Category: Entree

Recipe: Stuffed Bell Peppers with Turkey

While everyone says that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, I say that lunch should be the biggest!

Some of you know that I am on a healthy journey and trying to lose some weight that stress, moving, and the holidays have all packed on. One of the changes I wanted to make was to take a page from the Mediterranean diet and make lunch my biggest meal. This helps me to eat and burn. In other words, I am not going to bed after eating a large meal and letting my body turn those calories into sugar which adds to those hips! By eating a larger meal at lunch, I am active for hours following which means those calories are absorbed as energy instead!

So one of the best things about living in California is the abundance of produce no matter what time of the year! After a trip to the grocery store this past weekend, I came home with a receipt that was way too long but managed to scoop out some great items! One of which was these amazing red bell peppers. So what to do with these sweet treats?


Stuffed Red Bell Peppers with Grounded Turkey and Basmati Rice

IMG_2191

Ingredients

  • 4 large green bell peppers
  • 1½ teaspoons extra virgin cold pressed olive oil
  • 1 medium Spanish onion, chopped
  • 6 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 pound lean ground turkey
  • 1½ cups cooked basmati rice
  • 1 8-ounce can tomato sauce, (1 cup), divided
  • 1 teaspoon Himalayan pink salt (add more to taste)
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Directions

  1. Make sure that your Basmati rice is cooked al dente. Remember that it will cook a little more in the peppers!
  2. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  3. Hollow out the peppers by cutting out stem ends of bell peppers; I saved the tops to put on top for decoration. Scoop out seeds.
  4. Make sure the bottom of your large nonstick skillet is coated with olive oil. Heat the oil in over medium heat. Add onion, shallots, and garlic and cook, until the onions are soft (about 3-5 minutes). Add turkey mixing with the onions, shallots, and garlic, just until it looks brownish, about 2-4 minutes.
  5. Add precooked Basmati rice and mix with turkey. Add 1 cup of tomato sauce and continue to mix together. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Stuff the peppers with the mixture, leaving behind any fat and place them in an oven-safe dish like a 2-quart casserole dish. Bake uncovered for 20 minutes to finish cooking the meat and rice mixture. Then cover and finish baking for 10-15 minutes until peppers are tender.

So inquring minds want to know… Are you going to try this recipe? Have you made something similar? Do you have any go-to meals that you make for dinner/lunch? Tag me on your IG if you try this recipe or your own variation of it – @ms_bella_daniela!

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Cooking with SunBasket

So to date, I have written about my experience to date with HomeChef, who I recently found out was hyped about by none other than Hillary Duff. I actually have a few updates since my last post from a couple of weeks ago (you can read it here), but this post is about a whole new company that I recently learned, researched, and took the plunge with! If you couldn’t tell already by the title, the company I am referring to is SunBasket.

First off, SunBasket is like HomeChef in that it is a cook-at-home meal delivery service. The ease in picking my dinners was great – they both even have apps for iOS and Android so you can make changes on the go. So what I want to do is a comparison of the two, with the caveat that I have not yet received my first order from SunBasket.

Let’s take a look at the next two weeks of recipes (this week I am doing HomeChef and next week SunBasket to test it out):

HomeChef (week of 9-16)
Hot jalapeño jelly-glazed salmon with crispy onion asparagus
Crispy salt and pepper shrimp with red bell pepper
Chicken Kiev with parsley-garlic butter and green beans
Greek Chicken & couscous with cucumber and feta
Cotija-crusted pork chop with Spanish rice

SunBasket (week of 9-23)
Spicy Greek shrimp with tomatoes, feta, and orzo
Korean chicken japchae with glass noodles and vegetables
Fettuccine Bolognese with garlic-sauteed baby broccoli
Mediterranean lemon chicken
Palermo steaks with warm fennel and tomato salad

Right off the bat, the menu selection from SunBasket is more cultural than HomeChef though I see HomeChef trying to make some bold choices!

Next, let’s compare prices, excluding any promotions:
HomeChef – $99.50 for 5 meals, 2 servings ($9.95 per serving)
SunBasket – $79.90 for 5 meals, 2 servings ($7.99 per serving)

So there is a cost-saving for SunBasket over HomeChef on a weekly basis. Now SunBasket’s prices do increase if you order fewer meals per week ($9.99 per serving when you order 2 meals; $8.99 per serving when ordering 3 meals). However, for the sake of not having to worry about meals during the workweek AND comparing evenly, we are doing 5 meals per week.

How about add-ons? What are add-ons, you ask? Well, let’s say you want to have some lunch meals or snacks OR you really liked the sauce you got in one of the meals and want to order more…
HomeChef add-ons vary week to week, but usually, consist of 2 salads, smoothies and protein packs (like extra meat or chicken).
SunBasket add-ons seem to be more plentiful. They actually break down their orders into Dinners, Breakfast, Lunch, Snacks, Proteins, and Pantry. Under breakfast, there are 5 options for egg bites, yogurt, oatmeal, granola, bread and spreads, juices, and coffee/tea. Under lunch, they have salads, soups, noodle bowls, and flatbreads. Snacks consist of dips, snackable veggies, nuts, crackers, sweets, jerky, and bars (think fig bars). The protein section is fairly self-explanatory but you can buy extra meats, chickens, fish, or vegetarian options! For the pantry, you can buy fresh kinds of pasta, sauces, oils, soups, large flatbreads, and coffees.

