Shortcut Teriyaki Beef Stuffed Peppers

In the early days of this blog, I was admittedly embarrassed when I wrote a post about an all-microwave-made stuffed pepper meal. Except it was AWESOME and changed the stuffed pepper game for me altogether. Traditionally, stuffed peppers are made with green peppers baked with a filling of a combination of rice, ground beef, and tomato sauce. But I find green peppers too bitter when they’re cooked and who said you have to stick with tradition, anyway? Including the traditional cooking method, right? Red peppers are sweeter to begin with – they’re tender and delicate when they’re cooked. Paired with traditionally Asian flavors, these stuffed peppers take the whole game to another level flavor-wise and time-wise. Seriously superstar weeknight dinner here, people. Trust me. Here you go.

WHAT YOU NEED
* 2 large red peppers – look for rounder, close to symmetrical peppers
* 1/2C uncooked quick cook (like Minute) white rice
* 1/2C low sodium beef broth
* 1/2lb lean ground beef
* 3 green onions, thinly sliced on the diagonal, divided
* 1/2C shredded red cabbage
* 3T brown sugar
* 2T low sodium soy sauce
* 1T sweet chili sauce (there’s a great one at Trader Joes that I love)
* 1t garlic paste (you can get this in the produce aisle at your regular grocery store, usually near the bagged spinach and small packages of fresh herbs)
* 1/2t ginger paste (same location at the store as the garlic paste!)
* 1/2C shredded mozzarella cheese

WHAT TO DO
Cut your peppers in half and clean them of seeds and stems, leaving four small “bowls” of fresh pepper. Place them into a square baking dish and cover the dish tightly with plastic wrap. Use a fork or knife to poke a few tiny steam holes in the plastic wrap, then place the baking dish into the microwave and cook on high for 4 minutes.

Place the uncooked rice and beef broth in a bowl. Allow to sit and soak a few minutes, then cover tightly with plastic wrap, poke one or two small steam holes in the plastic, and microwave on high for 4 minutes, until the rice is cooked.

In a large skillet, cook the ground beef with two sliced green onions (leave the third for garnish) and the red cabbage, stirring occasionally, breaking up the beef and mixing everything together until the beef is cooked through. Add the brown sugar, soy sauce, chili sauce, and garlic and ginger paste, and stir to combine. Cook 2-3 minutes until most of the sauce is absorbed. Remove from heat.

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Add the rice into the beef mixture and stir to combine. Scoop the mixture evenly into the four cooked pepper halves. Sprinkle with the mozzarella cheese, then re-wrap the baking dish in plastic wrap, poke some steam holes, and microwave another 4 minutes. Sprinkle with fresh green onion slices for garnish and serve.

Beautiful and impressive, both in presentation and crazy awesome taste. But easy peasy lemon squeezy to make. I’m not even a little bit embarrassed. A modern day microwave dinner that’s totally legit. This technique is the new tradition!

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Meatless Monday: Red Curry with Vegetables

Some of you may recall when I first made this curry dish and couldn’t stop talking about it or how crazy easy it turns out curry-making is. You could say it sent me racing down a curry-making rabbit hole. Curry-based anything – I love it. It really is unbelievably easy to make, and as a bonus, your kitchen/home almost instantly fill with amazing smells. Still, in spite of my curry fascination, I’ve mostly stuck to similar dishes that use either a yellow curry or a basic coconut curry. This introduced a new flavor profile to my at-home recipe Rolodex (extra points for outdated cultural references right?!), and is beautiful and full of color, flavor, and good smells. This recipe has a little hint of a bite to it, as red curries can, so if serving to littles like me, I strongly recommend having additional coconut milk on-hand to mix into their bowls to temper the punch. “A little spicy” aside, this was a delightful Meatless Monday victory, and you should totally try it. If the all-veg version isn’t enough for you, any protein would work beautifully with these flavors. Here you go.

WHAT YOU NEEDredcurry2
* 1T coconut oil
* 1 sweet onion, rough chopped
* salt
* 1T grated fresh ginger (about an inch or so of ginger root), or ginger paste
* 2t minced garlic
* 1 bell pepper (any color), julienned
* 3 carrots, peeled and sliced into thin rounds
* 5oz sliced button mushrooms
* 2T red curry paste
* 14oz can coconut milk (plus extra for smaller eaters’ bowls)
* 1/2C water
* 5oz bag baby spinach
* 1 1/2t raw (aka turbinado) sugar
* 1T low-sodium soy sauce
* 1t rice vinegar (if you don’t have rice vinegar, add the juice of a second lime)
* juice of 1 lime
* for garnishing: lime wedges and a handful of fresh basil cut into thin strips

WHAT TO DO
Heat a wok or large, high-sided pan over medium heat, then add the coconut oil. Add the onions and a pinch of salt and saute for 3-4 minutes, mixing frequently, until they soften and become translucent. Add the ginger and the garlic and cook about 30 seconds, stirring constantly, until all the aromatics are released (bonus perk: your sinuses are now also cleared!).

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Add the pepper, carrots, and mushrooms and cook about 4 minutes, until the crunchy veggies begin to soften, stirring occasionally. Then add the curry paste and stir through for about 2 minutes.

