Deconstructed Stuffed Peppers

It’s no lie that I love stuffed peppers. They’re easy, they cover lots of ground in the veggie department and there’s really no right or wrong way to make them. The possibilities are endless! I made them a few weeks ago- no recipe… just threw stuff together- and realized that while I like the IDEA and the LOOKS of stuffed peppers, all I really care about is the stuffing… that’s where the good stuff is!

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The stuffing is great because it’s so easy to eat- no cutting required, which I quickly realized is clutch when eating out of a Tupperware container at my desk during lunch 😉 Since there is always leftover stuffing when I make stuffed peppers, I figured out that topping some cooked kale or a spinach salad with the stuffed pepper “stuffing” was not only a great way to not let anything go to waste, but also something I enjoyed more, which is where today’s recipe comes from.

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How I go about making stuffed peppers + my favorite “stuffings”

Lately, I’ve been mildly obsessed with stuffed peppers. I think I’ve made them 3 different times in the past month and a half, which is unusual for me since I try to make something different each week. I think I’ve been on such a stuffed pepper kick lately because they are SO easy, and there’s really no wrong way to make them.  On top of that, the variations for stuffed peppers are endless. You can do them with ground beef, ground chicken, ground turkey… or you could go meatless and sub out the ground meat for black beans or quinoa. And, the other veggies you decide to put in them can range from a specific theme (Mexican, for instance) to just whatever you might have in your fridge (a marinara sauce to mix everything together).

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Since there are endless possibilities for creating the perfect stuffed pepper, I thought I’d share my process for deciding how I want to “stuff” my peppers

  • Do I want to use a beef base for the peppers or do I want to go meatless by using quinoa, beans or rice (or a combo of all 3)?
  • I generally make this decision by seeing how much ground meat is at the store. Beef is not generally an option I choose, only because I prefer the taste of ground chicken or turkey, but it’s certainly an option if that’s your thing! My last batch of stuffed peppers had ground chicken AND quinoa… really living on the edge, I know 😉
  • Do I want to do a theme like Mexican, Italian or fall (sweet potatoes, squash, etc.)?
  • Do I want to go simple on the veggies and just pick a few like onions, zucchini and summer squash? Or, do I want an “everything in the fridge” mix of veggies, likely including, onions, pepper, broccoli, summer squash, zucchini, corn, etc… you get the idea.

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Another thing I do when I make stuffed peppers is make extra “stuffing”, so that I can use it throughout the week. Sometimes I put it atop spinach to create a different type of salad topper, sometimes I use it in a quesadilla and other times I just eat it as it is- that’s the beauty of the stuffing- you can’t really go wrong!

Lastly, I love stuffed peppers for the nutritious value. They’re an entire meal in and of themselves because they have veggies and protein, so no need for an extra salad or meat on the side. They are great to take for lunch for this very reason 🙂

If you’re looking for a recipe to try out, check out this one: Quinoa, Black Bean, Veggie & Spinach Stuffed Peppers. I have another recipe on my blog for a taco stuffed pepper, but the pictures aren’t showing up so it looks terrible 😦 When I fix it, I’ll share it with you:)

Questions for you: Do you make stuffed peppers? What’s your favorite stuffing for them?

Weekending: Moving, moving & more moving

Yup. Moving was the jist of my weekend starting on Thursday night. I keep telling everyone that moving to a new floor in the same building is just as hard, if not harder, than moving to an entirely new building! Instead of packing things up and doing a few big trips, I ended up not packing and just making a million trips up and down the stairs every time I needed something. It was a bad way to go about the move, let me tell you that!

After a few hours of strenuous moving on Thursday night, I had a glass of wine then treated my helpers to pizza and wine from Santarpio’s.

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#prioritiespeople Clearly wine is the first thing that should be in a fridge. Booze helps moving suck less 😉

I hadn’t been to Santarpio’s since my birthday weekend, and boy was I craving it! Per usual, Santarpio’s did not disappoint. Look at these bad boys!

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My parents came down on Friday to help my sister with her stuff (she’s moving in with me for a few months), so I rushed home after work to join the party. I was pleasantly surprised when I walked in and saw this beautiful bouquet of flowers from RM. For those of you who don’t know, he’s actually my landlord and that’s how we met 🙂 Last year, when I was just his tenant, he knew I was nervous about moving and surprised me with a bottle of wine and little note in my fridge. This year, as my boyfriend, he left flowers… I’m a lucky girl!

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I took a quick break for dinner (we ordered from Jeveli’s) and continued working until 8:30.. yuck! It was fun having my parents around, though. Dad broke in my new deck, I toasted to the new apartment and we all indulged on delicious food!

