Tag Archives: Comfort food

Stuffed Bell Peppers – SNAP meal

 

This is the first dinner I cooked during my week of the SNAP Challenge. I love stuffed bell peppers, and I usually make them with ground beef. Though I have had some success with vegetarian stuffed peppers in the past.

Given the already high and rising cost of meat, I knew I’d have to take a vegetarian route to keep these in budget. Swapping in lentils for the beef keeps this recipe high in protein content, and lowers the fat, while keeping the core tastes and hunger-crushing properties of the meal intact.

Ingredients:

  • 2 green bell peppers (use any color)
  • 1/2 cup rice
  • 1/3 cup lentils
  • 1 small can tomato sauce
  • Garlic salt

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Step 1: If you have a rice cooker, you can cook the lentils and rice together in it. If not, simmer the rice and lentils in a sauce pot with 2 1/2 cups water for 20 minutes.

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Step 2: Mix the cooked rice and lentils with the can of tomato sauce.

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Step 3: Cut the top off the pepper and pull out the seeds. Stuff the mixture inside, adding as much garlic salt as you like.

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Step 4: Bake the peppers in an oven at 350 for 20-25 minutes, until soft. Alternatively you could microwave each pepper, covered, for 8-10 minutes to soften. Another option is to put the stuffed peppers in a crock pot on low for 1-2 hours.

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Serve as a meal, or with a baked potato or salad on the side.

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I ended up eating one pepper for dinner, and the other for lunch the next day. They are quite filling, and delicious! Pretty healthy for you as well. Vegan, vegetarian, and you can make it gluten-free if you substitute in quinoa or another gluten-free grain for the rice.

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For approximately $0.84 per serving, you can’t do much better!

Vegetarian Breakfast Strata

I’ve said many times, and I’ll say it again, breakfast is the most important meal of the day.
I’ve also said many times that I love easy, make-ahead meals. This breakfast strata could be put together or baked the day before and stored in the fridge if needed. It is super simple and could incorporate any type of veggie or bean you prefer. You can make it completely vegan by using egg substitute and no cheese too.
 
Ingredients:
3 slices bread
1 can beans, slightly mashed
1/2-1 cup vegetable (spinach here)
8-10 eggs, beaten
sprinkle of cheese

Step 1: Lay the bread in an oven-safe pan sprayed with oil. Layer on the mashed beans, cheese and spinach.

Step 2: Add the egg mixture.

Step 3: I sprinkled more cheese on top. Bake at 350 for 45-50 minutes, until eggs are fully cooked.

Mmmmmmm! Hot, healthy, and protein packed breakfast. Actually this doesn’t necessarily have to be for breakfast, you could have this any time of the day.

 
What are your favorite strata ingredients?

Butternut Squash Soup

I recently had a dinner party, and in the spirit of the season (fall) I decided to make butternut squash soup as one of my main dishes. Earlier I posted about butternut squash macaroni & cheese, if you have one and soup just isn’t your thing. No reason not to enjoy the bounties of fall, regardless of texture preferences.
So as per usual, I googled around and pulled from several recipes and what I had in the house to come up with this. It received universally positive reviews! I made a large amount since I was feeding 6, you can cut everything in half for a smaller number of people.
Ingredients:
2 squash, halved and seeded
2 carrots
2 celery sticks
1 small chunk peeled raw ginger (about 1 inch)
1 white onion
4 chicken bouillon cubes
5 cups water
1 package cream cheese
Cinnamon, nutmeg and coriander seasoning

Step 1: Place halved squash on a baking pan with a little water. Bake at 350 for 35-45 minutes, until soft when poked with a fork.

Step 2: While the squash are baking, boil the carrots, celery, onion and ginger in chicken water until tender.

Step 3: Scoop the squash out of the skin and blend in a blender. There’s a surprisingly large amount of flesh in there, I had to do it in three batches. Add hot water from the pot to thin it out. Blend in the cream cheese, the vegetables and chicken stock as well, put it all back into a large stock pot.

Step 4: Add a healthy dose of cinnamon, nutmeg and/or coriander, adjusting to your tastes. Bring to just a simmer, and enjoy.

This is a great taste of fall, good on its own or I’m sure you could pair it with any number of dishes. You could probably mix and match too, if you wanted to try pumpkin or acorn squash instead. You could add milk or half and half to make it creamier, or omit the cream cheese & chicken bouillon to make it vegan.

Elk burgers — new food for July

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As July’s food item I’ve never tried, Elk nominated itself by being present at a farmer’s market I attended during 4th of July weekend. It sounded delicious and was only $10 a package from a local rancher, so I couldn’t resist. It was ground elk, so I’m sure I could have tried elk meatloaf or elk chili, but I had a hankerin for a good, juicy burger, so there you go. If you can’t or don’t want anything so fancy as elk, ground anything works for this plain ol classic burger recipe.
 
