Category: Mama Love

Mexican Stuffed Peppers with QuinoaThis is my first try at making stuffed peppers, and if I do say so myself… I nailed it!!

I think I’ve only had them one time before today, and my impression was of a bunch of ground beef and rice stuffed into a pepper. I don’t remember much flavor, but I do remember I didn’t care to have them again.

The Pretty One’s friend made stuffed peppers for dinner one evening and he told me how good they were. I was surprised, and started thinking there must be more to them than beef and rice. When I found a couple of recipes this summer, I bookmarked them so I could try them when TPO went back to school.Mexican Stuffed Peppers with Quinoa

After looking at a few recipes, I chose a vegetarian quinoa and black bean stuffed pepper recipe for the base. We like a little heat in our food so I added a jalapeno and pepper jack cheese, and we eat meat so I added ground turkey.  Basically, I made a filling that I thought was tasty, filled the peppers, and voila! Delish Mexican Stuffed Peppers that are high in protein. I’d say they’re low fat, but that would just be wishful thinking because I used a lot of cheese. I love cheese!

If you want to cut the fat, use 2% cheese or a smaller quantity of cheese – or even eliminate it altogether. Skip the meat, add extra peppers, whatever sounds good to you. This is a very forgiving recipe, and doesn’t require you to make it exactly like I did. With some experimenting, you’ll find the perfect combination for your taste!

I made these up and put them in the frig for a couple of hours before I baked them. The only adjustment needed if you want to do that is to bake them longer since you’ll be starting with cold food in a chilled dish.

These stuffed peppers have rewritten what I thought I knew about the dish, and I know I’ll make them again!

Mexican Stuffed Peppers

Stuff you need:

6 bell peppers [any color, but multi-colors are more fun!], sliced in half stem-to-tip, seeds removed
1/2 cup quinoa, uncooked
1/2 medium onion, diced
1 pound ground turkey or beef
1 packet taco seasoning for 1# meat
1 (15oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 roma tomato, seeded and diced
1 (4oz) can diced green chiles (do not drain)
1/2 cup cilantro, minced
1 – 2 jalapeno peppers, minced [optional]
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3/4 cup picante sauce – whatever heat level you prefer
6 ounces Pepper Jack cheese, grated or diced into small cubes
3/4 cup cheddar cheese, grated, divided
15 ounce can red enchilada sauce

Now what?

Add quinoa to a small saucepan with 1 cup of water and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil 5 minutes, cover, turn off heat and let steam 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

In the meantime, microwave pepper halves 2-3 minutes to soften slightly. Set aside. (Prepared this way, the peppers should come out crisp-tender. If you want them crisper, you can omit this step.)

In a skillet, brown ground turkey and diced onion. Add taco seasoning and cook as directed.

Add quinoa, black beans, tomato, green chiles and their juices, jalapeno, cilantro, 1/4 tsp pepper and picante sauce to the meat/onions in the skillet. Stir in pepper jack cheese and 1/2 cup cheddar cheese.

Pour enchilada sauce into a 9×13″ baking dish. [Depending on the size of your peppers, you may need an additional 8×8″ baking dish. If so, divide your enchilada sauce accordingly.]

Divide filling among peppers and set stuffed peppers into the enchilada sauce. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup cheddar cheese.

Cover the pan with foil and bake at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Remove foil and cook about 5 minutes longer. Serve peppers drizzled with enchilada sauce.

Note: If you want to make this vegetarian, use 1 cup quinoa and 2 cups water. Cook the onion with the quinoa. Omit the meat. Follow the rest of the steps.

Maybe the best thing about The Pretty One going to college is that he learned to eat spicy food. He’s much more fun to cook for now!

I always cooked fairly bland food for the family because I had a child who didn’t explore foods and didn’t enjoy spice. Having been raised by parents in the food service industry he was used to eating in restaurants too often and choosing his meals from boring kids menus, as opposed to eating a variety of food served at home. Not a smart way to raise a gourmet, but nevertheless, that’s how it was. The Pretty One was an expert at ordering chicken fingers, cheeseburgers and baby back ribs. That all changed with a Mexican Meatloaf!

