Friday, April 27, 2012

Sunday Dinner: Southwestern Stuffed Peppers

Something about a good home-cooked meal makes me giddy. I get a feeling of joy in preparing and eating something so wonderful. I've also found that I get the same sense of joy when I can share my home-cooked meals with others. (Anyone want to come over for dinner?)

I host a Sunday dinner every weekend for my husband and two of our friends. I've learned over time that I really enjoy cooking for them and seeing the enjoyment that everyone gets from a home-cooked meal. While a majority of my weeknight dinners are on the healthier side, I break the rules on Sunday. The rule for Sunday dinner is 'There are no rules!'

That being said, sometimes I get lucky and find a dish that not only warms the soul, but keeps my waistline in check too. The recipe below is a great example of one of those meals - Southwestern Stuffed Peppers. It's a simple concept that yields amazing results. It's basically like eating tacos, but instead of a tortilla you eat it in a pepper. And you don't miss the taco shell at all. Promise. It might help that I served the stuffed peppers with a big ole dish of cheesy corn casserole (see, no rules!), but as far as I could tell everyone really enjoyed my new take on tacos.

I wrote out a few tips/recommendations at the bottom of the recipe, so check them out if you have any questions about quantity. I hope you get to try this recipe, and if you do, let me know what you think in the comments section. Oh, and if you make as much filling as I recommend below and only buy 5-6 medium peppers, you'll have enough leftover filling to make some amazing nachos later in the week!

Broiled nachos with leftover taco filling,
cheese and fresh tomatoes

Southwestern Stuffed Peppers
Serves: 6-8
Original recipe proportions 
can be found at Simply Love Food

6 bell peppers, halved and seeds/stems removed
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1.3 lbs. lean ground turkey breast
1 cup chopped onions (optional)
2 tbsp. of homemade taco seasoning (or an entire package of store bought seasoning)
2 cups of cooked rice (I used instant brown rice)
1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup of frozen corn
1 (12 -16 ounce) jar of salsa
Shredded Pepper Jack cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly coat the peppers with olive oil and roast in a baking dish for 20-25 minutes. Remove the peppers from the oven and allow to cool until you can handle them.

Meanwhile, brown the ground turkey until cooked through. (If using onions, sauté them for about 5 minutes prior to adding the turkey to the pan.) Drain any remaining liquid from the pan.

While the turkey is cooking, cook the rice according to package directions.

In a bowl, combine taco seasoning, cooked ground turkey, chopped onions, black beans, corn and rice. Add in the jar of salsa and mix well.

If the peppers have any cooking liquid or oil in them, drain into the baking dish prior to stuffing. Carefully spoon the turkey mixture into each half of the bell peppers and place back into the baking dish. Sprinkle the tops of each pepper with shredded cheese.

Cook the peppers for an additional 15-20 minutes or until the peppers are cooked all the way through and the cheese is melted.

Remove from the oven and top with fresh cilantro, avocado slices and/or sour cream just before serving. (I didn't use any toppings and we didn't miss them!)

The original recipe is written for 4 servings, but I increased it to ensure we'd have leftovers for later in the week. Plus, I buy ground turkey in 1.3 lb packages, so I wanted to use an entire package. I used six peppers for my recipe and I had enough taco filling left to contribute to a Choose Your Own Adventure night (aka leftovers). If you don't want any taco filling left, I would recommend buying 8 peppers, depending on size.