stuffed peppers

stuffed pepper wee-eats.com

I DID IT! I SURVIVED THE WHOLE 30!

And to celebrate, I saved the best (recipe) for last. This recipe was by far the FH’s favorite Whole30 recipe. In fact, I just made a huge batch of the filling so that we could enjoy these stuffed peppers later this week, even though we aren’t even on the diet anymore!

To make this “W-30 compliant”, I used cauliflower “rice” instead of real rice. These are super delicious as-is, but if you feel like that’s not something you’re into, feel free to replace the cauliflower with cooked rice or quinoa (or orzo, any grain of your choice).  I also recommend topping these with cheese, which I may very well do later this week now that I’m allowed to have cheese again. (Hi, cheese!)

As another bonus, this recipe makes a ton of filling. A ton.

So, if you don’t feel like eating 6 stuffed peppers today, you can make a couple peppers tonight and freeze the rest of the filling for your future self. You know that one, the one who comes home late and has no time to make dinner… yeah, that one!  Or you can make the whole recipe and eat them throughout the week – the leftovers reheat great in the microwave. Just pop them in the microwaved (covered, of course, otherwise you may anger your household microwave-cleaner) for about 2 minutes and Voila – just as good as new!

stuffed peppers

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Yield: 6

Serving Size: 1 stuffed pepper half

Ingredients

  • 1 pound lean ground beef or turkey
  • 1 pound (1 medium head) cauliflower, riced
  • 4 large bell peppers, halved with seeds and stems removed
  • 1 jar tomato sauce (I really liked this one )
  • 1 large onion, minced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional
  • Salt & pepper, to taste

Instructions

    For the peppers:
  1. Preheat oven to 375F
  2. Place two halves of a pepper, cut side up, onto a microwave-safe plate and cover with wrap. Microwave for 2 minutes until just starting to soften. Repeat with remaining halves of peppers; set aside until ready to fill.
  3. Prepare a 9-by-13-inch baking pan by spreading a thin layer of tomato sauce on the bottom of the pan.
  4. For the filling:
  5. In a large saute pan over medium-high heat, cook the ground beef or turkey with a generous pinch of salt until well-browned.
  6. Meanwhile, finely chop one of the bell peppers. Add onions and chopped bell pepper to ground meat and cook until soft, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add garlic and stir to prevent burning. Cook just until fragrant, about 30 seconds more.
  7. Add half to 3/4 of the cauliflower "rice" (it should make up about half of your total mixture) and another pinch of salt. Add chicken broth and stir to combine, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
  8. Reduce heat to medium and cover loosely with foil to allow cauliflower to steam. Cook about five minutes then stir again. Continue to cook another 5 minutes uncovered, allowing any remaining liquid to cook off, stirring occasionally.
  9. Reduce heat to low and add about a half jar of tomato sauce (just enough to moisten the mixture) along with the parsley, basil, and red pepper flakes. Stir to combine and let simmer about 10 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper as needed.
  10. Assembling the peppers
  11. Place peppers cut-side-up into baking dish. Fill with meat and cauliflower mixture. Top with more tomato sauce and cheese, if desired.
  12. Bake, uncovered, 30 minutes* until peppers are tender.
  13. * If baking from chilled, bake covered for 30 minutes then uncovered for the last 10 minutes.

Notes

Feel free to use cooked rice, quinoa, orzo (or any grain you like!) in place of the cauilflower - I made this for the Whole 30 where grains were outlawed so I wasn't allowed to.

Also outlawed on the Whole 30 was cheese, but these would be even better with a bit of mozzarella, fontina, or provolone mixed in (and on top).

http://wee-eats.com/2014/07/01/whole-30-grain-free-stuffed-peppers/

m4s0n501

barbacoa steak salad with cumin-spiced sweet potatoes

whole 30 chipotle steak salad

Well, we’ve passed the halfway mark on this Whole30 thing and one thing I have been eating a lot of this month is salads.

So many salads. Like, all the salads.

This day in particular I wanted tacos. But, since I can’t eat tortillas, cheese, rice, or sour cream, I made a salad instead.

It’s basically the same thing (not really).

However, this recipe passed a very important test. The FH test. You see, at some point during this ordeal FH decided he was going to support me, stand by my side, and eat only what I could eat (at least, while I was around).

