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Last week, I was feeling a little nostalgic about my dad’s many business trips when I was growing up. You see, my dad traveled quite a bit for work. He’s also a touch picky when it comes to his food preferences. This meant that, when he went out of town, my mother and I got to make and consume all the things we enjoyed that my dad wouldn’t touch.

Stuffed peppers, stuffed cabbages, split pea soup – you name it. If it was a weird color, smelled a little odd or contained any sort of ethnic flavoring that wasn’t oregano, we got to eat it when dad left town.

For about a month now, I’ve had the strangest craving for stuffed peppers. The stuffed peppers of my childhood were Stouffer’s Brand and probably filled with all sorts of preservatives/carcinogens/high fructose corn syrup. I’m trying to avoid that sort of stuff, so the only way to quell my craving was to make them from scratch.

Stuffed Peppers – Probably More Labor Intensive than You Prefer

A word of warning to anyone who may have stumbled across this post looking for a fast and easy weeknight meal: this isn’t an inherently quick process. However, if you do a few things in advance, you could probably make it less laborious.

Ingredients:

  • Bell peppers (I like red bell peppers, because I think green bell peppers ruin happiness and make angels cry.)
  • 1 pound sausage
  • 1 cup raw white rice
  • 1 onion
  • 1 pint mushrooms
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 cans diced tomatoes and their juices
  • Minced garlic
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to season*

Make Yourself Some Peppers!

Making up a batch of stuffed peppers isn’t difficult, it just requires multiple time-consuming steps. Here they are, in the order in which I completed them!

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  1. Cook your rice by whatever method you use to cook rice. I do it on the stove top because I’m old school and also because I know what they do to minute rice to make it cook so fast.
  2. When the rice is done cooking, put in in a bowl somewhere on your counter.
  3. Brown the sausage over medium-high heat. You may also want to hit it with some Worcestershire and salt and pepper.
  4. Drain the browned sausage (reserving the grease) and put it in the bowl with the rice.
  5. Use the sausage drippings to sweat and brown the garlic and onions. Add some balsamic vinegar and Worcestershire while you’re doing it. Flavorless food is sad food.
  6. When the onions are almost down, add your pint of mushrooms (chopped). You’ll want to cook the mushrooms until they lose quite a bit of their water.
  7. Add the cooked vegetation to the bowl with the rice and the sausage.
  8. Crack two eggs over the bowl and stir the mixture thoroughly.
  9. If you’re not squeamish about a little bit of raw egg, taste your filling to make sure that it is seasoned well. If you are squeamish, pray.
  10. Stuff the peppers with the filling and squash all the filled peppers into a loaf pan or casserole dish.
  11. Pour as many cans of diced tomatoes as it takes to come almost to the top of the pepper into the pan.
  12. Bake at 350 degrees for 60-90 minutes.

Like I said…It’s not rocket science, but it’s not quick either.

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A Few Things to Keep in Mind on your Pepper Stuffing Odyssey

I am convinced that there are a few things that you can do that will make this process easier/less time-consuming/healthier. Mind you, I haven’t tried any of them, but here’s a few ideas:

  • You can make the filling a day or so in advance and then just stuff the peppers and throw them in the oven on the night that you want to eat.
  • You could make this with turkey sausage to cut fat/all the other bad stuff in pork sausage.
  • You could omit the meat entirely and add more vegetables.
  • You could free the whole thing (uncooked) and save it for a rainy day. (I actually did that with half of the batch, although I haven’t cooked it yet. I’ll be sure to keep you posted.)

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*I honestly thought that everyone in the world knew that you should season your food while it’s cooking. However, it has recently come to my attention that there are people out there that will only add salt and pepper if the recipe calls for it. Don’t deny yourself tasty food! Season it!
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