By: Brady Evans
My husband tells stories of how, when he was a 21-year-old first year high school math teacher, he’d fantasize about driving past the exit for his school in the morning before work and just driving and driving…ending up anywhere but that public high school in Connecticut.
I had a similar sort of fantasy on the way to school this week. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to go to school. I love going to school. It was that I heard a news report on NPR about the devastation in New Jersey (and the other areas affected by Hurricane Sandy) and I felt this strong urge to go to the Northeast and help. I just wanted to turn my car north and drive until I saw someone who needed help.
My husband was out of town in Atlanta that day working. When we spoke on the phone at the end of the day he told me how his job that was on the books for November had been canceled due to the storm. I was mad because he’d already made flight and hotel arrangements and didn’t think he could be reimbursed for the flight. He reported that he almost wanted to fly up there anyway and just find some way to help.
Neither one of us can afford to drop everything here in South Carolina and migrate to the northeast for relief, but there are small ways we can help out from hundreds of miles away. That day, instead of driving until I hit New Jersey, I used my high school biology classroom as a vehicle for informing the kids of the natural disaster (let’s face it, 9th and 10th graders don’t spend much time catching the news) and brainstormed biological consequences of the disaster thanks to this NPR radio show.
I figured that if I could use my classroom to help from afar, I can also use this blog. Jenn Oliver from Jenn Cuisine, asked other bloggers to cook comfort foods – a dish you’d take to a person or family in need – to help share the concept of comforting and giving back. She also asks that you please consider donating to a cause that will help the survivors of Hurricane Sandy such as the Red Cross.
I’ve made stuffed bell pepper casserole. The stuffed bell peppers recipe is a classic, comforting dish, but turning it into a casserole makes it that much more homey. This meal was fantastic and was inspired by at least 20 stuffed bell pepper and casserole recipes. My biggest hangup was that no casserole I found included uncooked rice in it – all included cooked rice. I was far too lazy for to cook the rice, so this is what I came up with based on the nearly 2 dozen recipes I was able to come across on Google.
Stuffed Bell Pepper Casserole
- 1 pound ground beaf (lean)
- 2 15-ounce cans petite diced tomatoes
- 1 15-ounce can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
- 2 large bell peppers, diced
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 tsp dried basil
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tablespoon Worcester sauce
- 1 cup brown rice
- 2 cups HOT vegetable or chicken broth
- 2 cups shredded cheese
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Stovetop, brown ground beef, breaking into small pieces while it cooks.
- In a 9×13 inch casserole dish, combine browned ground beef, tomatoes, diced vegetables, all seasonings, beans, rice, worcester sauce and hot broth. Stir to combine.
- Bake, tightly covered, in the oven for 1 hour. Remove cover and add cheese. Bake for additional 15 minutes or until cheese is melted.
- Remove from oven, cover, and let stand for 15 minutes or until rice has absorbed all broth.
- Note: if using white rice, reduce baking time to 35 minutes.