Slow Cooker Stuffed Peppers

Cold, cold winter days inspire me to cook savory, hearty dishes. After all the rich foods and sweets from the holidays, it's good to get back to some simple fare. Serve with crunchy garlic bread and fresh fruit. Note: In these photos, I used chopped grilled sausage patties from the night before instead of ground chuck. All slow cookers vary, so adjust cooking times as needed.

4 medium to large green bell peppers, halved lengthwise and seeded
1 pound ground chuck or turkey
1½ cups cooked rice (I use Uncle Ben’s Instant Brown Rice)
1 14.5-oz. can diced tomatoes or 2 - 3 large tomatoes, peeled and chopped
2 tablespoons Italian or pizza seasoning (I use Savor’s “Taste of Chi-Town” Lincoln Avenue Pizza Seasoning)
1 medium sweet onion, chopped fine
3 medium or 2 large carrots, diced
1 teaspoon sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup dry red wine
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
4 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded, optional

Using a large slow cooker, line crock with a slow cooker bag, if desired.

Brown ground chuck in a large skillet, drain off grease. Remove cooked meat from skillet and set aside.

Heat olive oil in the skillet and sauté onion for 5 minutes. Add carrots; stir and cook until carrots begin to soften. Reduce heat to medium, stir in rice, beef, tomatoes, red wine, pizza seasoning, salt and pepper. Stir and cook until liquid is reduced. Add fresh parsley, basil, and thyme. Remove skillet from heat.

Stuff pepper halves. An ice cream scoop works well. Do not pack mixture in too tightly. Arrange stuffed peppers in bottom of cooker. Peppers may be loosely stacked if necessary. Any leftover rice mixture may be spooned lightly around peppers.

Cover with lid and cook on high for 2 hours. Turn to low and cook and additional hour, or until peppers are tender. Sprinkle cheese over peppers, replace lid until cheese melts. About 5 minutes. 



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