Greek Stuffed Peppers

April 18, 2011

So, a friend of mine posted on Facebook last week that her least favorite “chore” is grocery shopping. I thought to myself, “are you kidding me?” I absolutely love to grocery shop. Sometimes, if I find myself in a different part of town that has a store that we don’t have here in the burbs – especially if it’s a store where no one speaks English – I MUST stop. It’s like a treasure hunt. . . . what new spices, elixir or concoction can I find? Anyway, most of the time though, I shop here in the burbs at Trader Joes and pick up a few odds and ends here and there. So, getting back to the point . . . . . last week I picked up some gorgeous jewel colored bell peppers. There were three in the bag: red, yellow and orange. Why did green get left out? Didn’t seem right, so I bought a green one as well. I found a recipe in a Weight Watcher’s cookbook that looked interesting, a bit of a twist on the usual stuffed bell pepper. Here’s the cast of characters:

Didn’t mean to have two pictures, just realized when it was too late that I forgot the spinach . . . . . .

Greek Stuffed Peppers

4 large bell peppers

2 t. olive oil

1 onion, chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

3 cups baby spinach (I just used the whole bag which is about 4 cups)

1/2 t. dried oregano

1/2 lb. ground beef or turkey (I cooked the whole package and saved half – will find a use later)

1 cup cooked brown rice

1 can drained diced tomatoes

1/3 c. crumbled fat free feta cheese

2 T. toasted pine nuts

Salt, pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Wash your bells. Slice about 1/2 inch off the top of each pepper, save it. Pull the ribs and seeds out of the inside. Now, pop the peppers in the micro for about 2-3 minutes – just to soften them a bit, we want them to still be “tender but firm,” just like a good parent. . . . Now, dice the pepper tops – stem goes in compost or garbage or whatever – and put them with your diced onion and garlic. Heat your oil in a large nonstick skillet . . . .

let’s talk about kitchen equipment for a minute. Did you know that “teflon” has a useful “lifespan” of about 3-4 years, depending upon how much you use it. And, it’s not mean to be heated about 265 degrees. . . . . and, there’s some evidence that it’s just not a good thing to be preparing our food in a pan coated with PTFE (PolyTetraFluoroEthylene). So, if you are in the market for a new nonstick pan, let me suggest this option. . . . the Green Pan,  just click on that and it will give you some info. I got mine at Target. . . . they’re everywhere.

back to our sauteing. . . . heat your oil in a large nonstick pan, toss in your chopped peppers, onion, garlic. Saute until soft, about 5 minutes.

Transfer to a large bowl. Add beef or turkey (your choice) to skillet and break it up with a wooden spoon – never use metal in a nonstick pan – until browned, about 8 minutes. This recipe calls for about half of the package shown. I just browned it all and stuck half in the freezer for use later. Now, add to your browned meat, in the skillet:  rice, tomatoes, feta and pine nuts, salt and pepper (to taste), and the spinach. (Do Over Note: If I were to make these again, which I probably won’t because there are just too many recipe’s out there I need to try. . . . . I would add about 1 t. of red pepper flakes at this point. Just to kick it up.) Turn off the heat and put a lid on the pan, or cover with foil, to let the spinach wilt. Add all of that to the vegs in the bowl and mix it up.

Now, stuff the filling into each of the bell peppers. Place the peppers in a casserole dish. Give them a spray of Olive Oil on top (you can buy Olive Oil spray with the Pam type sprays). . . and bake for about 30 minutes. Opah! Serve this with a Greek Salad – chunks of tomato, cucumber, kalamata olives and romaine with a zesty balsamic dressing and enjoy.

I actually had left over filling because two of the bells were about half the size of the other two. . . . . so I threw the left over filling in the pan the next morning, heated it up and then added some beaten eggs for a really yummy Greek Scramble. Seriously, I never toss anything. . . . everything can have a new life. 🙂

Oops, almost forgot, The Stats:

Each pepper is 249 calories, 6pp (that’s Weight Watcher’s Points Plus)


