Tag Archives: peppers

Meat & Bean Chili

 

Chili For A Chilly Day

Cool weather + the weekend + Sunday football games mean only one thing: its also chili season. No matter whether you like yours with beans or without, filled with meat or vegetarian friendly, in a red sauce or a white one, spicy or mild, this is definitely the season for chili. And in my house we certainly love chili of all kinds. White chicken chili, sweet potato and black bean chili and even a pumpkin and sausage chili mixed with macaroni are all good but sometimes a more traditional chili is in order. And when that is the case, this is my go-to recipe.

This chili is filled with meat, beans and vegetables and most importantly, packed with flavor. If you prefer you can make it in a slow cooker; simply place all of the ingredients in the crock, set the temperature to low and let it cook for eight hours. Or you can cook it as I do on top of the stove. Let it simmer on low all afternoon and by the time the game is on you’ll have a hot bowl of chili. Top the chili with cheese, sour cream and diced avocado and serve it with a side of corn chips or corn bread.

MEAT & BEAN CHILI

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
2 large onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium carrot thinly sliced
4-5 fresh bell peppers- I used a mix of red and green
4 small jalapeño peppers
1 lb ground beef (can substitute ground pork, veal, lamb or a combination of meats)
1/2 lb veal cut into bite-sized pieces
1 can corn kernels, drained
2 11.5 ounce cans beans- I prefer kidney beans
3 11.5 ounce cans whole Roma tomatoes- roughly chopped
2-3 dashes Tabasco sauce- adjust based on preferences
3-4 tablespoons chili powder- I like Penzeys Spice Medium Hot Chili Powder– but adjust based on personalpreferences.

  • Pour 2 tbsp olive oil into a Dutch oven or other heavy duty pot and place over medium high heat.
  • Add the onions, garlic, peppers, carrot, and jalapenos to the pot.
  • Add the salt and stirring frequently, cook for 8-10 minutes until soft.
  • Add the meats and cook until well browned being sure to break up any larger pieces as you go.
  • Add the corn, the drained and rinsed beans and tomatoes with their juice and mix to combine.
  • Stir in the Tabasco sauce and the chili powder.
  • Stir, cover the pot, and reduce the heat to low.
    Continue to cook over low heat for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Taste and adjust the seasoning to meet your personal tastes.
  • I let the chili cook on low all afternoon and it tastes even better when reheated the next day.  The longer the chili cooks the more the flavors will develop.
  • Serve with shredded cheese, sour cream, and sliced avocado if desired.

Serves 6-8

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Stuffed Peppers

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Cooks have been stuffing vegetables for centuries.  Whether it be squashes and peppers or grape and cabbage leaves, vegetables serve as the perfect vessel for holding meats and grains.  Growing up my Polish grandmother would stuff cabbage leaves with meats and rice and we would eat them as fast as she could cook them.  When I went through a phase of cooking Greek food I would patiently stuff and roll grape leaves with rice, herbs, and dried fruits before steaming them.  All of this work was time-consuming but worth it.

Peppers are a much easier vegetable to stuff since they don’t require the tedious rolling process.  Bell peppers aren’t always readily available here in Albania but you can use any variety of peppers you like. I like to use red and yellow peppers since they are sweeter but green peppers work as well.  The larger the pepper the easier it is to stuff but smaller ones are ok too.  If you can’t find ground lamb in the market feel free to substitute a lean ground beef.

STUFFED PEPPERS

6 whole peppers

3/4 pound ground lamb

1/3 cup red onion, minced

1 can diced tomatoes

1/2 cup water

1/3 cup long grained white rice

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese

1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  • Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil.
  • Carefully remove the stems and seeds of each pepper keeping the pepper whole and intact.
  • Submerge the peppers in the boiling water and boil for three minutes.
  • Remove from the water and drain on paper towels.
  • In a large saute pan set over medium-high heat, cook the lamb and onion until the meat is cooked and the onions are soft, approximately 5-7 minutes.
  • Add the tomatoes and their juice, the water, rice, Worcestershire sauce, oregano, salt, and pepper to the meat mixture and bring to a simmer.
  • Continue to cook for 15 minutes or until the rice is tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed.
  • Off the heat and add half of each cheese to the mixture.  Stir to combine.
  • Stuff each pepper with the meat mixture until filled and place in a shallow casserole dish.  If you have additional filling place it in the dish around the peppers.
  • Sprinkle the peppers with the remaining cheese.
  • Bake the peppers for 15 minutes or until the cheese is browned and bubbly.
  • Allow the peppers to sit for 3 minutes before serving.

