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Pizzeria-Style Sausage & Pepperoni Goulash Stuffed Peppers Smothered with Five Italian Cheeses

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What a crazy, crazy day we had yesterday. Wow. I don’t know that one single thing went right, except for a contest that I’m a finalist in. But everything did a swan-dive after that. Including a tornado, and me scrambling for a 5-gallon bucket from the garage to catch water fast-dripping from a ceiling light fixture, that after setting the bucket underneath, I noticed was TURNED ON, then not being able to get my cat out from under the spare bed and ending up in the spare bath – – alone – – sitting on the closed toilet seat, bawling, waiting for the tornado to pass, holding the day’s bad news in the palms of my hands placed on my forehead, and just shaking my head. (My husband called just as the tornado sirens went off to let me know he was laid-off and catching the first flight out of Chicago and coming home.) Much more went wrong than that, but not even worth mentioning. I can definitely say this though, that when it rains, it really does pour! They say that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger?! Well, then, I should be able to bench press a BUICK by now.

But life is what it is. So I choose to think that each day is a new adventure if you just choose to look at it that way, and do the best you can with whatever hand you’re dealt. The one thing that you can count on in life though, is that it’s ever-changing. And though things might be on a downswing or a low, rest assured, that soon after, there will be another high point. That’s just how it works. So, right now I’m looking forward to seeing the rainbow after the storm.

This recipe was a “compromise” of 2 people each wanting different things. You know the drill! You want “this”, he wants “that”, your kids want pizza. I was craving old-fashioned stuffed peppers with rice, he was craving “American-style goulash”.  (We don’t have kids, but we almost caved to pizza to keep the peace. 😉 ) Sooo, I thought to compromise and combine all three into one and WOW was THIS ever a hit!!! Now I’m not sure I want stuffed peppers any other way! Not to mention, not going to want a pile of goulash on a plate ever again, either! This really ROCKED! And we didn’t over-eat whole stuffed peppers or too big of a plate of goulash, either. By cutting the peppers in half lengthwise and filling them that ways, it was a very nice amount served along with a side salad! I was fine with a half, but my hubby I do admit, went back for seconds,(compliment!), and had two! He RAVED and raved over them, bless his heart, and it still only amounted to one regular whole stuffed pepper anyways! I really enjoyed just a half though, because whole stuffed peppers are just too much pepper for me and just too big. So doing them this way really pleases everyone. I think you’re really going to agree!

So anyways, here’s how I made them. I broke up the sausage and ground beef in a pan first. *MUCH easier than trying to break it all up while cooking! Added fresh mushrooms, onions, seasonings and herbs, and sautéed, breaking meat up further, until done. (*I made a full batch using 1 lb. each sausage and ground beef per what I had on hand, but you can cut this recipe in half. I thought we’d have a bunch leftover so I could freeze some. Uhm…that didn’t happen. Hubby went into attack mode and I had just enough to stuff the peppers I had! So it’s up to you!) Going ahead and typing out the whole big-batch recipe for you, too! 😉

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Here it is all sautéed and drained of fats. You can even see the little bits of extra seasonings from the sausage! You KNOW it’s going to be good! 

 

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Add stewed tomatoes, tomato sauce and tomato paste, pepperoni, and more seasonings, and simmer until thickened…

 

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While this incredibly delicious concoction is simmering, boil the noodles, drain, then stir in. Add drained corn and parmesan cheese, too, and fold in. Set aside. (Get the BIG spoon to taste test. Go for it, there will be plenty! I won’t tell! 😉 ) 

 

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Just leave it uncovered. If lidded, moisture just builds up underneath and drips and waters it down. It’s fine to sit for a bit just like that. 😉

While this is cooling down enough to kinda handle, preheat oven and slice peppers in half. Clean out insides of peppers of seeds and membranes. Place into 13×9 baking dish and fill with meat/noodle mixture. Pile high! Don’t be shy with it! There’s plenty! And any left over can be eaten by itself or frozen. 😉

 

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Pop into the oven, tented and covered with sprayed foil, and bake for 45 minutes.  Remove foil, and pile with lots of heavenly cheese…and bake just until gooey melted!

