Mexican Stuffed Peppers

Mexican Stuffed Peppers

Mexican Stuffed Peppers

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!!

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MEXICAN STUFFED PEPPERS

Yield:   Makes 4 servings:

Ingredients:IMG_7136

  • 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

Directions:

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.

Peppers halved and prepared for  stuffing.

Peppers halved and prepared for stuffing.

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.

Browning the beef and onions.

Browning the beef and onions.

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.

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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.

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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.

Mexican Stuffed Peppers

Mexican Stuffed Peppers

 

SOURCE:  majorly adapted from a recipe from Taste of Home

 

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Chicken Fajita Pizza

Chicken Fajita Pizza

Chicken Fajita Pizza

We first tasted Chicken Fajita Pizza at Uno’s Restaurant.  After that first time we ordered it every time we went there.  But then  for unknown reasons the Uno’s nearest to where we live closed, so I was forced to make it at home if we were ever going to enjoy it again.  And that is the story of how this recipe came to be.  It may not be an exact copy of the original, but we like it a lot, and its one of several pizza flavors that I make on a regular basis.

When I first attempted to make it I was experimenting with the seasonings, trying to recapture that fajita flavor.  Then I discovered that Lowry’s makes a Fajita Seasoning Mix, so now I cheat and use that, and we are happier with how it tastes.

CHICKEN FAJITA PIZZA

Yield:   Makes 1  10-inch pizza,  serves 2

Ingredients:IMG_5762

  • 1  1-pound package pizza dough, thawed if frozen
  • 1  pound skinless, boneless, chicken breasts, or chicken tenderloins
  • 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 pkg. Fajita Seasoning mix
  • 1 medium pepper, any color, cut into strips
  • 1 medium onion, cut into wedges
  • 2 cups shredded Mexican Blend cheese

Directions:

1.  On a 10-inch pizza baking pan, or baking stone,  roll or stretch the dough to fit the pan/stone.  If the dough resists stretching, let it rest for 5 minutes and continue, repeating if necessary.    Preheat oven to 425*F.

2.  Spread 1 cup of the shredded cheese over the dough.

Spread some of the cheese over the dough.

Spread some of the cheese over the dough.

3.  In a large skillet, over medium-high heat,  add the vegetable oil and get it hot, then add the chicken and sauté quickly,  just to brown lightly.    Don’t crowd the pan, do it in two batches if necessary.  Remove chicken to a platter and set aside.

4.  In the same skillet, add a drizzle more oil if needed.  Add the peppers and onion, and sauté them lightly.

Sautéing peppers and onions.

Sautéing peppers and onions.

They should not be thoroughly cooked.  Add the chicken back into the pan.

Chicken with seasonings sprinkled over it.

Chicken with seasonings sprinkled over it.

Everything mixed together.

Everything mixed together.

5.  Sprinkle Fajita Seasoning over all, then add the water.  Cook uncovered over medium heat for about 5  minutes, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are crisp-tender.  Remove from heat.

6.  Spoon chicken mixture over the dough and cheese.   Sprinkle remaining cheese over the top.

7.  Bake at 425*F. for 15 minutes, checking  that it is not getting over browned.  Crust edges should be lightly brown, and topping melty and gooey.

Tastes just like chicken fajita without the tortilla.

Tastes just like chicken fajita without the tortilla.

Note:  for a crispier crust, dust the pizza pan or baking stone with cornmeal before laying out the dough.

SOURCE:   a Carolyn Original

Grilled Chicken and Vegetable Quesadillas

Grilled chicken and vegetable quesadillas.

Grilled chicken and vegetable quesadillas.

As much as we like to eat grilled chicken, there are just so many ways to season it, or baste it with BBQ sauce, so when I come across a different way to fix it that is quick, tasty and healthy, I’m willing to try it out.  Such is the case with this recipe.  Chicken wrapped up in a package that you eat with your hands is fun to eat.

While your grill is preheating you season the chicken with a rub-on spice mixture, and slice up the onions and peppers.  Cook everything all together on the grill, then wrap it in a flour tortilla with some cheese, and toast it till the cheese melts.  Now, with dinner in hand, grab something cold to drink along with it, and enjoy your meal on the deck or patio.  Pretty simple, yes?   And diet friendly besides. A serving is one filled flour tortilla.  Calories: 310, Fat: 13 g., Carbs: 20.4 g.  You could even add a tomato and avocado salad and still keep the calories under 500 for a whole meal.

GRILLED CHICKEN AND VEGETABLE QUESADILLAS

Servings:   4

Ingredients:

Season the chicken with a rub made from these herbs and spices.

Season the chicken with a rub made from these herbs and spices.

