Stuffed Green Bell Peppers with Brown Rice, Italian Sausage, and Parmesan

Morgan and I in front of Sleeping Beauty's castle at Disneyland in Hong Kong this past summer!

I have seen stuffed pepper recipes populating the pages of Pinterest for months and have always been tempted to try them, but for some reason always forgot about them when I tried thinking of new recipes to make for the blog. Luckily for me, one of my best friends in my graduate program decided we should spend our Friday night cooking, drinking wine, watching Disney movies (you can see why I like her), and attemping a brand new recipe. These peppers are packed with flavor, and it’s a pretty healthy dish too. I wish I hadn’t waited so long to try them, I had been missing out! It was only fitting we watch Sleeping Beauty, as we both geeked out something fierce at Sleeping Beauty’s castle in Hong Kong Disneyland this past summer! This recipe paired with two great disney movies and a bottle of wine (or two…) made for quite a wonderful evening with my pretty blonde food-and-wine-loving friend.

Readers, meet favorite new recipe. Favorite new recipe, meet readers.

Stuffed Green Peppers with Brown Rice, Italian Sausage, and Parmesan: Serves 4
(no really, I was full after eating only one! …well, after eating cheese and crackers and then eating one…)

Ingredients:

  • 1 C long-grain brown rice (I used Uncle Ben’s Brown Rice, but any long grain rice will work.)
  • 4 large green bell peppers, bottom trimmed, cap end cut off and diced, and seeds removed
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 tsp. + 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 2 links (about 8 ounces) turkey Sweet Italian Sausage (or other sausage of your choice. Use diced mushrooms instead of sausage for vegetarian version.)
  • 1/2 tsp. ground fennel
  • 1/2 tsp. dried Greek or Turkish oregano
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup grated mozzarella cheese

Instructions:

  • Cook rice according to package directions, or using a rice cooker.
  • Preheat oven to 375F. Trim bottom of bell peppers so they have a flat surface to stand on. Cut off a fairly generous amount of the stem end of peppers, then remove seeds.
  • Place hollowed-out peppers in a baking dish that you’ve sprayed with non-stick spray or olive oil. (A dish that’s close in size to the peppers will work best.)
  • Remove stem part from the pepper caps and trim off any white membrane, then dice pepper caps and the onion into fairly small dice.
  • Heat 2 tsp. olive oil in a large skillet, then saute diced pepper and onion for 3-4 minutes, until they are starting to soften but aren’t browned.
  • Remove pepper-onion mixture to a bowl, add 1 tsp. more olive oil, then squeeze sausage out of the casing and cook until it’s lightly browned, breaking apart with the back of the turner.
  • Put the onion-pepper mixture back into the pan with the sausage, add the dried spices, and saute 2-3 minutes to blend the flavors.
  • Then add cooked rice and Parmesan cheese, season the mixture with salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste, and cook just long enough to warm, about 1-2 minutes.
  • Stuff the filling mixture into the hollowed-out peppers, using a spoon to press the mixture down so it’s tightly packed into the pepper shell. If you have any extra filling, you can put it in a small ramekin and bake along with the peppers.
  • Bake peppers for 30 minutes, then remove from oven and put a generous pinch of grated mozzarella on top of each pepper. Put peppers back into the oven and bake about 10-15 minutes more, until cheese is melted and lightly browned. Serve hot.

I cannot put into words how remarkably easy this was! I was fairly intimidated in the beginning because all of the ones I saw online looked so pretty, which in my mind translates to “damn this is going to be hard to make.” Wrong. It really is as simple as emptying out the peppers, cooking the filling, add filling to peppers, put into oven, BAM DELICIOUSNESS. I pinky promise you these will be made again in the future, especially during the week! They don’t keep forever, but they were definitely still good 1-2 days later, making this a healthy meal prep option that I’ll be taking to work to make my coworkers jealous — yes I have that reputation as “the food snob” at work, and no, it doesn’t bother me.

I’m going to try more variations of stuffed peppers in the future, so keep an eye out for those recipes! Seriously, this was so much fun to make — Good luck, and happy eating!

