Sunday, February 26, 2012

Ruthi Claytor Picked a Peck of Rainbow Peppers

I can only blame pregnancy.

I have never in my life liked bell peppers in any form.  Then I got pregnant.  After my first pregnancy, my sister brought dinner to the house...stuffed peppers.  Hmmm, not bad.  After a few months of experimenting, Ken and I discovered that green peppers are tolerable, red peppers are acceptable and the orange and yellow ones are actually delicious.

So two more pregnancies have gone by and I find myself buying the rainbow pack of peppers at least once a month.  Recently, the local grocery store has had them in a six-pack for seven bucks!  So now it's twice a month and double the peppers in the pack...and we are not tired of them yet!  How is that, you ask?  It is all about the creativity and preparation...and a little inspiration from those first stuffed peppers I enjoyed.

Oh, and my 18 month old daughter can't get enough peppers either--she fights me for them (although not as much as roasted cauliflower, but I'll tell you about that later).

First, prep the peppers.  Once I've made a plan on when and how to use the peppers, they either get stored whole in the fridge or cut and frozen.  If you'll be using later or not sure how and when, core and slice the peppers and spread in a single layer on a cookie sheet in the freezer.  Once they are frozen, portion and freeze in zip-top bags.  Usually, I'll core and slice all six peppers and divide into three portions--two in the fridge and one in the freezer for later.

Below you will find the recipes we used for the latest peck of peppers.  One is on of our favorite stand-by recipes and two I've created recently that blew even me out of the water!
Mostly Veggie Steak Sandwiches
Stuffed Pepper Stuffed Shells
Pineapple Teriyaki Pizza (pictured above--thank you Ken for making my food look so tasty!)

For the record (because I know my sister will ask), both kids eat the steak sandwiches, Charleigh (the 18 month old) devoured the shells, and Ken and I didn't share the pizza with the kiddies--it was too yummy!

Our favorite stand-by recipe...
Mostly Veggie Steak Sandwiches
Olive Oil
8 or 16 oz white or cremini mushrooms, sliced thin (we love mushrooms...we use 16 oz)
2 bell peppers, any color, cored and sliced
1 medium onion, sliced
1 box frozen minute steaks (7 slice size box), chopped into strips
Montreal steak seasoning
Worcestershire sauce
4 sub rolls
Sliced sharp cheddar cheese (optional)
Cook mushrooms in olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until most liquid has rendered and evaporated.  Add peppers and onions to pan and season with salt and pepper.  Cook until veggies are to your desired tenderness.  Remove veggies to a bowl and cover to keep warm.
Add minute steaks to skillet, season with steak seasoning and Worcestershire sauce to taste.  Cook until steak is cooked through.  Add veggies back to skillet and check for seasoning (salt and pepper).
Toast sub rolls, spread very lightly with mayo and sprinkle with oregano.  Assemble sandwiches with cheese.
(lots of times I'll warm the left-over steak and veggie mixture and toss it with romaine lettuce, balsamic vinaigrette dressing and some feta cheese).

Stuffed Pepper Stuffed Shells
24 Jumbo pasta shells
1 lb ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
2 bell peppers, any color, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 Tbs. Montreal steak seasoning
2 Tbs. tomato paste
2 Tbs. chili powder
1 cup beef broth
2 Tbs. butter
2 Tbs. flour
1 cup milk
1 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 can condensed tomato soup (undiluted)
Cook shells, spread on waxed paper to cool.  Cook ground beef and onion in large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add peppers and garlic and cook until veggies are desired tenderness.  Add steak seasoning and tomato paste and cook 2-3 minutes.  Add chili powder and beef broth.  Bring to boil then reduce heat and simmer until liquid evaporates, 5-7 minutes.  Meanwhile, melt butter in small saucepan over medium heat.  Whisk in flour and cook 2-3 minutes.  Whisk in milk and bring to simmer.  When thickened, add 1 cup cheese and tomato soup, stirring to melt cheese.
Assemble shells--preheat oven to 350.  Spray 9x13 casserole dish with non-stick spray.  Stuff each cooked pasta shell with large spoonful of ground beef mixture and place in dish.  Pour cheese sauce over shells and top with remaining cheese.  Bake 20 minutes until golden and bubbling.  (Warning--the cheese sauce is so yummy, my husband literally licked the sauce pan clean!)

Pineapple Teriyaki Pizza
1 medium bell pepper, any color, chopped (or a mix of peppers, about 2 cups chopped)
olive oil
1 Tbs corn meal (for dusting pan)
Refrigerated Pizza Crust (in a tube is fine)
2 Tbs.Teriyaki sauce (look for a thicker "marinade" variety in the bbq sauce section of the grocery store)
1 cup pineapple, diced
Packaged Pineapple Teriyaki Chicken Meatballs (I used Aidells brand--you'll find it in the refrigerated sausage case)--half a package, diced
1 cup mozzarella cheese
Preheat oven to 400.  Toss peppers with a drizzle of olive oil and scatter on cookie sheet.  Bake about 10 minutes, tossing once during cooking time.  Remove from the oven and cool slightly.  Meanwhile, brush another cookie sheet with olive oil and dust with corn meal.  Stretch pizza crust to fit pan.  Drizzle crust with 1 Tbs. Teriyaki sauce.  Top with roasted peppers, pineapple, meatballs and cheese.  Drizzle remaining Teriyaki sauce and 1 tsp olive oil on pizza and bake 15 minutes until golden brown.