Melissa's Table

Experiments with Pinterest recipes!

Southwestern Stuffed Peppers September 1, 2012

Filed under: Beef,Cooking,Eating,Food,Recipe,Review — MelGag @ 5:54 pm
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(Read this post at its new home here.)

 

I’m cheating a bit with this review because I’ve made this recipe once before. When I say I “made this recipe once before” I should clarify. I made a dish very closely based on this recipe. Basically, I took this recipe and modified it slightly to suit my and my husband’s palette. It was essentially the same recipe minus a few ingredients and the main change being the cooking method. This time, I followed the pinned recipe as closely as I could. As we go, I’ll take you through the process comparing both cooking ventures. For ease of reading, my initial endevour will be in italics. First, let’s look at the pin.

The Pin: Southwestern Stuffed Peppers by Simply Love Food

Difficulty: 4 (1 = Ramen, 10 = Beef Wellington)

I chose this pin because I really wanted to cook stuffed peppers. When I did a search for “stuffed peppers” on Pinterest, this is one of the first recipes listed. I think the first (and last) time I had stuffed peppers was 20 years ago. My Grandmother made them. I remember being extremely excited while she was cooking them. I’d never heard of such a dish! Unfortunately the final dish was a bit of a let down. I vaguely remember thinking they were tasteless (sorry Gramma!), so when searching for this recipe, I decided to veer away from the traditional “Italian” version of the dish. Being that my family (re: my husband) is an avid Chipotle eater, Southwestern Stuffed Peppers seemed the right way to go. Let’s start with the ingredients.

That’s a lot of stuff!

Okay, I substituted one thing here. I used ground beef instead of ground turkey. Sorry folks, but I really hate ground turkey. When I was little, my mom used to try to sneak it in things without my knowing: chili, hamburger helper, etc. She claimed I wouldn’t notice the difference. Apparently my 10ish year old taste buds were pretty good because I could spot the turkey every time, and I didn’t like it. I still don’t, and not for lack of trying. If you like ground turkey, I’m sure this recipe would be just as good, but I’ll stick with beef.

Protein variation aside, the ingredients above entail everything listed in the recipe.  The taco seasoning I used is a different pin that I’ve had on my “Love Cooking” board for some time. It doesn’t warrant its own post, but it’s good. Go ahead and use it.

When I first made this recipe, I omitted a few items:

  • Corn: As I’ve mentioned before, my husband and I aren’t huge fans of corn cooked into things.
  • Cilantro: I didn’t have any in the house and didn’t feel like running out.
  • Avacado: See Cilantro. Yeah, I’m lazy sometimes.

Now as you cook, don’t forget to get distracted by your son raiding your tupperware cabinet. Cooking while chasing a child who is hell-bent on opening every cabinet in the room (the dangerous ones are child proofed, don’t worry!) is a tough.

Thankfully, my husband came along and collected this little punk shortly after I took this picture, so I could cook in relative peace.

Now where was I? Ingredients collected? Check! Tupperware picked up off the floor so I don’t slip on it and fall on my face? Check! On with the cooking!

The peppers went into the 400 degree oven for 20 minutes while I cooked the rice, sauteed the onions and browned the hamburger. Once everything was sauteed, chopped and mixed with the other ingredients, into the semi-cooked peppers it went and back into the oven for another 20 minutes.

I did this slightly different the first time. Per other recipes I found online, I did not pre-bake the peppers or brown the meat beforehand. I cooked the rice and onions, but I left the meat raw. I spooned the mixture (with rawmeat) into the raw peppers and baked them for an hour. Also, the recipe calls for a full 16 oz jar of salsa to be thrown into the mix. I used a little more than half of a jar of salsa, probably 9 or 10 oz.

Twenty minutes later, I sprinkled some shredded cheese over top of the peppers and put them back into the oven just long enough for the cheese to melt. (Note: I went a little light on the cheddar because my husband is not a cheddar fan.) On my first venture I used a mixture of cheddar and pepper jack cheese.

But one is missing! (Left: Mine – Right: Simply Love Food)

Once the cheese was nice and melty, I pulled them out of the oven and topped them with sour cream, cilantro and avacado. The first time, I left off the cilantro and avacado (I didn’t have any, remember?) and opted instead to top with sour cream and the left over salsa.

Found the missing pepper! It was on my plate!

The first time I made this recipe, I really liked it. If I was giving it a rating based on that I’d probably give it an 8. I ate the leftovers for several days and it was yummy. But seeing as my first foray into stuffed peppers doesn’t count, let’s see how my second attempt matched up.

