Downsizing the Freezer and Stuffed Peppers

Our efforts to downsize are paying off. One garage sale has been held with respectable success. Closets are devoid of useless clothes and there are spaces were small pieces of furniture used to be. One of the tasks as we prepare to move is using up what is in the freezer and pantry. Of course our new digs will have a freezer and if I’m creative in space usage, a pantry, but it’s a good excuse to clean things out a bit. A recent exploration of the freezer revealed a small portion of Italian Meatloaf and a quart bag of Vegetable Stock. The recipes for both of these have appeared in earlier posts  You can access them on the RECIPES  page. Just search by the recipe title.

There wasn’t enough meatloaf (this made of ground turkey and turkey Italian sausage) to star in a meal, but it could become an integral part of an ensemble cast. This was my protein of choice/necessity. Any other protein you have on hand would be equally wonderful.DIGITAL CAMERAAs I pondered the contents of my vegetable bins, I found 2 lovely colored bell peppers and the inspiration to stuff them came to me. But to stuff them with, what? I had a few mushrooms that were a bit past their prime and a zucchini with more than a little life left in it.  In the back corner of the butter keeper I found a package of Sun-Dried Tomatoes. It is Mama D’s Kitchen, so of course there were onions and garlic on the counter. The cast, or most of it, was in place…DIGITAL CAMERARice is the traditional ingredient in stuffed peppers and I decided it was  a tradition that I liked, so Brown Rice cooked in some of my Vegetable Stock and was ready to join the players.DIGITAL CAMERAThe gathering was almost complete. There is usually a tomato sauce component to most stuffed peppers and a further search of the freezer turned up a small container of Marinara Sauce. Again, too little for a major role, but just enough to top the peppers once they were stuffed.

I sautéed the onions, mushrooms, zucchini, and garlic in a little olive oil before I added them to the rice and meatloaf. I raided my garden herbs and added a generous handful to the bowl.DIGITAL CAMERAThe sun-dried tomatoes were the dry kind so they were just snipped and added to the mixture. I moistened everything with more Vegetable Stock and let it sit in the refrigerator for several hours. An added bonus as the mixture got happy in the frig, the tomatoes plumped up and became tender and juicy.DIGITAL CAMERAFinally, it was time to stuff the peppers. I opted to cut them in half lengthwise to make four pepper boats. I filled them liberally since I had a lot of filling and liberally is how I roll. I topped them with some of the tomato sauce, covered them with foil and baked them for about 35 minutes.DIGITAL CAMERAI removed the foil and added some Romano Cheese. A few more minutes in the oven and they were ready to enjoy.DIGITAL CAMERAThey were delicious and a perfect meal for an evening that strongly hinted of Fall. They were a far cry from the 50’s stuffed peppers my mother made and a welcome addition to Mama D’s recipe collection.

Stuffed Peppers
Print Recipe
Servings
4
Servings
4
Stuffed Peppers
Print Recipe
Servings
4
Servings
4
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Heat the 1-3/4 cups of vegetable stock to boiling in a small sauce pan. Add the rice and stir. Return to boil and cover. Reduce heat and simmer for 35 - 45 minutes. Stock should be absorbed and rice should be fairly tender. Cool slightly and place in a large bowl.
  2. Quarter the zucchini lengthwise and slice thinly. Coarsely chop onion and mushrooms. Set aside with the minced garlic.
  3. Heat a medium fry pan and add the olive oil. Swirl to cover the bottom of the pan. Add the onion and cook and stir for about 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook and stir for 2 minutes more.
  4. Add the zucchini and garlic to the pan and cook for 4 minutes or so. The vegetables should be slightly soft and just beginning to brown. Remove from the heat and add to the rice in the bowl.
  5. Slice the tomatoes into small pieces and add to the bowl.
  6. Roughly chop or crumble the meatloaf and add to the bowl. If you are using another protein, chop it into small bite-sized pieces. Add to the bowl. Stir the ingredients to mix. Add the 1/2 cup of stock and stir once more. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
  7. Slice the peppers in half lengthwise. Remove the seeds and white membranes. Spray a medium casserole with non-stick spray. Place the pepper halves in the pan cut side up. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  8. Divide the mixture between the 4 pepper halves, packing lightly. Spoon approximately 1 tablespoon of the marinara on top of each filled pepper. Cover tightly with foil and place in the oven. Bake for 35 minutes.
  9. Remove the pan from the oven and remove the foil. Add another tablespoon or so of the marinara to each pepper and sprinkle with the cheese. Spoon any remaining marinara into the pan to coat the bottom,
  10. Return the pan to the oven uncovered and bake for 10 - 15 minutes until the cheese is melted and the peppers are a little brown. Serve.
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We continue to sort through an astounding quantity of things that we have collected over the years. Closets and cabinets hold as much extra stuff as the freezer. At times the process is painful…we’ve become attached to many things. They are, as we are beginning to realize, just things. They represent memories that we can hold onto without a tangible souvenir. Our next chapter has plenty of room for those memories and newly found space for the memories and souvenirs to come.    Love, Mama D

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