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We often find our old-favorite recipes to be the best hunting ground for dinners that can be adjusted to fit the desperate lifestyle. One of these recipes that we both grew up with is baked, stuffed bell peppers.

The main problem with the old recipe is the hour it takes to bake the peppers. No longer does our crunched schedule allow us that luxury. Our tastes have changed over the years as well, and now we find the overcooked peppers unappetizing.

We figured there must be a way to enjoy the characteristic flavors of stuffed bell peppers without turning them into army-green blobs. Steaming the peppers in the microwave while the stuffing cooks on the stove top is the answer. The result is a crisp-tender pepper that retains the fresh flavor and brilliant green of the raw vegetable.

Our stuffing is a twist on the traditional as well. Packed with vegetables, kielbasa sausage and Cajun spices, this quick, delicious dinner is practically a meal in itself.

Cajun Stuffed Peppers


Heat-and-serve biscuits


3 large green bell peppers

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 large onion (about 1 cup chopped)

1 teaspoon bottled minced garlic

1 teaspoon Cajun spice blend

1/2 pound reduced-fat kielbasa sausage

2 cans (14 1/2 ounces each) stewed tomatoes

1 can (14 1/2 ounces) fat-free chicken broth

1 1/2 cups 5-minute rice

1 can (15-ounce) red kidney beans, drained

Tabasco sauce to taste
Rinse the peppers and cut them in half. Remove the seeds and membranes. Place the pepper boats into a 9-by-12-inch baking dish. Pour 2 cups of water into the dish, taking care not to get any water inside the pepper cavities. Cover the dish with microwave-safe plastic wrap and microwave the peppers on high until the peppers are just crisp-tender, about 5 to 6 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the oil on medium in a 12-inch non-stick skillet that has a lid. Peel and coarsely chop the onion, adding it to the skillet as you chop. Add the garlic and Cajun spice, and raise the heat to medium-high. Cut the sausage link into quarters to make long strips. Cut each strip into 1/4 -inch slices. Add the sausage to the pan.

Add the broth, tomatoes and rice to the skillet, cover the skillet and raise the heat to high to bring the broth to a boil. Meanwhile, rinse and drain the beans, add them to the skillet and recover the pan. Continue to boil until the rice is tender, about 5 minutes. Uncover the skillet and boil, stirring occasionally, for 1 minute to thicken the sauce.

To serve, remove the peppers from the dish with a slotted spoon, draining any water. Place a pepper half on each plate and fill the cavities with stuffing. Spoon the remaining stuffing around the outside of the peppers. Serve at once. Makes 6 servings.

Approximate values per serving (using Nutritionist IV software): 416 calories (18 percent from fat), 9 grams fat (.2 gram saturated), no cholesterol, 17 grams protein, 69 grams carbohydrates, 1,261 milligrams sodium.

Send us desperate tales of woe or everyday success stories and your favorite quick recipes to Desperation Dinners, c/o United Media, 200 Madison Ave., New York, N.Y. 10016; or e-mail:

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