 

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Your house will be smelling so wonderful by this time that you’re going to need a VERY big stick to fight off the “half-starved vultures” that are soon to swoop into the kitchen and hover by now….

 

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So grab a few plates, serve with a little salad and fresh summer fruit while we can still get it, and be ready for an incredibly delicious last-of-the-summer-crop supper! These peppers are surprisingly good! You are in for a real treat! I so hope you enjoy! 

 

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PIZZERIA-STYLE SAUSAGE & PEPPERONI GOULASH STUFFED PEPPERS SMOTHERED with FIVE ITALIAN CHEESES

Makes 8 whole stuffed peppers or 16 halves / 8 – 12 servings

 

1 lb. mild Italian ground sausage, I like Johnsonville’s for this

1 lb. lean ground beef, or you can use all sausage

1 tsp. italian seasoning

2 1/2 tsp. oregano, divided

1/2 tsp. thyme

1 tsp. garlic powder, divided

1/2 tsp. seasoning salt, I like Johnny’s, divided

1/4 tsp. coarse ground black pepper

1 large onion, chopped large or preferred

1 (16 oz.) cont. fresh sliced mushrooms, snapped in half

2 (15 oz.) cans tomato sauce with italian herbs

1 (14.5 oz.) can Hunt’s Stewed Tomatoes

1 (6 oz.) can tomato paste with italian herbs

12-16 slices pepperoni, cut into quarters, (as much as you like)

1/2 tsp. dark brown sugar

2 cups uncooked macaroni noodles, I really like Barilla’s

1 (14-15 oz.) can white shoepeg corn, drained, (*can sub corn of choice or 2 cups fresh or frozen)

1 Tbl. finely grated parmesan cheese

8 large fresh bell peppers, assorted colors for fun!

2 (8 oz.) bags shredded 5-cheese blend white italian cheese, Sargento and Kraft/Philly each work well

chopped fresh parsley or fresh basil for garnish if desired

 

DIRECTIONS:

In large, deep, skillet, sauté meat(s), italian seasoning, 1 tsp. oregano, thyme, 1/2 tsp. garlic powder, 1/4 tsp. seasoned salt, pepper, onion and mushrooms until no longer pink inside, breaking up meat(s) as you go. 

Drain fats well. Add all tomato products, pepperoni, dark brown sugar and rest of seasonings. (1 1/2 tsp. oregano, 1/2 tsp. garlic powder, and a 1/4 tsp. seasoning salt.) Bring to a simmer over med-high heat, reduce to low, and simmer for 25-30 minutes until reduced and thickened. (Just get rid of all the excess water and end up with a nice, rich, thick sauce.) Stir occasionally as needed. *Don’t leave the sauce unattended.

While the sauce is simmering, bring a medium-sized pot of water to boil, add a *small palm of salt*, and boil noodles until al dente. Don’t overcook because they still have to bake. So do the shortest time on the box is all. (*What’s a small palmful? Hold your hand out with your palm facing upward. Bring your fingers and thumb in. See that nice little  pocket in the middle of your palm now? Like a little cup? Only just fill that little pocket with salt and dump it into the pot. Now you don’t need to wash another measuring spoon! You did it! 🙂

Drain pasta and add to meat sauce. Gently stir in corn and stir in parmesan cheese, too. Set aside, uncovered.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

Slice peppers in half lengthwise, remove seeds and membranes, and place into *1-2, 13×9 baking dishes. (*You can fill all peppers, or use half the amount of peppers and save and freeze the rest of the meat/noodle mixture for later use. This was my original plan. But all was devoured and enjoyed!!!)  

Pop into the oven and bake for 45 minutes tented and loosely covered with foil that’s been sprayed underneath so it doesn’t stick to the food. Remove foil, pile on the cheese, and bake, uncovered, for another 10 minutes or until cheese has melted. Peppers will be perfectly al dente, not over-done, and filling will be juicy not dry. 

*If your pepperoni looks like it might be quite fatty, add it to the meat(s)/onion mixture towards the end of sautéing to render out the fats. 

**If you prefer your peppers softer, add 15 minutes to baking time, baking them one full hour, then top with cheese and bake until cheese has melted. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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