Stuffed Peppers

IMG_4323Cooking is an Act of Love.

My MOM was not one to cook with a Recipe.
Once in awhile she would use one as a guide,
But for her, Cooking was a Creative Excursion.
I’m that way too.
I get it from her.

I like it.
Because Love is Messy.
And we never know what’s going to happen.
But somehow when we find the Willingness to take the Risk,
Something Good Always turns out.


It’s like that with Cooking too.
Not knowing the Result is OK
As Long as we are Present, Attentive, and Committed to the Process.
(The Right Ingredients and some Experience with the Process also helps.)

Stuffed Peppers were DAD’s Favorite.
MOM made them often.
She never wrote it down.
She just made them.

When my DAD was in Home Hospice care, knowing how he loved them,
I tried making Stuffed Peppers myself.
I didn’t remember that there was rice in them, so I stuffed each very large Pepper with a Lot of Chopped Meat and some seasonings.

I was So Excited to bring them over.
They were kind of a Disaster.
Everyone was very polite about it.
Then, after dinner, my 90-year old Father leaned over to me, and spoke.
“Son…” he said, in a tone that made me think,
“Oh! This might be some deep Life Lesson he wants to impart before the chance passes.”
He continued, slowly and deliberately,
“Let me teach you something that you will need to remember. [pause]
You don’t Stuff FIVE POUNDS OF MEAT into a PEPPER!!!!!”

As it turns out, my Partner likes Stuffed Peppers too.
He is a Vegetarian.
So I figured out, over time, how to make them with Soy “Ground Beef.”
I remember my Father’s Sage Advice to me, and I always combine the “Meat” with an equal or greater proportion of Rice.
The result is much tastier, fluffier, and Delicious.

I have also Experimented with adding other fresh diced Vegetables,
if I happen to have them in the Fridge.
The result is slightly different each time,
but Always a Worthwhile Discovery.

Are Stuffed Peppers a Personal Favorite?
Not at All.
I make them because My Partner Likes them So Much.
They were not a Personal Favorite of MOM’s either.
She made them for DAD.
Making Stuffed Peppers is an Act of Love.
That is how my Mother taught me to Cook.

Uncle Arnie’s Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers

Ingredients:

* Approximately 6 Large Fresh Peppers (Green is Best, but Red will also work. Yellow and Orange are a bit too delicate for Cooking this Long, and tend to Lose their Color.)
* 2 Large Vidalia Sweet Onions, Diced
* 8 Large Cloves of Garlic, Peeled and Sliced in Half
* Olive Oil (Approximately 6 -10 TableSpoons, for those who require a measurement.)
* One Medium Fresh Pepper, Diced (Red, Yellow or Orange works Best here.)
* Chopped Fresh Mushrooms (8oz — but more or Less is OK.) (Optional, but Delicious)
* Chopped Vegetables, Diced, (approximately 1 Cup– but more or Less is OK.) (You may Use Zucchini; Yellow Squash; Broccoli, Artichoke Stems; or any Vegetable you would sauté, provided that you can dice it, small.)
* 1 (12 ounce) Package of Soy Beef-less “Ground Beef” *
* I Can Diced Tomato (approximately 15 oz)
* 1 and ½ teaspoon Chili Powder
* 1 and ½ teaspoon Cumin
* 1 teaspoon Oregano
* [If you like it really hot, add ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper, as well. Otherwise, omit.]
* 2 and ½ Cups Cooked Rice (White, Brown or Red all work well)
* 1 (8 ounce) Package of Shredded Lite Mexican Cheese Blend or Lite Cheddar
*Low-Fat Sour Cream; Siracha Sauce — as Toppings for Serving.

*If you want to make the Carnivore’s Version, simply substitute Real Meat (a combination of Beef Pork and Veal would work Best.) for the Soy Meat.

The Process:

Wash All Vegetables.

Cut the top and Lift off.

Cut the top and Lift off.

Carefully cut the top out of each of the Six Large Peppers, removing the “cap” (with the Stem), and leaving an Opening large enough to Fill Easily with a TableSpoon. Remove the Core and All the Seeds.

The Peppers, Washed, Cut, & Cleaned

The Peppers, Washed, Cut, & Cleaned

Set the Cut and Cleaned Peppers aside.

