Mexican Stuffed Peppers (GF & Dairy-Free)

The weeks sandwiched in between holidays feel so hectic and full of dining out, wine-sipping, and cookie-filled gatherings. No complaints here. But on weeknights when we don’t have much going on, I find myself looking for easy and healthy options to balance our holiday diets. I became a huge fan of stuffed peppers when I completed the Whole30 last January, because they’re super versatile and come together easily, and thought switching them up with fresh Mexican flavors would do the trick.

These Mexican stuffed peppers are not Whole30-approved, but can be adapted by removing the beans and corn and maybe adding tomatoes or other vegetables instead. You can also alter this recipe based on you and your family’s dietary restrictions- for example, my husband has a way better relationship with dairy than I do, so I covered his peppers with shredded Mexican cheese. For my vegetarian friends, use quinoa instead of meat! This would be an awesome meatless dinner.

This recipe was the perfect amount for two dinner portions and two letover lunches, so it should be just the right amount for a family of four. I made some extra brown rice on the side, so I’d have enough to pack for the lunches. These peppers would be extra delicious with avocado crema or guacamole, but the avocados I had on hand were very unripe 😦 we topped our peppers with Frontera’s green salsa and it was delicious that way.

peppers1

peppers2

Mexican Stuffed Peppers

Makes 4 servings

1 lb natural ground turkey

1/2 t ground pepper

1/4 t cayenne

1 t smoked paprika

1/2 t chili powder

1 t garlic powder

1/2 t cumin

4 whole bell peppers, seeds removed and cut in half lengthwise

peppers3

Method

Preheat oven to 425°

Cook the ground turkey until no longer pink. Add ground pepper, cayenne, smoked paprika, chili powder, and garlic powder and mix to combine.

Arrange bell pepper halves in 9 x 13 casserole dish and fill with turkey mixture. Bake for 20-25 minutes until peppers have softened.

Top with parsley, cilantro, salsa, guacamole, or all the above. Enjoy!

Matty’s Slow Cooker Carnitas

I’m all about meal prep. This usually takes place on Sundays before I grocery shop, so I can methodically buy only what we need and ensure we have enough week-night meals planned. When doing so, I plan a couple slow cooker meals that you can “set and forget,” because there is nothing better than coming home to dinner already made.

Often times, I have lofty intentions of getting dinner in the slow cooker before I leave for work. However, if it’s a busy weekday morning, I end up forgetting- rushing out the door without prepping anything. I would say this happens about 90% of the time. By the time my coffee kicks in and I remember, I’m sitting at my desk at work and can’t do anything about it. Because my husband is a full-time grad student at the moment, he is usually still at home, so I end up texting him a list of ingredients with some vague directions and hope for the best. This may sound risky, but it has resulted in some of the most amazing tacos we’ve ever had, and this was one of those instances.

When I got home from work and checked the slow cooker, I knew he had done it again. The pork was falling apart, but not overcooked, and was full of flavor. The last step was to broil the carnitas for a wonderful crispy crunch. This only took an extra few minutes and is worth dirtying an extra pan, trust me. We stuffed our faces with tacos and agreed that these were the best. Ever.

tacos1.jpg

I have been attempting slow-cooked pork for years and never really got the results I wanted. Either they were short of flavor, turned out too dry, or both. It wasn’t until recently that I discovered I was using the wrong cut of meat all along! I was trying to be healthy by using lean cuts of pork such as tenderloins, without realizing that the fat is essential to a flavorful, melt-in-your-mouth result. Last week, I bought a boneless pork butt and came to terms with all its glorious fat content and will never look back.

This pork is delicious in tacos, but can be used on top of nachos, in burritos, or on top of a taco salad like I did (lettuce wraps were a litttttle too messy.) Top it with lots of fresh cilantro, salsa, and some of my pickled red onions and you have yourself a perfect taco night!

tacos2.jpg

Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas:

Makes about 6 servings

3-4 lb boneless pork butt, excess fat trimmed off and cut into large chunks

2 t salt

1 t pepper

1 t ground cumin

1 t dried oregano

1 medium yellow onion, roughly chopped

2 bay leaves

Juice from 2 limes

Juice from 1 orange

1 C water

Method:

Add meat to slow cooker and top with the rest of the ingredients, stirring to evenly distribute. Set on low for 7 hours.

Turn slow cooker off after 7 hours and set oven to broil. Remove meat from slow cooker and spread into even layer on rimmed baking sheet. Broil for 3-5 minutes until golden brown and crispy.

Meanwhile, strain liquid from slow cooker into medium sauce pan and cook over medium heat until reduced by half.

Pour desired amount of reduced juice over pork and serve. Enjoy!

Tip** Pickled red onion recipe in next post!