Guy Fieri’s “French Pig Pizza”

I’m doneeee! Shout it from the freaking rooftops, I AM DONE with this semester of graduate school! …well, kind of. I’m still working on my thesis project, but that’s a year long endeavor. And I still have to go to work for the next week. BUT aside from that, I’m finished! And I couldn’t be more relieved. This semester has been insane and I haven’t tried nearly as many new recipes as I would have liked, so I’m planning on spending the next month just cooking and eating and cooking and eating…

So to honor my new found freedom, here’s a throwback to a recipe I made right before classes started back in August. It’s from Guy Fieri’s cookbook, and I’m looking forward to trying out some of his other dishes. In case you don’t remember, that delicious spicy steamed mussels dish that marked my 100th blog post was also from that cookbook! And of that dish didn’t convince you Guy Fieri knows his stuff, check out this recipe for the “French Pig” pizza.

It’s filled with fun ingredients, and it’s absolutely delicious. No surprise, I’m a die-hard Giordano’s deep dish fan when it comes to pizza (I’m a Chicago girl at heart, clearly). So it’s very hard to convince me that any other pizza besides that cheesy goodness I can find on Michigan avenue is worth my attention. This pizza passed my test. It’s a different flavor profile than your traditional pizza, and it was perfect! Easy to make too. I encourage y’all to give it a try.

The French Pig Pizza: Serves 2 (hungry hungry humans)

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1⁄4 pound pancetta, diced
  • 2 cups leek matchsticks (2 by 1⁄4 inch, white and green parts only)
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • Salt
  • 1 Granny Smith apple or similar tart, firm apple, peeled and cut into 2 by
  • 1⁄4 inch matchsticks
  • One 10-ounce ball Whole-Wheat Pizza Dough
  • 4 to 5 ounces Brie cheese with rind, cut into 1⁄4 inch slices
  • Balsamic vinegar for drizzling
  • Extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
  • Note: We added a pesto spread on the base to act as a sauce — so feel free to give that a try!

Instructions:

  •  Place a pizza stone in a cold oven and preheat oven to 500.
  • In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil. Add the pancetta and cook until just crisp. Remove to a paper-towel-lined plate.
  • Remove all but 1 tablespoon of the fat from the skillet and add the leeks.
  • Sprinkle with the pepper and pinch of salt and cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the leeks start to brown (6 to 8 minutes).
  • Add the apples and cook for 5 minutes more, until the apples are golden but not falling apart. Turn off heat.
  • Stretch the dough into a circle. Top with apple and leek mixture, then the Brie.
  • Bake the pizza for 10 to 12 minutes, until the crisp is golden. Sprinkle with pancetta, drizzle with vinegar and extra virgin olive oil, slice and serve.

I go back and forth about what my favorite part of this pizza is… The brie is melty and perfect and it’s my favorite kind of cheese, so tossing that onto a pizza made my taste buds quite happy. But also the sweetness of the apples was truly delicious and something I wouldn’t expect to find on my pizza. Sigh. I’ll let you be the judge! Happy eating everyone!!

Pork, Apple, and Sage Ravioli with Garlic Butter Sauce

You know that saying, when life give you lemons make lemonade? Sounds simple, doesn’t it?

Well. I’ve quickly learned that cooking isn’t just about the ingredients and following a recipe. Because if it were, my boyfriend and I would have successfully been able to make homemade ravioli. We have made countless attempts. To be fair, none of them have blatantly failed… Sometimes the pasta dough was too thick, other times the filling was undercooked or spewing out the sides.

Despite all these semi-successes (not semi-failures, I’m a glass half full kinda gal), we were still determined to master these fricken noodles. SO. We floured up my pasta machine, bought the necessary ingredients, and decided we’ll give it one last try.

And wouldn’t you know it? We still screwed it up. I don’t know how. I don’t know why. But our pasta dough was too thin this time, basically turning into a water-y mush when cooked. The filling for this particular recipe is to die for — We cooked it in advance and I was basically just eating it with a spoon while we were working on rolling out the pasta dough.