Thanks to all of you who said you were glad I was blogging again and that you missed me! 🙂 Blogging is such a strange thing. . . . those of us who do it shouldn’t care if anyone else reads it (except of course my husband and kids,) but I think we do. . . .at least I do. So, for those who leave a comment, you just can’t imagine how much that fuels me! I’d love to know that you’re out there, hear your experiences trying the recipe’s, or if there is anything you’d like to see on my blog,  Anyway, I’m glad to be blogging my adventures in cooking again. There are going to be a few changes though. . . . I’m not one for “New Year’s Resolutions” but coincidentally, in January, I decided that it was time for a change. The Church Lady needs to “lighten up.” So, the recipe’s that you will be seeing from here forward will involve very little, or no, heavy cream, butter, sugar or Crisco! They will, however, be loaded with flavor, interesting, culturally diverse and so much as possible involve whole grains, organic produce and “grass fed” or “free range” meat. NOW, DO NOT PANIC . . . . . it’s gonna be awesome. Keep in mind, I have a 22 year old son who acts as my “in-house food critic” and so I need to keep things interesting. I’m also going to be posting, on occasion, the myriad of food festivals, farmer’s markets, restaurants and cooking schools that I attend. . . and no promises there . . . . . but if I cook it, it’s going to be healthy and I’ll give you the nutrition info. And, I plan to keep you posted on my “slow but steady” progress. So far, I’ve lost 10 pounds. . . . . that’s net, including the 3 lbs. I gained in Hawaii! Ironically, my husband has lost about 12. . . . . DANG! I’ve just made some “Greek Stuffed Peppers” which I’ve popped in the oven. Stay tuned!


With a name like Spatchcock Chicken, how can you not want to make it! If for no other reason than to see the look on your family’s faces when you tell them what it is! OK, so, I don’t know. . . . maybe I’m the only one who gets a kick out of it. I do, so, there. Let me just tell you though, this chicken is more than just a funny name . . . . . dare I say, this is the best roast chicken you will ever have . . . and, it’s super easy! Spatchcock actually refers to the method of preparing the chicken . . . . . it’s basically butterflied so that it cooks faster and even. Besides a sharp pair of kitchen scissors, here’s what you’re gonna need:


1 5# whole chicken

16 oz. grape tomatoes

1 head unpeeled garlic, broken apart

drizzle of olive oil

kosher salt & fresh ground pepper

3/4 cup chicken broth

fresh basil leaves

Preheat your oven to 500 degrees. Now, gather up all your ingredients. And for those who are still wondering if there are actually special scissors for the kitchen. . . . . maybe this is not the recipe for you. And that’s OK, there’s a butt for every saddle. Be who you are and be proud! Alrighty, I found a great website that has step by step pictures of exactly how this thing is done, Cookthink. So, click on that and follow the instructions for spatchcocking a chicken. Don’t be intimidated, you can do this! When that’s done you just want to wash your chicken, cold water, no soap. I’m not sure just how much instruction to give here. .. . . . dry it, with paper towels, and then season it well with salt and pepper. Lay it down, breast up, legs kind of crossed – looks very lady-like that way – and then surround it with the tomatoes and the garlic cloves. Now drizzle with some olive oil, about a tablespoon, rub it all over the chicken (side that’s up). Pour the chicken broth in the pan surrounding the chicken.


This is gonna take about 30 – 40 minutes, we’re going for 180 degrees. If you have a meat thermometer  that can go in the oven, pop in in the thigh, but don’t let it touch the bone. If you don’t have a thermometer (and no, the one in the bathroom will not work) then just let it go for 30 minutes and check it. Do the leg wiggle test. . . . wiggle the leg and if it seems loose and relaxed, it’s good to go. Before you pull it out of the oven switch over to broil and let it get nice and golden, about 3 minutes. Let it rest for about 10 minutes and then arrange the basil decoratively . . . . That’s it. Super easy and amazingly yummy. Enjoy, and please let me know if you do this. . . . . cuz honestly, I may need a spatchcock support group.

Cioppino & Pear Crisp

January 1, 2010

Happy New Year everyone! This is so simple it’s almost embarskin. .. . . but really, it’s usually the simple things in life that are best. . . . as I think back on 2009, I’m filled with thanks for the blessings in my life. . . . my amazing husband who truly knows me and loves me anyway, my beautiful daughter whose smile makes everything alright and my son who put’s the spark in my life. There’s nowhere I’d rather be than home with these three . . . back to reality. . .the beautiful daughter and sparky son are with their boyfriend/girlfriend tonight as any self respecting young person should be. . . . us old fogies however are staying in and ringing in the New Year in our recliners in front of the big screen. . . . another blessing!

