I had a severe case of Foodie Block tonight, and this was what I finally came up with for dinner, so it worked out great. You know how at Thanksgiving, everyone looks forward to those uber-delicious leftover Thanksgiving Sandwiches? Well, I recently had that in mind and had wanted to turn it into a meatloaf version, with a layer of stuffing, gravy, ground turkey, cranberry sauce, etc. It sounded like a good idea at first, but the more I thought about it, the more repulsive it became. I mean really, the sandwich includes cool, crisp lettuce, your favorite sandwich bread, mayo, and whatever else you include in yours - not exactly the makings of a meatloaf
OK, not every idea is a winner. That left me wondering what to make instead. That's when the Foodie Block kicked in. I have also been wanting to make Cashew Chicken, but we just had Chicken Crepes, so that will have to wait. All of a sudden, I went completely blank. Hmmm? What should I make?? It was too late in the day to pick up a roast and get that started, we weren't in the mood for steaks, and some are on low carb. Quinoa Stuffed Peppers came to mind, but I knew that wouldn't satisfy all of us - had to include some sort of meat. I finally settled on this, and they were very good. I was pleasantly surprised, but I will kick up the heat a little next time. I had thought that one jar of hot salsa would provide enough heat and flavor, but I did have to pop open a second jar after tasting. Also, I stuffed 6 peppers but was left with a good amount of filling, so I bagged the rest and threw it in the freezer to make burritos down the road at bit. Just wanted to warn you - you can either halve the filling, stuff more peppers, or do what I did and re-purpose the extra.
6 bell peppers (I used red/yellow/orange)
1 med red onion
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1 t cumin
2 lb lean ground beef
1c cooked rice
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
frozen baby corn (I used the bean can to measure)
2-3 T fresh chopped cilantro
16 oz jar hot salsa (needs to be increased)
Shredded Mexican blend cheese
Optional for Garnish:
Start by washing your peppers, then cutting off their tops and pulling out the seeds and pith.
Bring a pot of water to a boil and submerge the peppers, letting them boil for about 4" to soften up a bit. When you take them out of the boiling water, run them under cold water until they are cool, to stop the cooking process, and arrange them in whatever pan you will be baking them in. I had a casserole dish that was the perfect size for the 6 peppers I was using, but if your pan is too big, you can wad up a ball of foil to fill the empty space, or fill it in with a rameken filled with a little water. That's just if your peppers are tipsy. If they stand up on their own, there's no need. Set the peppers aside for now.
So you don't waste the tops you sliced off earlier, go ahead and dice those along with your onion to go in the filling. They'll add nice flavor and color contrast.
Using a little olive or canola oil, saute the garlic, diced peppers, and onion until they start to soften, then stir in the cumin.
Add the ground beef and cook until just a little pink remains (It will finish cooking in the oven). Then stir in the rice, black beans, and corn. I didn't bother measuring the corn - just poured it into the empty black bean can to make sure I got roughly the same amount. Toss in a good handful of the shredded cheese, then add the salsa (may want to add more at this point), finishing off with the cilantro. You want to add the cilantro at the end to maintain it's flavor.
Now that the filling is cooked and has just the right amount of gooeyness from the cheese, go ahead and stuff your peppers.
When I tasted the filling and realized it was milder than anticipated, I popped open another jar of salsa and added a spoonful on the top of each. If you added more salsa to your filling, you don't need to bother, but that's up to you. You might want even more salsa flavor or just like the look of it ...
Bake at 350 for about 20", then top each pepper with a sprinkling of cheese and return them to the oven for another 10" or so until the cheese is nicely melted.
To serve, I plated up the peppers with a dollop of sour cream, a slice or two of avocado, and an additional sprinkling of fresh chopped cilantro. Oh, there was also sangria involved, but that's up to you too. ;)
I sliced mine open so we could take a peek inside.
Nice! Didn't dry out in the oven, just enough cheese to hold things together...grab a fork and dig in!