Jambalaya Mini Muffins
Mini Bell Pepper Solution One

Mini Bell Pepper Challenge

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Patrick's post-tonsillectomy soft diet has been a bore. I know it shouldn't have mattered that one of us was down to about six things he would/could consume but it did. I felt flat and uninspired and wondered why we all couldn't just eat buttered noodles every night and be done with it. Today, though, his two weeks is up and I asked what he would like to have for dinner to celebrate his return to the land of the crunchy.

Red pepper, he said promptly.

I was not surprised. Patrick's favorite food in the world (I mean, after pizza. he is not completely weird) is raw red bell pepper and he has been jonesing for it practically since he came out from under the anesthesia. So I promised to get him some.   

Meanwhile, I was out and about today and I made the mistake of asking Steve if he needed anything while I was running errands. Kitty litter, he replied, and then told me to stop whining because he thought we could make do this time with only two of the forty pounds tubs. God, I hate getting the kitty litter. My weak and spindly arms can barely lift the giant Sam's Club sized barrels into the cart and then I struggle to keep the now top-heavy Sam's Club cart from crashing into walls. But our cats prefer the cheap stuff for their private moments and if there is anything you learn as a cat owner it is that you never ever change the litter brand. So I promised to go to Sam's Club.

This is like a movie - a very dull and commercially disastrous movie - in which two distinct plot lines move inexorably towards each other...

Along with the cat litter and the shipping container of diapers I bought a two pound bag of mini red orange and yellow bell peppers. Frankly they just looked too cute to pass up and I suspect that Patrick will be charmed. My question - I know this is a food blog; I'm getting there - is what do I do with them? Patrick will just eat them raw but I feel like the rest of us should live a little. I also have thawed chicken breast that can be used (although it doesn't have to be) and a well-stocked pantry (although I am running very low on other produce.)

Any thoughts? What would you do with the wee little things?

If you come up with something for which I have most of the ingredients (or a close approximation) I'll make it and post the results tomorrow.     

Comments

I, very recently, bought those at my local farmers market. I cut the tops and the bottoms off so I had fat rings, stuffed them with meatloaf! Don't laugh! The 8 year old thought I was genius. I made it work by putting the smallest amount of oil in a skillet and just quick frying them on each side to keep firm then I baked them.

They were WAY cute!

(I chopped the tops and bottoms and froze in a ziplock to use this winter in soups)

No way! MY five year old boy's favorite food is also red bell peppers. I've NEVER heard of another kid who felt the same way about them. Tommy and Patrick could totally bond over red bell peppers if we didn't live many, many miles away from you. Thankfully for me lots of the bell peppers on the market are grown here in New Mexico. They're really cheap here. All the better to feed his culinary obsession. He eats one Every. Day. Of. The. Week. I kid you not.

As for cooking them, I have no suggestions. I will recommend Smitten Kitchen's Mediterranean Pepper Salad though. It's our current summer obsession and bell peppers are the main ingredient. It's salty and tangy and Greek and divine.

http://smittenkitchen.com/2009/06/mediterranean-pepper-salad/

I made red pepper broth with chicken stock, scallions, garlic, rice vinegar, toasted sesame oil, soy sauce, and red peppers. Throw in some pasta and chicken or roast pork and it tastes like wonton soup. Sometimes, I actually make little dumplings with ground pork or chicken and all the broth ingredients chopped super finely. The broth is so much easier.

Also, I used a variation of your idea for couscous cakes with quinoa, chicken, veggies and some 5-spice--delicious!

You could use the chicken, peppers, and onion (if you have it) and make chicken philly sandwiches. Oh, and cheese. It'll be better with cheese.

Uncooked bell pepper strips are great dippers for hummus (we are experimenting with different hummus flavors from Trader Joe's, and so far haven't found a flavor we don't like; kids may not enjoy the spicy ones?) No work at all, and nutritious too. You could also use them as dippers for chive or pineapple cottage cheese.

Red pepper pizza!