Ingredients:
1 pound ground elk (any meat)
4 tbsp seasoning of choice: I used Weber’s burger seasonings that include onion, black pepper, garlic, etc.
Buns
Burger toppings
 

Step 1: Divide ground elk into 4 even patties of about 1/4 pound each. Mix 1 tbsp seasoning into each and mix well. Shape into patties with your hands, or a press if you’re fancy enough to have one.

Step 2: If you’re lucky enough to have a grill, light that bad boy up and cook em that way. If you do not, a regular frying pan works. Cook on medium heat for about 10 minutes, then flip. They’ll be nicely browned and sizzling. Cook the other side another 5-7 minutes. We like some pink inside so it took about 15 min total.

Step 3: Add your toppings. I love avocado but none was available. But we had the classics, so my elk burger included: sliced American cheese, lettuce, tomato, & ketchup.

My boyfriend the carnivore (“meat man”) had a double, and declared it one of the best burgers he’s ever had. Since I’d say that number is probably in the hundreds, I consider it a great compliment. Elk is salty and tender and delicious. It’s like beef, but different. Just try it sometime, and if you like beef I bet you’ll like this even better.

 What’s your favorite burger?

Spaghetti squash ‘pasta’ with Turkey Meatballs and Tomato-Chickpea Sauce

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I had bought a spaghetti squash a few days ago, and finally got around to making it. I was not sure what to make with it, so I went with the “spaghetti” theme and made turkey meatballs and a tomato-chickpea sauce. Like real pasta only tons more fiber and quite delicious!

Ingredients:
Spaghetti squash

Sauce:
1 can chickpeas, drained
1 can diced tomatoes
2 garlic cloves, diced
Italian seasonings
1 1/2 cups water/chicken stock

Meatballs:
1 pound ground turkey
1/4 cup bread crumbs
3 cloves garlic, diced
1/4 onion, grated
1/4 cup ketchup
1 egg
1/4 cup blue cheese/parmesan cheese

Step 1: Bake the spaghetti squash face-down for 1 hour at 375 or microwave 10 minutes then bake for 30.

Step 2: Mix all meatball ingredients in a bowl.

Step 3: Cook the chickpeas in a sauce pot for ~5 minutes. Then add the diced tomatoes, water, and seasonings and simmer.

 Step 4: Roll the meatball mix into 1-inch balls and bake on a sprayed cookie sheet for ~10 minutes at 350, or until brown and cooked through. Then add to the simmering sauce.

 

Step 5: When the squash cools, use a fork to pull the strands out.

In a bowl, add the squash, a meatball or two, and pour on some sauce. Enjoy!

Creative leftovers: Butternut Squash Mac n Cheese

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The best recipes in my opinion are the ones that either get eaten the first time around, or lead to easy leftover combinations. I hate to see food go to waste, and unfortunately when you’re cooking for only 1 or 2 people that can happen quite often.
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You make something that tastes great the first time, and the second time, but by days 3 and up you are sick of it. So it sits in the back of the fridge, hidden by water bottles and fresher produce until you clean out your fridge tri-monthly and get grossed out by the mold and bacteria on it.
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Therefore I try to cook things which easily lend themselves to meal makovers to dress up the leftovers and make it feel like a whole new meal. So I took some macaroni & cheese I’d made earlier, leftover chicken, and bruchetta topping (since the bread was now mush) and mixed it up for a super-easy, quick & healthy lunch.
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Less wasted food = more money in your pocket = win-win.
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Ingredients:
2 diced roma tomatoes
1/4 white onion, diced small
3-4 oz cooked chicken breast (or meat of choice, or no meat if you prefer)
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Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Microwave on high 1-2 minutes. You can sprinkle with extra cheese, or add any kind of cooked veggies you like. Enjoy!

 

Butternut squash mac-n-cheese (Bonus snack)

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So I came across a recipe for butternut squash macaroni and cheese, and since it is getting into the fall season (and sounded delicious) I decided to try it. I had most of the ingredients, I just needed to buy the squash and some cheese. Of course, I made it my own as I always do. You can find the full nutrition info here.
 
Ingredients:
1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into cubes (Save the seeds for a bonus snack!)
1 1/2 cup skim milk
1 cup chicken stock
1 tbsp brown sugar
Sprinkle black pepper & salt
1/2 pound macaroni of choice (I used elbow)
2/3 pound fresh Cheddar
1/2 cup skim cottage cheese
1/4 cup Parmesan
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
 

Step 1: Get water for pasta boiling. Meanwhile, peel and dice squash. Put squash, stock and milk in a pan, simmer 10-15 minutes until squash is fork-tender. Boil the pasta ~ 8 minutes and drain.