Because this filling and garlic butter sauce is so good, I wanted to share it with you all! May the ravioli odds be ever in your favor.

Pork, Apple, and Sage Ravioli with Garlic Butter Sauce: Serves 4

Ingredients for Ravioli Dough:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs, plus 1 for egg wash
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Cornmeal, for dusting

Instructions for Ravioli Dough:

  • To make the pasta dough: In an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook*, combine the flour and salt. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and continue to mix. Drizzle in 1 tablespoons of the olive oil and continue to incorporate all the flour until it forms a ball. Sprinkle some flour on work surface, knead and fold the dough until elastic and smooth, this should take about 10 minutes. Brush the surface with the remaining olive oil and wrap the dough in plastic wrap; let rest for about 30 minutes to allow the gluten to relax.
  • Alternatively if you don’t have an electric mixer: Combine the flour and salt on a flat work surface; shape into a mound and make a well in the center. Add the eggs and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil to the well and lightly beat with a fork. Gradually draw in the flour from the inside wall of the well in a circular motion. Use 1 hand for mixing and the other to protect the outer wall. Continue to incorporate all the flour until it forms a ball. Continue as directed above.
  • Cut the ball of dough in 1/2, cover and reserve the piece you are not immediately using to prevent it from drying out. Dust the counter and dough with a little flour. Press the dough into a rectangle and roll it through a pasta machine, 2 or 3 times, at widest setting. Pull and stretch the sheet of dough with the palm of your hand as it emerges from the rollers. Reduce the setting and crank the dough through again, 2 or 3 times. Continue tightening until the machine is at the narrowest setting; the dough should be paper-thin, about 1/8-inch thick (you should be able to see your hand through it.). Dust the sheets of dough with flour as needed.
  • Beat 1 egg with 1 tablespoon of water to make an egg wash. Dust the counter and sheet of dough with flour, lay out the long sheet of pasta, and brush the top surface with the egg wash, which acts as a glue. Drop tablespoons of your favorite filling on 1/2 of the pasta sheet, about 2- inches apart. Fold the other 1/2 over the filling like a blanket. With an espresso cup or fingers, gently press out air pockets around each mound of filling. Use a sharp knife to cut each pillow into squares and crimp the 4 edges with the tins of a fork to make a tight seal. Dust the ravioli and a sheet pan with cornmeal to prevent the pasta from sticking and lay them out to dry slightly while assembling the rest.
  • Cook the ravioli in plenty of boiling salted water for 4 minutes; they’ll float to the top when ready, so be careful not to overcrowd the pot. Lift the ravioli from water with a large strainer or slotted spoon. Bath the ravioli in your favorite sauce to lightly coat and serve.

Ingredients for Pork, Apple, and Sage Filling:

1/2 oz ghee or clarified unsalted butter

  • 1 tablespoon fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
  • About 20 sage leaves
  • 2 good pork sausages, skins removed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper and sea salt
  • 1/2 onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 apple (such as Cox’s), peeled, cored and finely chopped
  • 1 large organic egg, lightly beaten

Instructions for Pork, Apple, and Sage Filling:

  • Heat the ghee or clarified butter in a small pan, add the whole sage leaves and cook for 3-4 minutes, or until the leaves look crispy. Set aside and keep warm.
  • Heat the oil in a frying pan and add the onions. Fry for about 5 minutes, or until soft and melting. Add the apple and fry for a further 4-5 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the chopped sage, sausage meat, and seasoning and mix well to combine.
  • Lightly dust a sheet of greaseproof paper with semolina and place the pasta rounds on it. Place 1-2 heaped teaspoons of mixture in the middle of 12 of the rounds and brush each edge with beaten egg. Place the remaining rounds on top and pinch the edges firmly together to make 12 ravioli.
  • Bring a large deep-sided pan of salted water to a boil, add the pasta and cook for 4-5 minutes or until al dente. Drain the ravioli well and toss in the sage butter. Serve on warm plates, sprinkle with black pepper and garnish with the sage leaves.

