Fit Stuffed Peppers

Stuffed Peppers with Beef, Rice, & Tomato

I’m back, folks!  Sorry I went missing for a couple of weeks.  My sweet grandma passed away and I wanted to spend as much time with her before she left and then I spent a lot of time with my family as they all came into town for the funeral.  Thus, that left little time for creating new recipes and blogging.  That being said, it’s been an emotional and cherished past couple of week.  I love my grandma and I will miss her, but I know I’ll get to see her again some day.  I also love my family and enjoyed spending extra time with them.  It felt like a huge unplanned family reunion.

Now I’m back to cooking and such and this is a fabulous dinner option!  We grow bell peppers in our garden every year, but I think this year we turned out the best harvest yet!  The peppers grew fast, got big, and the flavor has been super intense.  They are delicious!  We finally got our first overnight freeze/frost of the year so Beau went and picked all the peppers before bed.  I figured that making stuffed peppers would be an awesome way to use some of them up.

Awesome, indeed!  These are super simple.  The only thing you have to remember is that the recipe calls for cooked brown rice.  So, if you haven’t made that in advance then your prep time will increase by 45-60 minutes.  I baked my rice earlier in the day (since baking it only requires about 1 minute worth of effort, but the rice turns out fluffy and fabulous).  Then you just simply cook your ground beef, mixed with onion and garlic, in a skillet until browned.  Mix in the cooked rice, tomato sauce and Worcestershire (this stuff somehow elevates the flavor of ground beef like crazy), and stuff your peppers, bake the peppers, and then eat them!  Easy peasy!

The flavors of bell pepper, ground beef, and tomato just marry so well together.  We found these to be very filling.  I made a green salad to go with them because I was leery of how filling these would be.  The green salad was tasty, but it wasn’t necessary to “fill us up” like I thought it would be.

Give these a try.  Bell peppers are easy to find year-round and I found the dish to be fresh, but also comforting.  Who doesn’t want a comforting dish around this time of year??

Fit Stuffed Peppers
Adapted from allrecipes.com

1 ½ cups brown rice, cooked
12 ounces lean (93%) ground beef (lean ground turkey is also good)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, chopped
salt and pepper, to taste
4 bell peppers (any color – I used green from my garden)
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2 (8 ounce) cans tomato sauce
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
2 tablespoons part skim mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Heat a skillet over medium heat.  Add beef, onion, and garlic.  Season with salt and pepper.  Cook and stir beef mixture until meat is evenly browned and onion is softened, about 5-7 minutes.

Remove and discard the tops, seeds, and membranes of the bell peppers.  Arrange peppers in a baking dish (I used a round Corningware dish with tall sides and it worked perfectly) with the hollowed sides facing upward.  (You may have to slice a little off the bottoms of the peppers to help them stand upright.  Just don’t cut too far up the pepper that you end up with a hole in the bottom.)

Mix the browned beef, cooked rice, Worcertershire sauce, and 1 can tomato sauce (I did this right in the skillet).  Add salt and pepper if needed.  Spoon an equal amount of the mixture into each hollowed pepper.  Mix the remaining can of tomato sauce with the Italian seasoning in a small bowl (or right in the can if you’re careful not to spill everywhere) and pour over the stuffed peppers.

Bake in the preheated oven, basting with the sauce every 15-20 minutes, until the peppers are tender, about 1 hour.  Sprinkle the peppers with grated mozzarella cheese after baking.

Serves 4.

Nutritional Information (Per Serving = 1 Stuffed Pepper)
Calories:  298
Protein:  23.2g
Carbs:  33.3g
Fat:  7g
Fiber:  4.4g
Sugars:  7.4g

Turkey Cheeseburger Quesadilla

Applebee's Make-Over of the Quesadilla Burger

Have any of you eaten or ordered the Quesadilla Burger at Applebee’s?  Well, there are SO many people that love it so I thought I would attempt a little makeover on that entree.  Here’s what I came up with and I have to say, I am pretty darn pleased with the results!  Man, this thing is packed with Southwestern flavors that make it far from boring. You add chunky pico de gallo and cheddar cheese to it, along with the fact that the tortilla is nice and crispy, and it makes you wonder if this is really a legal and healthy thing to be eating because it is SOOOOO yummy!

