Thursday, August 27, 2009

Stuffed Green Peppers, in the crockpot


Our garden is producing all kinds of peppers right now - I used the skinny ones to make breakfast burritos for my hubby and made stuffed green peppers for our family.

Our ancestry is German. I plan on telling that to the kids when we eat it for dinner. I'm sure that won't matter - now if I told my oldest that this is what they eat in China (she is obsessed with China) she would probably gobble them up! I disliked these when I was a kid, but was secretly amused that you used the pepper as a "bowl" for the meat. Now each year, I have to get my late-summer fix of these things. No one else around here does, lol.

My mom used to always make them in the oven. I avoid using my oven whenever possible. I have made them in the microwave too... This year I decided to try the crockpot since it seems like this would be the perfect recipe to do in the crock.

This is my mom's recipe, from who-knows-where, but she likes things mild(she never ate the peppers and probably omitted the onion), so I'm sure you could add some oregano or something and it will be even tastier. I gut the peppers, removing all the seeds, but I think they add more spice, so chop up the guts and add them to the meat if you like...I think :) )

Stuffed Green Peppers

6 green bell peppers
1 pound LEAN ground beef
1/2 cup uncooked rice (I use brown minute rice)
2 T. of chopped onions
1 small can of tomato soup (I used tomato sauce - about 5-6 oz - but you could use ketchup or paste too)
1/2 c. water (1/4 c. for in crock)
dash of salt and pepper
cheese for top

Cut tops off of peppers, about 3/4 inch from top, remove insides. Spray sides of baking dish with cooking spray for easier cleanup. Place peppers in crock or baking dish, removing tops and laying them in the same order as in the dish (makes matching easier later). You can ball up foil or use toothpicks to help them stand up better if you need to.

Fill full with beef mixture. If you have a little extra meat, just put in in a ball in the pan next to the peppers... it'll be fine. Replace tops and cook (directions below). When cooking is completed, add some cheese to top of beef and replace tops, serve hot.

Be careful removing pan from oven or microwave - there will be lots of juices! You may want to pierce the lower side of the pepper first to allow juices to run out a few minutes before removing from the pan. And remove carefully because the peppers will be fragile.

"Pressure-cook for 10 minutes" --Huh?! Hmm. I guess Mom pressure-cooked these... what a versatile recipe! I'm sure in the oven you'd just cook at 350 for about 45 min?

Cook on high in crockpot for about 4 hours...

My microwave instructions:

Place peppers in microwave roaster pan (or just a microwave-safe baking dish), using toothpicks to prop up if necessary. Cover with wax paper or use roaster cover, loosely. Cook on "High" for 13-17 minutes, rearranging after 1/2 of cooking time.

The verdict:

Kids resisted them, I'm not sure if they really ate much. I let them pick the "vegetable"... they picked corn. I used 80% lean beef which is usually much higher fat content than I'm used to. I'd use a max of 85% lean next time. The beef always comes out moist, so you could use any lean meat (even venison, I bet). Its like a real most, peppery meatloaf. My garden peppers were not as sweet as store-bought bell peppers, but I'm sure they have much fewer chemicals on them. I didn't use any type of fertilizer or soil augmentation, so I'll do some research and see if I can get sweeter ones next year. I have about 4-6 more bell peppers growing on my plants so I'll probably make another batch for the freezer when those are ready.

A few tweaks I'll take note of... It needed a bit more tomato flavor, so I'd probably use "paste" next time or a larger can of sauce and omit the water. I think this would be tasty with about a 1/2 tsp. of crushed red pepper flakes. Cooking time probably could have been 2-3 hours. I'm not that experienced with the crock to know how long it takes to cook a 2 inch ball of meat stuffed inside a pepper.

Thanks for reading!

Friday, August 7, 2009

my heart is inside out right now...

I have a heavy heart. A soldier has lost his own personal battle. My nieces and nephews will no longer have their Dad. The timing... oh, the timing. I have so much anger, frustration and sadness right now for them, him, his parents. I really don't know what led up to this, but I'm sure depression did.

I have struggled with depression most of my life. I have even had times I wanted to end it.

I have had a song stuck in my head today, called "Inside Out".

It's a Christian song, and like depression, I find that whatever thoughts we fill our heads with, our heart takes on. If you fill your thoughts with junk, your heart will inevitably have it too. So rather than listening to regular radio, since I am prone to get songs stuck in my head (who don't!) I listen to the Christian radio station. And because I was listening to that, I got this wonderful song stuck in my head, and the lyrics refresh me...
Everlasting, Your light will shine when all else fades
Never ending, Your glory goes beyond all fame
In my heart, in my soul, Lord I give you control
Consume me from the inside out Lord
I really wonder how my life would have turned out if I hadn't become a Christian. I had such angry thoughts. A school shooter? Maybe. Suicide? Possibly. Thankfully, the sister that I always fought with in our younger years shared what she learned about Christ with me on one of her college breaks. And 15 years later, I have that faith inside me that when I feel turned inside out, I can lean on Him. I don't have to walk the road with depression and not as perfect health as I'd like alone. Its not about being religious. Its not about being weak. It's about realizing our world is imperfect, full of illness, sin and selfishness. Its full of sin. And so are we. But we are given Grace. Don't get me wrong, the world is full of a lot of beauty too - I'm reminded of that whenever I look at my kids, witness kindness and grace, or walking in my garden--even the weeds, lol. But to imagine heaven, where there is no pain, no illness, no sadness, nothing remotely sinful. The thoughts we will have will have nothing to do with having an achy body, a broken heart or any other daily struggles to deal with...

Hillsong United lyrics - From The Inside Out

album: United We Stand (2006)

A thousand times I've failed
Still your mercy remains
And should I stumble again
Still I'm caught in your grace

Everlasting, Your light will shine when all else fades
Never ending, Your glory goes beyond all fame
my heart and my soul, Lord I give you control
Consume me from the inside out Lord
Let justice and praise become my embrace
To love You from the inside out

Your will above all else, my purpose remains
The art of losing myself in bringing you praise

Everlasting, Your light will shine when all else fades
Never ending, Your glory goes beyond all fame
In my heart, in my soul, Lord I give you control

Consume me from the inside out Lord
Let justice and praise become my embrace
To love You from the inside out

Chorus 2x
Everlasting, Your light will shine when all else fades
Never ending, Your glory goes beyond all fame
And the cry of my heart is to bring You praise
From the inside out Lord, my soul cries out

Jon was 26. He was a soldier in the Army. He had three (beautiful) children as well as their older sister, "S". He was home on leave from overseas when ... he decided he didn't want to go back there, I guess. There are a lot of people hurting because of this. If you could, would you please pray for these people? Thank you.
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