Friday, September 26, 2008

Stuffed Green Peppers

This meal is one of my tried and true regular go-tos. It has a small list of common ingredients, is really easy to cook and the clean up is a breeze. We have it probably once every week or two weeks for these reasons and because it is delicious.

See? Couldn't be simpler.

To start: 1 lb. Italian sausage. I use Johnsonville because it tastes excellent and I don't have to do anything additional to it. Plus, the ingredients read: pork, water and then a list of spices. I like when a packaged product keeps the integrity of ingredients and nutrition by omitting unpronouncable names and chemicals. It is on sale buy one get one free every few weeks so I'll buy 2 or 4 packages and freeze them to have on hand, since I know I'll be making this recipe often.

4 green peppers: I try to pick out the fat, almost square shaped peppers with 4 bumps at the bottom instead of 3 bumps. It makes for a wider, flatter bowl to stuff.

1 onion of your choice: Depending on size I put in half to a whole. It really just boils down to preference.

1 small jar of Prego: I'm 75% Italian and was in my late teens the first time I tried a sauce that wasn't home-made. I'm not abandoning the fact that home-made sauce is great and delicious, but this is a quick go-to meal for me, so I'm not above Prego helping make it easier (sorry, Dad!). The little jar is the perfect size for this recipe, otherwise I'll find half of a big jar in the back of the fridge later that needs to be thrown out and I hate wasting food. It works out great money-wise because I also buy Prego during "2 for" sales and keep them in the pantry for this recipe.

Mozzarella cheese: I always have at least one bag of shredded cheese on hand and buy whatever brand happens to be on sale that week, is reduced or low fat and is whey free.

After pre-heating your oven to 350°, cut up the onion in small chunks and throw it in a high-sided skillet. Then break up the sausage and cook together in the pan until the sausage is done. It's usually really lean and I don't have much oil at the end, but if you do and are watching fat just pour some off.

While this is browning it leaves your hands free to prepare the peppers. Cut them in half lengthwise and rip out the membrane and seeds. Give them a good rinse and then arrange in a big casserole or baking dish. It usually times out perfectly that these two tasks end at the same time.

Turn off the stove and grab a generous handful of the cheese and sprinkle it in the pan, stirring a little bit to distribute, but not fully incorporating it to the point of melting completely away. Divide and scoop the meat, onion, cheese mixture into the pepper halves. Open the jar of Prego and put heeping spoonfuls of sauce over each pepper half.

Cover the baking dish with foil and bake until the peppers are tender. I usually go 40-45 minutes, but sometimes we can't wait and eat them a little firmer at 30 minutes. Either preference is fine since the meat is already fully cooked! We usually eat 3 halves each, which leaves 2 that I can re-heat the next day for lunch.

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