I actually used Beach Salsa on my quesadilla because I had that on hand (the Beach Salsa adds a few extra calories than regular pico because of the corns/beans), but it was so deeeeeelish!  However, regular ol’ pico will work super well and that’s what I actually used to count the nutritional information for the recipe.

So, now you have an excuse to have a restaurant-worthy meal right at home.  This was sooooo easy and good that it will probably make my weekly dinner menu.  That’s right, weekly!  It’s one of my new go-to meals.

Turkey Cheeseburger Quesadilla
Mimi Original (Inspired by Applebee’s)

1 lb. ground turkey burger
2 teaspoons taco seasoning
salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup pico de gallo
3/4 cup shredded reduced fat cheddar cheese
8 small whole wheat flour tortillas (Mission Life)
spray oil

Mix taco seasoning, salt, and pepper into ground turkey.  Form 4 flat patties (I make them more oval/flat to fit close to the size of half a tortilla).  Heat a skillet pan or indoor grill to medium-high heat; when hot, lightly spray the pan with oil and add the burgers. Cook burgers about 2 minutes on each side or to your liking (I cooked mine for 4 minutes on my Goerge Foreman Grill). Set aside.

Clean the pan and return to medium heat.  Lightly coat your large skillet with cooking spray and place over medium heat.  (See tip below for optional cooking directions.) Place a tortilla in the skillet (if your skillet is big enough you can do more than one at the same time) and place 1 1/2 tablespoons cheese on each tortilla, then 2 tablespoons pico de gallo, top with turkey burger, then an additional 2 tablespoons of pico and 1 1/2 tablespoons cheese.  Fold tortilla over the filling and cook until lightly browned, about 3 minutes.  Turn and brown the other side and cook until the cheese melts.  Removed from skillet and set aside.

Repeat with remaining tortillas, turkey burgers, cheese, and pico.

Serves 4.

Optional Cooking Tip:  I often cook these on my indoor grill (aka George Foreman).  It makes it SUPER handy so that I don’t have to actually flip the tortilla over in a skillet (which sometimes can be disastrous with the filling falling out all over the place. . . not that I would know!).  I can also cook at least two at a time (one for me and one for the hubby) in record time.

Nutritional Information (Per Quesadilla – with a 4-oz. Burger)
Calories:  331.4
Protein:  31.2g
Carbs:  22.4g
Fat:  14g (4.9g = Sat.)
Fiber:  3g
Sugars:  1g

Grilled Steak with Roasted Pablano Sauce

Grilled Steak with Roasted Pablano Sauce

 

Once in a while we love to change things up and have a little steak at our house.  This variation of steak was a huge hit!  I love the flavor of pablano peppers, but I love them even more when they’re roasted.  These roasted peppers, when paired with other complimentary Mexican ingredients, were awesome on top of the steak.  The sauce comes together nicely and, since it has a Mexican flare, we ate the Mexican Tomato & Corn Salad with it.  Pretty darn awesome meal if you ask me!

Grilled Steak with Roasted Pablano Sauce
Adapted from The Chew

1 1/2 Lb sirloin steak
5-6 medium pablanos peppers
2 tablespoon red onion (finely diced)
1-2 lemons (juice and zest)
4 tablespoon cilantro (roughly chopped)
4 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper (to taste)

1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon chili powder
salt and pepper (to taste)

Place pablanos directly on stove burner (or under your broiler) to char peppers until completely black (you may have to use tongs to turn peppers to char all sides), remove and cool.