  • 1 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp.  salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 2  ( 6-oz.) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • 1 onion, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices
  • 1 orange or yellow bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch thick wedges
  • cooking spray
  • 3 oz. Monterey Jack cheese, shredded – about 3/4 cup
  • 4  (6-inch) flour tortillas
  • 1/4 cup reduced fat sour cream

1.  Preheat grill to medium-high heat.

2.  Combine paprika, garlic powder, oregano, cumin, salt, and black pepper in a small bowl.  Rub this mixture evenly over chicken; let stand 10 minutes.

Coat the chicken pieces well with the rub mixture.

Coat the chicken pieces well with the rub mixture.

3.  Arrange chicken, onion, and bell  pepper on grill rack coated with cooking spray.

Prepare the vegetables for the grill.

Prepare the vegetables for the grill.

Cook vegetables 4 minutes on each side or until tender.  Cook chicken 6 minutes on each side or until done.  Remove chicken and vegetables from grill;  coarsely chop vegetables.  Let chicken stand 5 minutes, thinly slice chicken.

Chicken and vegetables all cooked.

Chicken and vegetables all cooked.

4.  Sprinkle about 3 Tablespoons cheese over half of each tortilla;  divide vegetables and chicken evenly over cheese.  Fold each tortilla in half over filling; lightly coat tortillas with cooking spray.

Sprinkle grated cheese on half of each tortilla.

Sprinkle grated cheese on half of each tortilla.

Divide the chicken and vegetables between the flour tortillas.

Divide the chicken and vegetables between the flour tortillas.

5.  Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat.  Place 2 quesadillas in pan;  cook 2 to 3 minutes on each side or until cheese melts and tortillas are lightly browned.  Repeat procedure with remaining 2 quesadillas.

Place two quesadillas at a time in a large fry pan, and toast to melt the cheese.

Place two quesadillas at a time in a large fry pan, and toast to melt the cheese.

Cut each quesadilla into 2-3 wedges, serve with sour cream.

Cut the quesadillas in wedges to serve.

Cut the quesadillas in wedges to serve.

In my photos you may have noticed that I had 3 large pieces of chicken that I cooked this way.  The next day I used the extra chicken for a chicken caesar salad for our lunches.  Mr.  D. said he got looks of envy from office co-workers.  But it is nice treat when you have a great lunch made from last evening’s dinner and you really appreciate your efforts to plan for extra.

SOURCE:   Cooking Light

Wasabi Salmon

As I have mentioned before, we eat salmon quite frequently, and so I am always open to different ways to prepare it.  This version of salmon was prepared for  me and my husband last summer by a family member whom we were visiting.  We thought it was delicious:  crispy around the edges, while remaining moist inside, and baked on a bed of vegetables that consisted of strips of multi-colored peppers and sliced onions.  Potatoes baked in the oven along with the fish, and a green salad made a complete meal with very little “hands-on” time.

I have cooked salmon this way several times since last summer and each time I vary the vegetables depending on what is available.  One vegetable I really like is fennel.  I think it is an under used vegetable.  It is delicious raw in salads with its faint anise flavor, but when it is cooked that flavor is not noticeable .  It is most like cooked celery, and blends very well with other vegetables, particularly onions.  When I made this dish most recently, I combined peppers with fennel and onions.  In an effort to save time and labor, I purchased a mixture of red, yellow and orange pepper strips from the grocery store salad bar.  This is a dish that goes together without a recipe, so there are no exact measurements. This is how I proceed;  adjust amounts to your taste.

INGREDIENTS

Serves  4

  • 1 fillet of salmon weighing between 1 – 1.5 pounds
  • Gold’s Wasabi Sauce with Ginger
  • seafood seasoning, such as Old Bay
  • 2 cups pepper strips in assorted colors
  • 1 medium fennel bulb, stalks, fronds, and core removed;  thinly sliced.
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced.
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons butter, melted

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Spray a baking dish with baking spray.  I used a 7″ x 11″ pan, whatever your salmon will fit into.

Layer the peppers, onion and fennel in the baking dish.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Drizzle melted buyer over the top.

Lay the salmon fillet on top of the vegetables.  Sprinkle with seafood seasoning, about 1/2 teaspoon.  Then “frost” the salmon with the Wasabi Sauce so its pretty well covered.  Place in a 400 degree oven and bake for 45 minutes – 1 hour, depends on thickness of  your salmon fillet.  Test at 45 minutes by piercing with the tip of a knife.  If fish flakes easily its done.  Vegetables should be tender.

A glass of crisp Chardonnay goes very well with this dish!

SOURCE:   A Carolyn Original