Thursday, May 19, 2011

Kitchen Magician

I recently became a blogger for Hearts at Home, an organization that supports moms through every stage of motherhood. (It is through this organization that I got inspired to stay home despite my financial fears and rediscovered my passion for writing). So here's how this works: on the third Thursday of each month, all of the Hearts at Home bloggers will blog about the same topic. Each of our blogs are linked to each other so every month you can read a number of different perspectives on the issue. The topic for May is "share a favorite homemade dish recipe." And here goes...

I always thought of my  mom as a magician - whether she was making a meal, healing a wound, even knowing when I was lying, everything seemed like magic. I was especially impressed when she cooked. It didn't matter if it was a Thanksgiving turkey or a pot of Spanish rice, I always wondered how she knew what to put in it or how she could tell it was done. I rarely saw my mom use recipes and she made everything from scratch. I was always in awe of her ability to make something delicious from a pile of ingredients. To me, cooking was a mystical process that required great talent, like painting or playing an instrument. So when Matt and I decided that I would stay home, I became the official family head chef and I wondered how I would manage without knowing all the tricks of the trade.

As a gift, my mom gave me a cookbook she filled with recipes I enjoyed as a kid. (Ya know how once you learn all the ins and outs of something, it becomes completely de-mystified - like when you learn the truth about Santa Claus or see how a magic trick is done? If you don't know what I'm talking about, watch an episode of "How It's Made" on The Science Channel. Those people de-mystify everything from toothbrushes to calculators). Well, that's what happened to me when I learned to cook. As I flipped through my new book, I couldn't believe how easy it was to make some of my favorite meals. Some things required just a handful of ingredients! I looked at some of my favorites: chicken soup, stuffed peppers, spaghetti sauce (the best spaghetti sauce ever, might I add), and I thought, "That's it? That's all there is to it?" And just like that, the magic was gone.

Only it wasn't really gone. I just don't see it anymore because I'm in on all the secrets. And I learned that good food doesn't always have be complicated. Now my family can be just as mystified with my food as I always was with my mom's. Next week marks one year in my new position as a stay-at-home-mom and official magician of my kitchen. So in honor of my anniversary, I would like to de-mystify one of my childhood favorites: stuffed green peppers. Enjoy!

1. Start with 4-8 green peppers (it depends a lot on the size). Cut the tops off and clean out the insides.

2. Take 2 pounds of ground beef (raw) and mix in 3/4 cup ketchup, 3/4 cup grape jelly, 2 eggs, and 1 cup of instant rice (uncooked). You pretty much have to mix it with your hands, so if this is a problem for you, I suggest you stick with Hamburger Helper meals.

3. Fill each pepper with the meat mixture (really cram it in there).

4. Put the peppers in a pot/pan and pour in enough tomato juice to cover them at least most of the way (some people find tomato juice to be too thin. You can mix it with canned tomato sauce to thicken it up). There are several ways to cook them: (1) In a large pot, cover and simmer 45 min to 1 hour. (2) In a roasting pan, cover and bake at 350 for 45 min to 1 hour. (3) I've never used a slow cooker to make this recipe but I know you can. Just guess on the time. It's hard to mess stuff up in a crock pot.

5. Serve and enjoy!


  1. LOVE stuffed peppers! I've never put jelly in mine, but I am open to giving it a try. Thanks for sharing! (PS Your "stick to Hamburger Helper" comment about made me pee my pants!)

  2. We do stuffed peppers, too, but we've never used jelly either! I'm going to have to try it!

  3. Congrats on your one-year-milestone. What a gift to be home with your sweet little one. I traded my classroom of 100 crazy middle schoolers for one strong willed toddler 12 years ago and I've never been sorry. Now that we've got a handful (literally) of kids under our roof, I can't imagine anywhere else I'd rather be. I love your title of kitchen magician! We'll try those peppers with our garden fare soon! Thanks.

  4. These look really good! I'm also surprised by the grape jelly...but then, I put brown sugar in my spaghetti sauce! :)