The Most Excellent Stuffed Peppers

1 chopped brown onion
4 good-sized bell peppers*
1 lb hamburger (beef or turkey, but you need spicier salsa with turkey)
1 jar salsa** (I like hot salsa)
1 cup cooked or instant brown or white rice
About 4 oz cheddar cheese, in 16 small slices. Or more if you want.

Put a big pot of water on to boil.

In a large frying pan, brown onion in olive oil, add hamburger, cook til done. Add tomatoes/salsa/rice, maybe a little water if the rice absorbs all the liquids…it should be a tiny bit wet rather than dry.

While this is cooking, cut the tops out of the peppers, slice each one in half, take out the seeds and veins. When the water boils, put the peppers in CAREFULLY and cook for two or three minutes, take out with tongs, put in a bowl or on a towel until you need them.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Put the peppers, cut side up, in a 9×13 baking pan in one layer. It’s okay to squeeze them in a bit. Put one slice of cheese in the bottom of each. Spoon hamburger/salsa/rice mixture into them, heaping up if needed. Put the other 8 slices of cheese on top.

Cook at 350 for fifteen or twenty minutes til the cheese is melted.

One half is a decent size meal, two is a big meal. They reheat just fine in the microwave.

*Get peppers that are big enough that each half will hold a decent amount of filling; I like getting half red and half green, but whatever.

**This is most of the flavor of your meal, so go crazy! Try hot salsa, pineapple/mango salsa with turkey and Monterey jack cheese, or whatever your taste buds tell you. I just used Trader Joe’s Cowboy Caviar and it was GREAT in this.

Addendum: last night I made this, but cut the peppers in pieces about 3/4 inch square. I put half of them in the bottom of the baking dish, then a layer of meat/salsa, then a layer of brown rice, then shredded cheese, then more peppers, meat/salsa and cheese, and baked it for twenty minutes at 350. It was AMAZINGLY GOOD.

Chicken and Rice

This is one of our favorites, I make it at least once a month.

  • 6-8 chicken thighs, with bones and skin*
  • A cup or so of cheap chardonnay**
  • A 14 oz can of chicken broth
  • 2 packages of Zatarain’s New Orleans Rice mix- any two. We like mixing Red Beans and Rice with Jambalaya, or Black Beans and Rice with Yellow Rice. If you’re only doing 4 thighs, just use one package of rice mix, but the same amount of wine and broth. They make low-sodium rice mixes as well, these are delicious too, and (of course) less salty.

Put the chicken in a stewpot or dutch oven, pour wine and broth over it, and cook until the skins are easy to pull off with a fork. On the stovetop with medium heat, this will take about 45 minutes to an hour. Don’t cook too long, you don’t want the chicken falling off the bones yet.

(You can also put the chicken, wine and broth in a crock pot and cook low for 4-5 hours, or 6-7 if chicken is frozen.)

Lift the chicken out into a bowl. Pour all the delicious liquid into a big measuring cup, see how much there is and put it back in a stewpot. Add enough water to be about 1/4 cup less than the total water listed on the instructions of both rice packets together (so if one package needs 2 1/2 cups water and the other needs 3 (total 5 1/2), and you have 4 1/2 cups of liquid, add enough water to equal 5 1/4 cups liquid, or 3/4 cup.)

Open both packages of rice and pour in, stir. Turn heat to medium high.

Use a fork to remove the skins from the chicken thighs and throw the skins away. They have done their good work. Put the chicken thighs in the rice and liquid, bring to boil, turn heat low so it simmers when covered. Cover.

Let it cook for 45 minutes, stir about every 15 minutes.

Take it off the heat and uncover, let it sit for ten minutes or so.

*Yes, you can use boneless skinless thighs, or breasts, but trust me, it tastes WAY better this way.

**If you don’t want to open a whole bottle of wine for one cup, you can get a 4 pack of cheap wine for about 6 bucks (where I live) and it’s pretty bad except as cooking wine, which it is excellent for. Use one of the four bottles for this.