Tag Archives: peppers

MexiMac

Tomorrow is National Macaroni and Cheese Day!  I love food holidays, the more ridiculous the better.  Macaroni and cheese is one of my favorite foods, so this holiday is especially important on my calendar.  But let’s celebrate with flair.  No box.  No plain Jane noodles.  Add some spice and some veggies with this MexiMac to have an extra special holiday.

Enjoy!

MexiMac (Serves 6-8)

MexiMac

1 box (13.25 ounce) whole wheat macaroni
2 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
1 jalapeno, diced small (seeds and membranes removed per preference)
1 clove garlic
2 tablespoons taco seasoning
2 tomatoes, chopped
¼ cup flour
2 ½ cups skim milk
1½-2 cups grated colby jack cheese
2 green onions, chopped small

1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add macaroni and cook until just al dente – the minimum time on the box or even a minute less. Drain.

3. While macaroni cooks, melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, bell pepper, and jalapeño to pan. Saute 3-5 minutes, until slightly softened. Add garlic and taco seasoning; cook 1 minute more. Add tomatoes. Cook until softened and most of the liquid is gone.

4. Add in black pepper and flour. Stir constantly, cooking for 1-2 minutes until just beginning to brown. Whisk/stir in milk, stirring constantly. Cook until sauce thickens, stirring frequently to prevent lumps, about 5 minutes.

5. Remove sauce from heat. Stir in cheese until melted and smooth. Add in drained pasta. Stir until well combined. Pour into a 2 quart baking dish. Sprinkle green onions over the top.

6. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until casserole is bubbling.

Nutritional Information (Amount per serving):

Calories: 446
Protein: 21 g
Fat: 14 g
Saturated Fat: 8 g
Cholesterol: 39 mg
Carbohydrates: 63 g
Fiber: 7 g
Sodium: 429 mg

Recipe notes: You could easily add some chicken or pork to this.

Source: adapted from The Pioneer Woman

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Crockpot Stuffed Peppers

Right after I got married, I got my first real job. I actually needed to cook dinner consistently for the first time AND didn’t have a lot of time to cook. I found myself turning to my slow cooker a lot. But we could only eat so many meals doused in cream of chicken or mushroom soup, so I began to look around for other ideas.

The great thing about these peppers is that they are very adaptable. Change up the ingredients as much as you’d like – corn, different beans, olives, different peppers, etc. The only downside I have found is the timing. If you leave these to cook for a long time, they kind of fall apart. They still taste great, but the presentation leaves something to be desired. I do think these taste better than peppers in the oven though, since they have more of a sauce.

Enjoy!

Crockpot Stuffed Peppers (Serves 6)

crockpot stuffed peppers

6 bell peppers (any mix of colors)
½ yellow onion, diced
1 can of low sodium black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup frozen corn
1 jalapeño, seeds and membranes removed per preference, diced
½ cup shredded colby jack cheese
1 cup brown rice
1 packet taco seasoning
1 can no salt added diced tomatoes, undrained
¾ cup salsa

1. Cut tops off peppers and remove seeds, stems, and cores. Dice pepper tops and place in a medium bowl.

2. To pepper tops, add onion, beans, corn, jalapeño, cheese, rice, taco seasoning, and half the can of tomatoes. Stuff peppers with mixture. Place peppers in crockpot. If you have an filling left over, pour it over the peppers in the crockpot.

3. Combine remaining tomatoes and salsa. Pour over stuffed peppers. Put lid on crockpot. Cook for 4-6 hours on low.

Nutritional Information (Amount per serving):

Calories: 263
Protein: 10 g
Fat: 5 g
Saturated Fat: 2 g
Cholesterol: 9 mg
Carbohydrates: 47 g
Fiber: 9 g
Sodium: 436 mg

Recipe Notes: You can use any color of bell peppers. I tend to prefer the flavor of red or yellow peppers, but green are usually cheaper. The recipe originally had ground beef instead of beans. It was tasty that way, but I like the vegetarian version. You could also split the cheese in half, mixing half in the stuffing and sprinkling half on top. I have found the cheese on top often gets lost when you are serving, so I don’t bother. Also, I ALWAYS have extra stuffing. If you could fit an extra pepper or so in your crockpot, you might want to use them.

