It’s officially Autumn and the air is finally crisp in the mornings and evenings! That makes it a GREAT time to fire up the oven for some yummy baked goods and entrees! We have several we like at this time of year.
In honor of Halloween, I wanted to share one of my fall favorites. You can use it for Halloween dinner parties, and it’s sure to be a hit with the kids and the adults, Stuffed Jack-o-Lantern Peppers!
It also serve a double-duty. With Thanksgiving coming up, you can simply not carve the faces on them and they are just Stuffed ‘Pumpkin’ Peppers.
There are quite a few stuffed pepper recipes out there, and a lot of them use crushed crackers or other things that generally have gluten in them. My recipe is a hybrid of my mom's recipe and my own mad-scientist intuition. It's simple and tasty, and of course, gluten-, dairy-, soy-, and coren-free!
1 lb. grass-fed ground beef (or organic ground turkey)
1 tsp. Salt
1/2 tsp pepper.
1 tsp chili powder
1 cup cooked rice
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 12oz. can of tomato sauce
4 medium size ORANGE Bell Peppers*
*Peppers obviously must be orange. :) And make sure each pepper will stand up on its own and that all will fit side-by-side inside a deep sided casserole dish together. (Think, "pumpkin patch.")
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Cook Rice. Let cool and set aside. (I recommend you prepare the rice in advance.)
- Prep the Peppers.
a. Cut the tops off with a beveled edge (i.e. hold the knife at a 45 degree angle while slicing around the cap, just like you would if you were carving a pumpkin.
b. Once cut, remove the cap and trim off the mass of seeds on the inside. Set cap aside as we will use it again. Discard seeds.
c. Clean out the hollow pepper, removing seeds and ‘vein’ that forms the inside chambers.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine 8 oz of tomato sauce w/ cooled rice.
- Add meat, salt, pepper, chili powder, and chopped onions.
- Mix well with the rice.
- Pour at least a 1 tbsp of remaining sauce into the bottom of each open pepper.
- Stuff the peppers with the meat & rice mixture.
- Using a sharp knife with a long, thin blade, carve a Jack-o-Lantern face on the best side of each pepper.
a. IMPORTANT: When cutting shapes, do NOT remove the parts you cut out. Leave them in place on the pepper.
b. Also, cut at least a full inch into the pepper. The chamber walls can be thick in places so you need to cut completely through the pepper walls each time.
c. I recommend using simple triangles for eyes & nose.
d. For the mouth, cut just the bottom parts of two inverted triangles below nose level. These are the ‘fangs’ in the mouth.
e. Then starting wider than the eyes on the mouth level, cut a line to the top of the first fang.
f. Then connect them in the inside part, then repeat step ‘e’ on the other side.
g. Now simply cut an arc from the corners of the mouth down to the bottom of the ‘fangs’ and across to the other mouth corner. This allows the fangs to ‘rest’ on the bottom of the mouth for support. Remember to leave all pieces in place once cut.
- Place peppers side by side in an appropriate sized casserole dish.
- Poke a finger down the center of the open top of the pepper to create a small well inside the meat/rice mixture.
- Fill the well to the top with remaining tomato sauce.
- Place caps on the correct peppers. Make sure they fit right for correct look.
- If dish lid will fit, use lid. If not, cover entire dish with tin foil.
- Bake in pre-heated over for 30 Minutes @ 350degrees.
- Remove tin foil from top of dish and replace in over for another 30 Minutes. (1 Hour total cooking time)
- Remove from oven when ready and serve shortly after.
- When ready to serve, remove peppers from dish and plate.
- At this point, use the sharp knife to gently remove the plugs from the eyes, nose, & mouth of your Jack-o-Lanterns. (Some tomato sauce may have leaked out. That is fine. It only adds to the ghoulishness of it.)
You can pair this with some sautéed spinach or turnip greens and arrange it as a small ‘pumpkin patch’ on the plate.