Beefy Enchilada Stuffed Peppers

A moist, spicy, and flavorful ground beef filling stuffed into a freshly-picked bell pepper, baked in a homemade enchilada sauce until tender, topped with mild cheddar cheese melted into gooey goodness and sprinkled with minced cilantro, made this a delicious alternative to the husband’s traditional plate of enchiladas.

Highly versatile, the filling can be wrapped in corn or flour tortillas for the traditional version, or layered into a casserole.  Because I had fresh zucchini, I decided to dice 3 small ones and add it to the filling; this is totally optional, but the husband didn’t even notice, and he ate three!  I chose to use peppers as I had just picked these peppers on Thursday, and I wanted to create a lower-carb dish.  True, that is full-fat cheddar you see oozing down the side of the pepper, but it’s a small-ish amount, and you can substitute low-fat cheddar.

My homemade enchilada sauce is a bit different than many recipes you’ll find, as I prefer to use onions, garlic, and peppers in my sauce, then emulsify the entire mixture with an immersion blender.  If you don’t mind a chunky sauce, this is an unnecessary step; however, the husband is not a chunky-sauce type of guy, so…

The peppers are stuffed raw and then braised until tender in the enchilada sauce, which yields a tender and flavorful pepper.  Instead of mild cheddar, you can substitute Monterey Jack or Queso Chihuahua.  And, yes, you can definitely use a canned enchilada sauce, but I highly recommend treating yourself and your family to the deliciousness of homemade.

Beefy Enchilada Stuffed Peppers
Filling
1.5 lbs ground beef
1 large onion, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
3 small zucchini, diced (optional, but great addition)
1 jalapeno or serrano, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon oregano
Salt, to taste
Light-colored oil, about 1 tablespoon

Enchilada Sauce
1 onion, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup light colored oil
2 tablespoons flour (gluten-free works fine)
2 tablespoons chili powder
1.5 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon oregano
8 oz can Rotel tomato sauce or 8 oz can tomato sauce and 1 small can diced chilis
1.5 cups water
Salt, to taste

4-6 bell peppers (my bell peppers were huge, and I used 4)
Shredded cheddar cheese or queso chihuahua
Minced cilantro

Sauce Preparation
Over medium-high heat, add oil to a saucepan and add diced onion, pepper, and garlic; cook until tender.
Sprinkle flour over vegetables and stirring constantly, cook for 4 minutes; add chili powder, cumin and oregano, cooking for an additional 3-4 minutes.
Add tomato sauce and water, mixing well; bring to a boil, reduce heat, and allow to simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Remove from heat, and if your saucepan is deep enough, use immersion blender to emulsify; if not, pour into a deep bowl, then emulsify.

Filling Preparation
Heat one teaspoon of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat; add ground beef and cook until browned and caramelized.
Heat additional oil, if necessary, and add diced onion, bell pepper, zucchini, jalapeno/serrano, and garlic; cook until tender.
Pour excess oil, then add cumin and oregano, cooking for another 3 minutes; remove from heat.
Stir in 1.5 cups of enchilada sauce and prepare bell peppers for stuffing.

Assembly
Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Pour sauce into a deep casserole dish to the depth of 2″
Slice tops off peppers, remove seeds and rinse; place into casserole dish.
Spoon filling into prepared peppers.
Spoon enchilada sauce over each pepper.
Cover with foil and bake for 1 hour.
After an hour, remove foil and check for tenderness – pepper should easily yield to pressure and offer no resistance to a knife stick.  If not tender, cover with foil and return to oven for another 10-15 minutes.
Once tender, remove foil and sprinkle on desired amount of cheese.
Return to oven and allow cheese to melt – I prefer gooey, but not brown, so it’s a quick process.
Remove from oven and sprinkle on minced cilantro; serve with Mexican rice.

Mealtime Monday @ Couponing-n-Cooking
Makin You Crave Monday @Mrs. Happy Homemaker
Mangia Monday @Delightfully Downing
Show Me What You Got @Our Delightful Home
Tempt My Tummy Tuesday @ Blessed With Grace

Handmade Tuesdays @ Ladybug Blessings
Totally Tasty Tuesday @ Mandy’s Recipe Box
The Hearth and Soul Hop @ The 21st Century Housewife
Tasty Tuesdays @ 33 shades of green

Delicious Dishes @ It’s a Blog Party
Creative Corner Hop @Cherished Handmade Treasures

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