I mean, he saw the cruelty in pigging out on chips and cookies while I was chewing on lettuce on apples… If that’s not love then I don’t know what is.

This is probably one of our favorite Whole 30-compliant recipes that I’ve made so far (along with that delicious cauliflower soup).

As an added bonus, it’s super easy to make. Don’t let the mile-long recipe throw you off – You throw all the meat stuff together in a slow cooker and cook it on low for a bajillion hours until it’s fall-apart-tender.

While that’s cooking, you chop up some veggies ( I chose onions, bell peppers, tomatoes, lettuce, and roasted sweet potatoes), and then when you’re ready to eat just cook up some cilantro-lime cauliflower “rice” alongside so you can pretend like you’re eating rice.

As for the Whole 30?

17 days down, 13 more to go!

I haven’t gained any super powers yet (unless wanting to fall asleep while walking up a flight of stairs or being able to quickly find “sugar” in any of its numerous forms on an ingredient label count as super powers).

HOWEVER, my skin has cleared up significantly and is softer than a baby’s behind, my belly feels less gross and bloaty (generally speaking), I’m sleeping better than I have in ages, and I have the added benefit of just knowing that I”m doing something good for my body. That counts for something, right?

You can see what else I’ve been cooking up on Instagram.

barbacoa steak salad with cumin-spiced sweet potatoes

Prep Time: 50 minutes

Cook Time: 10 hours

Total Time: 10 hours, 50 minutes

Ingredients

    For the beef:
  • 1 small (3 pound) chuck roast (or other cut of meat that is good for cooking low and slow)
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 2 cups chicken or beef broth ( Imagine broth is whole 30 approved :) )
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon chipotle paste (or 1 chipotle pepper in adobo, minced)
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
  • For the sweet potatoes:
  • 1 or 2 sweet potatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon coconut oil
  • For the cauliflower "rice"
  • 1/2 large head cauliflower (about 1 pound)
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon coconut oil
  • For sauteed peppers
  • 2 bell peppers, diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons coconut oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • For the salad
  • Lettuce of your choice; washed,dried, and chopped (I used romaine)
  • Optional Add-ins
  • Avocado
  • Onion
  • Tomato
  • Guacamole
  • Salsa

Instructions

    For the beef*:
  1. Heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Pat steak dry and season liberally with salt and pepper. Brown steak on both sides (don't cook it through, just get some good color on it). Then transfer to slow cooker.
  2. In same pan, add sliced onions and cook until softened but not browned. Add to slow cooker.
  3. Pour chicken or beef broth into pan and scrape off any browned bits remaining in the pan. Add remaining ingredients to broth and stir to combine. Pour over steak in slow cooker.
  4. Set slow cooker to "low" - Cook on low until meat is tender about 8 to 10 hours.
  5. When meat is finished cooking, shred and let sit in juices. Skim and remove fat, if necessary.
  6. For the sweet potatoes:
  7. Heat oven to 400F. Line a sheet pan with foil and toss sweet potato chunks with melted coconut oil, salt, and spices.
  8. Roast 30 to 40 minutes until browned, tossing halfway through.
  9. For the "rice":
  10. Process cauliflower in food processor until pieces are about the size of grains of rice. Be sure not to over-process.
  11. Heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat and add coconut oil until melted. Add cauliflower rice and a healthy dash of salt and pepper. Cook about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cover pan and allow cauliflower to "steam" for about 5 to 7 minutes.**
  12. Remove cover and stir cauliflower - I like to get my cauliflower nice and browned so it takes another 5 to 7 minutes or so, but you don't have to cook it that far.
  13. Add the lime juice and cilantro and stir to combine. Transfer cauliflower to another dish until ready to serve.
  14. (***See notes below for oven-method)
  15. For the peppers:
  16. Heat oil in saute pan until shimmering. Add peppers and onions and saute until softened. Salt and pepper to taste.
  17. For the salad:
  18. Assemble salad with lettuce, peppers, onions, etc and enjoy! Top with salsa or a simple dressing, if desired. (Try a vinaigrette with lime, olive oil, and paprika)

Notes

* I usually make my beef the day before and store it in the fridge until I'm ready to use it. When I start cooking everything else, I reheat the meat in a saucepan over low heat.

