I know, I know; I’ve sort of dropped off the face of the earth these past couple of weeks. I spent a week in sunny California with my family for my cousin’s wedding (take me back to the beach, please! That’s the Huntington Beach pier, above, with Ruby’s Diner all the way out at the end–best.milkshakes.ever.). And the week after that was full of overdue work emails and apartment hunting (yes, again)…
My cousin and his beautiful new wife slicing their wedding cake.
Time for some California adventures, post-wedding!
A trip to the West Coast would not be complete without In-N-Out.
Some sister funny business at Disneyland while waiting to board It’s a Small World!
And me…being a dejected Sword in the Stone seeker.
So what with all that goin’ on, plus the continued global-warming-induced scorcher of a summer, I haven’t really been cooking that much. (Thank God for leftovers.) This weekend, though, I did finally get in the kitchen to use up some of my CSA produce and have some healthy meals on hand to heat up or bring to work throughout the week.
I wasn’t really sure what to call these, to be honest. The first night, I baked the ground turkey / vegetable filling inside a green bell pepper, which lent just the right amount of heat and spice to my dinner. Since the filling makes such terrific leftovers, though, the next night I baked the rest of it up in four tiny loaf pans, topped with cheddar cheese and bread crumbs–and it became a casserole. Just as flavorful and complex (and healthy!), but this time without the added step of pre-boiling the peppers. So versatile!
Whatever your serving pleasure, this healthy dinner can be prepared on a lazy weekend and cooked up in a flash on a hectic weeknight. Sounds okay by me!
Mini Stuffed Pepper Casseroles
Inspired by Justine at Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 small white onion, diced
- 2 celery stalks, chopped
- 1 lb 99% lean ground turkey
- Salt, pepper, crushed red pepper, cumin, and paprika to taste
- 2 14-oz can diced tomatoes with green chiles, and their juices
- 1/4 cup kale, torn into small pieces
- 1 cup uncooked brown rice
- 2 cups low-sodium chicken stock
- 4-6 bell peppers (depending on how large the peppers are) OR
- 4-6 mini loaf pans
- 1/4 cup sharp cheddar cheese
- 1/4 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and (if using) spray mini loaf pans with nonstick cooking spray. (If using peppers, cut a hole in the top of the peppers to remove the stems, seeds, and inner membranes.)
2. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic, onions, and celery, and cook until vegetables begin to soften, about five minutes, stirring occasionally so garlic does not burn.
3. Add ground turkey to pan, breaking the meat up into small pieces and browning on all sides.
4. In a separate pot, bring chicken stock to a boil and add rice. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for approximately 20 minutes (you want it slightly underdone, since this will go in the oven as well). Set rice aside to cool.
5. Meanwhile, add spices to ground turkey mixture to your taste (I literally threw in a couple of pinches of red pepper, plus several generous shakes of S&P, cumin, and paprika. I wasn’t in the mood to measure.) Stir in the tomatoes and chiles and the torn kale, then cover the saucepan and allow to simmer (about 10-15 minutes).
6. If using peppers, bring another pot of water to a boil and add prepared peppers, boiling for about five minutes. Use tongs to remove from boiling water and drain on a paper towel.
7. Stir rice into turkey-tomato mixture. At this point, if using mini loaf pans, spoon filling into greased pans and top with cheddar cheese and breadcrumbs. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes at 375 degrees F. Then remove foil and bake for another 7 minutes uncovered.
8. If using peppers, arrange peppers in an 8×8 casserole dish so all are standing up. Spoon filling into cooled peppers and top with cheddar cheese and breadcrumbs. Bake at 375 degrees F for about 25 minutes.
Makes 4-6 peppers/casseroles. Leftovers can be stored covered or in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days.