Source: Adapted from Semi-Homemade Cooking 2

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Shakshuka

While I was familiar with the idea of brunch from a young age, I never truly experienced the delightful mixture of sweet and savory dishes that is a great brunch until grad school. I immediately fell in love. I’m generally inclined to sweets for breakfast in general; waffles are high on my list of favorite foods. However, a really great egg dish can hit the spot as well. Hence, brunch is a great spot for me.

This egg dish is different than any I had ever tried before. Spicy and full of tomatoes and peppers, but not in a Hispanic way. I even broke the pregnancy rule of no runny yokes to eat a poached egg. Worth every bite. Enjoy!

Shakshuka (Serves 3-4)

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1 tablespoon olive oil
½ medium yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 bell peppers, thinly sliced (preferably 2 different colors)
1 jalapeño chile, sliced into thin strips
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon dried marjoram
1 teaspoon paprika
1 (14-ounce) can no salt added diced tomatoes, crushed through your fingers a bit
6-8 eggs (depending on how many eggs each person wants)
½ cup feta cheese, crumbled
6 small or 4 large whole-wheat pitas or flatbreads (optional)

1. Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, and cook until beginning to soften, about 4-5 minutes. Add garlic; cook one minute more. Add all the peppers; sauté until they soften, about 5 minutes more. Add cumin, oregano, marjoram, and paprika. Cook one minute more.

2. Pour in the tomatoes plus half a can of water. Bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionaly.

3. Warm pitas or flatbreads, if using.

4. Make indentations in the sauce for each egg. Crack an egg into each indentation. Put lid on the pot. Cook the eggs to your desired level of firmness, keeping sauce at a simmer. Scoop eggs and sauce into pitas or onto flatbreads, if using, or just onto a plate. Garnish with feta. Eat immediately.

Nutritional Information (Amount per Serving):

Calories: 443
Protein: 23 g
Fat: 19 g
Saturated Fat: 7 g
Cholesterol: 389 mg
Carbohydrates: 44 g
Fiber: 7 g
Sodium: 606 mg

Recipe notes: I omitted the times for how long the eggs cook from the original recipe. My eggs took much longer to poach than it suggested. I don’t know if my sauce wasn’t simmering enough at that point or what. Just watch the whites to see when they are set. The yolks will probably be set fully 3-5 minutes after that, but I wouldn’t recommend going that far. I served mine on top of flatbreads, and I liked it that way. The original recipe suggested serving it in a pita. I honestly don’t know how that would work. My sauce was way too runny for that. But maybe yours will thicken up more. And I liked the runny egg, which I think would also be a mess in a pita sandwich. I’d love to hear how you serve it in the comments.

Source: adapted very slightly from Smitten Kitchen

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Polenta-Stuffed Poblanos with Fresh Salsa

I always thought of polenta as a “fancy” food that was hard to make. But when I started making polenta with sausage ragu, I realized it is nothing more than cornmeal porridge – the Italian form of grits, which I had grown up eating regularly.  Since it is simple to make and a new family favorite, I set out to find more recipes using polenta.

Honestly, many I found are just variations on a sauce over polenta.  I wasn’t willing to bother with just a variation on a dish I already really liked.  Then I stumbled on this little gem on pinterest.  This dish is different from anything else I’ve ever eaten and is phenomenal. The salsa on top is good enough to eat on its own.  But on top of the creamy polenta and chewy, charred peppers, it is even better.

Enjoy!

Polenta-Stuffed Poblanos with Fresh Salsa (Serves 4-6)

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8 roma tomatoes, halved lengthwise
1 jalapeño pepper, halved lengthwise, seeds and membranes removed (to your heat preference)
1 large red onion, cut into wedges (sixths or eighths should work)
½ tablespoon olive oil
4-6 poblano peppers, halved lengthwise, seeds removed
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon granulated garlic
¼ teaspoon salt
2 ¼ cups water
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup frozen corn kernels
2 ounces low-fat cream cheese
⅓ cup green onions, chopped, divided

1. Preheat broiler or grill. Toss tomatoes, jalapeño, and onion in olive oil. Broil or grill tomatoes, jalapeño, red onion, and poblanos for about 5-10 minutes on each side (starting with cut side down). Turn when beginning to char. Cook other side until charred as well.

