Thursday, October 10, 2013

Vegetable Stuffed Peppers

I am full on in the mood for fall. For awhile there it was alarming to see temperatures in the 70's and 80's in October but Mother Nature has gotten over her little temper tantrum and it is now getting into the cool crisp feeling of fall. In addition to the leaves changing colors, one of my favorite things about fall is the coolness. Now before everyone goes "booo I love the beach", hear me out. There's something safe and innocent about snuggling under the covers in those twilight hours before the day begins. It's just a few more minutes of staying in the nice warmth of your house when it's not quite time to think about responsibility and the day ahead of you. That's a great feeling, to just stay safe and snuggled a little longer. And no one likes to be under the covers when it's 90 degrees outside.

Well, the leaves haven't quite changed over yet (I hope I don't miss it in my busyness) so I have to get my fall color fix somewhere else. What a perfect reason to buy peppers! I'm not a huge spicy person but bell peppers are pretty plain. The extent to which I've prepared bell peppers is to cut them up (poorly) and dip them in hummus. This is my first venture into stuffing anything as well! But they looked so good in the cookbook and seemed like a good fall transition meal.

The only thing missing is some orange accent
Before carefully reading the recipe, I assumed these peppers would essentially be stuffed with chili (also an excellent fall food) but it turns out they're stuffed with more veggies! Is that veggie cannibalism? Vegetables stuffed with other vegetables? I won't think too long on that one since the outcome is delicious. Similar to making chili, you saute the non-pepper ingredients together, adding a little at a time. I learned last year when making pumpkin chili that my frying pan can hold quite a lot but fortunately there was no over-spilling this time. While the vegetables are cooking, the peppers are in the oven cooking a bit themselves. This is a very efficient meal, you really only have to set timers and pay attention for a total of 15 minutes and I got dinner/lunch for half the week!

Now, in true Lemon fashion, I altered this recipe a bit. I didn't have spicy peppers to add to the vegetables so I just added some chili powder. I also didn't use tomato paste but just diced tomatoes and in an effort to compensate for the lack of spicy peppers, got spicy diced tomatoes (note: that is now two different ingredients to compensate for the one lacking in spice. Math is my strong suit).

I'm not sure why, but I love kidney beans. Not necessarily by themselves but they are right up there with pumpkin and squash as fall staples. You can't (or shouldn't) make chili without them and they're a great addition to this stuffed business.

Look at all that deliciousness!
To top it all off, I used pepper jack cheese because it's delicious. And it's what I had. And it seemed like a good idea to add spice (yes, in addition to the chili powder and spicy tomatoes). After stuffing the peppers and sprinkling some cheese on top, the lot of it is put back in the oven so the cheese will melt and the vegetables will finish cooking.

These peppers, not surprisingly, turned out pretty spicy but they were delicious! One half at a time was probably the correct portion size with a side of butternut squash soup but I ate a whole one too. Prior to making these, I always envisioned stuffed peppers as being upright with the stem portion cut off and then stuffed. Cut in half makes much more sense. Unfortunately, the seasoning was so amazing that my poor butternut squash soup tasted absolutely bland. And maybe it is bland, I did get it from a Downton Abbey cookbook and as far as I know, British food can be bland (disclaimer: I have never had British food so this could be completely unfounded).

I deem this recipe a success and new go-to recipe for the fall and winter. It's easy to make and also healthy, all veggies and just a little cheese. Plus, boyfriend approves! He was quite helpful when it came to chopping the onion because as you may have experienced, they burn my eyes like no other. There, you got a shout out, woohoo!!!

The final product, Instagram filter included


  • 4 bell peppers
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 stalk of celery
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 can of kidney beans
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes 
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • olive oil
  • Chili powder
  • Grated cheese of your choosing 
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F degrees
  2. Cut the bell peppers in half and lay on a cookie sheet, face up
  3. Spread olive oil on the peppers. It is easiest to drizzle olive oil across all the pepper halves and then individually move the peppers until they are covered with oil.
  4. Place the peppers in the oven for 10-15 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, dice the onion and cloves of garlic. You don't want the pieces to be too large.
  6. Saute the onions, garlic and a tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan.
  7. Chop the carrots and celery and add to the pan with the onion and garlic.
  8. After about 5 minutes, or when the vegetables are partially cooked, drain and add the can of kidney beans.
  9. Next add the can of diced tomatoes. 
  10. Add your desired amount of chili powder, I think I used 2 teaspoons but it is up to you how spicy you want the filling to be.
  11. Once the vegetables are mostly cooked (after about 15 minutes), remove the peppers from the oven and spoon the vegetable medley into each pepper.
  12. Cover each pepper with cheese and return the tray to the oven for another 5-10 minutes.
  13. Remove from the oven and enjoy!
You could really add whatever you want to the stuffing. That's the beauty of this recipe, it can be altered so easily. Just make some chili or add some ground turkey! This recipe was adapted from Pippa Middleton's book, Celebrate. Remember, this is a judge-free zone and it's not news that I have a small British obsession....

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