The comforting and familiar flavours of stuffed peppers have been deconstructed in this Stuffed Pepper Dip. Hearty, cheesy, and beefy – a dip that eats like a meal!
Everyone loves stuffed peppers, at least everyone who grew up in the 70s and 80s! Everyone, that is, except me! Would you believe me if I told you that my mother never once made a stuffed pepper dish? Not one single time!
She had a very valid reason for that, of course. You see, Dear Reader, where I grew up, bell peppers – red, green, or otherwise – were not something that was easy to get. Small out-port towns in Newfoundland was not the place to look for fresh produce; at least any produce outside of a common root vegetable.
When I was twelve, my parents left Newfoundland and moved to a much larger town in Ontario, called Stayner. Now, at the time, the population of Stayner was 3500 people. To me, Stayner was a metropolis; after all, my hometown of Middle Arm in Newfoundland, had a population of roughly 500 people.
I still remember that first six months or so in Ontario when I felt like I was living in an alternate universe. I was introduced to things that I had only known to exist on television. Ordering pizza for delivery to your home? I had never heard of it! I remember tasting celery for the first time at the age of 12; red and green peppers too, not to mention corn that didn’t come in a can!
The first year of my life in Ontario was full of change and new experiences. There was a grocery store right across the street from the townhouse my parents decided to rent. I remember coming home from school and walking over to the grocery store with 35 cents in my pocket to get a cold pop from the pop machine outside the store.
Before dropping my coins into that pop machine, I would walk up and down the many aisles inside the grocery store in complete awe of the many foods in there. I was fascinated with the deli counter! I had grown up with only sliced ham in terms of deli selections. That was it! Sandwiches were made from that or canned chicken or tuna.
I remember walking through the produce section and looking at the fresh mushrooms and marvelling at how they looked in fresh form. I had only seen mushrooms from a can. There were potatoes with red skin. There were red onions. And this thing called radicchio!
One day, during one of my after-school-grocery-store-excursions, I must have spent an hour closely examining the leaves and stems of the fresh herbs section. I was completely astonished by fresh dill. Dill had always been one of my favourite flavours, but I had no idea how pretty and flow-y bunches of fresh dill looked! I won’t even get started on Brussels sprouts! I thought they were cabbages that didn’t get enough sunlight!
Now that I’m thinking about it, those days must have been my first introduction to food fascination. It’s a shame, really, that such common ingredients weren’t readily available to my mom when she learned to cook for her family. She was a great cook, so I can just imagine what she could have created had her cooking skills not been capped by lack of ingredients.
When it comes to the classic stuffed peppers, I feel as though I have not missed out. This Stuffed Pepper Dip makes up for any stuffed pepper dish I may have missed those many years ago. And were it not for that small, out-port fishing village, I may not be so interested in food, and therefore, Lord Byron’s Kitchen might not exist.
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Stuffed Pepper Dip
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large onion, finely diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 whole green bell pepper, finely diced
- 1 whole red bell pepper, finely diced
- 4 ounces canned diced green chilies
- 14 ounces canned fire roasted tomatoes
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 4 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
- 1/4 cup parsley, chopped, for garnish, optional
- In a large skillet, over medium heat, cook the ground beef with the onions and olive oil until the ground beef is no longer pink - about 15 minutes.
- Add the garlic, and the green and red bell peppers. Stir into the beef and onions and cook for 5 minutes.
- Add the fire roasted tomatoes, diced green chilies, chili powder, cumin, salt, and ground black pepper. Stir to combine.
- Turn off the heat and allow the mixture to cool for 20 minutes. While you are waiting, preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
- Once the mixture has cooled, ,stir in three cups of the shredded cheese.
- Transfer the mixture to a casserole dish and top with the remaining one cup of cheese.
- Bake for 30 minutes. Serve with corn chips.
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