Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Have Your Protein and Eat it Too - Without Meat!

I had to put my weekly grocery shopping trip off to Sunday because of Saturday's snow.  It actually turned out just fine and the grocery store was quieter than usual - probably because folks had panic shopped on Friday evening.

As usual I came home, put the groceries away and started working on some items to be eaten this week.  For the first time in a while, I did not roast carrots or make a soup because I had leftovers and soups in the freezer.  

Some weeks I am just stumped and I'm often faced with the dilemma that if I want to make things I really like, I have to cook twice as much because Mr. Helen can be a stick in the mud sometimes is hesitant about fully committing to new things.  It's ironic because he really is a good, adventurous eater.  But the man likes his meat so meatless meals are not his thing at all, whereas I'm fine with it.

His favorite football team, the New York Giants, was playing in the NFC Championship and the game was starting just about the time he got home from work so I knew it would be no use in trying to get him to sit at the dinner table.  While it wasn't quite traditional football food, it was food that was easy to eat sitting in front of a TV:  Salmon cakes, coleslaw and french fries.  I also made a big pan of Chicken Tetrazzini for him to eat during the upcoming week.

As much as I don't mind certain types of fish, I am so not fond of salmon so I took this as an opportunity to make myself something that I didn't think he'd eat.  Seemed like a perfect chance to make yet another thing I'd pinned on Pinterest.

For those of you who cook, have you ever looked at a recipe and thought that the proportions of ingredients just didn't seem right?  That's exactly what happened with this recipe!  But, I usually try to make things just the way they're written the first time so I forged ahead.  Unfortunately, I was correct, something was very wrong, but with my mad cooking skillz, I was able to course-correct and the end result was fabulous.

Herewith are Mexican Quinoa Stuffed Bell Peppers based on a recipe I saw at Natalie's Killer Cuisine.

The first thing you have to do is roast the peppers.  I cut the tops off and cleaned them out then put them in a 450 degree oven for about 10 minutes.  Then I turned the broiler on and broiled them turning them every minute so that the skin would char and blister. Then set them aside to cool.

Try not to look at my "well-seasoned" pan, concentrate on the awesome roasted peppers...

Then you make the Mexican Quinoa Stuffing and fill the peppers. Sorry, I forgot to take a photo of the stuffing alone because I got distracted by the fact that it was the stuffing that was out of proportion, and that was after I changed the ratios. The original recipe just called for too much stuffing for two peppers and I had reduced the amounts! I still ended up having to go back and roast another pepper. Once I had the peppers filled, I put them on a plate and stuck them in the fridge.  When it was time to eat, I baked one pepper in the oven at 350 degrees so that the filling would be warm and creamy.

These were so good!  The original recipe said to serve with an avocado cream but I forgot about that and in the end, didn't even need it.  I actually like this stuffing way more than a rice based stuffing and this recipe - or my version of it - is getting a permanent place in the favorites cookbook.  Not to mention that this dish is vegetarian, if you're so inclined, and I'm sure there are acceptable substitutes for the dairy that a vegan could figure out.  Definitely worth making!

My pepper drizzled with some Cholula Hot Sauce

Mexican Quinoa Stuffed Bell Peppers  
(Makes 4 large peppers)

4 large bell peppers
1.5 cups cooked quinoa
1/2 cup cooked black beans
1/2 cup frozen corn kernels
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 cup chopped tomato
1/2 cup reduced fat cheddar or reduced fat Mexican cheese blend
1/3 cup light sour cream
1 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. pepper (use black pepper or dried chipotle or red pepper flakes - whatever you like)

Cut tops off bell peppers (you can use any color pepper you want). Clean and put on cookie sheet cut side down(put tops as well) and cook at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes. Turn on broiler and roast the peppers until they are charred.

Cook the quinoa according to package directions. Put quinoa and all the other ingredients in a medium bowl and mix well. Stuff each pepper with 1/4 of the mixture.

Bake in a 350 degree oven to warm the stuffing and melt the cheese.

4 servings - 1 stuffed pepper per serving, 259 calories, 6.3g fat, 38.8g carbohydrate, 6.6g fiber, 12.3 g protein.


  1. I always make a recipe with the instructions the first time. Can't remember this happened to me. I do think sometimes it's too much when it says it's a recipe for 2 or 4 and I adjust the ingredients (that's why the cake didn't turn out right this time).

    The filled peppers look great, I'm going to remember this because I bought quinoa a while ago and still haven't used it but this is a great way to use it. Thanks.

  2. Yummy! And for what it's worth, my well-seasoned pan is the twin to yours ;-)

  3. That looks really good! My hubs is the same way. He just doesn't get a meal without meat. But...I suppose I could have him try one as a side with chicken. I love quinoa!

