I knew from the beginning that if I made stuffed bell peppers, then I would have to make them “removable.” My kids are pretty good eaters and always have been, but as they’ve gotten older, they learn socially that green vegetables, peppers, and onions are BAD! Both of my boys would lick the guacamole bowl clean when they were toddlers, but now turn green just imagining eating an avocado. Both boys ate squash (yellow & zucchini) as homemade baby food, but now, it has to be chopped and hidden in other dishes to trick them into eating it. FYI…zucchini in spaghetti sauce has been passed off as “herbs” and “parsley” at dinner many times. Oh, but the real pisser is…Ean will eat his belly full of fried zucchini from Carrabas!?!?!? ARGHHH!!!
Anyway, the plan was to make stuffed bell peppers. We don’t eat a lot of ground beef, so immediately, I knew it would need flavor additives to help out the ground turkey. I remembered my Aunt Karla’s Porcupine Meatballs, so I knew I wanted to incorporate rice into it. And, back to the “removable” aspect, I knew that I needed to make it so that they could take the stuffing out and get rid of the evil bell pepper.
Anytime I had stuffed bell peppers as a kid, they were reminiscent of the “Stouffer’s Stuffed Peppers” in the grocer’s freezer case…dense beef, slightly greasy, tomatoe-y, ketchup-y, and soft/flimsy peppers…basically, BLEHHH!!! I knew that there was no way any of that would fly, soooooo
1) beef is too greasy, so change the beef to ground turkey.
2) ground beef only gets dense and tough, so add bread crumbs, whisked egg, and Parmesan cheese.
2) turkey is bland, so add Parmesan cheese, Lipton onion soup mix, real onions, parsley, salt, pepper, cumin, garlic, and some of the tomato sauce.
3) ketchup is too sweet for me, so use canned crushed tomatoes.
4) peppers get flimsy & soft, so cut them in halt lengthwise to create boats.
5) rice could make the meat dry, so add crushed tomatoes to the meat /rice mixture.
1 lb. ground turkey
1 envelope Lipton onion soup mix
1/2 c. chopped onion
1 egg, whisked
1/4 c. dried bread crumbs
1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1 TBSP dried parsley
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 c. crushed tomato, reserving the remaining 28 oz. can)
1 1/2 c. cooked rice
3 large bell peppers, cut in half lengthwise and seeds removed
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking dish with aluminum foil and spray with non stick cooking spray. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients except the peppers. Using a rubber spatula, stir to combine, but do not mix vigorously. Using a spoon, stuff each pepper half and place in the foil lined dish. When finished with all pepper boats, spoon remaining crushed tomatoes over the meat. Bake at 375 degree for 30 minutes, or until meat is browned, vegetables are soft, and juices look clear. Remove from the oven, allow to cool for no more than 5 minutes, slice and serve.
Results…The kids didn’t even attempt to try the peppers. They turned up their noses and proceeded to dump the filling out onto their plates. However, they did eat the filling and sides, so all in all, not a bad experiment.