Stuffed Bell Pepper Soup

This is a great soup!  I adapted the recipe to include more veggies and I left out the rice.  I was going to add in some barley, but my pot was too full!  But honestly I don’t think anyone missed it.  Everyone went back for seconds, and I was glad I’d made enough that we’d have some leftovers too.  This is easily scaled up or down depending on your gathering.  But I think leftovers would freeze excellently.  This soup does have a bit of a kick to it, but it was prefect for a fall night.  My 9-year-old-cousin loved it and thought it was just the right amount of spicy…she did keep calling it chili, but as long as she thinks it’s good chili that’s fine by me!

Stuffed Bell Pepper SoupStuffed Bell Pepper Soup (A Seat at the Table)

Serves 12

Adapted from Barefeet in the Kitchen

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 6 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 3 celery stalks, diced
  • 5 large bell peppers, diced
  • 2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 48 oz low sodium beef stock
  • 3 cans diced tomatoes
  • 2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbsp poultry seasoning (or Italian seasoning)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

In a large pot, sauté onion in olive oil over medium-high heat until translucent.  Stuffed Bell Pepper Soup meal (A Seat at the Table)Add ground beef and break apart the beef while it cooks.  Add carrots and celery and continue to cook for a few minutes, season with salt and pepper.  Add remaining ingredients, cover and let simmer for about 1 hour, stirring occasionally.  Soup is done when peppers are tender.  Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.  Serve with shredded cheese, sour cream, bread, rice or as is and enjoy!

Bacon Fried Rice

This is a childhood classic.   My mom would make this fairly regularly when we were growing up.  It’s a great way to reinvent leftovers.  This is perfect if you have some leftover rice from getting take-out, or just make a bit extra and save it for this.  Day old rice is perfect in this recipe.  Other than the rice and bacon, you can add whatever you like.  Frozen peas were classic growing up, but whatever veggies you have on hand will be great in this.  It comes together quickly in just one pan, now that’s what I call comfort food!

Bacon Fried RiceBacon Fried Rice (A Seat at the Table)

Serves 6-8

  • 3 slices bacon, diced
  • 2 Tbsp canola oil, divided
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 1/2 cups diced carrots
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 4 cups chopped kale
  • 4 cups rice
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • salt and pepper, to taste

In a large skillet, cook bacon over medium high heat with about 1 tsp canola oil (this helps the bacon crisp).  When bacon is cooked, add the onion and sauté until translucent, then add the carrots and celery.  When the vegetables are tender, wilt the kale.  Add the rice and mix well.  When the rice begins to stick to the bottom of the pan, add the remaining oil, and mix well.  Make a space in the skillet and pour in the eggs.  Scramble the eggs briefly, then mix them into the rest of the fried rice.   Pour soy sauce over the top and season with salt and pepper, then mix well.  Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.  Serve immediately and enjoy!

Holy Trinity Salmon Cakes

These salmon cakes were fantastic.  The name comes from the addition of onion, celery and bell peppers, referred to as the “holy trinity” in Cajun/Creole cooking because it’s such a fundamental part of recipes.  I love adding extra veggies, it adds great flavor and texture.  While these totally taste like beach food (from the Old Bay), they’re still fresh tasting from the veggies, and with a little spritz of lemon juice, they’re absolute perfection.  Next time I might try baking them instead of frying (I’d try 375°F for about 30-40 minutes) just because it’s easier (and a little healthier).

Holy Trinity Salmon CakesHoly Trinity Salmon Cakes (A Seat at the Table)

Serves 8 (makes about 16 – 20 patties)

Adapted from Ina Garten

  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 7 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 bell peppers, diced
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp capers, drained
  • 1/4 cup minced parsley
  • 1/4 tsp hot sauce
  • 3/4 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 3/4 tsp Old Bay seasoning (or crab boil seasoning)
  • 1/2 cup (light) mayonnaise
  • 2 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 18 oz (3 6oz cans) boneless, skinless salmon
  • 1 1/4 cup unseasoned breadcrumbs (I used Panko)
  • olive oil and butter for frying (a couple Tbsp should suffice)

In a large skillet, heat about 2 tsp olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add diced onion and sauté for a minute.  Add the diced celery and bell peppers and sauté for a few minutes, until tender.   Add capers, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and Old Bay and mix well.  Remove from pan and let cool.

In a large bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, mustard, eggs, and salmon.  Gentle fold in the bread crumbs and the cooled vegetables, until well mixed.

