Florence <3

Just a little homage to Florence.  This time last year I was enjoying the beautiful fall in Italy.



Stuffed Green Peppers

Stuffed Green PeppersStuffed Peppers is one of my favorites recipes to make because it is one of those meals that you can just stick all together, put in the oven, and go on your other activities. An hour later, Poof! A fabulous dinner. And of course, I feel good about myself for all the vegetables that I managed to put in one dish. One thing at our house is that we always have peppers in the house. Jon and I must eat around 4-6 peppers a week, putting them in everything.  Fun fact, a green pepper is loaded with vitamin C, an entire days worth as well as vitamin A. As is it now fall, the green pepper is coming into its growing season, so they are big and juicy!

When I have baked peppers before, I usually do a simple beef, a few chopped carrots and rice, but I was out of carrots.  So I stumbled upon this great recipe for halved peppers stuffed, Greek style on the Food Network. It was already getting late and I was getting hungry, so there was no way I was venturing to Publix to get the extra supplies that I needed.  I ended up with a more “Italian Style” pepper than Greek, but  it was great!

Here is a list of the items that you will need. Remember, it is always good to substitute  or use other vegetables if you have those. Sometimes, you end up with a better result than the original recipe


  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 3 oz Fresh Spinach
  • 1 medium zucchini, coarsely grated
  • 1 small onion, minced (about 1 cup)
  • 1/2 cup yellow rice or risotto
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of paprika
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 green peppers, halved length-wise
  • 2 (14 1/2-ounce) cans low-sodium stewed tomatoes, finely chopped ( I used 1 box of Pomi, chopped tomatoes.)
  • Parmesan cheese, freshly grated


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Cook the rice until almost soft. I took it off a few minutes early. It will soften up some more when it bakes.

In a large bowl combine the beef, spinach, zucchini, onion, rice, egg, oregano, salt, paprika and a few grinds of pepper. Mix until thoroughly combined.

Half the peppers and take out all the seeds and extra white filling. I find it easiest to scrape it out with a spoon. Arrange the pepper halves cut side up in a 9 by 13-inch dish. Fill each pepper half with the meat mixture. Make sure that you stuff the meat into all the crack and crevices of the pepper and then  make a dome  with the meat. I just curved my hand over it while I was packing it.

Pour the tomatoes over the peppers and sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese . Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake until the meat mixture is completely cooked and the peppers are tender, about 25 minutes longer. Let it set for 5 minutes to cool down and bring back in some of the tomato juice.

Now it is time to enjoy. You can eat it out of the pepper like a bowl, or chop it all up so you can eat the pepper at the same time!  For those who haven’t tried peppers or don’t like them, give them another try.  They are sweet and crunchy and good for you.  Unlike other peppers, they are not spicy!

I hope that you enjoy your peppers!


On a side note, today is my Birthday!!  So one of my upcoming posts will be the perfect birthday cake!

Today’s musical inspiration comes from:

Kiss with a Fist- Florence + the Machine

Welcome to Fall! Caramel Apples

Since the first day of Fall was a little over a week ago, and the Halloween decorations have officially decked the stores, I thought it was time to start fall cooking. One of my favorite  fall past-times is caramel apples.  I used to always wait and  buy already-made apples, or buy the caramel cubes, melt them down and dip them in that.

This year I thought, why not make the caramel from scratch.  I love making recipes from scratch and actually knowing what goes into it. It tastes better that way.  I found  great caramel recipe from cooks.com and then  melted chocolate and drizzled it on top and rolled the apple in sugar sprinkles and M&M’s.

My friend Justin came over to help me make the caramel and keep me company while Jon was at work. I think he also really likes caramel and just wanted a sugar high. 🙂

Here is what you are going to need.

8-10 med. size firm apples
8-10 wooden sticks
1 1/3 c. evaporated milk
1/2 c. light corn syrup
2 c. sugar
1 tbsp. butter
1 tsp. vanilla
4 bricks of semi-sweet bakers chocolate
Toppings of your choice.  ( I chose mini M&M’s, sprinkles, white chocolate chips and dark chocolate chips.)
Wash, dry and polish apples. I preferably buy organic apples because they usually don’t have the waxy build-up on the outside.  They may not last as long in your kitchen, but they taste better and you don’t get that weird taste when you first bite into them.
Remove stem and insert sticks. Remove blossom. I used needle nose pliers to grab the stems and twist and then a knife for the blossom.
Put milk, syrup and sugar in heavy saucepan. Heat, stir to dissolve sugar. It should only take a minute or two until the sugar is completely dissolved.

Boil, stirring constantly, until thermometer reaches soft ball at 240 degrees.   Remove from heat. Stir in butter and vanilla.  Make sure that you stir constantly! If you stop for more than a second it tends to burn!  It took about 5-8 minutes for the mix to reach 240 degrees F.  If possible, use a trusty candy thermometer.  It makes it easier to not over cook the sugar.
Dip apples to coat holding over saucepan to drain. Place saucepan over heat to thin as needed. I like to only coat about half of the apple.  Anything more than that and it is just too much caramel for me. Place apples stick side up on greased pan to cool.
While the caramel is cooling, start melting the chocolate. The best way to do that is to use a double boiler.  Since I don’t have a double boiler, I use a saucepan and a metal bowl.  just fill the bottom of the saucepan with water until it is like 1/8 of an inch away from the bowl. Unfortunately the white chocolate that I used didn’t melt right, so I only used the baker’s chocolate and just stuck some white chocolate pieces on the side.
 Use a spoon and drizzle as much  chocolate as you want on the side of your cooled apple.  Before the chocolate can cool, dip the apple and roll it around in topping of your choice.  I ended up mixing a few things into one bowl to save time and to get everything on there evenly.  When you finish all the apples, stick them in the fridge for about 15 minutes to cool the chocolate.
And now they are ready to enjoy!!  You can either bite into to or you can cut slices . I usually cut them into slices,  it saves me from sugar, chocolate and caramel all over my face.
Up Next: I’m going to the pumpkin patch this weekend! Time for pumpkin carving!