Mexican Stuffed Peppers
MEXICAN STUFFED PEPPERS
When I was engaged to the Farmer Boy I lived in a tiny apartment over a stairway just a block from my job selling advertising in a farm newspaper. It had three rooms. A kitchen with a stove that barely fit a cake pan, a bathroom where I could stand at the sink and flush the toilet or start the shower and one all-purpose room. I slept in my all purpose room, but it had a closet that I could stand in and do a full circle without touching a wall.
I loved that I could run to my place over the lunch hour to eat and could even take a nap or run some errands on the main business street. I didn’t love that the apartment walls were paper thin and I could hear every step on the stairs or as people walked down the hall. I wasn’t crazy about the fact that I could smell really weird smells from the previous renters. My landlord thought they had been building engines in the all purpose room…I suspect from the film on every surface and that the window blinds had been melted that they were probably cooking meth or something else in that apartment. It was in that price range.
That space was my own, but it sometimes felt like it was an isolated island in a town where I didn’t know many people and I was in lo-o-o-ve with the Farmer Boy so most evenings I would drive out to his house and make supper there. It was probably one of my favorite times in our dating relationship. I wasn’t responsible for anything other than the mess I made cooking and we didn’t have to hurry to eat.
I discovered how much I loved to cook real meals for someone who was hungry and that playing around with recipes was a great way to decompress from a job that was stressful. I also started to learn about the food traditions my Farmer Boy was bringing to our relationship and future marriage.
I learned about stuffed meatloaf (I haven’t gotten that one down yet), cooked peppers, tenderloins, chicken noodle soup, fried potatoes, dried beef gravy and Welch’s Grape juice (the thick Concord grape kind) on vanilla pudding. These were foreign foods to me and they weren’t presented anywhere in my stash of church and community cookbooks.
I’ve tried to learn how to make some of these family meals because they preserve part of my husband’s family tradition. I don’t think that my recipes or technique are always like the original recipes because I came to this marriage with my own food heritage. As I learn new techniques and dishes, I think that I’m developing a unique food heritage for our kiddos.
One recipe that has morphed from the Farmer Boy’s heritage is Mexican Stuffed Peppers. This is a great make ahead dish that can be done a day ahead or weeks ahead and frozen. It is a great way to use leftover taco meat or a crush of peppers from the garden and can even be done in smaller sweet or hot peppers for a hot appetizer. If using gluten free salsa and my taco mix it can be a great main dish for gluten sensitive guests.
Mike’s Mexican Stuffed Peppers – Makes 6-8 servings
3-4 Bell Peppers
1 pound taco meat (you can find our family’s favorite homemade taco seasoning mix here)
1 can Black Beans, rinsed
1 cup cooked rice
2 Cups of your favorite salsa
2 Cups Fine Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese
For garnishes, green onions, corn chips and sour cream
Make your taco meat with your favorite seasoning mix (you can find ours here).
Stir together the meat, beans, rice and salsa.
Cut the bell peppers in half from the stem to the bottom and clean out the seeds and membranes.
Fill the pepper cups with the meat mixture and place in a lightly greased baking dish.
Top with shredded cheddar cheese.
Spray a sheet of tinfoil so the cheese doesn’t stick and cover the baking dish.
Bake at 350 for at least an hour. If you like a firmer pepper texture this may be enough, we usually cook ours for 1 ½ - 2 hours if they are unfrozen because we like our peppers to be pretty soft.
Garnish with sour cream sliced green onion and corn chips. We serve ours with a lettuce salad.
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