Stuffed Red Bell Peppers with Couscous and a Creamy Pesto Sauce

stuffedpeppers

 

So, it’s Friday night and the entire rest of my family is craving pizza… I, personally, am not. I know, I know… I’m a bit weird. You’re thinking “who wouldn’t want pizza on a Friday night?!”. Well… I guess me… I just needed something a bit more fresh and less greasy. SOOOO, stuffed peppers for ME!! 🙂 AND I got to make enough stuffing so that I can make myself more for lunch tomorrow! WOOHOO! And you know what? This was fresh and filling and not greasy. I don’t feel it in the pit of my stomach when I am done… THAT I like! So… try it out! 🙂

Stuffed Peppers:

Ingredients for the Filling

 

1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
2 teaspoons ground cumin
3/4 cup couscous
1 cup canned garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup pancetta
1/2 packed cup chopped baby spinach leaves
1/2 cup shaved parmesan cheese (or asiago)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 medium red bell peppers (since I just made this for myself, I just used 1 red bell pepper… )
1 medium yellow bell pepper
1 medium orange bell pepper
1 large zucchini sliced and cut into bite size pieces
3 leaves of basil cut into thin strips
2 scallions cut into small pieces
Hot water, as needed

Sauce: (This is Giada’s recipe from here: Giada’s Stuffed Peppers) (I personally just used leftover pesto, added some mascarpone cheese, sugar, and some extra lemon zest and lemon juice… IF you have leftover pesto laying around you can use my version!)
1 packed cup fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup (about 4 ounces) creme fraiche
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon water
1 garlic clove, coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt, plus extra, as needed
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus extra, as needed

stuffedpeppercouscous

Directions: 

Put an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Filling: In a medium saucepan, bring the chicken broth and cumin to a boil over medium-high heat. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the couscous. Cover the pan until the couscous is tender and all of the liquid has been absorbed, about 5 to 6 minutes. Put the couscous in a large bowl and add the beans, scallions, spinach, parmesan and 1/4 cup olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Then put the pancetta and the zucchini into a small skillet, sautee just until the zucchini starts to soften and then add into the same bowl as the rest of the ingredients. Stir until all the ingredients are combined.

Slice the tops off the peppers and remove all the ribs and seeds. If necessary, cut a very thin slice from the base to help the peppers stand up. Stuff the peppers with the filling and drizzle the tops with olive oil. Put the peppers in an 8 by 8-inch square baking dish. Fill the baking dish with 3/4-inch hot water and bake until the filling is golden and the peppers are cooked through, about 55 to 60 minutes. Cooks Note: If the filling begins to brown too quickly, cover the pan with foil.) (I cooked my 1 pepper for 30 minutes, which was plenty. I refrigerated the remaining filling for a later time!)

Sauce: In a blender, combine the basil, creme fraiche, olive oil, water, garlic, lemon juice, sugar, salt, and pepper. Blend until smooth. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper, to taste. (Or just blend together my version in a nutribullet)

Remove the peppers from the oven and arrange on serving plates. Spoon the sauce around the peppers and serve.

Enjoy!!!

And now, for the quote of the day:

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Italian Orecchiette Pasta Bowl with Homemade Meatballs and tomato sauce

orichiettepastainbowl

So after John’s recent cravings (not unusual) for spicy and Mexican food… I’ve been craving pasta!!!! And lots of it! I have had low to no carb recipes here lately too, so had to get my craving satisfied for some Italian food! So, I went to Giada on FoodNetwork.com. Where else would you go for a good Italian meal?! I mean, seriously!! Here is her original recipe that I changed up a bit: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/giada-de-laurentiis/orecchiette-with-mini-chicken-meatballs-recipe.html

So, I liked her recipe, but I am not a ground chicken or turkey kind of person. I just cannot do it. So, I made my own usual meatballs that I usually make for Levi. They are dairy and egg free, and one of his absolute FAVORITE meals!! Then, I slightly adapted the rest of her recipe to make it my own, and it was absolutely delicious! This one will go in my book as a “We will make this again!”. I just have to figure out how to boil orecchiette pasta better, because if you’re not careful (like I wasn’t) it all sticks together! UGH! I’ve gotta figure out a trick for it! If anyone has suggestions, please let me know!

So, homemade meatballs first:

Ingredients:

1 lb. 85/15 grass fed organic ground beef (my preference)
3/4 cup plain panko bread crumbs
3/4 tsp. minced garlic
2 TB rice milk (or similar… this is just what I use)
1 TB worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper
1/4 tsp. onion powder

Mix all together in a large mixing bowl until well integrated. In the mean time heat 1 TB olive oil (or use cooking spray to coat the pan) in a large skillet. Once all of the meatball ingredients are well mixed and there are no dry breadcrumbs hanging out in the bottom of the bowl, you will start to shape the meatballs. Take a melon baller, or a chefmate cookie scoop and scoop out the meat mixture. Then, roll into 1-2″ balls. Then, place into skillet and start to cook. All of mine fit in to the skillet at once. I cook the top, then the bottom, for about 2-3 min each, and then sear all of the sides to “seal” in the juice. Once this is done to all of the meatballs, you will be adding the chicken broth and the can of diced tomatoes listed below:

homemademeatballs

 

Orecchiette Pasta Bowl

Ingredients:

1 lb. orecchiette pasta
1 1/2 cup low sodium organic chicken broth
1 can (14.5 oz.) fire roasted diced organic tomatoes (no salt added)
1 clove garlic minced (I put it into the garlic press)
1/2 tsp. fresh chopped rosemary
6-8 basil leaves chopped
1 zucchini sliced and cut into bite size pieces
1/2 small ball of fresh mozzarella
2 TB shaved parmesan cheese

Directions:

Now, add the chicken stock and tomatoes to the skillet with the meatballs from above. Bring to a boil. Using a wooden spoon, scrape up the brown bits that cling to the bottom of the pan. Reduce heat to low and simmer until tomatoes are soft and meatballs are cooked through, about 5 minutes. During this time add the minced garlic, basil, rosemary, onion powder and salt and pepper to taste. Drain the pasta, reserving about 1 cup of the pasta water. Transfer pasta to a large serving bowl and add the Parmesan. Toss to lightly coat orecchiette, adding reserved pasta water, if needed, to loosen the pasta. Add the zucchini to the meatball mixture in the skillet and toss until slightly softened and coated with the tomato sauce. Add the meatball mixture, mozzarella cheese, and 1/2 cup of the basil into the bowl of the pasta. Gently toss to combine. Garnish with the chopped basil and a drizzle of pesto.

orichettepastabowl

This one was GOOD!! Craving Italian food and don’t want to spend the $$ to go out?? Make this one! I have a feeling this one will be crave-able!

Enjoy!

And now, for the quote of the day:

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