Pour 3-4 TableSpoons Olive Oil into Large Frying Pan, to coat the bottom of the pan well.
Heat over Medium Heat.
Sautee Sliced Garlic Cloves, until fragrant and slightly Golden in Color (Not Brown) (approximately 1 minute)
Immediately, add the Diced Vidalia Onions, and Raise the heat to Medium-High.

Sauté the Onions

Sauté the Onions

Cook until they are wilted and soft, stirring often but not constantly.

Add the Diced Pepper

Add the Diced Pepper

Add the one Diced Medium Fresh Pepper, and Sautee together until the Pepper is Soft and the Onion is showing signs of Just Beginning to brown in places..

Remove and Discard Garlic Cloves.

If you are adding the Cup of Diced Mushrooms and/or the Additional Cup of Diced Vegetables, proceed as follows. Otherwise, skip this step.

This time I used some Small Diced Artichoke Stems

This time I used some Small Diced Artichoke Stems

I always like to add Diced Mushrooms

I always like to add Diced Mushrooms

Add 'em in

Add ’em in

Add to the Pan any other Diced Vegetables (1 Cup of Diced Fresh Mushrooms and/or 1 Cup of any or all of Zucchini; Yellow Squash; Broccoli, Artichoke Stems, etc.) that you would like to include (1 to 2 Cups total), cooking until soft.
Remove Vegetable Mixture from the heat, and transfer to a Bowl.

[This is a Good Moment to Preheat the Oven to 350 Degrees.]

the Beef-less “Ground Beef”

the Beef-less “Ground Beef”

Now, continuing to work on top of the Stove, Lower the Heat and add the Last 6 TableSpoons Olive Oil.
Break Apart the Soy Beef-less “Ground Beef” into the pan, and Sautee over Low Heat, just a minute or two until it starts to heat up.

Add the Spices to the Diced Tomatoes and Stir before adding to the pan

Add the Spices to the Diced Tomatoes and Stir before adding to the pan

Add Spices into the Diced Tomato and Stir Well.

Add the Spiced Tomatoes

Add the Spiced Tomatoes

Add Spiced Tomatoes into the Beef-less “Ground Beef” and Mix together in the pan.

Add the Cooked Rice

Add the Cooked Rice

Add the Cooked Rice.

Add the Cooked Vegetable Mixture

Add the Cooked Vegetable Mixture

Stir back in the Sauteed Onions & Vegetable Mixture.
When well-mixed, add in ½ Package of Cheese, and Mix Some More.

Everything tastes Better with Cheese!

Everything tastes Better with Cheese!

It will melt quickly and add a slight gooey-ness to the mixture (Yum! )

Yummy and Cheesey

Yummy and Cheesey

Remove from Heat Immediately.
Now, Lightly Grease a Pyrex or Steel Roasting Pan, using Oil or Non-Stick Cooking Spray.

Fill Each Pepper with the Stuffing

Fill Each Pepper with the Stuffing

Using a TableSpoon, fill each Raw Hallowed-Out Pepper with the Cooked Mixture — approximately 5/6ths Full, leaving just a bit of room for the Cheese on Top.
Stand them upright — it is ok if they are somewhat close together to help one another stand up.

Ready to go in the Oven

Ready to go in the Oven

Bake in the PreHeated Oven for 30 – 35 minutes.
Now, using Safety Mitts carefully remove the pan from the Oven.

Add the Cheese on Top

Add the Cheese on Top

Spoon the remaining Shredded Cheese on top of each Pepper where you’ve left room.
Return to Oven and Bake 10 – 15 minutes more, until Cheese is Well-Melted.

Remove from Oven.
Let Cool for 10 Minutes.

Fresh from the Oven

Fresh from the Oven

To Serve, Place in a Bowl or Plate and Slice in Half from the top down.
Top each half with a dollop of LowFat Sour Cream and a squiggle of Siracha Sauce.

An Act of Love

An Act of Love

Serve with Side Salad, or with Corn Chips, or all by itself.

Celebrate your Act of Love.

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1 Comment

  1. Janine Snape

     /  May 5, 2015

    Thanks for the gorgeous story and background to your recipe. I’m going to try these ones, Uncle Arnie ) x

    Reply

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