Monday, March 23, 2015

Stuffed Bell Pepper Soup

So here's the deal, my dad is a great cook! He is the grill master but can also throw down in the kitchen. My dad is easily inspired to try new recipes and constantly prints out recipes he finds and puts his spin on them. Each time he makes something he writes down notes on how he changed it up so his recipes are ever-evolving. This is a perfect example for his stuffed peppers. He found a recipe that was good but needed tweaking and every time he makes them, it gets better. Now, I can honestly say, they are the best stuffed peppers I've ever had.

A long while ago my brother-in-law suggested I post a recipe for stuffed pepper soup. It's been on my list of things to make and this past week it happened. Well Joel, this ones for you! This was a really easy recipe that didn't require too much attention and felt hearty even though it was healthy ('s my girl math working here). I made this on a week night and the most time consuming part was waiting for the brown rice to cook. If you are short on time I'll give you some shortcuts on modifying this recipe.

 Start with dicing up a bunch of bell peppers. I used about 1/2 of each color (red, green, yellow, and orange). Large chunks are good so they don't disintegrate into the soup.
My dad makes his stuffed peppers with sausage, and maybe beef or turkey, (I need to find out!) so I made my soup with spicy chicken sausage but use whatever you like best. Brown up the meat but don't worry about it being cooked all the way through. This is just for caramelization. Remove the meat from the pot and reserve it on a plate.

Now, toss in your bell peppers with a little olive oil. I also added a few minced garlic cloves and a sprinkling of red onion (always sneaking it in). Over high heat just stir the peppers around to get a little color on them but keep them nice and tender with a good bite. After a couple minutes remove them from the pan and reserve with the sausage.
Look at that marvelous caramelized bits left behind! That's where the flavor is, so pour in a little wine, red or white, whatevers open and scrape up the bits with your spoon.
 Next, add in your rice. I used a cup and a half of brown rice because that's what I typically eat but if your a white rice eater that's fine too! Stir the rice around and add in a couple tablespoons of tomato paste. This adds a nice rich depth to it.
Once the tomato paste is stirred in add a 28 oz can of diced tomatoes and a whole carton (a 32 oz) of chicken broth.
 Pop in a couple bay leaves, salt, and pepper and put the lid on, simmering the rice until it's cooked through. This will vary on which rice you use so check the cooking time on the rice label. *To save time, you could simmer this broth down for several minutes and add in pre-cooked rice. Because the rice won't absorb the liquid I would scale the broth back by half.
 Once the rice is cooked through add in your sausage and bell peppers and simmer for an additional 8-10 minutes until the peppers are tender and the sausage is cooked.
 Oh, how glorious! This is not a "brothy" soup, more of a hearty stew. You can always add more broth if you like.

I served mine with warm whole wheat naan bread and finished it with shredded cheese which isn't shown here. Hope you love it!

Monday, March 16, 2015

The Luck of the Irish

Although I'm not Irish, I love celebrating St. Patrick's Day...with the food. I grew up celebrating the day with a traditional corned beef and cabbage dinner with soda bread, butter and horseradish sauce. My mom always made it really well and I enjoyed it the night of, but leftovers never seemed too appealing. So this year I challenged the leftover war and won! Whether you plan to make these dishes as your main stay on the 17th or use these as recipes with your leftovers, you'll be sure to enjoy it.

Reuben Dip:
I've been wanting to try this dip for awhile now and figured this was the perfect occasion to make it! It was super quick and easy, perfect for entertaining.
In a mixing bowl I added 1 tbl Dijon, 1/3 cup mayo, 1 cup diced corned beef, 1 cup shredded Swiss, 1/2 cup sauerkraut (drained really well), salt and pepper (a pinch or so). Stir to combine and pour into a baking dish.
I used a glass pie plate that fit the amount of dip perfectly. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes (or until bubbling) and serve with crackers. I toasted caraway rye bread and thought it was delicious but any cracker would be good. 
Corned Beef and Cabbage Panini:
I made these "grilled cheese style" in a pan since I don't have a panini press but you could use whatever you have. I cut the corned beef into thin slices (you could shred it if you prefer) and sliced up some Swiss and Irish Cheddar cheese. I couldn't decide which cheese I liked better so I used both, but use whatever you have. I mixed together equal parts of mayo to prepared horseradish and spread a thin layer on each slice of marble rye bread. Last thing I did was drain sauerkraut really well and used about 2 tbl on each sandwich.

Build the sandwich and butter the outside of each slice of bread. Heat up a nonstick pan or a panini press if you have one, and cook for about 2 minutes on each side or until golden brown on the outside and the cheese is melty on the inside.

 Pretty darn delicious!

Lucky Charms Marshmallow Treats:
Oh and I can't forget about my Lucky Charms Marshmallow Treats. I can't believe how fun it is to make marshmallow treats with other types of cereals instead of the traditional rice krispies.

In a medium pot I added a 1/2 stick of butter and a 10 oz bag of mini marshmallows.
Stir gently over medium heat until melted and smooth. Pour this marshmallow mixture over 6 cups of cereal in a large mixing bowl. This is a sticky mess but stir quickly to combine the marshmallow mixture with the cereal. I had a small square baking dish which I lined with plastic wrap and sprayed it with nonstick spray. Press the mixture into the dish and top with a few extra marshmallows if you're feeling particularly generous with the last cup of cereal in the box! Let cool and cut into squares.
Happy St. Patty's Day friends!!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Cooking in (Real) Pearls

Pardon my dust, it has indeed been too long. It seems a lot has happened since we last visited, although in all actuality, we're about right where we left off. Between freezing temperatures, snow falls, being a new aunt, wedding planning, house hunting, and working, I somehow placed blogging, along with working out, on the back burner. But with sunny skies and warming temperatures I'm back and ready to start cooking! As a quick update, I'm cooking in pearls...real pearls. Costume pearls yes, always, but also real pearl earrings. It sort of makes this blog that much more official.

Good things are coming :)