Jack O’ Lantern Stuffed Bell Peppers

Standard
jack o' lantern stuffed bell peppers

jack o’ lantern stuffed bell peppers

To parents, Halloween often means that candy becomes a major part of their children’s diet.  The amount is often dependent upon the amount of booty collected during trick or treating.  But besides candy, parents can offer up a festive treat at the dinner table, and all it takes is a little creative carving on a common vegetable… bell peppers.

orange bell peppers

orange bell peppers

Get ready folks for a kid-friendly meal, that comes with its own happy face.  Jack o’ lantern stuffed  bell peppers.  And to really tie in to the jack o’ lantern theme, use orange bell peppers for this dish.  Though you can use yellow or red peppers in a pinch.

Jack O’ Lantern Stuffed Bell Peppers

  • 4 orange bell peppers
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 pound ground beef
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 3 – 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1  1/2 C. diced tomatoes or pasta sauce
  • 1 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 C. Colby jack cheese, shredded
  • 1 1/2 C. Basmati rice, cooked
  • 1/2 C. water

Preheat oven to 375F.  As the oven heats, cut the top off of each bell pepper.  Select a nice-looking side of the peppers and carve out a jack o’ lantern face (eyes, nose, and mouth) on each.  But take care not to make the opening for the face too large.  The peppers need to be able to contain ‘stuffed’ filling.  Remove the seed and white membrane from the inside of the peppers as well as the base of the ‘top’ of the pepper.

carved jack o' lantern bell pepper

carved jack o’ lantern bell pepper

Place a large skillet on the stove set to medium heat.  Add the olive oil.  Once the oil begins to ripple on the surface, add the ground beef.  Saute until no longer pink.  Add in the onion and garlic.  Saute until the onion is translucent.  Add the cumin, chili powder, and salt.  Stir to combine. Next, add the tomatoes and cook for an additional five minutes.

ground beef onion and diced tomatoes

ground beef onion and diced tomatoes

Turn off the heat and stir in the cheese until melted.  Finally, stir in the Basmati rice.

Stuff each bell pepper and top each with bell pepper ‘lid’.  (Added style points if the stem is still attached).

Pour water into a 9 x 13 pan.  (Add more water if need to completely cover the bottom of the pan).  Place each jack o’ lantern stuffed pepper into the pan.  Bake for 35 – 40 minutes, or until the pepper is tender.

Now you are ready to enjoy these festive, Halloween-inspired jack o’ lantern stuffed bell peppers.  They are sure to be a hit with your little ones.

Homemade Green Pork Chile

Standard
green pork chile

green pork chile

Late summer ushers in a garden favorite… chilis!  Yes, as warm days wind to a close, these spicy peppers make an appearance at road-side stands, farmers’ markets,  CSAs, grocery stores, and even backyard gardens across the country.  You see, chilis are an important part of a southwestern fall classic; green pork chile.

Now just any chili won’t work in this luscious dish.  My personal favorite are hatch chilis.  But if you do not have access to them, Big Jim and Anaheim work well.  You could even toss in a few jalapenos or a poblanos into the pot, but just make sure they are roasted.

Green Pork Chile

  • 2 lbs. of smoked pork, cubed
  • 1 1/2 lbs. of Hatch chilis, roasted/deseeded/skins removed & chopped
  • 1 1/2 lbs of potatoes, cubed
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 5 – 6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Mexican oregano
  • 2 quarts chicken stock
  • 3/4 C. tomatillo salsa
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • water (optional)

In a large stock pot over medium heat, saute the onion and garlic until translucent.  Add the cumin, chilis, oregano, and salt.  Stir to combine.

roasted Hatch chilis

roasted Hatch chilis

Next, pour in the stock.  Bring to a boil.  Add the potatoes and the tomatillo salsa.  Cook until the potatoes are done (about 15 – 20 minutes).

Take a stick blender and blend part of the soup, leaving some vegetables in cubes or you can completely blend the mixture to your desired consistency.  (Personally, I like a thick chile).

Now add the pork, put a lid on the pot, and reduce the heat to low.  Allow the green chili to cook for another 45 minutes, lifting the lid to stir occasionally to prevent sticking to the bottom of the pot.  If mixture is a little too thick for your taste, add in some water to thin.

smoked pork butt

smoked pork butt

Taste for seasoning and add more salt if desired.

Remove chile from heat and serve.

NOTE: this is great eaten as a soup.  You may also serve it over cooked rice, burritos, or thick-cut wedge fries.

How to Perfectly Grill Corn on the Cob in the Husk

Standard
perfectly grilled sweet corn on the cob

perfectly grilled sweet corn on the cob

While sweet corn is a classic taste of summer, most folks enjoy it straight out of boiling water or even out of the microwave.  While both of those methods can result in a good ear of corn, there is another.  So skip the pot of boiling water and bypass the microwave.  Head outside and reclaim your grill.  Yes,  for a truly tasty and rustic serving, grilling it still in the husk takes the flavor to a higher level.

ear of sweet corn with husks attached

ear of sweet corn with husks attached

To start things off, select ears of corn that have been freshly picked.  The fresher the corn, the better tasting the final product will be.  Next, peel the husks down to the base of the corn cob, but leaving them attached.

corn husks have been folded down to expose the silk

corn husks have been folded down to expose the silk

Once that is done, de-silk the ear, taking care to remove all of the strands.

corn silk removed from ear of corn

corn silk removed from ear of corn

Fold the husks back into place to cover the sweet corn.

Fill a large bowl or partially fill a sink with cold water.  Place the ears of corn into the water and allow to soak for 20 minutes.

ears of corn with husks placed in sink of cold water

ears of corn with husks placed in sink of cold water

Remove the corn from the water.  Shake the ears to remove the excess water.

Now place the corn onto a hot grill.  Turn the corn every five minutes.  Leave the ears on the grill for a total of 20 minutes.  The outer husk will char, but protect the sweet corn from the char.

To eat, simply peel back the husks to the base of the corn cob.  Slather the ear with butter and enjoy.

perfectly grilled sweet corn on the cob

perfectly grilled sweet corn on the cob