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.

Addictive Chicken Salad

My Mandoline

This is my mandoline.  Not to be confused with the mandolin instrument or the Mandolin Rain.  It bit me when I was taking it out of the cabinet to make chicken salad.  I nearly didn’t make the chicken salad because said bite was pretty painful and on my right index finger.   Then when I finally got to it, it decided to be fickle and wouldn’t work right.  There is the possibility that I still need to work on how to use it properly, too.  Funny how commercials, instructions, and DVDs that come with this stuff make it seem so effortless.  Really not funny at all.  It’s supposed to make food prep easier.  I will conquer you, you beast.

Homemade Mayonnaise

This is the mayonnaise I made in my HealthMaster blender.  I wasn’t setting out to make everything from scratch.  It appears I got distracted at the grocery and forgot to buy it, and I was disinterested in returning for just one item.   It was simple and took just a few minutes to make.  Best of all, no leftovers to store.  From now on, I’m making my own.

Addictive Chicken Salad with Red Leaf Lettuce on a Brown Rice Tortilla by Food for Life

This is the chicken salad I made with the mayonnaise and without the help of the mandoline.  It was so scrumptious I nearly ate it all when I tasted it.  I probably would have been sick since I made enough for three lunches this week.  I did set some aside to eat as a snack.  Even then, I wanted more after I was done with said snack.  I have no measurements because I just threw everything in the bowl and mixed.

Addictive Chicken Salad

Leftover chicken, chopped

Celery, sliced

1 small Jicama, diced (no thanks to that persnickety mandoline)

black grapes, halved

raw walnuts, crushed

1 cup homemade mayonnaise

Throw it all in a big mixing bowl and mix well.  Serve on bread, tortillas, crackers, or eat it straight out of the mixing bowl.  Use gluten-free baked goods if you are on a gluten-free diet.  Eating it out of the bowl works well with the gluten-free diet, too.

Leftover Makeover

Basil Chiffonade

My friend, Ninette (not her real name), loves food like I do.  A couple of years ago, she mentioned using leftover meatloaf in spaghetti sauce to make a meat sauce.  Brilliant!  Why didn’t I think of that before?  I did just that Friday night with the leftover gluten-free meatloaf I made 2 weeks ago and the last of my husband’s tomato sauce.

Gluten-free Pasta with Meat Sauce and Roasted Garlic Eggplant (serves 4)

1 medium eggplant, large dice

3 cloves garlic, pressed (or minced)

6 T olive oil (or more)

2 1/2 cups tomato sauce

2 pieces leftover gluten-free meatloaf

4 tablespoons basil, chiffonade

8 oz gluten-free pasta cooked according to package directions

Roasted Garlic Eggplant

Preheat oven to 350.  Mix together eggplant, garlic and olive oil.  Use more olive oil if needed to give the eggplant a good coat.  Spread out onto a jelly roll sheet.  Bake for 20 minutes.  Stir well and spread out again.  Bake for 10 more minutes.  In a small saucepan combine the tomato sauce and meatloaf and simmer on medium-low to low.  Let it warm up before trying to break up the meatloaf.  Keep simmering on low until well heated and meatloaf is evenly distributed through the sauce.   Dish cooked pasta onto plates or bowls, top with sauce, garlic eggplant, and basil.   I didn’t salt anything because it tasted well seasoned to me.  However, if you like things salty like my husband, by all means, add some salt.

Gluten-free Meat Sauce

Dinner was rather easy to fix since the only real prep work went into the eggplant and basil.  I want to take you through how I did a few things though.  I didn’t want to make the directions too long with it.  So consider this a “tip” section.

If you aren’t familiar with a chiffonade, it is the style of the cut used on fresh herbs like basil or leafy greens like spinach.  You stack up the leaves, roll them and then slice them into long strips.  I first learned this technique from Jamie Oliver when he was still doing his show, The Naked Chef.   I roll my basil from side to side so that when I do the chiffonade, my strips are widthwise.  The basil I used for this dish was still pretty young off my basil plant in my Aerogarden.  I used so much of it, I couldn’t actually roll it first.

Quinoa Pasta with Gluten-free Meat Sauce, Roasted Garlic Eggplant, and Basil

I dumped the eggplant as I was dicing onto my jelly roll pan.   Then, I pressed the garlic cloves over the pile of eggplant so the juices would drizzle onto the eggplant.  I poured the olive oil over the eggplant in a circular motion to start the spread of the oil.  I did not grease the pan.  I knew I would have enough olive oil that would seep back out of the eggplant to help keep it from sticking.  I mixed it all together with my hands so I could feel the distribution of the oil.  I had to add more (I started with 4 tablespoons and wound up with the total I put in the recipe).  I like to get a good coat of oil on the eggplant so it is nice and moist, rather than dry and chewy.  Trust me, you don’t want dry, chewy eggplant.  When I added the additional olive oil, I kept mixing it and spreading it out at the same time.  (Stick, I had memories of shuffling mah jong tiles with you while I was doing this.)

I used a quinoa pasta that I’ve had in the pantry.  It is made by Ancient Harvest and it’s my go to brand for quinoa products.  With gluten-free pasta, I tend to cook it for the minimum time on the package directions and stir frequently, because gluten-free pasta will stick together if you don’t stir it.  I’ll test it as it gets close to that minimum time.  For example, the package for the Rotelle said to cook 6-9 minutes.  I set my microwave timer for 6 minutes.  When it was down to 30 seconds left, I tested a piece I fished out.  It was still a little tough, so I set the time for 1 minute, 30 seconds.  I tested it 30 seconds into that time, and again after another 30 seconds.  The reason I did so is quinoa pasta will fall apart and turn to mush if it is cook just a tad too long.  I like quinoa pasta now and then because it tastes similar to regular pasta, but I stick to brown rice pasta for the most part.  Quinoa is a healthy gluten-free grain high in iron.  There is 6 grams of protein in 1/2 cup of the dried whole grain.  The corn flour that is mixed with the quinoa flour in the Ancient Harvest quinoa pastas is made from non-GMO corn.  For more information about quinoa and Ancient Harvest, check out their FAQ page.