Mansfield Opinion

Simple recipes taste like you slaved for hours

I have several friends (who will remain nameless because I want them to keep them as friends) who will look at the list of ingredients for the Chicken Fajita Stuffed Peppers and simply file it away thinking “that’s more than three (four or five) ingredients - forget it!”

But this is really a simple recipe and can easily be altered to taste. It makes 10 servings and if you use different colored peppers, it is a lovely, colorful dish just stuffed with goodness (and a little cheese). There’s three veggies, two proteins, a whole grain and if you consider tomatoes a fruit– it also contains a fruit.

Chicken Fajita Stuffed Peppers

1 lb. chicken tenders, diced

1 cup black beans, canned

3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, more if desired

1 cup corn, canned or frozen

2 cloves garlic (or equivalent garlic paste)

5 orange, red or green medium-sized bell peppers (vary colors)

1 (10 oz.) can tomatoes with green chilies

1 yellow onion, chopped (1 1⁄2 cups)

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

Mexican-style hot sauce, to taste

3⁄4 cup brown rice, dry

1 teaspoon chili powder, divided use

1⁄4 teaspoon paprika

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

2 tablespoons canola oil, divided use

1 teaspoon ground cumin, divided use

1 cup Monterrey Jack cheese

Sour cream to garnish

Prepare brown rice according to directions on package. Halfway through brown rice cooking, preheat oven to 375 degrees and begin making filling and boiling peppers. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cut peppers in half through length (top to bottom), seed and de-vein peppers, then boil four to five minutes (fully immersing them in the water), just until tender. Drain well and align in baking pans, set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large and deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and sauté until golden about five minutes, then add garlic and sauté 30 seconds longer; transfer onion mixture to a plate. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the skillet, and add chicken, sprinkle with 1⁄2 teaspoon chili powder, 1⁄2 teaspoon cumin, the paprika and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until cooked through, about five minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low, add tomatoes, onion mixture, black beans, corn, cooked brown rice, remaining 1⁄2 teaspoon chili powder, 1⁄2 teaspoon cumin, cilantro, lime juice, and season with salt and pepper. Cook just until heated through.

Add a heaping 1⁄2 cup of the mixture to each pepper half (and slightly press as filling to fit). Pour enough water into bottom of baking dish to reach 1/8-inch in height (being careful not to pour water in the peppers). Cover baking dish with foil and bake 30 to 35 minutes, until peppers are soft. Remove from oven, sprinkle tops evenly with cheese then return to oven to bake until cheese has melted, about 3 minutes longer. Serve warm, topped with more cilantro, sour cream and hot sauce, if desired.

Frozen Hot Chocolate Cheesecake

(If you’re craving hot chocolate but it’s still 90 degrees outside)

22 Oreos (about 2 cups)

1⁄4 cup sugar

6 tablespoons butter or margarine (melted)

1 (8-oz. package) cream cheese, softened

1 (14 oz. can) sweetened condensed milk

6 milk chocolate flavored hot cocoa mixes (packets) with marshmallows

1 (8 oz. container) Cool Whip, completely thawed

1⁄2 marshmallow cream

Optional garnish: Reddi Whip Spray

In a food processor, process the Oreos to crumbs and pour those crumbs into a medium-sized bowl. Melt the butter and mix with Oreo crumbs and sugar. Stir until a sticky dough is formed and then press the Oreo dough into the bottom of a springform pan. Press the crumbs throughout the bottom of the pan and a little up the sides of the pan.

In the same bowl you used to make the crust (it should easily wipe clean), put in the cream cheese. Using a hand mixer, mix the cream cheese for about 30 seconds to one minute. Slowly add in the condensed milk and continue to mix with the hand mixer for three to four minutes. Using a spatula scrape down the sides and continue to mix for another minute. Turn off the mixer and pour in one packet hot chocolate mix.

Stir until it’s incorporated and then add in the next packet. Repeat until all six hot chocolate packets are stirred into the mixture. With the spatula, gently fold in the Cool Whip until it is complete incorporated. Be careful not to over-mix the Cool Whip. Then mix in the marshmallow fluff so it swirls around with the rest of the ingredients. Barely mix in the marshmallow cream leaving ribbons of fluff throughout the pie. Pour the mixture into the pan on top of the Oreo crust. Freeze overnight or for at least eight hours. Thaw for about 10 minutes before serving and return any leftovers to the freezer after serving.

Rustic Strawberries

(Three Ingredients!)

Fresh, sliced strawberries

Aged balsamic vinegar

Freshly ground black pepper

When you have no idea what to make/take as a quick appetizer or dessert, simply slice some beautiful red strawberries, drizzle with a great aged balsamic vinegar and add a few grinds of black pepper. Simple, rustic, yet modern and healthy.

-- Suzi Hogan and her husband, Tim, live in Mansfield.