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Last week, my husband and I drove five hours down to Boston to visit his family for Thanksgiving.

It took some convincing, but we had finally talked his mother into letting us make something to bring to dinner on Thursday. Then again, she finally agreed only because I would be allergic to both desserts that people had already signed up to bring. Both had nuts, oats, or both, and then I’d be left out of dessert, which made his mother feel a bit bad. As soon as she agreed, I immediately set out to find the perfect dessert.

What’s interesting to work with are others’ dietary needs. His sister is very lactose intolerant. His father is on a low FODMAPs diet. And I really can’t eat oats, barley, or nuts without feeling ill for a few days after, and large amounts of lactose disagree with me. So I pretty much found myself in the unique position of being able to eat almost anything that the other two could eat, but not being able to eat almost anything that they can. At home, I can substitute wheat flakes for rolled oats and cracked wheat for steel-cut oats, but I can’t do that for my father-in-law. And I find myself really, really wanting to impress his family. We’ve been married for over two years (and dated for more than two years before that), but there’s this small part of me that really wants to find ways to make them super happy with me. My husband kept stressing to me that they would have something that everyone could eat, and that I should just find something that I (and everyone but his father and/or sister) could eat… But I told him that I had this dream of being able to walk in, pie held high, announcing that I’d found the holy grail of desserts.

After a few hours of pulling my hair out, I managed to find the perfect recipe: A lemon tart, the crust of which was made from brown rice flour, tapioca flour, potato starch, brown sugar, vegetable shortening, and an egg, and filling made of lemon juice, eggs, and shortening. I also made a blueberry sauce to drizzle over it. When we brought it over for Thanksgiving, my father-in-law asked what I had made, and apparently he was quite pleased when he’d heard it was a tart; apparently he hadn’t had one for a long time, so he started looking forward to eating it.

Success.

The meal, of course, was wonderful, and it was lovely being able to spend so much time with his family. Even though I’m still somewhat stuck in “needing to impress them” mode, they’re great to hang out with. I mean, when it comes down to it, this is the family that raised him…good doesn’t usually come from bad, so logically, they’re great people.

We arrived back in upstate New York at around 7PM on Saturday. I was sore from the long drive. Neither of us felt like cooking, and we had already made a point of using up almost anything perishable by the time we left last Wednesday. So we got takeout. Sunday, we went grocery shopping after I scrambled to put together a shopping list, because truth be told, there aren’t enough takeout options to keep us happy through the week until we did our typical Saturday shop.

On the menu this week: Penne with dolled-up tomato sauce (take a jar of marinara and add a bunch of stuff to it to make it taste better than store-bought) and stuffed peppers.

Stuffed peppers are fairly easy to do. Assemble a filling of some sort, stuff, and bake. Voila: Tasty dinner. While in Boston, we’d gotten takeout from a taqueria that was surprisingly good, which left me in the mood for that sort of filling. I can’t have full-on pork chorizo, though (too fatty for my current dietary needs), and our store doesn’t carry chicken chorizo. However, they do carry chorizo-flavored seitan, and I know from my experiences at a local deli that seitan is surprisingly meat-like in texture. (Thank goodness I can eat gluten!) It also had the added bonus of being cheaper than the sausages I would normally substitute.

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This “meaty” chorizo seitan stuffed pepper is delicious. It captures all of the flavors I’ve been craving lately. It’s slightly spicy, and the pure meatiness of the seitan can fool even the most diehard meat eater. Add in a bit of rice and some Laughing Cow cheese, and these peppers are filling without breaking your caloric bank.

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We serve this with Skinnytaste’s Mexican zucchini skillet, rounding out a lovely vegetarian meal.

“Meaty” Chorizo Seitan and Rice Stuffed Peppers

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Yield: 8 pepper halves

Serving Size: 2 pepper halves

Calories per serving: 350

Fat per serving: 4.4 g

Saturated fat per serving: 0.8 g

Carbs per serving: 55 g

Protein per serving: 21.8 g

Fiber per serving: 5.7 g

Sugar per serving: 8.3 g

Sodium per serving: 482 mg

“Meaty” Chorizo Seitan and Rice Stuffed Peppers

Meaty stuffed peppers...without the meat! Slightly spicy and very filling -- and you'll probably fool even the most diehard of meat-eaters!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 2 cups vegetable stock or water (macros are for vegetable stock)
  • Cooking spray
  • 8 oz chorizo seitan
  • 4 large bell peppers (any color is fine; we use green simply because there's a $2 price difference between the green and any other color of bell pepper), cut in half, with tops, ribs, and seeds removed
  • 2 wedges Laughing Cow Light Queso Fresco & Chipotle
  • 8 teaspoons salsa verde (or salsa of choice)

Instructions

  1. Cook brown rice according to package directions, using vegetable stock or water as your cooking liquid. We have a rice cooker, so for us, it's as simple as dumping rice and vegetable stock in the cooker before turning it on.
  2. Preheat oven to 375F. Add a layer of foil to a 9x13" (3-quart) baking dish, then set the dish aside.
  3. Spray a medium skillet with cooking spray and heat the skillet over medium heat. When the skillet is hot, add the seitan to the skillet and saute it until crisped up a bit (about 5-8 minutes), stirring often.
  4. Place bell pepper halves in the baking dish.
  5. After rice has cooked, add the rice, seitan, and cheese wedges to a medium bowl. Stir to combine thoroughly.
  6. Divide the rice mixture between all 8 pepper halves, then top each pepper half with a teaspoon of salsa.
  7. Cover the baking dish with foil, then place in the oven. After 30 minutes, remove the foil and increase the heat to 400F. For firmer peppers, bake 15-20 minutes. For softer peppers, bake 20-30 minutes. The peppers should be at least somewhat soft and slightly browned. Serve warm, and enjoy!

Notes

Vegans can make this recipe completely vegan by substituting their favorite nut cheese or a bit of nutritional yeast. Those with gluten allergies can use a different meat substitute (or actual meat), and those that eat meat can use their favorite type of chorizo.

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