Entrees

Cajun Meat Loaf-Stuffed Peppers

March 2 013 Edited Cajun Meat Loaf Stuffed Peppers

Continuing on with the “everything is broken except my bones” theme that my life has become, the internet connection at my home has (for lack of anything more eloquent to say), crapped out. Three people have tried to fix it in as many days, and no dice. So much for that Mercury retrograde theory…

Alas, tonight I’m posting live from my local coffee shop and bringing you Cajun-style meatloaf stuffed peppers two days after the revelry of Mardi Gras.

Given the state of affairs in this beautiful but so damn imperfect world we live in, a lack of internet service in my home is not a big deal. It’s inconvenient and particularly trying given one of my two major character flaws is impatience. I do not particularly like being this way. I’ve tried to overcome it, but I swear it is hard wired into my cells.

The other character flaw, in case you were curious, is taking out my frustration on the ones I love the most. If I ever yell at you about nonsense, no worries, it’s just my way of telling you I love you. Upon digesting that explanation, you may be thinking that I actually have three major character flaws, one of which is self-delusion. Let’s move on.

March 2 073 Edited Cajun Meat Loaf Stuffed Peppers

Practically everything I do relies on the internet. This makes me wonder, what the heck was I doing 15 years ago? I mean really, how did the world work? I vaguely remember getting letters (letters!) from my grandparents delivered in the mail. But goodness, how did I shop? Or entertain myself? (The answers to both of those are “I didn’t” and “I drank more beer”. )

After the trials and tribulations of the past month, my mindset is slowly shifting to the point that I am willing to expect things not to work. In the past, I have tried on the mindset where I did not expect too much so I would not feel disappointed when things did not work out. In hindsight, all that did was lower my expectations and sell myself short. But the world tends towards chaos, does it not?

I would love to say a lack of working internet connection in my home gives me a greater appreciation for things, but if it does, it is so incremental that I do not notice it. The fact of the matter is I am accustomed to connecting with whatever I want whenever I want. I expect hot, clean water coming out of my tap and appliances that wash, dry, cool, heat and the like. I am so damn spoiled, and I don’t even appreciate it.

March 2 028 Edited Cajun Meat Loaf Stuffed Peppers

So let us appreciate the food. The food we all need to nourish us. The food that, for most of us, is not just nourishment but a true source of enjoyment. How lucky we are.

All my life I have enjoyed stuffed peppers with meat and rice. Encountering a stuffed pepper recipe that was basically a meatball in a pepper shell rocked my world. Other than the Tabasco, I am not so sure what is Cajun about them, but pay that no mind. They are delicious.

A word on the cooking. The peppers had a lot of juice to them, i.e.) the bottom of the baking dish seemed really greasy. I cooked with lean meat, but still, there was quite a bit of juice going on by the time all was said and baked. Some of it was from the peppers, no doubt, but it was a nuance I find worth mentioning.

Serve the peppers alone or with a side of rice. If you want to go Cajun-crazy, this Cajun rice recipe would be a good choice. If vegetables are not your thing, enjoy the meatloaf recipe or form the mixture into meatballs. It really does not matter how you enjoy your food, so as long as you appreciate it as you do. Happy eating!

March 2 031 Edited Cajun Meat Loaf Stuffed Peppers

Cajun Meat Loaf-Stuffed Peppers
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 8 (or 9) bell peppers
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 small to medium yellow onion
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire
  • 2 tablespoons hot red pepper sauce (like Tabasco)
  • 1½ teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ cup ketchup, plus additional for topping the peppers once stuffed
  • 1 pound ground meat of your choice: beef, turkey, or chicken
  • ½ pound spicy ground sausage
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
Instructions
  1. Core the eight peppers and cut them in half to serve as shells for the meatloaf. Place the pepper shells in a lightly oiled baking dish (I used two 8 x 8 dishes; my 13 x 9 pan was too small). If you have an extra bell pepper or half bell pepper on hand, go ahead and dice it to add to the meatloaf mixture. You will want ½ cup of diced pepper. Set peppers aside.
  2. Heat the olive oil and garlic in a large skillet over medium heat.
  3. Add the onion, and if using, the diced bell pepper. Saute until tender, stirring occasionally, about five minutes.
  4. Stir in the Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, cumin, salt, pepper, and nutmeg.
  5. Once the sauces and spices are well incorporated, turn heat to low and stir in the ketchup. Allow to simmer for about five minutes.
  6. Remove from the heat and add the meat, sausage and lightly beaten eggs to the skillet.
  7. Spoon the meat mixture into the prepared pepper shells and top with a dollop of ketchup spread across the top.
  8. Bake at 350 degrees for 50 to 60 minutes. The meat loaves will be golden brown on top, and the peppers will be soft.

 

Beef Tagine with Butternut Squash {Secret Recipe Club}

SRC Feb 14 012 Edited Beef Tagine with Butternut Squash {Secret Recipe Club}

Beef is never my first choice when it comes to meat.  So when I received a can of  beef for Christmas, I almost traded it for a can of chicken. Don’t get me wrong. I grew up eating my fair share of steak and burgers, but I simply never purchased beef for myself once I left home. I never missed it, so I never ate it.

At this point, I imagine I should back up a bit and address your question, “You got beef for Christmas?”

Yes. I love practical gifts, and next to batteries and stamps, canned meat is about as practical as it gets. In all seriousness, practical gifts excite me. I can almost guarantee  I do not wear most of the clothes I received for recent holidays past, but you better believe I still use my stash of batteries and stamps.

This year, my grandma gave her kids and adult grandkids a giant can of beef and a giant can of chicken. The animals are raised and sold by a farmer in our home town, so I consider this farm-to-fork at its finest.

