Tag Archives: peppers

Weekly Eating – 10/15/18

Hey y’all! Welcome to the series Weekly Eating.

Here is where I’ll talk about the week’s meal plan versus reality, what we ate for the week, and how we did budget-wise. I hope it gives readers a behind-the-scenes look into our life through the lens of food, and it’s also a way to keep us on track with meal planning and grocery budgeting.

Feel free to share your wins and lessons in the comments below!

 

Last weekend was great fun! You can read all about the farm adventures and refillable soap here. Then on Sunday I went to my first Cary Food & Flea Market to represent Triangle Food Tours. It was a drizzly day, but we still had a good turnout.

triangle food tour

I also got the last of the fall seeds planted, and we had a lovely bonfire in the evening, complete with farm fresh milk hot cocoa.

fall bonfire time

This week I processed several of the giant pile of Carolina Reapers still hanging around my kitchen. Their season is nearly over, so I’m trying to stock up as much as I can to get us through the cold winter with some heat. I think we will have more than enough… in fact those tiny containers are literally just reapers and vinegar, destined to be traded with some brave soul at the next Food Swap!

Monday:

Breakfast – banana muffins

Lunch – leftovers

Dinner – I made a white bean stew with butternut squash steamed in the pressure cooker and blanched sweet potato leaves. Served over quinoa, it was healthy, local, seasonal, and delicious.

white bean and squash stew over quinoa

Tuesday:

Breakfast – blue berry oatmeal

blueberry oatmeal

Lunch – leftover Chinese from the weekend & berries

chinese and berries

Dinner – summer squash, peppers and onions stir fried over quinoa

stir fry over quinoa

Wednesday:

Breakfast – smoothie with berries and kefir and frozen banana

fruit and kefir smoothie

Lunch – leftover brisket, roasted carrots, and steamed sweet potato leaves, with peppermint tea + ginger & lemon

leftover brisket lunch with tea

Snack – a friend at work gave me this Kind banana and chocolate bar because she didn’t like them. It was certainly weird, but okay, and kept the hangry at bay until it was dinner time.

KIND chocolate banana bar

Dinner – Cod in the instant pot with fresh green beans, red potatoes, a sprinkle of cranberries and walnuts. IT WAS SO GOOD GUYS. So simple, so tasty, and so fast (15 minutes). I get why people are all about the instant pot now.

instant pot cod with potatoes and green beans

I bet this same combo would also be amazing with Thanksgiving turkey! Or just minus the cod as a delish side dish.

instant pot cod with potatoes and green beans

Thursday:

Breakfast – more blueberry oatmeal! This time I sprinkled them on after cooking rather than cooking them in with the oats, and added a few walnuts too.

more blueberry oatmeal

Lunch – kale salad and carrot/sweet potato soup

kale salad with carrot sweet potato soup

Dinner – summer squash ‘zoodles’ with rustic tomato & kale sauce and chickpeas. Basically threw a bunch of things from the fridge together in a pot and called it dinner!

squash zoodles with tomato kale sauce

Friday:

Breakfast – uhhh just coffee oops! I’m off, and slept in, then got caught up packing and cleaning and doing things around the house

Lunch – whatever is left in the fridge; probably red beans and rice

Dinner – hopefully, deep dish pizza!

The Weekend

We will be in the Windy City this weekend for a family wedding! By the time you’re reading this we will probably be home already. My cousin has excellent taste so I can only assume the wedding/ reception dinner will be excellent. I’m sure there will be at least one deep dish pizza involved, and probably a glass or five two too many of wine. But that’s what celebrating love is all about right??

Food Total: $61.62

Not bad at all, especially when you consider half of that was decorations for the fall/upcoming Halloween party! I didn’t have a Produce Box delivery this week since we’re out of town for a wedding, and we have plenty of produce/ dairy/ pantry items that need used up prior to that. Next week will be a big spend for party food items and beverages though.

Staples $1.87 Fruit/Veg $19.15 Extras $37.11
Baking soda 0.49 Strawberry quart 1.99 Mums x3 8.97
Baking powder 0.99 Blueberry 2 pint 2.99 Pumpkins 2 big 4.98
Iodized salt 0.39 Acorn squash 1.19 Halloween candy 100pc 9.99
Butternut squash 1.96
Bananas 0.97 Winking owl 3L 10.89
Lemons 2.79
Red onions 1.19 tax 2.28
Avocados 6 3.49
Yellow onions 1.09
Pineapple 1.49

Lessons Learned

This week was all about quick, easy, and healthy. Sometimes you just go through phases in life where you don’t feel like cooking big or complicated recipes. (For some, this is every night). And that’s okay. Actually, sometimes the simplest things are the healthiest, a quick steam or stir fry of some frozen veggies and you’re good to go.

