Wednesday, June 19, 2013

four ingredient stuffed peppers.

Today marks Day 3 of "7"... I am not going to post frequently about "7" for a couple of reasons: 1) I don't want to burn anyone out. 2) I don't want to put unnecessary pressure on myself to document the whole thing and miss the whole point. But I wanted to share some realizations I have had the past couple days, as well as a tasty recipe! Honestly, there are moments that I want to call it quits. For example, when I walked by the bakery in Kroger today and smelled the aroma delicious baked goods filling the air, I definitely wanted to throw in the towel. I experience a similar feeling when I look at the coffee maker on the counter and can almost taste the hot, rich java. But that's what this month is about. Sacrificing. Eliminating. Avoiding over-indulgence. Focusing on The One who fulfills every need.

I have also had very special moments. In those rougher instances, I'm allowing scripture to be my solace. As it always should be, regardless of the situation. I am thanking God more for the little things. Again, an act that should be constant no matter what, but honestly not always the case. The cool, refreshing lemon water. The giant, fluffy clouds that suspend in the sky. The text from a dear sister-friend about meeting up the next time I am home. The deliciousness of simple recipes. In just three days I am noticing more of these "small" things and gaining a greater appreciation for them.

Obviously with the focus of this month being on food, I am much more aware of my tastes changing. To say that my mouth doesn't water when I think of a huge plate of fettuccine alfredo covered in parmesan would be a lie. And a huge glass of sweet tea sounds heavenly. But I have noticed a greater awareness of the simple flavors and textures of the seven foods I am consuming this month. I am a huge fan of sauces, herbs, and spices. In fact, we have two cabinets designated for each of these in our kitchen. While I do miss the sweet, floral taste of honey and the smokiness of cumin, it is amazing how delicious dishes can be with simply salt and pepper. Our plan when choosing our foods was to pick ones that could be cohesive and versatile. Trying to come up with different meals with our foods has been fun and interesting. I catch myself thinking of different ideas throughout the day... "Kirby could make breadcrumbs and coat her fish for a different texture... I could make meatballs and cover them with diced tomatoes with chili peppers..." I think that going back to basic, simple recipes and ingredients highlights the true flavors. Tonight's meal turned out to be one that will be reused--both as is and with some additional ingredients in the future. But for only four ingredients, I couldn't believe how tasty this meal was. Dustin was completely honest with me before we ate supper. "Babe, I've never been nervous to eat anything you've cooked until now" were his exact words. Quite frankly, I was nervous, too. I haven't ever made stuffed peppers before and every recipe online had way more than the ingredients I would use. But I tried it anyway and they turned out great!

Stuffed Peppers: "7 Style"

1 pound ground beef 
3 or 4 bell peppers 
1 small can of tomato paste
A few handfuls of fresh baby spinach
Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Brown the beef in a skillet. While beef is browning, slice the tops off of the peppers. Remove ribs and seeds, being careful not to tear the sides of the pepper. Place peppers in a baking dish. Salt and pepper the inside of the peppers to your liking. Once beef is browned, stir in tomato paste until combined. Add some water if too thick. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Fold in spinach. Spoon the mixture into the peppers. Bake for one hour. 

*Notes: I did not measure the amount of salt or pepper I used. I typically taste as I go. Also, I added almost a can of water (simply filled the tomato paste can) when I noticed the tomato and beef mixture was rather thick. I spooned some extra tomato juice on top of the peppers as they were cooking. After cooking, the peppers still had a bit of crunch to them, which we enjoyed. But you would need to cook them longer or possibly cook them some before adding the meat if you prefer softer peppers. Depending on what extra ingredients you add, you could easily stretch this recipe to fill several peppers. Also, be sure to choose peppers that sit up well in a baking dish or use a dish with high sides. 

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we did. 7 AND husband approved = success! So if you ever want a super simple supper, try these stuffed peppers. Of course, add your own flavors. But I encourage you to try it with basic ingredients first just to really taste the goodness of using whole foods. Taste and see. 

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