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Saturday, February 9, 2013

Stuffed Peppers-a la Jesse

     A la Jesse? Yes, number 2 son had stuffed peppers while he was away in Florida with a friend and when he returned he asked me why I had never made them.
     Well, to start with, I am not a big fan of cooked peppers, and not a fan of tomatoes, so, right there it is 0 for 2. So he tells me his friend makes stuffed peppers with Sloppy Joe sauce and not just tomatoes and he just loved it. Hmmm...sloppy Joe sauce? That did not sound all that bad, Sloppy Joe sauce is sweeter than just tomatoes, so maybe that would be better....hmmmm.
   Last week his father and he discussed stuffed peppers and conspired to have everything on hand to make them, or should I say, have me make them. They broke the news to me that they wanted stuffed peppers, and lookey-here- it just so happens all of the ingredients are on hand...I wonder how that happened? Well, no nevermind.
      I have recently adopted a few more shortcuts and in this case Zatarains Spanish rice is one of those shortcuts. Follow the directions on the box--One box is sufficient, and I do not chop up the diced tomatoes, I leave them chunky.  Remember to follow the directions on the box to the "T". 
       While the rice is steaming I clean out the peppers: Slice about a one inch slice across the stem side of the pepper and gently left out the core. Pull the membranes and seeds out. From the sliced off piece cut away as much of the pepper as you can, dice it up to whatever size you like and discard the seeds and the membranes. Repeat with all the peppers; I used 6 large green peppers.
     Dice a medium onion and sweat it in 1 tablespoon of either olive or vegetable oil, let your own preference rule here. I like to really sweeten up the onions, so I let them caramelize a bit, and then toss in the reserved diced peppers-- there won't be a lot of pepper, but whatever you have helps to flavor the mix. Push the onion and peppers over to one side of the skillet and add 1-1/2 lbs of ground bottom round (about 88%--or 90%--if you can afford it). Any lesser-quality meat can make the dish rather greasy, and if your digestive system can handle that, well, go right ahead, but I seem to have to keep the antacid tablets handy if I do that!
   Brown the beef (okay you may substitute ground turkey or chicken or veal or pork, but that is your decision). Drain as much of the excess fat as you can--again you don't want this to come back and bite you. Add the cooked Spanish rice into the skillet and mix everything up.
Add 1/4 cup of Manwich sauce and about 2 tablespoons of hot water.



     Spray the inside of a large crock-pot (6 quart). Stuff the peppers with meat/rice mixture and place them in the crock pot. I usually have to double-decker 2 of the peppers, just make sure the top will close. If not, press down ever so gently to get the top to close. Pour the remainder of the Manwich sauce over the peppers in the crock-pot, add 1/4 cup of water--oh, and if you have too much filling for the peppers, just add it to the crock-pot around the peppers. Close the top and cook on low for abut 6 hours. I cooked it on low for 4 hours then lowered it to "keep warm" and it sat in that state for about 4 more hours--they were not overdone, there was plenty of juicy goodness to pour over the peppers on the plates.

     Can you say A-W-E-S-O-M-E???
Okay, now it is your turn. Send me a recipe with shortcuts!

Until next time, enjoy!

Well, I'll be damned!