**Alternatively, you can give your rice a head-start in the microwave. Place cauliflower in a microwave-safe bowl and cook on high 2 to 3 minutes, covered with a microwave-safe plastic wrap. Continue with the rest of the steps as directed.

*** You can make your cauliflower rice more "hands off" by roasting it in the oven on a separate sheet pan while you roast your sweet potatoes, stirring occasionally. Add lime and cilantro before serving. (Thanks Shannon for turning me on to this method!)

Beef recipe adapted from Ezra Pound Cake

http://wee-eats.com/2014/06/17/whole-30-barbacoa-steak-salad-with-cumin-spiced-sweet-potatoes/

savory beef empanadas

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When we make Mexican food at our house, it’s usually tacos or fajitas.  Something fast and easy.  What I have failed to realize all this time, is that with a little bit of preparation, empanadas can be that fast and easy dinner.

You see, I’ve been working a little bit of a later shift lately, and so I’ve been looking for things that are not only quick and easy dinners, but that the BF can easily prepare as well.  These fit the bill perfectly.  With just about 30 minutes of work over the weekend, I can have 10 empanadas in the freezer waiting to be devoured.

This weekend, we devoured them as a midday snack.

To make the recipe even easier, I found frozen empanada dough in our grocer’s freezer.  Next to these curious creatures:

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Have you ever seen these?  I’d been eyeing these little guys for awhile, I have to admit that the idea of not wasting money by constantly buying fresh herbs “just in case” I need them is very appealing to me.

I try to keep fresh herbs around, in the fridge or on the windowsill, but I swear that 9 times out of 10 by the time I go to use them they are already wilted and dead (I’ve got parsley on the windowsill now, wilting away as we speak!).

All that money can really add up, so the thought of always having fresh herbs within an arm’s reach sounds like something out of a dream.

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My first thought when I popped out my cube of garlic, “What’s that funny smell?”  Am I the only person who smells all of their ingredients?  It can’t just be me.  A quick glance at the ingredients list and I saw it’s not just garlic, they are suspended in a cube of oil, salt, and lemon juice, I assume for freshness.

I would be lying if I if I said that I wasn’t at least a little worried that my empanadas were going to taste funny.

Luckily, making the filling is just about as easy as browning beef, so I figured if they tasted funny I would just make a new batch and life would go on.  The good thing about empanadas is that, unlike with baking, you can taste your filling as you go so you will have a pretty good idea of what your finished product is going to taste like.

That being said, I was relieved when I tasted the filling… no sign of that funny smell.  Maybe that’s just what frozen garlic smells like, I’m not a frozen garlic expert or anything.  The best part?  I didn’t even have to smell garlicky fingers all night long like I would if I had minced the garlic by hand.  Garlicky fingers are the worst.

Garlic cubes = Success! I also picked up a package of basil cubes that I think I will try in my next tomato sauce.

edit empanadas 1

 

I made these empanadas last week; I baked a few fresh and then we baked some from frozen this weekend as a snack.  I don’t know if the freezer works some sort of witchcraft on them, but the empanadas that we baked this weekend from frozen were even better than the ones baked from fresh!

So, that being said, I’m going to recommend you make yours ahead of time and bake them from frozen.  If you decide to bake them fresh, just know that the ones you freeze are going to taste even better!

In the recipe below, I stated both the cube amounts and the fresh amounts for the garlic and cilantro that I used.  If you’d like to make your empanada dough from scratch, you can find a recipe here and here, but I can’t vouch for either of them.  I can vouch for the frozen dough I used, as it was super easy and it baked up super crisp and flaky, and even stayed crisp after I had to stash some leftovers in the fridge.

Also, I can already see that you’re thinking about leaving out the cheese.  Trust me, you need the cheese, don’t leave it out!  You can substitute some of that pre-shredded Mexican cheese if you want but you better put some cheese in there!  I did half of my empanadas with cheese and half without and the ones with cheese were markedly better, even though they didn’t necessarily taste “cheesy.”

