When I moved in with Allen over eight years ago, I quickly got in the habit of looking for recipes or ideas to make food fun. Hailey was, and is, a pretty picky eater so I wanted to get creative to help her branch out a little bit and and honestly I ended up really enjoying it too. I made colored pasta, smoothies with hidden veggies in cute glasses accessorized with striped paper straws in her favorite color scheme at the time, sandwiches in different shapes, ghost bananas, pumpkin oranges, breakfast cookies, peanut butter and banana appetizers and more. She loved it and that made it all the worthwhile for me. Once when she had a friend spending the night I made them a snack plate that included peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with a star cut out in the middle filled with sprinkles. As I walked out of her room I overheard her tell Katie ‘that’s how I know Sara loves me; she makes everything special’. I just don’t know if there’s really anything sweeter than making the little things special for kids. I’ve always gone a bit above and beyond for sleepovers, movie nights, birthdays, valentines day and Christmas to make sure Hailey feels extra loved. And to be honest, I think I almost get as much out of it as she does. Which leads us to the Halloween edition of this taco stuffed pepper recipe!
Hailey used to be my little baking buddy, but she hasn’t joined me in the kitchen quite as often in her teenage years…unless we’re making some festive food that is! As soon as I told her we were going to carve bell peppers to make them jack o lanterns for dinner she was in the kitchen to help! She’ll understand how much this excited me eventually. These jack o lanterns are really fun to make; you do need a little patience because the only way to get some good lookin’ faces is to cut slowly…and even then you’ll probably have a ‘mistake’ or two. Hailey got much more adventurous with hers and I loved it. How fun and goofy is this jack o lantern on the left she made?
This year I did a mix of green and orange bell peppers and really liked the contrast. If you’re serving these at a festive Halloween dinner, I’d suggest using a variety of peppers (green, orange, red) so people can choose their favorite. It would also be a good way to split up the fillings and maybe do ground beef in the green peppers, chicken in the orange peppers and black bean in the red peppers.
A step by step may not really be needed for this simple recipe, but I have the photos so let’s go for it shall we? I know there are others like me who thrive on visuals! 🙂
Wash 6 bell peppers, cut off their tops and clean out any seeds from the inside. Carefully carve jack o lantern faces on each pepper with a small knife and place them in a roasting pan. Depending on how soft you want your peppers to be, you can go ahead and bake them now for 10 minutes at 400 degrees or set aside for later.
Brown one pound of ground beef, drain grease and return to the stove. If using chicken, cook one pound of chicken seasoned with salt and pepper, remove from pan to cut in small pieces or shred and return to skillet. In both cases, Next add taco seasoning with an 1/8 to 1/4 cup of water and stir to mix well. Add salsa and cooked rice, stir again and simmer for five minutes. Lately I’ve been added a half a can or so of black beans at this point too. If you want to keep it vegetarian go with a whole can of beans and double the rice quantity.
Stuff the bell peppers with the meat mixture and sprinkle cheese on top of each pepper. Return the tops and place in the oven to bake for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove and add your choices of toppings – lettuce, tomatoes, sour cream and cilantro if you’re like me! Another tip – we also like to keep the peppers a little crunchy and then empty the stuffing onto a bed of tortilla chips and cut up the pepper to add as well to make some delicious nachos! I love using these chips for nachos and anything else requiring tortilla chips!
And if I’m not eating these as is or making nachos, I’m adding everything to a salad. This is typically what I do with leftovers for lunch one day and if you follow me on Instagram you’ve seen the proof! Salads are my jam and this filling makes for an excellent taco salad! The one pictured below also included some pico de gallo from Trader Joes which I highly recommend you pick up on your next trip. So fresh and tasty!
And of course you can make these without the carving part as well or also do the carving idea with another stuffed pepper recipe! At any rate, if you’re looking for festive food or just delicious taco filling check out the detailed recipe below and enjoy!!
Have a beautiful day!
Taco Stuffed Peppers
These jack o lanterns may not be spooky, but they do make Halloween dinner extra fun!
- 5-6 medium to large bell peppers
- 1 Ib lean ground beef or chicken
- 2 Tbsp taco seasoning
- 1/2 - 1 cup salsa
- 1 cup cooked rice
- 1 cup black beans drained and rinsed
- shredded cheese
- toppings of your choice lettuce, tomato, cilantro, sour cream
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Slice tops off peppers and clean out the seeds. (for the Halloween edition, carve jack o lantern faces with a small knife)
Stand the peppers in a roasting pan or casserole dish. If you want really soft peppers, bake for 10 minutes at this point.
In a large skillet, brown the ground beef and drain grease. For chicken, season with salt and pepper, cook until done, remove from pan to shred or cut into small pieces and return to skillet. Mix in the taco seasoning with 1/8 to 1/4 cup of water.
Add salsa, black beans and cooked rice, mix well and simmer for 5 minutes while stirring occasionally.
Stuff peppers with meat mixture, sprinkle on cheese and place the tops back on. Bake, uncovered, for 10 to 15 minutes to allow the cheese to melt and the peppers to soften to your preference.
Remove from oven and serve with your choice of toppings. We added lettuce, tomato, cilantro and sour cream!
This meat mixture is also great in taco shells or over tortilla chips to make really yummy nachos!