tasty tuesday ~ hannah's stuffed peppers...

Still working on getting the lighting right for indoor shots...but trust me these bad boys are scrumptious!

Every Wednesday I have two lovely visitors, Miss Hannah and her sister Victoria. They are the daughters of my friend Christine and they help me with Miss Courtney as well as chores around the house. We usually bake and chat and bake and chat and clean and chat and cook and chat and then we share diner before I bring them back home. Miss Courtney loves Tori's rendition of "Fox on Socks" and the house always smells awesome when Hannah starts baking. Court and I are blessed by their company. 

One week I had an abundance of red peppers so Hannah volunteered to make her famous stuffed peppers. The original recipe comes form we humorously refer to as the "sacred red book" or in layman's terms The America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook. Both Christine and I have all three of the Test Kitchen's Family Cookbooks ( there is a baking and healthy edition, all three are awesome) and we use them often. 

Since HB's (Hannah) family has some dietary restrictions, so over time she and her Mom had changed the original recipe to meet their needs. It is a tradition in my kitchen that is someone brings me a recipe, then I name it for them. Hannah has made this for us twice so from this day forward these will be called Hannah's Stuffed Peppers. 

With the addition of the quinoa (replacing white rice) this dish becomes a protein power packed wonder. We have also played with different cheeses. The one pictured above wis with cheddar cheese but my family's favorite is with Colby or Monterey Jack cheese. We like the punch of flavor the Jack cheeses bring. you can easily make this dish a day or two ahead and then bring the pan to room temp the day you wish to back it off. It also freezes beautifully. 

Celebrate the Feast!

Hot out of the oven...healthy goodness...
Hannah's Stuffed Peppers

4 red, orange, or yellow bell peppers, 6 oz each, 1/2 inch trimmed off the top, stemmed and seeded

1/2 to one cup of cooked quinoa 
(see directions in Step 2 below)

2 T olive oil
1 onion, chopped fine
1 lb (85% lean) ground beef
4 cloves garlic, minced
1-14.5 ounce diced tomatoes, drained with 1/4 cup juice reserved
5 oz  Monterey Jack cheese, shredded (1 1/4 cups)
2 T chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup ketchup

1.  Bring 4 quarts water and 1 T salt to a boil in a large pot over high heat.  Add the bell peppers and cook until they begin to soften, about 3 minutes. Remove the peppers from the water, allowing any excess water to drain back into the pot.  Place the peppers, cut side up on a paper-towel lined plate.

2.  Rinse one cup of quinoa in a colander, then place in a small pot on the stove. Add in two cups of water. bring to a boil, stir, then turn down the burner to low and simmer for about 15 minutes until all the water is absorbed. Set aside. 
(there will be more quinoa than you need for this recipe. I just eat the rest for breakfast the next morning with a little brown sugar and cream...like oatmeal)

3.  Heat the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering.  Add the onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.  Stir in the beef and cook, breaking into small pieces, until no longer pink, about 5 minutes.  Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Transfer the mixture to the bowl. Add in the quinoa.  Add the tomatoes, 1 cup of the cheese and the parsley to the quinoa/beef mixture and stir to combine.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  In a separate bowl, combine the ketchup and reserved tomato juice.

4.  Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Place the peppers, cut side up in a 9 by 9 inch baking dish.  Divide the filling mixture evenly among the peppers.  Spoon the ketchup mixture over the tops of the peppers then sprinkle them with the remaining 1/4 cup cheese. Bake until the cheese is browned and the filling is heated through, about 30 minutes.

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