It’s also helpful to prep a big batch of something to have on hand, like a grain, some steamed veggies, some fruits, and some proteins. Then you can just mix and match for almost instant dinner. Having already cooked quinoa, pinto beans, rinsed and shredded kale, and washed berries ready to go was great all week long.

 

How about you guys? Did you have a learning week or an awesome week of wins?

Easy Stuffed Peppers

 

Do you love meals that don’t take much work?  Do you want to eat healthier?  Do you want healthy meal ideas that don’t take much work?  You’ve come to the right place!

This is a super simple meal I had at work during my “track every thing I eat week“.  It took less than 10 minutes in the morning to put together, then I just let it cook in our small toaster oven at work for an hour.  By lunchtime it was hot and ready to go!  With no preservative, added fats or sugars, and all fresh produce from my or my neighbor’s garden, it doesn’t get much better.

You can of course use whatever produce you have available to you.  Other pepper colors can be sweeter (for example, red bell peppers) and you can stuff just about any vegetable in there.  You can also use other grains if you don’t like couscous, for example rice, barley, quinoa, or wheat germ.

Ingredients:

  • 2 small bell peppers
  • 1 large tomato
  • 1/2 small eggplant
  • 6 tbsp couscous
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 8 tbsp hot water

Stuffed Bell Peppers Assembled

Step 1: Cut the tops off the peppers and pull out the seeds. Cut in half and lay in an oven-safe container.  Chop the eggplant and garlic, and cut the tomato into quarters.

Stuffed Bell Peppers With Couscous and Tomato

Step 2: Pour 1 1/2 tbsp couscous into the pepper, mix with chopped garlic, and top with eggplant pieces. Add 2 tbsp hot water to each half to get the couscous soaking. If you want to add some ground turkey, go for it. Cover with the tomato slices.

Baked Stuffed Bell Peppers With Couscous and Tomato

Step 3: In an oven or toaster oven, cook on high (350) for about 1 hour.  Add more water to each pepper half as needed.

This is a lovely, hands-off meal, just assemble and let it go.  It is light and healthy but packed with flavor.

Preserving Hot Peppers

 

Peppers are probably the kind of plant which has most wow-ed me with its prolific seeds. Every time I crack open a bell pepper to make stuffed peppers, or hollow a jalapeno to make poppers, there are mounds of seeds inside. Even in the tiniest pepper, there are likely more seeds than you can count on just your hands.

Pro tip: you can save these seeds and dry them out, and then plant your own pepper garden! Just one jalapeno may produce dozens of plants. Yes, even peppers you buy at the grocery store. Just cut the stem side off, scrape the seeds away from the ribs inside, and dry them on a piece of paper. Store in a cool dark place until you’re ready to plant outside or in a container.

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Another thing that is amazing about peppers is the sheer variety. From the mild sweet bell pepper to the jalapeno, habanero, or even the ghost chili, there are literally thousands of varieties. Peppers can spontaneously mutate, so even if you save seeds year to year, you can get new color patterns or heat levels. The amount of water and sun, location and type of soil can also affect the peppers.

I’ve been trying, for the past few years, to get more brave about cooking and eating spicier foods. The chemical that makes peppers taste hot & spicy is most often capsaicin. This compound irritates mucous membranes and causes inflammation, and pain if in too high a dose. However, capsaicin also has many health benefits for your heart, blood pressure, anti-diabetes, and more.

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One of the ways I’ve found to incorporate more spicy foods into my cooking is by using jarred jalapenos. These little guys store forever, and add a bit kick to pizza, salads, sandwiches, chili, pasta, and more. I’ve bought jalapenos in a jar at the store, but this year I had access to an heirloom Italian jalapeno variety, as well as several others like cayenne, poblano, and red cherry peppers.

Thus, I needed a way to use them all up. As state, peppers are very prolific. On one plant, I’ve seen nearly 100 peppers, if the fruit is tiny. No joke.

So given all the health benefits, and the fact that I cannot use them up fast enough before they spoil, jarring seemed like the best way to preserve the summer’s spicy bounty. Turns out, they are ridiculously easy to make. Just look on a jar of peppers at the store, you will see there is likely fewer than ten ingredients. This homemade version needs three.

