Posts tagged: Bell Pepper

Aromatic Essentials

There is something special about walking into someone’s home and relishing the aroma of garlic and onions sauteing in a pan in a kitchen nearby. Garlic and onions as well as bell peppers and celery are commonly used in recipes as a sort of backbone to magically transform food into mouthwatering dishes. It is inconceivable to think you could complete cuisines such as Cajun, Indian, Mexican or African without these essential aromatics!

If you’re one of the very few who don’t cook with these gems, then consider some interesting health facts that you might not have heard of before.

  • Garlic

Nursing mothers will be happy to hear that this marvel will help their babies nurse longer and drink more breast milk. According to researchers, the trick is for mom to consume garlic two hours prior to feeding time when the aroma is strongest in the breast milk which will be much more enticing to baby. (Tricks of the Trade, Vol. I from Midwifery Today).  You can make a great peanut sauce with garlic and enjoy some healthy Vietnamese spring rolls for lunch!

  • Onion

It is well documented in medical science that onions share cancer fighting properties with garlic and bell peppers, as well as various antiseptic properties. Some websites even re-post this unsourceable statement about onions: “Egyptians numbered over 8000 onion-alleviated ailments.” Whether or not this is a historical exaggeration, there was plenty of evidence left behind by the ancient Egyptians that illustrate how much the onion was highly regarded in their cuisine and health.  Try an enchilada recipe  for a healthy dose of onion goodness!

  • Bell Pepper

According to scientists, a serious depletion of vitamin A occurs in smokers due to a carcinogen found in cigarettes. Foods rich in vitamin A, such as bell peppers and chili peppers, can protect smokers from developing emphysema or lung inflammation. Also, the high vitamin C content in bell peppers have also been seen by researchers to protect people from developing cataracts and from crippling rheumatoid arthritis. (World’s Healthiest Foods)  A good way to enjoy this aromatic is in salads or a sausage wrap this summer!

  • Celery

Celery contains a high amount of a natural steroid called androstenone, which increases pheromone levels in men when they sweat. Co-authors Dr. Judy Garman, Dr. Walter Gaman and Dr. Mark Anderson call celery “vegetable Viagra” in their new book called “Stay Young: Ten Proven Steps to Ultimate Health.”  So, get yourself some stalks of celery and peanut butter (or hummus) as a snack or in stuffing with a nice cut of pork for the ladies.

Without a doubt, there is more to these essential aromatic foods than meets the eye. There are other aromatics that are worth mentioning and exploring such as shallots, ginger, herbs, spices, peppers and others.  All have unique properties to enrich your life and, most especially, your palate.  So, cook more at home and be in control of your health!

Stacy’s Guacamole

Guacamole isn’t my favorite dish, but people ask me to make them a batch from time to time and it is always a hit. It has a bit of a kick to it. Try it out and let me know what you think.

Ingredients:

  • 4 large Haas avocados
  • 1/2 large red onion, chopped (a white onion works well too)
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 3 Roma tomatoes, deseeded and diced
  • 4 Serrano chili peppers, chopped
  • 2 Jalapeno chili peppers, chopped
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 3 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons Cayenne pepper
  • 8 drops Tabasco sauce
  • zest and juice of 2 limes
  • 2 shots tequila
  • 1 lime wedge

Directions:

Stacy's Gaucamole

Stacy's Gaucamole

Ah, the easy part. Add peppers, bell peppers, onion, garlic in food processor. Mix until well blended. Add rest of ingredients reserving 1 shot of tequila, lime wedge and 1 teaspoon of salt. Lick the skin between your thumb and forefinger, then sprinkle salt onto the area. Using the same hand that contains the salt, hold the lime with thumb and index finger. Lick the salt, down the tequila, and bite the lime. Swish it around in your mouth for a couple of seconds and then swallow. Now mix rest of ingredients in the food processor until well blended and creamy. Serve with tortilla chips.

If there are more than one person in the kitchen, this recipe may require more tequila, salt and lime wedges.

Italian Sausage Faux Risotto

Some may not consider this a real risotto but it’s close.  All of the ingredients are there but the exact preparation is not quite true to a traditional risotto. In this recipe the fat comes from the sausage, the wine is added at the end rather than the beginning, and the Romano is not stirred in. In any case, it’s a very tasty dish.

