Tag Archives: downsizing

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.
Share this Recipe
Powered byWP Ultimate Recipe

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

Another Chapter Begins and We Enjoy Steak Tacos

It’s been a little over a year, and I’m beginning to feel comfortable in the life chapter that I am writing for myself. I’ve cooked and created recipes that are uniquely me, and shared them with a slowly expanding “public.” This has been one of the most satisfying times in my life…doing something that I’m passionate about and sharing it with the world (lol).

Life has a funny way of keeping us from becoming complacent and resting too comfortably on our laurels. As many of you know, I am only half of a team that has been together for almost 35 years. While our team membership has expanded, the core has never changed. It’s my husband Jeff and I that have sailed forward through life. That life has taken a new and very unexpected turn, but in typical J & J fashion we are leaping into it with excitement and faith.

Jeff recently retired from the school district where he worked for 13 years. Retirement, for some, is the final chapter. We however are taking the view that we are only somewhere slightly past the middle of our story. There are many new adventures awaiting. Those adventures will still include food, cooking and writing, as we well as “team adventures” many of which will be shared here.

As we begin to create our new life, we are making many changes. Can you say downsize? It has been a challenge to sit down in front of the computer and share what I’m cooking. Trust me, Mama D is in the kitchen every day and some really wonderful things are being created. I will be sharing some of my favorites here, even if it may be a little less often.

That brings me to a recent dinner that we found both tasty and satisfying. Steak Tacos with Roasted Pepper Salsa and Skillet Squash and Corn.DIGITAL CAMERAThe tacos started with skirt steak that was marinated in lime juice, onion, garlic and cilantro. Olive oil and Mexican oregano added some depth of flavor.DIGITAL CAMERA

The result was tender, juicy strips of beefy goodnessDIGITAL CAMERAthat nestled into a whole grain tortilla.DIGITAL CAMERAGarnished with Roasted Red Pepper Salsa and sliced avocado and tomato,DIGITAL CAMERAit was a marriage made in heaven.

My side dish of choice was a skillet vegetable medley. Local corn, zucchini and yellow squash were the backbone of this dish. Onions, red pepper and tomato joined in on the fun.

DIGITAL CAMERAIt was enhanced with light sour cream and pepper jack cheese that were the perfect counterpoint to the tender crisp vegetables.

Fresh Corn and Squash Skillet
Print Recipe
This is a wonderful Summer side dish. Adding the vegetables to the pan gradually insures that everything will turn our tender yet crisp.
Fresh Corn and Squash Skillet
Print Recipe
This is a wonderful Summer side dish. Adding the vegetables to the pan gradually insures that everything will turn our tender yet crisp.
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Heat a large fry pan over medium high heat. Add the olive oil and swirl to coat the bottom of the pan.
  2. Add the chopped red onion and cook for 2 or 3 minutes until the onions begin to soften.
  3. Add the corn kernels and cook for several minutes more. Add the peppers and garlic and cook for 2 minutes or so.
  4. Add the zucchini and squash and cook another few minutes. Everything should be tender yet have a little crunch.
  5. Add the chopped tomatoes and stir to combine,
  6. Reduce the heat to low and add the sour cream. Stir to blend and cook for several minutes until the everything is heated.
  7. Add the shredded cheese and stir and continue to cook until the cheese is melted.
  8. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed. Sprinkle the cilantro on the vegetables and toss lightly. Serve.
Share this Recipe
Powered byWP Ultimate Recipe

I decided to try a “mildly” unusual salsa. I started with a jar of roasted red peppers. Fresh roasted would be outstanding, but I had a few other things going on. A bit of onion, garlic and jalapeno gave it a little bite and ripe olives and a parsley/cilantro combo made it interesting. Lime juice brought it all together.

Roasted Red Pepper Salsa
Print Recipe
Salsa re-imagined. Sweet and mild, but if you like it with more heat, use a whole jalapeno and leave in a few seeds.
Roasted Red Pepper Salsa
Print Recipe
Salsa re-imagined. Sweet and mild, but if you like it with more heat, use a whole jalapeno and leave in a few seeds.
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Put the peppers in a medium bowl. Add the onions, garlic, cilantro, and parsley. Stir to combine.
  2. Add the jalapeno and lime zest and toss to combine.
  3. Stir in the lime juice and olive oil and stir again to combine.
  4. Taste and add salt and pepper to taste. Cover and chill for several hours.
  5. Serve as a garnish for tacos or with chips.
Share this Recipe
Powered byWP Ultimate Recipe

As the days to the “big move” fly by, life seems a little like a whirlwind, but in a very good way. Love is the stabilizing force that keeps it all together and food, especially when it is cooked with love, gives us the energy to handle it all. Mama D