Kathy Maister's Start Cooking

Stuffed Peppers

print recipe card posted in Vegetables and Beans by Kathy Maister
Difficulty:

Stuffed peppers are great (and easy) to make for a family meal or casual get-together. My filling for stuffed pepper starts with two simple ingredients – cooked rice and browned ground beef.

You can use leftover cooked rice (from Chinese take-out?) or make your own. Get the rice started first as it usually takes about 20 minutes to cook. Check out my video on “How to Cook White Rice” for a quick review.

Cleaning the Peppers

While the rice is cooking, get the peppers washed and remove the stem and seeds. Any color bell pepper will do. But remember, the red ones are the sweetest!

Start by slicing off the very top of the peppers.

Then,with a small paring knife, carefully slide the knife around the stem to loosen it. You should then be able to gently pull the stem out.

With a spoon scrape out any remaining seeds and “stem ribs”.

It is important that the bell peppers are able to balance upright on their own. Slice off the tiniest bit off the bottom so that the peppers can stand without rolling over.

Set the cleaned peppers snugly in a baking dish and set this dish aside for just a moment.

Making the Filling

In a large frying pan, over medium-high heat, brown the ground beef and drain off any excess fat. For a quick review, check out my video on “How to Brown Beef”.

Add one can of Rotel tomatoes…

…which are diced tomatoes with green chilies.

Using a colander, drain one can of black beans in the sink, rinse, and drain again, and add them to the frying pan as well.

Mix everything together and simmer for about 5 minutes.

At this point you could add 1/2 teaspoon of onion powder and 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder if you wish.

Remove the pan from the heat and add 2 cups of cooked rice

…and 1 and 1/2 cups of pre-shredded Mexican four-cheese blend. (This is a great time-saving way to buy cheese for cooking. Most grocery stores always carry both a Mexican blend and an Italian blend.)

Stir everything together.

Filling the Peppers

(A note: Many recipes have you blanch the cleaned peppers in a large pot of boiling salted water for about 3 minutes before adding the filling. I prefer the peppers to have a bit of a crunch to them, rather than being really soft. Consequently my recipe does not call for blanching the peppers before filling them.)

With a spoon, fill the peppers with the filling.

They should fit snugly in the baking dish!

Cover the baking dish with tin foil and put them in a 375 F. degree preheated oven.

Bake the covered peppers for about 40 minutes and then remove the tin foil…

…and continue cooking for another 10-15 minutes until tops are slightly browned and pepper skin can be pierced easily with a fork.

I served these beautiful stuffed peppers with butternut squash and they were fantastic!

Enjoy!

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Baked Potato Toppings

posted in Vegetables and Beans by Kathy Maister

What’s great about a baked potato is that it can be eaten as a side vegetable or as a main dish. Baked potatoes are one of those meals in my house that fit the category of, “I’m really tired and I’ve gone brain dead and I really don’t feel like cooking.”
While your potato is baking in the microwave you’ll have about 7 minutes to think about what sort of topping you would like to put on it. Classic ingredients like butter, sour cream, bacon bits, and chives are always delicious. But there are tons of other choices as well!

Some of my favorite toppings include:

  • Cottage Cheese
  • Plain yogurt
  • Salsa
  • Chili
  • Shredded cheddar cheese
  • Mushrooms fried in olive oil

Many places around the world refer to a baked potato as a “jacket potato” and use very different toppings then what people in the USA use. For example it is quite common in the UK to use baked beans or tuna salad as a topping.

What’s your favorite topping?

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How to Cut Cabbage

posted in Soups, Salads, Sides and Sauces, Vegetables and Beans by Kathy Maister

Cabbage is a very versatile vegetable. It can be cooked or eaten raw in salads. It can be added to soups, stews or stir-fry’s. You can sauté it – which means to cook it in fry pan with a small amount of oil or butter. Or you can braise it – which means to cook it in a small amount of liquid on the stove top or in the oven. But first, you have to figure out how to cut it!

The photo below shows four of the more common varieties found here in the USA.

The Napa cabbage on the far left is also sometimes known as Chinese cabbage although, technically speaking, Chinese cabbage does have a longer, more cylindrical shape than the Napa cabbage. This cabbage looks somewhat like a head of a Romaine lettuce, with really tightly packed leaves. The two cabbages in the middle are green cabbage (on the top) and Savoy cabbage on the bottom. And finally, on the far right is a red cabbage.

Before cutting cabbage, a few words of caution:

Use a stainless steel knife:
The chemicals naturally occurring in the cabbage will react with metal other than stainless steel, and turn both the knife and the cabbage black.

Stabilize your cutting board:
It can be very dangerous if your cutting board slides around the counter while you are trying to slice something. To stop a slippery board, wet a paper towel and squeeze out the excess moisture. Spread the paper towel out on the countertop and lay your cutting board on top of it.

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This will stabilize the cutting board.

****

To cut the Napa (Chinese cabbage), cut the bottom off and then just peel away the cabbage leaves or leave it whole and slice it into shreds.

The Green, Savoy and red cabbage are a different story. When you cut these round, heavy, firm, dense heads of cabbage, you will discover a very thick core that needs to be removed.

First remove any brown or wilted leaves on the very outside of the cabbage.

Then cut the cabbage in half, right through the stem.

This thick stem needs to get removed.

Cut the “half” in half again.

This is now 1/4 of the head of cabbage.

Place the flat side of the cabbage down and cut the core out.

Once the core removed, throw it out. It is too tough and fibrous to eat.

To shred cabbage, place the flat side of the cabbage down on the board and start making long, thin, slices into the cabbage. Be sure to keep your fingers bent when you are doing any slicing.

The core of the Savoy (shown below) and that of the green cabbage is removed the same way I demonstrated with the red cabbage.

Slicing any of the cabbages is much easier if the cabbage is crisp and cold from the refrigerator.

Green cabbage is the base for many coleslaw recipes. It is available pre-shredded at the grocery store. I used the pre-shredded for my Ramen Noodle Crunchy Coleslaw.

Sweet and Sour Cabbage (shown below) is a great side dish to serve with Roasted Pork, Leg of Lamb or Glazed ham.

Cabbage Soup (shown below) is thick, hearty, full of flavor, and perfect for the beginner cook.

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Cheers!

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