I just got a bunch of these in our CSA basket. A couple nights ago, I halved them, grated about 1 1/2 cups jack cheese, added about 2 slices worth of sourdough bread crumbs (though I imagine any breadcrumbs will do), a tomato and a half (diced), two stalks of diced green onion, and one finely chopped jalapeno. I mixed it all together, heaped the mix into the pepper halves, and baked at 350 for roughly 40-50 minutes, until the peppers were soft. In these amounts, we filled six halves to heaping - two served my husband, and I was fine with one, but we also served a side both nights. It got good raves from my husband, and the nice thing is you can put just about anything in there - the key is lots of cheese and the breadcrumbs to hold it all together, I think.

My other suggestion, for something more intensive, is this recipe:

http://tinyurl.com/mdwvot

Notes: I made my own puree with about a half dozen bell pepper halves (roasted until they were super soft and black around the edges) - just add a little olive oil and blend until ... well, pureed. You can also skip the herb dressing (although it was delicious) and use any kind of dip you like, since there's nothing particular about the flavors in the fritters that would preclude, say, ranch or a nice blue cheese. These were really, really good, but again, took a little work. Great appetizer, though. I hope they give me more peppers next week :)

Here's a recipe for my very favorite chicken... mix together: ~1/2 chopped red bell pepper, 2 chopped roma tomatoes, 2 cloves garlic, 2 tbsp fresh parsley, 1 cup crumbled feta cheese, 1/2 tsp oregano. arrange ~4 chicken breasts in a baking dish and sprinkle with pepper. pour the pepper/tomato/feta mixture over the chicken. drizzle with 1 tbsp olive oil. bake for 25-30 min at 400.

I would make breakfast for dinner staring a chicken hash. I buy those small sweet peppers all the time at Costco. They are really good sauteed with onion, garlic, and potatoes. (Make sure to use a pot with a tight lid, so that you can steam the potatoes while frying - saves the par boiling step.) I would do a spice rub on the chicken breasts and broil, shred, and mix into the hash near the end. Top with a fried over easy egg and it's magic. I've been known to add extra veggies like mushrooms, zuchinni, etc. I'm always looking for ways too get more nutrition into a dish.

I'm hungry now!

Quick and easy - make chicken fajitas. Grill or saute the peppers and chicken and some onions. Add any or all of: lettuce, grated cheese, tomatoes, black beans, salsa and roll up in a tortilla. My 10 yo loves these.

Giada's Stuffed Baby Peppers=Divine
http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/giada-de-laurentiis/stuffed-baby-peppers-recipe/index.html

For an even faster version of the chicken fajitas, you can slice the bell peppers, onions and chicken, and put them in a stone "dutch oven", sprinkle Mrs. Dash's Chipoltle Seasoning (or a simlarly flavored seasoning) all over the top of the food, then microwave the whole thing (in the dutch oven) for 16-20 minutes. The natural juices in the veggies and chicken come together and it is divine. I chop the whole thing up and serve on warm tortillas with rice and cheese. Oh, and I totally stole the idea from a Pampered Chef recipe.

They taste really great chopped on pizza. A chicken and bell pepper pizza might be good. Also taste good baked and then stuffed with cream cheese.

I am with Patrick. I eat them raw. Normally I chop them over salad if not eating just plain.

Oh, this is so not a recipe and sounds so boring, but it's so good. Simply cut the tops off, brush the outsides with olive oil, sprinkle with course salt and pepper, then grill (outside, either charcoal or gas works). Really, if you haven't done this, you simply must try it! It is so deceptively simple--something about the grilling and the course salt and pepper clinging to them just transforms these little guys--and yes, I've specifically done it with the same baby ones from Sam's. It's one of those things that takes no effort but every time I serve it people ask for "the recipe"!

Halved and seeded, I could see a protein mousse of some kind, to be baked/broiled. Fish, chicken. Something light and airy, slightly mounded in the center, baked for oh, 20 minutes (we're not talking huge volume here) and then bronzed under the broiler.

They should maintain a bit of firmness, and something with a mousse-like texture wouldn't overwhelm their delicate nature. Food processor makes quick work of it. Season the protein as if sauteeing whole (generously), cut into rough chunks, add vegetation (celery, green onion, leeks, shallot, whatever), say 5 parts protein, 1 part roughage. Pulse. Add a bit of olive oil (or it might not brown) and an egg. Pulse. Mound slightly in peppers.

Bake 15-20 minutes until firmed in middle. Broil until lightly colored (or not).

