Farmers Market Tomato Sauce

I was out and about Saturday and decided to stop at a roadside stand.  I bought some tomatoes, garlic, onions and basil.  I thought it would be nice to make a fresh tomato sauce for the week.    Here is my recipe:

Fresh Tomato Sauce

IMG_4464

3 pounds fresh tomatoes
2 Tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves fresh garlic (I love the summer, the local garlic is awesome!)
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
1 medium red onion, diced
1 medium white onion, diced
1 6 ounce can tomato paste
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan or Romano (or whatever Italian hard cheese you love)
1/2-1 teaspoon salt (remember the parmesan cheese will add salt flavor – TASTE it)

Directions

1.  I prepare the fresh tomatoes by removing the skin and partially deseeding.  I remove the skin by coring the tomatoes and placing  in boiling water for 60 seconds. august 016 Take them out of the pot and place in ice water to prevent the tomatoes from cooking.  Remove the skin.  Cut in half and take out seeds, if you want.  I remove the seeds from half of the tomatoes.  If you don’t want to de-seed that is fine too.

2.  I chop the tomatoes in 3/4 inch chunks. august 018I then place about 3-4 cups of the diced tomatoes in my food processor and pulse 4-5 times.  The tomatoes have are the consistency of a tomato sauce. (I like having some chunks of tomatoes in my sauce.  You can put all in the food process or none at all. It is your sauce, do what you want.)

3.  2 Tablespoons of olive oil in medium saucepan over medium heat.  Add the red/white onions and saute until softened, about 5 minutes.  Then add the garlic and mix with the red onions about 30 seconds.

4.  Add tomatoes and tomato paste to pan.  Mix together.

5.  Let the sauce simmer for 30 minutes than add the cheese.   Mix together and let simmer uncovered over medium to low heat for 1 hour.  Add the basil and parsley and let cook for another 30 minutes.  I like to let it simmer on low heat. **You may need to add 1/2-1 cup water. Depends on the consistency you desire.** (Also, be sure to watch it so the sauce does not burn on the bottom of the pan.  august 019When I get distracted that has happened to me.)

That is it!  You will have some delicious sauce for dinner.  You can also freeze what you don’t use.  Sauce is my favorite meal.  Hope you enjoy.  I have a couple of tomato sauce recipes on the blog.  Fresh or made with cans of tomatoes.  Whatever works for you!

Enjoy!!

Kyopolou – Bulgarian Eggplant Roasted Red Pepper Dip

Here is a simple and delicious dip.  Martin requested it this weekend.  Another Bulgarian treat.

Kyopolou

NOvember 013

Ingredients

2 Globe Eggplants, roasted
3 medium tomatoes, roasted
4 red bell peppers (you could do 2 green and 2 red.  Next time I will do that.), roasted
4-6 clove of garlics, minced (I used 6 – you could roast the garlic, too)
1-2 Tablespoons olive oil or sunflower oil
2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper

Directions

  1.  Cut eggplant in half lengthwise.  Cut deeps slits in flesh. NOvember 006 Bake in oven 400 degrees for up to an hour.  When you can put knife through flesh easily, put under broiler for 3-5 minutes to brown flesh.  NOvember 009
  2. Roast tomatoes at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.  Put under broiler for 3-5 minutes to brown lightly.NOvember 008
  3. Roast peppers in oven or over stove.  I roasted over burner on stove.  NOvember 007You could also roast at 400 degrees for 30 minutes and put under broiler 3-5 minutes.
  4. When all veggies are roasted.  Chop the tomatoes and roasted peppers.  Take flesh out of eggplant and chop also.  Mince the garlic cloves. Place all chopped vegetables in large bowl.
  5. Add oil, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper.  Mix well.  Place in refrigerator for a couple of hours.  The longer you let it set, the better it will be.
  6. Serve with your favorite bread or crackers.  Toasting the bread is a great way it too!

Enjoy this flavorful Bulgarian dip.  Let me know what you think! Ciao!!

Israeli Salad

So simple and so delicious.  Great for the summer.  Go to your farmer’s market and make this quick salad for lunch!

Israeli Salad (This is DELICIOUS!)

064

Ingredients

1 cucumber, seeded and diced
1 Roma tomato, seeded and diced
1/2 large red pepper, seeded and diced
1/2 cup green onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tablespoon parsley, chopped
1 Tablespoon mint, chopped
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon lemon juice (from real lemon)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper

Directions;  Mix all together and that’s it!!  This is so refreshing.  Feta, Parmesan, cheddar or any cheese is also a great addition. Personally, plain with a piece (or two) of fresh baked bread works for me. LOVE it!!