Also, if you’d like a little more “control” over the flavor, you could probably substitute tomato sauce or diced tomatoes (I’d recommend fire-roasted) for the “salsa” called for in the recipe.  The filling is entirely customizeable, so don’t be afraid to play around a bit to find the perfect mix for your tastes!

Savory Beef Empanadas

Makes 10 empanadas

Printable Recipe

  • 1 Tablespoon oil, olive or vegetable
  • ½ pound ground beef
  • ½ medium onion (about ¼ cup finely chopped)
  • ½ medium bell pepper, finely chopped
  • ½ cup your favorite salsa
  • 2 cubes garlic (or 2 cloves garlic, minced)
  • 1 Tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons cumin
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons adobo from can of chipotles
  • 1 chipotle in adobo, minced (optional)
  • 1 to 2 cubes cilantro (or 1 to 2 teaspoons fresh cilantro, minced, more or less to taste) (optional)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • ½ cup shredded cheese (I used ¼ cup sharp cheddar + ¼ cup monterey jack)
  • 10 empanada shells, I found frozen ones at my grocery store
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten (for egg wash)

1.  Heat oil in a pan over medium high heat.  Add beef and cook until well-browned.  Add onion and bell pepper and continue cooking until just softened, about five minutes more.  Lower heat to medium low and add remaining ingredients except cheese and shells.  Simmer about ten minutes; set aside to cool.  Once cooled to room temperature, mix in cheese.

2.  Line two baking sheets with parchment.  While working on empanadas, keep unused discs covered with a damp towel to keep them from drying out.  Fill each shell with 1 to 2 tablespoons of filling, then seal tightly by dampening the edge of the disc with water and folding the disc over to create a crescent shape.  Press tightly to seal, or use a fork to press closed.

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3.  To freeze:  Place empanadas in a single layer on baking sheet, put in freezer 1 hour, then transfer to a freezer-safe plastic bag for storage.

4.  When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375°F.  Brush empanada tops with egg wash, avoiding crimped edges, and bake 25 to 30 minutes, until golden brown.  Allow to cool slightly before eating.

 empanada pin 2 empanadas pin

[ I occasionally receive discounts or coupons to try products for you.  I received coupons to purchase Dorot spices, which I’d been eyeing for months at the grocery store and would have tried anyway.  All opinions about these spices and anything else on Wee Eats are always entirely my own. ]

warm-up wednesday: chili

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Oh hello there.

I just made like a thousand cookies, and needed something that would kick all of the sweetness out of my system.  So I thought, why not a little bit of spice?

Plus, I hear it’s getting chilly for a lot of the country.  Not here, but the rest of you, I hear you’re getting chilly.  Here it is always acceptable to eat anything containing chilis, because it’s the southwest, and hey… this is chili country.  Or chile country.  (Not to be confused with the country of Chile)

There are two types of chili: Chili with beans, and then delicious chili.  This is delicious chili (no beans!).  I hate beans… I HATE THEM SO MUCH!

If you don’t have a fiery hatred of beans, by all means throw them in the pot, but you won’t find any beans in my chili.

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NO BEANS!!!

On a scale of one to “OMG MY MOUTH IS ON FIRE!” I would rank this at mild to medium heat.  It’s got a little kick, but not too much.  If you’re sensitive to heat (like my sister, she would probably say that her mouth was on fire if she ate this) you can leave out the chili flakes.  Or, do like I do, and eat it with some tasty cornbread or tortilla chips to help temper the heat.

I also find that making chili the day before I actually want to eat it, and then letting the flavors mingle in the fridge overnight helps the mellow the heat and improve the flavor.  Maybe that’s just in my head though, I’m not sure.

You can also see I like my chili a bit more on the “heartier” side, you can absolutely make yours “soupier” by adding more beef stock, or tomato juice, or even plain old water.  Whatever floats your boat!