Serves: 6

Rosemary & Red Wine Beef Kabobs

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There is something about eating food off a stick that simply makes it more fun. And when that food is delicious it is even better. Kabobs make a regular appearance on my dinner table since they are fun, easy and because everything is cut into bite sized pieces before cooking, fast. Just about anything can be skewered and grilled –from meats to fruits and vegetables. You can even personalize each skewer by adding the ingredients each family member likes.

I love these colorful beef and pepper skewers and the secret to their intense flavor is a generous amount of fresh rosemary. And fresh is key since dried rosemary won’t yield the same bright flavors. Choose a robust dry wine to serve as the base of your marinade, after all you will want to drink what is left with your meal.

ROSEMARY & RED WINE BEEF KABOBS

1 cup dry red wine

2 tablespoons honey

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 large handful fresh rosemary

1 pound beef, cut into bite sized cubes

1 large sweet onion

1 red bell pepper

1 yellow bell pepper

1 orange bell pepper

1 green bell pepper

  • Combine the wine, honey, black pepper, salt and rosemary in a large sealable plastic bag. Use your hands to kneed the mixture until the honey is dissolved.
  • Add the beef to the wine mixture, reseal the bag and refrigerate for 30 to 60 minutes.
  • When you are ready to cook, coat a gas grill with cooking spray and preheat to medium high heat.
  • Cut the peppers and onion into bite sized pieces.
  • Remove the beef from the marinade and discard the liquid.
  • Skewer the beef and vegetables onto metal skewers, alternating between meat and vegetables as desired.
  • Place the skewers over direct heat and grill, turning every two to three minutes until the meat is cooked to your liking. I cooked mine for 8 minutes.
  • Remove the skewers from the heat and serve.

Yields 6 kabobs

Chipotle Beef & Corn Salad

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Salads make a great summer dinner but for me, they must be satisfying to eat and keep me full (so I don’t get the post-dinner munchies). We grill a lot in our household and most grilling nights I will throw an extra steak (or other protein) on the grill so I can turn it into a dinner salad for the next night. That makes the next night’s dinner even easier.

So here’s a spicy and satisfying dinner salad that I adapted from Williams Sonoma that fits the bill to a tee. The steak is mildly seasoned yet completely satisfying; you can serve it either hot off of the grill or cold. The lime juice makes the corn salsa tangy and the avocados temper the entire dish. Be forewarned: the chipolte dressing is smoky and spicy with quite a bit of heat so a little goes a long way. Of course, I love to pile the dressing on since in my mind there is rarely such a thing as too much heat.

CHIPOLTE BEEF & CORN SALAD

1 flank steak, about 1 1/4 pounds

1 teaspoon adobo seasoning

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup canned chipolte chiles in adobo sauce

