If you don’t like red bell peppers (what is wrong with you!?!), then you’re probably not a fan of me either right now. Today’s recipe is following along that vein with even more of that red gold (does that fit?). I was at the local Trader Joes, being reminded how much I love that store (and their prices), and picked up some tofu. The great thing about tofu is that it doesn’t have much taste of it’s own, taking on whatever flavor of it’s fellow ingredients. The horrible thing about tofu is that it doesn’t have much taste of it’s own, taking on whatever flavor of it’s fellow ingredients.

Red Pepper and Cabbage

So what do I do? I add cabbage; another ingredient that is not well known for it’s vibrant flavor. Red pepper takes the save, with help from its trusty side kick, the caraway seed. Not something one often cooks with, all I can think of is bread, but it worked out well.

Red Pepper and Onions

Oh, and use a big pan for this. This, I learned the hard way.

Tofu and Cabbage Stir Fry with Red Pepper

Tofu And Cabbage Stir Fry With Red Bell Pepper

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion; chopped
16oz extra firm tofu; cut into 1/4 inch pieces
1 red bell pepper; diced
1 lb cabbage; roughly chopped
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice wine

In a large pan, sauté the onions in oil under medium heat until translucent; approximately 10 minutes. Raise to medium-high, add the red bell peppers and caraway seeds, cooking for another five minutes, then add tofu and cook for another 10 minutes. Add the cabbage, toss to combine well, cover, and cook for 10 minutes; stirring occasionally.

Uncover, add the rice wine, soy sauce, half a cup of water and cook for another 10 minutes. Cabbage will be tender but still have a bit of bite to to it. Serve and enjoy.

Red Pepper And Broccoli Cous Cous Pilaf

Red Pepper and Broccoli Couscous Pilaf

I really love couscous. It’s so simple, almost flavorless, but I love the fluffy texture, the fact that it fills you up like grains without weighing you down, how well it seems to work with other ingredients, oh and how good it is for you. It’s gotta be the grain with the least amount of calories. 😉 Even when you go whole grain, you gain extra nutrition and lose nothing in flavor. Kickin’

Steamy Broccoli Red Pepper and Onion

I love the colors of this dish the bright reds and greens of the vegetables pairing very well with the earthy tone of whole wheat couscous; creating a well balanced work of art that sustains tastefully and visually. While I wouldn’t call this a heavy dish, couscous is a grain and pushes this to the upper echelon of the “light” scale. Serve as a main course that won’t weigh down or as a side dish, paired with some protein. I can see some sort of chicken dish as an excellent accompaniment.

Aromatics and Herbs

Red Pepper And Broccoli Cous Cous Pilaf
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 red bell pepper; diced
1 yellow onion; chopped
2 cloves garlic; minced
1/2 jalapeño pepper (or an entire on depending on your heat limits)
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 tablespoon tamari (or soy sauce)
generous pinch of salt (optional)

6 oz broccoli; chopped into small florets (2-3 cuts depending on the size)
1/2 couscous

Steam your broccoli until only slightly tender, about five minutes and remove from your steaming water source. Set aside. Bring a bit more than half a cup of water to a boil i a small pot, add couscous, remove from heat and let sit, covered, for at least five minutes. Fluff with a fork.

Cook your onions (with the oil) in a large pan at medium heat for one minute. Add the red bell pepper and cook until the onions become partially translucent and the red pepper has become slightly soft; approximately 5 minutes. Stir occasionally. Reduce to medium heat, add your garlic, jalapeño and herbs and cook until the garlic is fragrant; approximately 1 minute.

Reduce to medium-low heat and add your broccoli, couscous, tamari and salt. Mix well and cook until the broccoli is tender. Remove from heat, serve and enjoy.

Red bell peppers! I’m totally rockin’ the whatever’s-on-sale cooking mentality right now and, of course, with all the veggies coming in it is going quite well. It’s a bit wild how red bell peppers and green peppers are only different by how ripe they are. Mother nature, you are full of surprises.

