August 16, 2008

Jen's Stuffed Peppers

I had traffic school this morning, so I wanted something easy for dinner tonight. Yes, I am a speeder/traffic citation earner. After sitting in a five hour class about Arizona law and defensive driving, I needed a no-brainer type of meal. Also, we still have a ton of leftovers that we need to eat up. I have mashed potatoes, cheesy potatoes, macaroni and cheese, and broccoli slaw still in the fridge. They all have worn out their welcome, and they need to go. Oh wait, there's more! In addition to the excess amounts of leftovers, I had two green, bell peppers that were on the brink of not being edible. Since they were looking a bit dodgy, I decided that today was the day...use 'em or lose 'em. This recipe is the perfect protein vehicle (ha, ha...get it....traffic school....vehicle...I crack myself up) to accommodate all these factors.

I think I am in comfort food mode, because this is another recipe from my mother. I have changed it a little and have adapted it to work in the slow cooker. Again, this is a family recipe that has never been documented. See I am not only blogging, but I am preserving history in the process. Anyway, moving on...
A slow cooker is not necessary, because that was not the original way to make this dish. The end result is just as good if you make this recipe on your stove top...but the slow cooker saves you from some stuffed pepper babysitting. Trust me...just use the slow cooker. Okay, okay...I will post both methods of preparation, just in case you are curious. Sheesh.

One last thing, I don't like eating the pepper-part, per se. I like the flavor the stewed peppers lend to the dish, but I don't like to eat soggy green peppers. Its just a personal preference. My husband likes the pepper-part and he will eat them. So, I typically use 2 peppers for flavor and make the rest of the filling into meatballs to cook along with the actual stuffed peppers. This way, everyone is happy and I am not wasting the pepper portion.

Jen's Stuffed Peppers
2 green bell peppers, seeded and halved
1 medium onion, diced
1 lb. of ground beef
1/2 cup of instant white rice
1 egg
salt and pepper to taste (very important...don't skimp!)
1 large can of tomato juice, undiluted
1 teaspoon of dried minced onion (optional)
1 clove minced garlic (optional)

1) Cut peppers in half to form cups and remove ribs and seeds. Set pepper halves aside. I always cut the peppers in half vertically, but it does not matter.

2) In a slow cooker insert pot or a large stock pot mix hamburger, diced onion, rice, egg, salt, and pepper WITH YOUR CLEAN HANDS (I don't know why, but it tastes much better if you hand mix it).

3) Take a palm full of meat mixture and press into pepper cups, packing firmly. Arrange filled pepper cups at the bottom of slow cooker or stock pot.

4) Take any leftover meat and form into meatballs, and place in between pepper cups (if no space is left just sit meatballs on top of pepper cups).

5) Sprinkle garlic, minced dried onion, and additional salt and pepper (if needed) on tops of meatballs and pepper cups.

6) Pour entire large can of tomato juice on top of meatballs and pepper cups. All ingredients should be submerged, or close to submerged.

7) Cover and cook in slow cooker on high for 2-3 hours OR low for 4-5 hours. When finished, let cool for 10 minutes and serve.
Alternate method for stove top preparation: Place large stock pot on stove top and cook on high for 1 hour, with lid partially on (liquid should be boiling). Check periodically for evaporation...add more tomato juice if liquid evaporates by more than half). Let cool and serve.

Jen's Notes:
I use the same pot that I am going to cook this dish in for the mixing bowl. This way, I don't dirty an extra bowl and it is much easier to clean up.

This recipe can easily be adjusted for increased quantity (i.e. more people) by doubling all ingredients.

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