Come find yourself...

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

KILLER Stuffed Vegeterian Poblano Peppers (and The Meaning of Life)

This, my dear kittens, is the Meaning of Life:

"Try and be nice to people, avoid eating fat, read a good book every now and then, get some walking in, and try and live together in peace and harmony with people of all creeds and nations."

End of blog. Thank you very much for coming. Enjoy life until you die.

Ta Ta!

I'm joking, of course. But am I really? I can't add to much more than the twisted geniuses behind Monty Python, but I will say this - Know Thyself.
It's true, isn't it?

If you are old enough and been through enough shit, you know I'm right. This life is an odd thing, but I have come to realize one thing - Know Thyself. How does one Know Thyself? Easy!

All you have to do is follow my Handy-Dandy Portable Know Thyself Cheat Sheet (which I've given you below). You can print this out and laminate this if you wish....or save it for a lovely Christmas present. Here we go:

  1. Stop looking at yourself in the mirror during yoga (and really, your body in some of those shapes is not pretty)
  2. Quit looking at/examining/trying to tone the parts of your body which are falling because you are getting old and careening towards's no use and the sooner you admit this the better and the closer you shall come to Knowing Thyself
  3. Gain seventy pounds and walk naked on the beach in late August singing any six bars from any song in The Sound of Music
  4. Have a roaring outside bonfire of every single self-help book in your house; receive extra Know Thyself spiritual points for adding gasoline to anything from Louise Hay, Dr. Phil or the fat Hawaiian guy who has a thing for his father and money
  5. Tell Suze Orman to stop talking about your inability to internalize your fear of money and, instead, ask her to please find the money for a new haircut
  6. Ask Jane Fonda to teach an aerobics class, today, while she is still on Broadway; video tape it and pipe into Britney Spears dressing room during her European tour, with the title below: "This is you in ten years, Britney".
There are many more, but you'll have to buy my cookbook, FOOD FOR MOOD and look under the 'Ego' category for the complete list. think I'm giving you this for free?

Oh, I'm JOKING, of course. But I am serious about this - this recipe your about to make is all about KNOWING THYSELF, in the sense I made this with an idea of the final result, but I had no idea how to get there. I trusted what I would make, and I tasted, tasted, tasted along the way and it came out spectacular.

Stop looking outside yourself for the answers. There. Meaning of life. Enjoy death!

All of those books and talk show hosts can't tell you what you need to do in your life. Only YOU.
Take it from me...I've tried every single goddamn self-help thing about there. They motivate you for a week, then...blah. You're back to being depressed and eating Little Debbie's in the closet to old Olivia Newton-John songs. Oh, wait. That's my secret story.

Find the courage to tell people in your life what you want - do this compassionately and lovingly, but be honest first and foremost to YOU...others second.


Over-Stuffed, Kick-Ass Spicy Vegetarian Poblano Peppers w/ Thick, Rich Rustic Mexican Tomato Sauce (and the lowdown on dry beans).

Okay, this recipe truly rocks. When Andy and I bit into this, we sorta lost our minds. This is the perfect vegetarian meal for people who live to eat no meat and for those who can’t imagine a life without meat. This is a combination of many different recipes I’ve seen over the years, but with my own decisive spin.

This is low in calories, high in taste and extremely versatile. This is the perfect example of my coming up with a recipe by tasting it every step of the way. I firmly believe the way to a good meal is to taste, taste, taste and this was no exception!

  • 1 can (28 ounces) whole tomatoes in thick puree, watch out for those in tomato SAUCE
  • 1 large yellow onion, peeled and halved
  • 1 very large white onion, peeled and halved
  • 1 fresh serrano pepper, halved
  • 1-3 diced chipotle peppers, halved
  • 5 whole garlic cloves
  • Salt and pepper to taste, watching the friggin’ salt


  • 3 large, fresh poblano peppers
  • 1 can no-salt black beans
  • 1 cup pre-soaked white hominy
  • ¾ cup yellow stone ground cornmeal
  • ½ cup shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese, plus 6 ½ inch squares for inside of peppers
  • 1/3 cup shredded manchego cheese
  • 1 small Idaho russet potato, boiled and mashed
  • 1-2 diced chipotle peppers, plus up to 1 extra tablespoon of sauce for the very daring
  • 2/3 cup no-salt tomato sauce
  • 1 fresh serrano pepper, diced
  • 1 tablespoon cracked pepper
  • ½ teaspoon Morton lite salt


  • 1 cup shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese
  • ½ cup shredded manchego

This recipe isn’t as complicated as it looks, trust me. It’s not a bunch of work and it’s the ideal meal to make with the kids or the significant other. It’s very fun stuffing the peppers as they have a few layers which results in the extraordinarily meaty and thick spicy texture.

What will drive you a bit batty, is you must find certain ingredients and do a bit of prep. Here is what you have to do in advance:

HOMINY – I didn’t start cooking with this until about four years ago. Once I started, I never wanted to stop. Hominy is corn often used in Mexican food. It gives a deep, rich taste to food and adds a texture unlike anything I’ve found. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Look for dried white or yellow hominy sold in the dry bean section of the market. I know most of you don’t want to work with dry beans. I didn’t either for years until I tried once and realized how easy it is. It takes planning but very little effort.

