Nobody really needs an excuse to drink margaritas and eat enchiladas. But if you did, Cinco de Mayo would be it. The fifth of May is a holiday that celebrates Mexico’s defeat of French colonists who were trying to expand into Mexico. It has its importance in Mexico, yes, but is widely celebrated here in the U.S. where drinking margaritas and eating Tex-Mex foods is the center of most activities.
Other popular Mexican foods include guacamole, tacos, tortillas, burittos, and churros. I enjoy eating any or all of them, but recipes for those can be found in abundance at many food-related sites, and often include (non)healthy doses of fat and calories. I wanted to prepare an entree that would be healthy, colorful and speak Mexican, while keeping the fat in check. So stuffed peppers it is, with a nod to Cinco de Mayo. They are muy Mexican and delicioso!!
MEXICAN STUFFED PEPPERS
Yield: Makes 4 servings:
- 4 (medium sized) bell peppers in assorted colors
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1 package Spanish Rice mix, such as Rice-a-Roni
- 2 cups Colby-Jack cheese, grated
- 1 1/2 cup salsa, choose your level of “heat”
- 1 tablespoon hot sauce
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 tablespoon minced cilantro, or parsley
1. Preheat the oven to 350*F. Lightly spray a baking dish with non-stick spray. Clean and prepare the peppers. Slice in half vertically, removing all ribs and seeds. Set aside. Note: You may wish to leave the peppers whole for stuffing. I like to cut mine in half so I get more stuffing–for me, it’s all about the stuffing and not so much the pepper.
2. Cook the beef: In a large skillet heated to medium-high, crumble the beef and cook until no longer pink. Near the end of its cooking time add the onions and sauté a bit longer till they soften. Drain any drippings.
3. Stir in the package of rice mix and its seasonings, 1 1/2 cup cheese, salsa and hot sauce. (I added about 1/2 cup water, to be sure there was enough liquid to cook the rice.)
4. Fill the pepper halves so the filling is slightly mounded at the top. Place in a baking dish close together so they support each other. Pour the 1/2 cup water around them.
Cover with foil and bake until they are tender, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. If you like to use cooking bags, place the peppers in a bag and bake for about the same length of time.
5. When the peppers are tender, remove any covering, sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup cheese, and return to oven to melt cheese. Sprinkle with cilantro before serving.
SOURCE: majorly adapted from a recipe from Taste of Home