Cut peppers lengthwise and remove charred skin with the back of a knife, and remove seeds. Dice small and place half of the pepper in a blender with olive oil and half of the lemon juice and puree for 20 seconds and place in a bowl. Add remaining diced pablanos, red onion, lemon zest and remaining juice (if desired), cilantro and salt and pepper. Mix to combine and taste for seasoning. Set aside for finished plate.

Lightly coat steak with olive oil. Season each side with smoked paprika, cayenne, chili powder, salt and pepper. Sear on hot grill until there is good color on the meat, about 3-4 minutes per side. Once cooked remove from heat and let rest for 10-15 minutes before cutting.

To serve, top steak with pablano sauce and serve.  Serves 8.

Nutritional Information (Per Serving = 3 oz. Steak & 1/8 of Sauce)
Calories:  258
Protein: 26.8
Carbs:  5.8g
Fat:  14.6g (3.6g = Sat.)
Fiber:  0g
Sugars:  0.2g

Orange Beef On a Stick

These are pretty darn tasty, my friends.  If you’re looking for something that is a little different than your typical grilled steak or chicken, this is a great option!  I have always been a fan of orange beef from Asian restaurants, so I was pretty excited to try this recipe.  It didn’t disappoint in the least!  My biggest concern was that they wouldn’t have enough orange flavor, but they totally did!  The orange flavor was dominant and the other ingredients in the marinade (garlic, ginger, oil, honey, etc.) balanced everything out to give these a hint of Asian flare.  (P.S.  Siracha chili sauce is easily found in most grocery stores on the Asian isle.  It’s worth buying because it’s tasty on lots of stuff and you really should try it in Bangin’ Good Shrimp too!)

I served these on a bed of Baked Brown Rice.  I really had hoped that I had green onions in my fridge to add to the rice once it came out of the oven, but I was out.  I plan on adding green onions and lime juice to my finished rice next time. . . because there will definitely be a next time for this delicious meal!

Orange Beef On a Stick
Adapted from Our Best Bites

1 orange
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup seasoned rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon coriander
4 cloves garlic
2-4 teaspoon Sriracha chili sauce
1 1/2 lb. flank steak
skewers (If using wood/bamboo make sure to soak them in water for at least 30 minutes before use.)

Zest your orange and add all of the zest to a small mixing bowl. Then cut the orange in half and add all of the juice as well. You should have at least 1/4 C orange juice and anything more than that is just fine.

To the orange mixture, add soy sauce, vinegar, honey, sesame oil, ginger, coriander, and garlic. Then add Sriracha to your liking. (Once these are marinated and cooked, the spice mellows quite a bit. I add 2 tsp. Sriracha and it’s mild enough that even kids will eat them. It’s not even spicy at all, just flavorful. So if you like heat, add 3-4 teaspoons of Sriracha.) Whisk the marinade so everything is combined.

Take the flank steak and slice it across the grain into about 1/4″ slices. (It helps to pop the steak into the freezer for 20 minutes or so beforehand.) Place steak in a zip-lock bag and pour the marinade in. Swish it all around and place the bag in the fridge. It’s best if it can sit for at least 4 hours.

When you’re ready to get cookin’ preheat your grill. Then take your skewers (pre-soaked if you’re using wood/bamboo ones) and thread on the strips of meat, just like you’re stitching. In order for them to cook evenly, stretch the meat out a bit.
  (I got 2 slices of meat per skewer, with a total of 12 skewers.)

Place them on the grill. Cook them approximately 3-4 minutes per side.  (These cook really fast. Overcooked flank steak will be tough and chewy, so don’t over do it.)

Serves 6.

Nutritional Information (Per Serving = Approx. 2 Skewers)
Calories:  201.6
Protein:  23.5g
Carbs:  3.4g
Fat:  9.8g (3.8g = Sat.)
Fiber:  0.1g
Sugars:  1.9g

Steak & Potato Skillet Salad

Sounds interesting, right?  That’s what I thought when I first came across this hearty salad.  I think I’ve said it before, but I rarely like salads to be my main course.  I LOVE them as a side, but do not prefer them as the star.  However, when I saw this salad I thought that, while it sounded interesting, it also sounded hearty.  I mean, I still get my steak and potatoes!

