Stuffed Peppers Foodie Friday Recipe (prep. time about 1 1/2 hours. Feeds 8, half pepper per serving)

4 bell peppers, tops cut off and seeds and membranes removed (color preference your choice)

1/4 large yellow onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, finely diced

1/2 lb. ground beef (or firm tofu, drained and diced)

1 C cooked brown rice

2 Tb. Olive oil

1 Tb. each oregano and basil

1/2 C. vegetable stock

3 Tb. sugar

6 oz. tomato paste.

1/4 C. mozzarella, diced

(extra cup or two of jar spaghetti sauce and grated parmesan to taste and garnish)

Cook the rice- 2 parts water to one part rice. It takes about 15-20 minutes to get the rice tender.  While the rice is cooking, boil water in another pot and blanche the peppers in the boiling water until just barely tender. Remove and drain.

Heat oil in saute pan while peppers cool.  Heat oven to 375. Saute the onions and garlic in the oil until the onions are tender. Add the tomato paste and tofu if doing the vegetarian version.  You want the tofu to take on the flavor of the sauce.

Cook down the tomato paste sauce a little before stirring in the vegetable stock, sugar and herbs to develop the flavor.

For the meat version, let the stock cool a little before mixing in the sauce, rice and cheese. (Vegan, just stir the sauce and tofu into the rice)

Mix the sliced mozzarella into the stuffing (real easy if you want to spend the money for string cheese and just slice two sticks into 'coins' to mix into the stuffing)

Fill the peppers and top with parmesan cheese.  Bake about 1 hour until internal meat temperature is about 155. Let sit and the meat temperature should reach the magical 165 degrees in about 10 minutes and still be hot.

Slice each pepper in half and serve with warm spaghetti sauce over the top. Really a half pepper feeds a person or more depending on the size of the pepper.

* Kitchen tip:  If you haven't gotten peppers that can stand up nicely on their own, place them in muffin pan cups to bake without falling over.

Most people aren't big fans of the pepper tops.  I used them the next day diced up in a vegetable noodle soup.