Autumnal Hearty Meal: Perfect Stuffed Peppers

There are times when I get home with plenty of time to cook or nights I feel I can whip dinner up in a few minutes.  And then there are times when I have to work late and don’t get home until after 8 pm.  I am too hungry to start cooking a big meal that could take an hour or more to make.  That is what leftovers are for and where slow cookers can be oh so helpful.  I confess that I have never been a fan of the slow cooker a/k/a crock pot until now.  I always worried the food would be overcooked and/or mushy as well as only having washed out flavor from the long slow cook.  Still, working late makes the concept of the slow. long process seem very attractive and helpful.

Along that thought process I bought a gluten free slow cooker cookbook. I wanted to try out the concept in my real life.  Mondays are a work late night for me and the whole week of food seems to stretch out unfilled and bothersome.  I got out my new cookbook and my ancient trusty crock pot and now, between jobs on Mondays, I fling together the basic ingredients, switch it on and off I go to work.  When I get home four hours later I turn the key and open my front door to heavenly scents of a meal all ready to dish out and enjoy.

I have made five or six recipes from the new book and have been pretty darn satisfied with the results.  The chicken paprika is amazing.  The only reason I haven’t blogged about it is that I don’t have a picture of it to put with the post. And I could go on and on about the delish Peruvian Chicken with Red Peppers. Anyway, this Monday I created my latest crock pot miracle; homey stuffed peppers.  I didn’t want to make the meatloaf pepper version in my new cookbook so I used my own recipe tailored to the crock pot heating process and my schedule.

stuffed pepper

These peppers were well done and rather relaxed. It was hard to get a decent photograph. Trust me; they taste better than they look!

I got up early that morning and made some brown rice and I fried up my onion and ground beef.  It all went in the fridge.  When I stopped by after school to let the dog out I threw the rest of it together and turned the pot onto high.  Four hours later, I was getting a plate and silverware out and was able to eat a real home-cooked meal as soon as I fed my critters their supper.  Fantastic! You could make the filling the night before or that afternoon before baking it in the pot.  That is nice flexibility to use as a busy busy person.

Angie’s Stuffed Peppers

1 medium onion, chopped

1 lb ground beef; I like 90 percent lean

1 tbsp olive or canola oil

1 small garlic clove

½ a beef bullion cube

¼ to ½ tsp thyme

2 cups cooked brown rice

Sea salt to taste

4 medium green peppers

1 8 ounce can of plain tomato sauce

Heat a large frying pan, put in the oil, add the chopped onion; cook until somewhat soft; 5-7 minutes.  Add the minced garlic clove and stir.  Push the onion pieces to the edges and add the ground beef, brown it.  Add the bullion cube and thyme as it gets closer to browned.  Add the cooked rice. Use anything from no salt up to a tsp of sea salt in the filling.  I often use less as I don’t like salty food.  It is purely a matter of taste in this recipe.

green peppers

Cut the peppers off ½ inch below the top. Clean out the guts and steam them (lids too) for 6 or 7 minutes.  Drain any liquid from inside the peppers, let them cool a few minutes so you can handle the warm peppers and stuff them with the rice and meat mixture.

Put ¼ of the tomato sauce on the bottom of the crock pot.  Put a bit of the rice mixture on top.  Then the four stuffed peppers.  Distribute any remaining stuffing around the peppers.  Add 2-3 tbsp water to the pan around the edges (not in the peppers!), pour the remaining tomato sauce around the top of the filling and peppers and put the lid on.

Cook on high for 3-4 hours.  I was at work for 4 hours so that is how long I did mine.  They were quite done.  I did start with cold filling I had made that morning so I am thinking 3 to 3.5 hours would be enough time to cook this dish especially if you start with warm rice/meat filling.

My personal recipe notes:

You can use white rice if you are not into brown rice.  Another substitution would be ground turkey for the ground beef.  Use a bit more seasoning if you go the turkey route.  Red peppers are fantastic if you like them, even orange are very sweet and flavorful for stuffing. I have stuffed peppers with corned beef hash.  Maybe I will post that recipe someday soon…..

I personally like a touch of catsup on the side to add extra flavor.  Hearty and fairly healthy as you are getting brown rice, the green pepper, and tomato sauce and so yummy.  Add a small salad and your meal is complete: I enjoyed a salad of fresh garden tomatoes with a light vinaigrette dressing. Your hubby will cheer when you place this naturally gf meal in front of him!

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