Stuffed Peppers

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I love my mom’s stuffed peppers, so this recipe is all “cootoes” to her.  It’s an easy dinner recipe that allows for multitasking on those busy nights or keeping frozen for that day you just need a taste of home.  The recipe hits the nail on the head in all the food groups–carbs, proteins, veggies and fat.  Making the peppers during your famer’s market’s peak allows for the full flavors of the vegetables to stand out.  Enjoy a delicious, comfort meal that your family and friends will love.

You’ll need:

4 Green peppers
1 Package of Jennie O Lean Ground Turkey
Onion (I usually use ½ an onion)
2-16 oz Cans of Tomato Soup
4oz (or less) Low Fat Mozzarella Cheese
Minute Brown Rice (I usually use 1 cup)

The Process:

Step 1: Clean out the peppers.
stuffedpeppersStep 2: Cook the ground turkey and onions stovetop.
Step 3: Combine the turkey mixture in a bowl with the uncooked rice.  Add ½ can of soup and cheese.
Step 4: Stuff the peppers with the mixture.
Step 5: Place the peppers in a microwave bowl with the remaining soup (the peppers should sit in at least half a bath of soup) and sprinkle cheese on top.
Step 6: Microwave on 50% power for 25-30 minutes.  The outside of the pepper should be soft.

The Tips:

  1. Be sure to clean out all of the seeds from the peppers, but only cut the tops off.
  2. Keep the rice uncooked because it will cook in the juices while being microwaved.
  3. Be sure to use tomato soup.  I tried the recipe with tomato sauce once and it was too powerful and overwhelming with a thick consistency.
  4. Be sure to have a big enough cookware that keeps the sauce from spilling over while in the microwave.
  5. Cover the peppers before adding to the microwave with cling wrap, or you’ll have one messy microwave afterwards.

This recipe is my comfort of home in a pepper.  It is simple and easy to make with a flavorful, nutritious meal.  “Cootoes” to my mother for making such a tasty meal microwaveable.

Leave a comment with meals inspired from your mom.  Follow my Pinterest for more recipes.  Check back again next Wednesday for more tips and tricks from The Cooking Bug.

Rosemary Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Apples

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I love Brussels sprouts.  They can be eaten a various ways making them a great mix in salads and other dishes like rosemary roasted Brussels sprouts and apples.  The added nutrients of hemp seeds create a protein bonus–great for vegetarians and vegans.  While hemp seeds and Brussels sprouts have a bad reputation, the mix created here can help change those horrible statuses.  They provide a satisfying delight that will leave you full of green love.

Brussels sprouts are a great vegetable to add to your diet.  Like all green vegetables, you can eat as many as you’d like.  The Brussels sprout is a cruciferous vegetable related to the cabbage.  Removing the outer leaves reveals a compact, leafy vegetable that provides beneficial nutrients in each sweet and nutty layer.  Sauté Brussels sprouts to caramelize and enhance the sweet side or steam for a more direct approach.  Veggies may not top your list of protein foods, but a 3.5-oz. serving of Brussels sprouts provides 3.4 g of protein or 7 percent of the Institute of Medicine’s minimum daily recommendation for women.  Protein is important for rebuilding damaged skin tissue and producing enzymes that transform food to energy.

Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  1. The recipe makes about 8-10 servings; ergo, I suggest halving the recipe.
  2. Fugi apples should be used because they are tart and sweet.
  3. I used twice the amount of olive oil.  Make sure to coat the apples and Brussels sprouts; the olive oil helps them brown and cook.
  4. Hemp seeds are a great crunch to the dish.
  5. It took about 35-40 minutes to brown the Brussels sprouts.  I suggest browning them 25 minutes before adding the hemp seeds to prevent burning.
  6. Be sure to flip the sprouts and apples halfway through.
  7. I like to cook my Brussels sprouts a little longer to rid them of their natural
    cabbage flavor.
  8. If you are conscious of the amount of oil you use, like myself, I suggest spraying the Brussels sprouts with pam in place of olive oil.

rosemaryroastedbrussles&applesHemp seeds come from a plant that is similar to the marijuana plant, but has lower levels of psychoactive cannabinoid compounds.  Hemp seed extract has an unidentified compound in it that may help to promote learning, memory and immune function.  It may stimulate the brain enzyme known as calcineurin, according to the University of Michigan.  Calcineurin plays an essential role in some brain synapse activities.  Hemp seeds are rich in essential fatty acids.  The oil in the seeds is a source of the omega-3 fatty acid.  Omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation in your body.  They also may lower risk for cancer, heart disease and arthritis.  Hemp seeds can help you if you are constipated because they act as a
bulk-forming laxative.

I love the crunch that the hemp seeds provide; I love the sweet tartness of the Fugi apples; I love the depth of flavor all the herbs create.  All in all this recipe will convert anyone into becoming a Brussels sprout lover.  This dish works well as an introductory dish to young children and adults alike to expand their palates with nutritious vegetables.

Leave a comment with your favorite side dishes.  Follow my Pinterest for more recipes.  Check back again next Wednesday for more tips and tricks from The Cooking Bug.

