Small for Fall

Two things to know about me:

  1. I love stuffing things—whole roasting birds, puffed pastry, my foot in my mouth. It’s also how I do a lot of cleaning around my house. Table getting messy? Just stuff everything in a drawer.
  2. I love miniature things—ponies, travel shampoo, humans. (Fine, you can call them babies if you want. They are forever miniature humans to me.)

So, imagine my delight when skipping down the aisle of Costco (I wasn’t skipping really. I was trying to maneuver my sofa-sized cart around the blathering idiots eagerly queued up to get a free sample of a granola bar. It’s granola, people. We all know what it tastes like… and that’s dirt.)… Anywhoo, imagine my delight to find these:

Bag of Miniature Peppers

That’s right, they are miniature sweet peppers! Here’s another photo of my find with my thumb for comparison.

Raw Miniature Red PepperI thought right then and there: WOO HEE! I’m gonna stuff these bad boys. And, that’s exactly what I did. It was like a wonderful melding of a perfect kitchen day. Here is my made-it-up-myself, you can change it at will recipe for mini stuffed peppers.

(Oh, before I go on… I know. I’m a proper cook with a degree to prove it. I shouldn’t be shopping for fruits and veggies at Costco. I should support my local farmers and buy fresh from them. But interestingly enough, farmers aren’t open when I’m on my last three baby wipes. And, besides, miniature sweet peppers in a bag!)

Mini Stuffed Peppers

  • A dozen or so miniature sweet peppers, sliced lengthwise with the seeds and white ick removed (but leave the stems as they look so cute)
  • 1 C cooked rice
  • ¼-½ lb ground meat (sausage, beef, turkey, chicken, whatever… or if you’re veg just do more veggies)
  • ½ onion, finely diced
  • 1 carrot, finely diced or grated
  • 1 stalk of celery, finely diced
  • ½ C of your favorite veggies, finely diced (more if it’s all veg). Some suggestions: Broccoli, spinach, mushrooms, peas… whatever floats your boat
  • 2 T tomato paste (I’ll be honest, I didn’t really measure. I’m just guessing on this one.)
  • A couple of shakes of your favorite dried herbs or spices (I used dried thyme, garlic pepper, and oregano. Because of the tomato paste, I thought pasta sauce flavors would be best.)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil
  • Grated Parmesan cheese, if you like that sort of thing

Preheat oven to 350°. Cook the rice according to the package instructions. While that’s blurbing on the back of the stove, brown your choice of meat. Make sure that any larger bits are finely broken down into wee meat crumbles. Why? Um, you’re stuffing a mini pepper. Gotta think small (same with the vegetable cutting). Drain any excess fat—reserving just a touch. Put the meat in a bowl and set aside.

Take a bit of that extra meat fat (if you don’t have any use a bit of olive oil), and heat in the same pan you just browned your meat. Sauté your vegetables—starting with the onions and moving your way down to the more delicate vegetables. Cook until crisp-tender. Mix in the tomato paste and give it a couple of good stirs.

In a bowl, mix together your rice, meat, vegetables, and spices. Season with salt and pepper as needed.

Take a bit of olive oil and smear it on the inside of a glass baking dish (bottoms and sides… using a paper towel is the easiest way to this). Using a teaspoon or your fingers, stuff the wee peppers with your mixture. Place them in the baking dish stuffing side up. (You might have to lean them up against each other to keep them from lolling around.) Sprinkle with the cheese, if you’d like.

Bake for 20-30 minutes until the peppers are soft, but still keep their shape. Let cool in the pan for a few minutes so you don’t burn yourself trying to get them out. Can be served warm or at room temperature.

Results

Look how small and bitty!

Stuffed Miniature PeppersOK, so why the f would you want to make miniature stuffed peppers when the bigger versions are easier to stuff and actually make a meal?

  • These are a great fall appetizer for your autumnal parties—a stuffing that comes in its own finger food carrying case.
  • They travel easily to friends’ houses for potlucks. How impressive that you arrive with such a delicate dish!
  • If you have children, wouldn’t this be fun for them? You get the big peppers and your mini humans get mini peppers. (Mr. Moo can testify that the these are delightful for dinner.)
  • What a great snack for after work or late night noshing. (I hate the word noshing.)

And, now I shove my mini Martha Stewart back down into the deep, deep hole where she lives with my dream of a miniature pony and a perpetually clean house.

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