SRC Feb 14 014 Edited Beef Tagine with Butternut Squash {Secret Recipe Club}

On a cold winter day (and there have been plenty of those in the south this winter), I set out looking for something to make with my canned beef. Shelby at The Life & Loves of Grumpy’s Honeybunch had the answer.

Shelby’s blog was my Secret Recipe Club assignment this month. I like to think Shelby and I go way back, since I sent her salted vanilla chip oatmeal cookies for my first Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap.

Take a moment to think about that. Of the thousands of cookie swap participants, I was matched with Shelby, and then we met again in the same SRC group. It was meant to be.

And that’s a good thing, because I could cook from her blog for days. She has so many great recipes to choose from (Buffalo-Style Stuffed Eggs are definitely on my short list) that I was glad I was on the hunt for a recipe with a specific ingredient.

If not, I would probably still be deciding. Ultimately, I gave the Beef Lo Mein a long, hard look before settling on the Beef Tagine with Butternut Squash.

SRC Feb 14 017 Edited Beef Tagine with Butternut Squash {Secret Recipe Club}

What is tagine? I had no idea, but Google told me it is a cone-shaped dish commonly used for cooking in North Africa. Its shape allows meat to cook slowly, and as a result, become very tender. Other answers to the tagine question were “beef stew”, which is close to what we have here.

The combination of spices – paprika, cinnamon, ginger, and red pepper flakes – in this recipe interested me. Add to that the fact that everything I needed to make it was already in the fridge, and the choice was pretty clear.

That is yet another good thing, because this beef tagine was just what I was looking for when I set out to make winter comfort food. It was warm and flavorful and made for a perfect lunch and dinner. I don’t know that someone with a traditional beef dish in mind would love it, but I certainly did. I served my beef tagine over noodles (I still had lo mein on the mind), but I Imagine a side of rice or couscous or slice of crusty bread would be just fine too.

Thanks, Shelby, for making this another enjoyable SRC experience. Enjoy!

SRC Feb 14 016 Edited Beef Tagine with Butternut Squash {Secret Recipe Club}

Beef Tagine with Butternut Squash
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound shredded beef
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ cup vegetable broth or beef stock
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can petite diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 pound peeled and cubed butternut squash (about 3 cups of 1-inch cubes)
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro, optional
Instructions
  1. Combine the paprika, cinnamon, salt, ginger, red pepper and black pepper in a medium bowl.
  2. Add the beef to the spice mixture and stir well to coat.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  4. Add the beef, onions, and the garlic and, stirring frequently, cook until the garlic is fragrant, about one to three minutes.
  5. Stir in the broth (or stock) and the tomatoes and bring to a boil.
  6. Cook for five minutes, then add squash.
  7. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 25-30 minutes or until squash is tender.
  8. If desired, garnish with cilantro. Serve with couscous, rice, noodles or enjoy alone.
Notes
I used fully cooked and shredded canned beef for this recipe. However, you can easily use 1-pound of beef roast, trimmed and cut into 1-inch cubes. When you add the spice-coated beef to the large skillet, simply cook until browned before stirring in the broth (or stock) and the tomatoes.

 

Quinoa Stuffed Butternut Squash

11412321336 265bdcf6ba z Quinoa Stuffed Butternut Squash

Butternut squash is not my favorite thing. It is a bit too bland yet at a bit too sweet at the same time. Buttery, yes. Nutty, not quite. Delicious? The jury is still out.

I really want to like it. I just can’t  get on board with it quite as much as I would like. It is for precisely this reason I was excited to join in on the 12 Weeks of Winter Squash group.

If I forced myself to cook with it, I knew I would find at least one way besides butternut squash risotto to enjoy it.

And here that way is. Quinoa stuffed butternut squash.

11412451303 43003146bb z Quinoa Stuffed Butternut Squash

It must be the quinoa that soaks up all that butternut squash sweetness. The flavor is still there, but it is not overpowering, so the red pepper and sage are able to shine through. In an effort of full disclosure, the cheese melted on top also helps the whole dish quite a bit. Melted cheese improving a recipe probably goes without saying…

Speaking of cheese, I think these ingredients would also make for a great pizza. Butternut squash, red pepper rings, and maybe some caramelized onions atop a sauce I’m not quite sure of yet. Perhaps an Alfredo-type sauce I once used in a butternut squash lasagna. Does anyone want to make this for me?

As always, look below for links* to even more delicious squash dishes created by the 12 Weeks of Winter Squash group. Until next week, enjoy!
11412320966 f049beca62 z Quinoa Stuffed Butternut Squash

4.0 from 1 reviews

Quinoa Stuffed Butternut Squash
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 butternut squash
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • ¼ cup green onions
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • ½ cup (uncooked) quinoa
  • 1 tablespoon sage, chopped
  • cheese of your choice for sprinkling; Gruyere is recommended
Instructions
  1. Cut the butternut squash in half lengthwise and remove the seeds and membranes.
  2. Place the squash cut-side down on a lightly greased baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes.
  3. While the squash bakes, heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat and saute the red pepper and green onions until softened, about five minutes.
  4. Add the vegetable broth, quinoa, and sage and bring to a boil.
  5. Cover, reduce heat and allow to simmer for 15 minutes.
  6. Remove from heat and allow to sit, covered, for five additional minutes.
  7. When the baked squash is cool enough to handle, scoop out most of the pulp and place in a bowl. Leave about ¼ inch of squash along the shell to keep it intact enough to hold the filling.
  8. Mash the removed pulp with a fork, then stir in the cooked quinoa and red pepper mixture.
  9. Stuff all of this back into the two butternut squash shells and sprinkle with as much cheese as you would like.
  10. Return the now stuffed and cheese covered shells to the oven and broil for just a few minutes until the cheese is melted and slightly browned.

*If you are reading this on the home page, you will have to click into the post via the title to see the links.