Now add the coconut milk, water, spinach, and sugar. Stir to combine and simmer gently for about 10 minutes.

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Remove the pan from the heat. Add the soy sauce, rice vinegar, lime juice, and another pinch of salt. Stir to mix through, and then taste and adjust seasoning as necessary. Serve over rice and garnish with some fresh basil and a wedge of lime. Be sure to take a moment to appreciate how amazing your home smells while you’re at it!

Cucumber, Avocado, and Feta Salad

It sure doesn’t feel like May around here. It’s been dreary and rainy and cold forever. I’m pretty sure my Vitamin D has reached severely deficient levels thanks to these last 3 months or so of where-are-you-sunshine? But I know it’s coming. I just know it. A glimpse here and there, no matter how brief, has me completely reassured that a good gross-hot summer is just around the corner. I don’t know where that corner is, or how to get myself there more quickly, but when I get there, and I get around it, I’m going to need to change my clothes three times a day. I just know it. And I’m preparing for it by reintroducing summer-feeling foods into our meals. Like this very simple, happy, bright, light, fresh salad. Just a few basic ingredients and you’re good to go. I didn’t, but add in some fresh herbs (dill or parsley would be perfect) and it’ll be even better. Here you go.

WHAT YOU NEED
* 1 English (seedless) cucumber, diced
* 1 ripe avocado, diced
* crumbled feta cheese (as much as you like)
* juice of half a lemon
* 1T olive oil
* lemon pepper, to taste

WHAT TO DO
Prepare your cucumber and avocado and add them to a bowl. Top with feta. Squeeze lemon juice and drizzle olive oil on top. Finish with a little lemon pepper (regular black pepper will work just fine, too). Toss carefully to mix. Serve. Preferably with a tall, cool mojito (amiright?!).

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Chunky Salmon Patties

salmonpatty4We have been trying to incorporate more fish into our diet recently. I didn’t like fish at all (except tuna salad) until I was a full-grown, independent, out of college, out of grad school even, real actual adult, so I’m pretty fresh to this game. Conveniently, I went from totally not wanting anything to do with pretty much most seafood, to wanting every kind of sashimi and sushi in front of me at all times, and on top of that, our Tiny Sous Chef basically emerged a seafood fanatic — her father’s daughter — so *deciding* to add more fish to our routine wasn’t so hard. In reality, though, my limited experience with fish does make this a little tricky. I have to be willing to try preparing proteins I’ve literally never handled. It’s one thing to order a beautiful halibut dinner at a restaurant, it’s quite another entirely to know intuitively, or at least confidently/comfortably, how to work with it yourself. Or even to order it. Man oh man does the seafood counter intimidate me! Long story short, I figure out one preparation and I kind of stick with it for a while. Which, logically, gets boring.

My mother in-law usually eats with us on Wednesday evenings, which has become a really lovely tradition. And she loves salmon, but rarely prepares it for herself, so I frequently like to make it for her when she’s here. But it’s-another-salmon-fillet-dinner gets a little tiresome, too, so I wanted to mix things up a little. Quick side discussion – how do you like your salmon? Got any great recipes or tips you’d like to pass along? Please do!

I decided to make salmon burgers for dinner – that’s different, right?! And after scouring books and blogs for recipes, decided to try something really out of my element, a patty made with *fresh* salmon that could be whipped up on a busy weeknight. The result was, if I do say so myself, totally wonderful. Keeping the salmon a bit chunkier, rather than ground, gives such a rich and luscious texture to the burger patty. Fresh and bright, light, flaky, and herby–in spite of a little extra prep work, this patty is great, and is actually really simple to make, and you probably already most of the ingredients (maybe not the salmon and dill) at home. Plus! It got serious thumbs up from my MIL who also reminded me that if she didn’t like it she would not pretend, so, hey, you know it’s legit. Here you go.

WHAT YOU NEED
* 1lb fresh salmon, boneless and skin removed, chopped into a small dice (you can definitely make this using a canned salmon, by the way – it will still be delicious!)
* 2T Panko breadcrumbs (plus possibly a little extra)
* juice of 1/2 a lemon
* 2T red onion, diced tiny
* 1T fresh dill, chopped
* 1T mayonnaise
* 1T grainy Dijon mustard
* 1t salt
* 1/4t black pepper
* 1T olive oil
* 1 lemon cut into wedges, for serving

WHAT TO DO
Mix together your diced salmon and Panko until well combined. Add the lemon juice, red onion, dill, mayonnaise, mustard, salt, and pepper, and stir well to combine, using a large spoon. Press and crush the salmon down a bit as you mix – to help everything stick together. But allow for some larger chunks to hold up. If your consistency seems a bit loose, add a little bit more Panko, half a teaspoon at a time, until you like the texture and the mixture holds together well.

Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. When the oil glistens, form the mixture into patties (this recipe will yield 4-6 patties, depending on the size you want to make them) and place them into the pan.

Cook about 5 minutes, then flip and cook another 4. Serve warm with lemon wedges – on a bun or over a beautiful fresh salad.

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