Crock Pot Ground Turkey Stuffed Peppers

Make your holiday table a little brighter with these beautiful stuffed bell peppers!

Make your holiday table a little brighter with these beautiful stuffed bell peppers!

My favorite season is sunshine. I don’t really care what month of the year it actually is… if the sun is beaming and I can feel the warmth on my face then it’s my favorite season, for sure.  Fall brings lots of sunshine– and rain– and over programming of school functions, sports, travels, holidays, and chaos. That’s why I desperately need that sunshine to keep me warm and happy! 🙂

Since days like today have a full agenda and to do list, I’m taking advantage of leftovers in my fridge and making an easy low-fat crock pot meal that we can all sit down to as soon as we get home from today’s events.  It’s tempting to drive through or order delivery when the day is so full already… but I’d rather have dinner ready in the crock pot and just get home, sit down, and eat. Sure, there are a few dishes to do after the kids go to bed, but it’s so much healthier and less crazy for me to plan ahead and just have it done and ready to go.

Crock Pot Stuffed PeppersWe ate stuffed peppers pretty often growing up. I like the simplicity of meat and veggies and it is a great way to use up leftover rice. I can also totally sneak in extra veggies because it’s really like a pretty pepper stuffed with a huge meatball! You can either cut the bell peppers in half or just cut the crown off and stuff them whole and standing up. I make that decision based on the shapes/sizes of the peppers and how they will fit best in my crock pot. If I use the whole pepper, I like to use this insta pot or one that is more vertical… but if I’m cutting them in half, then this is definitely the one to use.

My kids like the filling, but not the peppers, so when I make this at home I save half of the filling and bake it in a loaf pan instead of stuffing it into peppers for the crock pot. I don’t usually like to make two separate meals for dinner… but if I give them the stuffed peppers they just eat the middle out and leave the fleshy and bright veggie to throw out. That makes me sad! So I have compromised and bake it separate for them to eat.

Crock Pot Ground Turkey Stuffed Peppers

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 5-6 hours

Serves: 6

6 medium bell peppers (red, yellow, orange, or green)

1 lb. ground turkey

2 c. cooked white rice

1 c. diced sweet onion

1/2 c. shredded carrot

1/2 c. canned corn kernels, drained

2 T. tomato paste

8 oz. can of tomato sauce

2 T. brown sugar

Cut the tops off of the peppers and pull out seeds and pithy parts. In a separate bowl, mix the meat and veggies. Form into balls and fill the peppers; the meat can be pressed in firmly. In another bowl, mix the tomato paste and sauce with the brown sugar, then pour the mixture over the tops of the peppers. Cook on low for 4-6 hours.

Crock Pot Cabbage Roll Casserole

One of my favorite dishes that my grandmother made is cabbage rolls, but honestly– who has time for all the steps?! I have made them before in the crock pot (use the search function to see my recipe) but today’s version is even easier. It has almost all the same components, but only takes a cutting board, a knife and a spoon to get everything into the crock pot. 

I really like that this casserole is thick, there isn’t much broth left in the pot. I suggest serving it over some mashed potatoes.  It’s like a complete meal in one bowl!

1 lb ground turkey, not cooked

1 c. brown rice, not cooked

2 c. spaghetti sauce

1 c. vegetable juice

1/2 head cabbage, chopped fine

1/2 medium onion, chopped

2 T. brown sugar

2 T. apple cider vinegar

2-3 cloves garlic, minced

1 t. celery seed

1 t. salt

1/2 t. black pepper

1 T. parsley

1/2 c. water

Put cabbage and onion in crock pot first, then top with rice, all seasonings and garlic. Pour sauce and juice in next and stir well. Place ground meat on top of mixture. Cook on low for 4 hours. When meat browns, break up with a spoon and/or fork and stir entire contents. Add water and cook one hour more.

Crock Pot Baked Ziti with Mini Meatballs

We love pasta.  Sometimes in a rediculous way. I don’t know if that makes me a carb-a-vore or a carb-a-whore, but either way, it’s one of my favorite meals to make… and eat. I especially like when the kids eat pasta because I know that the sauce sneaks in lots of great vegetables and nutrients. The problem with an elaborate dish like baked ziti is that it can take a lot more work and I don’t have time to do all the steps in time for dinner. So, I’ve figured out a way to make some of my favorite dishes using my handy dandy crock pot. Time is no longer a nuisance.

All the parts of this recipe can be made separately and ahead of time, so if it helps you to make the meatballs and boil the pasta the night before, then go ahead and save yourself those steps.  But I do recommend making homemade meatballs (recipe is listed below). In fact, you can make them and freeze them without sauce so that when you want to eat them, you can decide later if you want them in marinara, stroganoff, alfredo, or sweet and sour. (PS– IF YOU ARE LOOKING FOR A VEGETARIAN ENTREE, FOLLOW ALL THESE STEPS EXCEPT FOR THE MINI MEATBALLS. YOU CAN ADD FRESH ZUCCHINI, MUSHROOMS OR SPINACH IF YOU’D LIKE ADDITIONAL FLAVORS.)

After you make the mini meatballs, these are the other things you’ll need for the baked ziti:

1 lb cooked ziti (al dente)

2 1/2 c. spaghetti sauce

2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese

1/2 c. parmesan cheese

1 T. oregano

Pour hot, drained pasta into crock pot. Top with spaghetti sauce, but save 1/2 c. for later. Stir until pasta is coated then add cheeses, but save 1/2 c. of mozz cheese for later. Stir until cheese is starting to melt. Top with oregano and stir through one more time. When meatballs are done, line them on top of pasta and sauce mixture. Pour remaining sauce on top of meatballs and then sprinkle with remaining cheese. Warm on low for 2 hours. Enjoy!