Juice of 2 limes

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

1 large garlic clove, minced

1 tablespoon water

2 ears of corn, kernels removed

1 orange bell pepper, diced

1 green bell pepper, diced

6 radishes, diced

12 cherry tomatoes, halved

1/4 cup cilantro, minced

1 avocado, peeled, pitted and cubed

2 heads romaine lettuce, torn into bite sized pieces

  • Place the steak on a plate and sprinkle the adobo seasoning, salt and pepper on both sides of the meat. Allow to sit for 30 minutes.
  • Pre-heat a grill to medium-high heat.
  • Place the meat on the grill and cook for 6-8 minutes per side or until the meat is cooked to your desired level of doneness.
  • Remove the steak from the grill and allow to sit for 10 minutes. Slice the meat into 1/2 inch slices against the grain.
  • To make the dressing, combine the chipolte chiles, the olive oil, juice of 1 lime, vinegar, garlic and water into a small bowl. Using a stick blender, puree until smooth. Set aside.
  • In a medium-sized bowl, combine the corn, orange and green peppers, radishes and tomatoes.
  • Squeeze the juice from the remaining lime over the corn mixture, add the cilantro and stir well.
  • Divide the lettuce amongst four plates. Place 3 slices of steak on top of each pile of lettuce. Add a scoop of the salsa.
  • Divide the avocado amongst the plates then drizzle the salad with the chipolte dressing.
  • Serve immediately.

Serves 4

Grilled Kielbasa & Vegetable Orzo Salad

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Here is a twist on a traditional pasta salad that I’ve adapted from Savory Simple. Grilled vegetables are the featured ingredients of this dish; I’ve used colorful bell peppers, fresh corn, leeks and two types of squash. A light grill gives them a slightly smoking and charred flavor without overpowering the dish. Kielbasa adds protein and additional flavor to the salad. And it is all built upon a bed of orzo. If you prefer you can use another small pasta. With the exception of the yellow and zucchini squash, the vegetables are all grilled whole so allow them to cool slightly before attempting to slice them.

The salad tastes best when eaten at room temperature so if you make it ahead of time—which you can easily do–simply allow it to sit outside of the refrigerator for half an hour before serving. The salad is substantial enough to be a meal unto itself on a hot summer evening or can liven up a buffet table. And since this is barbecue season, why not make a bowl of this salad for your next backyard event?

GRILLED KIELBASA & VEGETABLE ORZO SALAD

1½ cups orzo

2 tablespoons olive oil

Juice of 1 lemon

1 teaspoon kosher salt (to taste)

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 large green pepper

1 large yellow pepper

1 large red pepper

1 leek

1 yellow squash, sliced in half lengthwise

1 zucchini, sliced in half lengthwise

1 ear fresh corn on the cob

1 link kielbasa, or other Polish sausage

  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the orzo according to package instructions and then drain.
  • Place the cooked orzo in a large bowl and toss with the olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Set aside.
  • Preheat a grill to medium-high.
  • Using tongs to carefully place the whole vegetables (only the yellow squash and the zucchini will be cut up) and the kielbasa on the hot grill and then close the lid.
  • Grill for 4 minutes then using tongs, flip the vegetables and the kielbasa and continue cooking for an additional 3 to 4 minutes.
  • Remove everything from the grill and allow to cool for several minutes until it can be handled comfortably.
  • Slice the sausage thinly and add to the orzo.
  • Remove the stem and seeds from the top of the peppers, peel away the skin, then dice the roasted peppers.
  • Scrape the corn kernels off of the ear and add them to the salad.
  • Trim the end off of the leek and thinly slice the white part of the leek and add it to the salad.
  • Cut the yellow squash and zucchini into thin slices and add it to the salad as well.
  • Toss everything together, adjust the seasoning if necessary, and serve.

Serves 6-8

 

Grilled Peach & Steak Salad

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It’s Fast Friday again and time for another fast and fabulous dinner suggestion. If you are anything like me, by the time Friday rolls around the last thing I want to do is cook a big meal yet we all still have to eat. The dishes featured in this series aren’t necessarily fancy but they bring together simple ingredients most people already have in their pantries or have easy access to and allow you to put a real meal on the table in between 30 and 45 minutes. Enjoy and if you have your own fast recipes you want to share, please send them my way and I will in turn share them with all of my readers.

Entree salads are a favorite summer time dinner. When topped with protein they are cool, crisp and completely satisfying. For me, the trick to keeping salads interesting is continually changing up the ingredients. This salad is built around what is good at the markets this time of year and peaches top that list. Grilling them gives them a slightly charred flavor which complements the steak. Peppers and tomatoes add to the salad’s texture while the blue cheese and sunflower seeds add interest. I’ve kept the seasonings for both the steak and the dressing simple as to not detract from the freshness of the fruit and vegetables. Add other vegetables if you want; after all the key to a good salad is one that includes the toppings you want.

