Back to basics: Back to school cooking

Ah September. It’s that time of year again. Weather is starting to get cold, reuniting with your old classmates and going back to the program you hate (or like, whatever you’re into). But even with all the school work piling up, there’s always time to cook. When going back to school, cooking should never be a chore. It should be a way to get out your studying habits for an hour and prepare foods for the day and maybe in advance. Many people asked me how you eat healthy while still balancing with school and work. I usually take about an hour to cook foods for the next few days. From soups to actual meals, I typically will make large batches, portion them, then freeze until I’m going to use it. An hour may seem a long time, but it’s actually not. You’ll be surprised how fast and hour will be when cooking. And don’t worry about thinking that cooking is boring. Get a friend or two to help you. Double the hands, double the efficiency, and a ton more fun.

This beef and rice stuffed pepper is so versatile, easy and most importantly, you can make these guys in large batches and freeze them until whenever you want to eat them. Another incredible thing about this is that you can change this recipe to your liking so you’ll never get bored. What about changing the color of the peppers to green, red or maybe orange? Vegetarian? No problem. Substitute the beef with some eggs or crumble some semi-firm tofu! Want to be more adventurous? Add mac and cheese instead of rice (whatever you like!). The possibilities are endless!

Ingredients

4 bell peppers

1 pound lean ground beef

1/2 red onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 carrot, grated

1/2 cup of your favorite rice

1 14oz can of diced tomatoes, slightly drained

3 tablespoon tomato paste

Pinch of red chili flakes

1/4 bunch of parsley or 3 tablespoons dried parsley

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions: 

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Cut the tops off the peppers. Scoop out the seeds and as much of the membrane as you can. Place the peppers cut-side up in a baking dish just large enough to hold them upright.
  3. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the beef, season with salt and pepper and cook. Remember to break up the clumps, until the meat is cooked through and just beginning to brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate to get rid of the fat and grease.
  4. Wipe out the skillet and add the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add onions and cook until beginning to soften, 3 to 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook for another minute. Add the tomatoes and season with salt and a pinch or 2 of red pepper flakes. Cook until everything is heated through, then stir in the beef and rice. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
  5. Fill the peppers with the rice mixture. Drizzle the peppers with a little olive oil. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake until the peppers are soft and lightly browned, another 15 to 20 minutes.

This recipe can serve up to 4 people and can be stored in the fridge for 3 days or in a sealed bag in the freezer for up to 3 months.

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