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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Pan-Seared Shrimp with Saffron Tomato Sauce

You’ve probably heard that saffron  is the most expensive spice on the planet.  Don’t be put off by that fact and neglect looking at some very interesting recipes.  Because saffron’s flavor is so strong, in most instances you only need a little.  Saffron is the signature flavor in such seafood dishes as bouillabaisse and paella and also in this dish that features shrimp in a tomato broth served over rice.  It is also the spice of choice when making risotto in the Northern provinces of Italy.

Saffron threads are actually the stigma of a particular variety of crocus.  Each flower bears only 3 of these stigma,which have to be carefully harvested by hand.  Somewhere around 50,000 flowers are needed to produce a single pound of saffron.  After harvest, the threads are delicately roasted over carefully tended wood fires.

When buying saffron look for a bright red-orange color and threads that are slightly pliable.  These characteristics are a sign of freshness, as saffron tends to darken and become  brittle as it ages.  Saffron is usually sold in specialty stores or in ethnic neighborhood markets.  It is packaged in tiny envelopes, and as long as they remain sealed the saffron will stay fresh.  I buy mine at an Italian foods market  in the city closest to where I live.

 

PAN-SEARED SHRIMP WITH SAFFRON TOMATO SAUCE

SERVES    4

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined (tails can be left on).
  • 3 Tablespoons EVOO, divided
  • 2 Tablespoons butter, divided
  • 2 medium shallots, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • pinch of saffron threads, crushed ( about 1/2 teaspoon )
  • 3 medium plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
  • cooked, short-grain rice for serving

PREPARATION

1.  Heat 2 Tablespoons of the olive oil and 1 Tablespoon butter in a large sauce pan over medium heat.  Add the shallots and sauté to light golden color, about 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2.  Stir in the wine and chicken broth.  Bring to a simmer, then add the saffron.  Simmer for 1 minute so it dissolves.  Add the tomatoes and season with salt and pepper.  Reduce heat to low.  Cover and simmer 12-15 minutes.  Remove from heat, add fresh parsley and  keep warm

3.  Do not wipe out the pan.  Increase heat to med-high and add the last Tablespoon of oil and butter.  Once hot add the shrimp in a single layer.  Season with salt and pepper.  Cook till brown on one side.  Turn over and cook till brown on 2nd side, and opaque throughout, 1 1/2 – 2 minutes longer.

4.  To serve:  in a large serving dish, make a bed of rice, top with the shrimp and sauce.

SOURCE:     My Gourmet Connection

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Homestyle Stuffed Peppers

I have two different ways that I prepare Stuffed Peppers;  one kind is made using Cubanelle or frying peppers, and this way using the more familiar Bell peppers.  This is the classic recipe my mother always made which I grew up on.  At another time I will share with you my recipe for the stuffed frying peppers.

Peppers in  any color combination–green, red, yellow, orange–are stuffed with a mixture of seasoned ground beef and rice then covered in a tomato sauce and baked until tender.  Sometimes I serve them with pasta such as rotini to soak up the sauce, or I might serve them with mashed potatoes and another vegetable like carrots.  It makes a very colorful plate.  The peppers may be oven baked or cooked in a slow cooker.

 INGREDIENTS

Servings:   4 

  • 4 nicely shaped bell peppers, tops, seeds and membranes removed.
  • 1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
  • 1 cup cooked white rice
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1 (14.5 0z. can tomato sauce) or jarred spaghetti sauce

DIRECTIONS

  1.  Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Cook the peppers in boiling water for 4-5 minutes.  Remove the peppers, rinse with cold water, and set aside to drain.
  2. Mix together ground beef, cooked rice, egg, chopped onion, bread crumbs, salt, black pepper, garlic powder, and 1/4 cup parmesan cheese in a large bowl.  Combine well.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  4. Divide beef and rice mixture evenly among the peppers, taking care not to pack too tightly.
  5. Place peppers standing up in a baking dish or shallow roasting pan.  It’s best if they fit rather snugly so they can support each other.
  6. Pour the tomato sauce over all.
  7. Bake in the preheated oven until tender, basting with the tomato sauce several times while baking,  about 1 hour and  20 minutes.
  8. Alternately, place peppers standing up in a slow cooker, pour sauce over all, and cook on LOW 6-8 hours.