What a difference! I mean, I don’t see myself needing to buy a salad BUT it seems like I can really do my grocery shopping through SunBasket if I plan ahead.

Now, what about quality? SunBasket’s main selling point, especially to someone that isn’t subscribed, is that they are an organic company which means you can eat clean and organic – great for my Paleo friends! You can also customize your menu more so than with HomeChef. You can select a plan if you are paleo, vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free…or you can mix it up. With HomeChef, their ingredients are fresh but it is not are not always organic – I don’t always run to organic so it doesn’t quite bother me very much.

Overall I am waiting to see what next week’s box looks like as it’ll be my first with SunBasket! This may be a game-changer OR I will bounce back and forth depending on the meal selections. Either way, I have to say that these are some great options to try in order to save money, time, and the stress of having to cook something new every night!

So inquiring minds want to know… Have you tried any cook-at-home meal delivery companies? Are you interested in an unboxing of SunBasket’s delivery? Are you interested in signing up for one of the two mentioned above?

HomeChef Update

So back on August 20th, I wrote about a way that I am trying to cut back on excessive spending when it comes to my groceries, reducing waste with unused food, and reallocating time that was previously spent running from store to store. Well, 2 weeks in and going on to week 3, I wanted to share an update! Also, I want to add that this is not sponsored.

When I posted about HomeChef in my New Take on Groceries post, I wasn’t sure what to expect – honestly. I grew up with a mom that worked fulltime but also cooked every week. She taught me to love cooking and that the kitchen is all about organized chaos. She taught me that a little of this and a pinch of that were real measurements for ingredients. She taught me that the kitchen is the heart of the home. And with all of those lessons, I learned about cultural foods, how to basically cook for an army (I am having a really hard time cooking for just 2), and how cooking can bring people together. So when I decided to take a leap into these pre-planned meals, I thought I was shaming my up-bringing. I was not going out and buying my groceries, one cucumber at a time. I was not examining my produce or selecting that portioned ground beef (you know, the one that was priced $6.98 and not $7.02). I was not coming up with my own concoctions. I was not experimenting or playing with food. I honestly felt slightly ashamed.

But I knew I had to do something to help my husband and I cut down on cost, cut down on overindulgence, and reallocate time that has become so precious and so limited (working fulltime, going to school fulltime, and managing some personal side projects really take a toll). So I told myself that this is an experiment so the scientist in me could rationalize the change and took the plunge.

As I mentioned, my first order was curtesy of a promotion code and subsequent orders would cost a bit more but still be less than what we normally would spend on just the groceries themselves. I did a breakdown in my earlier post (you can find it here). So to date, these are the expenses we have incurred for any and all groceries:

HomeChef – $57.50 (week 01) + $89.50 (week 02) + $99.50 (week 03)
Local Farmer’s Market: $30 (week 01) + $32 (week 02) + $0 (week 03)
Local grocery: $30 (week 01) + $20 (week 02) + $28 (week 03)
Costco: $0 (week 01) + $0 (week 02) + $55 (week 03)
Subtotal: $117.50 (week 01) + $141.50 (week 02) + $182.50 (week 03)
GRAND TOTAL: $441.50

Now, I have to admit that some of the local grocery shopping was for our pups who eat home-cooked food which we mix with their kibble, but for the sake of the cost analysis, we will include it. Additionally, there were some expenses that were for work functions, but I cannot find that recent and it was partially reimbursed so we will exclude that. I also excluded non-food items like hand soap, detergents or aluminum foil (Costco for the win though). Also, I had cooked a storm before we started this so we had a LOT of food in the freezer so, for those 2 days when we didn’t have a HomeChef meal, we still had food without having to go out to eat or scramble for last-minute ingredients.

So if we look at what I had predicted for expenses for a month, we will go over $500 in groceries BUT we have had less waste, less time spent shopping (hence my weekend of homework), less gas running from store to store, and less stress during the week. In fact, I opened my fridge this morning and realized it was basically empty – and by empty, I mean full of milk, eggs, and those other staples but not full of food in every Pyrex we own.

Yes, we still have to make some additional improvements but overall, this is still a savings for us. On a given month, we could easily surpass $600 in groceries alone.


Now, let’s talk about the food itself.

I am still feeling guilty about not having my mother’s recipes sprawled about the counter or making up my own concoctions, but I have to say that some of these meals are going to become part of our regular meal rotation when this little experiment is over!

The food is really quite good and I am still able to play with the recipe a little bit – mostly because we cut out a lot of salt (some of these have 50% of your daily intake!). My husband and I also still cook together, most days. And on those days we aren’t cooking together, the recipes are simple enough that one can cook and the other can do homework or personal tasks and he doesn’t yell at me that “a little of that” doesn’t mean anything! Most importantly, we eat together, at the dinner table, and have 1 serving – and we aren’t hungry!

