That was the temperature my car’s thermometer read this morning.
That is not okay…
I know that as a native New Yorker, and as someone who typically appreciates the range of temps each season brings, I have to accept that winter is going to be cold. But, I just cannot bring myself to cope with THAT low of a temperature.
Even with the addition of a sturdy coat, wool scarf, mittens and insulated boots, there is just no way to not feel the sting of cold air when you walk out the front door. The hardest part is watching my animals struggle in the frigid air and 2-foot-deep snow. My dog, as a breed totally capable of withstanding harsh winters, is only going outside long enough to “do his business” before bee-lining it back in the warm house. My hobby farm poultry are sunning themselves under multiple heat lamps as we speak.
When the temperature plummets like this, I have a tendency to lean toward hearty, hot meals. Soups, chilis and stews are definitely on the list for me, but my husband does not find any of these very filling. He’s a meat-and-potatoes guy who likes to see a hefty serving of protein surrounded by sides of starches and vegetables. A bowl of food all mixed together typically doesn’t satisfy his hunger.
However, one dish I have found that makes both of us happy is stuffed peppers. I love the visual aspect of it because of its unique presentation. My husband loves that it satisfies all his food group needs, even if they aren’t divided up on separate parts of his plate. And, it’s hot and cheesy and comforting and all-around perfect for a below-zero kind of day.
If I’m being 100% honest, stuffed peppers are one of my favorite meals. There is just so much variety in terms of what you can stuff the pepper with. And, I find the presentation to be so visually stunning when using different fillings and colored peppers.
For this recipe, I went with a favorite of mine which is chicken in a vodka sauce. I’m a huge fan of penne alla vodka with strips of juicy chicken breast, and this is very reminiscent of that.
I do make a homemade vodka sauce from time to time, but I do have a beloved storebought sauce manufactured by a local Italian restaurant that I also use occasionally. When I want the sauce to be the main attraction, I go homemade. Since the pepper is the focus here, I typically go with the jarred version, but you can go homemade if you want.
Since vodka sauce and chicken are one of my favorite combinations, you can bet I’ll have more recipes for you like this soon!
Vodka Chicken Stuffed Peppers
4 large bell peppers
1/2 cup rice
2 cups water
2 tbsp olive oil
1 white onion, finely diced
2 large cooked chicken breasts, diced
2 cups vodka sauce
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella
1/3 cup shredded parmesan
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven 350F.
Once oven is preheated, cut the very tops of the peppers off and carefully remove the middle and ribs. Place on a cookie sheet top-side-down and cook in the oven for about 20 minutes.
Combine rice and water in a pot over medium high heat and cook 15-20 minutes or until rice is cooked thoroughly.
Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat and add onions. Cook onions for 3-5 minutes. Add garlic and cook an additional 1-2 minutes.
Add the chicken, rice, vodka sauce, mozzarella and Parmesan cheese to the onions and cook for 3-5 minutes to heat through thoroughly. The cheese should be melted completely. Season to test with salt and pepper. Remove from heat.
Remove peppers from oven and turn over so they are right side up. Use a large spoon to fill the peppers with the rice mixture. I like to overflow the peppers. Top with a little extra mozzarella cheese.
Bake 20 minutes. Serve hot.