One year he spent spring break in Tulsa with his roommate’s family. Being a guest at someone’s home means eating what they serve, so there was no way to avoid the spicy meatloaf, peppers and all. And there the love affair with “flavor that kicks me in the mouth” began! I was shocked one evening to hear that the meal I served needed more spice. Who was this child?

I’d been wanting to try a Mexican Meatloaf. This recipe looked good and pretty easy, so the next time I wanted to send dinner home with The Pretty One, I surprised him with my version of a Mexican Meatloaf. The recipe calls for ground beef, but I used part ground beef and part ground pork. I think you could use any combination of ground meats that you want. If I was making it for myself, I’d probably use ground turkey. I think I’ll give it a bit more zip next time by using fresh jalapeno peppers instead of canned green chilies. Click for recipe.

The Pretty One stopped by tonight to pick up a batch of chili. And some money, of course.  😉  It was the first chance I had to ask what he thought about the Mexican Meatloaf. Rave reviews! He loved it!

He especially liked the picante sauce on top, and said he ate it all in 2 meals. Sheesh – a whole meatloaf in 2 meals? I guess he did like it!

So like chili (his favorite) and the Chicken Alfredo & Rice Casserole, I’ll be adding this to the Mama Love rotation.

Mama Love: Mexican Meatloaf


Stuff you need:
1 1/2 pounds ground beef [or any combination of ground meats. I used 1# ground beef + 1/2# ground pork.]
3/4 cup mild picante sauce [I used medium. Use whatever spiciness you prefer.]
1 (4 ounce) cans diced green chilies, drained [Next time I’ll use fresh jalapeno peppers for more heat.]
1/2 cup finely crushed tortilla chips
1 medium onion, chopped
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 -2 teaspoons chili powder (to your preference)
1 teaspoon salt

Picante sauce [Whatever spice level you prefer.]
1 cup shredded monterey jack cheese or 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese [I used a shredded Mexican blend]

Sour cream
Chopped cilantro
Additional picante sauce

Now what?
Combine first 9 ingredients and place in lightly greased loaf pan.
Bake at 375 for 40 minutes or until done.
During last 10 minutes of baking, spoon desired amount of picante sauce over loaf and sprinkle with cheese. Bake until meatloaf is done.
Garnish with sour cream, cilantro or picante sauce, if desired.


This mama loves her boy and loves to cook for him! I’m lucky he lives close enough to stop by once or twice a week; it keeps me from missing him too much.

I like to send The Pretty One back to school with things he can heat up for dinner. He cooks for himself, but as a student athlete he doesn’t have the time or the desire to experiment a lot. Without cooking experience it’s difficult to branch out too much, so his menu is fairly limited. He’s trying, though and I think he’ll end up being a pretty good cook. He was raised by professional cooks, so maybe a little of that rubbed off.

I make things he can’t or won’t make for himself, and things that have a different flavor profile from his usual repertoire. Translation: I don’t make burgers, brats or spaghetti for him.

The Pretty One loves Alfredo sauce, rice and peas, so when I found this recipe I couldn’t wait to make it for him. It does require some prep work — it calls for cooked chicken and cooked rice — but that can be done in advance. I cooked the chicken and rice in the morning, then threw the casserole together and baked it in the evening. Click for recipe.

Ready for the oven!

Like most entrees, this recipe can be adjusted to your taste. I left the peppers and nuts out of the original recipe because I didn’t think they’d be welcome. I didn’t have any basil (What? I love basil!) so I used Italian seasoning. We like peas, but you could substitute broccoli or some other veggie if you prefer. I used brown rice but white or wild rice could also be used. Instead of breadcrumbs on the top, I used crushed corn flakes for a little crunch and topped that with minced garlic for extra pop. I really like ham, peas and Alfredo sauce together so next time I’m going to substitute ham for the chicken.

How did it turn out? I asked The Pretty One tonight. He had a complaint — there wasn’t enough. He wants more. He said it was really good and he ate it within 24 hours. I agree – it did taste good! I had to try a spoonful myself. How else would I know if it was any good? And I had to break into the casserole so I could show you what it looked like, right?

This dish is a keeper. I’ll be making it again, but it sounds like I’ll be doubling the recipe next time!