Recipe: Stuffed Peppers & Avocado Chunk Salad

I have to start out by saying that if anyone has had my stuffed peppers, these aren't them. They weren't bad and I don't mind sharing what there is of a "recipe," but they weren't my preference. So you get my preference as a bonus recipe! (It's the meaty parts.)

Step 1: Make Beans & Rice in the crockpot overnight.
* Rice, beans, and a can of diced tomatoes. 
* Season to taste, then about twice as much, especially if using dried-rehydrated beans. Don't make it too spicy because some freaks in this house don't like spicy.
* When using brown rice, use 3x as much water as rice--this isn't a bad rule for brown rice anyway if you're not using the pasta method, but that should give you enough water to last overnight.
* Don't get halfway through starting this and forget about it until you're happily snuggled up in bed with beans boiling on the stove and rice sitting in an unheated crockpot. 
* Don't instruct Mr. Moon or anyone else for that matter to put the beans in the crockpot then fill it up with water. This results in overflowing starchy goop. Trust yourself that rice-quantity-x-3 will be plenty of water.
* When you wake up in the morning and have too much water because you were afraid it would burn so you ignored the last point anyway, add some Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP) to soak some of it up. Taste it and add a ton more seasoning, stare longingly at the Tapatio bottle.

Step 2: Make the Peppers
* Tell Mr. Moon to pick up 4 peppers (or one for each person). Somehow miss the fact that he got peppers as big as his own head.
* Pull out two of the smallest peppers (only 3/4-head sized) for the elderly folks with tiny stomachs. 
* Cut around the stem section of these two peppers. Pull the stem and seeds out. Reach in carefully and remove as much pith as you can.
* Reach in too far and split one pepper down the side. Lament the fact that the cheese is going to ooze out the side now.
* Suddenly realize that each person doesn't actually need a whole pepper, especially since one of the two people eating First Dinner has admitted she won't eat the pepper anyway. Cut down the split and around so that the pepper makes two smaller bowl-like receptacles.

Step 3: Make the stuffing
* Ask Mr. Moon to chop tomato before he goes to work. Fail to have enough time for him to chop onion.
* Get to making dinner and evaluate hand dexterity. Decide onions aren't worth the risk of an ER visit if you slip.
*  If you are making them meaty: Brown meat (with diced onions if you planned ahead or feel like cutting them)--about 4 oz per person, or more if you want leftovers. Add whatever you add to make taco seasoning. (I use a lot of cumin, a little less chili powder, garlic, onion powder, and occasionally coriander.)
* If you are making the vegetarian: You already made the beans and rice, good for you!
* Chop fresh cilantro. No, like twice that much. No really, these take a lot of cilantro. If you don't like cilantro, just give up and fall on your sword.But really for 4 people you probably want half a giant bunch of cilantro, or one whole smaller bunch.
* Mix a bunch of fresh tomatoes and cilantro into your meat or rice & beans stuff.

 Step 4: Stuff the peppers
* Grate cheddar cheese with a tiny grater (like one you'd use for lemon zest or parmesan cheese) into the pepper cups.
* If making with meat, fill about halfway. If making veggie but not for people who are supposedly cutting out cheese, fill about halfway. If making for cheese-shy folks, fill all the way up and skip the next point.
* Put a layer of cheese in this spot that will be the middle. Fill with your desired filling.
* Top with cheese. Don't be stingy.
* Sprinkle cumin on top because you tasted the beans & rice and realized they're beyond not spicy, they're bland because they overcooked. 

Step 5: Baking
* Bake in the oven until cheese is melty, stuffing is hot, and peppers are fairly soft.
* Take them out before the peppers are soft and regret it every moment you're eating it.
* No really, this will take about 45 minutes to an hour, don't be impatient, you want the peppers to have a chance to absorb some of the flavors from the stuffing and the cheese inside to melt properly.
* Stop, put the peppers back in the oven, I told you to be patient, gorram it. I know they smell good but put the fork down because you already tested and know the pepper isn't soft on the bottom yet.


Step 6: Side Dish (Avocado chunk salad)
* Realize you have a bunch of fresh diced tomato left (about 1 fist-sized tomato), and half an avocado that really needs used up. * Now that Mr. Moon is home, have him juilenne some onions (those would be strips of about 1/4 inch wide and 2-3 inches long. On an onion, this means cutting the onion in half and making strips that end up as gentle curves rather than the half moons you get by cutting slices--you're cutting 90 degrees from those half moons).
* Grill up the onions in the leftover bacon grease from breakfast. Or, just use some butter or olive oil. You don't need these to be super mushy, just seared, cooked down a little, gentle flavor but still a little stiffness--al dente.
* Take the pit out of the avocado. Cut a grid into the flesh. Scoop large scoops into the bowl with the tomato, but make sure you take the biggest section out in two or three layers--so you end up with something like cubes instead of longer rectangles.
* Mix in the grilled onion with the fresh tomato and avocado.
* Salt and pepper to taste. Fret over what seasonings to use so that you don't end up with something just like the seasonings in the stuffed peppers. Consult with Mr. Moon (he suggested a rice wine vinaigrette).
* Dump in a little rice vinegar and cardamom, and maybe a little powdered mustard seed. The fat from the avocado and whatever you used on the onions will be plenty for a vinaigrette of sorts.
* Marvel at your own genius.

Step 7: Eating
 * Get a steak knife. Ok stop laughing, really, get a steak knife.
* Remove the top browned cheese and set it aside because I bet you want to eat that last and it won't cool fast enough with a lid.
* Let this cool for about 5 minutes.
* Cut your way around to expose stuffing, eating stuffing on your way down too.
* When finished with every other bit, snack on that browned, marinated cheese. Yum.


Step 8: Leftovers
* If you, like me, have leftovers of rice & beans and meat with fresh tomato & cilantro, you can layer them in a casserole dish, top with cheese, and make an awesome casserole for later. Might as well do this when you put away the leftovers because it's easier to spread when warm and why make extra dishes?
* I bet the chunk salad would be great in that casserole too, if you have any left.
* Mr. Moon and I took the leftover rice & beans and froze them in sandwich bag/quart size packages. These are going to be great for meal sides and breakfasts later!
* If you have leftover taco meat, you can freeze this in serving size or meal-size packages, perfect for OhShit! Tacos and adding to vegetarian chili.

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