You can of course can hot or regular peppers, but you must use a pressure canner, not a water bath. There are significant botulism risks if you do not use a pressure canner. However, by adding vinegar, you are effectively pickling the peppers. This prevents harmful bacterias and other nasties from growing. I also store mine right in the fridge.

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Ingredients (this makes about a pint):

  • 1-2 cups of peppers (all one kind or a variety)
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 1 tbsp sea salt

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Step 1: Cut the tops off the peppers, then cut down the side ribs and pull out the seeds. Leave the seeds in if you want it extra spicy. Also, it is highly recommended to wear gloves while cutting hot peppers! I made the mistake of not wearing gloves the first time, and my hands were on fire for days.

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Step 2: Shove all your pepper rings into the jar. Cover with the vinegar about 2/3 full. Pour on the sea salt.

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Step 3: Add distilled water to the top of the jar, then close it and shake it up, until the salt dissolves. You can of course actually can them, using glass mason jars and steam or pressure canning methods. These processed jars can be stored at room temperature for a longer period of time.

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Put the jar in the fridge, and it will be there until you’re ready to use them!

These peppers can make a great little gift, especially if you layer multi-colored peppers in a clear jar. They are quite pretty. These peppers can be eaten as is, on pizza, in soups or chili, and more. It will keep in the refrigerator for several months.

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For a great way to bring back the warm thoughts of summer during the bitter cold of winter, try planning out your garden for spring! Go to websites like Pepper Joe’s Gardening Tips, Hot Pepper Seeds, or the Almanac to find answers to questions, tips on what types of species grow best where you live, organic and heirloom seeds, and more.

 

Preserving Hot Peppers

Ingredients

  • 1-2 cups of peppers
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 1 tbsp sea salt
  • Water to cover

Instructions

  1. Cut the tops off the peppers, then cut down the side ribs and pull out the seeds. Leave the seeds in if you want it extra spicy. Also, it is highly recommended to wear gloves while cutting hot peppers! I made the mistake of not wearing gloves the first time, and my hands were on fire for days.
  2. Shove all your pepper rings into the jar. Cover with the vinegar about 2/3 full. Pour on the sea salt. Add distilled water to the top of the jar, then close it and shake it up, until the salt dissolves. You can of course actually can them, using glass mason jars and steam or pressure canning methods. These processed jars can be stored at room temperature for a longer period of time. As is, these peppers need stored in the refrigerator until use.
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Sausage & pepper quiche

 

This recipe is so simple, you can make it for one person or a dozen, using only a plastic cup & frying pan, or the fanciest of oven-safe cast iron cookware. I used one turkey sausage link and a few slices of bell pepper, plus bagged spinach. But feel free to use whatever veggies you have in the fridge, like onion, carrots, broccoli, etc.

Scale up by multiplying the ingredients list by however many people you are wanting to serve. You could also put bread in the bottom of an oven-safe pan and pour this over it to create a breakfast strata, or just scramble it all in a pan if you don’t have a stove-top-to-oven pan.

Ingredients:

  • 1 sausage link
  • 1/2 bell pepper, sliced
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup spinach
  • Salt & pepper
  • Optional: sprinkle of cheddar cheese

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Step 1: In a frying pan or cast iron skillet, brown the sausage link. (You could also use a 1/4 cup of ground sausage or a patty). Cut the sausage into small bite sized pieces.

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Step 2: Break the eggs into a bowl or cup. Scramble them well with a fork, until fluffy.

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Step 3: In the skillet, using sausage oils, cook the peppers 5-6 minutes until softened, then add spinach. Cook just a few minutes, until wilted. Add the sausage back in and mix.

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Step 4: Pour the scrambled eggs on top, and distribute evenly around the pan. Let cook on medium heat, for 7-8 minutes, until the eggs are halfway cooked.

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If using, sprinkle on the cheddar cheese, and add the seasoning.

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Step 5: Assuming you are using an oven-safe pan, put the entire pan into the oven (carefully!) on 350 F for 10 minutes to fully cook the eggs. Alternatives here are to scramble it, or make it into an omelet by flipping it in half.

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Cut into pizza slices, and enjoy! This is a great brunch recipe, could be breakfast for dinner, and is even fast & easy enough to make for yourself on a weekday morning. Feel free to omit the sausage for a quick & delicious vegetarian breakfast as well.

