Stuffed Peppers

Growing up my mother made THE best stuffed peppers (she still does).  She makes them the way my grandmother made them which also means they’re a family favorite. I’ve since learned how to make them and since becoming a Weight Watcher I’ve changed the recipe up just a tad (really only changing the ground beef and the choice of sauce) to make it a bit more point friendly.  The flavor is still there, it’s still reminiscent of my mother’s stuffed peppers and better yet she has even given them the stamp of approval!
As I got older, I realized that stuffed peppers can and are made in a wide range of ways. Bake, boil, par-boil, etc. Ingredients are plentiful and widely different.  You name it, it’s done.  But I will say, I’ve tried stuffed pepper recipes which are baked and par-boiled … but this way has always stolen my heart and taste buds. Perhaps that’s just because of how I’m used to having them but they’re perfect.
These can be eaten plain, as they are … but I do enjoy them with a little bit of ketchup on them. Again, childhood thing and it’s something I’ve never outgrown.  Another great thing about these is you can increase or shrink the recipe to however many peppers you’re aiming to make.  I’ve made 6 which was dinner for 3 individuals back-to-back, and then I’ve made 12 because we were having dinner guests.
I will point out my favorite way to have the peppers is with a tried and true green bell pepper. I feel it brings out more of the meat flavor and holds up during the boiling process a bit better.  I’ve also switched out my choice of pasta sauce using either canned (when making a smaller batch) or jarred when making more than 6.
Serves 6. Serving size 1 stuffed pepper. 10 points plus values.
          6 Medium Bell Peppers (red or green – just try to keep them around the same size)
          1 large onion, chopped
          1 ½ lbs 93% lean ground beef, raw
          1 ½ cups uncooked white rice (I prefer Goya Golden Canilla I find the rice keeps shape and doesn’t mush up but any white rice will do)
          1 can Hunts Pasta Sauce – Chunky Vegetable
          1 ½ tsp salt
          1 1/2 tsp black pepper
Wash peppers and cut to remove the stems and inner seeds. You can either take off the whole top, or cut a hole into it. Make sure to leave the pepper intact – like a bowl.
In a large bowl combine raw ground beef, rice, onion, salt and black pepper. Mix to combine (I use my hands).  Add in about ½ can of sauce and combine until well incorporated throughout the meat and rice mixture.
Stuff each pepper with equal amounts of meat. It’s okay if the peppers have a rounded top to them. Place the peppers into a deep pan that has a matching lid.
Fill the pan with water so the peppers are covered roughly ½ way up the sides.  Pour remaining sauce over the top of the peppers and into the water.
Place the pan over a medium flame until water begins a mild boil.  Cover, lower flame to medium-low.  Cook for approximately 40-45 minutes.  You can test if it’s done by making sure the rice granules are cooked through. If not done after 45 minutes, cook for 5-minutes longer.

Rice Ball Casserole

In my area there is an Italian shop that sells Sicilian specialties … the two prominent things on their menu are crispelle (fried dough balls – either “plain” which is coated in sugar, cheese (ricotta) or anchovies).  They also sell fried rice balls which come with or without a side of sauce.  Growing up we’d stop into the shop once in a while to get some crispelle and a few rice balls to bring home.  Rice balls are a delicious treat, but they’re not so forgiving to my thighs.  These particular rice balls were made of large amounts of rice with a hollowed out center where a mixture of meat (chicken, a dash of sauce, spices, cheese and peas were “buried” in the middle).  The ball was then formed together, rolled in bread crumbs and deep fried until cooked. The way I liked them was drowned in homemade Italian sauce.
I’ve learned of ways to have some of my favorite not-so-healthy dishes in ways that become healthier and far more point friendlier.  I haven’t made a rice ball casserole in a while and for some reason, while jotting down my meal plan for the week rice ball casserole popped into my head – so rice ball casserole it was going to be!
This dish is quite possibly one of the easiest dishes to assemble and serve up.  I opted to use my homemade sauce in the casserole, as well as on the side to “garnish” each piece.  I sent a slice to my aunt to try and she sent a message back saying I should begin creating a cookbook.  My boyfriend was in food heaven and my mother raved about

how good of a cook I’ve become.

The slices are pretty large size slices and you could always cut it in half but since I prefer dinner to be my most filling meal, this was perfect.
To see the sauce recipe I used in this casserole, please see here:
Rice Ball Casserole.
Serves 8.  8 points plus values/serving.

  • 8 cups cooked white rice
  • ½ cup liquid egg substitute
  • Salt, to taste
  • Pepper, to taste
  • 1 ½ cups frozen peas
  • 3, 13 oz cans of 98% Fat Free Premium Chunk Chicken Breast (after draining it was 585g)
  • 2 cups homemade “quick cook” pasta sauce
  • 1/3 cup Whole Wheat seasoned bread crumbs
  • Non-stick cooking spray
Steam rice beforehand, using whatever method you choose, and let cool for 30-60 minutes.  (I cooked 4 cups of raw rice in my rice cooker and let cool for an hour afterwards.)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees,
Measure out 8 cups of rice into a large bowl, season with salt and pepper, pour ½ cup egg substitute over rice and mix well to combine.
Drain canned chicken and measure weight of chicken on a food scale (I used 585 grams).  Shred chicken up into smaller pieces, combine with frozen peas.  Add in sauce ½ cup at a time to ensure all chicken and peas are coated.  You’re not looking for the mixture to be drenched, but you’re looking for it to be coated but not wet.
Spray a 13×9 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray, evenly distribute 4 ½ – 5 cups of rice onto the bottom of the pan – add a little extra if there are any noticeable “gaps” in the bottom layer.
Spoon in chicken and pea mixture spreading evenly to cover all of the rice. Spoon remaining rice mixture on top of the chicken and pea mixture making sure to cover the entire area.  The top layer doesn’t have to be as “thick” as the bottom layer.
Sprinkle top of the casserole with bread crumbs and spritz lightly with non-stick cooking spray (to give it a little more golden finish).
Cook in 350 degree oven for 35-40 minutes until nicely golden brown.  When done, let cool for at least 25 minutes before cutting.
Serve with additional homemade sauce on top (I recommend it that way; I feel it really brings all flavors together even more).  When I add additional sauce, I give my meal 1 additional points plus value.