Some days . . . .
. . . you get stuck sitting on the bus with the fidgety guy who sniffs the whole time . . .
. . . you have to wait to put your lunch in the fridge at work because the woman currently putting away her lunch is lovingly placing each piece of food in one at a time and examining them like they are a new discovery. (And this is the second day in a row you've had to wait through this ritual. Seriously people, it takes almost two minutes. I feel like I should take a seat.)
. . . you open up that lunch that you finally got to put in the fridge and realize you forgot dressing for your salad. (In case this happens to you, don't even think you can add some salt and pepper packets from the breakroom to your plain yogurt and make something passably good. Trust me. I'm horrified to admit I even tried it.)
. . . your bus gets stuck in traffic on the way home and you're sitting next to Fidgety Guy again.
Some days you just need an UN-stuffed pepper dish. A dish that is only uses one skillet for easy cleanup, but tastes warm and comforting. A dish that has a beautiful, soothing mix of colors that make you happy in spite of yourself. A dish with a mix of rice, herbs, tomatoes and chicken that tastes like what I would call an Italian jambalaya. One that doesn't require the patience to spoon stuffing into a hollow pepper. And requires you to chop chop chop up some bell peppers, which is strangely soothing and stress-relieving. One you can make while you put on your happy song list and sing along with "Burning Love" at the top of your lungs.
Some days you just need un-stuffed bell peppers. Trust me. Some days you just do.
(I've included pressure cooker instructions below the regular instructions for those who have a pressure cooker.)
Unstuffed Bell Peppers
3 slices bacon
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into 1-inch pieces (Do not cut up into pieces for pressure cooker directions, unless they are large chicken breasts. In that case, cut them in half.)
2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
1 tsp minced garlic
1 1/2 cups rice
1 1/2 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 bay leaf
3 cups low sodium chicken broth (reduce to 2 1/4 cups if using pressure cooker)
1 cup pureed tomatoes (I use fresh, but canned works too)
1 T brown sugar
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 red bell pepper, cut lengthwise into 1/4 inch strips
1 green bell pepper, cut lengthwise into 1/4 inch strips
1 orange bell pepper, cut lengthwise into 1/4 inch strips
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1. In a large skillet over medium heat, cook bacon until browned and crisp, about 4 minutes on each side. Remove from skillet and allow to drain on a paper towel-lined plate. Add the chicken and cook until browned on the outside and just barely cooked through. Remove the chicken from the skillet.
2. Add onions to skillet and cook until browned, about five minutes. Add garlic and cook an additional 30 seconds.
3. Add rice, basil, thyme, red pepper flakes, bay leaf, chicken broth, tomatoes, brown sugar and black pepper to the skillet. Cover, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, crumble the cooked bacon into small pieces.
4. Add the peppers, chicken and bacon to the skillet, stir and cover. Simmer for an additional 5 minutes. Stir in half of the Parmesan cheese, season to taste with salt and pepper, then use the remaining cheese to top individual servings.
Makes 4-6 servings
Pressure Cooker Directions:
1. In a pressure cooker, cook bacon until browned and crisp, about 4 minutes on each side. Remove from cooker and allow to drain on a paper towel-lined plate.
2. Add the onions to pressure cooker and cook until browned, about five minutes. Add garlic and cook an additional 30 seconds.
3. Add rice, basil, thyme, red pepper flakes, bay leaf, chicken broth, tomatoes, brown sugar and black pepper to the skillet. Place the chicken breasts in the pressure cooker last, pressing them down to make sure they are covered by the liquid. Secure the lid, bring the cooker to high pressure and cook for 6 minutes. Meanwhile, crumble the cooked bacon into small pieces.
4. Use quick release to reduce pressure, remove the chicken from the pressure cooker and place on a cutting board. Add the peppers and bacon to the cooker. Secure the lid, bring to high pressure again, and cook for 2 minutes. Meanwhile, cut the chicken into bite sized pieces.
5. Quick release the pressure, stir in the chicken pieces and half of the Parmesan cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Use the remaining Parmesan to top individual servings.
Makes 4-6 servings
Note: I am using an electric pressure cooker, so times may be shorter if you are using a traditional pressure cooker.
Recipe Source: loosely based on a recipe from The Pressure Cooker Cookbook