Italian Sausage Risotto

Italian Sausage Risotto

In a traditional risotto, the rice is cooked briefly in butter or olive oil to coat the grains with fat. White wine is added and absorbed by the grains. When the wine evaporates, the heat is raised to medium high and hot stock is gradually added in small amounts while stirring gently, almost constantly.  Stirring loosens the starch molecules from the outside of the rice grains into the surrounding liquid, creating a smooth creamy-textured liquid. At about 17 minutes from when the wine evaporated,  take the rice off the heat and dice cold butter and finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padano cheese.  Whip in the cheese and butter to make the texture as creamy and smooth as possible.

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb mild Italian sausage or hot Italian sausage, (2-3 links) casing removed
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 chopped onion, red preferred
  • 1 bell pepper, rough chop
  • 2 Anaheim peppers, rough chop
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups arborio rice
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 chopped tomato
  • 1/4 cup grated Romano cheese

Directions:

In a large frying pan, cook sausage over medium-high heat, breaking into small pieces, approximately 4 minutes or until browned. Add garlic, onion, bell pepper, Anaheim peppers, oregano, salt and pepper. Continue to cook over medium heat, stirring often, approximately 3 minutes or until the vegetables are softened. Add rice and mix well. Add chicken stock. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and cook for 15 minutes, stirring once. Add white wine, stirring often and simmer approximately 5 minutes or until rice is tender and creamy. Stir in tomato. Top with Romano cheese and serve immediately.

Italian Sausage Meat Sauce

Fucilli tossed with Meat Sauce and garnished with Grated Romano Cheese

Fucilli tossed with Meat Sauce and garnished with Grated Romano Cheese

Any pasta can be used with this meat sauce which is also known as a bolognese.  I normally use Fusilli because the meat sauce clings to it easily. I serve this meal in a bowl with a spoon and top it with fresh grated Parmesan or Romano cheese.

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, medium chop
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 red bell pepper diced (red preferred)
  • 2 tomatoes diced (approximately 1 3/4 lbs)
  • 1 lb Italian sausage, removed from casing
  • 8 ounce can of tomato sauce
  • 6 ounce can of tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil leaves
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
  • 4 1/2 ounce can mushrooms, drained
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seed

Directions:

Meat Sauce

Meat Sauce

In a large pot heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and saute until semi soft being careful not to burn them. Add Italian sausage and cook until browned. Drain sausage.

In pot with drained sausage, stir in diced tomatoes, tomato sauce and tomato paste. Mix in oregano, basil, Worcestershire sauce, sugar, red pepper flakes, mushrooms, cumin, fennel seed, and bay leaf.  Bring to a boil. Turn heat down to low and simmer for about 1-2 hours, stirring every 10 to 15 minutes.

Sausage Wraps

During college football season, a Saturday afternoon backyard barbeque or grill session is almost a given. One of the dishes I love to cook in these situations is sausage wraps. Sausage wraps are very easy and always a hit.

Julianne bell peppers and onions

Julianne bell peppers and onions

Ingredients:

  • 4 medium to large bell peppers. I prefer to use 1 each of green, red, yellow and orange.
  • 1 medium to large onion. I prefer to use 1/2 of a white and 1/2 of a red.
  • 1 Anaheim pepper
  • 2 tablespoons coarse salt
  • 2 tablespoons fresh ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon cajun seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 stick butter
  • Spray butter
  • 10 – 12 Sausages. I prefer to use Italian Hot, Mild or Sweet
  • 10 – 12 Flour Tortillas. I prefer a specialty tortilla made local called a Southwestern Tortilla.
  • Dijon mustard

Directions:

Veggies after being spiced and tossed

Veggies after being spiced and tossed

Julianne the bell peppers and Anaheim pepper; Anaheim julianned slices should be cut in half. Slice onion in to 3/8 inch rounds, cut each round in half, remove any odd shaped pieces. Add bell and Anaheim peppers and onions into a large mixing bowl. Cut butter into small cubes. Add salt, pepper, cajun seasoning, garlic powder, cumin, worcestershire sauce and chopped butter. Mix thoroughly.

Preheat grill to 375 degrees. Add one half of the vegetables each to a sheet of aluminum foil and wrap. To a second piece of aluminum foil, add the first bundle but flip such that the unfolded side is up. Place on grill such that folded side of outer bundle is face down. Grill 20 minutes then flip and grill an additional 20 minutes.

Sausage should be cooked for 30 minutes, flipping sides every 5 minutes.

Spray tortillas with butter and place on grill 1 minute both sides.

Ready to wrap and eat

Ready to wrap and eat

Serve sausage on top of tortilla, adding vegetables to taste. Top with Dijon mustard.

This dish could also be made vegetarian by simply omitting the sausage and piling on the vegetables.

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