Thursday, March 19, 2009

Ellie: Greek Style Stuffed Peppers


This weeks recipe for Craving Ellie in my Belly is Greek Style Stuffed Peppers, chosen by The Healthy Hostess. I was excited to see this pick, because I just haven't stuffed nearly as many foods as I should have by this point in my life. There was the "turkey stuffing incident" in college, the year that my housemates and I stayed on campus over Thanksgiving, prepared Thanksgiving dinner together, and invited our parents to join us. There was a little controversy when our housemate K stuffed the turkey with (among other things) an orange. Lis -- I'm a little fuzzy; fill in the gaps for me here. I think that K woke up early that morning to stuff the turkey and get it in the oven. When the rest of us slackers rolled out of bed around noon, K started telling us about how she prepared the turkey, and mentioned that she stuck an orange in there. Someone (might have been Lisa -- Lis?) said "YOU PUT AN ORANGE IN THE TURKEY?" and the whole thing kind of escalated from there, with K saying "WHAT?!?! You can put a lemon in a chicken but you can't put an orange in a turkey?" Of course, now that I'm food blogging, I know that people stuff all kinds of crazy things in turkeys -- kumquats, Stonewall Kitchen jams, you name it -- but back in the days of Lucky Charms for dinner, an orange seemed pretty out there. I guess K was a visionary and we didn't even know it.

Then less than a month later we almost got into a brawl trying to pick out a Christmas tree at Bruno's Tree Farm -- we all had very different ideas about what a tree was supposed to look like. Bruno finally had to intervene, in his thick Hungarian accent, with "girls, girls, girls! It's not the tree . . . it's the idea!!"

I am pretty sure that David did not have these kinds of issues with his college roommates. There is a Mars/Venus division here, I'm sure of it. But my housemates and I all love each other and have stayed very close over the years, in the way that you tend to do with people you've done battle with over things like the proper citrus fruits to stuff in turkey orifices.

Anyway, peppers seemed like a great thing to stuff -- no sticking your hand up a turkey's butt required, right Katherine? As usual, Ellie's recipe was super easy. Cut the red peppers in half. In a big bowl, mix together lean ground beef, frozen chopped spinach (I used fresh), grated zucchini, onion, bulgur wheat, an egg, oregano, salt and pepper. Stuff the pepper halves with this mixture, and top with stewed tomatoes and feta cheese. Bake covered for 30 minutes and uncovered for 45.

Ellie discusses bulgur wheat in some detail in the narrative that accompanies this recipe, and I really wanted to use it, but I knew that locating it in this town would require a little more effort that I felt like expending on a Tuesday night. Nobody will ever go out of their way to tout the health benefits of Near East couscous, but it had "ready in 5 minutes!" and "in my pantry!" going for it, so that's what I used.

Here they are before going in the oven -- one side stuffed, the other side stuffed with tomatoes on top:


These stuffed peppers made for a hearty dinner. David seemed to really like them. I was sort of "meh." I felt like the stuffing needed a little more flavor. I think next time I'll add some feta right into the beef mixture. I liked the bites in which I got a little feta the best. I told David that I was a little surprised that he liked them so much, and he said "well, it's all about your expectations. I would never order stuffed peppers in a restaurant, for example, so I am pleasantly surprised by how much I like them." I think that was a nice way of saying "your peppers have managed to exceed the very, very low expecations that I set for them." But regardless, I am glad that he liked them!

Even though I didn't love them, I would make them again with some additions or modifications. These were fun to make -- I love expanding my food-stuffing horizons! So thanks for the great pick, Healthy Hostess!

28 comments:

Di said...

*laugh* I have a college Thanksgiving turkey-stuffing incident as well. We did a pretty good job--I made the stuffing, calling my mom for help on how to do it. We took all the giblets out of the cavity, and got the stuffing in there. The whole thing roasted in a reasonable period of time. Then we went to carve the bird and discovered that there was a second plastic-wrapped package in the neck cavity of the turkey. Oops. Amazingly, nothing melted or anything and most of the turkey was quite edible. =)

applecrumbles said...

Good job. I would made some modifications as well, but for the most part, they were pretty tasty. I agree... the feta was the best part.

Leslie said...

I think your peppers look yummy! For me, this one was crying out for more seasoning. If I make them again, I think I'll give them a vacation in Italy, subbing tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese and adding sun dried tomatoes and lots of fresh basil. Oh and crushed red peppers cause they improve anything...well, maybe not everything but almost.

Lady Baker said...

I am laughing out loud here...yes, I was the ignorant one in that turkey scandal of '94...Hey, my mom never did the 'citrus stuffed into a poultry product'. I was afraid that the turkey would taste 'orange' and to me that was not right. (so sue me, I was too concerned at the time with improving my beer pong technique than cooking) There's more (K basically had a breakdown that she ruined our dinner...which she did NOT and I admmitted to her I was in the wrong for judging the orange!)

I'll spare you all more details (unlike Cathy's and my husband who are never spared of our stories...we tell them over and over and laugh like idiots every time..)

