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Bell_peppers_6-13This recipe invented itself last night out of necessity and I’m so, so glad for it. I had a stack of beautiful red, green and yellow bell peppers left over from a video shoot Friday (used them in a  vegetable centerpiece, fun!), and I thought, Yum! Stuffed bell peppers for Sunday dinner.

Well, as usual, Sunday was busy, but I knew I had dinner in the bag. I always have ground meat, rice and the other basics on hand for a simple stuffed pepper meal, right? Whoops… wrong! When I finally popped into the kitchen to start dinner… no rice — not even Minute Rice. How that happened I’m not sure, but I think it involved a recent school project and a 5lb bag of rice, but that’s another story….

Anyhoo, what to do? I stood pondering in the open pantry door when I spied a Dirty Rice mix. For those who don’t know, Dirty Rice is a New Orleans staple, a mildly seasoned rice blend that you cook together with ground beef (or turkey). It’s used as a heftier side dish for seafood and for stuffings, or as a main dish.

Hmmm… stuffing? Well, that’s not a far cry from stuffed bell peppers, eh? So, I pulled out the box and the rest is easy-peasy, lemon-squeezy culinary history…

The World’s Easiest Stuffed Bell Peppers

Prep time, 25 minutes. Cook time, 35-40 min.

The Recipe:

1 Box Dirty Rice Mix – Zatarains or Chachere’s, both work fine

2 lbs ground beef or turkey

1/2 onion, diced or a few shakes of dehydrated diced onions

4 Bell Peppers, any color

1/2 Cup catsup

2 Tbs Worcestershire Sauce

1/2 Cup shredded cheese — parmesan, cheddar mix, whatever you have on hand (optional)

To Make:

Preheat Oven to 350.

Prepare dirty rice following instructions on box – except DO NOT brown meat first, just boil up the rice mix by itself and add the diced onion to the mix so it cooks together.

While the rice cooks (takes about 20-25 min)…..

Clean and dry the bell peppers. Note, I prefer to halve my bell peppers rather than stuff them whole. I think they cook better and are easier to eat – so I just cut the stem out from the top, then cut the pepper in half stem to bottom, then clean the seeds and white membranes out, rinse and dry on a paper towel.

Mix the 1/2 Cup catsup and 2 Tbs Worcestershire Sauce sauce together in a bowl, you’ll top the stuffed peppers with this.

When rice is done, remove from heat and give it a quick stir. Mix the uncooked ground meat into the rice – right there in the pan. Drop in small chunks a few at a time. The meat will cool the rice and pan, but use a spoon to blend until it’s cool enough to blend with your hands.

Stuff the bell pepper halves with the rice and meat mixture, you can fill them flat or mound them up like a large meatball in a pepper half (that’s what I do). The fill level really depends on how big your peppers are, so it can vary a bit.

Arrange in a glass baking dish and top peppers with the Catsup/Worcestershire Sauce blend.

Place in oven and bake for about 35-40 minutes, depending on the thickness of the stuffing in the peppers.

About 10 minutes before done, remove peppers, sprinkle shredded cheese on top of peppers and return to oven to finish cooking.

Serves 4. I usually add a salad and garlic bread on the side for a nice meal.