Healthier Stuffed Peppers

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Red Peppers stuffed with grilled chicken, quinoa, kale and cheese

As a woman that was born and raised in the South, I’m no stranger to a stuffed pepper.  There were so many meals that my mother prepared for us growing up that still cause my mouth to water, but her stuffed peppers were not my thing.  Everyone else loved them.  I’ve just never been a fan of the green bell pepper, which is what she stuffed with some kind of hamburger meat concoction.   Trust me, I’ve come a long way from the picky eater that I was as a child, but I still have no desire to add the green bell pepper to my diet.  A girl has to be true to herself.

A few years ago, my friends Bill and Cynthia brought a cool jalapeno pepper grill rack to our beach house.  They had stuffed them with some kind of sausage concoction and they were delicious.  I’m a little bit of a jalapeno pepper addict.  I like things spicy.  So, I guess it was inevitable that I would eventually start stuffing peppers.  Here’s the evidence.  🙂

Ingredients:

  • 4 whole organic red peppers
  • 1 cup dry organic quinoa
  • 2 small skinless and boneless chicken breasts
  • 1 cup raw kale, stems removed and roughly chopped
  • 3 cups Gluten Free organic chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella and asiago cheese
  • 3 large cloves of garlic freshly minced
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1/2 pack gluten free taco seasoning
  • 1 tsp. fresh parsley
  • 4 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.   Rinse chicken and pat dry.  Season both sides with salt and pepper.  Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil to medium high heat in a small frying pan.  Add the chicken and cook until the juices run clear.  Most small chicken breasts should cook in about 5-7 minutes.  It just depends on their size.  The chicken will need to be flipped over half way through the cooking time. Once cooked, remove from pan and set to the side. Leave any leftover chicken fond in the pan.  Let chicken breasts sit for at least ten minutes before you cut them.  While the chicken is cooking, fill a small boiler with 2 cups of the broth and the quinoa.  Bring to a slow boil and reduce heat to low and cover.  Simmer for about 9-10 minutes.  Keep an eye on it and stir periodically.  You just want to cook it until the liquid is gone.  Salt and pepper to taste.  While quinoa is simmering, add the remaining olive oil to the pan the chicken was cooked.   Bring the pan to medium high heat.  Once hot, add the vinegar to the pan and use spatula to lift fond. Add the minced garlic to the pan and cook until it is golden. ( takes about one minute)  Add the kale and season with salt and pepper.  Cook for 2-3 minutes until wilted.  Remove from heat and add the kale to the quinoa.  Mix 3/4 of the cheese and all the taco seasoning into the mixture and set aside.  Chop chicken into small pieces and add to the quinoa.  Remove the tops of the red peppers, seeds, and ribs.  Place in a casserole dish that will fit all four peppers inside.  Fill each pepper with quinoa mixture.  Top with remaining cheese.  Pour remaining broth into the casserole dish.  (this will help the peppers steam)  Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 30-40 minutes.  Peppers will be soft and liquid will have evaporated.  Remove foil and broil the peppers for 2-3 minutes.  Do not walk away while broiling.  As soon as the cheese starts to bubble, they are ready.  Let peppers stand for 5-10 minutes.  Chop fresh parsley and sprinkle over hot peppers.  Serve with a light salad.

Notes:

This makes 4 stuffed peppers.  Depending on the size of the peppers, there may be leftover quinoa mixture.  You can save this in the fridge for 2-3 days.  The peppers that I used were rather large and technically were two servings each.  The hubs and I shared one.  My sister heated hers the next day in the microwave and added goats cheese.  It’s not a bad idea, so feel free to add more cheese.

 

 

A Keen Design

I can still remember vividly drawing out floor plans, while spread out on the living room floor as a child.  The books I read at the time were so in depth with their descriptions.  From the characters themselves to the homes they lived in, my mind swooned with imagination.  Mom would give me a stack of paper and a pencil and I would spend hours drawing out each room.  Our living room had the best natural light in the house and it was also the most quiet.  Seems like every house in the seventies and eighties had a separate living room space that was only used for special occasions.  Also, ours had cozy, light blue carpet and wallpaper with gold trees.  The room was magical to me.

It was a natural fit to study design, so that’s what I pursued in college.  To be real though, I was a little late with that realization, so my bachelors degree in interior design, came in my late twenties.  After graduating, I married my longtime sweetheart and moved to the beach.  While there, I opened A Keen Design.  (Keen was my maiden name)  It was exciting to work with clients to help them find their style and make their homes reflect more of who they were.  But after a few years of running my own business, I decided to close the doors.