Chicken Cacciatore

As the weekend approaches everyone knows I always ask my family what they would like me to make or bake.  Whenever I ask Kent (for those who don’t know that is my hubby) he rarely has a suggestion.  He actually requested Chicken Cacciatore this weekend.  I was shocked.  I checked to see what recipes were out there.  As always America’s Test Kitchen got my vote.  Believe it or not I have never used wine in a recipe.  I always replace it with broth.  I know, you are thinking how crazy that is.  Especially how much I love to cook.  Well, I am not a fan of wine and just never bothered to use it.  I mentioned to Kent I wanted to avoid the wine.  He said to make it per the recipe or find another one.  Since he rarely has any opinion about what I throw on the table I decided to make this recipe exactly as written.  That included the red wine.  I checked out on their website on what type of wine I should use.  They recommend using a red wine made with berries.  I Found Red Rock Winery Merlot in our basement stock.  02162014 005 This wine has a blend of raspberries and blackberries.   Let’s begin;

Chicken Cacciatore

02162014 008

Ingredients

8 bone in chicken thighs (about 3 pounds), trimmed of excess fat
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
6 ounces Portobello mushrooms, chopped into 3/4 inch pieces
4 medium cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 Tablespoon unbleached all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups dry red wine
1/2 cup chicken broth or stock
1 can (14 1/2 ounces) dices tomatoes, drained (oops, I just realized I didn’t drain)
2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves (all I had was dried thyme.  I used 1 teaspoon.)
1 piece Parmesan cheese rind (2 inches, about 1 ounce), this is optional (I weighed 1 oz piece of Parmesan rind)
2 teaspoon minced fresh sage leaves (their was the option to use rosemary.  I used rosemary instead.  I LOVE rosemary!)

Directions

02162014 004

 

1.  Season chicken with salt and pepper.  Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium high heat until shimmering but not smoking, about 2 minutes.  Add four chicken thighs, skin side down and cook, not moving them until skin is crisp and well browned, about 5 minutes.  Using tongs, flip the chicken  and brown on second side, 5 minutes longer.  Transfer browned chicken to large plate.  Brown remaining thighs.  (It is best to do them in 2 batches.  They will not brown if you crowd all 8 in one pan.)  Set the chicken aside.
2.  Drain off all but 1 Tablespoon of fat from the pot.  Add onion, mushrooms and 1/2 teaspoon salt; saute over medium high heat, stirring until browned.  About 6-8 minutes.
3.  Meanwhile, remove and discard skin from browned chicken thighs.
4.  Add garlic to pot and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
5.  Stir in flour and cook, stirring constantly until combined with veggies.
6.  Add wine, scraping pot bottom with wooden spoon to loosen brown bits.  Stir in broth, tomatoes, thyme, cheese rind (if using), 1/2 teaspoon salt (Omit salt if using cheese rind), and pepper to taste.
7.  Submerge chicken pieces in liquid and bring to boil. 02162014 006 Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer until chicken is tender and cooked through, about 45 minutes.  Turn chicken pieces with tongs halfway through cooking.
8.  Discard cheese rind, stir in sage (or rosemary), adjust seasoning with salt and pepper and serve!

We served over pasta.  You could use rice, noodles or even mashed potatoes.  Whatever you desire.  It really was simple and delicious.  I look forward to making this dish again!

 

 

Simple Fresh Tomato Sauce

I had Martin and Martin pick up some beautiful fresh tomatoes and garlic at the Appleton Farmer’s Market last weekend.  I had the best intentions of using them that weekend.  A week later they were still on my counter!!  I had to use them up or they would be wasted.  Not my plan for these gorgeous tomatoes.  I could make a tomato salad, salsa, pizza or a pizza sauce. Of course, why not a  tomato sauce?  Anyone who knows me knows I LOVE sauce.  I whipped this up in no time.  Here is my Simple and Delicious Farmer’s Market Fresh Tomato Sauce.

Fresh Tomato Sauce

August 201 041

2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 medium red onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced (fresh from the Farmer’s Market)|
3# Fresh from Farmer’s Market Tomatoes
½ cup fresh basil (from my container garden!  I was successful this year with basil!!)
2 Tablespoons fresh parsley (sometimes I use ¼ cup)
Salt (I use up to ¾ to 1 teaspoon, that is up to you. Some like salt, some don’t. I do!!)

Directions

1. I take the skin off of the tomatoes. (You don’t have to do this.) The easy way to take the skin off the tomatoes is to boil water, drop tomatoes in the boiling water for 30-60 seconds and take out. Place in ice cold water and skins will peel right off. Easy!

2. I also deseed the tomatoes. (You don’t have to do this either.) I like a chunky sauce with my fresh tomatoes. I chop them into bite size (½ inch) chunks. (You can also put into your food processor for a smoother sauce.)

3. Using a dutch oven or large saute/frying pan. Add 2 Tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add red onion and saute about 5 minutes, Add minced garlic and stir together for about 30 seconds.

4. Add chopped tomatoes to the onion/garlic along with salt. I cook over medium heat for 20-30 minutes. Add basil & parsley. Simmer for 5-10 more minutes before taking off of stove. (Depends on your taste. I simmer about 5 minutes.)

5. Serve over pasta with some fresh Parmesan cheese.August 201 044 ENJOY!