Heat olive oil (and butter, if using) over medium high heat, when the pan is hot, add a scoop of the salmon mixture and press down on the top to form a patty.  Cook for about 2-3 minutes on each side, or until cooked through.  Keep patties warm in the oven at 250°F while you cook the rest.  Serve hot with a lemon wedge.

Garden Bean Salad

I love me some beans.  They’re a great source of fiber and protein.  They’re delicious hot, cold or room temperature, they place nice with tons of different flavors, and they’re easy.  Despite my bean love, I’ve never quite liked three bean salad.  There’s a weird sweetness to it that tastes kind of stale to me.  So this is my update on a three bean salad, with lots of vegetables to up the freshness (and health benefits!).  You can use pretty much whatever you have on hand.  I’m usually not a fan of raw onion, so I used shallots which have a slightly milder taste, and I soaked the slices in cold water while preparing the rest of the salad to give them an even milder flavor.  In the end I thought they added a nice subtle spiciness, but weren’t too overwhelming.  You could also mince red onion, or just slice red onion depending on your love of onions.

Garden Bean SaladGarden Bean Salad (A Seat at the Table)

Serves 12-15

Adapted from Food Network Magazine, September 2010

  • 2 large shallots, thinly sliced
  • 2 (15oz) cans small white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15oz) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups frozen corn, thawed
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 sweet bell pepper, diced (orange would be nice for the color, but whatever you like)
  • 3 cups frozen green beans, thawed
  • 1 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • pepper to taste
  • 1/3 cup minced fresh parsley

Soak shallots in cold water while preparing the rest of the salad.  In a large bowl, combine beans, corn, tomatoes, bell pepper, and green beans.  Mix in the drained shallots.

In a bowl, whisk together the vinegar, sugar, salt, oil and pepper.  Pour dressing over the salad, let marinate at room temperature for about an hour.  Garnish with parsley, taste and adjust seasoning as needed.

Greek Salad

End of summer is the perfect time to make Greek Salad. The ingredients are fresh and flavorful. This time I added some chickpeas to add a little more protein and substance to my meal, but it’s just as good without. To make this super fast, we use Italian dressing (I know it’s not at all Greek…think of it as world travel for your tastebuds!). Greek salad (in our house) is characterized by its lack of lettuce (perfect for when you’ve just run out), kalamata olives, and feta cheese, the rest of the vegetables can rotate, but those are the key parts.

Greek Salad

Serves 6

  • 1 cucumber, chopped
  • 2 bell peppers, chopped
  • 1 (15oz) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 4 oz feta, crumbled
  • 1/4 cup kalamata olives, chopped
  • Italian dressing to taste

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Can be made ahead or served immediately.

Kale and Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

Mom and I made this for lunch the other day at the spur of the moment.  I saw a recipe for stuffed shells with kale and thought we could mix something up for stuffed peppers.  Dishes like this are a great way of using up some of the things you have in the fridge that you don’t have a plan for.  This used up some extra cheese and vegetables; stuffed peppers are super versatile and are a great opportunity to try new flavor combinations.

I would definitely make these again.  Maybe with even more kale in the peppers because the kale in the stuffing was my favorite part!  As you can see we steamed the whole bunch of kale and used half for the stuffed peppers and had the other half on the side.  Delicious!

Kale and Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

Serves 4

Adapted from Pink Parsley

  • 1/2 bunch kale, stems removed, chopped
  • 3/4 cup quinoa
  • 1 clove garlic, pressed
  • 5 bell peppers, cored and halved
  • 1 cup fat free cottage cheese
  • 1 cup reduced fat mozzarella (plus more to sprinkle on top)
  • 3 Tbsp shredded Parmesan
  • 2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 2 Tbsp basil
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 350°F.  In a large pot steam or saute the kale.  In a small pot, toast the quinoa then add 1 1/2 cups water, a sprinkle of salt and the pressed garlic; bring to a boil.  Simmer the quinoa until all the water has been absorbed.  Place the halved peppers cut side down on a greased baking sheet.  Place peppers in the oven for about 8 minutes, while finish making the filling.  In a large bowl, combine the remaining ingredients and stir to combine.  Mix in the kale and quinoa.  Take the peppers out of the oven, flip and fill.  Top with a little bit more mozzarella or parmesan, loosely cover with foil and return to the oven for about 20 minutes.  Serve immediately.