The hubby won’t be home until about 6 tonight. . . . . .something about needing to make sure all the “year end” stuff is wrapped up. Okey Dokey, I’ll just entertain myself. I’ll start by making this Pear Crisp. . . . . one of the motto’s I live by (and there are many), “Life is uncertain, eat dessert first.” Don’t know that I’ll actually eat this first, but I’m gonna make it first.

One of the ways I show my husband how much I love him is that I make him fruit desserts. . . . . the man does not like chocolate. Seriously! As you can imagine, I had to weigh this very carefully when we were dating. . . . . could I make this kind of a sacrifice? Was he worth it? Hmmmmm. . . . . . . .there are times even today when I feel sorry for myself. . . . .we’ll be out to dinner with friends and all the couples order a dessert with two forks. .. . .Bruce and Joan will have the Chocolate Souffle with a Raspberry Drizzle. .. . . Paul and Joanne will have the Chocolate Lava Cake that oozes goodness all over the plate. . . . . and WE will have the poached pears. Those of you who know my husband know that he always says “order whatever you want Honey,” but how can I do that when I can see the fear in his eyes. . . . it’s really a small sacrifice, I’m just sayin. .. .sometimes I have a little pity party. So tonight, I’ll make the man something he’s gonna love. I had these pears in the fridge getting kinda wierd anyway. .. . ..

Peel the pears with a veggie peeler and then take a spoon and scoop the seed part out. Then flip em over . . . .slice, rotate, chop.

K, something has gone wrong. . . . .the previous picture was too yellow so I tried to adjust things. . . now my life is in black and white. What the. ..  anyway, throw the pears in a bowl and toss some sugar on em. . . .

We have returned to our normal programing. .. . .actually hubby came home and so now my life is in color again. Awwwww. . . . . .aint love grand! Toss all the topping ingredients in the bowl. ..  flour, sugar, brown sugar and cinnamon and pecans. Then just for fun, melt a stick of butter in the micro and pour that over mixing with a fork to incorporate. You want chunks, not smooth.

Now, plop those juicy pears into a buttered dish. .. . .I like to use an oval baking dish cuz I think they’re cuter. Then sprinkle the topping mixture over the top. . . . oooh, this is looking very promising, very promising indeed. Now, pop this in the fridge until we’re ready to bake it. You want it pipin hot out of the oven so that when you put the big scoop of vanilla bean ice cream on it it melts all over. . . . . .oh, the anticipation of it all!

Happy New Year Honey! I love our life.

OK, here goes, don’t blink or you might miss it! This is literally going to take 10 minutes to make start to finish. . . .so whenever you’re ready. . . . .

You can use whatever fish/shellfish you want. I found these gorgeous huge scallops and beautiful Alaskan King Crab legs. . . and this fish was caught by the sparky son in the ocean. . . . of course. You are going to want about 2 -3 pounds of fish. You can use clams, mussels, shrimp. . . . be sure to use a firm fish. If you are unsure what this means, ask the person at the fish counter. . . . in fact, I got this recipe from the cute Filipino lady at Raley’s. We like each other. So, you are going to get a jar of the cioppino sauce (located at the fish counter), and a cup of chicken broth, and a cup of wine. .. . . .which reminds me of another motto I live by. ..  “if you wouldn’t drink it, don’t cook with it!” You’re also gonna wanna add some sugah and spice for luck. .. .so have that ready too.

Pour the cioppino sauce in your pan – once again, I like oval, everything fits – add a cuppa wine, a cuppa chicken broth, a couple-a teaspoons of sugar. .. .

Now add some spice. .. .. a couple or five shakes should do it. Depends how much heat ya like. . . . bring it to a simmer.

Now pop your fish in. Cubed fish is gonna take about 10 minutes. These giant scallops are gonna take about 10 minutes. If you use little bay scallops they are only gonna take about 3 minutes. Shrimp is gonna take about five minutes. So you’re gonna have to use your head here. Seriously though, don’t over cook the fish! So, start with your fish and then add the other bits . . . . I let this go for about five minutes and then. . . .

layed the gorgeous crab legs down . . . . .turned the heat way down to a gentle simmer. . . . .

Popped the lid on and set the timer for five minutes. .. . .this is hubby’s hand. When I first saw this picture I was horrified, I thought, omgosh when did I get hairy knuckles. .. .can those be waxed????!!!!!!

Bring the whole shebang to the table. Serve it with some lemon from your mother-in-law’s tree and some chopped parsley, which by the way is not for show, it actually brightens the flavor of the soup. . . . . .and of course some hot crusty sourdough bread. Bon Appetite! And, before I forget, now would be a great time to pop that pear crisp in the oven.