Ingredients for Garlic Butter Sauce:

  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1 clove crushed garlic
  • 1/4 tablespoon dried basil
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano

Instructions for Garlic Butter Sauce:

  • In a small sauce pan melt butter, add garlic and sauté until cooked.
  • Add oregano and basil, stir.
  • Serve warm.

The ones in the picture don’t look half bad, do they! I fished out the good ones just for you. When all is said and done though, it doesn’t particularly matter that these raviolis  aren’t the fairest in the land. We had a blast making these! That being said, I think we’ve given up on homemade ravioli – unless anyone out there has any suggestions! So I guess the moral of the story is… when life gives you lemons, it’s okay to say “No thanks, I’m going to Panera.” Happy eating,  y’all!

Feel Good Orecchiette with Shrimp

One of the reasons I love to cook is because it’s a tasty way to take a quick break from reality. Nothing beats listening to music while stirring, chopping, tasting away in my kitchen. This recipe in particular is one that forces you to take a timeout from your busy day, since you continue to stir the tomato sauce as it cooks. I made this for my parents this past summer, and my Dad walked into the kitchen while I was cooking and said “You look so zen right now,” and he was so very right!!

Allow me to share my zen master ways…

Orecchiette with Shrimp: Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

  • 16 ounces orecchiette
  • Salt to taste
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 pound cherry tomatoes, cut into halves
  • 1 red chile pepper, cut into halves and minced
  • 20 medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • Black pepper to taste

Instructions:

  • Cook the pasta in boiling salted water using package directions until al dente and then drain the pasta
  • Cover to keep warm
  • Sauté the garlic in olive oil in a saucepan until golden brown
  • Stir in tomatoes and chile pepper
  • Bring to a gentle boil, stirring occasionally
  • Cook for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally
  • Stir in the shrimp
  • Cook for 5 minutes longer, stirring occasionally
  • Stir in the basil and season with salt and black pepper
  • Remove from the heat and fold into the pasta

This recipe is warm, delicious, and one of my feel good favorites. You can also substitute rice, quinoa, or even remove the starch all together and serve with veggies if you’re trying to keep it healthy. Enjoy!

Marinated Swordfish with Artichoke Puree over Sautéed Garlic Spinach

As I struggle to keep my head above this sea of papers and projects and interviews that has defined my fall 2014 semester, I keep thinking back to more relaxing times. Particularly, the week I spent in LA with my boyfriend after coming back from Hong Kong. We did literally nothing for a whole week. I was jet-lagged, exhausted, and just mentally checked out. We had all these plans of seeing the Hollywood sign or checking out new restaurants… We made it to the Sony Pictures studio lot tour, and Hollywood boulevard, but that was about it. My ass was so content watching Netflix all day, marathoning our favorite shows Hell’s Kitchen and South Park from when we woke up to when we went to bed. Judge away — but I would kill for a lazy day like that again.

That being said, we did track out to the grocery store in order to test out some new recipes we had been wanting to test for awhile. Here’s what ended up being my favorite recipe from that trip!

Marinated Swordfish with Artichoke Puree over Sauteed Garlic Spinach: Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 onion, sliced
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound swordfish

Instructions:

  • In a bowl combine juice of the lime, ginger, garlic and onion.
  • Add olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  • Place swordfish steak in baking pan and pour marinade over fish.
  • Coat and let sit for 15 to 30 minutes.
  • Remove fish from pan and grill in cast iron pan or on grill for about 3 minutes per side.

Artichoke Puree

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup chopped large artichoke hearts
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice

Instructions:

  • Place the artichoke hearts in a medium saucepan with the water and
  • olive oil.
  • Add the salt, cover and cook until tender, but with no color.
  • Pour the mixture in a blender and blend until completely smooth.
  • Add the lemon juice and cool the puree in a pan set over ice.

