Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Using the Harvest: Stuffed Peppers

For the past several years I have started most week-days with a 45 minute walk with several girlfriends. It's been a great way to start the day, other than the ridiculously early hour we do it (due to the fact that one has to get her kids off to school and go to work and another has to get her grandson off to school too.) It is therapeutic, not just for the obvious excercise we get, but it is a great time to share what's on our minds regularly and in the gray, cold time of year to combat the winter doldrums. Unfortunately this very cold and snowy winter has really limited those walks and I miss them! I am just not a self-starter with the excercise unless it's working in the garden, so the couch potato syndrome is settling in on me altogether too much. I was given one of those Maxine daily calendars this Christmas and today's little joke expresses my situation quite well: "I was planning to go to the gym, but I got a better offer from my refrigerator." Yup, altogether too much eating going on around here.
Still, I am trying to modify my diet somewhat and limit the amount of dairy and meat I'm eating. It helps that D is a vegetarian. I thought I'd share how I used peppers from our garden to make stuffed peppers for supper the other night.
We had such an abundance of peppers this past summer and many of them grew large enough for stuffed peppers. So while most of my excess harvest was sliced up or cut into large chunks for freezing, the biggest ones were just cut in halves and frozen just that way to be used for stuffers. It worked out great and eliminated the need to par- boil the peppers before baking them.
The picture is not the most colorful, but I can assure you, they looked good as they came out of the oven. This recipe does not have to be vegetarian, in fact, the original does call for about a pound of ground beef in it, and that tastes marvelous. But I substituted chopped mushrooms for the ground beef, which worked very nicely.
I just took my frozen pepper halves and layed them out in a baking dish. Didn't bother to thaw them out. At this point I would brown the ground beef (or in this case, saute the chopped mushrooms) with chopped onion and garlic.
Add a mixture of rice (a half-cup uncooked white and half-cup uncooked brown) along with tomatoes from my garden. These were frozen, but usually I would use two pint jars of canned. I also add an undrained small can of chilis and a cup of frozen corn. Season the mixture with about a teaspoon of chili powder and a quarter teaspoon of cumin (more if you like it), some vegetable bouillon, salt and pepper to taste.
I'm still using my home-grown onions, although they are not much bigger than sets and rather annoying to peel and chop. This mixture is cooked over medium heat until the rice absorbs the liquid. Fill the pepper halves generously with the filling mixture.
Finally, sprinkle some shredded cheddar cheese on top and bake, covered for about 45 minutes. I was very pleased with how these came out. I would say the only major difference in using the frozen, unthawed peppers to the par-boiled fresh ones was that there was a fair amount of liquid in the pan after baking. Maybe I should have baked them without the cheese, uncovered and added the cheese the last 15 minutes. I'll try that next time. This is a very forgiving meal as you can really adjust the recipe any way you like to change the filling. I'm feeling all healthier-than-thou having the vegetarian version, but with the hamburger they are really even tastier! But until I get into that walking habit again, I'd better pass for now!


  1. I bet those peppers were great! I have an abundance of peppers in the freezer. I think I will give this a try.

    I also need to start walking in the wee hours of the morning! I used to walk with some of the neighbors. I guess I can do it on my own.

    1. My problem is that on my own I just won't do the excercise. Need someone to spur me on and walking and chattering with friends make it almost painless.

  2. I am hoping to grow more peppers this year and make stuffed peppers for the freezer. I never thought of just having them and doing when I needed them. Thanks for the idea. My husband does not like mushrooms otherwise I think that sounds good! My pepper plants were a complete failure last year. Hoping for better success this year! Nancy

    1. Good luck with this year's peppers Nancy! I've found that there are up and down years. I did great with them in 2012, not so much at all in 2011. Having the peppers already stuffed and ready in the freezer is great for those days you just don't want to cook at all!