I am currently editing my first unboxing video of the HomeChef delivery, which comes every Tuesday for us and is well packed! So stay tuned as I hope to have that up this weekend.

And just to leave you with an idea on the meals we have had…

So inquiring minds want to know… How important is home cooking in your household? Do you eat out often? If so, how often? How do you manage your budget with groceries?

Recipe – Chicken Burrito-ish Bowl

As a part of “No Spend Week”, I had to start getting a little creative with my dinner options. By time Sunday came around, I was out of quick fixes and a lot of random food items. What does one do with two cups of mixed dry beans or a single can of crushed tomatoes?

Well…let me re-introduce to my friend the Instant Pot. I had no protein defrosted and a lot of dry ingredients that needed to soak and soften like rice. So I kind of adapted a “dump” recipe and made my own little concoction!


Ingredients:
3 chicken breast (frozen is okay)
2 cups of rice (I use brown basmati)
2 cups of dry mixed beans (like what you would use for chili)
1 12oz can of crushed tomatoes (no salt added)
5 cups of chicken broth (no or low sodium)
1 16oz bag of frozen mixed vegetables (peas, carrots, corn, and green beans)
1 tbsp of cumin
1 tbsp of smoked paprika
1 tbsp of black pepper
1 tbsp of red pepper flakes
1 tbsp of turmeric
Shredded cheese & lite sour cream optional

Soak 2 cups of dry mixed beans in water. Drain before cooking.

Add 1 cup of chicken broth to the instant pot and place the chicken breast (skip this part if using fresh chicken). Cook on manual and sealed for 8 minutes. If chicken isn’t fully cooked, that’s okay – you will cook it again. Quick release.

Add 3 cups of chicken broth to instant pot. Add drained beans and rice. Add cumin, smoked paprika, pepper, turmeric and red pepper flakes. Cook on manual (or rice button if you have it) for 10 minutes. Quick release. Stir and scrape the bottom of the pot well!

Add chicken to instant pot with rice and beans. Cube chicken if preferred or shred. Add frozen mixed greens. Add 1 cup of chicken broth. Add 1 can of crushed tomatoes. Seal and cook on manual for 5 minutes. Quick release.

If you get the “BURN” notice, that means that the rice stuck to the bottom of the pot. You need to scrap the bottom and create a hole in the middle to allow pressure to build.

Plate and top with shredded cheese and sour cream.

Enjoy!!

Recipe – Instant Pot Mac & Cheese

As I mentioned in my last post, one of my favorite kitchen gadgets is my 6qt Instant Pot (IP). This was a spontaneous item that I bought when times were hard at home – one income, limited kitchen space, long hours…and I had heard so much about this pressure cooker that was just shy of saving the world!

But seriously, I recall that Walmart had a sale on this where I scooped it up for less than $50 between the sale and some coupon codes (thank you, RetailMeNot). I figured that this was my present to myself and if it could help me make even one home cooked meal a week, it was worth it. Low and behold, this has become so significant that I was gifted the new 8qt version where I can even make homemade yogurt!

This week, I was asked for my IP Mac & Cheese recipe by a friend of mine that now has an IP of her own and since there are 1379247395 different versions online, I figured why not add just one more – mine!


Ingredients:

  • 1 Box or Bag of Elbow Macaroni or Shells (do not use rice or lentil alternatives)
  • 4 Cups of No Salt (Low Salt is okay) Chicken Broth (or Stock)
  • 1 Cup Almond Milk (can use low-fat regular milk)
  • 3 Cups of Shredded Cheese – I use mozzarella, Colby jack, and a hint of white Vermont cheddar
  • 1/4 Cup Onion Powder
  • 1 tsp Himalayan Pink salt
  • 1-2 tbsp of smoked paprika (optional)

Throw in the macaroni, chicken broth, and salt into the Instant Pot. Set on 4 minutes (manual or pressure cook). Do not be alarmed that as your pasta pressurizes, or at the end of the 4 minutes, you may see splatter through the steam release…this is okay and can be cleaned afterward (this is due to the starch in your pasta).

After 4 minutes, manually release the pressure (in other words, quick release). You will notice a little bit of liquid still left with the now cooked pasta – that’s good!

Set your IP to “Sauté” mode. This will help melt the cheese but make sure to mix often.

Add half a cup of milk. Stir. Add the onion powder and shredded cheese – 1 cup at a time; add the second half-a-cup of milk. Stir. Add more milk as needed to ensure a creamy but not watery consistency.

Once the cheese is melted and creamy, turn off “Sauté” or it will burn your food!

Add the smoked paprika, if desired. This gives the mac & cheese a little kick without being over-powering and gives a nice color richness to the dish.

ENJOY!

Comment below if you are going to try this and how it turns out for you! Do you add anything extra? Do you have a version that you would like me to try? Do you have a tried and true stovetop recipe that you use?