Summertime is great for lots of things… barbecues, bonfires, beach days, naps, hammocks and vacations. Spending so much time outside can really take it out of you though. After a long day at the beach, or riding bikes, or hiking, all I want to do is take a load off my feet and kick back and relax. Suddenly, I will realize Monday is quickly approaching and I still have not prepped any meals for the week. Ugh.
Aside from salad jars and smoothies – my go to summer snacks – my slow cooker has re-emerged as my best friend in the kitchen. It is just SO convenient to not have to slave over a hot range on a hot summer night, and come home to a delicious already-done meal. Lately, I have been doing a lot of grilling, so I opted for a healthy vegetarian choice this time. This also keeps a bit longer and makes for a perfect work lunch (office pet peeve: stinky food!)
I had always wanted to make Stuffed Bell Peppers, so away I went, finding yummy things to toss into the mix. The beauty of this meal is you can do almost anything with it! You can go Mediterranean and fill your peppers with orzo, spinach and feta. You can add meats to the mix if your heart so desires. These are also gluten free! The possibilities are endless, but I just used what I had laying around.
4 bell peppers
1 cup cooked brown rice
1 cup canned unsalted tomato sauce
1 cup marinara sauce
1/4 cup salsa
1 can black beans
1/2 cup shredded cheese
Additional options: sour cream, avocado, lime juice, tortillas, etc.
Slice the tops off of your peppers and stand them up in your crockpot. If they have trouble balancing, you may cut off the bottoms as well. Stand them, open end up, in your pot and begin layering with ingredients. I pre mixed the rice and salsa, added beans, and mixed them up with a pinch of fresh cilantro I had laying around. I filled each pepper up with my little spicy mixture, and then topped them all off with a mixture of the marinara and tomato sauce. Then sprinkle them with cheese, and cook on high for 2-3 hours or low for 6-8 hours. I always opt for low to let the flavors really sink in. The cooking time really varies on your own schedule, since everything is pretty much pre-cooked, you can bake these as long as you want/need.