Basmati-Stuffed Peppers

I meant to make this recipe last week, which means the peppers sat on the counter longer than they should have. One of them bit the dust, so I ended up using some creme brulee sized dishes to act as a fake pepper shell (it worked perfectly, by the way!). So if you have a pepper-hater in your house (ack!) then you can use this option as well!!

This recipe requires a little bit of prep work, but was very tasty. Using extra lean ground beef ensures that your filling won’t be greasy. Instead, it was perfectly moist with tender, nutty rice and a hint of spice from the jalapeno. If you like heat, leave the seeds in. If you like a milder dish, remove the seeds and ribs before you chop it. These were VERY filling and only needed a light side dish – we chose some whole wheat naan!

Basmati-Stuffed Peppers

Yield: 4 servings (2 pepper halves per serving)
Inspired by: a Cooking Light Recipe

4 large green bell peppers
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeno pepper, minced
1/2 cup uncooked basmati rice
1 cup fat-free, low sodium chicken broth
2 cups tomato sauce, divided
1/2 cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese, divided
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 pound ground beef, extra lean

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2) Cut bell peppers in half lengthwise (through the stem), discarding the seeds and membranes. Place on a foil-lined jelly-roll pan, cut sides up.

3) Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions, garlic, and jalapenos to the pan; saute 5 minutes or until onion is lightly browned. Add rice and cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add broth and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool completely

4) Combine the cooled rice mixture, 1 cup tomato sauce, 1/4 cup cheese, salt, pepper, egg, and ground beef. Spoon about 1/2 cup meat mixture into each pepper half. Spoon remaining 1 cup tomato sauce evenly over peppers. Cover the pan and bake at 400 degrees for 45 minutes. Uncover and sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup cheese; bake 3-5 minutes or until cheese melts.

Yellow Rice

One of my favorite side dishes is yellow rice. I normally just buy a packet at the supermarket, but if you look at the list of ingredients you will quickly realize that it’s one unhealthy thing after another (and the sodium, holy blood pressure, the sodium is off the charts!). This recipe is adapted from one of Emeril’s Recipes. You can see it in photographs here under my Spicy Vegetarian Picadillo. This is incredibly easy – it’s one of those ‘set it and forget it’ recipes. Put it on while you’re making your main dish and when you’re ready for it, it will be ready for you!

(57) Risotto with Chicken and Beet Greens

I have to admit right here and now – my husband and I do not really love beets. So when I saw beet greens in the CSA box this week, I thought ‘eh, ok’. But today I got up the nerve to find a good recipe for them and I’m sure glad I did!

This risotto was an excellent way to use the beet greens! I only had about 3/4 lb of greens and they were slim and sometimes short. The final product didn’t taste overly ‘beet-ish’ at all, which was my biggest fear. Not sure if it’s because I didn’t have a pound, they were small, or that’s just the way this recipe works! In any case, it was DELICIOUS and the perfect lunch for us!

As with any risotto, there’s an awful lot of stirring and waiting. The recipe says it should take 20 minutes and mine took at least 2x that long. It’s quite possible that I was overly cautious, but if yours takes that long too, don’t worry! Slow and steady is better than speedy in this case!

For my vegetarian friends out there, you could easily omit the chicken and sub in veggie broth. And if you’re vegan (hi Natalie!) if you can find a good vegan substitute for parmesan, you’re golden! (I used asiago and parmesan, but any mix of sharp tasting cheeses, vegan or not, would work!)

Risotto with Chicken and Beet Greens

Yield: 6 servings
Source: Gourmet Magazine, March 1996

5 cups chicken broth
1 cup water
1 pound beet stems and greens (from about 6 beets), stems trimmed and leaves washed well
1 small onion, chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 whole skinless boneless chicken breasts (about 1 pound total), cut into 1-inch pieces
2 cups Arborio rice
1/3 cup dry white wine
2 teaspoons red-wine vinegar
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan (about 1 1/2 ounces)
freshly ground black pepper to taste

In a saucepan bring broth and water to a simmer and keep at a bare simmer.

Cut beet stems into 1/4-inch pieces and slice leaves thin. In a 4-quart heavy kettle cook beet stems and onion in 2 tablespoons oil over moderate heat until stems are tender, about 5 minutes. Add chicken and cook until opaque, about 2 minutes. Add remaining tablespoon oil and beet leaves and sauté over moderately high heat, stirring, until leaves are wilted and any liquid is evaporated.

Add rice to chicken mixture and cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute. Add wine and cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly, until absorbed. Stir in about 1 cup broth and cook at a bare simmer, stirring constantly, until absorbed. Continue simmering and adding broth, about 1/3 cup at a time, stirring constantly and letting each addition be absorbed before adding next, until rice is tender and creamy looking but still al dente, 18 to 20 minutes.