Sautéed Garlic Spinach

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 pounds baby spinach leaves
  • 2 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped garlic (6 cloves)
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • Lemon
  • Sea or kosher salt, optional

Instructions:

  • Rinse the spinach well in cold water to make sure it’s very clean. Spin it dry
  • in a salad spinner, leaving just a little water clinging to the leaves.
  • In a very large pot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil and sauté the garlic
  • over medium heat for about 1 minute, but not until it’s browned.
  • Add all the spinach, the salt, and pepper to the pot, toss it with the garlic
  • and oil, cover the pot, and cook it for 2 minutes.
  • Uncover the pot, turn the heat on high, and cook the spinach for another
  • minute, stirring with a wooden spoon, until all the spinach is wilted.
  • Using a slotted spoon, lift the spinach to a serving bowl and top with the
  • butter, a squeeze of lemon, and a sprinkling of sea or kosher salt.
  • Serve hot

Assemble the plate by placing the garlic spinach in the center, topped with the swordfish. Pour the puree around the outside. Enjoy!

And with that, I’m going to jump back into my thesis project. Hope y’all have a great week, and happy eating!

Quick Salmon Foil Packets with Ginger and Soy Sauce

Hey world! This is what a blog post looks like when you’re buried under your masters thesis, on top of interviewing for an executive internship:

EAT THIS. ITS DELICIOUS.

Salmon Foil Packets with Ginger and Soy Sauce: Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 salmon (about 2 lbs), with or without skin (remove before eating)
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 tsp canola oil
  • 1 1-inch piece ginger, peeled and sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced
  •  3 green onions

Instructions:

  • Preheat the grill to medium heat.
  • Lay the salmon on a double sheet of foil.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, rice vinegar and canola oil.
  • Fold all four sides of the foil up and pour the mixture evenly over the
  • salmon.
  • Lay the slices of ginger and garlic, and the green onions on top of the
  • salmon.
  • Seal the foil by folding it as though you wrapping a present. Slide the foil
  • packet onto the grill and close the lid. Cook until the salmon is just cooked
  • through, about 10 minutes. Take care not to overcook the salmon.
  • Unwrap the salmon from the foil, remove the garlic, ginger and green
  • onions, and cut into pieces and serve hot or at room temperature.

AND it’s saving my life right now because it’s quick, easy, and you can make it ahead of time.

YOU’RE WELCOME!

And I promise to be back to my normal chatty self as soon as possible! Happy eating!!

Paleo Pumpkin Chicken Chili

In need of some fall flavors that have fewer calories than the infamous pumpkin spice latte? Look no further! I decided to give this paleo thing a try, and in the process came across this deliciously filling chili recipe. I made the full batch — which is huge by the way, so I would recommend freezing the leftovers — and I can say I made everyone in my office jealous when I heated it up for lunch. It. Smells. SO. Good!

Paleo Pumpkin Chicken Chili: Serves 8-10

Ingredients:

  • 3lbs chicken cubed
  • 2 cups diced red onions
  • 2 cups diced bell peppers (any color)
  • 3 jalapenos (diced and seeds removed)
  • 1 minced clove of garlic
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 28 oz of diced tomatoes (with juices)
  • 6 oz tomato paste
  • 3 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 1 whole cinnamon stick
  • 3 cups organic pumpkin puree
  • 2 tbsp diced fresh cilantro
  • 1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil

Instructions:

  • Heat coconut oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat.
  • Sauté onions until lightly browned, then add bell peppers, jalapeños, and garlic and sauté for another 5 minutes.
  • Add in chicken, chicken stock, white wine, organic tomatoes, organic tomato paste, chili powder, pumpkin pie spice, coriander, salt, and cinnamon stick and simmer for 20 minutes.
  • Stir in pumpkin, cilantro, and cocoa powder and cook for an additional 5 minutes.
  • Reduce heat to low and let sit until ready to serve, or serve immediately. If there is too much, you can freeze it to eat later in the week.

Be on the look out for more paleo recipes! I’m finding that I feel so much more energized after following the paleo guidelines — granted, it’s only been a week, and I definitely cheated and scarfed down two tacos after the football tailgate, but I’m noticing a difference already! Food shouldn’t have to weigh you down!

Enjoy y’all, and happy eating!