I learned something about myself with this and a previous recipe, I don’t like cilantro as a garnish. Cooked in to a dish, I love it. Mixed in guacamole, mmmmm. But used as a garnish, it’s just bad. Cilantro aside (and I took most of it off my pepper), this recipe was good, but not as good as my first. I don’t think the cooking method made much of a difference. I’m guessing it was the topping. The salsa on top really gave it the flavor punch it needed. Without it, I felt the dish was slightly bland. The kind of bland that extra salt wouldn’t fix. It’s sort of like eating a hamburger without ketchup or mustard. Not terrible, it just needed a little something else, and while the sour cream and avacado gave it creamy texture, they didn’t give it much flavor. Next time, I’d top it with sour cream, salsa and avacado. (Pretty wild, I know.)

Final Rating: 6 (1 = Bad, 10 = Great)

 

Coconut Curry Noodles August 15, 2012

(Read this post at its new home here!)

 

One of the things I miss about living in a large, dynamic city like Atlanta is the food. Atlanta has sooooo many restaurants. And I don’t mean places like Applebees or Ruby Tuesdays. I mean quality authentic non-chain hole-in-the-wall restaurants. Whenever we had friends or family visit, we had a wealth of eating establishments in which to partake. From the Richard Blais’ famous Flip Burger to the lesser known, yet always busy, Thumbs Up Diner, we never wanted for a place to eat in Atlanta. A favorite of mine, was a Thai restaurant called Amaryn’s*. My sister-in-law brought us here on our first trip to the city. I thought it was good but nothing special. We ventured back a few weeks later, and that’s when I discovered their Chicken Panang Rice Bowl. This dish is possibly one of my favorites of all time. The sauce (or perhaps you’d call it a broth?) was thick and creamy. It was the perfect amount of sweet and spicy. I’ve never found another panang or any sweet curry dish quite like it. Thus, when I came across this dish, I was hoping that maybe… just maybe… I’d find a similar flavor.

The Pin: Coconut Curry Noodles by Considering the Campbells

Difficulty: 4ish (1 = Canned Soup, 10 = Turducken)

Even though I’ve been eyeing this pin for a while, it was ultimately my husband who chose it. Let’s see how he did! The ingredients.

Olive oil not pictured here.

The olive oil is not pictured above because the list of ingredients on the website didn’t include olive oil, so I wasn’t aware I needed it until I’d already snapped my picture. I guess you’ll just have to use your imagination.

There were a few vague points in this recipe. I had to use a bit of common sense. For example, when using the skillet, the site does’t specify how hot the pan should be. I went with medium. It’s hard to go wrong with medium heat, right? Also, the ingredient list calls for “a handful of baby carrots.” Well, is that a figurative handful or a litteral handful? And if so, who’s handful? Mine, my husbands, my sons? Maybe I’m being persnickety (yeah, I just went there), but to be fair it was unclear. I decided to match the amount of carrots to the amount of peppers.

Did I do good?

Just a side note on the carrots. The only reason I gave this recipe a  difficulty level of 4 instead of a 3, was those damn carrots. Let’s just say my knife skills are… lacking. I have a tendency to cut the corners of my fingernails when doing “fancy” knife work. (I suppose that’s better than cutting through my finger though.) Not to mention, my knives are awful. They were the $29.99 special over five years ago! Hells yeah! I know, I really need to upgrade. So, thin slicing carrots is a difficult task for me.

The recipe called for 1/4th cup of soy sauce. Now, when I’m testing these pins, I try to be as true the recipe as possible. Having said that, I only used 1/8th cup of soy sauce. I like soy sauce, but 1/4th a cup sounded like way too much. I figured I could always add more later if it needed it.

Despite my substandard knife skills (I didn’t cut my finger nail!) and the recipe’s imprecise directions, I somehow managed to complete the dish. And here is the final product.

Left: Mine – Right: Considering the Campbell’s

I’m no plating master, but I think it came out pretty. But how did it taste? Have you ever eaten a dish that seems okay at first but tastes progressively worse after the first bite? It’s one of those, at least for me. I started out thinking it was okay, but about 1/4th of the way in, I just couldn’t finish it. I hate wasting food, but I had to dump it. My husband just plain didn’t like it. I think he ate maybe two bites.

How best to describe it? It tasted like slightly spicy chicken broth with soy sauce in it. In a way, it was almost bland. The coconut milk was almost non-existant. I could barely taste it. The carrots and peppers were nice. They added a nice crunchy texture to the rice noodles. My husband and I both agree that the cilantro looked pretty but didn’t go with the dish.

Needless to say, Coconut Curry Noodles didn’t match up to the Chicken Panang Rice Bowl. This is definitely something I would not make again.

Final Rating: 2 (1 = Terrible, 10 = Awesome)

*In Googling the link to Amaryn’s I’ve discovered they’ve closed. QQ.