I've said this a million times on the blog - because I work really long hours during the week (hello - 60 hours minimum) I tend to cook on Sunday for the week. If I didn't we would either eat out a lot or not eat until 9 pm - neither which are very healthy. I am lucky that my husband doesn't mind leftovers - because essentially that is what it ends up being - leftovers from my cooking marathons on Sunday. I am also lucky he doesn't mind eating the same thing multiple times during the week.
There are not too many things I am rigid about but meal planning and grocery shopping are two I am - mostly because I need both to be efficient. I plan meals based on what's on sale, what's in season and what's our schedule for the week like. I write a tentative meal list - making changes if I find something on sale while shopping. I also make my grocery lists based on the aisles of the store - I know a bit strange - but this makes grocery shopping much more efficient. And since I hate shopping - of any kind - efficiency is the key.
This past weekend I had gotten some lovely huge peppers and patty pan squash from the local farm stand. Stuffing them for several meals this week sounded really good. Growing up my mom stuffed peppers the traditional way - with ground beef and rice. This is how my husband remembers them from his mom as well. When I started making these a few years ago I wanted something different. Mine have a Mexican flair to them.
Here is my 'recipe':
- 3 large bell peppers - cut lengthwise with seeds removed. I know most people take the tops off but this makes more shallow 'boats' that cook faster and the portion size isn't as large.
- 1 lb. ground chicken thighs - although beef or turkey would work just as well.
- Any combo of veggies you like - I use about 2-3 cups of diced veggies and change it up depending on what I have on hand - carrots, peppers, onions, zucchini, peas, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, potatoes (gold or sweet or a combo). Dice all about the same size so they cook evenly.
- 1 tbs of olive oil
- 1 cup salsa
- Cumin, chili powder, garlic, smoked paprika, red chili flakes
Brown ground meat until fully cooked. Remove from pan and set aside. Drain any grease from pan. Add a small amount of olive oil to pan. Add diced veggies and cook until slightly softened - but still have a bite to them. Stir meat back in. Add spices. I don't measure. I start with about 1 tbs. chili pepper, 2 tsps. each of cumin and garlic, 1 tsp. of smoked paprika and a dash of red chili flakes. I mix this all together and let it cook a bit to meld the flavors. Then taste it. Add more spices if you think it's too bland. We like it spicy!
Put peppers in the bottom of a casserole dish. Fill each one with the mix to overflowing. Typically there is some leftover - it freezes fine for a quick meal later that can be added to a taco salad or taco shell. Add salsa to the bottom of the casserole dish along with about 1/2 - 1 cup of water. This takes the place of the tomato sauce in traditional stuffed peppers recipe. You really only want it to cover the bottom of the casserole and create some steam when baking.
Cover casserole with foil. Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes or until peppers are softened. Spoon sauce in bottom over peppers when serving. These reheat very nicely and fit into my gluten-free eating. If you use a salsa with no added sugar then this fits into a Whole 30 or Paleo style diet. If you are eating low-carb you could leave out the potatoes. I only use about 1 small Yukon gold or half a sweet potato.
I've used the same filling for patty pan squash or even zucchini. When I use the squash I scoop out the insides and add them to the veggies I sauté so nothing goes to waste.
Typically I make one or two meals that can be eaten twice each. Or as in the case this week I made the stuffed peppers and squash and plan one night for a crockpot meal. I also cut up all the veggies for salads for lunches this week. Since I was already chopping veggies for meal prep this made it easy.
This really doesn't take much time on a Sunday. Typically an hour of prep and some additional time for cooking. During the winter months I tend to make some things in bulk - like gluten-free meatballs or soups or chili - that can be frozen and kept for a really easy dinner in the future.