Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Learning To Love My Slow Cooker - Beefy Stuffed Peppers Recipe

A long time ago, in what seems like a previous life , I was one of the marketing managers for Crock-Pot® Slow Cookers. I knew the ins and outs of the slow cooker function intimately, edited a cookbook produced by the company and moderated the recipes and message boards on Why I left the world of marketing is a blog post for another day, but given my previous job in the world of slow cookers, you’d think I’d be some sort of slow cooker maven with tons of delicious recipes up my sleeve, right? Um, no. Not even close.

My dirty little secret was that I couldn’t make anything that tasted good in the slow cooker. Recipes turned out bland. The Scotsman would hang his head in despair every time I hauled out the slow cooker as he knew another flavorless meal was coming. I wondered what was wrong with me. There are tons of people utterly devoted to their slow cookers. Why couldn’t I get with the program? About a year ago, I gave away my slow cooker. It was taking up valuable cabinet space and I rarely used it. Then, this past Christmas, I had a change of heart. As a busy working mom, I knew the slow cooker could make dinner time so much easier, if only I could find some flavorful recipes that whole family would enjoy. My mom got me another slow cooker for Christmas, and I’m happy to say we’ve found some recipe winners that I’ve been making regularly for the past couple of months.

The first thing we tried was pulled pork. I had a pork roast in the freezer from our meat CSA and I tossed it in the slow cooker with a chopped onion and bottle of on barbeque sauce (any brand will do) and let it go on low for 8 hours. At the end I shredded the pork, put it on whole wheat buns and called it “BBQ Burgers” (it’s all in the marketing where Jake and Ben are concerned.) It was a big hit with everyone.

However, our favorite recipe so far is a Beefy Stuffed Peppers. We kind of made it up based on a (non-slow cooker) dish from our childhoods. I was worried it was going to be bland but it isn’t at all and is so delicious. It’s also super easy – you don’t even have to brown the meat. The recipe calls for your favorite marinara sauce to be poured on top of the peppers, but we’ve been using Simply Balance Organic Squash and Pumpkin Sauce from  Target. It adds extra veggies and is a bit thicker than other sauces, and holds up well in the slow cooker without getting watery.

I’ve been pinning some slow cooker recipes on Pinterest and hope to try at least one a week – of course I’ll share the good ones with you!

The Peppers: Pre-Sauce

Beefy Stuffed Peppers

4 Bell Peppers (any color – we use red and yellow)
1 lb ground beef
1 small onion, chopped
¾ cup cooked brown rice
½ TBS Italian seasoning
Salt and pepper to taste
1 jar marinara sauce (about 24-oz but if your jar has a little more or less, don’t sweat it)

Mix together the ground beef, onion, rice, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper.

Cut the tops off of the peppers and scoop out the seeds. Stuff the peppers with the beef mixture (if you have leftover beef mixture, it can be frozen for another time.)

Place the peppers in the slow cooker. Pour the marinara sauce over the peppers and cook on Low for 6-7 hours.

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