Peeled Red Peppers Soup - Almost Ready

This recipe’s a little more involved with the roasting, but the process really extracts some great flavor and the richness of the cream works well. I personally think bisques (like many soups) are better the day after. Not that I waited that long, of course.

Roasted Red Bell Pepper Soup

Roasted Red Bell Pepper Bisque
4 red bell peppers
2-3 tablespoon oil
1 onion
1 carrot
3 cloves garlic
4-5 cups vegetable stock
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp salt
pepper
1/2-1 cup cream

Roast your peppers, peel, and set aside. With the oil, sauté your onion and carrot until translucent; about 5-8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Add the bell pepper, enough stock to cover and spices. Bring to a boil and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes.

Let cool briefly and blend in 2-3 batches and strain back into the pot. Add the cream, gently reheat and add salt & pepper to taste. Serve and enjoy.

Chicken & Roasted Red Pepper Pizza

Hello, readers!

Yes, I was absent last week… and I didn’t even have the courtesy to say why, did I? You see, I was on a top secret mission to California! My husband (this dude) was on Jeopardy! It has been pretty much a lifelong goal of his to be on the show.

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And now I’m on another top secret mission – I can’t reveal anything about what happened on the show! It hard… very hard… but I can tell you to watch Jeopardy on Thursday, April 8! I know it’s far away; it will be a long wait for us too, but you don’t want to miss the show!

peeling

Since returning from California I’m trying very hard to get back into the graduate school + DinnerCakes mindset. I often find myself daydreaming back to our time at Sony Studios and listening to Alex Trebek answer questions from the audience by going off on humorous rants (did I mention he’s also very polished in real life?).

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Ok, ok.. I’ll try not to talk about it constantly. Let’s talk about this pizza.

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Today’s pizza is probably the best one that we have made. The toppings work together flawlessly. I even took a page out of Chef Edwin’s book for the roasted red peppers. I had actually never roasted them before, but it’s definitely the way to go here.

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There are a few steps to get all the toppings reading, but this pizza really comes together wonderfully. Enjoy!

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Chicken & Roasted Red Pepper Pizza

1 boneless skinless chicken breast, cooked this way and sliced
1/2 cup frozen spinach, cooked according to package instructions
1 red bell pepper
freshly grated mozzarella cheese for sprinkling
1 ball of pizza dough from a local bakery or Italian store
1 batch of Mom’s marinara sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil
flour, to sprinkle on work surface

Preheat oven to 525 F. Flour a cookie sheet and roll out dough to a 16 inch circle. Drizzle olive oil over the dough.

For the roasted red pepper, here’s what Edwin instructed me to do:

1) Cut the pepper in half longways, starting at the stem.
2) Put the pepper pieces directly on your burner, turning it as it blackens.
3) After it’s done, put the pieces in a gallon ziploc bag until it cools enough to handle.
4) When they’ve cooled, pull off the blackened skin using your fingers. Edwin adds, “If you have a hard time getting some skin off, just do what you can without destroying it and make a note of it for next time.” (Some other questions I had that he answered for me: No, the ziploc bag won’t melt when you put the peppers inside and no, don’t eat the black stuff).

Pour sauce over dough, then add cheese, cooked and drained spinach, roasted red peppers and sliced chicken.

Transfer cookie sheet to oven and cook for approximately 11 minutes (we use a pizza stone, so we preheat the oven with the pizza stone in the oven, then carefully transfer the uncooked pizza to the heated stone. It takes two of us to transfer the pizza without letting it fall apart, so proceed with caution if you go this route).

Let pizza cool for 2-3 minutes. Slice and serve!

Heather and Jane’s birthday party this past Saturday was a blast. There were friends, music, drinks, games and oh-so-much food. The latter has to be expected when one of us is involved. There was mac & cheese, chips, beans, veggies, cakes… enough food to last a lifetime. I offered to help Heather with the food prep because it’s very easy to get in over your head with that sort of thing. Plus, hey, it’s an excuse to cook something.

