Monday, April 23, 2012

Stuffed peppers

The first time I had one of these was not in Texas as a child. It was in Massachusetts. Yes, I said it. And it was pronounced "stuft PEH-puhs" I'll have you know. An old boyfriend's mother was so sweet, and she decided she would comfort my homesickness (and cravings for Tex-Mex) by making her stuffed bell peppers. Let me just say, I was so thankful for her efforts, but this is not a dish you'll EVER find on a menu in Tex-Mex country. Poblano peppers are usually the ones stuffed, and it's with cheese, cream sauce and chicken. She used rice, ground beef and pinto beans. :) But it was the thought that counted, so I've decided to bring a little authentic Tex-Mex flavor to this Yankee creation. It's easy, healthy, and pretty darn tasty. Enjoy.

Stuffed Peppers
4 servings

4 bell peppers, any color
1 cup brown rice or 1/2 cup quinoa
1 pound white meat chicken
3 TB + 2 TB cumin
1/4 + 1/2 t. salt
1/4 + 1/4 t. garlic powder
1/4 t. red pepper flakes
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup (small handful) of chopped cilantro
1 cup salsa

Optional toppings: shredded cheddar or mozz, salsa, jalapenos, sour cream

1 Cook: In a rice cooker or pot, cook the rice according to package directions. In the meantime, cut the tops off of the peppers and scoop out the seeds (see photo). Set the peppers and the tops aside. Cut the chicken into small chunks (1/2 inch cubes). Heat a wok or large skillet on medium high. Add 1/4 cup water and the chicken and let cook for two minutes. Season with 3 TB cumin, 1/4 t. salt, 1/4 t. garlic powder and red pepper (optional). Continue to stir and saute until the chicken is thoroughly cooked. Set aside.

2 Combine: Once the rice is cooked, stir in the black beans and 2 TB cumin, 1/2 t. salt (if unsalted beans), 1/4 t. garlic powder, and the chopped cilantro. Preheat oven to 375.

3 Fill: Line a baking pan with walls with foil. (I usually use a 9-inch round for 4 peppers). Using a tablespoon, layer the rice & beans mixture, then 1 TB of salsa, then several bites of chicken multiple times until the pepper is filled to the top. You should have no more than 4 sets of layers. Finish the pepper by placing the top piece back on. Repeat this for the rest of the peppers. Bake for 35-45 minutes, or until peppers are slightly soft on the outside and the contents inside are piping hot. Garnish with shredded cheese, sour cream, jalapenos and salsa, if you like.

Enjoy the peh-puhs!

Happy eating!

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