Italian-Flavored Stuffed Peppers * (Not IC Safe)

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We’ve been making this years.  Change it up to how you like it.  It’s a very flexible recipe.  Now that I am 100% banned from citrus products, like lemon juice, (thanks I.C., interstitial cystitis!), I still find a way to enjoy it and savor a lot of its remaining flavor.  ENJOY!

INGREDIENTS:

  • Cooked rice, 1 cup raw, cook as packaging instructs (any rice works here, I’ve used brown rice and white rice at different times).
  • 6 medium to large bell peppers, any color
  • About 1 – 1.5 lbs. ground beef, depending on how meaty you like it
  • 1 onion, chopped**
  • 1-4 cloves garlic, depending on your taste
  • 28-30 oz. Italian flavored diced or chopped tomatoes (I used “Dei Fratelli Chopped Italian tomatoes, herbs, and olive oil tomatoes” 28oz)**
  • 15 or more oz. tomato sauce**
  • salt and pepper, to taste**
  • dried oregano and basil, to taste
  • Fresh dill, chopped, to taste (I use at least a 1/2 cup)
  • Optional: juice of 1-2 lemons.**
  • Aluminum foil to cover

**Known IC irritants, tread carefully!

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Begin by cooking rice, or even use day-old rice.
  2. Cut very thin slice off tops of peppers. Discard stems, seeds, and membranes.  Rinse peppers and set aside.
  3. Here you can choose one of two steps: 1) boil water to cover your peppers, add your peppers once the water boils, boil until soft, approximately 5 minutes and remove. or 2) the way I now prefer: microwave 2-4 minutes on a microwave-safe plate until slightly softened.  Let cool a few minutes before handling hot peppers!
  4. Heat oven to 350* F.
  5. Place six par-cooked peppers in a baking dish with sides (preferably a dish with room for spare rice mixture).
  6. Cook ground beef over medium heat until brown, drain excess fat if necessary, but leave a little for flavor!
  7. Add your raw chopped onions and/or garlic, if desired, to meat mixture.  Cook until softened.  Or, you can add onion and garlic powder, which I did this time. Add salt and pepper.
  8. Slowly add your cans of tomato sauce and chopped/diced tomatoes to your cooked mixture.
  9. Add your oregano, basil, chopped dill, and any other seasonings you desire, including optional lemon juice.  Cook 20 minutes on low simmer to blend flavors.
  10. Stir in some of your cooked rice, until you have a good balance of meat – sauce – rice ratio, for your liking.  Cook a few minutes.
  11. Stuff your peppers with your beef/tomato/rice mixture.  Put any extra rice in dish around peppers.  Pour any remaining tomato sauce to wet your rice to keep it from drying out.  Sprinkle lemon juice, optional, over entire casserole/baking dish.
  12. Cover tightly with foil!  Bake 45 minutes.
  13. Uncover and remove foil, bake an additional 15-20 minutes or until tender.
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