GRILLED PEACH & STEAK SALAD

2 rib eye steaks, trimmed

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon salt, divided

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided

2 peaches, halved and pitted

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

2 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar

8 cups mixed greens

1 green bell pepper, sliced

1 red bell pepper, sliced

1 yellow bell pepper, sliced

1 cup grape tomatoes, halved

1/4 cup sunflower seeds

1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese

  • Pre-heat a grill to high heat and lightly coat with non-stick cooking spray.
  • Sprinkle both sides of the steak with the garlic powder, half of the salt and half of the pepper.
  • Sprinkle the cut sides of the peaches with the nutmeg.
  • Reduce the grill temperature to medium-high then place the steak on the grill. Cook the steaks, turning after 6 minutes, until they are cooked to your liking. Medium-rare takes  approximately 9-11 minutes. Remove the steak from the grill and allow to rest for 5 minutes before slicing along the diagonal.
  • Add the peaches to the grill, cut side down, and cook for 3 minutes then flip and cook for an additional 2 minutes. You want the peaches to be slightly softened but not mushy.
  • While the steaks cook, make the dressing by combining the honey, vinegar and remaining salt and pepper in a small bowl. Set aside.
  • Divide the greens, peppers and tomatoes between two large shallow bowls.
  • Top the salads with the sliced steak, drizzle with the dressing then sprinkle with the sunflower seeds and blue cheese.
  • Serve immediately.

Serves 2

 

Chili Garlic Shrimp & Noodle Stir Fry

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It’s Fast Friday again and time for another fast and fabulous dinner suggestion. If you are anything like me, by the time Friday rolls around the last thing I want to do is cook a big meal yet we all still have to eat. The dishes featured in this series aren’t necessarily fancy but they bring together simple ingredients most people already have in their pantries or have easy access to and allow you to put a real meal on the table in between 30 and 45 minutes. Enjoy and if you have your own fast recipes you want to share, please send them my way and I will in turn share them with all of my readers.

Shrimp are one of my favorite fast food finds and this recipe, adapted from Cooking Light. highlights shrimp at their best. Not only do they cook up quickly but they are packed with protein and their mild taste makes it the perfect companion for bold flavors. Before stir-frying the shrimp I quickly pre-cook them in a coconut milk bath. This plumps the shrimp and infuses them in a slightly sweet flavor that readies the shrimp for what comes next. Then a soy and rice vinegar sauce tempered with honey makes for a slightly sweet and tangy base for this stir fry while the garlic and jalapeno peppers add a bit of punch. Add in some crunchy vegetables and rice noodles and you have dinner in a bowl. Enjoy!

CHILI GARLIC SHRIMP & NOODLE STIR FRY

8 ounces rice noodles
20 ounces medium sized shrimp, cleaned and deveined
1/2 cup coconut milk
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon fish sauce
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 jalapeño pepper, sliced
1/2 cup julienne-cut carrots
1 cup green onions, sliced
2 cup sliced bell peppers
8 ounces baby spinach

  • Cook the rice noodles according to the package instructions. Drain, rinse with cold water, drain again and set aside.
  • Heat the coconut oil in a large wok set over medium high heat.
  • When the coconut milk comes to a simmer, add the shrimp and cook for 2 minutes. Drain the shrimp and set aside. Discard the milk and wipe down the wok.
  • Combine the vinegar, soy sauce, honey, fish sauce, and cornstarch in a small bowl. Set aside.
  • Heat half of the canola oil in the wok set over high heat. Add the crushed garlic cloves and sliced jalapeño pepper; stir-fry 30 seconds. Remove mixture from pan and add to the reserved shrimp.
  • Add the remaining canola oil to the wok. Add the carrots, green onions, and bell pepper; stir-fry 3 minutes.
  • Stir in the vinegar and soy sauce mixture and cook for 2 minutes.
  • Add the noodles, the shrimp, garlic, jalapenos and spinach to the wok and cook for 2 minutes.

Serves 4

 

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