  4. Looks awesome! Quinoa has always skeeved me a bit because it looks like a million little eyes looking up and mocking me, but I'm overcoming the resistance and pressing on.

    I'm making the cocunut soup you posted a couple weeks ago tonight. Can't wait. When does "Doing a 180 - the cookbook edition" get released??

  5. I must applaud you. As a meat lover, the idea of having a meal without some kind of meat sends uncomfortable feelings through me---BUT---I must say, your offerings here show me how wonderful a meatless meal can be. Absolutely fabulous!! And repeating the question from the previous reader-- When can we buy your debut cookbook? It's in you, wow--those pics are amazing. Thank you for this post.

  6. Yum! Now I cant wait to "Veganize" these and make them! They look so delicious! :)

    1. Make sure you use my proportions - the original recipe makes way too much filling! Also, you need to let me know how you veganize it so I can share on the blog :)

  7. Quinoa is my "go to" grain these days above brown rice. 21 days and counting, I haven't had a pasta based meal either.

    Thanks for the recipe!

  8. I've learned over the years to look through a recipe and can usually tell if something doesn't seem like it would work. It's easier to do with cooking than baking. Baking is too "scientific".

    Loving quinoa lately, too!

  9. I hear ya about the Mr not eating meatless anything! My arm candy thinks he's being mistreated if there's not meat on the plate! Fish barely counts!
    Those stuffed peppers look good! I will be trying those. They'll be just for me as peppers are one thing arm candy won't eat!


  10. Thanks for sharing the yummy recipes! Also, good cooks always have "well seasoned pans," and you certainly are a fabulous cook! I'm going to try your recipes, Helen. I'm needing to change things up right now--probably due to being in a mid-winter rut!

  11. My husband is a big quinoa fan so we'll have to try these. Thanks:)

  12. I am not a huge stuffed pepper fan, but these look amazing and this filling? WOW! I will actually have to make them.

    I can go without meat as protein many days, but I wonder if I made these, if Jeff would still feel the need for some that you are trying out so many vegetarian dishes and giving me ideas to steal...I mean, BORROW. :)

  13. Helen thank you for sharing this recipe. I have been thinking about stuffed peppers but didnt have a healthy version that thrilled me yet. I will be trying this one for sure!

    My hubby is also a meat lover but I am trying to incorporate a couple of meatless meals a week into our menu. He doesn't feel like he has had protein if there isn't meat on his plate!

  14. I almost always tweak any recipe because I have such funny tastebuds. Except dessert recipes - those are just always good LOL!

    John does a lot of cooking. I can eat all my 'funny food' as he calls it and he will make something for himself. We oftentimes share a protein/main dish, but have different sides. I just couldn't be bothered to cook 2 different meals so if he doesn't want what I make, he has to fend for himself. (that makes me sound like a witch, but oh well) I am not sure how it worked out that way, but it did.

    1. Here's the thing. He never EVER asks me to specifically cook differently for him - ever. In fact he never asks me to cook. It's something I love to do so I do it. But like you and John we often share a protein and have completely different sides. So doing that was my choice. Besides, the poor man doesn't get home until 6:30 p.m. from work on Sunday nights. Who wants to start cooking then? Not even I want to do that!

  15. I do the same: follow a recipe the first time and make it my own the second time...if it deserves a second chance. But sometimes you have to tweak it from the beginning.

    Never thought of roasting the peppers before stuffing them. Great idea!

  16. I have got to try savory quinoa! I just had it in my oatmeal while I was reading this, and that's the only way I've had it. Plus, I have about 10 pounds of it in the cupboard (Costco) Anyway, this looks delish--I'd have to tweak because of my 'funny taste buds' as Lori says. I don't like peppers that much, and I don't like beans. Still, you've got me going on the savory quinoa!

    Plus, how much do I love your 'seasoned' pan? All my cookie sheets are like that because I spray with Pam and roast veggies so often. I've been embarrassed by them, but then think, it'll just happen again. So I thought of them as seasoned, but didn't know I had fellow compadres who thought the same way.

  17. ok I have to share Ive never eaten a pepper.
    the innards? YES.
    the outards? no.

    **slinks away in semishame**

  18. Helen, those look delicious! Totally stealing that recipe from you for one of my lunches next week - and for anyone doing WW, each pepper comes in a 9 WW points.

    I am not a salmon fan either - although I don't mind a little bit if its smoked. Turns out I love Chilean sea bass, but my store sells it for $23 a pound - um, not in my budget! Maybe when I hit the lottery!

  19. These look delicious Helen!!! Dennis is like Mr. Helen, he's a bit of a carnivore and misses meat if we eat meatless. MIZ??? You've never eaten a pepper?????? And Helen, still waiting for the glam dress with snowboots shot!! :) Have a great day!!!