Sunday, September 22, 2013

Around the House - Stuffed Peppers!

Hi all!

Yesterday We headed out to a birthday party here in our neighborhood.  The coolest part?  It was a Cuban party!  Why is this exciting to me?  A couple weeks ago I told y'all about meeting a Cuban family at the bus stop - first time I have met any Cubans outside of my own family (and I have barely met any of them!)  Well their daughter turned 6 and they threw a party - and let me tell you Cubans LOVE to party!  So it was not the traditional sort of birthday party you generally think of - in some ways it was.  There were several neighbors but mostly other Cuban families - they have managed to find each other and stick together but they do not all live close.  One family came from as far as North Carolina!  We had kids running amuck, balloons, brithday cake and a bouncy house.  But we also had fantastic Cuban food - Croquettas (hubby's fave) and Ropa Vieja - YUMO!  But the best part was getting to hear about other Cubans' experiences and hearing more of Cuba, especially recent Cuba (my family left in 1959 & 1961.)  It is an interesting experience to suddenly realize you are not alone.  I am looking forward to more parties and also happy that Pezza finally seems to be getting along with Rebecca!  They had a bit of a falling out when Rebecca was insisting Pezza HAD to like Barbie's because she is a girl.  Pezza DOES NOT like Barbies.....

Now let's get to my post for today!  On Sundays I like to do a post outside of the normal crafty stuff.  Mostly cooking but I will be adding in other things as I get to them!  Today I wanted to share my Stuffed Peppers with you as well as ways to get more done at once to save time later!

Technically these are my fabulous stepmom's peppers because of one key change - she layers cheese in there!  DEE-LISH!  I use the colored peppers - Hubby doesn't like the green ones and these are just so darn pretty!

Remember that post a ways back where we chopped up loads of seasoning vegies to freeze and cut prep time while cooking?  If you missed it head back and check it out after reading this one!  Anyway, we start with those.  I melt some real butter with some olive oil - about half and half to cover the bottom of the pan.  Throw in several handfulls of the seasoning vegies and saute.  We are making some for now and some for later so we need alot!  You could also throw in some minced jalapeno or other spicy peppers but I did not have any on hand.  Also begin bringing a big pot of salted water to a boil AND get some rice started - I made 3 cups of rice.

Once the vegies are soft remove 1/3 of them and set them aside.  Add your ground meat - about 1 1/2 pounds or a little more (though I thawed 3 pounds and you will see why in a minute.)  In my case I have half lean ground beef and half ground turkey.  You could also add sausage for a different taste.  Add your seasonings - I have an Italian Spices grinder I used.  Another good one is Emeril's Bam Burgers seasoning mix.  Continue cooking until the meat is browned.  I "chop" it as I go with my wooden spoon too.

While your meat is browning and once your water is boiling drop your cleaned pepper halves into the boiling water for about 3 minutes and then remove.

Arrange them in your baking dish and layer some cheese in the bottoms.  I used 2 layers of Havarti and one of Colby Jack.  Pepper Jack would also work really well here.  It was at this point that I found myself lamenting at the quality (or lack of) in produce now that I am not in southern California.  My peppers are so SMALL!!!

By now your meat should be browned or close to it.  Once it is add a can of stewed tomatoes and a can of tomato paste.  Mix it in well.

When it is heated through turn off the stove and add your rice - I have about 2 cups in there but adjust it to your families' taste - some may like more rice some more meat. 

Now fill those babies up and add a swirl of ketchup to the top.  Pop them in the oven at 350 for 20 minutes or so - keep an eye on them because you aren't really COOKING anything, mostly just melting the cheeses and browning the tops a bit.  You will only use about half of the mixture to fill the 6 peppers.  Which is great news because now you have leftovers to freeze to make life easier on another day and it didn't take any more time and energy to cook a double batch!  You can either freeze the filling alone (what I did) or assemble additional Peppers and freeze those.  The frozen peppers will make GREAT individual meals for someone to grab or  use them all at once to make a second meal for everyone.  Make ahead meal #1 done.

Remember the cooked vegies and the other 1 1/2 pounds of ground meat we set aside?  Once the vegies are cooled we add the remainder of our UNCOOKED ground meat - the other 1 1/2 pounds I thawed.

We are going to make a meatloaf to freeze right quick!  Throw in an egg, some bread crumbs and spices and form into a loaf.

Wrap in foil, place in a freezer ziplock and you have your second easy freezer meal done.  All you will need to do is thaw it, mix up a tomato sauce and bake.  Throw together some mashed potatoes and a vegie and done!  Make ahead meal #2 done!

We also have some leftover rice.  That's because we are also going to do an easy rice pudding for dessert!  OH how I LOVE me some rice pudding and this one doesn't involve standing over the pot stirring to make your custard.  For that I turned to Paula Dean (I know I know she has been is trouble lately and we won't get into that here - the woman CAN COOK.)  Get the Recipe.

This rice pudding is baked - much like my bread pudding (which is to DIE FOR.)  BUT when you bake a custard type dish you need to set your baking dish inside of another larger dish of water like the pic above.  Throw it in the oven - easy peasy!

I did not add the raisins to mine but here it is - let me tell you it disappeared FAST!  When I make rice I usually make a 1/3 white to 2/3 brown ratio.  It worked perfectly in the pudding.

So there you go - without spending but a TINY amount of extra time in the kitchen you have made dinner and dessert PLUS two additional short cut meals to stash in your freezer (for those days when you realize you have spent way too long in your craft room!)  Now I have to get that Ropa Vieja recipe from Lourdes........

1 comment:

  1. Aaaaah!!! I *LOVE* me some of your Sunday posts!!! I'm not the biggest fan of peppers (green ones, just like Kev!) but you, mama, can cook so it's making me want to try these and Bart will be over the moon because he never gets to eat peppers because of me! And I've got two packages of ground chicken in the freezer waiting for me to make a meatloaf anyway so I think I've got some Pezadoodle style cooking coming up this week!

    I WANT THAT RICE PUDDING in the baddest way!!! Thanks for sharing and so glad you found some Cuban friends!!! I imagine it was super loud and Kevin was wondering why everyone was yelling? LOL *HUGS* MISS YOU!