Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Stuffed Peppers

Some of my earliest memories involve watching my Mom make dinner.  Growing up, no matter the occasion, the whole family always ended up hanging out in the kitchen chatting, laughing, playing, picking on each other and snitching bits from the cook pot.  The scents of Mom's recipes are inextricably linked to the feelings of being surrounded by those I love.  After a wonderful week of seeing two of my three siblings and both parents, I was really missing the only sibling I hadn't seen (and won't for awhile since she lives abroad)--my sister.  That rather missing, whimsical, family-oriented mood inspired me to make an old family favorite and Mom specialty--stuffed peppers.
(Recipe after the break)
Stuffed Peppers
Ingredients:
  • 3 bell peppers
  • 1 cup rice, uncooked (2 cups cooked)
  • 3/4 lbs ground beef (I used 93% lean)
  • 1/4 cup finely diced onion
  • 1/4 cup Italian breadcrumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 tsp soy sauce
  • 1/4 tsp worcestershire sauce
  • 1 can (6 oz) tomato paste
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 2 cups water

Cook the 1 cup of rice per package directions.  In a large bowl, beat together egg, milk, soy, and worcestershire. Then add the chop meat, cooked rice, finely diced onion and breadcrumbs.



This is where you roll up your sleeves and have fun.  With hands, smoosh and mix up the ingredients very well.  I guess you could use a mixer to do this part, but that's no where nearly as much fun as mushing up the filling by hand.

Here is the meat stuffing, all ready to go.





Wash and slice the peppers in half then remove the stems, ribs and seeds.  I personally love using all sorts of different color peppers--its really pretty and I like the slightly more sweet flavor of the oranges and yellows.  However, any sort of bell pepper works just fine.







Evenly divide the meat mixture between the six pepper halves.  I'd say something all sorts of cooking advice here and stuff, but really its just like taking a rather large meatball and pressing it into the pepper half--nothing difficult about it.

Put the stuffed peppers into a casserole dish large enough to accomodate them all.





In a separate bowl, whisk together the tomato paste, salt, pepper, sugar, ketchup and water.   The sauce will seem thin, but it will thicken while baking.









Spoon the sauce evenly across the peppers then cover lightly with foil.  Bake for thirty minutes then remove the foil.  Re-baste the peppers with the sauce then return to the oven for another half hour or until the center temperature reaches 160 degrees.
Looks like they're done!

Serving is easy--throw one of the stuffed peppers on a plate, add some of the sauce from the bottom of the baking dish and enjoy.







Ah yes, enjoy!
So yeah, stuffed peppers aren't fancy-schmancy.  But they are easy, tasty, filling, and an oh-so-perfect winter food.  Most importantly, to me anyway, is they take me right back to my Mom's kitchen poking at my big sister.

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