Oh . . . . . this smells heavenly . . . . I’m such a good wife, sacrificing this way.

Chicken Parmigiana

December 8, 2009

Tis the season to be very, very, very busy! So here’s an easy, delish recipe that’s perfect for company, a night home with the family, or a romantic dinner! Because I love all my girlfriends, and their husband’s seem to love my blog. . . . . I’m gonna give my girls a Christmas gift! So guys, listen up, this is very important, do as I say and you can thank me later. . . . . pick a night, any night, get the kids a Papa Murphy’s pizza. . . .feed them and throw a movie in the DVD. Now, open a nice bottle of wine, bubbly, Diet Dr. Pepper or whatever your wife loves.  . . . .draw a lovely bath with some yummy bubbles, candles and a little Micheal Buble (trust me). . . . . .now, focus. . . . . wife goes to the bath. . . . . you go to the kitchen. 

Chicken Parmesan

1 pkg. thin sliced breast fillets, or 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts

1/2 c. flour

3 T. olive oil

2 T. butter

1 onion

3 cloves garlic

1/4 c. red wine

28 oz. crushed tomatoes

1 T. sugar

1/4 c. chopped parsley

1 c. freshly grated parmesan cheese

1 # spaghetti noodles

This is the stuff you’re gonna need. I’m gonna give ya all the help I can, short of coming over and cooking it myself! Buy the Foster Farms Thin Sliced Breast Fillets. . . . . they are already thin which is what ya need. If you have boneless chicken breasts already, that’s fine, but you’re gonna want to put them between two sheets of wax paper and pound them so they are thinner. . .  . then an onion, 28 oz. of crushed tomatoes, garlic, spaghetti nooodles and parmigiana cheese. Now let’s chat about quality of ingredients. It matters! Buy spaghetti that is made from Semolina flour – Trader Joe’s brand or Barilla are very reasonable top quality products. . . . please, please, do not use American Beauty brand or some such. . . . . regarding the parmesan cheese. . .. you must use fresh for this recipe. You can buy decent quality parm already grated in a bag or plastic container. .. .but if you want really yummy you need to buy it in a block like this and grate it yourself. DO NOT use the Kraft sawdust in the green tube. I’m serious about this!

Season the chicken with salt and pepper, and dredge in flour.

Heat your olive oil in a pan (that has a lid) and add a pat of butter . . . . . throw the chicken in and brown it for about four minutes on each side. The butter is going to give it that golden brown yummy color. The key to getting a good brown crust is to let it be. . . . .don’t be tempted to move it. . .. .everytime you do it’s like starting over again. . . .just let it be. When it’s nice and golden on the edges, flip it over. 

While the chicken’s browning, you want to chop your onion. Now listen up. . . . . pretend I am holding your face in my hands. . . . this is really important. If you know how to chop an onion properly you can accomplish most anything you set out to do. . . .  so, cut the onion in half top to bottom. .  . . take the outer layer off. . . . then slice pole to pole . . . What? Look at the picture. . . . .

Then rotate the onion and slice the other way. . . . . .it’s perfectly chopped. . . . . . .an amazing skill that will open doors in your life that you would have never thought possible! It’s right up there with being an Eagle Scout.

When the chicken is a lovely golden brown, about 4 minutes each side, remove it to a plate. Now, see all that goop in the pan. . . . that’s the good stuff. . . . whatever you do, DO NOT clean or wipe out the pan. This is the stuff that’s gonna give this dish the rich, complex flavor. 

Put your chopped onion and garlic in the pan. Let it saute for a few minutes until golden and yummy smelling. Now, add the wine. . . . we had this left from Thanksgiving. Any red wine will work, but palezzzzzzzeeee. . . . . . .if you wouldn’t drink it, don’t cook with it. The flavor only intensifies during cooking.

Let the wine simmer and reduce by about half. It will get lovely and thick because of the bit’s that were left from browning the chicken. Now add the tomatoes, sugar and parsley. Cover and simmer for about 25 minutes.

Now grate about a cup of parmesean cheese. As you can see, these are not the Church Lady’s hands. . . .these are the Church Lady’s Hot Husband’s hands. We have an understanding, I don’t grate cheese, put gas in the car or balance checkbooks. . . . .