Mini Meatballs (makes 48 balls)

1 lb. ground turkey

1 c. bread crumbs

1/2 c. parmesan cheese

1 t. oregano

1 T. parsley

2-3 cloves chopped garlic

1/2 t. black pepper

 1 beaten egg (if needed)

Mix all ingredients together with your hands. If consistency isn’t wet enough to bind, add egg (I prefer mine without it). Roll meat mixture into small, bite-sized balls and place on foil covered cookie sheet. Cook in oven at 350 degrees for 25 minutes and then broil on high for 3-5 minutes to brown but NOT BURN outside of ball.   When cooled, balls can be frozen and saved for later use.

Crock Pot Inside Out Stuffed Peppers

Stuffed peppers are a delicious union of textures and are meant for slow cooking. But sometimes, the prep work of cutting and chopping and mixing and stuffing is just too much.  Consider this my recipe for “inside out stuffed peppers”. I’ve figured out a way to get that same great result with even less time. It might not have the same presentation as beautifully stuffed bells, but if you are looking for ease and a great meal, this is a good sloppy way to serve a favorite dish. Enjoy!

1 lb. ground turkey or chicken

2 T. dried parsley

1/2 c. uncooked rice

1 t. salt

1/2 t. ground pepper

1/2 t. red pepper flakes

1 t. worchestershire sauce

1 16 oz. bag frozen chopped peppers

1 medium onion, sliced

2 c. spaghetti sauce

Mix together first seven ingredients. Put frozen peppers and onions in bottom of crock pot. Form 12-14 meatballs from the mixture and arrange in a single layer in the crock pot. Pour spaghetti sauce on top evenly. Cook on high for 3-4 hours.

Crock Pot Enchiladas

Happy Cinco de Mayo!  This is a really easy recipe for enchiladas– you buy the sauce already made and a handful of other ingredients. When you put it all together it tastes authentic and just the right balance of flavors and spice. I always keep a bag of flour tortillas in the refrigerator, so even though enchiladas are traditionally made with corn tortillas, I’m going to use the ones I already have. 

Enchiladas are pretty much a corn (maize) tortilla wrapped around any variety of fillings, including meats, potato, seafood, vegetables, cheese, beans or any combination of these, covered in a red chili sauce. The Spanish word “enchilado” means spicy or hot, but that doesn’t mean that your taste needs to be extreme. You can add intensity with jalapenos or Tabasco if you’d like to crank it up a bit.  This dish is also a great way to get your family to fill up on protein and you can use shredded beef or chicken if you prefer it over ground meat.

I suggest serving this dish with some Spanish rice or refried beans and some shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes and a dollop of sour scream.  And if you serve dinner and request “dos cervezas, por favor”, I say cheers to you and enjoy your celebration!

1 lb ground turkey

1 medium onion, sliced thin

1 can diced green chiles

1/2 c. salsa

3 T. olive oil

10 tortillas (corn is traditional, flour ones still work)

1 can enchilada sauce

1 c. shredded colby jack cheese

2 T.  jalapenos (from the jar)

Heat olive oil in a separate pan and brown meat until crumbled and cooked throughout. Add onion and saute until translucent. Add green chiles and salsa to mixture and stir, turn off heat. Pour a little enchilada sauce into the crock pot, just enough to coat the bottom. Roll 2-3 T of meat mixture in each tortilla and then place each one in separately, seam-side down (this works easiest in an oval shaped crock pot). Cover tortillas with remaining enchilada sauce, then the cheese and then sprinkle with the jalapenos. Cook on low for 3-4 hours. Ole!!

Crock Pot Sloppy Joes

Here’s your mission if you choose to accept it: make dinner for four adults and two kids when you are staying at a friends house, you found one pound of ground turkey in the freezer and there is a pantry of assorted cans. And…. GO!

While visiting friends this week, I figured it was only appropriate to help with meals since they are at work all day. I know there is a crock pot on staff in the kitchen, so I accepted this mission without hesitation. Crock pot cooking is just the easiest way to make a crowd-pleasing dish without making a huge mess.

With our mix of adults and kids, I figured crock pot sloppy joes would be great. But with only one pound of meat, I knew that I needed to pump up the dish with some added ingredients. This recipe worked out great because it kept the true flavor of sloppy joes, but included some extra protein. Try this out next time you have to feed friends or family members or are looking for a no-fuss take on an old-time favorite. Enjoy!

1 lb. ground turkey

1/2 medium onion, diced (or 3 T. dried minced onion)

1 green pepper, seeded and diced

1 14 oz. can of black beans, drained and rinsed

1 6 oz. can of tomato paste

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 t. cumin

1 t. black pepper

1 t. chili powder

1 t. garlic powder

1/2 t. salt

1 t. worchestershire sauce

2 t. apple cider vinegar

1 t. yellow mustard

1 c. tomato juice or vegetable juice

1/4 c. water

Brown ground meat thoroughly in 1-2 t. of vegetable oil. Then add green peppers and (fresh) onions, cook until they are soft, and add to crock pot. In a separate bowl, mix together the rest of the ingredients and the pour on top of cooked items in crock pot, stir together. Add in the black beans and stir once more.  Cook on low for 4-6 hours. Serve on hamburger buns for traditional presentation or use King’s Hawaiian Original Rolls to make cute little sloppy joe sliders.