Stuffed Peppers: Chilean Style

My alarm has been set for 5:45a every single day for the past two weeks or so, but I haven’t gotten out of bed once when it’s gone off. I’ve been well intentioned to get up and go for a quick run before work, but I’ve been having an extremely difficult time actually getting up and completing the run. For whatever reason, my running mojo hasn’t been the same since the Disney Half. I think the chronic injuries I’ve sustained have put me on the defensive side when it comes to running, afraid and waiting for that next twinge of pain I’m going to feel. To put it bluntly, I think I’m a bit scared of running. However, I’ve turned over a new leaf and have decided to face the fear of a sport I know deep down inside I love, and to just go with it. This Philadelphia Marathon isn’t going to run itself in November!

I’ve also been in a bit of a rut when it comes to cooking; I’ve been making a lot of the same things over and over again (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing), but I haven’t really ventured to make anything new. So, I decided to really start tackling both running and cooking new things this week. It’s time to get the old Danielle back!

I’ve only made a few things from the Vegan Fire & Spice book I bought myself a few months ago, so I decided to make something else from it this week. I love that it has recipes from all over the world, so I can expand my ethnic palate at home. After making my fiancé pick a region to focus on for the recipe, we then narrowed it down to the Chilean Stuffed Peppers. The recipe only had one pepper in terms of it’s spice level (the book goes from one to three), so I of course had to add a jalapeno to kick up the heat. I also didn’t have any soy milk on hand, so my version wasn’t truly vegan. I also used freshly diced tomatoes instead of canned.

Because this recipe was a bit longer, I was able to prep the stuffing, put them in the oven, and then go out for a three mile run. It was nice to know that something delicious was waiting at home for me. I should try that method more often!

Chilean Stuffed Peppers adapted from Vegan Fire & Spice 
– Serves 2 –  

2 large bell peppers
2 Tbsp canola oil
1 yellow onion, diced
1 jalapeno, diced (I added for extra heat)
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne
14.5 oz. of diced tomatoes (either canned, or fresh)
1 cup frozen corn kernels
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup soy milk (I used regular and it was fine)
1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 Tbsp bread crumbs 

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice the tops off of the peppers and remove the seeds and guts. Heat 1 Tbsp of the oil in a skillet, and add onion and jalapeno, cooking for about five minutes until slightly soft. Add the nutmeg, cumin, and cayenne, cooking for about another minute. Add the tomatoes and cook for about 3 minutes, until the mixture thickens. Add the corn and mix well. Set aside.
2. In a small bowl, combine the bread crumbs (1/2 cup), milk, sugar, and salt, and mix well. Add the bread crumb mixture to the skillet and mix until combined.
3. Fill the peppers with the corn bread crumb mixture and arrange them in a baking dish filled with 1 cup of water. Sprinkle the rest of the bread crumbs (2 Tbsp) and oil (1 Tbsp) over the peppers. Bake for 45 minutes (took me closer to 50) or until the peppers are tender, and the stuffing is browned but still moist. 

Planning for spice

When planning out our meals for the week, I ususally consult three sources; the internet, my pile of cookbooks, and the scariest of them all, my brain. Once I get my creative dinner juices flowing, I then have to consult our ever important calendar to see what we’ve got going on throughout the week. A lot of times, this then requires me to go back to the drawing board, since I tend to dream up elaborate dinners that just won’t be done before 9pm, causing me to probably gnaw off my arm before then.

It might seem a bit silly to plan my meals in advance, especially when it’s just myself and my fiancé. However, I’m obsessed with planning, which would explain why I have an extremely detailed Google Calendar, personal planner, and am always looking to schedule things in advance and confirm them. My meals seem to be no different; I like to know ahead of time what I’m going to be making when based on my schedule, and more importantly, pick up the necessary ingredients while at the grocery store. I think one of the worst feelings in the world is getting home after having your heart set on a certain food/meal, only to find out you don’t have some of the ingredients. For me, that’s close to heartbreak. So I try to avoid it at all costs by planning!

I snagged a copy of Vegan Fire & Spice by Robin Robertson a few months ago, and just got around to actually making something from the book. While I’m not a vegan, the simple words fire and spice grabbed my attention. This particular book not only offers recipes with varying levels of heat (marked as one to three chiles), but they’re recipes from all over the world! I love that within one cookbook alone I can find a recipe from Thailand, Mexico, Africa, Morocco, and more, and they’re all spicy!

I had paged through the book marking off things I was interested to try first, so I decided to make the Red Hot White Bean Chili as my first dish. It was easy, spicy, and filling – what more could a girl ask for? Of course I went and completely de-veganized it by throwing regular cheese on top, but other than that and omitting carrots (I didn’t have any) I stayed true to the recipe. I’m really looking forward to making other things from the book – I like fire in my belly!

Red Hot White Bean Chili via Vegan Fire & Spice
– Serves 4-6 –

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 fresh jalapeno or serrano chiles, seeded and minced (I used a jalapeno and habanero)
3 Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground oregano
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 (28 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
1 cup water
4 1/2 cups cooked or 3 (15.5oz) cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 scallions, minced
optional – vegan cheese for garnish 

1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, carrot, bell pepper, garlic, and chiles. Cover and cook until tender, about 10 minutes.
2. Blend in the chili powder, salt, cumin, oregano, cayenne, and pepper, and stir for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and water and bring to a boil.
3. Reduce the heat to low, stir in the beans, cover and simmer until the vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally, 45 to 50 minutes. Garnish with minced scallions.