It’s almost Halloween. I thought I’d share an easy and fun recipe to make with the kids or to make for the kids at heart. The unbaked peppers look so cute, but the baked ones look perfectly scary for Halloween with their shrinking skins and their (unintentional) burnt tops. Feel free to stuff your peppers with rice, quinoa and other vegetables if you want to go vegetarian. I just thought the macaroni and cheese resembled the pumpkin innards which made this more fun.
- 3/4 pounds of lean ground beef (or turkey or chicken)
- 1/2 of a red onion. diced
- 1/2 a cup of spaghetti or tomato sauce
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1 box (7.25 ounces) Kraft macaroni and cheese (or any other brand)
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1/4 cup milk
- 6 orange bell peppers
- Preheat oven to 350 F degrees.
- Foil line a small baking sheet.
- In a large skillet, brown the ground meat over medium high heat. Drain excess fat.
- Add onions and cook until almost translucent.
- Add spaghetti/tomato sauce, garlic powder and Italian seasoning. Stir until well mixed and turn off heat.
- Prepare macaroni and cheese according to package using the butter and milk.
- Meanwhile, cut the bell peppers into jack-o-lanterns. Discard the seeds and white membranes. Be sure to leave enough of the top to use as a lid. I like to make sure there is enough opening in the mouths I carve so you can see the noodle mixture coming out like pumpkin guts.
- Once your macaroni and cheese is ready, combine in your large skillet with your meat mixture. Mix well.
- Stuff your peppers with the noodle and meat mixture. Put them on your prepared foil lined baking sheet.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes until bell peppers are tender.
Here in Northern California, our September weather has been exceptionally warm. We were in the low 90’s the last few weeks. But today we were only in the 70’s. And being the typical weather spoiled Californian, it felt cold to me. I wanted soup. Actually, it gave me an excuse to try out my new vegetable spiralizer and make zucchini noodle soup. Or “zoodles” as the foodies call them. For my vegetarian friends, like Sue T., omit the chicken breasts and substitute with vegetable stock.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 celery stalks, diced
- handful of baby carrots (about 6-8) sliced into 1/4 inch pieces
- 8 ounces of sliced baby bella mushrooms
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- 6 cups chicken stock
- 1/2 tablespoon poultry seasoning
- 1/2 cup chopped parsley, reserve some for garnish
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 2-3 zucchinis, spiralized into noodle shapes and cut into desired length
- salt and pepper to taste
- Add olive oil to large pot over medium high heat. When oil begins to ripple, add onions, celery, carrots and mushrooms. Stir for 2-3 minutes until vegetables soften.
- Add minced garlic to vegetables. Stir for 1 minute, until garlic become fragrant.
- Next add the chicken stock, poultry seasoning and most of the chopped parsley. Stir until combined.
- Add chicken breasts. Once liquid begins to boil, lower heat to simmer for 1 hour or until chicken is cooked through and tender.
- Remove chicken and carefully shred into bite sized pieces. Return shredded chicken to pot. Stir to combine.
- Meanwhile, spiralize the zucchini. Cut into smaller noodle lengths, unless you want extra long noodles.
- Turn heat back up to medium high. Add zucchini noodles (zoodles) to soup. Stir and let zoodles cook for 1-2 minutes.
- Serve with reserved parsley. Salt and pepper to taste.
Okay, don’t freak out. Yes. This is a vegetable dish from me. But believe me. You won’t miss the meat. But by all means, feel free to add a protein of your choice. Fun are noodles made of rice rather than egg as used in chow mein. And just like chow mein, chow fun can be made all sorts of ways. As always, feel free to change up the vegetables to those of your choosing. I always use what I have on hand. You can even try using the prepackaged frozen stir fry vegetables if you are in a rush. This recipe is a sweet and savory one and feeds 4 people.
- 16 ounce package of fresh wide rice noodles (Can be found in Asian supermarkets)
- 1/2 cup Chinese rice wine (Shaoxing) or dry sherry
- 4 teaspoons black bean and garlic sauce
- 1 tablespoon reduced sodium (lite) soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 2 teaspoons light brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon canola or peanut oil
- 1 teaspoon minced ginger
- 1 small red onion, sliced thinly
- 1 small carrot, cut into slivers
- 1 handful sugar snap peas (about 15-20 each)
- 1 handful snow peas (about 15-20 each)
- 4 shiitake mushrooms, sliced
- 1/2 cup water, divided into 1/4 cups
- Use your microwave to warm up and soften the noodles in a large plate or bowl. Cook for 2-3 minutes on high. (If you are using dried rice noodles, prepare as directed on package.)
- In a small bowl, add Chinese rice wine, black bean sauce, soy sauce, sesame oil, brown sugar and cornstarch. Stir well to combine. Set aside.
- Heat oil in large pan or wok over medium high heat. Reduce heat to medium and add ginger, stirring for 30 seconds.
- Add onions. Cook, stirring until softened. About 1-2 minutes.
- Add the rest of the vegetables and 1/4 cup water. Cover and cook stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender-crisp, 2 to 4 minutes.
- Stir the reserved sauce and add to the pan; cook, stirring, until the sauce has thickened slightly, 1 to 2 minutes.
- Add the noodles and remaining 1/4 cup water to the pan.
- Toss the noodles to coat with sauce. Cook until heated through about 2 minutes.
Looking for something that takes just minutes to whip up but tastes like you spent time slaving in the kitchen cooking? Try my chow mein recipe. You’ll spend most of your time cutting the vegetables. But once that is done everything else takes just a few minutes. Vegetable chow mein you say? I’m not a vegetarian, so I was surprised how I never missed the meat in this dish. But the proof was my meat and potatoes loving, picky-eater son even enjoyed this. He was first to ask “Where’s the meat?” But after trying it out I didn’t hear any complaints.
- 1/2 cup of soy sauce
- 1/2 tablespoon sesame oil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
- 1 package (14 ounce) refrigerated chow mein noodles or 2 packages (5.6 ounce) refrigerated Yaki-Soba noodles
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 yellow or white onion sliced
- 3 stalks celery sliced
- 1 medium carrot cut Julienne style
- 6 Shiitake mushrooms sliced
- 2 cups shredded cabbage
- In a small bowl, whisk together: soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, brown sugar, ginger and white pepper. Set aside.
- In a large pot of boiling water, add noodles until loosened. About 1-2 minutes and drain well.
- Heat olive oil in large skillet or wok over medium high heat. Add onion, celery, carrots and mushrooms. Cook stirring often until tender. About 4 minutes.
- Add in noodles. Be sure to mix well with the vegetables.
- Stir in cabbage until heated through. About 1 minute.
- Finally add in soy sauce mixture until well combined. Stir in for 1-2 minutes.
- Serve immediately.