Now this is the exciting part. . . . .the sauce has been simmering for 25 minutes, it’s rich, complex and smells fantastic. . .  . . put the chicken breasts in the pan slightly submerging in the sauce. Now top with cheese. . . .put the lid on and let simmer for about 5 minutes until the cheese is melted. .  . .


Top with a little chopped parsley. . . . .serve over a bed of spaghetti noodles, maybe some artisan bread – perhaps a garlic rosemary bread – heaven. YOU ARE A HERO! You’re welcome!








Baked Sweet Potato Fries

November 13, 2009


Whenever we travel, we always include a local farmer’s market on the list of “must see’s.” In my mind, there’s really no better way to get to the “root” of the culture. . . . forgive the pun. It’s where the people, gather. Most every weekend, I make the trek down to my favorite local farmer’s market at 8th and W, downtown. There’s the melon man, the cheese girls, the thai basil ladies and the crazy squash guy. I love them all! By shopping at the local farmer’s market, we are “forced” to eat seasonally and enjoy the bounty of God’s amazing creation. It’s the way, I believe, we were designed to eat. One of the things I picked up last weekend are beautiful sweet potatoes. So, let’s get started. This is really simple, but delicious.

Oven Baked Sweet Potatoes

4 Sweet Potatoes 

2 T. Olive Oil

1/2 t. Kosher Salt

1/2 t. Fresh Ground Pepper

1 T. Brown Sugar


Preheat oven to 450 degreees.

IMG_2072Beautiful! Fresh dirt means fresh potato!


Give em a good scrub. This is not my fingernail brush by the way!


Peel em with a veggie peeler . . . . . 


Look at how nicely they clean up . . . . . . .


Now cut the potatoes into about 3 inch lengths and then into long spears. It doesn’t really matter how thick they are, just as long as you are consistent. 



Now throw them in a bowl and cover with cold water. Let them sit for about 30 minutes. This is the trick that will take your oven baked fries from good to great and make you the envy of your neighborhood! By soaking in cold water, it will ensure that your fries are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.


Now, in a small bowl, combine 1 T. brown sugar


1/2 t. kosher salt. Why kosher salt? Good question. The main difference between table salt and kosher salt is the texture. Table salt is the preferred salt for baking because the finer granules dissolve quickly. For savory dishes, kosher salt adds a nice texture, especially when roasting. Try it, I think you’ll like it. Be sure to put it in a cute little box!!


Grab your pepper grinder and twist in about 1/2 t. of fresh pepper. Don’t have a pepper grinder? GET ONE! You can even buy disposable ones already loaded at Costco. I actually never use the old ground pepper that you put in the little shaker. . . . .no comparison in the flavor and result. I’m serious about this!


Mix it all together using the best tool in the kitchen. . . . your hands! Ok, go feed the dog, get the mail, chat with the neighbor. . .. . .


Now, remove the potatoes from the water, and pat dry. Make sure they are really dry. Moisture is our enemy!



Toss em on a baking sheet. I am not into kitchen gadgets, but there are a couple of “must haves” in my cupboards and these baking sheets are one. They are commercial quality half-sheet pans and I use them for everything from baking to roasting vegies to carrying things out to the barbeque. Sorry, I’m just very passionate about my baking sheets. .. . anyway, drizzle on 1 T. of good quality olive oil. Remember, what you put into it determines what you get out. . . . . .true of relationships and recipe’s. 



When you get distracted and pour on a half cup because you were trying to get a photo. . . ..just mop up the excess with a paper towel. It’s all good. Don’t waste it though. . . . . polish some furniture or something.



Sprinkle the brown sugar mixture over the potatoes and toss em around to make sure they all get some shugah. . .. . 



Pop em in the oven. . . . being careful not to stick your face in.. . . . .that baby’s hot. And if you use the kind of mascara that I do, sticking your face in a hot oven can be a real mess. Let em go for 20 minutes then give em a little toss and let em go for another 20 minutes. If you’re putting them in the oven with something else, say a meat loaf, be sure these are on the top. Remember from seventh grade science. . . . . . heat rises . . . . . and these babies love the heat!


It’s almost showtime! Get a plate . . . . .use something fun. . . . seriously, what are you saving it for? My grandma gave me this, it’s part of a whole set of little bowls that fit together on a lazy susan. .. . . not sure what they were supposed to be used for, looks Swedish to me. . . . . any ideas Ted?


Beautiful! The sugar carmelizes and oh my they are delish. You know you want em!