Fast forward the clock ten years and I’m happily thriving with my husband on the other side of the state, with my mom one block away and my baby sister two miles away.  I have some of the best friends and know that I’m blessed.  I try my best not to ever take them for granted.  What I do struggle with is not doing as much design work here.  I have clients occasionally that I do some work for, and when that happens, there’s a light that feeds my soul.  Recently, I had a return client who asked me to renovate his master bedroom.  I had the reveal yesterday.  There’s not much that compares to the feeling of making someone happy, and yesterday, my client was really happy.  I’ve had permagrin since.  So thank you to those of you that trust me to find your vision.  It fills my cup.

 

Too Early for Wine

I’ve had a plethora of emotions in 2017, and it’s only mid-February.

  • There’s the political atmosphere that keeps my heart rate up.
  • Balancing this “working from home” thing, that’s still pretty new.
  • Working on bettering myself as a writer, a designer and cook…

I never want to disappoint or fall short, but I know that I often do.  This human thing can be tricky and tiring.

Recently, I’ve been re-charged by a returning interior design client. I’m finishing up this week, so I’ll post some fun before and afters soon.    It’s always an interesting challenge to help a client “see” what they really want.  It’s also a challenge not to do everything the way I want to do it.  It’s like a marriage, there’s a lot of compromise to get things right.

My love of food has completely consumed me and I’m looking into the logistics of catering.  I’ve worked in enough restaurants in the past to know that I’m not cut out for the whole shabang.  I’ve taken some samples to friends and asked for feedback.  Here’s a few I tried this week.  They were all gluten-free.  And yes, I’m still working on my cookbook.

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I’ve been studying my way through the wine regions of Europe.  Italy was fun.  I’m now working on France and starting with the Champagne region.  🙂  I follow so many wonderful wine bloggers online, like https://winewankers.com/ https://thedrunkencyclist.com/  https://talk-a-vino.com/  and https://pleasebringmemywine.com/  The more I read, the more I appreciate the efforts that each of these bloggers makes to educate us mere mortals on the intimacies of wine.  I write this with the utmost respect for each of them.  As hard as I try to decipher the aromas and tastes that grace my palate, I still haven’t been able to tell you if there’s a minerality or smokiness to my wine.  I’ve resorted to looking up the descriptions online about each bottle and then trying to “sniff and taste” them out.  So kudos to those of you that can; it’s not like I haven’t finished off enough glasses to have a minor in Wino.

So as I continue to work on my plans for this year, I hope you’ll continue to follow along with my progress.  Clearly, I have a lot on my mind, and need to work on completing some of the ones that I’ve already started, versus adding more to the list.  And is it acceptable to open a bottle of wine before noon on a Wednesday?  Never mind.  I’ve actually got to get some things done, but a girl can dream.

Fried Chicken & Waffles

chicken-waffles

Believe it or not, it had never crossed my mind to make these at home before yesterday.  As a southerner, born and raised, I have an intimate relationship with this combination.  Just the mention of it causes my mouth to salivate.  So in celebration of finishing a self imposed 21 day detox, I fried chicken.

Ingredients for Fried Chicken:

  • 2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 1 tbsp. honey
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1 tbsp. butter

Directions:

Cut each chicken breast into three pieces. Sprinkle each piece with salt and pepper on both sides.  Fill two separate pie or casserole dishes with flour in one and half and half in the other. Mix honey into the half and half mixture.  Dredge chicken in flour, followed by half and half, and then back to the flour once more.  I use tongs to lessen the “biscuit fingers”
Heat a large skillet with the canola oil to medium-high heat.  When hot, add butter and use a spatula to mix it into the oil.  Add chicken to pan.  It should immediately start to sizzle.  If it doesn’t, your pan isn’t hot enough.  (this can make the chicken greasy)  Cook each piece for 3-5 minutes per side.  Try to only flip once.  Make sure that chicken is cooked until the juices run clear and there is no pink left inside.  Cut it open in the middle if you question it, at all.

Ingredients for waffles:

  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup half and half
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp. honey
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Preheat the waffle iron until ready.  Beat the eggs with a hand mixer until light and fluffy.  Add in flour, milk, half and half, canola oil, sugar, baking powder, honey, cinnamon, salt and vanilla.  Once the mix is smooth, set aside for 2-3 minutes.

Spray waffle iron with non-stick cooking spray and ladle mix into the iron.  Cook until golden brown.

To Serve:

Place one waffle on a plate and top with 2-3 pieces of fried chicken.  Add a few tbsp. of butter to the hot waffle and pour maple syrup over the whole plate.  Serve hot!  Depending on your hunger level, this either serves 2 or 4 people.  My waffle iron makes large waffles that could easily be cut in half.

This is not gluten free or low in fat, but it’s entirely worth the splurge.