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In the Kitchen: Creative ways to use fresh peppers

It’s still summer vegetable season and that means peppers of all sorts are in abundance. 

I have never met a pepper I didn’t like — even the hot ones. Peppers are healthy for you and the base of so many dishes. Try incorporating new peppers. Hopefully these recipes will inspire you to try some new pepper friends as well as our trusty old friends. 

Oaxaca is a mild cheese that is becoming more available. I have seen it in a few grocery stores in the refrigerated section. Of course, you can also get it at one of our local Spanish markets. It melts well, has great flavor and is worth seeking out. 

Queso fundido with roasted poblanos

2 poblano peppers

8 ounces chorizo, casings removed

1/3 cup onion, chopped

1 clove garlic

2 cups Oaxaca cheese, grated (or use mozzarella)

6-8 small flour tortillas

1/4 cup cilantro, minced

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Place poblano peppers on a baking sheet and broil until blackened on all sides, turning several times. Once blackened, place peppers in a glass bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Set aside until cool enough to handle. When cool, preferably wearing gloves, peel the skin off the peppers and discard the seeds. Do not rinse the peppers as their skin has a lot of flavor. Cut into strips and set aside. 

Cook the chorizo in a skillet, adding a little oil if necessary. Add the onions and garlic and cook until onions are soft, about eight minutes. To a small ovenproof dish, add half of the cooked chorizo. Top with half of the cheese and then the remaining chorizo. Top with the remaining cheese and the roasted poblano pepper strips. Bake for 20 minutes until hot and bubbly. Garnish with cilantro and serve with warmed flour tortillas. 

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When our children were young, they called these “everything” eggs “Cowboy Eggs.” I really don’t know why, but the name stuck. 

Cowboy scrambled eggs 

8 eggs, whisked

2 tablespoons butter

1/2 red bell pepper, minced

1/2 jalapeno, seeded and minced

1 green onion, chopped

1/2 cup mushrooms, chopped

3 slices Canadian bacon or deli ham, minced

3/4 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated

2 tablespoons parsley, minced

Salt and pepper to taste

Heat butter over medium heat. Add bell pepper and jalapeno and cook until softened, four to five minutes. Add green onion, mushrooms, and Canadian bacon or ham and cook another few minutes. Add eggs and cook, stirring a few times until eggs are set. Stir in grated cheese and parsley, salt and pepper. 

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Sure, deep fried jalapeno poppers are delicious, but these grilled poppers are also yummy and so much healthier. If you have a jalapeno popper grill pan, they come out perfectly. 

Grilled jalapeno poppers

6 jalapenos

4 ounces cream cheese, softened

1/4 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated

2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated

2 tablespoons cilantro, minced

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon onion powder

Pinch of salt and pepper

Cut off the stem of jalapenos and remove the veins and seeds. In a small bowl, combine cream cheese, cheddar cheese, Parmesan cheese, cilantro, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper. Using a small spoon, stuff each jalapeno with cream cheese mixture. Preferably place stuffed jalapenos into a popper grill pan. Alternatively, create a grill pan by crumbling up aluminum foil and prop up poppers upright in a grill safe pan and grill poppers until charred. 

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You can use green bell peppers, but I like to use red, orange and yellow. They are a little sweeter and just beautiful.

Quinoa stuffed bell peppers

3 cups cooked quinoa, according to package directions

1 (4-ounce) can green chilies

1 cup corn kernels, fresh or frozen corn that has thawed

1/2 cup canned black beans, rinsed

1/2 cup canned petite tomatoes

1/2 cup pepper jack cheese, grated

1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated

3 tablespoons cilantro, minced

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

6 bell peppers, the tops cut off and seeds removed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9- by 13-inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. In a large bowl, combine cooked quinoa, green chilies, corn kernels, black beans, tomatoes, pepper jack, cheddar cheese, cilantro, garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, salt and pepper. Divide stuffing evenly and stuff peppers. Bake for 30 minutes until hot and bubbly.