Variations on a Theme: Stuffed Bell Peppers part 1 of 2

Believe it or not the first time I ever ate stuffed bell peppers was when I was 20! I was driving across the country (from Oregon to Georgia) to see my beloved as he graduated from basic training (after 8 agonizing weeks of nothing but love letters) and after crashing my car midway down the California stretch of my trip I over-nighted with my mom’s best friend and she served the most ah-mazing thing for dinner, stuffed bell peppers! It was the traditional take on stuffed peppers but they blew my mind! Over the next four years I fiddled with her recipe and have since come up with four variations that I love, three of which my husband likes as well (the fourth is too spicy for his taste). There is the original stuffed peppers, creamy spinach and wild mushroom stuffed peppers (not to be confused with cream of spinach GROSS). Both of these are relatively inexpensive, delicious, and fairly healthy (as long as you don’t over due it on the cheese.) They are also done in large batches so you can freeze the left over stuffing (which freezes well) and then next time you can make stuffed peppers in the crock pot which is an awesome time saver for busy moms like me. They are also beginner cook friendly (although the creamy spinach and wild mushroom variety is a bit more complex.) Without further explanation or rambling:

Original Stuffed Bell Peppers

This recipe is done large so that you can freeze any leftover stuffing in Ziploc freezer bags for the future-next time it will be faster just to boil the peppers

6 to 12 large peppers—cored—be sure they are more flat bottomed to stand up.

3 lbs lean hamburger

1 large onion—chopped

2 tlbs gran. Garlic

½ tsp pepper

¼ cup Worchestershire sauce

2 cups rice—cook in 4 cups beef broth (bullion, homemade, tinned, or consume are all just fine)

2 cups cheddar/ Jack cheese-grated

1 cup Sharp cheddar cheese-grated

sprinkling of garlic salt

1/2 pepper jack cheese grated, & some cut into ½” x 1/2” long cubes

1 large can crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce

*you can add salt if you choose, but there’s plenty in the cheeses

Pre-heat oven to 350

Do the following at the same time (are you feeling lucky?):

1. Brown hamburger and onion in large skillet–drain grease

Cook 2 cups of long grain rice (makes 4 cups).

Place cored peppers into large pot of boiling water, cover and boil for 3-5 mins.

Grate cheese and cube Pepper jack

2. Mix hamburger, onion, rice, all the cheeses, worchestershire, garlic, pepper and 2/3’s of crushed tomatoes (or sauce).

3.TASTE THE STUFFING. I cannot emphasize this enough. If you don’t do a taste test here and adjust as needed then you are stuck with what you get. This is your last opportunity to adjust seasonings

4. Stuff mixture ½ way into peppers, place cube of pepper jack cheese into centers, finish stuffing mixture to the top of pepper (be sure to pack well).

5. Place in to large oven dish—pour rest of tomato sauce and sprinkle with garlic salt lightly  on to each pepper.  Cover and bake at 350 for 45 mins.

6. Pull from oven, cover with a little grated jack cheese and return to oven uncovered for 15 mins

If the peppers are still too crunchy for your taste continue baking for up to 20 more min in 5 min intervals. (In other words cook five min, check, cook another 5 min, check etc.)

The other three recipes will be posted over the next couple of days, I just figured if I were reading the blog I would want to be able to search for each recipe independently rather than scroll through a novel to find what I am looking for.

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