This was a SUPER easy way to prepare both the steak and the potatoes.  I used the microwave and one skillet to achieve a freshly seared steak AND crispy potatoes.  While I seared the steak, I popped the potatoes in the microwave to give them a head start (you’ll want to avoid having raw insides and burnt outsides).  By the time the steak was ready to rest, the potatoes were ready to be added to the skillet to finish cooking . . . not to mention they were infused with a meaty flavor from the browned bits left behind by the seared steak.  Talk about delicious!

The dressing was very tasty!  I think it was the thyme that really complimented the beef here.  I will tell you that the reason this recipe has a tad bit more calories than expected is because of the dressings (those darn dressings will get us EVERY time).  So, if you’re really watching calories then you’ll want to half the amount of dressing you put on your salad.  (Just so you can see, I did end up putting the calorie count for the dressing alone.  You can find it at the bottom of the post.)

I really loved this salad . . . even as my main course.  It was LARGE, meaty, and filling.  Oh, and very tasty to boot!

Steak and Potato Skillet Salad
Adapted from The America’s Test Kitchen Healthy Family Cookbook

Dressing
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon red onion, minced
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh thyme (or 1/8 tsp. dried)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper

Salad
1 pound boneless top sirloin steak, about 1-1/4 inches thick
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 pound potatoes (about 3 medium), scrubbed and cut into wedges
3 romaine lettuce hearts (about 1 pound), torn into bite-sized pieces
1/3 cup thinly sliced red onion

For the dressing:  Whisk all the ingredients together in a bowl until bell combined; set aside.  (Alternatively, you can put it all in a food processor and process until combined.)

For the salad:  Pat the steak dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper (about 1/8 teaspoon of each).  Heat 2 teaspoons of the oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking.  Brown the steak well on the first side, about 3 minutes.  Flip the steak, reduce the heat to medium, and continue to cook until the center of the steak registers 120 to 125 degrees on an in, 5 to 7 minutes longer.  (This is for medium-rare.  If you prefer it more or less done, cook for more or less time accordingly.  I cooked mine until they were 130 degrees.)

Transfer the steak to a carving board, tent loosely with foil, and let rest for 10 minutes.  Cut the steak across the grain into 1/4-inch-thick slices.

Meanwhile, toss the potatoes with the remaining 1 teaspoon oil in a large microwave-safe bowl.  Cover the microwave on high until the potatoes are tender, 5 to 10 minutes, stirring the potatoes halfway through the cooking time.

Return the skillet to medium-high heat until just smoking.  Add the potatoes in a single layer and cook until well browned on both sides, about 5 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Whisk the dressing to recombine.  Toss the lettuce and onion with 1/2 cup of the dressing, then divide it among four plates.  Arrange the steak and potatoes on top of the salads, drizzle with the remaining dressing, and serve.

Serves 4.

Nutritional Information (Per Serving = 1/4 of Recipe)
Calories:  380
Protein:  29g
Carbs:  29g
Fat:  16g (3g = Sat.)
Fiber:  4g

Nutritional Information – DRESSING ONLY (Per serving)
Calories:  83.4
Protein:  0.1g
Carbs:  5.5g
Fat:  7g (1g = Sat.)
Fiber:  0.1g

Slow Cooker Taco Soup

Happy first day of March!  This day is good news to me because I absolutely LOVE spring and summer and we’re getting that much closer to these fabulous seasons!  (Plus it is my nephew’s first birthday today and I love him so much!  Happy Birthday C-Bug!)

But since the weather is still kind of cold, I have another cold-weather meal for you today.  Who’s never heard of Taco Soup?  It seems like it is a common soup option for many.  I mean, what’s not to love about it?  It’s a taco in a bowl and I love my taco coming in a soup option when we’re in the colder months of the year.