 Step 2: Put squash into blender (or mash) to make it smooth. Add salt, pepper, sugar.

 Step 3: Put macaroni into a greased pan, pour squash over top. Add cheeses and mix well. Cover with foil & bake at 350 for 20 minutes.

Step 4: Uncover, sprinkle bread crumbs and parmesan on top. Bake uncovered for another 20-30 minutes, until golden and crispy on top.

 Step 5: Let cool, scoop out a helping and enjoy!


Bonus snack!
While peeling and dicing the squash, save the seeds. Rinse thoroughly to get rid of slimy part. Sprinkle sea salt over top. Toast the seeds in the oven at 350 for ~20 minutes, stirring at least once. The seeds are light and smoky, and taste like fall! I could eat bushels of these things!



Shepherd’s Pie my way

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As you can see in a post prior to this, I had recently made a large amount of mashed potatoes & cauliflower. I had quite a bit left over, so I was browsing some of my favorite recipe web sites for ideas. I wanted to make pierogi (I am slovak & polish you know) but I was out of eggs (used my last one in my breakfast BELT recipe!) so I couldn’t make the dough.
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Then I stumbled across this recipe for “Italian Irishman’s pie” on Allrecipes.com. It used sausage instead of beef in shepherd’s pie. Since I had a pack of Johnsonville Cheddarwurst Brats in the freezer, I figured this could work. So with what I had on hand, I pared it down to serve two (since a large amount of food almost always goes to waste) and gave it a try. It came out pretty tasty!
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Ingredients:
2 brats, sliced thin (reserve the drippings)
2 tbsp flour
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup cream or milk
Salt & pepper
1/2 zucchini, diced
1/2 yellow squash, diced
1/2 onion, diced
1 – 2 cups mashed potatoes
Optional: 2 slices cheese, or 1/2 cup shredded cheese
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Step 1: Cook the brats until they’re done, put into a loaf pan.

Step 2: To drippings, add flour & brown for 2 minutes. Add water, cream, salt & pepper to taste, whisk until smooth. Bring to a boil, cook until thickened. Pour the gravy over the brats.

Step 3: In the same pan, add diced vegetable. Cook until tender, stirring often, about 10 minutes. Add the zucchini, squash and onion to the loaf pan.

Step 4: Layer the mashed potatoes on top of everything. Season with salt & pepper to taste.

Now you have layered your sausage, gravy, veggies and potatoes. You can brush the top with some melted butter or margarine if you like.

Step 5: Bake in the oven set to 350 for 20 minutes.

Step 6: The gravy and potatoes should be bubbly. I added 2 slices of colby cheese on top and put it back in the oven for another 5 minutes to melt.

Step 7: Spoon a big helping onto a plate and enjoy! You can top with extra shredded cheese and salt/pepper if you like.

Delicious, filling and not as bad for you as you might think, assuming you used the potatoes/cauliflower mixture!

Inside-out stuffed peppers

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I have to credit this post to my friend Maribeth. She is also an excellent cook, and is allowing me to post this recipe here. We both needed some serious girl-talk time, so cooking dinner together and enjoying some wine was of course the natural choice. This is her recipe.
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Ingredients:
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 1 box rice pilaf
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 onion
  • 2 tbsp pesto
  • 1 tbsp diced garlic
  • 1 cup Spaghetti sauce
  • black pepper
Step 1: Dice the onion into small pieces and the bell pepper into strips.
Step 2: Cook the ground beef fully, then add the onion, pepper and garlic. Cover tightly and steam for about 10 minutes, until pepper is fully cooked. (You can of course omit the ground beef or use tofu instead for vegetarians.)
Step 3: Meanwhile, cook the rice pilaf according to instructions. Once peppers are soft, add the rice and pesto and mix well.
Step 4: Season to taste with black pepper and any other seasonings you like.

Step 5: Scoop a big pile onto a plate, and cover with the sauce.
Step 6: Try to stop yourself from having seconds!

Inside out stuffed peppers. Delicious!

 

Easy Slow Cooker Chicken & Rice Casserole

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Slow cookers are amazing, because you just put dinner in, go off to work or class, and come home to a fresh hot meal. I had a busy day planned, so I decided to use up some freezer food and make dinner a snap: I would make chicken casserole in the Crock Pot.
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Ingredients:
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 bag frozen vegetables
  • 1 cup rice
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Seasonings (Nature’s, black pepper and garlic)
Step 1: Put the chicken on the bottom of the sprayed pot.
Step 2: Mix rice & water, pour in.
Step 3: Cover with cream of chicken soup.
Step 4: Add the frozen veggies.
Then just cover tightly and cook on low for 6-8 hours. Make sure the chicken is cooked all the way through before serving. Makes about 4 servings. Simple, cheap, quick. Enjoy!