Chicken and fish also go better with the strong flavor of sweet peppers.

Other than that, quartered and raw, with dip. Or filled with chicken/tuna salad.

I just bookmarked this recipe; I'm sure the mini bell peppers would work.

ahem. This recipe:

http://find.myrecipes.com/recipes/recipefinder.dyn?action=displayRecipe&recipe_id=1575592

It's cod with chorizo and peppers.

These are the yummiest chicken fajitas evah. My husband asks that they be included in the weekly meal rotation. I use chicken breasts as the protein.

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/paula-deen/gold-medal-sizzling-fajitas-recipe/index.html

I replace the dash of hot sauce with a pinch of both paprika and chili powder.

BTW, I use whatever peppers I have handy - often yellow ones as they are my favorite of the pepper family to eat raw.

I've been making a burrito filling with the peppers in my CSA. Sautee sliced peppers and onions, add a drained can of black beans and a couple ears of corn cut off the cob (or frozen--whatever!), spices like cumin, coriander, and cayenne pepper. Make burritos with this and whatever else you want. (You don't need my help but I like to add salsa, cheese, and lettuce.) I think the bean pepper/corn/bean mix would be delicious enough to eat as a side dish too if you wanted.

Slice red and/or yellow peppers lengthwise into thin strips and slice an equal amount of onion into lengthwise strips. Saute in some oil until onion is cooked to your liking. Add a big squeeze of honey and a couple shakes of red pepper flakes and serve over salmon or chicken. Yum, we love this, sweet and spicy.

I had a plethora of red peppers a few weeks ago. I chopped and simmered them along with some leeks and garlic, olive oil and water, within an inch of their lives. Then tossed in some garden basil and pureed the potful with a hand blender. Used it as a pasta sauce. My entire family were lapping it up like so many little puppies.

More labor-intensive (but possibly also more fun): You could roast those babies on the stovetop if you have a gas stove -- or grill, I suppose.

While on a diet once, I was craving something sweet so I threw a few of the peppers in different colors (not green though - it tends to overpower whatever I use it in), 1/4 small onion and several chunks of mango into a food processor and made a lovely salsa that I served with pork chops. Since then, I've tried it with peaches and apples, instead of the mango. I sometimes add a teaspoon of red wine vinegar or a squeeze of lime with a tiny bit of cilantro. I'm smoking a pork loin this weekend and was thinking of serving the peach version with a couple teaspoons of Fage fat-free yogurt stirred in with the lime and cilantro version.

we like stuff these with some sausage, shredded cheese, breadcrumbs, chopped mushrooms and onions and an egg -

brown the sausage and crumble, saute the mushrooms-n-onions in some butter till soft and then pulse through processor to a coarse chop, beat the eggs, mix it all together with the crumbs and cheese and stuff in topless peppers - drizzle with olive (or other) oil and bake till the peppers are just tender-crisp, not mushy.

alternatively, if you were looking for something a little more summery, my mom used to make a quick and easy dinner out of sweet peppers and tomatoes stuffed with chicken or tuna salad with a cold tomato-basil or butternut squash soup - very yummy!

or you can always do a bruschetta type thing - roast the peppers and some garlic, chop some fresh and sun-dried tomatoes, add some basil, salt, pepper and olive oil and serve with on warm toasted bread slices

We made a great salad last night with lettuce, homemade croutons, yellow pepper, goat cheese, and green onions, with a simple vinagrette. Lots of crunch and different tastes and textures for someone who has been eating smoothies for two weeks!

Hi Julia,

Here is one of our favorite recipes - stuffed pepper soup. It calls for green peppers, but I usually use a mix. My kids absolutely gobble it up, and most of the items are pantry stock. Enjoy!

http://find.myrecipes.com/recipes/recipefinder.dyn?action=displayRecipe&recipe_id=780387

I made stuffed red peppers this week and took the easy way. I used Casbah brand couscous (spinach and lemon flavour) as stuffing. Chopped tomatoes from my garden and lightly sauted them with olive and truffle oil, along with regular and garlic chives (also from my garden). Poured the tomatoes over the stuffed peppers (I cut a "lid" off the top of the pepper, put in the couscous and stick the lid back on) in a covered casserole dish and microwaved the whole thing for about ten minutes. Add cheese, if desired.

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