Chili – Makes about 4 – 5 servings (but can easily be doubled)

[ Printable Recipe ]

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 medium bell pepper, red
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced (2 – 3 cloves)
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder (sub some chipotle powder for extra flavor)* Salt-free
  • 1 tablespoon paprika (I used ½ smoked and ½ sweet)
  • ½ tablespoon dried oregano
  • ½ tablespoon garlic powder
  • ½ tablespoon ground cumin
  • ½ tablespoon chili flakes (optional)
  • 1 15-oz can tomato sauce
  • ½ cup beef broth (more if you like it soupier)
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 ½ tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1 15-oz can diced tomatoes, drained (or undrained, if you want it soupier)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  1. Heat one tablespoon of oil in a dutch oven or large pan over medium heat. Add onion and cook until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Add bell peppers and season with salt & pepper; continue to cook until caramelized (or as close to caramelized as you are patient for). Just keep going, you can do it!
  2. Once onions and peppers are cooked, remove and set aside. Add another tablespoon of oil to the pan and then the beef. Cook until browned (you may need to do this in batches if you are making a large pot of chili).  Add salt and pepper to beef, then add onions and peppers back to pan. Stir until well-mixed, then add garlic. Cook until fragrant, about one minute more.
  3. Add spices to the beef mixture. Cook one minute more, stirring constantly.
  4. Add tomato sauce, beef broth, worcestershire, brown sugar, and vinegar, stir to combine.
  5. Bring to a boil and add canned tomatoes; turn heat to low and continue to cook, covered, over low heat 45 minutes. After 45 minutes, stir, taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Continue to cook another 15 minutes, covered. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary at the end.

Note:

When scaling up this recipe, I noticed that it wasn’t just a straight doubling or tripling of the recipe.  The amount for 3 pounds of beef was as follows:

Large Pot Chili Recipe

  • 3 lbs beef
  • 1 large or 2 medium white onions; finely chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 2 to 3 bell peppers; finely chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 2 Tablespoons minced garlic
  • 5 Tablespoons chili powder* (*Salt-free)
  • 1 Tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 Tablespoon sweet paprika
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cumin 
  • 1 Tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 Tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 Tablespoon chili flakes or 1 teaspoon cayenne, if desired, for heat* ( usually leave cayenne on the side so each person can meter their own spiciness)
  • 1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes; drained
  • 1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1 cup beef stock (or more if you like soupier)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons + 1 teaspoon brown sugar, divided 
  • Oil, Salt, and Pepper as needed

Cook according to directions for small pot of chili.  Taste seasonings towards the end and adjust as necessary.  Add additional brown sugar at the end if it tastes too acidic, or additional vinegar if it tastes a bit dull.

 

chipotle bacon burger

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Burgers are a relatively common dinner in our home. They can be plain or dressed up, beef or turkey, with or without cheese, on brioche or Sarah Lee. How does one eat burgers frequently without becoming bored, you ask?

Toppings!

Burgers are so easy to customize to whatever you happen to be craving. There are so many ways to spice up a burger, I could probably eat burgers every day and never get make the same one twice. Of course, I have a few favorites that tend to get stuck on repeat… but I *COULD* make a different one every day… if I really wanted to…

These, my friends, are dressed up with bacon, red onion, chipotle spread, cheddar cheese, and greens. I suppose jalapeno jack would be just as tasty on top – but we “had” to buy a(nother) two-pound brick of cheddar from Costco, so it’s been the “cheese of choice” as of late. :)

So if you’re looking for a way to “spice” up your usual burgers – give these ones a try!

Chipotle Bacon Burgers

[ Printable Recipe ]

  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • dash of Worcestershire sauce (about 2 – 3 shakes)
  • 1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Chipotle Spread
    • 1 cup mayo
    • 1-2 chipotle pepper(s) in adobo, finely minced
    • 2 cloves garlic
    • 1/2 teaspoon lemon or lime juice
    • salt and pepper to taste
  • Bacon, cooked
  • Red onions (grilled or not, your choice)
  • Greens of choice (spring mix, romaine, iceberg, arugula…)
  • Cheese – I recommend Cheddar or Pepper Jack
  • Burger buns

Mix beef, salt, pepper, Worcestershire, and chipotle powder in a bowl until incorporated. Form into patties, salt the outside of the patties as well.

Make Chipotle Spread by mixing mayo, chipotle, garlic, salt, pepper, and lemon juice in a small bowl. Set aside until ready to use.

When ready to make the burgers – grill patties to desired doneness and top with cheese to melt. While resting, spread a light layer of chipotle spread over the buns and grill until toasted. Assemble burgers, adding additional chipotle spread if desired, and enjoy!