The GREAT news about Taco Soup is that it is usually well balanced with proteins, fats, and carbs.  Plus it is loaded with antioxidants (thanks to those beans!).  There are several variations of Taco Soup, but here is one of my go-to recipes and I like it because it’s so quick and easy.  It seems like the most time-consuming part is opening each can of goods with a can opener.  It could easily be called Taco-Dump Soup because mostly all you do is open a can and dump it in the slow cooker.  Pretty easy, right?

If you’re REALLY counting carbs and calories, leave out the corn.  That’s what I did here because I am being strict with my carbs and calories right now (I’m going on a beach vacation soon so of course I’m watching my calories a little closer . . . more on that later).   You’ll see that I calculated the nutritional information for both options – corn or no corn.  So, prepare it as you wish (or rather as you need to), but enjoy every bite!

Slow Cooker Taco Soup
Adapted from allrecipes.com

1.5 pounds (24 oz.) lean ground beef
1 onion, chopped
1 (16-oz.) can chili beans, with liquid
1 (15-oz.) can black beans with liquid
1 (15-oz.) can whole kernel corn, with liquid
1 (8-oz.) can tomato sauce
1 cup water
2 (14.5-oz.) cans peeled & diced tomatoes
1 (4-oz.) can diced green chile peppers
2 tablespoons (or 1 package) taco seasoning

In a medium skillet, cook the ground beef with 1 tablespoon of taco seasoning over medium heat.  Drain, and set aside.

Place the ground beef, onion, chili beans, black beans, corn, tomato sauce, water, diced tomatoes, green chile peppers and remaining taco seasoning in a slow cooker.  Mix to blend and cook on Low setting for 8 hours (or High setting for 4 hours).

Serves 8.

Nutritional Information (Per Serving, without Corn)
Calories:  266.7
Protein:  21.8g
Carbs:  26.3g
Fat:  9.5g (3.7g = Sat.)
Fiber:  7.1g
Sugars:  5.6g

Nutritional Information (Per Serving with Corn)
Calories:  291.5
Protein:  22.6g
Carbs:  32g
Fat:  9.8g (3.7g = Sat.)
Fiber:  7.7g
Sugars:  5.6g

Inside-Out Cabbage Rolls

I don’t know if you’ve ever had cabbage rolls, but I really like them!  They can be a little tedious when pulling them together, so when I saw the recipe for Inside-Out Cabbage Rolls, I became very intrigued.  I thought the idea was brilliant because all of the flavors were the same, but the preparation was SUPER simple.  This comes together all in one pot!

I am a lover of cabbage . . . raw or cooked.  I loved how the cabbage and beef in this recipe were combined with the flavors of marinara sauce, rice, and topped with cheddar cheese.  We had enough of this dish that we had leftovers for an extra day AND I was able to freeze some for later (you know . . . for one of those nights that I just don’t feel like cooking?).  This recipe will easily feed a family, or you can do as I did if you don’t have a lot of mouths to feed.  Trust me, this recipe is a keeper!

Inside-Out Cabbage Rolls
Adapted from Taste of Home Healthy Cooking 2009

1 lb. lean ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
1 large bell pepper (any color), chopped
1 small head cabbage, chopped
1 can (10-ounce) diced tomatoes and green chilies
1 cup reduced-sodium beef broth
1 cup marinara sauce
1 cup cooked brown rice
1/2 cup shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese

In a Dutch oven (or large pot), cook the beef, onion and bell pepper over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain.

Stir in the cabbage, tomatoes, broth, and marinara sauce.  Bring mixture to a boil.  Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes or until cabbage is tender, stirring occasionally.

Stir in rice; heat through.  Remove from the heat.  Sprinkle with cheese; cover and let stand until cheese is melted.

Serves 6.

Nutritional Information (Per Serving = Approx. 1 1/3 Cups)
Calories:  244
Protein:  21g
Carbs:  23g
Fat:  8g (4 g = Sat.)
Fiber:  5g