We’re fully into fall here in New Jersey. The pumpkins are showing up on doorsteps throughout town, scarecrows are sitting on bales of hay and mini graveyards with tombstones placed in front of struggling zombies are prominently displayed where the diehard holiday decorators live.
I’ve got four pumpkins in front of my house right now, along with a rather large, hairy spider right above my mailbox. I guess it’s a good thing that the mailman doesn’t seem to suffer from arachnophobia or I wouldn’t be getting any mail these days. This is only the beginning though. I too have the tombstones and skeletons and some spider webs to spook up our little house, but when I bought the decorations, we were having a few days of rain and I decided to wait. My tombstones aren’t stone. They’re lightweight styrofoam which looks stone-like, but wouldn’t hold up in bad weather. I hope to find some real stone tombstones for future Halloweens, I think. As I wrote those word, I heard Frank, in my head, asking me where on Earth big stone tombstones would be stored after Halloween. I guess the Frank voice in my head has a valid point.
The inside of our house has a few decorations as well. I went to Michael’s and found a cute copper pumpkin which sits on our little coffee table, a couple of skulls which stare at us as we watch T.V. at night and a couple of other spooky, rustic touches I found on the sale table. I think I’ve got enough to welcome in the holiday. A few fall scented candles should finish the job.
Now on to food…… While I’m always a soup lover, I practically live off soup in the fall and winter. I’ve kissed my beloved gazpacho goodbye and am on to heartier, warm, stick to the ribs kind of soups and stews. This switch happens as soon as the air has that fall smell although there’s a bit of overlap with the soups as I find it so hard to give up the gazpacho.
This soup was the first fall soup that I made this season. I love stuffed peppers and thought that making a soup recipe with those same flavors sounded like pure genius. Naturally I turned to one of my favorite food bloggers, Kalyn’s Kitchen, to try to find the healthiest version of what I was looking for. I followed the recipe, with a few adaptations such as using brown rice and less ketchup and adding tomato paste. I also used regular sausage instead of turkey sausage and beef bouillon instead of canned beef broth because those ingredients are what I had on hand. It was amazing, tangy, satisfying and I’m already craving it again.
Here’s the printable and a link to the original recipe from Kalyn.
- 1 to 1½ cups of cooked brown rice
- 1½ Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 Tbsp. your favorite Italian seasoning
- 2 large green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
- 8 oz. Crimini mushrooms, sliced
- 3 links hot Italian sausage
- 1 lb. lean ground beef
- 1 28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes
- 1 can of water, using the 28 oz. can from the tomatoes
- 5 cups of beef stock (I used Better Than Bouillon Beef Base mixed with 5 cups of water.)
- 1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
- ¼ cup ketchup
- ¼ cup tomato paste
- salt and pepper to taste
- grated Parmesan or Romano for serving (optional)
- Cook the rice according to the instructions and set aside.
- Heat the oil in a pot and brown the sausage and ground beef. Set aside on a plate.
- Using the same pot, cook the onion and peppers until softened.
- Add in the Italian seasoning and cook another 1 to 2 minutes.
- Add in the mushrooms and cook for another 3 to 4 minutes.
- Add in the meat and the rest of the ingredients, except for the rice, bring to a boil and reduce to simmer for 20 minutes.
- Add in 1 to 1½ cups of the brown rice and simmer another 10 minutes.
- Serve with grated cheese if you like. I did!