Diane Prather: Getting the rice done

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I don’t know about you, but when it comes to mealtime the hardest job for me isn’t cooking — it’s figuring out what to cook. During the summer, when the weather is as hot as it’s been, nothing “sounds” good. Then, I have lots of “paperwork evenings” so I don’t have much time to plan or cook. All in all, mealtimes can be challenging for me.

So, I try to take a little time in the mornings, over a cup of coffee, to look through my files and cookbooks and figure out what I’m going to cook that night. That way I can defrost what I need and, most of all, avoid coming home with thoughts about “what am I going to fix for supper?” This Tuesday I remembered my husband, Lyle, mentioning stuffed peppers. That sounded good, so I pulled out a recipe that I have fixed a number of times.

The first time I made “California Stuffed Green Peppers,” they were good. After that, for some reason the rice just didn’t get done, and we bit into undercooked grains of rice. As a result, I quit making the recipe. But on Tuesday, I was up to the challenge. So here’s what I did, despite the directions in the original recipe.

I washed and cut the peppers lengthwise and removed the seeds and stems. Then I precooked the peppers in boiling water for about 5 minutes. (I have always done this when making stuffed peppers. It seems that they cook up a little faster.) I drained the peppers on a paper towel. While they cooled, I mixed up the meat as directed in the recipe. Instead of putting the stuffed peppers in a skillet, I arranged them in an 8-by-8-inch casserole dish that is fairly deep. I had room for all but one pepper half. I put them meat-side down. Then I poured the liquid, called for in the recipe, over the peppers. The liquid was up to the top of the dish. I covered it tightly with foil, set the dish on a cookie sheet, and put it in the oven.

Since the peppers are supposed to be cooked on top of the stove, I didn’t know what oven temperature to use, but I chose 300 degrees. After about 45 to 60 minutes I checked the peppers. They were pretty soupy so I increased the temperature to 350 degrees and left them 30 minutes more. The result? The peppers were delicious, and the rice was tender. The next time I make the stuffed peppers I’ll try cooking them at 350 degrees from the start.

So now you can read the original recipe and decide for yourself. (The recipe has been featured in this column some time back.)

Do you have recipes that you would like to share? If so, call me at 970-824-8809 or write to me at P.O. Box 415, Craig, CO 81626.

California Stuffed Green Peppers

  • 3 large green bell peppers
  • 1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce (divided)
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 (6.8-ounce) package Rice-A-Roni Spanish Rice

Cut each pepper lengthwise; remove stems and seeds. Set aside. In a large bowl, combine 1 cup of tomato sauce, Rice-A-Roni, ground beef, egg and Special Seasonings packet. Mix well. Stuff each pepper half with the mixture. In a large skillet, arrange the pepper halves meat-side down. Pour the remaining tomato sauce and 1 1/2 cups water evenly over the peppers. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium. Cover and simmer 35 minutes or until the meat is done and the rice is tender. Serve the peppers with the remaining tomato sauce mix from the skillet.

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