2. In a food processor, chop tomatoes, jalapeño, onion, cinnamon, garlic, and salt to your desired salsa consistency.

3. Preheat oven to 400. In the bottom of a lightly greased 9×13 baking dish, spread a thin layer of the salsa.

4. In a medium saucepan, combine water, chicken broth, and cornmeal. Heat over medium heat, stirring constantly. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cook until thickened and pulling away from sides of the pan, stirring with whisk or wooden spoon. Remove from heat, and stir in corn, cream cheese, and ¼ cup of green onions.

5. Spoon polenta into poblano pepper halves until each pepper is full. (You may have leftover polenta.) Place stuffed peppers in baking dish. Cover with remaining salsa.

6. Bake until heated through, about 5-15 minutes. Serve with remaining green onions.

Nutritional Information (Amount per Serving with 6 servings):

Calories: 190
Protein: 5 g
Fat: 3.7 g
Saturated Fat: 1.2 g
Cholesterol: 5 mg
Carbohydrates: 36 g
Fiber: 4 g
Sodium: 148 mg

Recipe Notes: Be careful when grilling the tomatoes. Obviously they are full of juice, which can drip down and cause flares in your grill flames. I like a spicy salsa, but since I serve this to my 1 year old, I usually remove most of the seeds and membranes in the jalapeño. Leave them in if you like things spicy. The poblanos do provide a little heat, so keep that in mind. I know it seems odd that I say 4-6 poblano peppers. First, it depends on how big your peppers are. I usually try to get bigger peppers. Second, it depends on how stuffed you want them. I used 5 large poblanos when I made this batch, and they still had a lot of polenta in them. If you are looking for a shortcut, you could use store-bought salsa. You should try this salsa at some point though.

Source: adapted from Real Simple

Low-iodine adjustment: Use iodine free chicken broth and omit the cream cheese.

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Philly Cheesesteaks

Having never been to Philadelphia, I can’t vouch for the authenticity of these sandwiches.  But I can tell you they are delicious.  Even better, they are easy and fun to make.  My husband always helps me make these, because he thinks slicing the meat is pretty neat.

I usually buy whole-wheat hoagie rolls for these sandwiches.  I made some whole wheat french bread rolls this time.  They got a lot bigger than I expected in the second rise, so the sandwich looks huge in this picture.  The amount of filling is the right amount for four sandwiches, but there is a lot more bread than for a normal hoagie roll.

Philly Cheesesteaks (Serves 4)

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1 lb top round steak
2 teaspoons canola oil
2 bell peppers, sliced
1 onion, sliced
6 ounces of provolone cheese, sliced
4 whole wheat sandwich rolls

1. Slice steak into 1 inch strips. Place in a freezer bag and put in freezer for at least 1 hour.

2. Place largest slicing disk on food processor. Feed frozen steak strips through food processor. You should have small slices and some shaved pieces of meat.

3. Heat oil in large skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Add sliced peppers, cooking for 2-3 minutes. Add sliced onion. Cook for about 5 minutes more, or until vegetables are mostly tender.

4. Add steak and cook until no longer pink, about 3 minutes or so. Place slices of cheese over the top of the meat/vegetable mixture to evenly distribute. Cover pan, and cook until cheese melts. Serve in sandwich rolls.

Nutritional Information (Amount per sandwich):

Calories: 501
Protein: 44 g
Fat: 20 g
Saturated Fat: 9 g
Cholesterol: 101 mg
Carbohydrates: 39 g
Fiber: 6 g
Sodium: 775 mg

Recipe Notes: If you can’t find top round steak, I have used flank steak as well. It isn’t as lean, so do try to find the top round. When freezing the meat, you want a good balance of being frozen but not rock solid. If it is too frozen, the slicing blade can have a hard time with it. If you don’t have a food processor, no problem– just try to slice the steak as thinly as possible before cooking it.  You’ll likely have to cook the meat a little longer, too.  When I buy provolone, it comes in 1.5 ounce slices, so I use 4 slices. If yours comes in 1 ounce slices, you could decrease the cheese to just 4 slices. This would save you calories, fat, and sodium. But, it is a cheesesteak, so don’t be too hard on yourself.

I know the nutrition facts don’t look that great for this sandwich. But here is a commercial cheesesteaks nutrition facts:

Calories: 760 calories
Protein: 57 g
Fat: 32 g
Saturated Fat: 17 g
Cholesterol: 145 mg
Carbohydrates: 65 g
Fiber: 2 g
Sodium: 2500 mg

Source:  Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen

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