Saturday, March 2, 2013

Quinoa Stuffed Peppers- one of the Tales of the Ridiculously happy MadArtTeacher

There are MANY reasons today that I am happy.....  But I have to say the sun does much to uplift my mood!  It was a lovely, albeit cold, day today. Spring is definitely going to be showing up- the days are getting longer, the snow is melting on the road in spite of it being cold - flipping cold- outside.  I am a child of the sun and today was awesome.  I was thrilled to be out in it for my 7 mile walk!  Now the poor condition of the sidewalks in PF was another story, but oh well.  I did not fall on all that ice, so all is well.

I was planning to cook today, as my food in the freezer from blogs gone by was pretty much depleted and I need some lunches for the week, and I was fortunate to talk to my wonderful friend Luann who recommended a stuffed pepper recipe on the back of the quinoa box!!  It was a lucky thing that I was wanting to cook as that was one of the best things I have made lately!

I have a few other food related items up my sleeve for the morning, as well as a batch of my awesome curried butternut squash soup, so expect another food post.

Quinoa is such a good thing to cook with- it is simple, it is tasty, and it is high in protein.  And it is really good in this application.  This recipe is a nice combination of fresh food and a few convenient canned things- maybe not perfect, but it was fast and easy to put together.

I like yellow and red peppers- green not so much.  But you can use green ones if you want!  :) Choose nice big ones and take the tops off.  Personally I think the colors here are just fantastic!!  And we all know we eat with our eyes first!

The quinoa is super simple to prepare- 2 parts water to one part quinoa, cover with a paper towel and cook in the microwave on high for 8 minutes.

The steaming of the peppers was an interesting dilemma.  I don't have a steamer, so I tried something I sort of remembered from somewhere- worked great.  I put the peppers in this Corelle dish with a bit of water in the bottom of it.  Then I cooked them for 3 - 4 minutes on high....

then I covered them with plastic wrap and left them in the microwave while I did the rest of the dish! Worked perfectly! Peppers were just soft, not soggy or mushy

Heat oil and saute onion and mushrooms, then sprinkle the cumin over the vegetables along with pepper if desired.  This will draw out the flavors and is NOT on the quinoa box.  Then add the garlic and let it heat until you smell the garlic.  Mmmmmm.

Add the salsa and the tomatoes- juice drained from the tomatoes for later- and let it cook down a bit.  

After the sauce is nice and concentrated, fold in the dish of quinoa- this is your stuffing

You will notice that it is not a pretty thing to try and stuff with quinoa and photograph it- but hey this is good food we are talking about!

Bake uncovered for about 30 minutes and then top with some cheese- the box calls for mozzarella, but I used cheddar/jack cheese, return to the oven for about 5 - 10 more minutes.  THIS was the result- and the taste was as good as it looks.  I used Spike seasoning after tasting it- I had not put in any hot pepper flakes and I think that would give it another layer of yum.  

Quinoa Stuffed Peppers
**slightly edited from first post

adapted from back of Quinoa box

1 cup quinoa

4 large peppers (green, red or yellow)

1 Tablespoon olive oil
½ cup onion, chopped
½ cup sliced mushrooms
½ tsp cumin
red pepper flakes or red pepper (optional)
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 can diced tomatoes, drained and juice reserved
1 jar salsa (favorite brand- any strength you prefer)
2 Tablespoons sherry (optional)

½ cup grated cheddar cheese (or mozzerella)

Spike or seasoned salt

Cook one cup quinoa according to package directions. I cook it in the microwave: 1 part quinoa to 2 parts water. Cook 8 minutes on high, loosely covered. Let sit 10 – 15 minutes

Steam peppers until just softening

Meanwhile, saute onion and mushrooms in olive oil. When softened add cumin and red pepper and heat for a minute to release flavors. Then add garlic and heat for 30 seconds or until you can smell it.

Add tomatoes (keep reserved juice for now) and salsa and heat on low for 10 minutes. The mixture will get thick. Fold in cooked quinoa.

Put peppers in a baking dish. Fill with quinoa mixture- there will be about half left. Place the rest of the quinoa around the peppers. Pour reserved tomato juice into baking pan. Bake uncovered in a 325 oven for about 30 – 40 minutes. After almost done, top with cheese and return to oven for about 5 – 10 minutes.

I found that a little spike seasoning made this perfect!

** It occurs to me that a half cup of black beans in the mixture might rock!!!**

Each pepper is about 275 calories!!  Not bad!!  I will update with more nutritional information later- meanwhile, I hope you find some joy in this nice little vegetarian dish!  with a mexican sort of flair.  I think a Margarita would pair perfectly with this, don't you??  

Stuffed peppers with tempeh (no, he does not)
Until next time - be a joy giver!  :)

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