Sirloin & Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

This past weekend, I spent a lot of time getting cozy with nature and this book. And even though there was a seemingly quotable line on every page, there was one quote in particular that resonated with me – “The right constraints can lead you to your very best work”.

Cubed Sirloin

I haven’t yet addressed why the past 50 days have been filled with gluten-free and dairy-free recipes, because I had {still have} hopes that it was irrelevant.  My intention isn’t to deliver good gluten/dairy free recipes, it is to deliver delicious recipes. Period.

And to circle back around to the above referenced quote, I can’t help but believe that these constraints are creating a better FoodFash.

Quinoa Stuffing

So today I bring you another delicious recipe: orange peppers {turned yellow in the oven} stuffed with cubed sirloin, quinoa, and some staple stuffed-pepper veggies.

Quinoa Stuffed Peppers 3Using cubed sirloin and quinoa gave this dish texture and prevented the mush that is so commonly associated with traditional stuffed peppers.  The onions, tomatoes, and garlic provided the bulk of the flavor.  And the bell pepper, well the bell pepper provided the most photogenic bowl ever {and some additional flavor as well}.

Achiote Pork Salad

Achiote Pork Salad

Gosh, this salad.  Where do I begin?  Ultra tender achiote pulled pork and sweet and tangy pickled red onions on a bed of fresh spinach – a wow worthy meal, for sure!

Achiote Paste Ingredients

I started by making a double batch of homemade achiote paste {not by choice}.  A pre-made paste was nowhere to be found, so I Googled my way through the Whole Foods aisles until I found annatto seeds {the red nuggets in the photo above} and a recipe that made sense.

Seasoned Pork Shoulder

I then purchased the rub ingredients from this recipe, but didn’t care much for the cooking instructions {or the review comments}, so this big hunk of pork and I went rogue in the kitchen.

Pulled Pork

After coating the 4 pound bone-in pork shoulder with the rub, I wrapped it tightly with plastic wrap and let it hang in the fridge for about 16 hours.  I placed the pork in a slow cooker, poured 32 ounces of veggie broth around the sides {being careful not to wash the rub off the meat}, and placed a few quartered yellow onions around the pork.  I let it cook on low heat for about 8 hours {until the meat pulled away easily from the bone} and then used two forks to to shred the meat.

After the meat was prepared, assembling the salad was super easy: baby spinach, picked red onions, pulled pork.  And the best part about this salad?  The pork provided fat and the pickled onions provided acid, so the addition of salad dressing was unnecessary.

Pretty As A Present Pickled Red Onions

Pickled Red Onions

What. A. Day!  This morning started well before bright and early, when it was dark and just plain early.  The restaurant I’m working on in Dallas is in full swing, so I flew up for a day of meetings and flew right back.  Exhaustion would have been justified.  But I chose to yoga, grocery shop, and be unexplainably ambitious in the kitchen instead.

Mandolin Sliced Red Onions

Pickled onions.  Not just pickled onions for the heck of it.  Pickled onions for achiote pork.  Neither of which resulted in an immediate food reward.  So today, on this busy bee Tuesday, I chose to make a feast of a meal that might just be ready by Thursday.  It made no sense, but I rolled with it.

Toasted Cinnamon

I whipped up this pickled red onion recipe - I was drawn to cinnamon, cloves, and fresh lime.  And I sliced, toasted, stirred, and jarred, all the while bopping around to my fav new album by Damaged Bug.  Perhaps the song below was the catalyst of tonight’s kitchen ambition.

Summertime Chillin’ & Grillin’

Grilled Sirloin

Growing up with a veggie mom, grilling wasn’t a thing.  Even when I’d satisfy infrequent meat cravings at my grandma’s house, she was more of a skillet cook than a grill master.  A lifetime of little-to-no experience with propane or charcoal left me a grilling novice, at best.

4-4-4 Grilling

So when I saw that the Austin Food Blogger’s Alliance post a grilling how-to event with the Texas Beef Council, I couldn’t have been more on board.  Right away, Tiffany {pictured above} provided helpful tips for safe {and delicious} grilling.

Megan Charcoal

We learned about the 4-4-4 rule for determining the correct grill heat: holding 4 fingertips, 4 inches above the grill, for 4 seconds.  If you have to remove your fingers before 4 seconds then the grill is too hot, longer than 4 seconds and the grill isn’t hot enough.

And we learned the proper way to test the temperature of the meat – sticking the thermometer into the side of the cut until the notch on the thermometer passes through the meat.  Luckily Tiffany sent us home with a meat thermometer, because the candy thermometer I’ve been using has no such notch.  Oops!

Megan & Beverly Grilling

My grilling partners, Megan and Beverly, stacked the charcoal {a double row of 6 by 6}, lit each of the four corners, and then used the 4-4-4 rule to test the temperature.  And while the flame was doing its thing, we had a lesson on seasoning and cuts of beef

Texas Grilling

We were asked our favorite cut before Tiffany went through each one, describing their flavor, fat content, and best use.  I am also a novice beef eater, so a filet was my cut of choice for any and every occasion.  I kept this to myself as the crowd scoffed at the use of a filet in stir fry {FoodFash filet stir fry recipe here}.

FoodFash Grilling

We seasoned our assigned beef cut with salt, pepper, garlic, and smoked paprika and then placed on the grill until the thermometer read 138.  After everyone’s cuts had time to rest {did ya know this allows the temp to rise and keeps the juices in?}, the Texas Beef Council team sliced all of them up and set aside a bunch of grilled veggies for us to try.

After all was said and done {and stuffed}, I re-confirmed my like of filet, but discovered that I’d be open to a NY strip or flat iron as well.

A big thank you to the Austin Food Bloggers Alliance {and my grilling partners} for such a lovely afternoon – I’ll certainly be of the first to sign up for the next one!