Yes, it’s exactly what it sounds like….there are mini cheese balls stuffed inside these stuffed bell peppers! I know, I know, it’s a good one! Even my son said “Mom, you can’t say this recipe is ‘kid-friendly’, you should say it’s ‘kid-addicting’”. That’s how you know you made a great meal! Even if you already have your own favorite stuffed bell pepper recipe, make my mini cheese balls to stuff inside yours! You will thank me for it! Enjoy!
Health tips: kid-addicting, kid-friendly, kidney-friendly*, diabetes-friendly**
Ingredients: 4-6 servings
- 4-7 bell peppers (I like to use smaller ones for better portion control, but you can use 4 large peppers)
- 1 lb. ground lean beef
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 2-3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped or grated
- 2 cups or 8 oz. part-skim shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
- 2 cups of cooked grain of choice (brown rice, quinoa, or whole wheat orzo pasta)
- 2 – 8 oz. cans of “garlic, oregano, basil” tomato sauce
- 4 oz cream cheese (half a brick)
- ½ tsp Italian seasoning
- Olive oil
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Cut the tops of the peppers off, scoop out the insides and boil for 10 minutes. Take out and lay upside down on a paper towel to drain.
- Meanwhile, make the mini cheese balls; add cream cheese, 1 cup of the shredded mozzarella, and Italian seasoning to a bowl and mix. When combined, divide the mixture into however many peppers you have. I had 7 peppers, so this amount made 7, balls (which came out to be about 1 TBS for each pepper). Set aside.
- Add 1 or 2 TBS of olive oil to a pan over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic and cook for a few minutes. Add ground beef and brown. Pour the ground beef into a bowl and let cool slightly. You can add salt to this step if you’d like.
- Cook grain of your choice according to package directions. You can use brown rice, quinoa, or whole wheat orzo pasta. (I had a lot of orzo on hand so I used that). Scoop 2 cups of cooked grain into the bowl with the beef mixture. Stir in 1 and a half cans of tomato sauce (save the rest of the half can to pour on top).
- Now assemble! Add beef mixture into the bottom half of the pepper. Place a mini cheese ball on top of that then fill the rest of the pepper up with the beef mixture. Put pepper into a baking dish and repeat until all peppers, beef mixture, and mini cheese balls are used. Top all peppers with a bit more sauce and the rest of the shredded cheese (should have bout 1 cup left). Bake for 30 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly.
*This recipe can be made into a kidney-friendly dinner simply by adding “no salt” tomato sauce (add ¼ tsp each garlic powder and Italian seasoning to each of the 2 cans of tomato sauce). Use the smaller bell peppers for portion control. Yes, there is cheese in this dish, but only about 1 TBS per person.
**There are carbs in this dinner, but they are healthy carbs because of the grain of choice. If you feel the need, add 1 cup of grain instead of 2. If you take out 1 cup of grain from the recipe, then make 5 small bell peppers instead of 7. Use the smaller bell peppers for portion control.