Meatloaf-Stuffed Bell Peppers with Browned-butter Garlic Mashed Potatoes

So... the other day, as I was perusing the produce section of the grocery store, I noticed that the vibrant green bell peppers seemed to be beckoning me, calling me closer to observe their glossy skin and firm texture. I instantly left my tomato-gazing for a closer observation. They were all one can imagine the perfect bell pepper to be, possibly even better.
Anyway, I threw several of them in a bag with every intention on making some sort of Japenese stir-fry later this week. I got home, unloaded the groceries ("and all in one trip--" she adds with her head held high), and the peppers found their little home in the produce drawer. Nestled comfortably between the fresh squash, tomatoes, and avocado, the peppers sat content--content until my ever-wandering eyes laid gaze on them this morning... and then it happened. I knew, I just knew: these peppers were meant to be stuffed.

As soon as the enlightenment, as I like to call it, happened, the culinary wheels in my head began turning. The conversation with myself went something like this:
"Hmm, stuffed bell pepper"
"so, ground beef, of course"
"how much ground beef"
"well, I know we normally use two pounds to feed our family (there are 5 of us), but 2 pounds of ground hamburger in 5 bell peppers is way too much."
"but I'm not sure if one pound is enough"
"well, it's going to have to be because there is no way that 2 pounds of hamburger are going into those 5 peppers"
"Oh! I can use other beef-like stuff to fill it too!"
"Mushrooms! Definitely mushrooms!"
"and More bell peppers!"
"and chickpeas!"
"No, I think I'll save the chickpea burgers for another day"
"Onions! I can add onions and canned tomatoes. Ooh! I can add eggs and some sort of grain and make it like meatloaf-stuffed bell peppers!"

And hence the process continued until I popped these babies in the oven. I made sure that everything going into these peppers were healthy, but whether you are health-conscious or not, you are guaranteed to love them! And to whomever it may concern, I even included the calorie count! Go team!

As a side tonight, we had garlic mashed potatoes (with the skin on--you know, the kind for serious mashed potato-lovers). Since the meatloaf peppers were packed with plenty of veggies, I didn't feel the need to slave for another half an hour over some veggie side. Anyway friends, enjoy!

**Note: the Meatloaf-stuffed bell peppers recipe serves 10, but feel free to halve the recipe for a smaller family (or make the whole recipe and savor the leftovers).

Meatloaf-Stuffed Bell Peppers

Cook time: 1 1/2 hours
Serves: 10
Nutrition: 198 calories per stuffed pepper**

10 green bell peppers
1 lb ground hamburger
1 (8 oz) pkg whole white mushrooms
1 green bell pepper
2 medium white onions, finely diced
1/2 cup cornmeal (or substitute white or wheat flour)
2 eggs
1/4 cup crumbled reduced fat feta cheese
1 Tbs. roasted chicken seasoning (or blackening seasoning, or favorite seasoning)
1 Tbs. baking powder
1 tsp. chili powder (or paprika)
1 tsp. dry mustard
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. fresh cracked black pepper
Ketchup, for topping

**NOTE: Nutrition facts were calculated with 85% lean ground beef and without the ketchup.

1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
2. In a chopper/blender, combine the mushrooms, 1 green bell pepper, and 2 eggs. Chop until very finely diced (can even start to look like a liquid consistency).
3. In a large bowl, mix the ground hamburger, the mushroom/pepper mixture, cornmeal, finely-diced onions, cheese, seasonings, salt and pepper (all of the ingredients). Mix to combine.
4. Chop the tops off of the bell peppers, reserve if you would like (but it's not necessary).
5. Clean out the insides of the 10 green bell peppers, removing all of the seeds.
6. Place the bell peppers in a large, greased casserole dish.
7. Divide the mixture evenly between the ten bell peppers. Top with bell pepper caps if desired. 
8. Bake in a 350F oven for 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes, depending on how your oven bakes.
9. Top with ketchup; enjoy!

Brown-butter Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Time cook: 45 minutes
Serves: 10-12

15 medium-sized all purpose potatoes
4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) butter
1/2 cup reduced fat sour cream
1 1/2 cup milk (I used 1%)
1 Tbs. garlic salt
1 Tbs. parsley
Fresh cracked black pepper

1. Wash the potatoes and cut them into eighths.
2. Place the potatoes in a large pot. Add 1 Tbs. salt and water to cover.
3. Boil potatoes until soft.
4. Drain potatoes.
5. In the same large pot that you boiled the potatoes, place the butter. Turn the heat to medium and melt the butter, and allow it to bubble until it turns brown. Remove from heat.
6. To the pot, add all of the ingredients and mash with a potato masher. I found it easiest to add the potatoes in intervals, I would add about 1/3 of the potatoes to the pot along with 1/2 cup milk; mash; and repeat with another 1/3 of the potatoes and 1/2 cup milk until finished.

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