Sloppy Joe Stuffed Peppers

by Susan on February 20, 2018

sloppy joe stuffed peppers

I’ve made so many riffs on stuffed peppers over the years, and this version was hands down the best-received by my family. Even by my tween son, who prefers his bell peppers raw and always questions why I have to keep cooking and stuffing them!

So many stuffed pepper recipes rely on rice in the filling, which ups the carb content and makes the resulting dish feel a little bit heavier. This recipe that I adapted from Ayesha Curry is grain-free, but I promise you won’t miss the rice. The sauce really does call to mind the flavor of a sloppy joe without the bread or mess.

I removed the mushrooms from the original recipes simply because both of my kids aren’t huge fans. I also used organic ketchup and palm sugar to clean up the sauce for the filling, and skipped the crushed corn chip topping because I simply didn’t think it was necessary.

The recipe called for ground turkey, but I do feel that almost any ground protein would work here. Turkey, chicken, beef, pork, bison… you name it. I used ground dark meat turkey to make sure the results weren’t too dry. My husband isn’t a huge ground turkey fan and really gobbled these up (pardon the woeful pun…)

As written this meal is gluten and grain-free. Simply omit the cheese or use a vegan option to keep it dairy-free, too.

Sloppy Joe Stuffed Peppers
adapted from Ayesha Curry

3 large red, yellow or orange bell peppers
4 tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 lb.  ground turkey (or protein of choice)
2 medium carrots, finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tsp.  ground cumin
2 tsp. smoked paprika
One 14.5-ounce can fire-roasted tomatoes, undrained
1/2 cup organic ketchup
1 tbs. Dijon mustard
1 tbs. palm sugar
1 tbs. cider vinegar
2 tbs. chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Halve the peppers through the stems; remove the stems, seeds and membranes. In a 9-by-13-inch baking dish, toss the peppers with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt, then arrange the peppers cut-sides up. Set aside.

Heat the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the turkey and cook, breaking it up, until no longer pink, about 3 minutes. Add the carrots, onions and garlic and cook until the vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Season with the cumin, smoked paprika, 1/2 teaspoon salt and some pepper; stir to combine. Add the tomatoes, ketchup, mustard, brown sugar, vinegar, parsley and 3/4 cup water. Bring to a rapid simmer and cook until thickened, about 10 minutes.

Spoon the filling into the pepper halves and sprinkle with the cheddar. Pour 1/4 cup water into the bottom of the baking dish and tent with foil (so the foil is not touching the cheese). Bake until the peppers begin to soften, 20 to 25 minutes. Uncover and bake until peppers are very tender and the filling is browned and bubbly, another 15 to 20 minutes.

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Creamy Vegan Tomato Soup

by Susan on February 8, 2018

creamy vegan tomato soup

So often when the words “creamy” and “vegan” are in the same sentence that’s because some fancy dairy substitute such as cashew cream is involved in the scenario. This soup is simple, perfect and delicious and just happens to be dairy-free.

Since there are so few ingredients involved, try to get your hands on good quality ones. My favorite canned tomatoes to use are Muir Glen organic, but San Marzano are delicious as well. Since you’ll be pureeing the soup you can use either whole or diced tomatoes.

While I usually don’t feature dishes with added sugar, the added sweetness really balances the acidity of the tomatoes. You can use stevia if you’re looking for a lower calorie alternative, but honestly 2 tbs. for an entire batch of soup is not really that much. If you’re not vegan, raw honey works too.

Sometimes fresh basil is hard to find; if you don’t have access to good basil, you can also stir in a little prepared pesto. Read your labels, though, as most pesto contains Parmesan cheese. I like Amore pesto paste as it’s dairy-free and available at most supermarkets. It’s also very concentrated so a little goes a long way.

You have a lot of options for the added creamy element to finish off the soup. To keep it vegan, Califia Farms unsweetened Better Half is my preferred addition. It has the consistency of traditional half and half without any underlying coconut or almond flavor. Canned coconut cream would work as well, and I’ve even used unsweetened almond milk. The latter just won’t yield as creamy results.

If you’re not dairy-free, regular half and half or light cream would obviously work perfectly. You could also top off the soup with the homemade Parmesan crisps shown in the photo. They are super easy to make yet look awfully pretty and taste even better!

Creamy Vegan Tomato Soup

2 tbs. olive oil
4 thinly sliced garlic cloves
1 large yellow onion, sliced
2 28 oz. cans peeled or diced tomatoes
1 cup vegetable broth
2 tbs. cane sugar or raw honey (if not vegan)
1/4 cup Califia Farms Better Half (or traditional half & half for non dairy-free option)
1/4 cup roughly torn basil leaves or 2 tbs. pesto paste
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried Italian seasoning
generous pinch crushed red pepper flakes
sea salt & ground black pepper, to taste

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat.

Add garlic and stir continuously for 30 seconds until golden, then add in onion. Stir and cook until onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, broth and sweetener.

Allow to come to a low boil, then lower heat and allow to cook for 10 minutes.

Stir in half and half, basil leaves and seasoning.

Use a stick blender to puree soup until it reacher your preferred consistency. If you don’t have a stick blender, remove the soup to a blender and puree it (in batches, if necessary).

Taste for seasoning and adjust as necessary. Serve immediately.

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