Slow Cooker Stuffed Peppers

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I have recently gone back to work for the summer, which leaves my family to fend for themselves a few nights a week for dinner.  Although slow cooker meals are typical for hearty winter meals like stews, I thought I would try to make a light summer dish using our crock pot.  This way my family can enjoy something a little bit more exciting and healthier than hot dogs on the grill.  Ever since I started cooking regularly they tell me that they “forgot” how to cook, which is okay because lucky for them I enjoy it.

Slow cookers are a perfect way to make a satisfying, home -cooked meal ahead of time.  They also tend to be easy to make because all you have to do is prepare and assemble the ingredients. All the cooking is hands-free and it happens over a long period of time.  

People have been using slow cookers for hundreds of years since the availablity of iron pots.  The first  slow cooker for home cooks, however, was manufactured in the early 1950s specifically to make baked beans.  The “crock pot” then surged in popularity during the 1970s when women were  joining the work force. It allowed them to go to work and still feed their families a healthy, home cooked meal.  Crock pots were most commonly used to  tenderize meats.

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Today, crock pots are common in households with working parents.  My mother relied on them especially when we were younger and she worked nights. The dinner possibilities are endless for slow cookers.  They are much more versitile than I even realized.  You can use them not only to make roasts, but also soups, stews, pastas (lasagna), beans, rice, breads, dips and fondues. I never even considered making stuffed peppers in a crock pot until I was scrolling through the endless, inventive ideas for slow cooker dinners on this website.

These stuffed peppers are a cinch to prepare.  All you have to do is clean out the inside of your bell peppers, cook the filling and assemble them inside of a crock pot.  Then leave them to cook for at least four hours. When they are finished pull them out and garnish with parmesan cheese and chopped basil and serve along side your favorite marinara sauce.
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Slow Cooker Stuffed Peppers

Yields 4 servings

Ingredients

1 cup of quinoa

2 cups of water

1 Tablespoon of Sriracha (you can supplement with cayenne pepper)

1 Tablespoon of butter

Salt and pepper to taste

1 Tablespoon of olive oil

2 cloves of garlic (minced)

1/2 large onion (chopped)

1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes (chopped)

1/2 cup of scallions

1/2 cup of feta cheese

4 medium bell peppers

1/2 cup of water

1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese

8 basil leaves (chopped)

1 cup of marinara (store-brought)

Directions

In a small saucepan combine the quinoa and water.  Then add the Sriracha and butter.  Cook on medium high heat for fifteen minutes covered with a lid.  After the quinoa has absorbed all of the liquid, remove from heat and fluff with a fork.  Then add salt and pepper to taste.

Then heat up the olive oil in a small sauté pan.  Then add the minced garlic and chopped onions.  Cook together until translucent. Then add the sun-dried tomatoes and scallions and cook together for two to three minutes.  Remove from heat and set aside.

Cut the feta cheese into small cubes.  Combine the quinoa and the garlic, onions, sun-dried tomatoes, and scallions.  Once it has cooled add the feta cheese.  Salt and pepper to taste.

Cut the tops off of the bell peppers.  Reserve the tops.  Then cut off a thin layer of the bottom of the pepper so they stand upright.  Remove the seeds and membrane from the inside.  Then fill each pepper with one-fourth of the quinoa mixture.

Cover with the top of the pepper.  Add water to the bottom of the slow cooker so that the peppers steam.  Then place the stuffed peppers in the slow cooker.  Cook on low for four hours.

When the peppers are soft but still hold their shape remove from the slow cooker.  Garnish with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese and chopped basil.  Serve alongside your favorite marinara.

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Enjoy this dinner after a long day!

Sources: 
"105 Slow-Cooker Favorites." Cooking Light. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 June 2013. <http://www.cookinglight.com/food/top-rated-recipes/slow-cooker-favorites-00400000038588/>.
http://ezinearticles.com/?The-History-of-the-Crock-Pot-Yesterday,-Today-and-Beyond&id=3170417