The health benefits of dry versus canned are ridiculous. Even with low-sodium canned beans, there is still a tremendous amount of sodium and preservatives, whereas with dry beans, NADA. Not only that, but dry beans when reconstituted taste friggin’ great (and by using dry beans you can cut down on farting by changing the water once or twice during soaking).

Here his how to reconstitute any dry bean:

Place one pound of dry beans in a big, dry clean bowl one night before you plan to use them. Pick them over for weird looking pebbles or discolored pieces. Some are hard and will not reconstitute, so make sure you pick them over carefully.

Pour cold water into the bowl, enough to cover the beans by 1 inch of water. Place a loose layer of Saran Wrap over the beans, let them soak overnight and all through the next day. Most recipes say let them soak for 8 hours, then you are fine. I don’t know who these people are, but they are clearly toothless.

Unless you soak the beans for close to 12 hours, I swear, they are hard and taste undercooked. Some recipes say cook them in boiling water for 10 minutes, then set aside, covered. Doesn’t work either. You have to soak them for 12 hours. THEN you boil them in water (cover with at least 2 inches of water) for 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Other potentially annoying ingredient issues:

White onions & serrano peppers. Most supermarkets now carry huge white onions with the yellow. But serrano peppers are a bitch. Hard to find. If you can’t find them, use jalapeno, but serrano do add a more layered spice to the dish.

Poblano peppers – now, I have a hard time finding these where I live in Queens, so I can imagine how anyone else must suffer. You can use regular red or green bell peppers, but I’m telling you, they lack the punch of the poblano and are a bit bland in comparison BUT still rock.

Manchego cheese – I’ve waxed poetically about the virtues of this amazing Mexican cheese before. It’s strong, creamy and melts wonderfully…and a little goes a long way (like Parmesan), so despite the fact it’s pricey you don’t need much to make a dish very tasty.

Okay…let’s cook!


Turn on the oven to 350 degrees. This meal takes a solid 45 minutes for tender peppers, so make sure you get it at the right temperature.

Take your UNPEELED RUSSET POTATO and cut it into four small pieces (so it cooks faster). Place it in a pot with cold water and crank up the heat. Let it cook away as you work. Never peel your potatoes…cooking in their skins results in a tastier potato every time.

In a blender toss the canned tomatoes, the white and yellow onions, the serrano (or jalapeno pepper), the chipotle (add one, then taste) and the garlic cloves with a dash of salt and a healthy dash of pepper.

Blend on the ‘crush’ setting until it’s all well mixed and only tiny flecks of raw onion appear. Taste it. Add only a tad bit of salt and more chipotle and blend. When are you done it will be super thick and rich. The taste of the sauce deepens as it cooks, so make sure you don’t add too much heat.

Take out a 9x13 Pyrex baking dish and pour the very thick mixture along the bottom.

Cut a slim section of the tops and the bottoms of the peppers and then cut in half. Scoop out the seeds and ribs and lay on their backs:

Place one tiny ½ inch of sliced extra sharp cheddar cheese in the center of each pepper.

Turn around and check on your potato. You want it a bit undercooked as it bakes in the oven in the base of the peppers.

Now, in a big, dry, clean bowl mix the black beans, hominy, cornmeal, ½ cup shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese, 1/3 cup shredded manchego cheese, 1 diced chipotle pepper, 2/3 cup no-salt tomato sauce, 1 diced fresh serrano pepper (or jalapeno), 1 tablespoon cracked pepper, ½ teaspoon Morton lite salt.

Lightly mix this all together and taste. Wait a second. The burn of the peppers will come and when they do, determine if you need more spice or not. Only after waiting a minute should you add more chipotle.

Turn around, carefully drain the water with the potato. Carefully remove the skin, mash the flesh (ew) up in a bowl and then spread this atop the cheese in the base of the peppers.

Now, with the help of the kids or your husband or wife, ladle the bean mixture into the peppers. This part is so fun! After the peppers are filled place them into the Pyrex dish nestled inside of the sauce.

Pour ½ of the cheddar cheese evenly over the peppers, then 1/3 cup of manchego, and then the remaining final ½ of the cheddar:

HAHAHAHA...I love this photo. I'll be you dollars to donuts the producer of my cooking show promo is yelling now as he sees this...he wants the photos on here so clean and neat, but this is so ME. Messy and tasty and full of life! It looks alive! Agh!!

Get out a piece of thick aluminum foil and spray it generously on one side with Pam canola spray. This is so the cheese doesn’t stick to the foil when you remove it late.

Gently cover the dish with the foil and back for 20 minutes.

Remove the foil and let it cook for a full 25 minutes more. If you like a crunch to your peppers, only cook for 15 minutes and then remove from the oven.

Let is sit on the counter and after it’s rested 10 minutes, dive in!

My partner and I are very active guys who go to the gym 5-6 days a week and let me tell you – only ONE pepper with some sauce and a side salad TOTALLY filled us up. Only take one, make a little side salad of greens and baked groutons and some shaved manchego and you are set with a very calorie-friendly and budget-friendly meal with LOADS of SPICE, Mama!

Mikey Bryan
Your Food Therapis

1 comment:

  1. I love the advice, recipe format.....good for the soul in so many ways ;)