Monday, February 9, 2009

Sausage Stuffed Peppers

If you looking for a way to impress that special someone for Valentine’s Day, why not prepare him or her an excellent meal at home? Not only will you save a bit of cash in these tough economic times, but you'll also be able to show off your many talents. At some point or another in your life I’m sure you’ve had stuffed peppers. This recipe is an updated version, utilizing sausage to give it a more complex flavor. This dish is hearty enough to serve as a main course and would pair excellently with a light salad and/ or roasted red potatoes. You’re also in luck because red bell peppers are on sale this week.

Sausage Stuffed Peppers
4-6 Red Bell Peppers
12 oz Italian Sausage (casing removed) or ground beef
(Veg-heads can substitute tofu, tempeh or vegan “sausage”)
1 cup long grain brown rice (not minute rice)
1 medium onion (red or yellow) (diced)
1 -2 cloves of garlic (diced)
1 cup diced tomatoes (drained)
2 oz red wine (optional)
3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt & Pepper to taste
Few pinches dried oregano
Few pinches dried sage and/ or rosemary (optional)
Dash of Hot Sauce (optional)
Red Pepper Flakes (optional)

Large Pot
Baking Pan or Casserole Dish
Sauté Pan
Medium Pot

Preheat oven to 375°
1. Cook the rice according to package instructions.
2. Remove sausage from casing and set aside to add to stuffing (wash hands thoroughly after this step).
3. Wash and pat dry the Bell Peppers. Chop of the tops about ½ - 1 inch from stem and remove seeds; dice tops and reserve for stuffing mix.
4. Bring pot of lightly salted water to boil. Place peppers in boiling water for 2-3 minutes; remove peppers, rinse in cold water and let cool.
5. In sauté pan heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium heat. Once hot add diced onion, garlic, pinch of salt and ground pepper. Add red wine after about 4 minutes to deglaze pan. Cook until onion is soft; about 5-7 minutes total.
6. Remove sauté pan from heat and add meat, rice, tomatoes, dried herbs, hot sauce and a few more pinches of salt and pepper; mix well.
7. Prepare baking dish by rubbing with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Rub the peppers with the remaining 1 tbsp. of olive oil.8. Stuff peppers with sausage/ veggie/ rice mix and place in baking dish cut side up; add about ¼ cup water to bottom of dish. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until sausage is cooked completely.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Carrot Ginger Muffins

This week’s recipe is one of my favorite varieties of muffins, Carrot Ginger. These little gems are great in the morning or as a snack, and on cold winter mornings they pair well with a hot cup of coffee or tea. I like to reach for one after a mid-day run. You can double this recipe, or make two batches, and put some in the freezer for the future.

Carrot Ginger Muffins
The recipe lists raisins and walnuts as optional. For a vegan muffin you can sub soy milk for the milk, and 1 tablespoon flaxseed meal + 3 tablespoons water for the egg.

2 cups All-Purpose Flour (Can use whole wheat or ½ ww and ½ AP)
1½ teaspoons Baking Soda
½ teaspoon Salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger (2 Tablespoons fresh ginger)

¾ cup Sugar (can reduce to ½)
1 cup Milk
1 large Egg
1/3 cup Canola Oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 Cup Grated Carrot
½ Cup Raisins (optional)
½ Cup Walnuts (optional)

Pre-heat oven to 350°
In large mixing bowl combine dry ingredients including flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and ginger (if using fresh ginger add to wet ingredients). In a separate bowl combine egg and sugar until smooth, then add oil and vanilla.
Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and combine until just incorporated. Be careful not to over-mix your batter as this will make your muffins dense and dry.
Now mix in your grated carrot, raisins (if using) and walnuts (if using).
Portion out into non-stick muffin pan or line your pan with muffin/ cupcake papers (lightly spray muffin papers with cooking spray. Fill each muffin cup 2/3 full.
Bake 15-18 minutes or until lightly browned on top.
Test with a tooth-pick to ensure the muffins are completely done. Remove muffins from pan and let cool on a wire rack, or turn them on their side on a plate.
Makes about 10 muffins

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