It’s always sad when it comes time to pull up your garden that you worked so hard on all summer long in the blazing heat. All of the weeding, and feeding, and watering, and TLC that plants need to survive, grow and produce.
It’s almost like you’re raising children in a small way.
And it always breaks my heart when they are still full of fruits and vegetables, and even new blooms, but icy temps and frost are coming and you have to take everything down anyways.
But I had such a wonderful summer! And though it’s over, I’m still being blessed with tons of vegetables that will not go to waste! 😉
I ended up with a whopping 108 peppers all picked that day, and I’m still amazed over my “little garden on the deck”. I don’t know how many I must’ve gotten this year total….500? 600?? (And that’s not even including the tomatoes….)
I promised my hubby, (and told him to tell the neighbors, too) that I swear I will (try) not to grow so many next year! 😉 I don’t know how many I pawned off on them, but I think we are in need of a “neighborhood freezer”. 😉
That would be a cool idea, actually!
I think my hubby just fainted…..
Most of the bazillion peppers that I grew this year were sweet red Cubanelles, but I also did grow some bells, too. These (*pictured below) were perfectly ripe and needed to be used right away.
I had been craving Mexican food and we had chicken in the freezer, a new bag of rice, a can of olives, an odd jar of whole green chilies, and several cans of stewed tomatoes that were purchased long ago.
Other than a couple of cans sauce and some cheese, I figured that I pretty much basically had all of the fixings for some Mexican-style stuffed peppers! 😉
So I decided upon some “enchilada-style” stuffed peppers! I came up with my own spicy seasoning mix, and got started right away!
This was going to be such a fun way to use some of my peppers! 😀
After sautéing the chicken with a little butter, chopped onion, and my own seasoning mix, I stirred in some enchilada sauce….
….and stewed tomatoes (that I crushed by hand), sliced black olives, chopped green chilies, white shoepeg corn, and a nice Mexican Blend cheese by Sargento. (Theirs seems to melt and taste the best of the popular brands. So I stick with what works best for us.)
*I didn’t happen to have any black beans on hand, but you could always use those in place of the corn if you’d like. Just make these how you and your family prefer! 🙂
Next, I made a quick sauce with just a few ingredients for the bottom of the pot for the peppers to bathe in while cooking!
My red bell peppers were huge and just one was “female”, but my green ones (ALL “males”) were more medium-sized as they didn’t have quite enough time on the vine to fully develop. So I had a little filling left over. But you should be able to fill at least 8 and have no filling left at all. But you can always purchase a pepper or two extra, and if you don’t end up needing them, just pop them into a freezer bag and they will keep in the freezer very well. (They also keep about 2 weeks in the vegetable bin section of the refrigerator, too.) *You can keep these in the freezer frozen whole, or cleaned of their membranes and seeds and diced, for at least 6 months.
— > TIP! ***When choosing peppers from the store or farmer’s market, try and find female peppers for stuffing. They will have at least 4 rounds on the bottom and stand up much better. Male peppers only have three distinct rounds on the bottom and almost always end up tipping over during baking. So check the bottoms and stand them up before purchasing. Growing them, you have no choice, of course, but you can control what you purchase for easiest results. 😉
*If you end up with extra filling, see notes at the bottom of my recipe provided below of how to finish it and what to use it for.
*The above photo shows the peppers before and after baking.
Once the peppers are nice and tender and the rice is fully done, top these beauties with a nice amount of more Mexican blend cheese!
Then just bake just until the cheese is all melty and gooey delicious!
The first night that we had them, I just ladled the sauce straight from the pot after baking onto our plates and topped them with the peppers. But the second night, I took the time to reduce the sauce and I highly recommend that you do this! It really came out thick, rich, and some of the best sauce that I have ever tasted!!!
*This photo is from the first night.
Tender, juicy, and chock-full of goodness!!
To finish these off, you can top them with your heart’s desire! We opted for sour cream and green onions snipped from what’s left of my herbs outside. But you can also add some guacamole, jalapeños, hot sauce or a little chopped cilantro or parsley!
These stuffed peppers were some of THE BEST peppers that I have ever made! And were such a wonderful way to use (some! 😉 ) of the last of my summer garden!
Though it’s always sad to see the plants go, there’s always next year! 😉 And I’m already planning for it! 😉
Hope you all enjoy this recipe for years to come. I know we will.
*Don’t let the list of ingredients scare you away. It’s just pantry stuff and VERY easy to make! 😉
- 1½ lbs. boneless skinkess chicken breasts, diced into ½" pieces, (approx. 3)
- ½ large onion, chopped
- 3 Tbl. butter, as needed
- 1 (10 oz.) can hot or mild enchilada sauce
- 1 (14.5 oz.) can stewed tomatoes, broken up with the juice (I just use my hands to break them up a little)
- 25 black olives, sliced crossways into thirds
- 1 (7 oz.) can white shoepeg corn, drained, can sub a can of rinsed and drained black beans if preferred
- 1 (4.25 oz.) can whole green chilies, drained and chopped (or use the already chopped)
- 1 cup uncooked long grain white rice
- 2 cups shredded Mexican Blend cheese (1 - 8 oz. bag)
- 8 - 10 large bell peppers, any variety, slice off tops and hollow out membranes and seeds
- 1 - 1½ cups more cheese for tops
- Chicken Seasoning Mix:
- 1 tsp. seasoned salt (I use Johnny's)
- 1 tsp. chili powder
- 1 tsp. cumin
- 1 tsp. paprika
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
- ½ tsp. chipotle powder
- ½ tsp. onion powder
- ¼ tsp. coarse ground black pepper
- Pot Sauce:
- 1 (10 oz.) can enchilada sauce, hot or mild
- 1 (14.5 oz.) can stewed tomatoes, drained, break up tomatoes
- ¼ tsp. each: chili powder, cumin, chipotle powder and garlic salt
- Optional Toppings:
- sour cream
- green onions
- pickled jalapeño rings
- hot sauce or sriracha
- chopped cilantro or parsley
- Dice chicken breasts, trimming away fat.
- In small bowl, mix together well the Seasoning Mix ingredients. Set by the stove.
- Chop onion; and add butter, onion and diced chicken to a large frying pan. Evenly sprinkle Seasoning Mix over chicken and stir to coat. Sauté until done, about 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Stir in enchilada sauce and stewed tomatoes. Fold in olives, corn (drained), green chilies, (uncooked) rice, and cheese. Set aside.
- To large dutch oven, add Pot Sauce ingredients. Stir to blend.
- Slice off tops of peppers, clean out membranes and seeds, and fill peppers with chicken filling, overstuffing a little.
- Place into pot, cover with lid, and pop into preheated 350º oven and bake for 1 hour and 20-30 minutes, or until rice is tender.
- Remove from oven, top generously with more cheese, pop back into oven and bake, uncovered, for 5 - 10 minutes longer or until cheese has nicely melted.
- Remove from oven, and remove peppers to a platter if desired to thicken sauce. (Tent peppers with foil to keep warm. To thicken sauce, simply heat pot on stove over medium-high heat and boil, stirring occasionally so that it doesn't burn or scorch, until sauce has reduced and thickened. This is optional, but VERY good!!! Sauce becomes very rich!!!!
- To serve, ladle plates or bowls with a little sauce, top with a pepper, and garnish top with toppings of choice. Nice served with refried beans, chips, and a simple salad.