Broccolini Chicken Pizza

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It was not until recently that I became obsessed with adding greens onto my pizza. I grew up with pizza consisting of cheese, pepperoni and sauce–no deterring from the norm. However, greens add a nutritional note to your dishes without unnecessary calories and pair well with a variety of ingredients. For instance, broccolini chicken pizza is a sweet and savory combination. The sweet, citrus ricotta paired with the vibrant greens and mouthwatering chicken brings heavenly flavors to my tummy. The recipe shows me that greens and creativity bring delicious meals to the table.

Broccolini is a green vegetable similar to broccoli but with smaller florets and longer, thinner stalks. It is a hybrid of broccoli and kai-lan, Chinese broccoli, developed by the Sakata Seed Company of Yokohama, Japan. Broccolini is also known as asparation, asparations, bimi, broccoletti, broccolette and tenderstem. The entire vegetable is consumable, including theoccasional yellow flower. Common cooking methods include sauteeing, steaming, boiling and stir-frying. Its flavor is sweet, with notes of both broccoli and asparagus, although it is not closely related to the latter. Nutritionally, it is high in vitamin C and contains vitamin A, calcium and iron.

Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  1. I used broccolini. It is one of my favorite vegetables, but it can be hard to find in grocery stores. Take advantage while you can!
  2. I nixed the lemon zest because I had bottled lemon juice only. The zest helps the acidity and adds a fresh note to the pizza.
  3. I used a pre-made crust and adjusted the cooking times; however, soon after I found out that Trader Joe’s has whole-wheat pizza dough. (Shout out to Charlie Mai for letting me know it existed!)brocollinipizza2
  4. I suggest nixing the oil in half. I felt the oiled pizza crust made it soggy and was unnecessary fat in your diet. Save those calories for something you really want–like dessert…heehee.
  5. Ricotta is thick and grainy. Mixing it with lemon juice helps soften the cheese, and it becomes similar in texture to pesto.
  6. I cleaned my chicken breast of the fatty deposits and chopped them evenly. You need the pieces small enough to cook through without overcooking your broccolini.
  7. Pile the toppings onto the crust; I had enough topping to make two pizzas.
  8. Baking the pizza with the toppings facilitates the process of creating an adhesion between ingredients and melting the ricotta.
  9. I suggest cooking the chicken until just about done on the stovetop. This method will allow the chicken to continue cooking while preparing the pizza and again in the oven without overcooking it creating a dry, juiceless texture.

The topping alone contains vast amounts of flavor. Adding those flavors to the top of a delicious bread and we have a winner. The pizza adds a variety to your daily routine. You can still enjoy the normalcy of pizza with a twist. Incorporating broccolini onto circular bread is a great way to trick little ones, or yourself, into eating their greens.

Leave a comment with your favorite pizza recipes. Follow my Pinterest for more recipes. Check back again next Wednesday for more tips and tricks from The Cooking Bug.

Peanut Butter Granola Bars

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I have an addiction to peanut butter, and I usually make special treats for my dad when I’m home.  I decided to try my hand at the easiest, microwave, chewy, peanut butter granola bars.  Granola bars are a great way of combining a healthy snack with peanut butter.  These treats are also some of the quickest and yummiest granola bars ever made; they take 5 minute with only 2 minutes of cooking–if you can call it cooking.

Fun fact–peanuts are not in the nut butter family. They are categorized into the legume family. The method of making peanut butter is the same as nut butters. The nuts are ground into a paste like form. Peanuts, being about half oil, are half fat. Peanut oil is about one-half monounsaturated fats and one-third polyunsaturated fats, with the remaining 15 percent saturated fats. Peanut butter provides protein, vitamins B3 and E, magnesium, folate, dietary fiber, resveratrol arginine and high levels of the antioxidant p-coumaric acid. Funny enough, the United States is the leading exporter of peanut butter. Apparently, I’m not the only fanatic of peanut butter.

Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  1. I would suggest using less Rice Krispies than suggested.  Start out with 1 cup; you can always add more after the fact.
  2. I used natural peanut butter, which has a grainy texture.  You can use any type you’d prefer just keep the ratios in control.
  3. My peanut butter was cinnamon honey flavored; so, I used ½ the honey and vanilla in
    the recipe.
  4. I used light brown sugar because it’s a little healthier, and I had it on hand.
  5. If using a powerful microwave, heat the mixture for 30 seconds at a time to avoid over cooking the mixture.
  6. You can either use aluminum foil–making it easy and fewer cleanups afterwards–or use pam to prevent sticking.  The granola bars work like Rice Krispies treats.
  7. I suggest refrigerating the bars longer because freezing them makes it harder to enjoy them afterwards.

The greatest part about these bars is that they are easy and quick to make.  They take two peanutbuttergranolaminutes cooking and a few minutes for prep.  The hardest part is keeping your paws off of them while they cool and set.

Making your own granola and granola bars allows for a large room of interpretation.  You can add peanuts, walnuts, almonds, raisins or dried fruit.  Use two smaller pans and try your hands at two different bars.  The possibilities are endless.

Leave a comment with your favorite add-ins.  Follow my Pinterest for more recipes.  Be sure to check back again next Wednesday for more tips and tricks from The Cooking Bug.