Remove pan from heat and stir in vinegar, grated Parmesan, black pepper, and salt to taste.

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(56) Gratin Au Chou

One of my favorite memories from elementary school was taking French classes. We went to a private school and we did French every week. It was mostly puppets and flash cards and LOTS of singing. One of the songs we sang was “Savez-vous planter les chous?” (that means “Do you know how to plant the cabbages?”) and was meant to help you learn body parts. The French also refer to chou as sweetheart (Ma petite chou literally means “my little cabbage”, but figuratively means “my sweetie”). All that to say, I love chou – it has a special place in my heart!! I love cabbage, but chou is even better 🙂

I was trying to come up with what to do with my cabbages from the CSA box and since I can’t really chew much right now, this was the perfect fit! The original recipe kind of stunk and I ended up having to really improvise as I went along, but I wrote it all down and will hopefully not lead you astray!! The flavor of the sauce is what really wins this dish. Mixing it all up after it goes on your plate = HEAVEN! Oh and the original recipe said serves 6, but I can only assume that’s as a main dish. I say 8-10 as a side. Great with roasted chicken!

Gratin Au Chou

Yield: 8-10 servings (as a side)
Source: Adapted from an online recipe

1 medium Savoy cabbage (or a small Savoy and a small green cabbage is what I did…)
2 onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons cooking oil
1 1/2 cups white rice
1 pound very ripe tomatoes, chopped
2 cups water
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk (I used skim, but use whatever pleases you!)
1/2 pound grated cheese (Gruyère or Swiss)
salt and pepper

Cut the cabbage in quarters, wash well, and cut out the hard inner core. Chop the leaves and cook the cabbage for 10 minutes in a large pot of boiling water. You want it to be soft but not dead. Drain and set aside.

Heat the oil in a frying pan and add the onions and garlic. Cook for five minutes. Add the rice and cook for two minutes, stirring. Add the chopped tomatoes and 1 cup of water. Cook for 10 minutes or until the rice is just tender, adding up to 1 cup more water as needed. You want your rice to be soft but not soupy…

Meanwhile make a bechamel sauce by melting the butter in a saucepan and stirring in the flour. Cook the roux for two minutes and than slowly whisk in milk. Heat on medium heat until nearly boiling and thickened, then gradually add half of the cheese while stirring. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper (I used 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper). Oh and if you’re like me and can’t read directions properly and you just added ALL of the cheese, no worries. It will still be yummy!

To construct casserole, butter a large baking dish. Beginning with the cabbage, layer the cabbage and the rice mixture. Aim to get three even layers of each. Pour the bechamel sauce evenly over the top. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese and bake at 350° F for 30 minutes. Serve the cabbage casserole hot.

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(29) Chicken and Sausage Gumbo

This was our Superbowl meal – ready to cheer on the Saints to victory!! It was pretty easy to put together, very filling and very tasty. It wasn’t spicy enough for my liking, so I added more Tabasco. I will make this again for sure!

Chicken and Sausage Gumbo

Yield: 6 servings (serving size: 1 2/3 cups gumbo and 1/2 cup rice)
Source: Cooking Light, JUNE 2007

1/4 cup all-purpose flour (about 1 ounce)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 1/2 cups finely chopped yellow onion (1 large)
1 1/2 cups finely chopped green bell pepper (1 large)
1 cup finely chopped celery
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
8 ounces light smoked sausage, cut into 1-inch pieces (such as Healthy Choice brand)
2 (14 1/2-ounce) cans no-salt-added organic diced tomatoes
2 (14-ounce) cans fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon hot sauce
3 cups hot cooked rice

Place flour in a large Dutch oven over medium heat; cook 20 minutes or until light brown, stirring constantly with a whisk. (If flour browns too fast, remove pan from heat; stir constantly until it cools down.) Remove flour from pan, and set aside.

Add oil to pan. Stir in onion, bell pepper, and celery; cook 10 minutes or until onion is tender, stirring frequently. Stir in garlic; cook 30 seconds. Remove onion mixture from pan; set aside.

Increase heat to medium-high; add chicken and sausage to pan. Cook 4 minutes or until chicken is done; return onion mixture to pan. Remove pan from heat. Sprinkle reserved flour over chicken mixture; stir well. Return pan to medium heat. Drain 1 can tomatoes; stir in 1 can drained tomatoes and 1 can undrained tomatoes. Cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add broth, Worcestershire, and bay leaves; bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Discard bay leaves. Stir in salt, black pepper, and hot sauce. Serve over rice.

CALORIES 419 (20% from fat); FAT 9.2g (sat 2.1g,mono 4.2g,poly 1.1g); IRON 3.5mg; CHOLESTEROL 82mg; CALCIUM 42mg; CARBOHYDRATE 44.2g; SODIUM 888mg; PROTEIN 35.8g; FIBER 3.3g

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