It’s fall, you guys!
FALL! The leaves have changed and are fallllllling, Halloween has come and gone, school’s in the groove, and we are wearing jeans and boots and scarves EVERY DAY!
Every. Day. From now until Easter. Every day I will be covering all my skin-covered parts except for my face. Every day I will be crushed under layers and layers and layers of clothing. Warm, fleecy, strangulating clothing.
And all the warm-climate dwellers said: Ha ha. We wear bikinis all year long, and you are dumb.
Warm-climate dwellers. Sigh.
Do you know what else fall means? Comfort food. In this house we rely on it to keep us warm from the inside out. Or at least we rely on it to make us heavier for insulation purposes when the cold outside threatens to freeze bones and suck all the moisture from skin and ruin lives.
One of my favorite comfort food meals is Stuffed Peppers. My mom made it when I was a kid, and I have to be up front and tell you this: it was not one of my favorite meals growing up. Not even a little bit. But something happened on the way to adulthood and now I love it with the fierceness of an Amazon Warrior Princess.
And my kids love it too, so score one for me, and score zero for my mom.
Don’t feel bad for her. She can handle it.
I made it for dinner the other day. When the kids came home from school, they were all “What’s for dinner, Mom?” and prepared to make gagging noises and run screaming through the house, tormenting me for my dinner decisions like they usually do. I was all “Stuffed Peppers, chumps” and they totally changed their tune and fell to floor, drooling on themselves and rolling around with pleasure.
Yes. They did this SHUT UP
And whilst I was making the deliciousness that is stuffed peppers, I took pictures so I could share my recipe, process, and genius with you. Yes, you. Do you like stuffed peppers? Or at least need an extra layer for the cold? No matter. Join me.
|Looks gross; tastes good.|
Here we go, nerds:
4 green bell peppers. Cut off the stems and then cut each one in half lengthwise and remove the membranes and seeds. Is there anything worse than green pepper seeds? Those things are so sticky and they get everywhere. There are probably five hundred rogue green pepper seeds all dried up under my oven and in the cracks between the tiles in my kitchen floor. Those things hang on like herpes, or an umbilical cord stump. My daughter’s was on there for six weeks afterward. SIX WEEKS! I wanted to yank it off but my husband was afraid her intestines would spill out and he didn’t let me.
|Yeah, yeah. There are only three here. Take it easy.|
1 ½ pounds of ground beef. You can use a combo of ground meats here if you want. I have never done so. I am a ground-beef-in-stuffed-peppers purist. Maybe that makes me old-fashioned. I will also claim that description.
½ of an onion, chopped. I use individually selected sweet onions in all of my cooking. I used to buy yellow cooking onions in the little red mesh bulk bag, but I don’t anymore. You know why I don’t? Because I hate those red mesh bags. You cut off the tops and those bags disintegrate and little pieces of red mesh spread everywhere like you know what else? That’s right. Herpes.
15-oz CAN OF DICED TOMATOES. Oops. I accidently hit the caps lock when I typed that. Let’s move on.
2/3 cup long-grain rice. Confession: I grabbed the wrong type of rice at the grocery store and used medium grain instead of long grain for this recipe. I will have to say: there is a difference. It’s like medium grain is the grade B of rice products. It’s like broken up bits of rice. You totally couldn’t get your name carved on a piece of medium grain rice at the state fair. It would be pretty hard to do and the carny would charge you twice as much and you wouldn’t be able to see your name anyway so you’d live the rest of your life wondering if you got hoodwinked.
About 1 cup water. There’s nothing to say about this ingredient. We need water. 75% of our bodies are made of water, as is 75% of the earth. Coincidence? I think not. I think our bodies ARE the earth. It’s the circle of life. Ashes to ashes and dust to dust and all that. I don’t know. I don’t know what I’m saying.
Salt ‘N’ Pepper. Push it.
2 T. Worcestercestercestercestercestercestercestercestercestercestershire sauce.
1 t. dried oregano. You may also use dried basil or dried Italian seasoning here. I used oregano, and then wrote on my grocery list to pick up dried basil, because we were out. I think I used the last of it when I handed out little ‘dime bags’ in lieu of candy to the teenage trick-or-treaters on Halloween to take home and freak out their parents. Ha ha ha, totally joking. I gave out condoms to the teenagers on Halloween. NO I DIDN’T. We were just out of basil, okay?
About 6 slices of American cheese. Be a man and get it sliced at the deli. If I found out you used Kraft singles to top your stuffed peppers then I will cross the street when I see you coming.
Okay. It took you a long time to get all that stuff together, didn’t it? Well, get used to it, Barbara. Didn’t you know that comfort food takes time? It does. But you’re in it, now. Stay with me.
Boil a pot of water and put the green pepper halves in the water for three minutes. This takes the bitterness out of the pepper. Just three minutes, okay? You’re not trying to cook the peppers – you’re just taking out a little strength of the taste. When you’re done torturing the peppers, sprinkle the insides with a little salt and invert them onto paper towels to dry. Ignore their tears of pain.
|If you're bitter, you get boiled. Simple as that.|
Cook and stir the meat and onion in a skillet until the meat is cooked and the onion is tender. While this is cooking, go ahead and do a couple of tequila shots or give your children a warning about neighbors offering marijuana on Halloween. Drain the fat when it is done and stir in the undrained tomatoes, rice, water, Wor. sauce, oregano (or basil), and s & p.
Note: I usually just use the tomato can for the water. That way, I get the little bit of tomatoes left into the recipe and I don’t have to get out another measuring cup. By the way, this might be a good time to tell you that all the ingredients listed here are approximate. Don’t be mad, sheesh. Is Beyonce coming over? No. She isn’t. If this doesn’t work out then just call for pizza or something.
Bring this concoction to boiling, and reduce the heat. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until the rice is tender. Stir it a few times. Yell at your children to set the table because you know they’re just sitting around playing on their phones waiting for you to fill their pie holes. OMG your kids are so lazy!
Stir in ½ of the cheese until melted. Place the peppers in a single layer in a 13x9 baking dish, and spoon the meat mixture into each of the halves. Just spoon any remaining meat mixture around the peppers in the dish, because you’ll want to cook that up too.
|No cheese yet, because when this picture was taken I was getting busy stuffing slices into my mouth like a starving child at the deli counter in any grocery store in the US.|
Bake in a 375 degree oven for 15 minutes or until heated through. Remove from the oven and put the rest of the cheese on top and watch carefully as it melts. Invite your kids over to watch and ask if it reminds them of that part in Raiders of the Lost Ark where the Nazis’ faces melted because they looked at the Ark like the greedy thieves they were instead of covering their eyes. Then tell them that that’s what will happen to them if they take drugs, have unprotected sex, or smoke cigarettes.
Eat this with mashed potatoes. Oh, did you forget to make mashed potatoes while you were cooking this dish? Huh. Well, if you were a true comfort food aficionado then you would always have several containers of homemade mashed potatoes on hand. Or just mix up some instant ones. Or get the ones already premixed at the grocery store. Mmmmm, those ones are the best.
Enjoy – and Happy Fall Comfort Food Eating! Don’t forget your stretchy pants. You’ll need them.
|Hey - where did that shredded cheese come from? |
From the bottom of an almost-empty cheese bag, people. Where all good things live.
I adapted this recipe from one I found in an ancient Better Homes and Gardens cookbook that one of my old lady relatives gave to me.