     You know, having this blog is a lot of fun, and sometimes it can be a lot of work, especially when you are working full time, trying to keep your household together and carry 16 credits all at the same time.
      One casualty with my schedule is now I only cook on weekends, mostly, and my husband, the Big Ed, as he has recently been dubbed, has taken over cooking the Monday through Friday or weekday meals. I have, however, also made something in the crock pot that I set up before I left for work, for the guys to have at dinnertime, but so far, that has been the exception, not the rule. One very cool thing has also occurred; the Big Ed has utilized this blog and made sweet and sour chicken following my directions. And he also taught me something, because, like me, he cannot leave well-enough alone.
     If you scroll back to my recipe for Sweet and Sour Pork (or Chicken) I use leftover cooked meat. Well, the Big guy, used fresh chicken tenders, cut up into 1"cubes, tossed into the batter and stir fried, then followed the rest of the recipe. They saved me a plate of it. It was awesome...and it made me smile to know that saving my recipes for posterity, or the use of my readers, is not in vain. Yeah, okay, it was my husband using the recipe, but I think that should tell you all something: the recipe worked for mid-level home cooks. The Big Ed is not a kitchen-newbie, but he still does not do the fancy-schmancy things I do, but he does pay attention, apparently.
   He told me that he impressed himself and he found the recipe was easy to follow and really did not require any advanced skills, just follow the directions, make sure the chicken is cooked and voile`!  Done and good and taste--eee!
     The cutest part of the story, however, is that #2 is spending a lot of time in the kitchen with his dad, and they are bonding while cooking the evening meal. How sweet. Something that I could not get done while I was home. Maybe I was in the way? Who cares?  Father and son are bonding, my recipes are being used and someone is reading this blog.
    All the ingredients for this blogger to be a happy camper!

Up next: Stuffed Peppers ala crock pot

See you all soon!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Getting back on track!

     Hello, all. I am so sorry to be away for so long. I can give you many reasons and excuses, but let it suffice to say that I was buried with classes, and although they were about writing and my dream of writing for life, and about life, my life, I was just spread too thin. And now, I find myself employed full time (yeah) and taking four more classes that really have me jumping for joy.
      I am still enrolled at the Empire State College, majoring in Cultural Studies with a concentration in Written Communication. This semester I have the honor of taking Creative Writing-Non-fiction, and an independent study in The Art of the Memoir. I am thrilled to death, especially because my adviser for that class is one of my favorite professors I have had so far in my academic career, and a past contributor to this blog, Himanee. Another wonderful part of this class is that I have to keep up my blog...and although I say 'I have to', it will not be a chore, or an unwelcomed requirement, but more of a motivation to do the two things I love the most: to write and to cook. So thank you, Himanee for helping me set my priorities straight and get back on the road I want to be on.
     The class, The Art of the Memoir finds me reading memoirs that are about food, just as my life is measured by the cups and ounces I use in my own kitchen, I find that my life, in that sense is not unique. This is so exciting! My I just finished watching Julie and Julia by Nora Ephron, which is really two books and memoirs in one. One of Julia Child, the infamous chef and author, and of Julie Powell, a struggling writer who set out to cook every recipe in Mastering the Art of French Cooking in a year, while blogging about it. What an inspiration, and how amazed I was that I had never seen the movie before. It just goes to show how out of touch with life I was. I had no idea that blogs existed at that time, and I cannot believe I missed the book when it was first published and the movie when it was first run. Truthfully, I am not good at keeping up with things, as I am usually wrapped in my own little world, my own kitchen. See what I almost missed?
   The stories are told side by side, the struggles of Julia Child as, the wife of a diplomat assigned to Paris, and her struggle to find her place in life, and what to do with her life. Apparently even in the early 1960's women were already facing the struggle to create their own identities, and become their own person; and the story of blogger, Julie Powell, who takes on a personal goal to finish something: cooking every one of the 524 recipes in Mastering the Art of French Cooking in one year and keeping a log about her trials and tribulations by blogging her results. She did accomplish her goal, and she became famous and got a book and movie deal out of the effort; she is now referred to as a writer. Her dream came true by challenging herself, but setting an ambitious goal and showing us, once again that if you put your mind to something and never gave up, you can do anything.
     I am sure there are more lessons in there so I am going to watch the movie again, to make sure I have not missed anything.
     I am going to start cooking and posting again, and also posting my thoughts about the books I read and movies I watch for this class. So welcome me back, and I will get on with picking up where we left off...I have a few recipes that I have made over the past few months that I want to share with you, and no, they are not even close to the level of Julia Child's cooking, but they are tasty, I promise.
     If anyone has any requests for me to try or post any certain fare, or dish I would love to fulfill any requests I can. Let me know. Okay?

Reference:
Ephron, N. (Writer-Director) (2009). Julie and Julia [DVD]. Available from http://www.sonypictures.com/homevideo/julieandjulia/