Chopped Red Peppers

I made hummus before and I really enjoyed the results, so I decided to try a variation with fire roasted red bell peppers. Now I was going to post that recipe today, but then it occurred to me that there might be some readers out there that don’t know how to fire roast red bell peppers. So instead, we’ll go, step by step, this process.

Charred Red Peppers

Option 1 – Open Flame
The easiest way to fire roast red bell peppers is with an open flame, whether it be a grill or a gas stove. Simply place it above so the flames lick the bell pepper and rotate as the skin chars. You really want a lot of charring. It doesn’t need to be completely black, but too little char = peeling difficulty (and sadness). Then place in plastic bag. By putting it an air tight container while it cools, the steaming action will make it easy to remove the skin. Let sit for 30 minutes and peel off the skin with your hands. Then core and seed as usual.

Uneven Charring

Option 2 – Oven
Some people don’t have a gas stove or grill, but they can always fall back to their oven. Chances are, if you’re fire roasting a bell pepper you’re going to puree, dice, or do some kind of significant cutting to the pepper. Because of this I recommend cutting the bell pepper into eighth; coring and seeding it as you go. This will make it easier to seed as well as ensure that all the pepper is being charred. In addition, ovens often don’t char as evenly (see above) and an under-charred pepper is incredibly frustrating to peel. Set the peppers on a baking sheet on the top rack of your oven and broil, removing pieces as they become charred. No time guidelines here. Just keep a watchful eye!. Then, just like in option 1, remove from the heat and seal in plastic. After 30 minutes, remove and peel off the skin. Enjoy!

Steaming To Peel

All right, pop quiz: Name the first 3 three dishes that come into your head when you think “vegetarian cuisine.” Go! (No, seriously. Reader requests welcome.) For me, this list includes stuffed bell peppers; which is a bit ironic considering I’ve never actually made stuffed bell peppers. Until this week, that is.

Red Bell Pepper

I’ve had stuffed bell peppers before, but never a vegetarian one that I’ve enjoyed. Meat has a nice flavoring effect that can be difficult to compete with at times. Enter the power of spices.

Cauliflower Chopped Small

Both couscous and cauliflower have very mild flavors, so it’s up to the spices and sauted aromatics of the dish to take center stage. The chickpeas add a subtle flavor but also a nice additional texture. You can use any type of bell pepper you’d like, but I recommend a red or yellow. Their sweeter flavors really complement the curry of the filling; which fortunately isn’t lost in the roasting process.

Stuffed Red Bell Pepper with Couscous

Vegetarian Stuffed Bell Peppers with Couscous
You can use big long red bell peppers like I did, but I’d recommend the more traditional shorter fat ones if you have a choice. Of course, these have the nice advantage of becoming quasi-finger food.

2 cups cooked couscous
2 tablespoons oil
1 yellow onion; chopped
1/2 teaspoon thyme
2 garlic cloves; minced
2 cups cauliflower; chopped small (see picture)
2 cups cooked chickpeas (or one can, rinsed and drained)
3 red or yellow bell peppers
1/2 teaspoon fennel
1/8 teaspoon ancho chili powder
1/2 teaspoon sweet curry
1/2 cup stock
1/2 teaspoon salt or more to taste
freshly ground pepper to taste
3 medium sized red or yellow bell peppers

Preheat the oven to 350.

Saute the onion and thyme in oil under medium high heat until browned; approximately three minutes. Lower to medium heat and add the garlic for an additional minute; stirring frequently to prevent burning. Transfer to a medium bowl along with the remaining ingredients and mix until well combined. Add additional salt and pepper to taste.

Cut off the top half inch of your bell peppers and remove seeds and membrane. Stuff your bell peppers with your filling, placing them in a glass baking pan as you go (metal sheets would work in a pinch, but you may want to oil it first). If you have extra, just pile it on top. Place your peppers in the oven for 25-30 minutes, until everything is cooked through. Enjoy.