Thursday, November 22, 2012

Mini-Pepper Poppers

Sometimes it's hard coming up with a simple appetizer for a party or casual get together (besides the standby chips and dip, nuts, ect).  I saw some mini-bell peppers at the store and they were so adorable I had to buy them.  These are the cutest, easiest, and most delicious appetizers I have made in a long time.  They are miniature sweet peppers stuffed with a simple taco mix and then baked in the oven until the peppers are tender and caramelize a bit on the bottom.  I served them sprinkled with cilantro and offer mini bowls of salsa on the side.  The best part is that these can be made ahead of time:  just cook the meat and stuff the peppers and throw them in the fridge.  When you are ready to serve, take them out and bake them in the oven until cooked through.  Enjoy!

These little guys didn't last a minute!
1 package mini sweet bell peppers (about 30)
1lb lean ground beef (I used ground sirloin)
1 onion, minced
1tbs extra virgin olive oil
1tbs minced garlic
1tsp cumin
1tsp oregano
2tsp ancho chile powder
1/2tsp garlic powder
1tsp salt
1/4tsp pepper
1/4tsp red pepper flakes
Chopped cilantro and salsa, for serving

1. Preheat oven to 400F.  In a large saute pan, heat olive oil on medium heat.  Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent in color and wilted (5-8 minutes).  Add minced garlic and cook, stirring frequently to prevent burning, a few minutes more.
2. Crumble in ground beef and cook, breaking the meat up with a spatula as it cooks.  Add cumin, oregano, ancho, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.  When the beef is browned and well-crumbled, taste and add any seasonings as needed (I never measure out my seasonings so the amount above is only a guide).
3. Rinse your mini peppers in water and cut off the tops.  Take out the seeds and membranes.  Lay them on a baking sheet lined with foil.
4. Using a teaspoon and your fingers, stuff each mini-pepper with ground beef mixture.  Make sure it's packed in there.  Only about a teaspoon or 2 would fit in each of mine.  This is fine.
5. If desired, but optional, brush or spray the tops of the peppers with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.  Place in the center of a preheated oven and bake for about 20-30 minutes or until the peppers are soft.
6. Serve warm with cilantro and salsa, if desired.  Enjoy!

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