Thursday, July 19, 2012

How Mom Does Dinner: Stuffed Peppers

I used to sit down every Saturday morning and, with input from the whole fam, formulate a menu for our weekly meals. Then I would carefully make my grocery list based on the menu and any other depleted staples. Finally after all that I would head off to do my shopping. But I don't do that anymore because it just sucked.

The whole reason I gave it a go was that I kept hearing that it was a great strategy for minimizing grocery expenses. It made sense to me that if you had a well organized plan that you would be less apt to buy a lot of stuff you didn't really need. I reasoned that the time I invested would be rewarded with savings at the cash register and then I'd have more money to spend on fun family stuff. Time is important to me because I do work full-time, I have three school aged kids, I actively participate in their school and extracurricular activities, I have personal interests I like to pursue and Dad and I need time to nurture our relationship too.

As it turned out, I found that the more carefully I formulated my lists, the more I actually spent. So I ended up with less time and less money. I have since decided to just pick up general staples that I use all the time so there's always something I can put together for dinner. That's also the reason I am not such a recipe follower.

On any given night, I just sort of check out what protein I have thawed out and then build around it from whatever is on hand in the fridge and pantry. It's not always fancy pants, but it doesn't steal our family time either and that's a good thing.

Last night I had some ground sirloin that needed cooking and my pretty bell peppers were speaking to me so I decided to do a stuffed pepper variation. This is what I used because that's what was there - you use whatever you have:

  • 1 lb ground sirloin
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
  • 2 t cumin
  • salt
  • 6 oz tomato sauce, because I had no paste
  • 3 t chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 1/2 cups corn, I used a can because I had no fresh
  • 1 cup long grain rice
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cup grated cheese, I used 50/50 cheddar and mozzarella because I had no Monterey Jack
  • 3 bell peppers, halved lengthwise and seeded

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Brown meat in a large skillet. Add onions, garlic and jalapeno then cook until softened. Add cumin, salt and tomato sauce then simmer until the tomato reduces and the mixture tightens up. Add corn, oregano, rice and water then cover and simmer 15 minutes, stirring halfway through cooking time. Remove from heat and allow to sit for 5 minutes.

While that mixture is cooking, place peppers skin-side down in a baking dish. Add 1/4 cup water to bottom of the dish and bake for 15 minutes to soften peppers.

Stir cheese into stuffing mixture and fill peppers. Return to the oven and bake for 20 minutes.

Easy peasy. Stress-free shopping and cooking, kid friendly, healthy dinner.

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