Sunday, November 4, 2012

Meatball Stuffed Peppers

Life as gotten busy lately. I went back to work full time in June, but apparently I was living in some kind of fantasy land over the summer where life is rainbows and lollipops. Four Seasons Kitchen is now feeling the effects of my working full time plus being a mother and a wife.

The other thing that has affected the blogging frequency here is my husband is on a naturopath-perscribed food trial. No gluten and no dairy for a month. I have not been very enthused about dinner the last couple of weeks. I have found it pretty difficult to find recipes that contain no dairy or gluten. Most recipes are either/or. I looked at vegan recipes, but then you get crazy substitutes for eggs and such. Le sigh.

A friend at work lent me a gluten-free cookbook, Deliciously G-Free by Elizabeth Hasselback, which has helped with some dinner ideas. We think Tyler's problem is probably gluten, rather than dairy, so if that is the case I can make a lot more recipes from this book. Almost everything looks delicious, but there are a lot of recipes with dairy. Baking anything sweet from the book is pretty much out as all the recipes contain butter or other dairy. I think the poor guy has lost almost 10 pounds over the last few weeks.

This recipe for Meatball Stuffed Peppers is adapted from the book. It was great and I will make it again, whether we have to continue with gluten-free or not. I did, however, find the meat in the pepper a bit tough. Treating it more like a meatball by adding bread crumbs soaked in milk (or rice milk) next time will help. I am including that modification in the recipe below.

So, what the hell have we been eating for the last couple of weeks on this elimination diet? Here it is. Hopefully anybody else starting on a gluten free or dairy free diet (or the hell of both) will find this helpful! Let me know in the comments if you have any other delicious meal ideas please! I almost threw my computer across the room yesterday trying to come up with dinners for the upcoming week. I have problems with patience. Tyler calls it short aggression... ok moving on to the menus....

Week 1

White Bean Chicken Chili  
I never ended up making this, we ended up getting a roast chicken, wedges, and bean salad from the grocery store that night instead. The bean salad had barley in it though. Oops.

Spanish Rice Bake with Chorizo added to the recipe

Pasta Carbonnara with Broccoli  
We used rice pasta. I have since discovered that corn pasta is better. Not as mushy

Frittatta with Sausage, Roasted Red Peppers, and Kale  
This was a winner. Delicious.

Shepard's Pie  
Make your Shepards Pie (Cottage Pie if you're not Canadian) with cornstarch instead of flour for the gravy, and I made smashed potatoes to go on top instead of mashed potatoes which you really need dairy for.

Week 2

Asian Slow Cooker Pork, Rice, Stir-Fried Broccoli

Lemon Pepper Shrimp Scampi with Pasta  
I added some roasted vegetable tomato sauce as well

Quinoa and Kale Pilaf with Fried Egg  
This was a fail. Apparently I am the only one in the house who likes quinoa

Corn Griddle Cakes with Sausage and Maple Syrup  
OMG these are so good. I used a gluten-free baking flour I found at the grocery store and subbed rice milk for the buttermilk.

Burgers on Gluten Free Buns with Sweet Potato Fries

Week 3

Meatball Stuffed Peppers (recipe below)

BBQ Chicken Sandwiches with Saurkraut

Pasta with Meatballs and Roasted Vegetable Sauce

Pad Thai from Deliciously G-Free.
It wasn't great. The sauce was too thin. I found a recipe in Clean Eating magazine that looks better. I'll report back after I make that one.

Steak with Roasted Potatoes and Root Vegetables

I realize there are only 5 meals per week listed above. We did eat, of course, on the other 2 days of the week. I just don't remember what we ate.

Adapted from Deliciously G-Free
Serves 4
Note: If you eat dairy, some goat cheese stirred into the polenta when it's finished cooking is out of this world.
  • 2 handfuls baby spinach
  • 1/4 lb lean ground pork
  • 1/4 lb lean ground beef
  • 1/4 cup gluten free breadcrumbs (pulse a slice of gluten free bread in a food processor to make bread crumbs)
  • 1/4 cup milk or plain dairy substitute (rice milk, soy milk, almond milk, etc)
  • 1 cup mushrooms, finely chopped (the Slap Chop works great for this)
  • 2 tsp each salt and pepper, divided
  • 2 red, yellow, or orange bell peppers
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes (I used a can of diced tomatoes originally and I found them too chunky)
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • fresh parsley or basil, chopped to garnish
  • 1/2 cup coarse cornmeal
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 tsp salt and pepper
Heat a large skillet over med-high heat. Add spinach and 1 tbsp water. Cook until wilted, 30 seconds to a minute. Remove from skillet and set aside until cool enough to chop. Keep heat on skillet.

Add olive oil and garlic to skillet. Cook 30 seconds or less- don't let garlic brown. Add tomato paste, cook 30 seconds. Add tomatoes reduce heat to medium to medium low- you just want the tomato sauce to simmer, not boil.

Place bread crumbs in a smalll bowl. Add milk and stir to combine. Set aside for 5 minutes.

Cut peppers in half lengthwise (stem to bottom). Remove stem, seeds, and any white membrane from each half. Season the inside of each with salt and pepper.

Chop spinach and add to a large bowl. To spinach, add pork, beef, mushrooms, bread crumb mixture, and 1 tsp each salt and pepper. Squish and mix with your hands until well combined.  Divide mixture equally between pepper halves.

Add peppers to skillet, cut side up, nestling them into the sauce. Cook, partially covered and keeping at a simmer, 40-50 minutes ensuring meat is cooked through.

10 minutes before peppers are done, bring water for polenta to a boil in a sauce pot. Very slowly pour in polenta, stirring with a whisk the whole time to avoid lumps. Add salt and pepper. Cover and turn heat down to low. Cook, whisking occasionally, until polenta is cooked (taste it- it shouldn't be hard or gritty) and water is all absorbed. If water is absorbed and polenta is too stiff before it's cooked add a little more water and whisk gently. Polenta should be thick but pourable.

To serve put some polenta in the middle of a plate or shallow pasta bowl and top with 1 half pepper per person with some sauce and fresh parsley or basil sprinkled over top.

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