I Smell Peppers

Stuffed Bell Peppers

A friend asked me for my recipe for Stuffed Bell Peppers a couple of weeks ago.  I realized I had not made them since I did that post.  So, I decided I’d mix it up a little and try something different with  the recipe.  Instead of 2/3 cup of onion, I used an entire onion and reduced the amount of ground beef to 1/4 pound.  I added brown rice (1 cup dry cooked in 3 cups gluten-free beef broth) and traded the tomato for 1 cup of diced butternut squash.  I also used a bit less than 1/4 head of red cabbage.  The cabbage head I bought was pretty big.

I ended up with something I think is amazing.  It has a more robust flavor.   I would have thought others would smell the beef and seasonings, but when I took the leftovers into work last Friday and Saturday for lunch, my co-workers all kept saying, “I smell peppers.”  One of them even came into the break room while I was eating and said, “I smell fresh peppers,” and looked between me and the other co-worker eating their lunch.  I told him I had stuffed bell peppers.  He said, “Good to know my nose still works,” then walked right out of the room!  Gave me a little giggle.

The beginnings of soup

I had leftover filling and raw ingredients and decided I’d try to conjure up a soup with everything.  The recipe as I’m giving it is how I made it.  The next time I make it, I’m going to do it a little differently to help retain the brightness of the squash.

Butternut Squash Soup with Leftovers

1/2 onion, chopped

2 teaspoons grapeseed oil (or other oil choice)

4 cups butternut squash, chopped

fresh thyme sprigs

2 scant cups beef broth

1 pint coconut creamer

1 cup bell peppers, chopped (this was from the tops that I chopped off the peppers in order to stuff them)

2 cups shredded red cabbage

1 1/2 cups leftover bell pepper stuffing

1/2 cup dried black beans, soaked, drained, boiled, and drained again (drain WELL after cooking)



Heat a medium to large pot and then add grapeseed oil.  Add onions, some salt, and some pepper.  Saute the onions for about 3-5 minutes.  Add the butternut squash, thyme, and beef broth.  Let simmer for about 20 minutes.  The butternut squash should be fork tender.  Remove the thyme sprigs and use an immersion blender on low to puree the soup in the pot.  (Yes, I finally replaced the one I sacrificed in the name of homemade soap, finally.)  While pureeing the soup, slowly add the coconut creamer.  Once the soup is well blended, add the remaining ingredients, adjust your seasonings, and simmer for another 10-20 minutes, until the cabbage and bell peppers are tender (but not too soft).

Butternut Squash Soup with Leftovers

Make sure the beans are drained well.  I took this picture before I added the black beans and there was still a little water and it muddied the color a bit.

I was chopping up the squash and I kept thinking, this looks like cheese.  My husband came in several minutes later and thought it was cheese.  He thought it was an awful lot of cheese I was chopping!  When I added the leftovers to the soup, I thought, now this looks like queso.  I think cheese was really on the brain!

I asked my husband what he thought of the soup and he said, “It’s good.  It just looks weird.”  Indeed.

He ate it all up and didn’t even have to add salt!


*This post is linked to Seasonal Sunday at Real Sustenance.


Stress Reliever. Had To Be Done.


A Daily Ritual


There was a time when I would just scream at the top of my lungs, right where I sat or stood, then say to those around me, “Stress reliever.  Had to be done.”  This would get me some nasty looks.  If only they knew that it really kept me from punching anyone close to me.  Since then, I’ve learned some better coping skills.

I developed a daily ritual after I started working retail back in November.  Relaxing in a bubble bath (with or without my homemade blend of bath salts with a book and my iPod on running on shuffle.  No, that martini in the picture isn’t really part of the ritual.  It’s Shirley Braden’s POM-Bom-Spice-Tini that I’ve been meaning to make for weeks.  I thought it would add a little whimsy to the picture and it gave me an excuse to finally make it and try it.  It was good, but pretty strong.  I think if I make it again I’m going to use less Bombora vodka, which is pretty good and clean.  I used it to make a Screwdriver after I first bought it and it was probably the best Screwdriver I’ve had.


My current book


Back to the bubble bath.  I really look forward to this time.  It’s a great way to decompress after a long day at work or in preparation for a long night at work.

I enjoy the time so much that I’ve gotten caught up in a book that I can’t put down that once I look at the clock and I had been in the tub for an hour.  Yes, the water was getting cold.


I love putting my iPod on shuffle. I never know what is coming up next.


Getting lost isn’t exactly a good thing when I do this before work, which is why I do it several hours before.  Just in case.

This is the one ritual in my day that I rarely miss and when I do, I feel like I’m not complete.  Pretty odd since bubble baths were pretty rare for me before.  Now, using the shower is pretty rare.

The water here is chlorinated, so sometimes I feel like I’m in a pool.  I keep meaning to go to Home Depot or something to see if there are filters for the faucet.  I can hear my big brothers telling me that chlorine will get me cleaner than soap.  Yeah, yeah, yeah.  😛  They were swimmers so they often smelled like chlorine when I was with them.

If you don’t have a daily or weekly ritual that helps you manage your stress, now is the time to start exploring finding one.  As for me, I’d love to get back on the mat for some Aikido.  I miss being tossed around and tossing my husband around.  Talk about great stress relief!

Experimentation Through Inspiration

Shredded beef

Hello.  My name is Debi and I’m a Chipotle-holic.   How do I love Chipotle?  Let me count the ways.

1.  I can eat pretty much everything served, except anything with flour tortillas.  That’s a rarity for someone on a gluten-free diet.

2.  They are a socially responsible corporation, using local produce when possible and animals that are raised free-roaming without antibiotic treatment.

3.  There are so many combinations to try.

4.  Barbacoa.

There is something about that barbacoa meat that I just crave.  It’s a spicy meat and I’ve tried their other meat options, but I always get the barbacoa.  It could be that it is well seasoned.  So well seasoned that it’s spicy.   And I’m not one that digs a lot of spice.  However, I think because it’s “Mexican” food and most Mexican places in the Mid-West  don’t season their meat at all, I’m drawn to it simply because it is seasoned.

I usually order the Barbacoa Bowl, no rice, black beans, fajita veggies, pico de gallo, and guacamole.  I figured why not make something like it at home to jazz up my usual fajitas that I make.

I bought a grass-fed shoulder roast.  I rubbed it with salt, pepper, cumin, chili powder, and cayenne, then browned it on all sides.  I put it in my slow cooker with a little bit of beef broth.  By little bit, I mean it didn’t even cover the entire bottom.  I deglazed the pan with some water and then poured it into the slow cooker.  I added a lot more chili powder, cumin, and cayenne, as well as more salt (but not a lot, of course).  I let it cook for about 6 hours before shredding it and letting it simmer a little longer (long enough for a leisurely bubble bath!).  I checked the seasoning before cooking the peppers and onions, and continued to let it cook while the peppers and onions were in the pan.

The Finished Product.

The pico was made before the bubble bath and I had the cilantro and lime juice ready for the guac at the same time.  While the peppers and onions cooked, I cut open the avocados and mashed them into the cilantro and lime juice.  I had some tortilla chips.  I like eating my Barbacoa Bowl with tortilla chips just like I do with taco salad.  The fork is really to just help get the food onto the chip when the food is being stubborn.

Overall, I was pretty pleased with the results.  As usual, hubby didn’t think there was enough salt.

I couldn’t help but think, what if I threw a hot pepper in with it next time?