More Onions?

Do you ever wonder why so many of our recipes here at Spend Smart. Eat Smart. have onions in them? Just last week I shared our August recipe of the month, Cool Cucumber Salad, which is another recipe with onions in it. Below I share my top three reasons for including onions in recipes and my top three onion-containing recipes.

I include onions in recipes because:

  1. Onions add flavor. Cooked or raw, onions add flavor to recipes without adding salt or special ingredients.
  2. Onions are inexpensive and available year-round. Since they are easy to store, onions can be found at a reasonable price any time of year.
  3. Onions freeze well. I do not enjoy the tears that come with chopping onions, but I do like that I can chop a large amount of onions at one time and store them in the freezer. Then, when I need onions for a recipe, I just reach into my freezer and dump in some onions.

My favorite onion recipes are:

  1. Chicken Fajitas – I love onions and peppers cooked together in a skillet.
  2. Chicken and Rice Soup – This is a recipe where I rely on my frozen, chopped onions.
  3. Cowboy Caviar – The flavor and crunch of a fresh onion is a perfect complement to the milder beans and corn in this recipe.

Here at Spend Smart. Eat Smart. we think onions are a pretty great vegetable and we encourage you to try using one in your cooking this week. If you would like to know more about how to chop an onion, check out the short video above.


Justine Hoover

Justine Hoover is a Registered Dietitian and mom who loves to cook for her family.

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All about Peppers

Peppers are one of my favorite veggies. During the winter, I buy them at the grocery store most weeks. During the summer, I love to grow them myself. They are rich in vitamin C, low in calories and add lots of flavor to whatever I am cooking.

You can grow peppers in pots or in the ground. If you choose to use a pot, you’ll want it to be at least two gallons in size for a single pepper plant and you may want to use a dowel or stake to support your plant as it grows.

Keep in mind that most peppers start green and some varieties ripen to be yellow, orange, red or purple. The Iowa State University gardening experts have a publication that will help you pick the pepper type that is best for you. Peppers that are not green tend to be much more expensive. You can save a lot of money by growing peppers yourself, but be prepared that peppers that are not green will need more time on the plant to change colors, which means you may lose more to rot, pests or weather damage.

I hope you will give a pepper plant a try this summer. If you would like some tips on cutting up whole peppers, we have a video to get you started.

Christine Hradek

Christine Hradek is a State Nutrition Specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. She coordinates ISU’s programs which help families with low income make healthy choices with limited food budgets. Christine loves helping families learn to prepare healthy foods, have fun in the kitchen and save money. In her spare time, Christine enjoys cooking, entertaining and cheering on her favorite college football teams with her family and friends.

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Stuffed Peppers

stuffed-pepper-webIt is time for a confession. Until we started testing this new recipe for stuffed peppers, I had never made a vegetable stuffed with anything. It always seemed too fancy to me and it looked like a lot of work. After testing this recipe quite a few times, I realized that it is not a lot of work to make stuffed peppers, it is actually pretty easy. It also tastes great and looks really nice, so maybe I was right on the fancy part.

My favorite thing about this recipe is that the filling can be made in advance. To make the filling, cook ground sausage or beef; then add seasoning, sauce, rice, and cheese. This filling can then go right into pepper halves to bake or it can be saved for another time. You can save the filling in the refrigerator for up to four days. You can save it in the freezer for up to three months. The best thing about making the filling ahead of time is that you can make as many, or as few, stuffed peppers as you need. For example, if you have a family of four, you could make four stuffed peppers right away and then save the filling for the other four for another day.

I hope you will not wait long to try out our Stuffed Pepper recipe.

Stuffed Peppers

Serving Size: 1 stuffed pepper halfstuffed-pepper-label-web
Serves: 8
Cost Per Serving: $0.89
  • 1/2 pound ground Italian sausage, turkey sausage, or beef
  • 1 onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
  • 1 can (15 ounces) spaghetti sauce
  • 3 cups cooked brown rice
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (divided)
  • 4 green or red peppers (softball size)
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Sauté sausage and onion in a large skillet over medium heat until browned and cooked to 155°F. Pour off any fat.
  3. Stir in oregano, spaghetti sauce, rice, and 1/2 cup cheese.
  4. Wash peppers, cut in half lengthwise, and remove seeds. Arrange in a 9×13-inch baking dish.
  5. Spoon sausage mixture into the peppers, mounding on the top.
  6. Cover with foil. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup cheese on top. Continue to cook another 10 minutes.
  • Do not pour fat down the drain. Pour fat from sausage into a bowl. Place bowl in refrigerator until hard and then spoon into the trash.
  • To make smaller meals, freeze filling in three or four portions. When ready to eat, thaw a portion and bake in two or three pepper halves.

Justine Hoover

Justine Hoover is a Registered Dietitian and mom who loves to cook for her family.

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