 

Sausage & pepper quiche

Ingredients

  • 1 sausage link
  • 1/2 bell pepper, sliced
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup spinach
  • Salt & pepper
  • Optional: sprinkle of cheddar cheese

Instructions

  1. In a frying pan or cast iron skillet, brown the sausage link. (You could also use a 1/4 cup of ground sausage or a patty). Cut the sausage into small bite sized pieces.
  2. Break the eggs into a bowl or cup. Scramble them well with a fork, until fluffy.
  3. In the skillet, using sausage oils, cook the peppers 5-6 minutes until softened, then add spinach. Cook just a few minutes, until wilted. Add the sausage back in and mix.
  4. Pour the scrambled eggs on top, and distribute evenly around the pan. Let cook on medium heat, for 7-8 minutes, until the eggs are halfway cooked.
  5. If using, sprinkle on the cheddar cheese, and add the seasoning.
  6. Assuming you are using an oven-safe pan, put the entire pan into the oven (carefully!) on 350 F for 10 minutes to fully cook the eggs. Alternatives here are to scramble it, or make it into an omelet by flipping it in half.
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Slow Cooker Red Pozole with Pork

 

So I’ve been tutoring a high school kid in Biology for a year. He’s great, as are his parents. And his mother is a large part Native American. She is an amazing cook, I often show up to tutor and/or leave to tempting smells wafting from the kitchen. They are kind enough to ask me to share their dinner with them quite often.

As I love cooking myself, typically I have dinner already started in the Crock pot or at least plans, so I decline. However, one night she was serving up this thick, red stew that smelled too irresistible. This was my first introduction to pozole.

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Pozole means “foamy”; also spelled “pozolli” or “posole”. It is a traditional stew originally from Mexico, which once had ritual significance due to its use of maize, called hominy. The word “hominy” comes from the Powhatan language word for prepared maize. (Maize is corn).

Hominy is a very interesting thing. To make it, you take regular corn kernels, dry it, and then treat it with an alkaline agent to break down the cellulose in the corn. The result is puffy, chewy, soft kernels that look a little bit like corn-shaped popcorn.

Well, this tomato-pork-hominy stew was unlike anything I’d ever had, so of course I had to ask for the recipe. She had gotten it from the Denver Post a few years back, and was more than happy to share it with me.

red posole with pork

The red pozole with pork is the recipe I used and show here, but there is also one for Green Pozole with Chicken. I’ll save that for another day.

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I wanted to try this right away, but I forced myself to be patient. Normally I just center my grocery shopping around sales, but this time I kept an eye out for the ingredients I needed. Anytime I want to make something with a unique or expensive ingredient I try to wait to maximize my food dollars. As soon as I saw hominy on sale at the local Save-A-Lot I snagged a can.

As is my way, I took the recipe, tweaked it a bit to what I like and what I had in the house, and it turned out wonderful! I don’t like spicy foods, so I left out the peppers, but I did throw in a pinch of dried chipotle pepper to keep the Native American feel of the recipe. If you want to go all the way and buy the exact spices called for, be my guest. But I omitted the Mexican oregano, and used regular paprika, not Spanish. I also added a can of red beans for extra fiber and filling power.

Slow cooker red pozole with pork:

  • 1.4 pound pork roast
  • 2-3 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tbsp cumin
  • Pinch chipotle pepper
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tbsp paprika
  • 1 whole white onion, diced
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, with liquid
  • 1 can red beans, drained
  • 1 29oz can hominy
  • 6 chicken bouillon cubes and ~24 oz water
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 1 bottle beer (Colorado native)

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Step 1: In slow cooker, mix flour, beer, spices, diced onion, and tomato.

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Step 2: Heat water in the microwave for 2-3 minutes, dissolve the bouillon cubes and add to crock pot. Or just use chicken stock.

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Step 3: Dice the pork roast into bite-sized cubes. I had a 1.4-pound roast defrosted, so I used that. But you could use chops also.

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Peel or cut off fatty pieces to make it more lean.

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Step 4: Add the pork and hominy to the slow cooker. Cook on low 6-8 hours, or high 2-4 hours.

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The finished product is a complex but light stew, with an amazing depth of flavor. You can obviously add more spice to your taste, but I loved it the way it was. I also didn’t have ground cumin, so the little pieces were annoying at the bottom, but the flavor they added was worth it.

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I made some biscuits to serve with the posole, and my s.o. loved it too. The recipe suggests shredded cabbage, radish, cilantro, cheese, or sour cream as garnishes. If you add extra flour or cornstarch you can make it thicker, add more stock to make it more soup-like.

 

What’s your favorite slow cooker meal?