Tuesday, November 10, 2009

CrockPot Stuffed Peppers

Today is Tuesday. In this house, Tuesday = CrockPot Day because our running group meets at 6pm and it's easiest to have dinner immediately ready for us when we are done. My original plan was Chicken Barley Stew from Clean Eating Magazine, which we've had once before, but then I saw red peppers on sale at the grocery store. Not local, but huge, sweet, and delicious! And a great price. So I bought 8. And tonight they became "Quinoa-Stuffed CrockPot Peppers." This was my first attempt at stuffed peppers in a slow cooker. The H commented that no matter how many times we have the same recipe, it's never really the *same* recipe. That's just how I roll! By now you should know that I don't really measure anything so here is how I made them; feel free to substitute your favorite fillings and flavors.

Quinoa-Stuffed CrockPot Peppers

4 large bell peppers
3 green onions, chopped
Cooked quinoa
1 can kidney beans (black would've been delightful, too), drained and rinsed
1 cup canned or frozen corn
1 cup diced, chopped, or crushed canned tomatoes
Salt and pepper
Taco seasoning (I used two teaspoons, plus the 1 that I cooked the quinoa in)
Cheddar cheese, divided, optional
1 cup water

1. Wash peppers and cut the tops off. Clean out the seeds and ribs, toss the stem, set the peppers aside, and chop the remaining lid pieces. Place diced tops in a large bowl.
2. Add onions, quinoa, beans, corn, and tomatoes. Stir well to combine.
3. Season mixture to taste with salt, pepper, and taco seasoning. Mix in half of the cheese.
4. Fill hollowed peppers with quinoa mixture and set into large (6 quart) slow cooker that has been sprayed or lightly oiled. Pour up to 1 cup water around bottoms of peppers (to prevent scorching of any filling that falls out; I might have omitted this if I had been home to keep an eye on them). Cover and cook on high for 4 hours.
5. Just before serving, top peppers with remaining cheese. Turn off slow cooker. Cover until cheese is melted, about 5 minutes.

The peppers turned pretty soft, which The H and I don't *really* love, but they were good. Next time I might cook on high for 2 hours and low for 2 to have kind of a little crunch left. If I hadn't been making this with my son in mind as well, I might have bumped up the taco seasoning a little. The kind we have is a special blend from my spice guy (his "medium" blend) and it's got some kick to it. Having the quinoa cooked ahead of time made me a little nervous because I didn't want it to become completely mushy. It was soft, but not overdone.

One of the most appealing parts of using this method for stuffed peppers is that it only took 4 hours, when most slow cooker recipes are all-day affairs. Using my rice cooker for the quinoa was another winner. I didn't have to worry about it burning or boiling over while I got everything else put together. Overall, this was a great choice for a busy day. I didn't get it into the CrockPot until after 3:30, and we were sitting down to it almost exactly 4 hours later.

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