Friday, October 5, 2012

Jack O' Lantern Bell Peppers!

Who says all Halloween treats have to be naturally unhealthy?

I don’t know if you’ve noticed this or not, but sometimes, bell peppers kinda’ look like little pumpkins. Especially when they’re orange. A little when they’re green, and to some extent when they’re red and yellow, but most definitely, they appear the most pumpkin-like when the same color as an Oompa-Loompa, Hulk Hogan or somebody from “Jersey Shore.”

So one night, I decided to make a bell pepper meal. Only, I wasn’t eating regular bell peppers. Oh, no. I was going to be feasting on bell peppers, that sorta’ looked liked JACK O’LANTERNS.

I guess some people would look at the foray and automatically consider it fruitless (which is complete bullshit, by the way, because as seeded plants, bell peppers technically ARE fruits.) Those people are most likely joyless prudes that have no idea how great the “Spirit of Halloween” can be. Yeah, it’s a lot of work to carve out spooky faces on bell peppers, and it doesn’t really do anything to change the taste or texture of the meal, but that’s not the point. The point is, in case you haven’t deduced it, that I’m eating MEXICAN FOOD THAT’S SHAPED LIKE A JACK O’ LANTERN. If you can’t figure out why that’s awesome and something that I need to do at least once in my lifetime, you, mi amigo, just ought to go take a hike and let everybody else enjoy this wacky thing we call “existing.”

As you can no doubt see, the very first thing you need to make Jack O’ Lantern bell peppers are bell peppers and some sort of paring equipment. Oddly enough, I decided to use a pumpkin carving knife, which works about as excellently on peppers as it does gigantic orange squash-thingies. As you should know by now, there’s no real “right” way to make a spooky, scowling Jack O’ Lantern face - as long as it has angry eyes and a mouth that sort of looks like its uttering some permutation of  “BYAGGHHH!” or “GRUHHHHN!” - you’re probably on the right path.

For those of you unfamiliar with how stuffed bell peppers operate, they’re not that difficult to prepare. Basically, all you really need is some Spanish rice mix - I prefer mine loaded with chopped up green olives and a nice frappe of Mexican cheeses - and some shredded cheddar.

Your first order of business is spooning out the rice mix, which you then insert into the hollowed out shell of your Pepper O’ Lantern. I guess there is the tiny question of how to keep rice and cheese and stuff from falling out of the eyeball and mouth perforations you just carved into your fruit, but on my trial run, it really wasn’t an issue. I suppose as long as you pack the rice in there, the gravitational forces of the universe will do what they will to make sure your Halloween dinner comes out A-OK.

Ever the experimental sorts here at THE INTERNET IS IN AMERICA, we decided to serve up an additional side, called quinoa. Quinoa (pronounced like KEEN-WAH, if you were wondering), is some sort of rice like-product that’s popular in places you’ve never heard of, which is basically the exact same thing as rice, except with way more protein content. I’ve never tried it before, but after my initial taste-test, I thought it was pretty darn yummy, and texturally, an excellent tag team partner for your Pablo O’ Lantern. And even if you don’t like the taste and texture of the dish, you can always resort to that universal remedy: just take whatever leftover cheese you have, and melt it all over the bowl.

Probably the coolest part about making Bell Pepper O’ Lanterns is stuffing them with cheddar, because a.) when you first top off your creations, it looks like the peppers have shaggy, orange hair and b.) everything tastes better when it’s wearing a helmet of warm, crusty cheese.

By the time your bell peppers are finished, they should have a nice, dehydrated look to them, sort of like leather (rest assured, they still have lots of flavor though.) I advise plopping your pepper in a paste of quinoa, and sprinkling your leftover cheeses around the base like garnish. As far as sodas go, I think anything cranberry-flavored makes an excellent complementary drink with your meal - although any of the more abstruse, fruity-flavored colas (like the aberrant pomegranate pop) would probably gel really well with the creation, too.

As far as taste goes, they taste, well, a lot like bell peppers. Amazingly, shaping something to resemble something else doesn’t necessarily change its textural qualities, which means, despite the spooky eyes and evil-looking mouths that drool magma cheese and tomato chunks, the thing still tasted like authentic Mexican cuisine…which is probably a good thing, because let’s face it; if these things ended up tasting like actual Jack O’ Lanterns, that probably means our oven is haunted or something.


As a dessert to follow up the Jack O’ Lantern bell peppers, I decided to make some cupcakes that somewhat resembled bichon puppies. You’ve seen these before while scouring the Intraweb, no doubt. All in all, my attempt turned out just sort of OK - surprisingly, it’s hard to make spirals and shit with an aerosol frosting canister - but it wasn’t until I took my pup-cakes back to my fridge and looked at them the next day that a tinge of Halloween horror really struck me.

Let this be a lesson to you, Pinterest enthusiasts: if you don’t set up barriers for your baked and frosted goods, you, too, may end up with a Tupperware container of poodle-hydra monsters...


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