Tune in next week when the "roommate" story of the week is 'Rooster-Gate'...I won't ruin it, but it involves one of those brightly painted Portugese rooster statues placed in our kitchen for decor being 'beheaded' in a fall---and which roomie did it...and would they glue it and not fess up, or would they come clean....

good times...good times...Cathy, great job on the peppers! See you at Reunion '09 I hope! (has it really been 15 yrs?!)

Heather said...

i'm glad to see you're making up for all the time you've lost in food stuffing. i love stuffed peppers - these look super yummy :)

Jessica said...

Those peppers look really good. I love feta cheese too, I'd probably err on the side of too much. Nice call on the couscous, I almost always pick convenience on Tuesday nights.

Debinhawaii said...

They look delicious--although more Feta always = better in my book. Couscous is always good in a pinch too.

Mary Ann said...

Wow, you have lots of stuffing memories! Pretty funny. Sorry you didn't love it, but it is a great recipe to play around with! Looks good~

Audrey said...

Oh, Cathy, is there some way to find out how many foods you're supposed to have stuffed by a certain point? Because now I'm feeling like a distinct underachiever. Gee, thanks. :)

I love the flavors you put in these...and though I'm interested in trying bulgur (I think I'd like it) I'd probably have gone with couscous too. Shall I take a picture of my couscous horde to put next to your Pam collection?

Pamela said...

I really liked the peppers and I think the feta was the best part, too. You can never have too much cheese! Great post, Cathy.

n.o.e said...

I'm afraid that I'd be way behind on any stuffed food items scoreboard. I don't even stuff the bird most Thanksgivings. I didn't realize until I moved to the South that you could just stick the dressing in a casserole dish and call it a day.

Well, my expectations on stuffed peppers would probably be like David's, so your peppers would no doubt win me over, too. I'd be tempted to use sausage, a sharp cheese, olive oil, and seasoned bread crumbs, and then we'd be long outside healthy eating territory!

Love your college stories, and it's good that you have Lisa to fill in the details (do tell, Lisa!)

Nancy

pinkstripes said...

You can put an orange in a Turkey? A whole orange? I don't know anything about stuffing turkeys or chickens for that matter. But I do love stuffed peppers.

natalia said...

Ciao ! I love your stuffed peppers ! We usually fill all summer vegetables with different recipes I'll have to try them 'greek' !!

Natashya said...

I love stuffed peppers, but I probably would have upped the flavours too. More herbs, garlic, lemon and feta! Those four things are my favourite part of Greek cuisine.
Love your story about college roomates - My oldest is going into second year university and is trying to decide which friend she will actually be able to live with if she stays in the city this year.

Teanna said...

Hahah! Oh man! Food blogging or no food blogging, Lucky Charms still ranks high up there for top dinner choices! Your stuffed peppers look so good. So so so good. But you can never have too much feta!

Sara said...

Your peppers look fantastic. I love your translation of your husband's compliment :)

Elyse said...

Haha, I love the stories about your college roommates! What wonderful times, right? My roommates and I did a Thanksgiving one year, and my friend Sarah Phillips and I were literally up at 4:00am cooking our turkey because we only had 1 horrible oven in which we had to cook everything throughout the day. It was a great time, though! These stuffed peppers look great. I'm a huge fan of your idea about adding feta throughout--do it!!

Jen said...

Great job on the peppers! I agree that this is not a meal that should be made on a weeknight -- unless you can start cooking it around 3 in the afternoon!

The Blonde Duck said...

I would have over stuffed them or wound up frying them. :)

Pam said...

Adding feta makes anything better. They look really tasty!

leanne said...

Love your stories. I think my husband has the same expectations of my food at every meal! I added the feta in the mixture much better.

Girl Japan said...

I just LOVE reading your posts, I agree you stories are fill me with laughter! As for the foodies- Feta, stuffed peppers Greek Style... drooling here..

Peggy said...

Cathy Cathy!! Okay here's my confession. I have NEVER stuffed a turkey in my life. I think that is more of a yankee thing because Chandler thinks all turkeys should be stuffed. I like stuffing things so who knows, maybe next year I'll try it. Sorry you didn't like these peppers. I loved them. But I agree they take a long time to cook and they weren't quite flavorful enough.

Bridgett said...

They look so yummy, sorry you weren't that into them. But it will be fun to play with the ingredients and come up with your own recipe!

Aggie said...

I really like stuffed peppers...I missed this recipe but would like to try it soon. I'll take everyone's advice on adding more flavor to the stuffing. They look great!

Melissa said...

Wow, all the exciting things I missed by living in the dorms at college - no cooking happened, ever! Very funny stories, and your peppers look great!

Katherine Aucoin said...

I often wonder if I'vematured much, since when I think about things that happened in college and even in high school, I still bust out laughing. Maybe it's my inner child.

The peppers look delicious. You're right about adding the feta, but depending on your taste, try some garlic or chopped olives too.

nick said...

These were also not my absolute favorite, but I agree with some modifications they could be awesome.

I just ate some of them warmed up for dinner last night and want to report that they freeze great. They tasted as good or better warmed up than they did the first night we ate them.

Cheers,
Nick

 
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