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I didn’t sleep a wink on Friday night, so I was up and making trips up and down the stairs at 7am on Saturday. This wasn’t a good idea before teaching cardio kickboxing! I was such a space cadet in class 😦 and tired- physically really tired!

Once I got back, it was nice to do some more organizing and a few additional trips. My downstairs neighbor, Lauren, came up for wine and snacks later that evening- it was such a fun night! It felt weird to sleep at home by myself on a Saturday night, though… and even more weird to wake up on a Sunday and have a quiet place to myself… I took advantage of it and watched tv and blogged. I can’t tell you how long it’s been since I’ve done that! I was even able to eat lunch out on my deck- such a beautiful day.

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The rest of Sunday was spent moving the final pieces of stuff from my old place, cleaning it and doing the last bit of organizing in my new place. I went to Target and picked up some new curtains and a lamp- what do you think of the place so far?

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I finally decided it was time to put together some dinner. Salads have been making me gag lately, so I knew I needed to prep enough food to bring for lunch and eat throughout the week. Since my dad brought me all these veggies, I tried to put them to good use.

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I made a big ol’ batch of roasted veggies, including carrots, parsnips and onions from my dads garden and sweet potato and butternut squash (side note: I originally typed SQUAT instead of squash… i have issues) from the store. I just put coconut oil, salt, pepper and garlic salt on them and roasted them at 400* for about an hour.

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On the side, I made some stuffed peppers with the peppers that my dad gave me. I put onions, summer squash, zucchini, broccoli, black beans and ground chicken in them. SO good!

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I made some ground chicken burgers with the leftover ground chicken. Thank goodness I had wine to keep me going through all that food prep!

So, there’s my weekend. I have to say- it was really nice being around on Sunday without a million plans. My sister was gone all day, so even though I got lonely by 7ish, it was a super relaxing day where I was able to do what I wanted when I wanted. I need more days like that 🙂

Questions for you: What was the best part of your weekend? Did you make any good meals? Do you food prep for the week? What’s a way to spice up a salad?

Quinoa, Black Bean, Veggie & Spinach Stuffed Peppers

For me, Sunday mornings usually consist of getting up, having a relaxing breakfast while watching TV and then thinking about what I want to make for dinner. It’s easy to always think back to the same things, but I try to make something new each week because my list of things “to make” is, seemingly, never-ending. This past Sunday, though, I wasn’t in the mood for anything labor intensive, but I knew I wanted something healthy and “homey”. After a little brain searching, I decided I would make stuffed peppers! I’ve made stuffed peppers before, but since I never make the “stuffing” the same way, I figured it would be like trying a new recipe!

The best part of the recipe? It was so easy! As I was making it, I actually thought to myself “wow. Not a lot of chopping or simmering or dishes. Awesome”.

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Quinoa, Black Bean, Veggie & Spinach Stuffed Peppers

Ingredients (my recipe makes 2 stuffed peppers)

  • 2 Green Peppers
  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • 1tbsp minced garlic
  • 1tbsp EVOO
  • 1/2 cup chopped onions
  • 1/4 cup frozen corn
  • 1/4-1/2 black beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 1/2 cup diced tomatoes
  • Big handful of spinach
  • 1/2 cup marinara sauce
  • Shredded mozzarella cheese (1/4-1/2 cup… or as much or as little as you want!)

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Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350*. Cut the tops off of the peppers and remove the seeds. Place on a tray and set aside. (Tip: I cut up the tops of the peppers and use that for the stuffing, too.)

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2. Cook the quinoa according to the package (1/2 cup quinoa, 1 cup of water, bring to a boil and let boil for about 12-14 mins or until the water has been absorbed). Cut up your onion and pepper tops and sauté with 1tbsp minced garlic and 1tbsp EVOO. I also added a few dashes of white wine… because, well, wine why not?

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3. Rinse your beans and add those, the corn, diced tomatoes (drained) and spinach. Sauté until the spinach has wilted.

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(Note: I made way more stuffing than needed… I could’ve made 4+ peppers. whoops. The amounts above should be good for 2 peppers)

4. Add 1/2-1 cup of the cooked quinoa to 1/2-1 cup of the veggie and spinach mixture. Mix together with 1/2 cup marinara sauce and a small sprinkling of cheese (1/8-1/4 cup to keep everything together).

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5. Stuff the peppers and top with additional cheese. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until cheese starts to brown. I also broiled mine for 2 minutes to get extra browning 😉

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Mmm. Now doesn’t THAT look delicious! What I love about stuffed peppers is that they are a complete meal on their own. Veggies, protein, dairy… Love it!

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I had lots of stuffing mixture leftover and have been adding it to salads all week. I also see myself making a quesadilla with it!

Questions for you: What’s your favorite stuffed pepper stuffing? What’s your favorite meal that has all the food groups in it? When do you meal plan?